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?  
Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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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#151 gord962
September 21 2011, 02:46PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

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

So the team is getting better with Hall when it got worse with Gagner?

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#152 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:46PM
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Terry wrote:

AGREED.

Now when we have 2 more productive centers (maybe 3 depending on team make up) and 4 more productive wingers (maybe 6 depending on team make up)

Then we can start talking about how expendable he is.

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#153 yANN
September 21 2011, 02:47PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

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.

Let Gagner stick around for the year. In due time RNH and Lander will prove to be better options.

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#154 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:47PM
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gord962 wrote:

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

Putting points on the board.

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#155 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:47PM
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gord962 wrote:

So the team is getting better with Hall when it got worse with Gagner?

If the team moves to 26 it has gotten better with Gagner as well.

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#156 Chris.
September 21 2011, 02:47PM
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@Archaeologuy

If Gagner's skating is only "average" as a 22 year old player: is it safe to assume this will be an issue moving forward? Every year the league gets faster... Is Gagner gonna have the wheels to play a top six role into his 30's? Why invest so much into a player who is likely to tail off before he's even close to being Horcoff or Belanger's age? Or is it the plan to be a young developing team forever?

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#157 zach
September 21 2011, 02:48PM
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hall will have 30th on his resume, then 26th, then 15th, then STANLEY CUP.

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#158 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 02:49PM
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Just an FYI, Lander has 55 points over 4 years in a vastly inferior league.

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#159 Quicksilver ballet
September 21 2011, 02:50PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

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

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

Perhaps 4 more lottery finishes will help change your mind, with your precious 89 leading the way here, we're doomed. Lock that kid up on a 5 yr, 15 million dollar extension. We're sure to be the envy of the NHL.

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#160 Oscar
September 21 2011, 02:50PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Just an FYI, Lander has 55 points over 4 years in a vastly inferior league.

I'm from Sweden. Scoring is much less in the SEL. Please don't use flawed comparisons. Lander's play over time will do the talking for him. And he won't need 4 years NHL experience to make a statement. He is a winner.

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#161 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 02:51PM
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Chris. wrote:

If Gagner's skating is only "average" as a 22 year old player: is it safe to assume this will be an issue moving forward? Every year the league gets faster... Is Gagner gonna have the wheels to play a top six role into his 30's? Why invest so much into a player who is likely to tail off before he's even close to being Horcoff or Belanger's age? Or is it the plan to be a young developing team forever?

A very fair question. However. Even if the Oilers signed him to a 10 year deal tomorrow, he would just be turning 32 when it's all over.

He doesnt have to be here until 40.

I just want someone to actually PROVE to be better before he gets replaced with the same "promise" that Gagner himself was just 4 years ago.

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#162 David S
September 21 2011, 02:53PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

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.

Or just get a new account and use the name "Mayorpooop".

/solved/

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#163 gord962
September 21 2011, 02:54PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Putting points on the board.

He hasn't broken 50 points yet and provides nothing else in his game.

I hope Gagner does much better this year and can put up 60 points but what if he has another 40 point year? With no other skills how long can he survive in the NHL putting up 0.5 PPG?

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#164 Josh
September 21 2011, 02:55PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

A very fair question. However. Even if the Oilers signed him to a 10 year deal tomorrow, he would just be turning 32 when it's all over.

He doesnt have to be here until 40.

I just want someone to actually PROVE to be better before he gets replaced with the same "promise" that Gagner himself was just 4 years ago.

Arch: That last paragraph is a valid and fair statement and I give you props for that. Players like RNH, Lander, Pitlick and maybe even Brule (if mentally and physically healthy) will prove to be superior players for us moving forward. Just give it a little time. Keep Gagner until the above mentioned are ready. It won't be too long.

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#165 mayorpoop
September 21 2011, 02:58PM
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@David S

yes i could do that but as you can tell by the run on sentence i amw riting here i do not like to use capital letters for they are not my friend. or punctuation in some instances. we all can't be great all things and in my cases many many things. mediocrity is my battlecry.

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#166 gord962
September 21 2011, 03:03PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

A very fair question. However. Even if the Oilers signed him to a 10 year deal tomorrow, he would just be turning 32 when it's all over.

He doesnt have to be here until 40.

