August 27 2011 09:02AM
The flurry of free agent signings and trades Steve Tambellini negotiated on July 1st has taken a lot of time to digest. Even now we're mulling over lines and pairings, and one California blogger has uncovered something you should know about Andy Sutton. Don't worry, it's good.
When Andy Sutton was acquired for Kurtis Foster on July 1st, I felt it was a solid depth move: Sutton is a huge defender, and his acquisition addresses the need for a physical player and also the dire need for a veteran defenseman. Plus he has a history of helping out on the penalty kill.
KEY TO THE HIGHWAY
My feeling on July 1st (and now) is that the key addition to the opening night roster for the Oilers blue will be Jeff Petry. Although he is not certain to be on the roster, Petry is the logical option for 4th defender on the depth chart. Why? Several reasons, including the fact that Cameron Barker has never succeeded in a top 4D role in the NHL--and even more alarming is that he's rarely been asked to do so.
In Sutton's case, a year ago he played third pairing opposition and very little nightly (12EV minutes a night with a solid PK total, 2.5 minutes). It's been my belief that Sutton would be a 5-7D option and a player who has a real chance to be a healthy scratch often this season. A guess at the opening night roster might be:
- Ryan Whitney
- Tom Gilbert
- Ladislav Smid
- Cam Barker
- Theo Peckham
- Andy Sutton
- Taylor Chorney (healthy scratch)
And if Ryan Whitney's injury problems become an issue then Jeff Petry moves onto the roster opening night.
Changing my mind?
Earl Sleek is a quality blogger who has been data mining the secondary numbers long enough to be credible. He found an impressive third pairing stretch run for Mr. Sutton.
- Earl Sleek: Wait a goddamn second -- Andy Sutton was useful at 5-on-5 down the stretch?! So says the data, at least. Obviously this was cushy minutes, but maybe it did take the guy most of the season to find a groove he could play in. I was as happy as anybody that the Oilers traded for Sutton, and still sort of am -- he was a healthy scratch too often for that money -- but in the right situations, the guy can be effective.
What does this mean?
The Oilers blue has the makings of a Greek tragedy. Although they have some quality at the top (Whitney, Gilbert) and there are good young ones who will have one more year of experience (Peckham, Petry), the heart of the order is still in a period of transition. Are Cam Barker and Andy Sutton really better than Kurtis Foster and Jim Vandermeer?
Earl Sleek's data mining suggests it may be true.
Nation Radio is back on the air today at noon (Team 1260). Before I tell you about the lineup, allow me to thank Robin Brownlee for delivering outstanding episodes the last two weeks. Top drawer guests and terrific questions throughout the programs, he certainly showed why he's a respected member of the Edmonton media community. I expect Robin will be hosting more shows as we roll along (although Wanye hasn't told me--all I ever get from Wanye is a ringing door bell at 6am, a brown bag on fire as I open the door and the opportunity to say "not again!" and mean it).
- Jeff Krushell from Krush Sports Performance. Jeff is probably the smartest man I know and has worked with various sports organizations (notably the Blue Jays). He's an expert on nutrition and health, so I'll ask him about RNH and his training program designed to put on weight without losing agility and we'll also talk about Ryan Whitney's injury and the impact injuries have on elite athletes.
- Matt Bugg from dobber hockey. Matt is an outstanding source of information on young players--draft eligible and beyond. I'll ask him what we can expect from the Oilers young guns this season and perhaps get a quick look at the 2012 draft.
- Kirk Luedeke from Bruins draft watch. Kirk is a wonderful resource that we relied on heavily this past season for draft information. He's off to Redline report for 11-12 and we'll congratulate him and then talk about the 2011-12 season for the Bruins, Oilers and more.
- Pat McLean from Black Dogs Hates Skunks. We talked a few weeks ago but didn't finish it, I'll play what is perhaps the most interesting portion of the interview: a fascinating look at the 1972 Canada-Russia series replayed through modern scoring. It is and was a revelation.
Hope you'll join me, emails welcome at email@example.com and much of the discussion will surround the Oilers in 2011-12. Team 1260 at noon.