HOLEY KHABBY!!!

Jason Gregor
September 21 2011 12:57AM

The fans at Rexall might have set a preseason record for the earliest BOOOOOOO of the season, when they voiced their displeasure after Nikolai Khabibulin allowed a 3rd goal only 18:35 into the first period. Khabibulin allowed three goals on seven shots, and while you can't blame him on the first one, we've seen this horror movie before.

He needs to stop the puck.

You could point to a rookie pinch by Martin Marincin that gave the Wild a 2-on-1 that Pierre-Marc Bouchard roofed upstairs for the 3rd goal, but Khabibulin was way too deep in his crease on the shot. There are no excuses for how he played. His only saving grace was that it was a preseason game.

He looked rusty, but unlike previous years I'm not certain he will get the chance to play his way into tip-top shape. Devan Dubnyk is right behind, or right beside, him on the depth chart, and Tom Renney doesn't have the luxury of allowing the Bulin Wall to get his game together brick-by-brick. Khabibulin needs to have his foundation in place during his next two preseason performances or he won't, or shouldn't, be starting on October 9th against the Penguins.

Khabibulin had the worst SV% of any starting goalie last year; an embarrassing .890% to go along with a pathetic 3.40 GAA. His SV% was even worse than Brian Elliott, Dan Ellis and Peter Budaj. Brian freaking Elliott was better than him.

Dubnyk played behind the same porous defense and inexperienced forwards, yet he managed a respectable .916 SV% and 2.71 GAA. Last night junior goalie, Tyler Bunz, relieved Khabibulin halfway through the second frame and stopped the first ten shots he faced. He stopped 10 of 11 and looked much more comfortable than Khabibulin.

You can say it was only a preseason game, but at what point does Renney stop waiting for Khabibulin to find his game. Maybe he can't find it? Maybe he doesn't have it anymore? 

It sounds like Yann Danis and David LeNeveu will split the game on Thursday, so that leaves five more preseason tilts. Will the Oilers give Khabibulin three full starts and Dubnyk two? Dubnyk said he was hoping to start one game this coming weekend and then one next weekend, but if he is playing better maybe he gets the extra start?

I've always said you can't take too much out of the first preseason game, but normally I'm talking about some young rookie who scored two goals and people think he's ready for the Show. In Khabibulin's case, we've all seen two years of sub-par hockey from him, and last night's effort only increased the doubt in the mind of Oiler fans.

I wonder if that same doubt is creeping into the psyche of the coaching staff?

SWEDES SHINE 

While Magnus Paajarvi, Anton Lander and Linus Omark didn't look this good last night, the "Tre Kroner Konnection" had a great first game together. They combined for two goals, three assists, ten shots, three hits, three takeaways and they averaged 19:15 of icetime. They all looked dangerous at different times, and I'm sure Renney would like to give them another chance to play together very soon.

Paajarvi and Lander were clearly the best of the three, and what I liked most about Lander was his post-game reaction. He was legitimately annoyed that they lost. He hates losing and he couldn't hide it. It's nice to see a guy who cares that much. Paajarvi told me that Lander hates losing more than anyone he's ever played with, and that's the exact type of attitude the Oilers need.

I still think Lander will start the season in the AHL, but if he play like this when the opposition ices a veteran team then he might force Renney to make a tough decision.

I also like Antti Tyrvainen's game. He only played 8:54, but I noticed him often. He showed a nice touch on his goal and he isn't afraid to go in the corners. He's another guy who needs to keep getting noticed as the games become more competitive, but so far so good.

I thought Kirill Tulupov played okay, considering his young D partner, Martin Marincin, really struggled early. Tulupov might earn himself a two-way contract in the next few weeks. Marincin is not strong enough to play in the AHL this year. He didn't gain enough strength this off-season, and I won't be surprised if the Oiler elect to have him train in Edmonton rather than back home in the Czech next summer. I don't think he was able to train enough, or get the proper guidance necessary to gain muscle and strength properly.

Sending Marincin back to junior means his contract won't count towards the 50 contract cap, and that could open up a spot for Tulupov.

SASKATOON

The feed for the Oilers/Hawks game kept buffering every three seconds so I wasn't able to watch it, but I got some reports from guys there and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked more than comfortable in his first preseason game. He assisted on Ryan Smyth's opening goal, missed an open net and generated quite a few chances. One person within the organization gave him a B+ ranking.

