HOME TURF

Jason Gregor
June 01 2012 10:52AM

Home field, home ice or home floor usually indicates some sort of advantage. It clearly isn't that important to the Los Angeles Kings this postseason, but there is usually some extra comfort in our home surroundings.

In the next few weeks the Oilers will introduce a few of this year's top prospects to the city of Edmonton, but mostly they will try and find out as much as they can about these kids. Nail Yakupov will be coming to Edmonton this Sunday for an interview, and some others will be in town soon after.

The Oilers did this in 2010 with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. It makes sense. Doing interview after interview at the combine can be tiring and stressful for these kids, and in many cases the interviews are rigid. Having Yakupov and a few others come to town allows the Oilers to get to know these kids a bit better, as well as introduce them to the city.

In 2010 after he was drafted first overall, I asked Hall about his pre-draft trip to Edmonton.

"It was good. I really wanted to be the first pick and wanted to make a good impression. It was a relaxed atmosphere, and thankfully they liked what they heard," said Hall.

Yakupov also wants to be the first pick. Earlier this week during an interview on The Pipeline Show with Dean Millard and Guy Flaming, Yakupov had this classic line when asked about why he wanted to be the first overall pick, "Because first is first."

Hard to argue with that simple, yet direct logic.

I've been told that Yakupov won't be available to the media like Hall and Seguin were in 2010, and I'm fine with that. This will be his first visit to Edmonton, so other than asking him his thoughts about the rink, which likely would be answered with, "I really like the dressing room, and they guys treated me great," the only thing I'd really want to know is if he can play left wing.

Just like in 2010 and 2011 the Oilers can't afford to make the wrong pick at #1, and these interviews can shed some light on the personality of these young kids. It's a major investment and the Oilers, just like the Blue Jackets, Canadiens, Islanders and Leafs will try to ensure they get a good read on the character of the kids they draft in the top-five.

WOULD YOU?

Outside of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter I don't see any homerun hitters in this year's UFA class. Excluding a significant trade to land a legit top-four defender, the Oilers will have to look at the free agent market.

They need a guy who can play 20 minutes a night and be solid in his own zone. I'd look at a guy like Bryan Allen, who isn't flashy but is solid in his own end.

Allen is 31 years old, played 601 NHL games and is pure defensive defender.

He can play in your top-four at EV and is a decent PK guy. Here are his advanced stats courtesy of Behindthenet.ca, if you want to take a deeper statistical look at how he matches up.

The Oilers need to solidify their backend. Of course, you'd love them to get a pure #1 guy who can play 26 minutes a night, produce offence and play against the opposition's top-line, but that's in a perfect world, and the Oilers don't reside in a Utopian state right now.

Today the Oilers have five D-men under contract: Ryan Whitney ($4 million/cap hit), Nick Schultz ($3.5), Ladislav Smid ($2.25), Andy Sutton ($1.75) and Corey Potter ($750,000). Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham are RFAs. Petry will get a new deal, and like I wrote back in April the Oilers will qualify Peckham rather than just let him walk for nothing.

Just because they will have seven D-men signed or qualified before July 1st doesn't mean they can't go after Allen. It wouldn't be the worst scenario if they started the season with eight D-men.

I'd look at offering Allen a three-year deal.

BIG THANKS

Back on April 20th, Taylor Hall joined me at the Pint Off Whyte for my show. We chatted about a variety of things, and it was clear he was calm under pressure when his teammate and roomate Jordan Eberle pranked called him during the show.

When we went to "Jim in St. Albert" I knew it was Eberle, but Hall thought it was a regular caller. What I didn't expect, was to hear Eberle throwing bombs in the first 15 seconds.

Hall was very engaging during those two hours and I could sense how bad he wants to start winning. He also showed me a side of his I hadn't seen before.

When the show was over, Hall surprised me with a generous offer. "I know you do lots for charity, and hopefully you can use this to help raise some money," he said as he handed me a signed hockey stick. "I scored a hat-trick against the Hawks with this one," he informed me.

Over the years when I've asked for signed stuff from players for auctions and they've always been very accomodating, but this was the first time a guy just handed me something without asking. It was very classy of him and showed me he understands the importance to help others. It was great to see from a young player.

I've had the stick in my basement for the past six weeks, and despite being tempted to fire a few shots with it, I refrained.

Today during my show I'm going to auction off Hall's hat-trick stick to help reach my goal of raising $50,000 for the MS Bike tour. I'm at just over $44,000 so far. If you can't afford to bid on the stick, but want to help you can make a donation here.

Have a great Friday and if you want to bid, the auction goes between 2 and 6 p.m. today. You can call 780.426.8326 or 1-800.243.1945.

