SIXES AND SEVENS AND NINES

Lowetide
November 10 2012 10:09AM

After the watershed 1979-81 drafts, the Oilers were still producing useful talent. Now that the current Oilers have gathered their Jacks and Kings, how are they doing with those useful 6's and 7's and 9's?

From 1979 to 1981, Barry Fraser drafted Kevin Lowe, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Andy Moog, Walt Poddubny, Grant Fuhr, Steve Smith and Marc Habscheid. The Oilers procured so much talent they couldn't find room for everyone (Poddubny, Habscheid) but I think we can agree that's a nice problem to have. The group mentioned above were added to Gretzky and company and from there it didn't take long for the good times to roll.

We're all over the "pro level" Oilers and prospects, hell a week doesn't go by where we aren't discussing Hartikainen, Paajarvi or Lander. However, Fraser continued adding players in 1982 (Jaroslav Pouzar), 1983 (Jeff Beukeboom, Esa Tikkanen) and 1985 (Kelly Buchberger) to complete the group.

Edmonton's future is represented by Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and perhaps young men like Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk, Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi.

Are there any role playing candidates--any Buchbergers, Pouzars, Tikkanens?

GOALIES

Frans Tuohimaa is having a nice season in Finland, playing for Jokerit in the SM-Liiga (Finland's top league). Through 5 games with Jokerit, his GAA is 1.90 and the young man boasts a .923SP. Countryman Samu Perhonen is playing in Finland-2 league, and has played well (7, 2.68 .912). It's important to remember that Tuohimaa is 21 and Perhonen 19 (turns 20 in March).

Most of the prospect talk in regard to goaltending in the system surrounds Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz--for good reason, as those two are playing well in NA pro hockey. However, the two Finns are playing well and making progress.

DEFENSE

The Oilers really do have some quality and quantity on the way at this position. College defenders like Joey Laleggia (7, 4-5-9 +1), Dillon Simpson (7, 0-2-2 +1) and Kyle Bigos (4, 1-1-2 -1) give the organization all kinds of skill sets and options. Simpson is probably the most interesting prospect, as his age (he's in his third NCAA season and won't turn 20 until March) and development (he's playing big minutes for a strong university program) are strong arrows.

David Musil is another quality prospect, but we're more familiar with him because he's a WHL player and (now) an Oil King.

FORWARDS

Unlike the blue and in goal, much of the future is already at the NHL level for the Oilers. However, key role players (we'll call them the Pat Hughes-Dave Hunter-Dave Lumley All-Stars) need to be added to the group (the Oilers bottom 6 forwards have been dreadful for some time). These player types are often acquired from other organizations, as their skills are duplicated by others and their pricetag tends to be more reasonable.

However, the Oilers may have found a real gem for that role in Kristians Pelss. Although he is playing pro hockey this season, it is easy to forget about him. Stu MacGregor was recently asked about him:

  • MacGregor: "Now, he’s interesting. I think he could fit into the Oilers plans in a role as a high energy guy who can skate. I was at the World U-18 with Oil Kings general manager Bob Green when we both saw the kid. Frank Musil did some clandestine work to see if he’d come over to play for the Oil Kings. Knowing that, I figured ‘Let’s take a swing at this guy.’ We even had to add him to the Central Scouting draft list so we could pick him. When you do that he only appears on your list.”

The Oilers have several interesting forward prospects--Toni Rajala is doing great work in Stockton, Tobias Rieder skates miles in all three disciplines for the Kitchener Rangers, and Oil Kings Travis Ewanyk and Mitchell Moroz are having fine seasons. However, the 2010 depth pick Pelss is a player worth watching for that support role down the line.

Jacks and Kings are the key elements to a winning franchise, but you still need the 6's and 7's and 9's. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Oilers are gathering talent in great numbers at each summer's draft, and the top end players have already emerged as NHL calibre talents. The tough work comes from the picks outside round 1, and there are a lot of candidates with good arrows. I'd pick Tyler Bunz, David Musil and Tyler Pitlick as "the most likely to" play in the NHL for an extended period (among the group yet to appear in an NHL game).

The great thing about a deep talent pool is that there are so many candidates. The bad thing is that there are going to be some Poddubny's and Habscheid's in the group. Not everyone will play as an Oiler, and many will fall away before establishing themselves in the NHL.

I think the Oilers have a fine prospect pool and should be able to fill a lot of holes "in house."

We wait.

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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 Team 1260.
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#1 Dan Tencer
November 10 2012, 10:16AM
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FIST

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#2 Guy Lafleur
November 10 2012, 10:30AM
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Mr.Brown and STU ..the reasons why the Kamloops Blazers won 3 Memorial Cups in 4 years and why they havnt even had a sniff since Colin Day's nose got out joint and he let Mr.Brown go , good job COLIN!!!

