IN PITTSBURGH: DRAFT AND COACHING

Jason Gregor
June 20 2012 10:28PM

We are 43 hours away from the Oilers calling out the first pick of the draft for the third consecutive year, and while their positioning in the draft is the same, there are many differences surrounding the team this time around.

Fans aren't as excited about this pick, not because he won't be a great player, but because you've been through this already, and frankly all of you are hoping you won't have to experience this for at least another 20-25 years.

If the Oilers are in this situation again, in the near future, then something is seriously wrong.

With no GM willing to or able to mimic Paul Holmgren's Wednesday trades from a year ago, today was a very quiet day. Tomorrow we get to chat with many of the top prospects as well as numerous GMs, scouts and other media types so I'll have more tidbits of info.

And some thoughts from Stu MacGregor.

Today I was asked by ten different media members from various cities about Sam Gagner. It seems Gagner, along with Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, Evander Kane, Jason Garrison, the Canes 8th overall pick and some other players are the hot rumours right now. I expect that most of those alleged available players won't actually be dealt, but it's always exciting getting different people's opinions on what their worth is.

Many guys outside of Edmonton view Gagner as a young guy who could still become a 60-point guy, while others question if he'll ever be an impact player. His 8-point night did get everyone's attention though. While some seem to think it was a fluke, many of the guys I spoke to felt that he clearly has good skill, but wonder if his size and consistency will be an issue longterm.

I also had a fluke run in with Pens GM, Ray Shero in my hotel. Had a brief chat and he said rather clearly that he had no interest in dealing Jordan Staal right now. He's a big fan of his, but I sensed he realized that Staal will want a bigger role. He might have no choice in the matter, if Staal doesn't re-sign, but he made it sound like that was his first priority, and that he's in no rush to move him.

HEAD COACH

The Oilers won't announce their new head coach before the draft, but many are wondering if Ralph Krueger would be a good choice. None have us have seen him as a head coach, outside of running the Swiss national program, and it's hard to say he's bad considering his team was usually over-matched skill-wise in those tournaments.

I decided to talk to a player who played for Krueger when he was a head coach. Hnat Domenichelli won two Memorial Cups with Kamloops in the early '90s, and he was an elite scorer in junior. He scored 59 goals and 148 points in 62 games one year, so it is clear he was talented.

He was productive in the AHL, but he never was a big scorer in the Show. He did tally 52 goals and 113 points in 267 career NHL games, but he admitted his lack of size, and playing during the "clutch and grab era" didn't help him much. He's spent the last nine years in Switzerland and I got his thoughts on Krueger.

JG: What is Ralph's best attribute as a head coach?

HD: The best way I can explain it is that Ralph is a very powerful person, and he's a very powerful motivator. I was like everyone else when I heard he was applying for the job and they were interested him, and the first reaction was.. Ralph Krueger the head coach of the Oilers is kind of odd. This is a guy from Europe; this is not what the NHL does. If you haven't had the opportunity to speak with Ralph I can understand why people would think that way.

"However, if Ralph was able to get himself in front of the brass of the Oilers, he'd put on a very powerful presentation. I think that's how he got the job as an associate coach, and I believe that his ability to speak and communicate with people is going to give him a great chance to be the next head coach of the Oilers. I'm not saying he's automatically the best choice, but I could see how after listening to him speak that the Oilers management would come out of that meeting thinking he's a serious candidate.

"His best quality is how he motivates people, and his knowledge of the game is comparable to anybody."

JG: What about his systems. How does he want his teams to play?

HD: Like most coaches, it will be a defence-first mentality, but it's also going to be a counter game, where if we are going to go on offence, we will all go together. He'll want his D-men involved up ice. He's going to create a system where the team is very good on the PP, which they were this year, and when they have the opportunity they are going to score.

"His basic message is very simple. When we have the puck we want to keep it and we want to attack with speed, and when we don't have it we want to be in good position to make them come through five players. He's much more skill oriented than some people think. His message is simple and it's clear and it has proven effective in the past."

Considering that lack of motivation was a regular topic the past few years, I wonder if Krueger's interview skills earned hinm the job. I'll admit there is something intriguing about hiring outside the box, and as I've said before I'd take Krueger over Brent Sutter at this point.

QUICK HITS

  • Jay Feaster said the Flames haven't stopped Brent Sutter from speaking to the Oilers. If that is the case, then why haven't they (Oilers and Sutter) spoke at length, since everyone has been claiming Sutter will be the next head coach. Could it be, because he isn't going to be the coach.
     
  • I'm surprised Gabriel Landeskog crushed Ryan Nugent Hopkins in the Calder race. Landeskog recieved 116 first place votes, while RNH recieved only 26. Landeskog had a good season, but he wasn't that much better than RNH. In the long run it won't have any impact on their careers, but I'm curious what the voters saw in Landeskog that was that much better?
     
