FTHM PART VI: ADAM LARSSON

Robin Brownlee
May 07 2011 04:53PM

There's no doubt a lot of fans like the thought of seeing a big, smooth defenseman like Adam Larsson patrolling the blue line for the Edmonton Oilers. The question is, do they have the patience to wait a bit longer for a player who could be a pretty complete finished product?

That's also a question Oilers chief scout Stu MacGregor and GM Steve Tambellini will have to ask themselves before they use the first overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft June 24-25 in Minnesota on the impressive Swede.

Do the Oilers opt for the likelihood of a more immediate impact with a centre like the unquestionably talented Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or lanky Sean Couturier or do they look at Larsson, knowing defenseman usually take longer to develop?

While some fans will point out that Larsson is already playing against men in Sweden and might move more quickly along the development curve, the same was said about Magnus Paajarvi after his three seasons in the SEL. Adapting to a new country and a new language in addition to making the jump up in competition shouldn't be dismissed.

That aside, while Nugent-Hopkins, Couturier and some of the other top-ranked prospects in the class of 2011 have credentials suggesting they might develop into dynamic offensive talents in the NHL, some scouts have questions about Larsson's offensive upside.

While most amateur scouts consider Larsson a sure-fire NHLer, the money question is this: is there enough steak in the rest of his game to compensate for a possible lack of offensive sizzle?

THE SKINNY FROM CSS

Adam Larsson

European Skater

Skelleftea, SWEDEN

Final Rank: 1 Midterm Rank: 1

Position: Defenseman Shoots: Right

Height: 6' 3" Weight: 200

Born: November 12, 1992

Born in: Skelleftea, SWE

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards

"Adam is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft -- he has excellent speed and mobility. He also has patient puck handling abilities and can surprise an opponent with a solid hit. His size and skating ability make him comparable with Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman."

-- Playing in his second full season with Skelleftea in 2010-11, he was only the third defenseman to make his Elite League debut at 16 years of age, following in the footsteps of long-time NHL defenseman Calle Johansson and current Tampa Bay blueliner Victor Hedman. His first game remains his most memorable hockey moment -- "I had been sitting in the stands since age seven, now I was playing."

-- He represented Sweden at the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championship, finishing as the team's highest scoring defender at the tournament in 2011 with four points (1-3-4). Sweden won a bronze medal in 2010 and finished fourth in 2011.

MACGREGOR'S TAKE

Scouting Report: "A great two-way defenseman with good offensive puck-moving ability. He's strong and he competes hard on the boards in and around the net."

Projection: "A one or a two. Probably a two."

Best Case Scenario: "His most potential? Possibly a one."

Concerns: "He's a good skater but he's not a great skater. His offence is only OK at this point."

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 @Oilanderp
May 07 2011, 07:38PM
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If you pay attention to Stu`s projection comments at the end of each of Brownlee`s articles, it certainly seems to me to be a battle between RNH and Couturier for #1.

Do you take a 3rd liner #1 in Landeskog? No.

Do you take a solid 2nd liner in Huberdeau? No.

Do you take a probable #2 d-man in Larsson? Probably not. In the top 5 sure, but not at #1.

Do you take a 1st line C in Couturier? Maybe.

Do you take the C that 6/10 experts put #1? Maybe.

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#2 CanaDave
May 07 2011, 08:21PM
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I would love for the article about RNH to say that he is projected by Stu at the same level as Couturier or slightly worse, if only to hear the sounds of a few hundred heads exploding.

In any case, thanks to Robin for the great pieces with so much time remaining still before the draft. No matter which prospect the Oilers get #1, I look forward to hopefully cheering for him for the next 15-20 years.

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#3 CM
May 07 2011, 10:28PM
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I'm just glad Stu is making the final call.

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#4 Team Hoppy
May 07 2011, 10:45PM
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Maybe I'm oversimplifying here, but we already have a smooth skating, tough, defensively responsible, offensively limited defenceman on our team. Smid is his name. Maybe I am a bit simple. Anyways, by the look of those comments, I pick up that Stu isnt too excited about this player. A #2 defenseman that will take 3 years to get here? Not exciting. Let's stick with Petry and draft RNH or Couturier. I believe with this new insight that Brownlee has been posting, RNH is our man, with an outside chance of Couturier. RNH vs Couturier, a 2 horse race.