Smyth played like it was 2007 and mixed in a few saucer passes for fun. He told me at the morning skate he hadn't been this excited for a preseason game in a decade, and, despite his age, he wants to show Renney he can still be a go-to guy.

Josh Green potted a pair of goals, and while he's destined to start the season in OKC, more for his leadership than anything, he clearly doesn't want to get sent down without a fight. I'm guessing we see Green re-called as an injury replacement at some point during the season. He could fill a void for five to ten games.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers will keep at least 15 D-men until Saturday, unless Renney wants to play a guy in three straight games. Ryan Whitney, Colten Teubert and Andy Sutton are in camp, but none are likely to play until Sunday at the earliest. There will be some cuts tomorrow, because they only have two ice slots scheduled. They won't cram 27 or 28 guys into each session.
     
  • I thought Bunz looked solid once again, and if he goes back to Medicine Hat and doesn't have a slow start I'm certain he'll suit up for Canada at the WJC in Edmonton/Calgary this Christmas.
     
  • Hopefully on Saturday night the Internet feed for the Oilers/Flames game won't be as inconsistent as it was last night. You can watch Thursday's game on TSN and Sunday's game in Calgary on Sportsnet.
     
  • Which players did you like last night? Who didn't you like?  
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#101 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 01:27PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Because he's the weakest link?

What criteria are you using? He's cheap, productive, young, and skilled.

The Oilers have 3 players under 25 years old at centre who look like they have legit chances of being NHL players: Gagner, RNH, and Lander. 2 of them have never played a regular season game.

How much longer are you banking on Horc or Belanger? Both on the wrong side of 30.

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#102 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
September 21 2011, 01:36PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Hey, don't buy it if you don't want to. You're trying to pin team peformance on individual players.... that's weak.

Were likely a bottom 5 team this year as well... all of a sudden your golden children have a 30 and a 27 on their resumes as well.

That's what i'm sorta getting at Obbie. These veterans can't lead from the trainers tables, liquidate these quantity players for another shot at a quality one. It can't be too difficult to find just one fit with all the spare parts the Oilers have available on their roster. This team isn't going anywhere till Hall takes charge of it anyways. Why the need to hang onto these often injured/overpaid veterans?

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#103 mayorpoop
September 21 2011, 01:39PM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

yes but somehow i screwed that up. don't know my password, e-mail must be wrong because it won't send me new password. i f'ed it up somehow and it needs developer help to reset.

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#104 positivebrontefan
September 21 2011, 01:41PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

i may be far from the smrtest guy on the interwebs, but dont you just need to register and login to be able to edit?

**puts tinfoil hat back on and tries to finish mammoth block of cheese**

So far as I know, if you can post, you can edit...

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#105 Brodie
September 21 2011, 01:44PM
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Hope the "clear plastic skirts" the NHL plans to use on the nets this year catch on away from the rink. :)

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#106 josh
September 21 2011, 01:47PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

What criteria are you using? He's cheap, productive, young, and skilled.

The Oilers have 3 players under 25 years old at centre who look like they have legit chances of being NHL players: Gagner, RNH, and Lander. 2 of them have never played a regular season game.

How much longer are you banking on Horc or Belanger? Both on the wrong side of 30.

You forgot weak and slow in addition to cheap, productive, young, and skilled.

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#107 terry
September 21 2011, 01:48PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

What criteria are you using? He's cheap, productive, young, and skilled.

The Oilers have 3 players under 25 years old at centre who look like they have legit chances of being NHL players: Gagner, RNH, and Lander. 2 of them have never played a regular season game.

How much longer are you banking on Horc or Belanger? Both on the wrong side of 30.

Don't forget Pitlick! He'll be a good pro.

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#108 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 01:54PM
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josh wrote:

You forgot weak and slow in addition to cheap, productive, young, and skilled.

Production >>> size/speed.

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#109 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
September 21 2011, 01:55PM
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positivebrontefan wrote:

So far as I know, if you can post, you can edit...

nah, there is "registered" users and then just plain users who put their name in and post..

some names are straight black, others are blue and you can see their user number (ie-yours is 1770)

registered = edit... i think...

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#110 mayorpoop
September 21 2011, 01:57PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Production >>> size/speed.

are you saying production is greater than (of more importance) size and speed?

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#111 olesz
September 21 2011, 01:58PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Production >>> size/speed.

