Who's Leaving?

Lowetide
July 03 2011 08:03AM

With this weekend's additions, the Edmonton Oilers now have 16 forwards for 14 available spots. Someone is leaving town.

Steve Tambellini has made some very nice moves since the entry draft, but there's more work to do. The NHL team has 16 forwards and that's too many. Here's a look at the keepers, the suspects and the possible line combinations. The list goes from most likely to make the roster to least likely.

  1. L Taylor Hall: The franchise has a roster spot secured for the next decade, and the big question here is who will play on his line. If RNH makes the team, I'd expect Hall and Eberle to be the wingers on the ultimate Kid Line. That might not last the pre-season if the line struggles from the pressure, so expect Horcoff to slide into the middle between Hall and Eberle should that happen.
  2. R Jordan Eberle: Led his team in points as a rookie and showed impressive growth over the year (although that first NHL goal will live forever). I believe Eberle's immediate future is tied to Hall's--they were successful linemates a year ago, why mess with success? RNH and Horcoff are the likely centers.
  3. L Magnus Paajarvi: Fleet Swede had a solid rookie season (34 points) and displayed some impressive play away from the puck. Found chem after Christmas with Omark and I think that duo will continue, albeit with a different center than a year ago (Gagner). We've talked about all of the '10 rookie wingers moving to center, and I think MP might be the best candidate. For now, I think the best option for them at center is either newcomer Belanger or Horcoff (should RNH make the team on the Kid Line).
  4. L Ryan Smyth: Huge acquisition for the Oilers. I think Smyth will team up with Hemsky no matter the center, and further believe the first candidate for the role should be Sam Gagner. He has chem with Hemsky and if things roll well that line could either play the tougher minutes or scald the soft parade.
  5. C Shawn Horcoff: Despite age and not possessing the foot speed he had in 2006 spring, Horcoff will once again play an important role on the team. I think there's a strong possibility he gets MP/Omark if Nugent-Hopkins grabs the 1line job. The Oilers could also go with a designated veteran line and reuniting him with Smyth and Hemsky. That's a tough call, though. Still too much youth on the other lines to leave them alone.
  6. R Ales Hemsky: Gifted winger is apparently healthy and ready to roll in 11-12. The Oilers will attempt to sign him and then put him in a position to succeed before shopping 83 at the deadline. My guess is that he's tied to Smyth for the regular season, with center's Gagner and Horcoff getting time between them.
  7. C Sam Gagner: Young center has made progress at the NHL level despite point totals in the low 40's. Very intelligent player who can riff off veterans extremely well, I'd hope coach Renney gives him veteran linemates Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky in an effort to have a 1line that can protect the Kid Line. I don't see Gagner centering MP and Omark again, he never did figure out the two Swedes imo.
  8. C Eric Belanger: An absolute Godsend for this forward group. He can play up and down the lineup and I'd guess that he will do just that over the season. Most likely linemates would be MP/Omark and Eager/Jones on the third unit.
  9. R Linus Omark: I can't think of a line combination that has him playing apart from Paajarvi, so it's a matter of which center they line up with most nights. My guess is that Shawn Horcoff or Eric Belanger and their 2-way skills will be best used between the gifted Swedish wingers.
  10. L Ben Eager: I see lots of people saying he's a 4line crash and banger, but I think Eager may end up playing higher on the depth chart. A designated 2-way line of Belanger-Eager-Jones is possible and he could also play 4line minutes with Cogliano at center and Hordichuk on the wing. I also believe there will be times he'll take a spin with the kids just to keep everyone honest.
  11. R Ryan Jones: I believe Jones will play with Belanger and Eager on the 4line, but could also see times where he's patrolling the 4line with Hordichuk and Cogliano.
  12. C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Makes the list this late because there's just no way RNH plays a secondary role. He either makes it as a member of the top 2 skill lines or he's going back. Most believe (as do I) that he's going to get those 9 games to succeed. I think he'll stay. Wingmen options include Hall-Eberle and Smyth-Hemsky. I don't like the RNH-Hemsky fit because Hemsky is all reaction and feel and RNH is all vision and thinking the game. I don't like the match, we'll see.
  13. C Andrew Cogliano: Coach Renney said several times last season that he felt Cogliano was making progress as a two way player. I think Cogs may continue that role, this time with physical Ben Eager and energy guy Ryan Jones on his wings. A secondary possibility would be sliding Cogliano between the two Swedes, but that could be chaotic in the Oilers zone.
  14. R Darcy Hordichuk: I think some may be getting the wrong idea about Hordichuk. I see him as a huge upgrade over Steve MacIntyre as a player, but don't believe he's going to play 80 games and see 6 minutes a night. Hordichuk will enter the season as the 14th man and be utilized in a depth role. That's how I see it, anyway.
  15. L Teemu Hartikainen: He starts TC as the last guy sent out/first call up from my point of view. He could make the big club if one of the incumbents shows up at least than 100% in terms of conditioning, but I can't see a way for him to make it straight up at this time.
  16. R Gilbert Brule: I think his NHL career is at a crossroads. The unfortunate circumstances surrounding the LAK deal for Ryan Smyth made Brule a quesiton mark across the league. I can't imagine an NHL team trading for him now, there's a clear medical reason for the deal to have been turned away. My guess is LTIR until he can get things back together again.