  • Kudos to the PHWA (Professional Hockey Writers Association) for rewarding offence. Erik Karlsson won the Norris, by the slimmest of margins, 1,069 votes to 1,057 over Shea Weber. Karlsson had 25 more points than any other D-man, which is huge and he was clearly more dominant in one aspect. I'd take Weber on my team ahead of Karlsson longterm, but this award is for who had the best season, and this year it was Karlsson.
     
  • The draft is fun, but this Friday you'll have two chances to have way more fun. Your fearless leader, Wanye Gretz is having a party at the Pint Downtown. They have shirts made up, and lots of other cool stuff. I'm sure his eyes will still be red from crying after Eberle didn't win the Lady Byng tonight, but he'll have all you downtowners in a party mood.

    Down at the Pint Off Whyte, Jason Strudwick and Allison Currie will be hosting a draft party as well... They have some cool prizes to give away and I'm sure Struds will share a few of his draft stories involving Mike Milbury. If you want to watch the draft with many diehard Oiler fans I recommend you be at the Pint Downtown or the Pint off Whyte before 4 p.m. on Friday...
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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 Jasmine
June 20 2012, 10:58PM
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The stupidest thing there is that 2 PHWA voted RNH as 5th best rookie and 16 had him 4th best. Like what.

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#2 Wanyes bastard child
June 20 2012, 11:01PM
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Jasmine wrote:

The stupidest thing there is that 2 PHWA voted RNH as 5th best rookie and 16 had him 4th best. Like what.

Can we demand a recount?

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#3 Zack
June 20 2012, 10:40PM
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A little fun fact about Gagner. Despite being drafted sixth overall in the 07 draft, if I recall correctly, he's still second in points in his draft class. He may have had more oppertunity than most but isn't that what you want out of a kid you draft?

Pretty darn excited for the draft!

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#4 Biowolf
June 21 2012, 12:09AM
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If the Oilers ice their current roster plus whoever they pick this week, a lottery ticket next yearis guarenteed.

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#5 justDOit
June 20 2012, 10:30PM
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Yak FIST!

Grigs 8th (bye Gags)

Krueger.

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#6 Jodes
June 20 2012, 11:29PM
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Sigh.. no draft party for this guy.. Damn not living in Edmonton!

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#7 sizedoesmatter
June 21 2012, 06:37AM
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Jason wrote"I'm surprised Gabriel Landeskog crushed Ryan Nugent Hopkins in the Calder race. Landeskog recieved 116 first place votes, while RNH recieved only 26. Landeskog had a good season, but he wasn't that much better than RNH. In the long run it won't have any impact on their careers, but I'm curious what the voters saw in Landeskog that was that much better" I think the hockey writers based in the east are just jealous of the Oilers.Everyone said when asked yes nuge is a better player but and came up with a lame excuse.writers say the are not fans but If RNH played for Toronto it would have been a slam dunk

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#8 Slanto
June 20 2012, 10:32PM
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Yakopov goes first!

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#9 justDOit
June 20 2012, 10:34PM
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Kudos to the PHWA for awarding offense in defense. Wait - whut?

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#10 oilersplumber
June 21 2012, 08:02AM
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@Biowolf

guaranteed ?

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#11 Clarkenstein
June 21 2012, 08:10AM
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"If the Oilers are in this situation again, in the near future, then something is seriously wrong"

Gregor did you copy and paste this from last year? Or the year before??

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#12 Archaeologuy
June 21 2012, 08:27AM
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If you can legitimately write RNH down as having anything other than the best or 2nd best rookie campaign then your voting status in the PHWA ought to be taken away.

IMO Nuge was the best rookie, I can see people voting for Landeskog, but lower than runner up is a joke. It's pretty clear those guys arent watching games.

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#13 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 20 2012, 10:43PM
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Any Mammoet truck sightings down there yet Jason?

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#14 Thinker
June 20 2012, 11:31PM
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What does washington want for their first pick. Could a package of martindale, omark, belanger do it. Of course not, thats just wishful thinking, but do the oilers have enough expendables to swing a deal?

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#15 Biowolf
June 21 2012, 12:09AM
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If the Oilers ice their current roster plus whoever they pick this week, a lottery ticket next yearis guarenteed.

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#16 Bucknuck
June 21 2012, 12:44AM
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Biowolf wrote:

If the Oilers ice their current roster plus whoever they pick this week, a lottery ticket next yearis guarenteed.

who do you think will have a worse year than they did last year? I can't see belanger being worse, or whitney, or the big three... or dubnyk.

