Should the Edmonton Oilers go after Jordin Tootoo?

Jonathan Willis
May 16 2012 08:10AM

Jordin Tootoo, the well-known fourth-line pest and energy guy, is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Should the Oilers go after him?

The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson certainly thinks so. Here is what he had to say this past weekend about the possibility:

Jordin Tootoo is an unrestricted free-agent July 1? Do the Oilers need his energy? Yeah, they do. And Tootoo needs a change of scenery. He’s been in Nashville too long. I know The Tootoo Train sometimes goes off the rails, but he’s tempered his over-aggressiveness in the last year. Tootoo, who went through the NHL’s substance abuse program and isn’t drinking any longer, doesn’t seem to fit in Hockeytown any longer judging by only playing two playoff games, but I think he’d be a good fourth-line get-the-crowd-and-the-bench-going guy here. When he’s on his game, he can skate, shoot, disturb, fight, but it depends on the price point. He made $1.35 million this past season with the Predators.

With a reporter as connected as Matheson, it’s always an open question whether he’s speculating on his own or if he’s hinting at something that he’s heard but can’t go on the record with.

Tootoo’s not a bad player. Based on his full NHL career, he’s good for six goals per season and a little under 20 points, which isn’t terrible production for a fourth liner. He’s not a finisher by any stretch but he does take a lot of shots, as Matheson notes.

Does he bring value as an agitator? To some degree. With this sort of player, I always look at penalties drawn. An agitator having a really good year – like Patrick Kaleta in 2009 – can draw up to four times as many penalties as he takes. A fourth-liner can justify his continued NHL existence with those sorts of numbers alone.

Tootoo’s been just okay in that regard this season, but in years past he’s been excellent. Via behindthenet.ca, here are his penalties drawn relative to penalties taken. The “full season” category shows how many extra power plays Tootoo would generate for his team over a projected full season (based on his three-season average of just over 700 minutes played):

Season Ptake/60 Pdraw/60 Difference Full season
2011-12 1.0 1.2 0.2 2
2010-11 1.0 1.9 0.9 11
2009-10 0.5 2.0 1.5 18
2008-09 1.8 2.2 0.4 5
2007-08 1.4 2.0 0.6 7

Tootoo’s a fourth-liner of average talent otherwise, but in a good year his ability to draw penalties puts him over the top.

The one problem is where he fits – if the Oilers remain committed to an enforcer on the team, that means that Tootoo, Eager and the goon would take up three roster spots, and that’s just too many to spend on that sort of player. If on the other hand the Oilers opted to replace the Hordichuk/MacIntyre role with a guy like Tootoo, or to bring in someone like Zenon Konopka (a fighter who can play too) then I could see him being a solid fit.

I do have my doubts that Steve Tambellini is seriously looking at him, though. Tambellini’s been clear all down the line that he’s looking for a certain type of player, character-wise, and I’m not sure that Tootoo fits. Here’s some of what Tootoo had to say less than a month ago after being a healthy scratch for much of Nashville’s series against Detroit:

“Ultimately, I get whose decision it is, but I’ve been here in every playoff game in the past and I think right from the beginning of the series, you’re told you’re not playing and … what the (expletive)?”
“For me, (expletive), you can only get bag-skated so much and mentally it’s (expletive), it’s straining, it’s frustrating.”
“When you get shut down and told you’re not playing, it (expletive) burns. After doing everything right, it just (expletive). … I’m (ticked) off because I’m not able to do what I love to do and that’s playing the game.”

Given that the Predators were ahead three games to one in the Detroit series when Tootoo made those comments, and that he had gone minus-seven with just a single assist over the final 15 games of the year, a profanity-laced tirade to reporters probably did nothing to endear him to management.

Personally, I think too much gets made of those sorts of comments – Marek Zidlicky’s tamer statement helped get him run out of Minnesota, and he seems to be doing okay in New Jersey – but it is the sort of thing that seems like a poor fit with Tambellini’s management style.