I just want someone to actually PROVE to be better before he gets replaced with the same "promise" that Gagner himself was just 4 years ago.

I agree with your last paragraph. However, we all know that our biggest hole is on defense. We also know that on the open market Gagner has more value than a lot of our other players we have discussed other than guys named Hall, RNH, Hemsky and Eberle. So, if we feel that Gagner is most likely to be surpassed, why wait until that moment when every other team sees his value to our team depreciate? Move Gagner when he has value so we can get some value in return. Wait too long and we will be getting a Cory Cross type in return.

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#167 David S
September 21 2011, 03:04PM
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Man are all you guys gonna be pissed when Gagner has a 65 point season.

In Montreal.

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#168 mayorpoop
September 21 2011, 03:05PM
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David S wrote:

Man are all you guys gonna be pissed when Gagner has a 65 point season.

In Montreal.

lol.

props.

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#169 Archaeologuy
September 21 2011, 03:05PM
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@Josh

Fair enough, its all I ask. When players actually force change, this team will be getting better.

I'm just sick of continually looking to the future.

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#170 David S
September 21 2011, 03:07PM
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gord962 wrote:

I agree with your last paragraph. However, we all know that our biggest hole is on defense. We also know that on the open market Gagner has more value than a lot of our other players we have discussed other than guys named Hall, RNH, Hemsky and Eberle. So, if we feel that Gagner is most likely to be surpassed, why wait until that moment when every other team sees his value to our team depreciate? Move Gagner when he has value so we can get some value in return. Wait too long and we will be getting a Cory Cross type in return.

Because everybody knows a bunch of guys posting on a fan website have a pretty solid idea of the high-water mark for a 21 year-old NHL player of Gagner's caliber.

*Pulls shotgun out of cupboard. Loads single shell.*

"This is my shotgun. There are many like it but this one is mine...."

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#171 Ivanis
September 21 2011, 03:08PM
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David S wrote:

Man are all you guys gonna be pissed when Gagner has a 65 point season.

In Montreal.

It'll be fun switching to the Habs game, watching Gagner get hit and falling over, then switching back to the Oilers game and watching guys like Nuge, Lander, Horc, Belanger or Brule come out. Then I'll take a sip of my beer and remember the days where it was minus 30 outside and Sam Gagner was our best center.

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#172 positivebrontefan
September 21 2011, 03:09PM
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GREMPZ wrote:

GOD BLESS THOSE GIRLS.

I think he already did. Have you seen them?

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#173 Josh
September 21 2011, 03:12PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Fair enough, its all I ask. When players actually force change, this team will be getting better.

I'm just sick of continually looking to the future.

I certainly agree, looking into the future isn't always easy but I think good times will be coming soon as long as Tambo and co can correctly identify the core moving forward.

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#174 positivebrontefan
September 21 2011, 03:12PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

yes i could do that but as you can tell by the run on sentence i amw riting here i do not like to use capital letters for they are not my friend. or punctuation in some instances. we all can't be great all things and in my cases many many things. mediocrity is my battlecry.

I tend to use Capitals when typing. Here is why;

You can help your Uncle Jack off a horse, or you could help your uncle jack off a horse...

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#175 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 03:20PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Perhaps 4 more lottery finishes will help change your mind, with your precious 89 leading the way here, we're doomed. Lock that kid up on a 5 yr, 15 million dollar extension. We're sure to be the envy of the NHL.

Once again you try to peg team success/failure on one guy.

That would be 5 lottery finishes for all the wonder kids, time to flush them all I guess

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#176 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 03:22PM
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Oscar wrote:

I'm from Sweden. Scoring is much less in the SEL. Please don't use flawed comparisons. Lander's play over time will do the talking for him. And he won't need 4 years NHL experience to make a statement. He is a winner.

Great, it's still no where near the production you'd need from a guy people are expecting to come in and play 2C

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#177 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 03:24PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

A very fair question. However. Even if the Oilers signed him to a 10 year deal tomorrow, he would just be turning 32 when it's all over.

He doesnt have to be here until 40.

I just want someone to actually PROVE to be better before he gets replaced with the same "promise" that Gagner himself was just 4 years ago.

Amen to that.