I don't think they are good enough to make the playoffs (as is), but I think this is the last season they will be lottery for a while.

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#17 Clyde Frog
June 21 2012, 01:46AM
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Could Ryan Strome and the 4th pick be enough to swap with the Islanders?

We would get a decent prospect for a 2nd line centre who could step in this year and still take a swing at Galchenyuk or a defenceman. This would lower the need for the 4th to step in this year by quite a bit, allowing us to actually develop them.

This could also free Gagner for a trade either for the 8th which we could take another D or a swing at Grigorenko if he is slipping.

The Islanders desperately need a player like Yakupov as well, to augment their young superstar 1st line centre.

Out of all the possibilities, this one seems to benefit both teams the most... Especially if the rumors on the Oil being high on Strome were true and that they tried to trade for a shot at him. We end up with a slightly bigger 2nd line centre with skill and probably Murray, Reilly, Galchenyuk or Forsberg; plus the ability to then move Gags for either a high end future or immediate help.

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#18 dohfOs
June 21 2012, 02:33AM
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Dunno about you but I've been absolutely frustrated with Krueger during the games he acted as the head coach (when Renney was away, funeral and concussion). From what I remember he didn't do much in-game coaching, at least not obvious for us to see. And I'd like the Oil to try someone who was not with the big club through 09/10, 10/11 or 11/12.

Then again, I don't think Suter is the answer. Still hoping for Cooper or Nelson among the ones I've now mentioned.

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#19 striker777
June 21 2012, 05:47AM
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The only way I would trade Sam, if these players were still available: Grigorenko (upside-Spezza)or Morgan Reiley (upside-Doughty).

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#20 John Chambers
June 21 2012, 06:22AM
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@Clyde Frog

This is probably the most logical trade scenario I've read over the past two months, and the funny thing is that it never even occurred to me.

Also, if we obtained Strome and dealt Gags for Carolina's 8th, it would mean that we would almost certainly end up with two of Murray, Reinhart, Grigorenko, or Galchenyuk.

That would be a good day.

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#21 book¡e
June 21 2012, 06:40AM
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Jason- Hnat's comments seemed a bit like a lukewarm assessment, but I am wondering if perhaps something got lost in 'translation'? In your conversation, did you get a sense that he felt Kruger was a good choice for the Oilers?

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Wanye made shirts up?

I could just imagine, either a wife beater with a sharpie picture or some sort of cheap silk screening that bleeds onto your skin. Be careful pint goers.

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Jason

On a more serious note has there been any talk about the assistant jobs if Krueger takes over? I hate for him to be forced to take Smtih and Bucky. I mean if he wants them fine, but he should be able to do this job the way he wants to. Not be forced to work with guys he doesn't want to and then be fired after a few months of struggling because we have MacT in our back pocket.

Also looking forward to the updates the next few days.

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#24 revingev
June 21 2012, 07:42AM
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If going into July 1st, the Oilers have Yakupov, Samuelsson, as draft picks coming in, Krueger as head coach, I would be more then happy to say we are still moving forward and the future looks so bright, I might have to 'wear my sunglasses at night'

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#25 Fresh Mess
June 21 2012, 07:48AM
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Jason:

Doesn't Hartsburg's hiring in Columbus as associate coach seem to indicate Sutter is not a slam dunk for the Oiler job? Speculation was that Hartsburg would follow Sutter up the highway to Edm to be his right hand man.

@Clyde Frog :

That is a very interesting deal. Strome is not the big centre the Oilers need, but he is bigger than Gagner and could still fill out more. I think the odds are very good that he will (at the very least) match Ganger's offense.

If the Oil could get Strome and the #4 overall, they could certainly move Gagner for #8 or a high end roster D.

The only problem I see is that NYI are reportedly looking to draft D more so than forwards.

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#29 freeze
June 21 2012, 08:44AM
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The PHWA make some baffling choices. Maxime Talbot as the best defensive forward?!

There should be some sort of hockey IQ test before you can vote. Or at least some East-West balance.

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#30 Ken
June 21 2012, 09:00AM
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@Clyde Frog

That could be a good trade, but I do not see either side making this deal. The Oilers do not seem ready to give up on Gagner yet, just so they can put an unproven Centre on the second line. While for sure the Islanders would not make this trade because they view it as an overpayment. Ryan Strome could potentially be an elite scoring centre and with the addition of the 4th overall pick? That pick could potentially be another elite D or F. On the otherhand, it is the Islanders...

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#31 @Oilanderp
June 21 2012, 09:05AM
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@freeze

I thought that was Bergeron?

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#32 DieHard
June 21 2012, 09:39AM
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Would be nice if TSN had a camera at the Pint so I could watch all my friends.