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#3 jake
November 10 2012, 10:34AM
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"...... key role players (we'll call them the Pat Hughes-Dave Hunter-Dave Lumley All-Stars) need to be added to the group (the Oilers bottom 6 forwards have been dreadful for some time). These player types are often acquired from other organizations, as their skills are duplicated by others and their pricetag tends to be more reasonable"

^ This. Pro scouting - this will have a huge impact (negative or positive) from now on as this team tries to win games.

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#4 bazmagoo
November 10 2012, 10:36AM
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Was at the Barons game last night in Abbotsford, gotta say the Barons looked completely awful. Ebs, Hall, and Nuge were barely visible. Have to give the AB Heat a little credit as they played a great game but I'm really starting to question the wisdom of sending these guys down to the AHL.

What would have been the harm in letting Ebs, Hall, and Nuge go play in Europe for a few months? Have a life adventure, shag some Euro trash, make a little money along the way, without as much risk of getting injured. Quite a few players on entry level deals have been allowed to do it. Plus there is the added issue that they are taking away a job from a potential future team mate.

Their confidence must have been shaken last night, because they all looked pretty awful (especially Hall but maybe that's because he's coming back from injury) and were out classed by an AHL team. Maybe they were hung over?

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#5 Rama Lama
November 10 2012, 10:37AM
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I for one would be happy watching our prospects, it's too bad SN is not carrying OKC games as filler in stead we get to watch old games and Curling......sigh!

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#6 Czar
November 10 2012, 10:50AM
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The boys will get their chance to even the score live on sportsnet tonight.

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#7 OilClog
November 10 2012, 10:51AM
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@bazmagoo

it's one game, Hall's 3rd. Having as many players on the team playing together within the Organization is pretty damn brilliant during a lock out in my opinion. Losing a couple games in the AHL isn't much of a confidence blow when you know as soon as the lockout is over you're outta there.

It might be more on the coach at the moment then anyone. He's dressing and scratching the wrong players, and matching lines like it's pin the tail on the jackass.

Injury risk is the same in both leagues, and beautiful foreign tail is all over the great gorgeous world.

Maybe Nelson smells the coffee this morning and starts the big 3 together to set the right tone for the game.

Or maybe just listen to the players themselves, they chose to go play together in OKC so they can build towards a better Oiler tomorrow.

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#8 Taylor Gang
November 10 2012, 11:03AM
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OilClog wrote:

it's one game, Hall's 3rd. Having as many players on the team playing together within the Organization is pretty damn brilliant during a lock out in my opinion. Losing a couple games in the AHL isn't much of a confidence blow when you know as soon as the lockout is over you're outta there.

It might be more on the coach at the moment then anyone. He's dressing and scratching the wrong players, and matching lines like it's pin the tail on the jackass.

Injury risk is the same in both leagues, and beautiful foreign tail is all over the great gorgeous world.

Maybe Nelson smells the coffee this morning and starts the big 3 together to set the right tone for the game.

Or maybe just listen to the players themselves, they chose to go play together in OKC so they can build towards a better Oiler tomorrow.

Agreed, by now the kids should be on a line together n the A, after all they'll be playing together once the season starts.

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#9 bazmagoo
November 10 2012, 11:06AM
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I guess the game just bummed me out, you are all making valid points. The best of which is probably from OilClog:

"Or maybe just listen to the players themselves, they chose to go play together in OKC so they can build towards a better Oiler tomorrow."

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#10 Smokey
November 10 2012, 12:04PM
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The lines for OKC have been interesting all season, I think you have to have one powerline with Nuge and Eberle and da Finn. Thought Nelson was suppose to be a great young coach, but this year hes been outcassed so far. Hes got the best top end skill guys in the league and they have been shut out. There is no escuse for last nights lousy game.

Been so dissapointed in Hamilton, Pitlick, Lander, Martindale, MPS. MPS should be dominating, but I will say he threw some hits last night, the rest of these guys have been soft. I don't know if they have been watching the drafts the last couple years, but these guys are going to have to redefine themselves into useful 3rd and 4th liners if they want a career, and that means finding more of a physical element to their game. I'm starting to wonder if Stu's magic bullets had some blanks, I sure hope I'm wrong.

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#11 Oilers89
November 10 2012, 12:37PM
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I noticed Hall and Schultz started to dominate at the end of the game. I know that thats really no justification for the way that everyone played the rest of the game, but it appeared as though they started to get angry and actually get chances. That should be a good sign for tonight I hope.