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#178 FastOil
September 21 2011, 03:25PM
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@Archaeologuy

Gagner isn't going anywhere, that is unless Lander shows enough offense. That might change the scenario. He definitely shouldn't be moved for picks or prospects.

The only trade that would make sense would be for a similar aged centre of the Kessler/Toews type, but I doubt they are lining up for that deal.

I am not a Gagner supporter, but am willing to change my mind on him if he will decide to improve his skills that lead to better puck possesion, which leads to winning. I believe his weak skating is why he struggles there.

Not so much straight ahead speed, although he lacks an explosive first step. It's the pivoting, stopping and starting quickly, like Omark and Eberle can, who also aren't explosive skaters, but are effective skaters.

Gagner's Corsi is approaching evens, but he is still weak retrieving the puck defensively and battling anywhere, which the smart hockey guys say are the keys to it all.

I think this is his defining year as he heads out of his "age is a factor" time. Not much changes after 23 right (in a hockey sense)?

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#179 Oscar
September 21 2011, 03:29PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Great, it's still no where near the production you'd need from a guy people are expecting to come in and play 2C

In my estimation Anton will be more suited to the 3C position in the NHL. He will be a very good 3C with well rounded skills all over the ice.

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#180 Ned Braden
September 21 2011, 03:29PM
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Didn't we go through this already with a #4C that wasn't good enough to cut it as an Oiler, has flourished in that role for another team and as of last season still had not been able to replace him with someone to do the job better?

See Kyle Brodziak

If/when other player's PROVE to be better options than Gagner then move him out. As of now that has not happened.

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#181 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 03:32PM
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gord962 wrote:

He hasn't broken 50 points yet and provides nothing else in his game.

I hope Gagner does much better this year and can put up 60 points but what if he has another 40 point year? With no other skills how long can he survive in the NHL putting up 0.5 PPG?

Well for starters not even in his worst year has he been a .5PPG player, he's a .63PPG player for his career...

NHL.com keeps freezing on me, but I'd bet .63 would consistantly be in the top 100 amoungst forwards.... so I'd say he's pretty safe.

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#182 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 03:35PM
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Oscar wrote:

In my estimation Anton will be more suited to the 3C position in the NHL. He will be a very good 3C with well rounded skills all over the ice.

Sounds about right to me.

Maybe you can explain that to those that think he's all but taken Gagners job.

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#183 Oscar
September 21 2011, 03:43PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Sounds about right to me.

Maybe you can explain that to those that think he's all but taken Gagners job.

I don't think Anton will take Gagner's job by himself. Rather the depth that the Oilers currently have at center, and the players like Anton that they are developing will inevitably take Gagner's job. The Oilers know it, and at some level Sam knows it too.

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#184 freeze
September 21 2011, 03:44PM
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Holy wow, this all seems a little premature and over-the-top.

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#185 gord962
September 21 2011, 03:46PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Well for starters not even in his worst year has he been a .5PPG player, he's a .63PPG player for his career...

NHL.com keeps freezing on me, but I'd bet .63 would consistantly be in the top 100 amoungst forwards.... so I'd say he's pretty safe.

Staying healthy is also a big part of being a regular contributor. The Oilers still have to play 82 games per season and Gagner is contributing 41-49 points per season.

Let's hope Gagner can play 82 games up put up 60+ points. If that happens it will end most of the Gagner discussion. Until that day comes everyone will have a differing opinion.

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#186 mayorpoop
September 21 2011, 03:47PM
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positivebrontefan wrote:

I tend to use Capitals when typing. Here is why;

You can help your Uncle Jack off a horse, or you could help your uncle jack off a horse...

yes i read this on another post and found it very funny.

why limit yourself to one task when you may be able to perform two.

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#187 Terry
September 21 2011, 03:48PM
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gord962 wrote:

Staying healthy is also a big part of being a regular contributor. The Oilers still have to play 82 games per season and Gagner is contributing 41-49 points per season.

Let's hope Gagner can play 82 games up put up 60+ points. If that happens it will end most of the Gagner discussion. Until that day comes everyone will have a differing opinion.