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#33 madjam
June 21 2012, 09:52AM
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THE OILER DYNASTY CONTINUES . We seem to be good at being a dynasty . Unfortuneately this dynasty is the dynasty of Futility . Yakupov will likely be our first pick and all our holes that need serious upgrading back on the backburner again this season . Can all our youth carry this team on their backs ? Unlikely , if last year was an indicator . MacT. already in system , do we require another coach that might do better than him to begin with ? How long can Katz seemingly remain oblivious to what we are not accomplishing here ? Why is he not implimenting a new vision at top end ?

This would be a good year and probably easy to deal, seeing as it appears to be one of the weaker draft years . However , trading has not been our strong suit and generally we are getting the worst end of most deals anyways . Will this year be any different ? Highly unlikely by the sounds of things so far . Will Gagner and Smyth get an overpaid contract like most , or will they be let go in one form or another ? Beyond our youth making monumental progress i see little to be thrusting us forward . Intent and actuality seem rather distant under present managerial set up .

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#34 TwoSkidoos
June 21 2012, 10:27AM
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The fact is the majority of hockey writers are in the Eastern/Atlantic time zone and see very little of RNH and likely never will whereas the Avalanche are covered well in the U.S.

Landeskog was more high profile simply because of the American writers covering him - Adrian Dater for instance. It should be players voting for other players - screw writers. Not to say all writers are biased or have low hockey IQ, but the majority of the writers in the U.S. know little to nothing about hockey - they're simply younger writers that like sports, but those sports are basketball, football and baseball.

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#35 freeze
June 21 2012, 10:40AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

I thought that was Bergeron?

He won. I was looking at the voting breakout. Someone gave Max a first place vote.

Milhouse posted the full results here: http://www.630ched.com/Blogs/thebullpen/BlogEntry.aspx?BlogEntryID=10396790

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#36 Lochenzo
June 21 2012, 11:08AM
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Once something becomes old hat, it loses some of its glamour. Even Stanley Cups. I recall getting tickets to the SCF in '88 very easily. Of course, we'd won so many and anything less than a Cup was unacceptable. Kinda lost some of fun in it along the way.

Just like picking 1st overall...again!! I think some people want the Oilers to deal the pick just to make things interesting vs doing the same thing over again. Of course, for the Oilers organization, it should be business as usual. Maximize the value of that 1st overal pick via trade or picking the best prospect available.

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#37 Clyde Frog
June 21 2012, 11:10AM
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Ken

I think it might be closer than you think: Nino Niederreiter has been a BUST for them and I imagine they are scared of a repeat.

This trade would give them the prolific draft player and greatly lower that chance. Strome had an ok 19-20 year old season in Jr, so there could be some worry there.

They also don't have a pressing need for a 2nd line centre, but do have one for elite scoring.

If we have to add a prospect like Cornet& a Dman or Teubert, that could work. Maybe Omark might work to balance it out. Or if they are interested in stocking a few picks our 3rd and 4th could be in play.

I think the logistics of it work in my head, the value would have to be tweaked; although in essence I think the value is actually there for both teams. Yakupov is a lot more dynamic than Grabner and would fit pretty damn well with Tavares.

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#38 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 21 2012, 12:48PM
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Re: Landeskog

as others have noted market exposure may have had something to do with it...

but I'd bank they preferred his all-round game to RNH and his complete season.

Personally my bias to RNH is way out of whack and points impress me more than anything else. But, I'd wager they saw Landeskog as closer to an NHLer, or more of a man and were tricked by RNH's baby face and injuries into discounting him.

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#39 oldhippy
June 21 2012, 02:16PM
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On the Calder voting. I'd bet my shirt that at least one of the low votes for RNH came out of Calgary. When I lived in Edmonton, I would not have believed it. Living in the B.C. interior, I'm much more exposed to the Calgary rags, and their beat reporters. It's scary how anti Edmonton the Calgary beat reporters are.

On trading Gagner, doesn't that put our rebuild back a year? He may not be the biggest 2nd line center in the league, but he's 22. Not quite a savy veteran yet, but give him until he's 24 at least.

I think Oiler fans collectively compare these budding stars, to our 80's teams. While it's easy to see comparisons of RNH to Gretzky(not as skilled, but similar style) we can't see any Messier in Gagner, so we need someone bigger and more physical in that role. Going ouside that paradigm, we could go to a three scoring line system. Two offensive guys with one room maker, on each line. Lander, Hartikainen, and Jones being the physical guys and Hall, RNH, Yak, Hemskey, Gagner and Smyth or MPS as the skill guys.

Just my take.

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#40 steelymac
June 21 2012, 05:48PM
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I guess Kreuger can figure that out.LOL

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