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#5 They're $hittie
May 07 2011, 05:12PM
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somehow trade around and get picks 2 and 3 and secure larsson and couterier

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#6 Damian
May 07 2011, 05:19PM
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I'm not so sure about the idea that defensive prospects take longer to develop applies today as much as in the past, the kids coming out of Junior/Europe these days seem farther ahead on the learning curve. Look at Hedman, Doughty, Myers and Fowler all kids but doing very well in the NHL and I am aware that these guys are the exception and not the rule. I'm not saying the Oil should or shouldn't take anyone first overall, I trust the magnificent bastards judgement I'm just pointing out that there are exceptions to rules.

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#7 Robin Brownlee
May 07 2011, 05:53PM
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Jaime wrote:

I don't know if I agree that a player like RNH will have a more immediate impact than a defenceman like Adam Larsson. Adam Larsson is ready to play now, even if he doesn't put up numbers for a couple of years he can still take a regular shift. But if RNH doesn't gain some weight he won't even be in the NHL next year.

Who said Nugent-Hopkins had to play in the NHL next year to have a more immediate impact than Larsson? Playing in the NHL first does not necessarily translate to making an impact first.

Larsson could and likely will be a very good player, but we might not see it for two or three or even four years. Nugent-Hopkins could and probably will spent another year in junior and might still shine at the NHL level before Larsson does.

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#8 Matt Henderson
May 07 2011, 07:11PM
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Nothing wrong with a legit #2 Dman, but if Stu thinks RNH is a 1C then, all things considered, I'll take the C. If Stu is unsure about Hopkins then I'd re-evaluate my position.

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#9 Quicksilver ballet
May 07 2011, 09:20PM
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The Oilers are going to have to shelter this kid for atleast a year, what would he be, a #4 his first yr?

Only way he comes over and sticks for next season is for maximum dollars, if he falls out of the top 3 i think he stays in Ikealand for yet another yr.

NSOEDP (not so obvious entry draft prediction) Tambellini pulls it out of the fire this yr and lands us both Hopkins and Couturier. Hopkins has the freedom to go back if needed but Couturier stays with the Oilers and the millions and millions in Oilernation will live happily ever after.

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#10 Zarf
May 07 2011, 10:52PM
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Nice work with all these draft articles, Robin.

My mind really hasn't changed all that much in the past couple of months. I don't know who they're going to take first ... but I don't think they'll go wrong if it's either RNH or Larsson (I assuming they're the top two).

There are good arguments for taking either kid and I'm not going to beat myself up too much over-thinking it.

Personally, I take RNH because I like the storyline of smallish WHL centre from Burnaby who plays out on the Prairies ... it just sounds so much like Joe Sakic's story it's tantalizing.

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#11 Quicksilver ballet
May 07 2011, 11:47PM
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I'm sure if Robin would've loaned Stu his Corvette for a week we would've gotten the whole list of ten prospects.

Thank you for these articles Robin. I think a countdown to draft day ticker may be in order.

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#12 Quicksilver ballet
May 08 2011, 12:06AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

"Probably a 2"

That should basically cement RNH as #1 pick.

Has another Hedman written all over him.

Speaking of Victor, think he'll be ready to blossom and be available next summer Obbie, he's still a 3/4 in Tampa?

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#13 Ambassador humantorch
May 08 2011, 01:34AM
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While some fans will point out that Larsson is already playing against men in Sweden and might move more quickly along the development curve, the same was said about Magnus Paajarvi after his three seasons in the SEL. Adapting to a new country and a new language in addition to making the jump up in competition shouldn't be dismissed.

Minor point, but the vast majority of Swedes, especially younger ones, are completely fluent in English. Kids in Larssons generation start learning it in school at about 8 years old. Language barrier for a young Swede coming over to Canada shouldn't really be an issue.

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#14 jeetz
May 08 2011, 09:37AM
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If the Oil take Larsson and can trade into the top 10 without giving up the #19 pick I bet the Oil can get Col #2.

Col doesn't need a center and with Larrson gone, Landeskog (sp?) Might not be worth a #2 overall.

A top 10 pick g #19 + prospect for col #2

Then the Oil can have Larsson and RNH

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#15 TigerUnderGlass
May 07 2011, 05:00PM
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I think I'd prefer to try and trade the pick for a defenseman farther along the curve, but I like the player if he develops as projected.

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#16 Cowboy
May 07 2011, 05:00PM
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I am not gonna be that guy. Anyway...still sounds like RNH at the top of MBS list.

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#17 John Chambers
May 07 2011, 05:16PM
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Derek Zona will be so upset.

Perhaps Bryan Murray or Garth Snow will be so enamored with the comparisons to Lidstrom that they'll be tripping over each other to trade up to get him ...

... but probably not.