With all of that as a  backdrop, here's how I see the lines breaking down:

  1. Gagner-Smyth-Hemsky
  2. RNH-Hall-Eberle
  3. Horcoff-Paajarvi-Omark
  4. Belanger-Eager-Jones
  5. Extras: Cogliano-Hordichuk
  6. Minors: Hartikainen
  7. LTIR: Brule

WHO'S LEAVING?

One of the centermen, either Cogliano, Gagner or Horcoff. Hopefully the club will acquire a top 4 shutdown defender in the deal. After that, I believe they'll either send down Hartikainen or LTIR Brule to set the roster.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#51 Tapdog
July 03 2011, 10:54AM
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justDOit wrote:

I really can't see much of a player coming back for Cogs - maybe a 2nd round pick. So with our need on D, it might have to be Hemmer that gets moved, with maybe Cogs as well to sweeten the deal.

That would take care of the glut of smallish forwards, create some space for Lander, and give more ice time for someone like Omark, who I believe will make even bigger strides as a player this year (pun intended).

Would you target a Ryan Suter?

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#52 Kodiak
July 03 2011, 11:12AM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

Thats exactly why I wouldnt move Gagner. Hes versatile, cheap, young, and productive enough to still be in the top 9 (I think top 6).

To me he starts the year between Smyth and Hemsky and we really get a good idea of what this guy can do with legit NHL linemates. Im pro Gagner in the top 6, but even if hes pushed below the top 6 this year, Id rather have him moving forward than Cogliano, because I think Gagner has infinitely more upside.

Can you explain to me how you see Gagner as being versatile? I see Gagner as the most one dimensional player on the team. The only role he fits in is as an offensive center.

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#53 justDOit
July 03 2011, 11:13AM
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Tapdog wrote:

Would you target a Ryan Suter?

Who wouldn't? What I don't see is Nashville letting him go easily - is he impending UFA after this season?

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#54 kgo
July 03 2011, 11:30AM
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I think Horcoff will get traded in the next 16 months...Belanger can play his role as 3C, and Smyth will take his captaincy...they would love to dump his contract

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#55 horndog77
July 03 2011, 11:41AM
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@kgo

Absolutely agree about Horcoff, if teams are sniffing around and will take him off the Oilers hands they should. His contract is not worth the product. Shawn is a good player but times are a changing, and would allow RNH and Gagner and Belanger and Lander to step in. If the Oil could trade him and draft picks for a good defensemen they should do it.