I’d be fine with Tootoo as an Oiler. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Clyde Frog
May 16 2012, 09:39AM
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@PlayoffBound2013

Lol, did we honestly just question Tootoo's ability to be physical, because of his SIZE

Oh internet Oiler's fan, how special you truly can be...

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#2 Rick
May 16 2012, 08:39AM
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Considering that Tambellini brought Ben "I didn't come here to be a 4th liner" Eager in last year I would have to assume any references to having a specific type of character were more of a guidline than a rule.

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#3 Devin
May 16 2012, 09:01AM
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Konopka would be a much better choice !!!!

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#4 Clyde Frog
May 16 2012, 10:33AM
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@PlayoffBound2013

I am pretty sure we all understood the lack of logic in your original post. But sure you can dumb it down for me. How is his size in this conversation?

If you agree he is able to play a physical game above and beyond many players in the league, what exact effect would his size actually have in this decision?

I love the idiocy that comes out in the size argument for the special ed fans...

So you want a bigger player? Why? Feel free to use as many large words as you want to help explain how a player you recognize as a "physical powerhouse" should be ignored because of his height?

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#5 jr_christ
May 16 2012, 08:44AM
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The Oilers need defenseman and goaltending...

We need forwards with size, not forwards with poor attitudes

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#6 EHH Team
May 16 2012, 09:40AM
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Clyde, couldn't agree more.

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#7 Copperblueandwhite
May 16 2012, 10:14AM
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I hate Arron Assham more but think he's a better tough guy, ...despite his misdeed in the playoffs!

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#8 Starving Student
May 16 2012, 08:13AM
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Fist let's get rid of Omark, then bring in Tootoo

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#9 Reality Check to the head
May 16 2012, 08:14AM
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I like Tootoos game and he plays bigger than he is. I dont question his toughness, but are we not trying to get bigger (at least on the backend)? I have stood beside him and he is very short... a powerhouse but short.

There must be better options.

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#10 Reality Check to the head
May 16 2012, 08:15AM
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Sorry didnt mean backend, meant 4th line.

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#11 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
May 16 2012, 08:32AM
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I dislike Tootoo a lot, but I'm sure I'd love the guy on the Oilers. If he does get signed Eager should be on his way out of town quickly because Tootoo will be doing his job.

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#12 madjam
May 16 2012, 09:00AM
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Tootoo could be a physical deterrent even on top two lines on occasion . He has speed , a scoring touch and can play nasty . Might be worth the gamble if he can control himself ,etc.. Then again , he might just become a deterrent if he doesn't control his demons ?

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#13 vetinari
May 16 2012, 09:03AM
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I like Tootoo and would normally want him in my lineup but if the coach won't play him more than 6:00 - 8:00 minutes a game then why bring him in when we have guys like Eager already on the roster and guys like Hartikainen waiting in the wings who can play anywhere from 2nd to 4th line minutes?

And I think that our bigger issue is how do we replace Khabibulin and attract 1-2 quality defencemen in the same summer.

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#14 TLCC
May 16 2012, 09:36AM
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If the Oilers are going to bring in an enforcer, I hope Matt Carkner is on the radar.

As per Garrioch - "There have been no talks between the Senators and Matt Carkner. He will be a UFA on July 1."

Carkner is a guy that is definitely a 3rd pairing option, but he can play 10 - 15 minutes a night, is a RHS d-man and can help out on the PK. He could easily play the 6/7 defenseman role with Andy Sutton.

As for Toottoo, as JW said he is basically just Eager. I would hope the Oilers look at Brandon Prust, & Adam Burish would be well ahead of Tootoo. Both of those players provide 1:40 PK time.

The Oilers need to start finding/developing players that fill multiple roles.

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#15 EHH Team
May 16 2012, 09:52AM
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Oops, I meant to agree with Vetinari

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#16 book¡e
May 16 2012, 10:05AM
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No

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#17 Walter Sobchak
May 16 2012, 10:11AM
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I like Hartikainen, but he just doesn’t seem to bring the nasty you would want a player like that to bring.

Tootoo is a wrecking ball; he's got his life on the right track and could bring that element the Oilers sorely needs!