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#12 GVBlackhawk
November 10 2012, 12:55PM
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OilClog wrote:

it's one game, Hall's 3rd. Having as many players on the team playing together within the Organization is pretty damn brilliant during a lock out in my opinion. Losing a couple games in the AHL isn't much of a confidence blow when you know as soon as the lockout is over you're outta there.

It might be more on the coach at the moment then anyone. He's dressing and scratching the wrong players, and matching lines like it's pin the tail on the jackass.

Injury risk is the same in both leagues, and beautiful foreign tail is all over the great gorgeous world.

Maybe Nelson smells the coffee this morning and starts the big 3 together to set the right tone for the game.

Or maybe just listen to the players themselves, they chose to go play together in OKC so they can build towards a better Oiler tomorrow.

All very valid points.

In addition, it is difficult to look great in a slow-paced league (vs NHL) when you are used to playing an up-tempo game. Hockey is a team game. If the defense cannot get the puck out of the zone or make a transition pass, then the whole play breaks down. In all the AHL games I have watched thus far, there seems to be a real lack of flow. There are more off-sides, a ton of penalties being called (a lot of garbage calls), and the play is quite scrambly. The same situation is also evident watching Yakupov play in the Super Series. He is surrounded by inferior players who do not see or play the game at the speed he does.

Good comment about Todd Nelson. That guy should spend more time worrying about the brutal special teams and less time thinking about his line combinations. I don't understand how the power play can be that terrible with the talent they have.

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#13 KBurn
November 10 2012, 01:21PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I for one would be happy watching our prospects, it's too bad SN is not carrying OKC games as filler in stead we get to watch old games and Curling......sigh!

Tonights game is on SN.

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#14 RexLibris
November 11 2012, 10:27AM
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Good point on Pelss, LT.

I watched him pretty closely last season when he was on the Oil Kings. I know there were many comments that he didn't seem worth a contract spot, but if we had let him go back into the draft we'd be shopping for this kind of player in a few years' time anyway.

He is fast (very fast), quick, plays the body, has a very good shot, and is one of those players who just finds his way to the puck.

The Darren Helm comparison is, I think, a good one. And I think he might be a good complement for a player like Reider. They have similar games, though Reider has better offensive numbers, and play opposite wings.

As for OKC, what I saw last night looked like a lot of talented players all playing individual games and being shut down by a less-talented but more cohesive (and thus successful) roster.

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#15 NewAgeSys
November 11 2012, 01:08PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

All very valid points.

In addition, it is difficult to look great in a slow-paced league (vs NHL) when you are used to playing an up-tempo game. Hockey is a team game. If the defense cannot get the puck out of the zone or make a transition pass, then the whole play breaks down. In all the AHL games I have watched thus far, there seems to be a real lack of flow. There are more off-sides, a ton of penalties being called (a lot of garbage calls), and the play is quite scrambly. The same situation is also evident watching Yakupov play in the Super Series. He is surrounded by inferior players who do not see or play the game at the speed he does.

Good comment about Todd Nelson. That guy should spend more time worrying about the brutal special teams and less time thinking about his line combinations. I don't understand how the power play can be that terrible with the talent they have.

There is one simple adjustment to the first transition of the puck out of our own zone that will eliminate these core value differences and challenges you point out,and you are absolutely right about the catalysts of the differences between this and the NHL game.Nice analysis.There is a post describing this simple adjustment in the next piece on the site.

I think the Oilers have all the pieces we need to win a Stanley Cup in the organisation and available to play right now,I am a believer in loading up for a most serious 100% organisational run at the Cup.

We have Ryan Jones who is this type of player,we have Hartekeinen and Smyth,Horcoff,we have some guys who can fill these roles perfectly,and some are veterans who bring a lot of experience to the game.

We also havent really been in a position where we could so easily identify the areas we needed to improve in now with all the elite talent we can spot those areas and upgrade immediatly,this is why I think we are 100% ready right now,we can see the few weak areas and if we have a competative camp and make pro-active and not reactive decisions early in the year we will see the best of our men filling system needs ASAP,and this will give us the rest of the cast we need to win a Cup.

The Dynasty Oilers flipped through a lot of role players till they found the chemistry,we also have a lot of guys who might not survive the coming upgrades,I listed 4 guys I think will be here to see a Cup because they all have dimensions a Cup Winner needs.Its not them,its what they are.Only a headcoach can identify and asses accurately the chemistry in his dressing room and on the ice,so Ralph will need to play and plug until he sees what he feels is the right thing based on results not conjecture.

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