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#56 CanaDave
July 03 2011, 11:43AM
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I'm glad to see I'm not the only one thinking that Omark might be the one to go, whether it's via trade or involving him going back to OKC to start the year playing with Lander. To a team up against the cap ceiling like Philly or Washington, Omark ELC is probably much more appealing than Gagner's 2.275 or the 1.5ish Cogs will probably get from either the Oilers or an arbitrator.

In the spirit of the thread, my trade offer would be Omark/Chorney+ for Dennis Wideman. It saves the Caps 2 mil this season that they can use to resign Alzner and if the Oilers are selling at the trade deadline Wideman could bring back comparable talent or a decent draft pick since he's only got 1 year left on his deal.

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#57 justDOit
July 03 2011, 11:50AM
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@kgo

Not saying he won't get traded, but this is the same Horcoff who is a good friend of Katz? And the best center that the Oilers have (yes, he is - contract aside)? Sorry, but I don't see it.

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#58 horndog77
July 03 2011, 11:55AM
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I just looked at the Caps salary and I believe they would need more than 2 million to resign both Alzner and Brouwer, maybe the rumor of Mike Green being traded is a possibility. Would the Oilers be interested in Green?

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#59 Dan the Man
July 03 2011, 11:56AM
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horndog77 wrote:

Absolutely agree about Horcoff, if teams are sniffing around and will take him off the Oilers hands they should. His contract is not worth the product. Shawn is a good player but times are a changing, and would allow RNH and Gagner and Belanger and Lander to step in. If the Oil could trade him and draft picks for a good defensemen they should do it.

One of our biggest issues last year was weakness at the center position, so now that the Oil have acquired some help you want to get rid of the only guy who could win face-offs last year?

Neither RNH or Lander have played an NHL game yet but I'm certain they will be great on the draw and in their own zone in addition to facing the other teams top lines on a regular basis.

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#60 Mrs. Potato Dick
July 03 2011, 11:56AM
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Lowetide, what scenario can you see that has Horcoff getting traded? Between his poisen-pill contract and his value in the Oilers lineup I just can't see that being realistic.

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#61 horndog77
July 03 2011, 12:02PM
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I agree that losing Horcoff would be worse for faceoffs, but most times you have to give something to get something. And I think the Oilers would be smart to have money available to get a premier defensemen to play with all that talent up front.

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#62 knobby
July 03 2011, 12:10PM
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I was thrilled to see our-much maligned GM (often by me) actively GM'ing. How these players react to playing in Edmonton will be interesting. Here's hoping they are not just another version of Fraser, JFJ and Storts. Their play being way underwhelming most nights. I was jumping up and down on my Laz-e-boy as the moves by the Oil rolled in. These signings seem to allow the Oil to (a) protect the younguns' and (b) slow down their entry into the NHL until they are more ready.

I lack the personality, character and chutzpah to apologize vocally and publicly to Tambo and the Oil...but just imagine I am thinking it.

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#63 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:10PM
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According to capgeek.com, we have almost $9M in cap space, and have to qualify Cogs, Chorney and Peckham - who will total out to about $3M.

So if a Mike Green lands in Oilerville, we'd be able to fit him into the cap without actually getting rid of any players. No 'need' to jettison Horc, or his contract.

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#64 a lg dubl dubl
July 03 2011, 12:12PM
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HUGE NEWS!!! JOSH GREEN JUST SIGNED WITH THE OILERS!!!

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#65 In the Grease
July 03 2011, 12:13PM
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Oilers land a different Green...Josh. One year two way contract signed today according to Oilers' site.

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#67 In the Grease
July 03 2011, 12:14PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

HUGE NEWS!!! JOSH GREEN JUST SIGNED WITH THE OILERS!!!