I agree that the Oilers should have gone after Konopka last year and should aggressively pursue him as well!

Eager-Konopka-Tootoo all can play, all can skate, 2/3 are mean S.O.B's

All three can move up and down the line up and Konopka can be used in offensive draws and defensive zone draws, plus he PK’s. This is a win, win in my books.

There is no more room in the “new” NHL for players like Hordichuck, you have to be able to contribute.

I also wouldn’t mind finding a place for Carkner as well.

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#18 ryan
May 16 2012, 10:13AM
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Love Tootoo. he plays big and i love that. People need to get over the big thing, its getting weird. We need players that know and play within thier defined roles. We have had big players and how well did penner ,macyntre, aand jf jacques work out ?We need some physical and fast players for the 3rd and 4th, not big players.

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#19 Reality Check to the head
May 16 2012, 10:21AM
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@ Clyde Frog

I guess you cant read, did your mom type out your response? Tootoo is small, we have alot of small forwards. Tootoo wont scare anyone away from messing with our top players.

I said; "he plays bigger than he is. I dont question his toughness." I also called him a "powerhouse." I just think we need someone who is bigger and can skate not another little person.

I know that first post was 3 lines long, and you may have gotten tired with the movement of your lips while you read.

Ensure to take a breather, and drink lots of water while reading this one, it is a little longer than the first.

I rarely insult people on the internet because internet tough guys are just sad. However, I did not start it.

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#20 Bushed
May 16 2012, 10:24AM
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Konopka or Prust, please.

Tootoo can go play in Vancouver, where he would be a much better fit in so many ways...

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#21 RexLibris
May 16 2012, 10:51AM
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Last year Oiler fans were excited about adding Eager, the year before about MacIntyre, the year before that the prospect of bringing back Laraque and the seasons prior to those the perennial question was where was the enforcer aspect going to come from on this team. There were questions about MacTavish and Lowe's strategy of "team toughness".

It seems sometimes like the Oilers are constantly chasing their tails trying to find the next Semenko, Brown, or Linseman.

While I can appreciate what Tootoo brings to a team, I don't think he is the best fit for where this team is right now.

He probably is a good fit for where fans want the team to be, but there are still some steps to be taken before we have that roster space available for a player like Tootoo.

He also plays the wing on which the Oilers are likely to have the largest logjam in September.

In addressing the "toughness" aspect and agitator role that Tootoo could bring, I would rather re-sign Petrell and ask him to elevate his agitating role in his second season. Then pursue Konopka.

This would probably mean having to trade Ben Eager and that would be a difficult body and contract to move, but certainly not impossible at a cap hit of $1.1 million.

Eventually the Oilers are going to have to look at solving these roster openings internally. That is where developing depth players like Pitlick, Pelss, Hamilton, Hartikainen, and others will be crucial.

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#22 Quicksilver ballet
May 16 2012, 10:58AM
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I'm happy for Jordin getting things turned around in his personal life but he's a different player now it seems. A kinder gentler version of his former self. If it was the old hard drinking rum running TooToo, then yes. He's lost some of that mean streak in the last 24 months. He's comfortable playing it a little safer and prolong his career for a few more years.

I vote no to the kinder/gentler Jordin Tootoo.

Ben Eager, he's just wasting away here on the forth line. It's time to make a decision on him. If he feels he's more than a 3rd/4th line player then give him a month on that 2nd line LW position and see if he's right. If he's in over his head in that spot, then he needs to be moved sooner rather than later. One or two games here and there are just too small a sample size to see if it'll work.

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#23 Dan the Man
May 16 2012, 11:12AM
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I prefer Tootoo to Hordichuck but as mentioned we kind of already have Eager in the agitator role even though he only agitated only a couple of times last year.

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#24 Ei8HTYSE7EN
May 16 2012, 11:31AM
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I think Eager should definitely be moved, he hasn't done his job. Tootoo would definitely be an upgrade over Eager and Hordi. The sales of Tootoo jerseys by aboriginals would be a big profit too. Seriously though, he's a mean SOB and so what if he's smaller, he plays Like he's Chara's size and his size hasn't let him down.

