April 08 2012 09:56AM
Ask an Oiler fan what the club needs to improve and the answers vary wildly. However, a "top 4D" and a "big, tough forward to play with the skilled kids" are at the top of the list. We've talked at length about the defenseman, but what of this big forward, this Frankenstein, this Keyser Söze?
The Oilers spent many picks and a lot of at-bats on Coke Machines last decade. I define a coke machine as any player with tremendous size, toughness, grit and courage but lacking in actual ability to play the game. J-F Jacques is a coke machine, Milan Lucic is not.
Do the Oilers need such a player, a Milan Lucic? How many are there?
OVER A MORNING CUP OF COFFEE
How many NHL forwards score 60 points and have 80 pims? How many of those are over 6.02 and 205 pounds? Needle in a haystack, baby.
- James Neal 6.02, 208 81 points and 87 pims
- Scott Hartnell 6.02, 210 67 points and 136 pims
- Milan Lucic 6,04, 220 61 points and 135 pims
- Corey Perry 6.03, 212 60 points 127 pims
Incredible, isn't it? We could expand the list--Iginla wasn't as grumpy as usual and Malkin missed by just a little--but the point here is that the player we envision Edmonton acquiring--big, strong, ugly mule, jackhammer hitter, skilled sniper, vicious attack dog--is more rare in actual fact than a shutdown defender or a 30 goal man.
ARE THERE ANY OILERS CLOSE TO THOSE NUMBERS?
Ryan Smyth is 6.02, 192 and delivered 46 points and 82 pims at 35. If he was 23, all would be right with the world. So, let's move beyond the NHL: are there any minor leaguers or junior players in the system who are 6.02, 205 and deliver those kinds of numbers in their current league?
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Probably best to get 23 actual NHL players. The Oilers need to find men who can run with Hall, Ebs and RNH as players and putting another JFJ up there isn't going to help anyone.
Teemu Hartikainen remains the best in house option, but he's not at a level where the Oilers can say with authority he'll become a mainstay; and he's never going to be a PF with 100 pims.
Best to find better players, then worry about their shapes and sizes.My guess is that by that time the kids will be able to take care of themselves and the size of the roster will be less of an issue.