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#18 Slapshotzky
May 07 2011, 05:28PM
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Does picking RNH depend on whether we trade Gagner prior to making our first pick?

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#19 Sox and Oil
May 07 2011, 05:30PM
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@Damian

I agree.

Larsson sounds ready for easy minutes in the show. Plus if it comes down to Ryan Vs Adam this year, there's no way RNH is more "NHL ready" then Larsson. If we take Larsson 1st overall then hopefully we can trade up for Mika Z or McNeil.

That being said I want SC.

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#20 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 07 2011, 05:39PM
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"Probably a 2"

That should basically cement RNH as #1 pick.

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#21 Jaime
May 07 2011, 05:41PM
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I don't know if I agree that a player like RNH will have a more immediate impact than a defenceman like Adam Larsson. Adam Larsson is ready to play now, even if he doesn't put up numbers for a couple of years he can still take a regular shift. But if RNH doesn't gain some weight he won't even be in the NHL next year.

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#22 @NateInVegas
May 07 2011, 07:17PM
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Take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #1 and keep him in the WHL.

If Stu's success with the WHL continues there's a good chance at getting Ryan Murray or Griffin Reinhart next year. It's easier to land a #2 defenseman 5th overall next year than a #1 Center..

Passing on the best Center available in consecutive drafts with the 1st pick would be a mistake. Odds are against Edmonton finishing last & drafting 1st AGAIN but good at getting into the lotto and drafting a quality defenseman next year.

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#23 DieHard
May 07 2011, 07:32PM
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I've wanted Larsson since the start of the season knowing we would probably have a top 5 pick and our need for a top-notch defenseman. Larsson could be wearing Oiler silks for up to 2 decades if we picked him. But since we have the first overall, we need a player that can create havoc and put the puck in the net and that means a forward. Sounds like RNH is our guy. By the way is Ryan Whitney a number 1 or a number 2 defenseman as to what they are saying Larsson would/could/should be?

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#24 esa tikkanen
May 07 2011, 08:38PM
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Robin

Did you ever hear from Whitney or a third party how Whitney's ankle-foot is progressing and if it is expected that he is better forever? Or do more pessimistic non Oilers employees suggest this may be a recurring issue in his ankles?

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#25 They're $hittie
May 07 2011, 09:06PM
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ANybody else rank Strome ahead of Hubedreau? If we still consider the Q inferior (not saying it is) and Hubedreau plays on a stacked team, than stromes numbers look considerably better.

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#26 @Oilanderp
May 07 2011, 09:27PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

I would poop myself in joy were this to happen. Yes, poop.

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#27 Number 94 Is FIST In My Heart
May 07 2011, 09:30PM
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Larsson please. Make a swedish movement now. Look how well its worked for Detroit all these years...

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#28 Robin Brownlee
May 07 2011, 11:15PM
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@Zarf

Thanks.

Like I said before, I thought it made sense to break down the conversation we had into useable bits -- this hardly rates as in-depth stuff -- about each guy and let MacGregor have his say.

I'm not trying to analyze or dissect what he's said with any of these items. I'm just putting them out there for discussion.

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#29 Oilfan00
May 08 2011, 01:45AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Lovin the articles, great read!

Love the discussions they bring up too.

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#30 knobby k
May 08 2011, 02:49AM
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There is lots here to like. I don't think anyone would criticize the Oil for picking Larsson based on what they have seen of this 18 yr old. The biggest skill here, if such a thing exists, is the ability to forecast the chances of him developing over the next 5 to 6 seasons and then staying around on subsequent contracts.

Maybe the question also needs to be asked, 'Do the Oil have the coaching and development people to grow this player'? Nick Lidstrom could have gone to some team who had neither the patience or skill to let him develop.

I like the RNH option only because of the rationale you have previously mentioned regarding drafting forwards and d-men. They are much more of a long-term project. Who do we have to coach Larsson on this coaching staff that will not muff the project?

The Oil are not famous for patiently developing players...and as we know the list is long.

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#31 db7db7db7
May 08 2011, 06:42AM
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Robin, did Stu mention what he projects RNH to be? i.e. elite 1st liner, good first liner, great 2nd liner.....

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#32 Robin Brownlee
May 08 2011, 07:42AM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

While some fans will point out that Larsson is already playing against men in Sweden and might move more quickly along the development curve, the same was said about Magnus Paajarvi after his three seasons in the SEL. Adapting to a new country and a new language in addition to making the jump up in competition shouldn't be dismissed.

Minor point, but the vast majority of Swedes, especially younger ones, are completely fluent in English. Kids in Larssons generation start learning it in school at about 8 years old. Language barrier for a young Swede coming over to Canada shouldn't really be an issue.