We move out Eager, Hordi and Omark and a few other useless contracts like Barker and we definitely have room to sign TooToo, Josh Harding and Justin Schults and another top 4 defense like Roszival.

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#25 Chris.
May 16 2012, 11:36AM
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@ Clyde Frog:

But... but... but... We absolutely need more size! Who is gonna stand on either side of Sutton in the back row of the team photo?

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#26 Reality Check to the head
May 16 2012, 11:48AM
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@clyde frog

I like Tootoo and the way he plays but he is not right for this team.

I'll repeat, Oilers are an undersized team, although Eager, Sutton, Hordichuk and Potter are players that address the need. Eager hasn't embraced his role, Sutton, Hordichuk(while 2 favourites of mine) are on their way out and while Potter earned a 2 yr one way contract he seems to me to be a little shakey at times.

My point is, if you have two players that have similar roles and with similar abilities, the oilers need to take the bigger person. Tootoo, hits and fights (usually after he has just run someone), but he is not going to protect hall, ebs, RNH and Yakubov (tba, probably). All tootoo will do is take out one of the opposing players in retribution, and well that is already too late as one of our stars is down. I like what another poster said about Carkner. We also have young players in the system that have an edge to their game and they should be making the jump. We dont need Tootoo taking a roster spot.

Also, Tootoo's comments about sitting out during the playoffs are selfish. A 3rd or 4th liner should just STFU and take it for the team. Be angry, practice hard and wait for your shot, but dont be a distraction. I also think that Tootoo will be suspended a number of times in his career. People his size who try and punish people with their hits usually have to leave their feet, or it appears so.

Maybe my earlier point was a little simplistic, but that does not change the fact that it is right.

Answer me this, In your opinion what makes Tootoo a good fit for the Oilers. Or do you just bash others? Now back to my special ed programming, better put my helmut on.

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#27 Rose Colored Glasses
May 16 2012, 11:51AM
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I think at this stage protection should be a top priority, yes the young guns are going to get hit but I want to see a 4th line where opposing teams are looking over their shoulders.

We know defence will need a overhaul but maybe that will change in the summer.

I do agree with Bushed, Konopka or Prust

A nice 4 th line as mentioned above

Eager-Konopka-Tootoo

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#28 OIL4LIFE
May 16 2012, 12:04PM
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We can stop thinking about Konopka, during the playoff's he made it clear he wants to stay in ottawa. It was all Ottawa this Ottawa that raa raa raa Ottawa. I get the fact he could be after a contract, but if you were Ottawa would you let this guy go. He can straight up play, takes faceoffs like a mad man, and knock you the heck out if you mess with his team mates and he's an Ottawa fan club member.

They would have to be run worse than the Oilers to let his guy go!!

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#29 OIL4LIFE
May 16 2012, 12:05PM
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"But... but... but... We absolutely need more size! Who is gonna stand on either side of Sutton in the back row of the team photo?"

Tootoo, LOL

He could stand with Sutton. lol

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#30 D-Man
May 16 2012, 12:06PM
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Ei8HTYSE7EN wrote:

I think Eager should definitely be moved, he hasn't done his job. Tootoo would definitely be an upgrade over Eager and Hordi. The sales of Tootoo jerseys by aboriginals would be a big profit too. Seriously though, he's a mean SOB and so what if he's smaller, he plays Like he's Chara's size and his size hasn't let him down.

We move out Eager, Hordi and Omark and a few other useless contracts like Barker and we definitely have room to sign TooToo, Josh Harding and Justin Schults and another top 4 defense like Roszival.

No worries about Barker and Omark, both are RFA's and you can definitely bet Barker is not going to get a qualifying offer... The Oil might qualify Omark assuming he doesn't go back home - and then try to deal him for a 3rd/4th round pick...