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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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#1 geoilersgist
June 01 2012, 11:05AM
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FISTS in the air for Hall and being awesome! Allen sounds like a decent dman to pick up but does Tambi feel the same way

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#2 Thor762
June 01 2012, 11:22AM
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On the Pipeline Show interview when asked about which position Yakupov said he can play right wing, left wing, center and goalie if the Coach told him to. He didn't sound set on his right wing position in any way. So left wing is more than likely probable.

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#3 Simpsonite
June 01 2012, 11:22AM
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Ummmm...I think I'll become a fan of that soccer team now...or badminton...or...whatever she's cheering for. Bull fighting?

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#4 OilerLand
June 01 2012, 11:24AM
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I think Yakuoov has to play RW, but if you trade a certain some8n3 then you suddenly have a need at RW and hopefully a nice return for D.

Sounds like Tamno and crew won't trade the pick, but are still unsure who to take at #1. I guess they take these interviews seriously, which is good.

Allen is an interesting idea...

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#5 benweise
June 01 2012, 11:30AM
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Little known fact: Precious photo-bombs Argentinians in her free time.

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#6 Will
June 01 2012, 11:33AM
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Jason, there's been a lot of talk about how the Oilers are going to shore up their blue line. Big names and not-so big names have all been thrown around. But the one name I have yet to hear in the discussion is Dennis Wideman. Why is this? Is it because people will just assume he'll re-sign with the caps? Is there something in his stats that demonstrate he wouldn't help the oilers? Is there any chance we might see him in an oilers jersey in the fall.

Also, Tambi mentioned in a press conference he wants to get two solid d in the summer time. He recognized the challenge in doing this and noted he at least wants to get one more. But since his stated goal is two, who loses their spot? As you've pointed out we nearly have a full d roster so what does it look like if Tambi achieves his goal and actually gets 2 d men this summer?

To me it looks like Peckham heads out of town, and we either also send Potter away, or go with 8 defenders once again, having the d earn their spot. Which honestly wasn't that great to watch last year. It was really frustrating seeing players left out of the lineup when other players were left in and did poorly.

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#7 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
June 01 2012, 11:34AM
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Yakupov is such a character, we should draft him based on that WJC interview alone.

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#8 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 01 2012, 11:34AM
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The Oilers should stay the course and do nothing, rather than bring in another 3-7 guy for the back end. Sit tight and wait to make a deal for a legitimate No.1 or 2 guy. Anything Bryan Allen can do i'm sure Corey Potter could do just as well.

Garrison isn't likely to be going anywhere but staying in Florida. Jason isn't a good d'man, he's just a guy who had a good yr. Let the Panthers overpay for this guy over the next 4-5 yrs.

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#9 Toro
June 01 2012, 11:35AM
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Yakupov is gonna be an Oiler no doubt about it, but I don't think Bryan Allen is the answer on D, I think we need a Right handed shooter , maybe Garrison from Florida but not even sure he shoots Right or not, or go hard after signing Justin Shultz jus saying

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#10 Will
June 01 2012, 11:38AM
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Sorry, one other question that's been bothering me is the media hype around who the oilers would take if they draft number one. This always seems to be a common story every year, no matter who's drafting, and the oilers always take BPA. With Tambo talking about all potential draft picks as maybe's is that just a bit of gamesmanship on his part to let other GM's know he could take damn well anybody, and thus it's in their best interest to trade him or the pick and ensure they get who they want? In other words, by saying there's no consensus, does that potentially generate a better return if he was thinking about trading the pick?

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#11 Neilio
June 01 2012, 11:59AM
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I don't see how having another defence first guy like Allen is going to change much here. We need a puck mover. I wouldn't throw dollars and term at a guy trying to fill a round hole with a square peg.

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Not sure what to comment on first Hall, the chick or my thoughts that Corey Potter shouldn't be guaranteed a job.

Lets talk hockey first I guess. Allen is a player that makes this team better, maybe he doesn't have the offense we'd like but look at what Schultz's ability did for us. We really just need anyone that can play close to 20 minutes a night, someone that has played 20mins successfully as of late. If it becomes a numbers game then maybe Potter goes to OKC. He played poorly in the second half and shouldn't be gift wrapped a job because of his contract.

Nice gesture by Hall, really shows that he is becoming a mature person. I've heard him questioned for some of the things he says and does on and off the ice, but something like this shows that he has a grasp on things.

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#13 db7db7db7
June 01 2012, 12:18PM
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Wow!! That is a Gretzky type classy move by Hall. I bow down to him. He is everything I wish I could be.

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#14 Mason Storm
June 01 2012, 12:39PM
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Argentina!!!!!!!!!! She probably loves Messi too. *swoon*

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#15 book¡e
June 01 2012, 01:02PM
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@Simpsonite

http://coedmagazine.com/2010/06/21/sexy-soccer-superfans-of-the-south-africa-2010-fifa-world-cup-june-21-76-photos/

There you go, she is about 2/3 of the way down the 70 or so photos.