Then I must have fallen down the stairs and hit my head because I've been talking to European players for almost 30 years and I'm not hearing the "fluent" english you suggest from Swedes.

I see great personalty and flair in Linus Omark, but talking to him is, at this point, painful. Magnus Paajarvi is always willing to do an interview, but his command of the language I speak is limited. Few mangled the language like Tommy Salo. It took guys like Peter Forsberg a long time to get comfortable speaking. On and on . . .

Guys like Lidstrom and the Sedins are fluent, but it took them years to get there. It's an adjustment.

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#33 madjam
May 08 2011, 08:01AM
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Bowman rates Larsson no.1 and so do i . I also have Coutourier above Hopkins . Bowman can't figure out why Hopkins appeals so heavily to Oilers . Bowman is very seldom wrong .

I see D.Cherry has drawn the ire of the direction Oilers seem to be going - as per comment in last nights game . Oilers need to get off duff and add more veterans to team to bring along our youth ! How about Cherry for new Gm , and lets get a proper rebuild going here in the right direction ? Maybe if our media got on the bandwagon and became more critical then maybe we would be on the rise !Can Cherry do any worse than incumbents ? Coutourier fills more than just one weakness in Oiler lineup . Bigger than Hopkins and better finisher (scorer) for starters .

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#34 Russ99
May 08 2011, 10:01AM
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There's no Crosby or even a Tavares at the top of this draft, so all these players have a question mark about if they can step into the NHL right away.

Besides, no matter who we pick, this team still is a longshot for the playoffs as constituted, and since the management is going with the slow rebuild and not making any impact FA signings, we have the time to wait for an impact player like Larsson to develop.

This is a test of management as I see it, do the Oilers go for the player to help them the most ling term (Larsson) or go for a flashy yet flawed forward to sell tickets?

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#35 Robin Brownlee
May 08 2011, 12:43PM
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db7db7db7 wrote:

Robin, did Stu mention what he projects RNH to be? i.e. elite 1st liner, good first liner, great 2nd liner.....

Yes. Yes, he did. You'll have to wait until the Nugent-Hopkins item runs tonight or Monday morning to see what he said.

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#36 C-Dog
May 08 2011, 12:45PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Yes. Yes, he did. You'll have to wait until the Nugent-Hopkins item runs tonight or Monday morning to see what he said.

You are such a tease...

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#37 The Other John
May 08 2011, 01:09PM
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As I understand the concern with Larsson it is that he may take awhile to develop. The exact same concern exists for RNH, so much so he is tagged to return to junior where he will play with boys. Not sure how getting 130 points for RDR is an immediate impact for the Oilers In two years time, Larssen will be in his 5th year playing men and RNH will be starting year one (unless we count that series against Medicine Hat as his first exposure)

Am not touting Larssen as the pick but there are as many red flags on RNH as for either of AL or SC. For whatever reason, Oilers seem pretty clear that it's. RNH. Sure hope they are right because it was a terrible year to watch this past year and if we select a Mike Ribiero type, it will have been a lost 1st pick

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#38 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 08 2011, 01:21PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Has another Hedman written all over him.

Speaking of Victor, think he'll be ready to blossom and be available next summer Obbie, he's still a 3/4 in Tampa?

Haven't looked, but I've heard he's playing top minutes in TB (though they don't really have any true stars on the backend so that might not be as meaningful as it sounds)

I could see Stamkos being at 7+ this summer, maybe even in the 8 range so we just might be able to shack Headman out of TB next summer.

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#39 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
May 08 2011, 01:23PM
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The Other John wrote:

As I understand the concern with Larsson it is that he may take awhile to develop. The exact same concern exists for RNH, so much so he is tagged to return to junior where he will play with boys. Not sure how getting 130 points for RDR is an immediate impact for the Oilers In two years time, Larssen will be in his 5th year playing men and RNH will be starting year one (unless we count that series against Medicine Hat as his first exposure)

Am not touting Larssen as the pick but there are as many red flags on RNH as for either of AL or SC. For whatever reason, Oilers seem pretty clear that it's. RNH. Sure hope they are right because it was a terrible year to watch this past year and if we select a Mike Ribiero type, it will have been a lost 1st pick

I think when most people say "it takes Dmen longer to develop" they aren't talking 1-2 years... they are talking 4-5 years.