I don't think Tootoo would be an upgrade over Eager or Hordichuk though... Don't get me wrong - I'd love to see him in an Oiler jersey, but Eager got crushed in the preseason (most likely received a concussion) and was battling back spasms throughout the year... Hordichuk knows his role and can hit too... Hordi is a UFA, and you'll probably get him for one year - cheap, say $900K... I'd give Eager one more year to get his head on straight and re-sign Hordi to one more year before considering taking a shot at Tootoo...

I'd definitely consider taking a run at Harding on the FA (especially considering his last contract was $750K), but what are the CBA rules in regards to Khabby's contract... Considering his age, I know we can't buy him out - but can we send him to OKC??

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#31 OIL4LIFE
May 16 2012, 12:11PM
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@ D-Man "what are the CBA rules in regards to Khabby's contract... Considering his age, I know we can't buy him out - but can we send him to OKC??"

I am not sure on the rules but we must be able to given what happened with other players like Redden and Souray.

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#32 Oilers Coffey
May 16 2012, 12:18PM
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HELL YEAH!!! Bring in the Tootoo Train!

Jordin is exactly the type of player that the Oilers need, He is what we thought we were getting in Eager. Skates, Hits (Everybody), Creates Energy, Knows his role to a T, Fights ANYONE. Ive stated and had twitter conversations with @EdmontonCritic over the course of this past season. He is exactly the type of player the Oilers need.

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#33 D-Man
May 16 2012, 01:24PM
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OIL4LIFE wrote:

@ D-Man "what are the CBA rules in regards to Khabby's contract... Considering his age, I know we can't buy him out - but can we send him to OKC??"

I am not sure on the rules but we must be able to given what happened with other players like Redden and Souray.

Both of those guys were under 35 at the time, so that's comparing apples to oranges... I think we can send Khabby down, but would not get any cap relief, like the Souray or Redden situations... I also think we can't buy him out either...

I guess the question is with the emergence of Roy in the AHL, Danis's dominance and the fact that Bunz is going to Stockton, would Tambo let Danis go and have a $3.75 million cap hit in OKC... I'd love to have Harding in net, but I just don't want to let Danis go either... I'd hate to see a 'three-headed-monster' in the NHL or AHL for one year... Been there - done that...

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#34 Clyde Frog
May 16 2012, 02:18PM
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@PlayoffBound2013

I never said anything about his amazing fit, I questioned your attacking him as being too small. Internet Oiler Gurus have this amazing ability to classify a player based solely on their height and raise "better" players on these boards simply because they are taller.

Tootoo is an excellent 4th line energy kid, he hits, is physical and is effective at that role. His "size" should never be a factor simply because he is very good at his role currently.

The fallacy that finding a "bigger" player would some how make the role more effective is what is pushed around on these posts a lot. It is just that a fallacy, if a kid produces 60 points and is a + player it doesn't matter how big he is.

If a kid trucks people and pushes the energy level up effectively, again it should never even come up a size issue.

Also the fact that he posted 30 points and would have been in our top 9 players production wise last season is a plus. Is it an abberation, maybe... But again ignoring talent because it didn't hit a certain height, especially when its proven NHL talent is a JOKE.

Its a joke when we do it with our potential draft picks, its a joke when we do it classifying potential player worth in trades and its a joke when we measure our own by it. "He potted 45 points!" Yeah, but he is only 5'10", those weren't real points...

Do I want Tootoo on this team? Sure, he is effective and skilled at what he does, do I want to pay him 2.5+ to get him? Nope.

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#35 Truth
May 16 2012, 02:24PM
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Absolutely they have to take a run at Tootoo. He is the type of player the Oilers need.

The other day Gregor(at least I think it was him) had a great comment from talking with Stu MacGregor regarding a player who they may shy away from due to the player's penchant for crossing the line once in a while. MacGregor mentioned something along the lines of it not being such a bad thing that the guy plays with an edge.

The Oilers need WAY more of an edge, hence the Sutton re-signing IMO. Hordichuck brings a great attitude to the role but isn't much of a hockey player and Eager thinks he's too much of a hockey player and doesn't have the right attitude to be playing the role. Tootoo is the perfect mix, just a wrecking ball who knows his role and is an NHL player. Off-ice problems are off-ice problems and it seems as though he has dealt with all of them anyway.