Gagner produces? I guess you mean produces chances against. Someone teach the kid how to play D. Oh wait he can't get back cause he can't skate!

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#112 Terry
September 21 2011, 02:00PM
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from Stauffer's blog

Gagner to the wing?

Former Oilers Assistant Coach Craig Simpson is generally regarded as one of the top analysts in the business and he said something of interest on Oilers NOW regarding the Oilers' centre position.

He is of the belief that Sam Gagner should move to the wing.

“Personally, I think if Sam Gagner is your first or second line center your team probably is not good enough. Ideally if you have a bonafide #1 and #2 center, I would consider moving Sam to wing,” said Simpson.

Simpson went on to suggest that Gagner’s size and foot speed would suit him better on the wing.

Don’t forget that Simpson himself made a very successful transition from centre to the wing and went on to have a very productive NHL career.

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#113 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
September 21 2011, 02:04PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

What criteria are you using? He's cheap, productive, young, and skilled.

The Oilers have 3 players under 25 years old at centre who look like they have legit chances of being NHL players: Gagner, RNH, and Lander. 2 of them have never played a regular season game.

How much longer are you banking on Horc or Belanger? Both on the wrong side of 30.

He's also affordable for a reason, a danger at both ends of the ice... easily seperated from the puck, what's not to love about 89?

I'll take my chances 93 and 57 will be fine in his place, atleast we know they'll improve considerably the next 18 months. Deals like #10 and #20 are just holding up the process here

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#114 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:06PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

are you saying production is greater than (of more importance) size and speed?

Yes

It doesn't matter how big and fast you are if you can't create or defend goals.

Ask Chad Kilger.

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#115 Mike Modano's dog
September 21 2011, 02:06PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

THANK-YOU It's refreshing to see some Oiler fans still have good judgement and vision.

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#116 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:08PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

He's also affordable for a reason, a danger at both ends of the ice... easily seperated from the puck, what's not to love about 89?

I'll take my chances 93 and 57 will be fine in his place, atleast we know they'll improve considerably the next 18 months. Deals like #10 and #20 are just holding up the process here

:atleast we know they'll improve considerably the next 18 months"

And here in lies the whole problem with your thought process.

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#117 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:08PM
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Ah yes, the old "Gagner cant skate" statement makes a return.

He isnt slow people. Just average. Average speed isnt slow.

Jason Allison was slow. Gagner is average.

Sunk in yet?

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#118 Kevin S
September 21 2011, 02:09PM
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I was booing Khasbinboozin so hard last night, some dude to the right of me was like "It's not his fault, we have the worst D in the NHL!!!" I was like, that may be true, but it's also his fault.

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#119 Terry
September 21 2011, 02:10PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ah yes, the old "Gagner cant skate" statement makes a return.

He isnt slow people. Just average. Average speed isnt slow.

Jason Allison was slow. Gagner is average.

Sunk in yet?

Actually Gagner is slow. Watch some highlights or clips before commenting. Sunk in yet?

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#120 gord962
September 21 2011, 02:12PM
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The fact is is that there isn't enough room for everyone. You need to deal one or more and because of Gagner's draft position and contract, he would produce a decent return. He is a completely 1 dimensional player (no defense, gets knocked off the puck by the wind, no speed, poor in faceoffs) so where is his value to us in the future?? I sure hope he proves me wrong and has a break out season; none of us Gagner haters will complain about that. The problem is I see him getting passed by some of our younger players this year. Get a return for him while you can before you lose them for nothing. Bundle him up with a prospect and a pick to fill the gaping hole on defense.

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#121 Ned Braden
September 21 2011, 02:12PM
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I don't get all this trade Gagner talk to make room for guys that have never played a game in the NHL yet.

This is pre-season people, these results/individual stats mean very little. Two years ago Patty O'Sullivan was the next Hockey Jesus at training camp and was going to score 40 goals playing with Comrie. How did that work out?

Yes it appears they have some depth at the forward position but that is a good thing. Sure the team is saying they are pushing for the playoffs this year but looking at the defence and goaltender's I don't think that is going to happen. So why get all crazy and trade a 21 year old centre with 4 years NHL experience for younger guys who have never played an NHL/AHL game for a shot at 8th place?