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#16 The Beaker
June 01 2012, 01:04PM
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I know.. the Oilers could sign me.

I'm a 6'2" 220 lbs right handed Dman. Sure I'm not in shape and I havent played competitively since I was 18 but hell I'm only 25, I'm in my prime years. Isnt that what we are targetting?

The Oilers love "projects" like me don't they? They could bring back Dustin Penner to mentor me. We'd be a riot together, I Swear. Ok.. He'd be funny and I'd try. But I swear I wouldnt be a locker room cancer.

I promise to tell Katz kid his hair looks awesome, I'll even polish the Katzmobile on the weekends. I will even be a designated driver for Keegan Lowe if he wants to party a bit in the off season. I'll Sign at league minimum for a long term contract (to show my dedication to the city) and Yakapov can live at my house. After DP mentors me, I'll mentor the Yak.

I only do one way contracts though. I dont go both ways

And If I don't work out they can buy me out and I promise I wont even slag management to the media.

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#17 vetinari
June 01 2012, 01:15PM
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Personality-wise, Yakupov reminds me a little bit of Ovechkin... he's got that cockiness tinged with a sense of humour and some intelligence... I can't see him giving a mediocre post-game interview and he may be just what the doctor ordered to keep morale and spirits high in the locker room (especially for the other players with European roots)...

Take Yakupov and see if you can land another top 5 pick so that you can snag Grigerenko (Centre) or Murray (Defence) and I'll consider the 2012 draft a resounding success based on that alone...

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#18 The Beaker
June 01 2012, 01:18PM
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@Come join the Dark Parade...

I'm not an expert but Garrison has been good before this year. I remember Willis mentioning a year ago in an article how good he was doing.

It was just that no one knew because he was in Florida and the thing he was excelling at was being a stupidly good shut down guy on a really crappy team. He was put in a position to be a shut down guy and therefor offense lacked. From everything I've read the rest of the guys career he has been pretty good offensively.

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#19 Team Yakupov
June 01 2012, 01:36PM
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Great idea JG, I like the way you think on grabbing Bryan Allen. When everyone zigs, we zag and get a good deal on a steady UFA. I think good defense is more important than an offensive dman nowadays. Look at the Devils and Kings.

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#20 DSF
June 01 2012, 01:41PM
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Team Yakupov wrote:

Great idea JG, I like the way you think on grabbing Bryan Allen. When everyone zigs, we zag and get a good deal on a steady UFA. I think good defense is more important than an offensive dman nowadays. Look at the Devils and Kings.

Yeah, that Doughty kid is a bust.

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#21 Simpsonite
June 01 2012, 01:42PM
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Soccer it is!! Although bull fighting would have been good too...

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#22 The Beaker
June 01 2012, 01:44PM
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@DSF

I'd like to offer you a hug today. :)

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#23 book¡e
June 01 2012, 02:26PM
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The Beaker wrote:

I know.. the Oilers could sign me.

I'm a 6'2" 220 lbs right handed Dman. Sure I'm not in shape and I havent played competitively since I was 18 but hell I'm only 25, I'm in my prime years. Isnt that what we are targetting?

The Oilers love "projects" like me don't they? They could bring back Dustin Penner to mentor me. We'd be a riot together, I Swear. Ok.. He'd be funny and I'd try. But I swear I wouldnt be a locker room cancer.

I promise to tell Katz kid his hair looks awesome, I'll even polish the Katzmobile on the weekends. I will even be a designated driver for Keegan Lowe if he wants to party a bit in the off season. I'll Sign at league minimum for a long term contract (to show my dedication to the city) and Yakapov can live at my house. After DP mentors me, I'll mentor the Yak.

I only do one way contracts though. I dont go both ways

And If I don't work out they can buy me out and I promise I wont even slag management to the media.

Are you good in the room? Can you keep the young star players out of trouble? Any cute sisters or cousins you can introduce them to?

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#24 Steve
June 01 2012, 02:33PM
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What about Garrison from FLA? 27 years old, 6'2", 218 lbs, 33pts (16g, 17a), a +6 and a UFA to top it all off (coming out of a 2-year, $1,350,000 deal)

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#25 John K
June 01 2012, 02:56PM
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Jason. Garrison.

Played Florida's top competition from day one, and is 27, prime years for defenceman. To boot he chipped in with a very respectable 16g and 33p on a fairly limited Florida Panthers offence.

Guy could be a long-term stud (was last season).

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#26 striker777
June 01 2012, 03:26PM
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Yakupov's major weapon is his booming one-timer. A left-handed winger CANNOT one-time from the left wing. Nit sure why nobody's talking about it as it would be a major problem for this kid.

Stamkos scored half his goal only because he played on his off-wing and Stamkos has a hell of a one-timer shot. I understand Yakupov outscored Stamkos at the same age. He HAS TO play on the right wing or we're killing his production.