I can see Sam getting 60 points, he's going to be playing with premier players like Hall and Hemmer and he will get PP time too. I just hope management realizes who is stirring the drink. Sam has been known to leech off linemates to pad his numbers ie: Pat Kane

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#188 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 03:48PM
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Oscar wrote:

I don't think Anton will take Gagner's job by himself. Rather the depth that the Oilers currently have at center, and the players like Anton that they are developing will inevitably take Gagner's job. The Oilers know it, and at some level Sam knows it too.

I'll believe it when I see it.

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#189 gag me
September 21 2011, 03:49PM
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OBI,

Lander was playing a third/fourth linr role on Timra.

What line was gagner on?

Lander is strong on the puck and a good leader. How often is gagner nudged off the puck? Does anyone look up to him?

I used to love Gagner. He's weak.

"But he is our top scoring center". Yeah he also plays the most and can't do any other function that a center should do. He can't back check, win draws, play d-zone.

Thanks for all the gagner support but he needs to move on. If we want to win we need a center who can play the role... Not score more points than our other useless centers and finish -17

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#190 Oscar
September 21 2011, 03:53PM
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gag me wrote:

OBI,

Lander was playing a third/fourth linr role on Timra.

What line was gagner on?

Lander is strong on the puck and a good leader. How often is gagner nudged off the puck? Does anyone look up to him?

I used to love Gagner. He's weak.

"But he is our top scoring center". Yeah he also plays the most and can't do any other function that a center should do. He can't back check, win draws, play d-zone.

Thanks for all the gagner support but he needs to move on. If we want to win we need a center who can play the role... Not score more points than our other useless centers and finish -17

Exactly. It's my opinion also that Gagner can't perform the functions that a good center is required to do. Anton will be a great 3C and Nugent will be the 1C. I hope the Oilers do not plan on having Gagner as a 2C for the long term.

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#191 Ned Braden
September 21 2011, 03:53PM
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@gag me

Who do you recommend we replace him with?

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#192 gord962
September 21 2011, 03:56PM
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Ned Braden wrote:

Who do you recommend we replace him with?

Horc would be #2 until his contract runs out in 2047.

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#193 gag me
September 21 2011, 03:57PM
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Ned,

You are either retarded or kidding. I can't tell.

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#194 Ned Braden
September 21 2011, 03:59PM
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I am not talking long term, who do you replace him with to start the season?

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#195 gag me
September 21 2011, 04:03PM
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Ned,

Well we may not get a 50 pt scorer as a rookie center. However, horc with hall and hemmer would likely suffice short term. Horc knows how to play center at least.

Rnh plays 2 with smyth and eberle.

Landar with omark and paajarvi for 3rd.

Belanger with eager and jones for 4th.

I have a feeling this group of centers would be much better than a easy-off the puck gagner. He can't play the role...

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#196 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
September 21 2011, 04:07PM
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@ gag me. I think you hit the nail on the head... Lander played 3/4c in an inferior league and now they expect him to come to the best league in the world and play 2c. Horrific planning.

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#197 gord962
September 21 2011, 04:07PM
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Ned Braden wrote:

I am not talking long term, who do you replace him with to start the season?

Horc - RNH - Belanger - Lander/Brule

Having 2 rookies at centre isn't ideal nor is relying on Brule after the disaster that was 10/11. However, if they plan to keep RNH the entire season then Gagner will not have a place to play as he can't fill the 3/4 centre roll. If RNH goes back to Red Deer then Gagner definitely won't be going anywhere.

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#198 gag me
September 21 2011, 04:09PM
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I suppose I would rather than a center who is defensively more responsible than one who is "our highest scoring center".

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#199 Ned Braden
September 21 2011, 04:12PM
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@gag me

IMO Belanger is much more than a 4C and playing him there is a detriment to the team. I do not like the Oilers chances if two of the centre's have not played an NHL game previously.

I think most of us agree that Gagner is in tough in the future to stay on the team but I don't see the advantage to pushing him out the door at this point.

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#200 gag me
September 21 2011, 04:13PM
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Hey Ned,

Is it weird that out of the past 4 seasons our best season came with 2 rookie centers?

I don't think I am anywhere near proving your point OBI. You want a player who does NOT know how to play center at ALL as our top line center.

I want horcoff as out top center, and rnh as our number 2. Lander's role is 3rd line center and he plays it perfectly. What is gagner's role? Does he play that role perfectly? Oh wait... He did score 42 points... He was also a team worst -17

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