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#122 positivebrontefan
September 21 2011, 02:14PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

nah, there is "registered" users and then just plain users who put their name in and post..

some names are straight black, others are blue and you can see their user number (ie-yours is 1770)

registered = edit... i think...

Huh...?

Your name is in blue but I see no user number, neither did I know that I had a user number.

I didn't know that there was any other way to post other than to be registered.

Must be the tin foil hat you are wearing acting as an antenae rather than thwarting signals. LOL!!!

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#123 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:15PM
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@Terry

Weak. Absolutely weak. Get one analyst on record to say that Gagner is slow.

They all say the same thing. "His skating is just average."

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#124 Josh
September 21 2011, 02:16PM
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Ned Braden wrote:

I don't get all this trade Gagner talk to make room for guys that have never played a game in the NHL yet.

This is pre-season people, these results/individual stats mean very little. Two years ago Patty O'Sullivan was the next Hockey Jesus at training camp and was going to score 40 goals playing with Comrie. How did that work out?

Yes it appears they have some depth at the forward position but that is a good thing. Sure the team is saying they are pushing for the playoffs this year but looking at the defence and goaltender's I don't think that is going to happen. So why get all crazy and trade a 21 year old centre with 4 years NHL experience for younger guys who have never played an NHL/AHL game for a shot at 8th place?

Gagner likely won't be traded now, but he likely will between now and next September.

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#125 Terry
September 21 2011, 02:19PM
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Read the Gagner story in the hockey news 2007 draft preview. Must be available online somewhere.

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#126 Talbot17
September 21 2011, 02:20PM
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when they say, "gagner's skating is average" on the air, they are really saying he is slow. Rishaug has mentioned it on the team1260 even too. Its the point. On a team where center is ideally a desired need for 2 way players, Gagner lacks.

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#127 Josh
September 21 2011, 02:21PM
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Craig Simpson said his skating is poor. Last I checked he was one of the better analysts on HNIC and covered the Stanley Cup Finals.

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#128 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:21PM
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@Terry

From Central Scouting: "a good skater, but needs to work on his acceleration and mobility..."

Sounds about right to me. Not slow, but not fast. Some might call it...average.

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#129 josh
September 21 2011, 02:29PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

From Central Scouting: "a good skater, but needs to work on his acceleration and mobility..."

Sounds about right to me. Not slow, but not fast. Some might call it...average.

From The Hockey News:

"Exceptional vision and smarts but compete level and footspeed are an issue."

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#130 Ned Braden
September 21 2011, 02:29PM
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@Josh

If someone comes along and performs better than Gagner during the year I don't have a problem in trading him.

I do have a problem trading him based on the preseason play of a 20 and 18 year old.

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#131 Terry
September 21 2011, 02:31PM
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Ned Braden wrote:

If someone comes along and performs better than Gagner during the year I don't have a problem in trading him.

I do have a problem trading him based on the preseason play of a 20 and 18 year old.

Agreed. He won't be traded now, but he will be when the likes of RNH and Lander are ready for primetime and ultimately snatch Gagner's minutes from him.

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#132 gord962
September 21 2011, 02:31PM
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What is it about Gagner that has you Gagner defenders backing him so much? What in his game makes you think he is a difference maker and we need him here? I'm not being a dick, I am honestly interested.

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#133 mayorpoop
September 21 2011, 02:32PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

i would say production is relative in some cases to size and speed and yes i do agree with you that points matter.

you know what tho, so does defensive responsibility. is gagner gonna be our number 1 center ever? no. #2 probably and #3 maybe. anything under #1 better have some of those other tangibles to back up those points.

i'm also glad that production matters the most, i always knew RNH could do it.

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#134 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:33PM
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Josh wrote:

Craig Simpson said his skating is poor. Last I checked he was one of the better analysts on HNIC and covered the Stanley Cup Finals.

What was the exact quote please. I cant find a link to this.

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#135 Josh
September 21 2011, 02:34PM
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gord962 wrote:

What is it about Gagner that has you Gagner defenders backing him so much? What in his game makes you think he is a difference maker and we need him here? I'm not being a dick, I am honestly interested.

I seriously think that Arch guy is Dave Gagner, because no reasonable person who understands hockey would defend Gagner that much. Unless of course, he is Sam's Dad.

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#136 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:35PM
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gord962 wrote:

What is it about Gagner that has you Gagner defenders backing him so much? What in his game makes you think he is a difference maker and we need him here? I'm not being a dick, I am honestly interested.