And I must add; God forbid he is a bear hunter.

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#36 RexLibris
May 16 2012, 02:40PM
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@truth

MacGregor said something to the same effect in his interview with Brownlee about the draft. When asked about Henrik Samuelsson and that he plays close to, if not over the edge sometimes, MacGregor's comment was something to the effect of "do you think that's a bad thing?"

I'm alright with the Oilers having a crazy train (no JFJ reference here!) on the roster. Maybe not an Ogie Oglethorpe, but at least someone that gets the opposition thinking about him rather than RNH, Hall and Eberle.

I just don't think we ought to spend all of our time trying to buy that when we could draft and develop it for the long-term.

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#37 Walter Sobchak
May 16 2012, 04:19PM
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Size is only part of a player’s ability. For the most part I feel it’s overrated. Just a little comparison here between “big” Oilers and other teams “small” forwards.

Ryan Jones - 6’00 200-lbs 79 games played - 33 points - 42 penalty minutes. +/- -7 *119 hits

Jordin Tootoo - 5’10 195-lbs. 77 games played - 30 points - 90 penalty minutes. +/- -5

*151 hits

Cal Clutterbuck - 5’11 213-lbs 74 games played - 27 points - 103 penalty minutes. +/- -4

*208 hits

Ben Eager – 6’2 230– lbs 63 games played - 13 points - 107 penalty minutes +/- -1

*73 hits

Lennart Petrell – 6’3 220-lbs 60 games played - 9 points - 45 penalty minutes +/- -10

*122

Personally I think the Oilers are incredibly soft team to play against!

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#38 madjam
May 16 2012, 05:51PM
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Size matters if smaller players are soft to begin with . When most of players also play soft , such as Oilers do often , you remain at bottom of the NHL . Losing breeds softness as well .

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#39 gongshow
May 16 2012, 06:14PM
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JW - Is there any indication in his past that Eager can be anything more than a 4th liner? Also, how do Eager and Hordi compare to someone like Tootoo on the penalties taken vs drawn ratio?

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#40 Clyde Frog
May 16 2012, 07:01PM
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@Madjam

Oh Madjam... Soft players are soft regardless of their size. Actually I'll posit their size has MUCH less to do with anything over their mental/physical commitment to the game.

For those who disagree, like the amazingly accomplished Hockey Scholar like Madjam (Who brought us such wisdom as "RNH can't play he is too small and soft, also he can't score because too many points are assists and came on the Powerplay!"), look at how Philadelphia ran a much larger Penguins teams show in this very playoffs.

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#41 PutzStew
May 16 2012, 09:26PM
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I rather watch Tootoo, Eager and Konopa bang and crash instead of watching Horcoff, Smyth and Hemsky lose.

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#42 Oilcruzer
May 16 2012, 09:36PM
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Nice story but no. He would be a better fit for Vancouver or Ottawa.

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#43 Reality Check to the head
May 17 2012, 12:47AM
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In an ideal world we could sign Tootoo, but would also need the Big guy to support him and the rest of the Oil...my focus is on getting the big guy who can skate and punish.

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#44 Valic
May 17 2012, 08:22AM
Trash it!
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I want no part of Tootoo. Not only was he not good enough to play for Nashville in the playoffs, but preventing the slightest chance that some idiot starts blowing a train whistle at Oiler games like they do in Nashville makes this a no brainer.

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#45 misfit
May 17 2012, 12:35PM
Trash it!
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trashes
+1
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props

I like Tootoo. But what I don't like, is paying $2M a year (which I could see him getting as a UFA coming off a career year) on a 4th liner who doesn't play special teams.

We have Ben Eager. Yeah, we could probably trade Eager (or at the very lease send him to the minors) and replace him with Tootoo and probably see an improvement. However, just like when we replaced Jacques/MacIntyre with Eager/Hordichuk, just because you're upgrading your 4th line, it doesn't mean it'll result in a dramatic improvement to the overall fortunes of the team.

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