Hallsy = class

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#27 Devon
June 01 2012, 05:30PM
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To anyone that mentions Jason Garrison I have but one name to remind them of Jay Bouwmeester. Soon as he left Florida his offense went caput. A good defender but not worth what he's being paid the Oilers would be good to take a lesson from the Flames for once.

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#28 Steve
June 01 2012, 06:05PM
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Garisson's was being paid $700,000 and $675,000 over the past two seasons. Hardly "overpaid" for an emerging D-man. The difference between Bouweester and Garrison is that I highly doubt that Garisson's going to be demanding $4-5M/season. Why? Because the media's not all over him, making the #1 UFA available this summer, driving up the price... I'd be willing throw a guess at $3.5-$3.75/yr. Also, the Panthers that Bouwmeester played for are very different from the Panthers that Garisson's playing for.

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#29 Oiler Al
June 01 2012, 06:06PM
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There are quite a few D men in the Rayan Allen mould around the NHL, Wideman, Harrison, Stuart, Garrison etc.. I been calling for Garrison, over many commentaries... young,decent shot, not bad on the back end, and can pass and carry the puck. Can probably be had for $3 mil. a year.Allen similar player, but made $3.1 mil last year.Wideman made $4.5 mil. Another maybe popped up today,, Enstrom from Winnipeg might be available... would be a good choice.

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#30 michael
June 01 2012, 06:55PM
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What does Lidstroms retirement do to the Detroit Red Wings off season plans? Is Suter now thier number 1 priority?

with Lidstroms retirment the dominos may fall sooner than later at the draft. Would a preemptive trade for Suter be in the works before July 1st.If so what cards will the Oilers be holding when July 1st comes?

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#31 Rama Lama
June 01 2012, 08:01PM
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Yakapov is good but Galchenyuk is just as good and plays center..........good enough for me.

Griegerenko, is getting pasted in the rankings and is going to make a lot of scouts and GM's look stupid. This kid played through mono, and anyone who has had this virus knows it take months to get your energy back.

I hope Tamby finally does something, anything, just do something man!

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#32 bazmagoo
June 01 2012, 09:03PM
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I can see the Oilers picking up one solid UFA defender, but who it will be is anyone's guess. It will be an interesting month as an Oilers fan, to say the least.

There is no way they take anyone but Yakupov with the #1 pick. The KHL isn't a factor with this kid, he's a born winner, has a great personality, and is extremely dynamic offensively.

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#33 vetinari
June 01 2012, 09:07PM
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Tambi's next big offseason decision should be how can he get the woman in the first picture signed to a 10 year "Ice Girls" contract with a NTC....

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#34 Alex Steenberger
June 01 2012, 11:02PM
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If the OILERS don't win the Stanley Cup this upcoming year.... I'm done being an oilers fan.. I'm Sick of the constant losing, losing and more losing. I'm also sick of the rebuilding, re-tooling or all that other stuff that excuses this team of losers to keep losing.

I'm sick of Horcoff and his 7milion cap hit. I'm sick of Smyth thinking he's worth more than 500k per year I'm sick of Tambo sitting on TSN every draft lottery I'm sick of people critiquing Theo Peckham I'm sick of that sport check commercial with Crozby and that weird black guy coming up with names for Sidney's brand.

I'll be even more sick if Mr Tambellini doesn't draft Nail YAKUPOV.

Thank you for reading. I'm sure everyone feels the same way but are too shy to speak up.

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#35 Asian on Oilers Nation
June 02 2012, 12:16AM
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vetinari wrote:

Tambi's next big offseason decision should be how can he get the woman in the first picture signed to a 10 year "Ice Girls" contract with a NTC....

Had to log in and props this one.... She is smokin'.

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#36 Reg Dunlop
June 02 2012, 12:24AM
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@Alex Steenberger

Yes Alex, I too am sick of the heartache that has accompianied being an oil fan going on the last 2 decades. The oil are the fever and the oil are the cure. However, imagine what winter in Edmonton would be like if there was no Oilers. There, that should sober you up. Go oil.

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#37 Oilers4ever
June 02 2012, 01:35AM
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I pass on Allen and take Garrison. Way better in my mind.

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#38 The Beaker
June 02 2012, 07:20AM
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@Book;e

I am good in many rooms, though in some rooms more than others. I am confident this room I would be above average.

Keep them out of trouble? I'd be on them like they are going to be on my cousins you asked about.

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#39 Shaun Doe
June 02 2012, 10:10AM
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For those interested, our good friend google reveals the Argentinian to be Dorismar (weird single name). It also revealed she has some stiff competition from a Paragyuan fan by the name of Larissa Riquelme! Can Tambi trade up to draft two Ice Girls in the top 5?!

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