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#40 The Other John
May 08 2011, 02:14PM
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They do keep saying it but if Larsson is as good as the 5 best below I would be exceptionally happy with him on our roster moving forward and, again, he is playing men for the last 3 years

2009 Draft Hedman 153 games 46 pts, playing 20+ minutes in playoffs Kulikov 140 games 42 pts

2008 Draft Doughty Tyler Myers Luke Schenn Pietrangelo Bogosian Erik Carlsson John Carlson ............. all over a 100 games played, 3 over 200 gms played, 5 over 125 games played

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#41 Oilfan00
May 08 2011, 03:16PM
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I am interested if the people saying draft Larsson are the same people saying trade Gagner? I am an the RNH bandwaggon but I would be fine with anyone else but Larsson.

Prediction: Oilers draft Larsson and same people that are saying draft Larsson call for him to get traded in 3 years for a top 10 pick.

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#42 Oilfan00
May 08 2011, 03:18PM
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Also anyone else find this interesting that CSS said:

"Adam is one of the best skaters in this year’s draft -- he has excellent speed and mobility..."

And Stu says: Concerns: "He's a good skater but he's not a great skater. His offence is only OK at this point."

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#43 Milli
May 08 2011, 05:52PM
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madjam wrote:

Bowman rates Larsson no.1 and so do i . I also have Coutourier above Hopkins . Bowman can't figure out why Hopkins appeals so heavily to Oilers . Bowman is very seldom wrong .

I see D.Cherry has drawn the ire of the direction Oilers seem to be going - as per comment in last nights game . Oilers need to get off duff and add more veterans to team to bring along our youth ! How about Cherry for new Gm , and lets get a proper rebuild going here in the right direction ? Maybe if our media got on the bandwagon and became more critical then maybe we would be on the rise !Can Cherry do any worse than incumbents ? Coutourier fills more than just one weakness in Oiler lineup . Bigger than Hopkins and better finisher (scorer) for starters .

Never heard it myself, but I do believe that Bowman knows hockey. Now, not to be totally on the fence, but I think MBS has been money pretty much so far! Ha, that's why it's great to be a fan, I don't have to decide, I just get to cheer!

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#44 Team Couturier
May 08 2011, 07:05PM
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Got to commend you Rubin, this is the best info to date on the draft, great great series. I like that Couturier's best asset is his defensive ability, when in fact, he still puts up the same points as the other top 5. Also, he is the only player to put up the same ppg the last 2 years in a row. Thats pedigree. He is also 6'4". For that reason, he is my choice. We shall see if Stu's choice is better in but 5 years time.

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#45 Mitch
May 08 2011, 10:38PM
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@Brownlee

I was chatting with a friend the other day a season ticket holder, his feeling was that when you take a player #1 he has to be on the roster next yr. I understand what he's talking about but I don't feel the player needs to be on the roster if he's not ready. This being said what is your take on this matter? When I ask this question, I don't want the oilers to move down, there is many holes. My thoughts are Tambellini is about 6 to 8 players away from the playoffs as I watch games today 4 forwards 3 dmen and a goalie.

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#46 russ99
May 09 2011, 11:01AM
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Oilfan00 wrote:

I am interested if the people saying draft Larsson are the same people saying trade Gagner? I am an the RNH bandwaggon but I would be fine with anyone else but Larsson.

Prediction: Oilers draft Larsson and same people that are saying draft Larsson call for him to get traded in 3 years for a top 10 pick.

I think this is two different schools.

1) The Oilers should pick the best player/one who can help us most (be it whomever of the prospects they think this is) and not necessarily the most "NHL ready".

2) Make some trades/signings to improve the roster so it's closer to playoff quality regardless of how the kids develop.

Count me as a yes for #1 with Larsson and a no for #2, as if the Oilers are going to be patient for the best quality of player in the rebuild, it makes no sense to shoot for the playoffs now and stunt the process.

Personally, I think the two Oilers where it woulnd be a big mistake to trade now are Gagner and Omark.

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#47 russ99
May 09 2011, 11:03AM
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@russ99

Whoops - I mean would be a big mistake.

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#48 Racki
May 09 2011, 02:25PM
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As far as I'm concerned.. pick the best player available.. and by that, I mean the player who will be the best in the long term.

If it's Larsson and it takes him a few years to get to that point, so be it.

Why rush? We're not going to have the cup in a year or two or even three. And yes, I do know there is SOME rush involved (to ensure we don't lose players to free agency), but I think the core players will still be around when our 4-year project is finally ready.

Patience should be exercised, even if we've been through hell already as fans and don't want to wait any longer.

That all goes for RNH too (or any of the other big names). If he's the best player available now and we figure he will be in the future, then definitely go with him.

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