Ha... we're on the same timing again... but your turn to scoop me. lol

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#68 Death Metal Nightmare
July 03 2011, 12:15PM
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wow, Gagner really doesnt deserve first line minutes with Hemsky and Smyth. that kids been handed way too much as is and barely makes a dent out there as an "offensively gifted" player. he was atrocious on the PP last year. the entire two months of January and February he had 0 points on the PP. insane for a kid getting 2:56 per game with the man advantage.

i hope he AND Cogliano get tossed out of town. theyre mediocre and both have major "flaws" to their game for being effective in the NHL. neither can take draws and are just wasting time here.

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#69 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:16PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

HUGE NEWS!!! JOSH GREEN JUST SIGNED WITH THE OILERS!!!

I guess this confirms it - large double double is actually treenasoil on twitter - I can see the similarities!

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#70 Bucknuck
July 03 2011, 12:19PM
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Another left winger? Aren't we just a little deep on LW?

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#71 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:22PM
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@Bucknuck

He's listed as a C, at least he was when he played for us 10 yrs ago...

Are we bringing back Sven Butenschon next?

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#72 CanaDave
July 03 2011, 12:24PM
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In 2 years from now Horcoff can submit a list of teams he'd be willing to waive his NMC to be traded to, I find it much more likely he'll be traded at that point. Even with the injuries, Horc has had a multiyear run as a #1 center in the NHL, and has all sorts of experience to pass on down to RNH and Gagner, assuming of course they are willing to listen.

Based on the added toughness to the lineup and the fact the Oilers have already signed RNH to his entry level contract I think everyone's mock lineups are going to have to include RNH in them from this point forward. Unless he makes the worst impression ever on Renney in training camp, I don't see how he doesn't make the team this fall. Horcoff-RNH-Gagner-Belanger (in some order) at Center with Cogs playing wing seems pretty likely to me as it stands right now.

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#73 Bucknuck
July 03 2011, 12:26PM
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justDOit wrote:

He's listed as a C, at least he was when he played for us 10 yrs ago...

Are we bringing back Sven Butenschon next?

Thanks man. HockeydB had him as a winger and Wiki had him as LW. More reliable sources (like NHL) have him as C.

Is this a signing for the AHL or NHL?

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#74 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:26PM
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Lowetide wrote:

I think there's a window here because of the cap floor problem. Horcoff is a solid player who has lost a step and the Oilers signing of Belanger might give the team a chance to restructure the center position.

RNH-Gagner-Belanger-Cogliano slots everyone into position and the Oilers would have that cap room moving forward.

I'm not suggesting it is a strong option, but the cap floor situation at least brings into into play long enough for us to ponder it.

Coyotes, Jets, Islanders and Preds have to spend from $9M to $13M just to get to the cap floor, so yes, that's a possibility.

But are they going to give us back a good, responsible center to replace Horc, just for the sake of the cap floor? I think we lose that trade, in a hockey sense, for sure.

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#75 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:29PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Thanks man. HockeydB had him as a winger and Wiki had him as LW. More reliable sources (like NHL) have him as C.

Is this a signing for the AHL or NHL?

A 33 yr old center who's played just over 300 games, and has a career point production is 0.25/game, and a career -10.

I'd say AHL, but if those crazy rumours of Horc getting traded, maybe he is depth for the NHL?

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#77 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:33PM
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For those who can't stand the sight of female flesh, treenasoil is reporting the caps shopping a goalie to the Oil, and that the Sabres/Oilers are talking trade, with Gags/Cogs being named.

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#78 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:37PM
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Lowetide wrote:

yeah, agreed. But I think you might be willing (if you're ST) because that gets a huge contract off the books. Hall and the group are going to get paid and that isn't too far away.

Also, if the Oilers are as high on Lander as I think they are, going with less experience at center this season might be something they're willing to do.

As a trade for 11-12, I agree it'll hurt.

Could be, but I still think Horc is more important to us this year, especially if RNH makes the team.

We would then have a year or two to get out from under his contract, either with a buyout or a bus-tour salary dump.

Or he could just retire, and his buddy Katz could give him a job with Rexall.