Minus the part where he's the best offensive centre on the team and hasnt entered the prime of his career yet? I guess if you take that away there isnt much left is there.

Good thing offence isnt needed to win hockey games or the Oilers might regret getting rid of a guy like that.

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#137 Josh
September 21 2011, 02:35PM
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The Stauffer story is above. Also you can find the Oilers Lunch archives online somewhere and listen to the interview with Stauffer. Also Rishaug has mentioned it on 1260 before and you can also find the links online.

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#138 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:36PM
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Intersting that a guy that's only a year and a half younger and is below average production in a vastly inferior league will produce him.

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#139 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:38PM
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@Josh

The only story above is a paraphrasing by Terry. That's not a story. If you're going to say "I have evidence of people saying exactly what I'm arguing" then you have to do better than "It's on the internet somewhere."

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#140 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:38PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

i would say production is relative in some cases to size and speed and yes i do agree with you that points matter.

you know what tho, so does defensive responsibility. is gagner gonna be our number 1 center ever? no. #2 probably and #3 maybe. anything under #1 better have some of those other tangibles to back up those points.

i'm also glad that production matters the most, i always knew RNH could do it.

Production may be relative to size/speed in some cases.... however without production the size/speed is irrelavant and without and with production the lack of size/speed is irrelavant.

He needs to improve defensivly, no arguments there... however I'd say that's probably the case for the majority of players coming off their 21 year old season.

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#141 GREMPZ
September 21 2011, 02:38PM
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GOD BLESS THOSE GIRLS.

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#142 Gregoire
September 21 2011, 02:39PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Minus the part where he's the best offensive centre on the team and hasnt entered the prime of his career yet? I guess if you take that away there isnt much left is there.

Good thing offence isnt needed to win hockey games or the Oilers might regret getting rid of a guy like that.

Isn't the fact that Gagner is our best offensive center a red flag? That is disturbing. In junior he had Kane inflating his numbers, now young Sam is being exposed in the show.

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#143 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:42PM
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gord962 wrote:

What is it about Gagner that has you Gagner defenders backing him so much? What in his game makes you think he is a difference maker and we need him here? I'm not being a dick, I am honestly interested.

The fact that he can perform the most important and valuable function of a hockey game at a level that only a 100 or so others can do.

The fact that people are typically strong and faster at 25 then at 21 also helps.

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#144 Terry
September 21 2011, 02:43PM
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Here is the link to the Simpson interview. http://www.630ched.com/Podcasts/Episodes.aspx?PID=2254

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#145 gord962
September 21 2011, 02:43PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Minus the part where he's the best offensive centre on the team and hasnt entered the prime of his career yet? I guess if you take that away there isnt much left is there.

Good thing offence isnt needed to win hockey games or the Oilers might regret getting rid of a guy like that.

Ya, with Gagner as our best offensive centre we pulled off back to back 30th place finishes. He sure knows how to put W's on the scoresheet.

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#146 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:43PM
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Gregoire wrote:

Isn't the fact that Gagner is our best offensive center a red flag? That is disturbing. In junior he had Kane inflating his numbers, now young Sam is being exposed in the show.

It certainly is, a red flag that we better get at least one center more productive... looks like we might have done it this June.

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#147 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:44PM
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gord962 wrote:

Ya, with Gagner as our best offensive centre we pulled off back to back 30th place finishes. He sure knows how to put W's on the scoresheet.

And Halls going to have a 30th and probably a 26thish on his resume as well.

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#148 Terry
September 21 2011, 02:44PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

It certainly is, a red flag that we better get at least one center more productive... looks like we might have done it this June.

AGREED.

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#149 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:44PM
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Josh wrote:

I seriously think that Arch guy is Dave Gagner, because no reasonable person who understands hockey would defend Gagner that much. Unless of course, he is Sam's Dad.

And I seriously think that the Anti-Gagnites are mouth-breathers and that no one who understands hockey would be so ready to flush a 22 yr old who has been producing at a 2C rate offensively since he was 18 when there is no long term option that has established himself to replace him.

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#150 gord962
September 21 2011, 02:45PM
Trash it!
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

The fact that he can perform the most important and valuable function of a hockey game at a level that only a 100 or so others can do.

The fact that people are typically strong and faster at 25 then at 21 also helps.

Which 'most important and valuable function' are you referring to?

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