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#79 Dan the Man
July 03 2011, 12:38PM
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horndog77 wrote:

I agree that losing Horcoff would be worse for faceoffs, but most times you have to give something to get something. And I think the Oilers would be smart to have money available to get a premier defensemen to play with all that talent up front.

Horcoff doesn't have much value due to his contract so chances are you aren't getting anything of value in return and the Oilers don't need the capspace right now.

If the Oilers want to unload Horcoffs contract because they think they will need the space when it's time to resign Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi then it's not to going to make the team better right now.

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#80 In the Grease
July 03 2011, 12:49PM
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justDOit wrote:

For those who can't stand the sight of female flesh, treenasoil is reporting the caps shopping a goalie to the Oil, and that the Sabres/Oilers are talking trade, with Gags/Cogs being named.

Caps shopping a goalie doesn't seem to make sense from a financial standpoint - they must already have the cheapest one-two combo in the league for 11-12 with Vokoun at 1.5 mil, and Neuvirth at 1.15 mil ... what would be the thinking here? Holtby is only 21 and is theoretically fine in the AHL next season, especially as insurance if one of the other guys goes down.

Maybe the Caps are pulling some kind of misdirect/ switcheroo on Vokoun, and he'll be playing in Edmonton this season after all? Nefarious...

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#81 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:52PM
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In the Grease wrote:

Caps shopping a goalie doesn't seem to make sense from a financial standpoint - they must already have the cheapest one-two combo in the league for 11-12 with Vokoun at 1.5 mil, and Neuvirth at 1.15 mil ... what would be the thinking here? Holtby is only 21 and is theoretically fine in the AHL next season, especially as insurance if one of the other guys goes down.

Maybe the Caps are pulling some kind of misdirect/ switcheroo on Vokoun, and he'll be playing in Edmonton this season after all? Nefarious...

Agreed, doesn't make sense for them to still be shopping goalies - unless part of the deal is for the Oilers to take on a big contract as well. Caps are within $500K of the cap ceiling.

She(he) also says that the Rangers have interest in Cogs, but not willing to give anything back. Seems to be in line with my theory of having too many smallish, unrealized forwards isn't a position of strength.

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#82 tHe TeE wHy
July 03 2011, 12:53PM
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I was having numerous adult beverages at joeys patio on Jasper on this great Canada day. All the while Ryan Rishaug was sitting by me yammering on the phone non stop. After over hearing some interesting conversations, and once the liquid courage kicked in a Lil more, I asked him what he thought the almighty oil typhoon would do in terms of moves before camp. In his words, cogs and gags don't fit anymore and most other teams feel the same and are already throwing out feelers for the two. More-so for Gagne tho. He all but guarantees they'll both be headed out for a D-man.

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#83 OilFan
July 03 2011, 12:53PM
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WOW. Is Belanger that much of a upgrade to the CAPTAIN ?

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#85 OilFan
July 03 2011, 12:56PM
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@tHe TeE wHy

IS THIS TRUE ?

"I was having numerous adult beverages "

or maybe you thought it was a "Quasi-celebrity" ?

..............

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#86 justDOit
July 03 2011, 12:58PM
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@tHe TeE wHy

Interesting, but I really think it un-cool to be calling out someone for what their OL looks like. In order for you to walk in someone else's shoes, first you must take off your own.

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#87 Oilcruzer
July 03 2011, 01:03PM
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@tHe TeE wHy

Talking about someone else's partner like that is real low. Hit the edit or leave.

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#88 Dan the Man
July 03 2011, 01:05PM
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tHe TeE wHy wrote:

I was having numerous adult beverages at joeys patio on Jasper on this great Canada day. All the while Ryan Rishaug was sitting by me yammering on the phone non stop. After over hearing some interesting conversations, and once the liquid courage kicked in a Lil more, I asked him what he thought the almighty oil typhoon would do in terms of moves before camp. In his words, cogs and gags don't fit anymore and most other teams feel the same and are already throwing out feelers for the two. More-so for Gagne tho. He all but guarantees they'll both be headed out for a D-man.

Taking personal shots at someone like that is pretty ignorant.

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#90 OilFan
July 03 2011, 01:10PM
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back to this Gagner trade DO IT.

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#91 Duke
July 03 2011, 01:17PM
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tHe TeE wHy

that's one of the most ignorant things i've read on this website

and

can someone tell me what the actual problem is with Brule?

If the guys got personal issues then say that and i'll move on but all these vague comments about his health are weird.

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#92 Matt Henderson
July 03 2011, 01:24PM
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Death Metal Nightmare wrote:

wow, Gagner really doesnt deserve first line minutes with Hemsky and Smyth. that kids been handed way too much as is and barely makes a dent out there as an "offensively gifted" player. he was atrocious on the PP last year. the entire two months of January and February he had 0 points on the PP. insane for a kid getting 2:56 per game with the man advantage.

i hope he AND Cogliano get tossed out of town. theyre mediocre and both have major "flaws" to their game for being effective in the NHL. neither can take draws and are just wasting time here.

Yeah, the centre who scored more than every other C who will be at camp this year totally doesnt deserve a shot at playing with talented players. Sure he had one of the best 5 on 5 scoring metrics on the entire team while playing most of the year with NHL rookies who were feeling their way into the North American game, but he sux and we should get rid of him. Shawn Horcoff will be a top 6 player for another decade to be sure, either that or we can just replace Gagner with someone else. I mean, just because it took us a 30th place finish to acquire a player that should be better than him (assuming he actually makes the team this year) doesnt mean Tambellini cant just pull a rabbit out of his hat and make a 2C appear.

Nobody performed well on the PP but lets pick Gagner out of the crowd and blame it all on him. I mean, hes just wasting his time here, afterall. We should only draft players who dont have flaws in their game. That way we will be unstoppable hockey juggernauts and all other teams will tremble when the Oil and their easily attainable 6'6" ice hockey gods come to town.

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#93 tHe TeE wHy
July 03 2011, 01:24PM
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I do believe most of what rishaug says. I'm sure he's fairly connected with the goings-on of the oilers. I would much rather see cogs gone than gags, but one by thematic probably isn't gonna be enough to sway a team out of anything significant... Unless of course Dean Lombardi wants to make another deal!!! Come on DL..... One for old time sake!!

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#94 justDOit
July 03 2011, 01:24PM
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Duke wrote:

tHe TeE wHy

that's one of the most ignorant things i've read on this website

and

can someone tell me what the actual problem is with Brule?

If the guys got personal issues then say that and i'll move on but all these vague comments about his health are weird.

re: Brule - I agree. If he really is getting the flu that often, then there are some serious underlying health concerns. If this 'flu' is self induced, then the NHL substance program is in order. Either way, something should be done for this guy!

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#95 justDOit
July 03 2011, 01:28PM
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tHe TeE wHy wrote:

I do believe most of what rishaug says. I'm sure he's fairly connected with the goings-on of the oilers. I would much rather see cogs gone than gags, but one by thematic probably isn't gonna be enough to sway a team out of anything significant... Unless of course Dean Lombardi wants to make another deal!!! Come on DL..... One for old time sake!!

Thanks for apology.

Damned scruples, I had a bunch of good pile-on lines for that!

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#96 tHe TeE wHy
July 03 2011, 01:29PM
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*themselves not thematic.

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#97 OilFan
July 03 2011, 01:46PM
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what holiday ?

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#98 Rogue
July 03 2011, 01:48PM
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As much as I see the value of Horcs as a vet, I would move him. RNH would almost have to remain then. I still would like to see a huge 4th line center down the road.

I too would like to know Brules issues.

Real or imagined.

Avatar
#99 OilFan
July 03 2011, 01:52PM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers

Gagner won't get us anything in a trade so no real point in trdaing him. As long as the Oilers need a second line center Gagner is cheap and can get you 40-50 point.

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