ARMCHAIR GM XIV: GOT BALLS?

Robin Brownlee
July 30 2012 12:10AM

When July began I complimented Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini for doing some nice work, mostly of the housekeeping variety, this off-season but suggested there was more to do. As August approaches, we're still waiting on that.

Landing former Anaheim Duck property and UFA defenseman Justin Schultz made for some justified excitement with the fans on the heels of the selection of Nail Yakupov at the Entry Draft, but everybody with a functioning brain stem realizes there is more to do – specifically, putting the right players in a package that will land the Oilers another top four defenseman.

That won't happen by tossing spare parts at a GM – the Spin-o-rama shootout guy from Sweden, Corey Potter and a box of tape. It'll take a top-six forward (Sam Gagner), one of the four or so bottom-pairing caliber defensemen the Oilers have looking for a roster spot and a prospect. In other words, a deal that sends out two of three bodies and returns only one. This, we know.

It'll mean identifying the right defenseman and picking up the phone willing to part with a player who has real value from a depth position to get a player of value where the depth remains questionable. Does Tambellini, who I recall saying more than once this off-season he intends to change the complexion of the team, most likely by trade, have the wherewithal to pull it off?

Again, I don't have a problem giving Tambellini credit where it's due, but if you look through his portfolio as Edmonton's GM, is there a trade that stands out to you as a big bang win for the Oilers – a put-it-together transaction that was both ballsy and smart? I don't.

No time like the present . . .

WHILE I'M AT IT . . .

. . . So, according to an item Saturday by Jonathan Willis, "Linus Omark believes he'll be an NHLer in 2012-13." I "believe" I'll be on the cover of GQ Magazine in 2012-13 as well. That doesn’t mean there's a chance in hell of that happening, but I'm certainly free to believe it might.

Perhaps, as Willis pointed out, something actually was lost in the translation – like the part about the over/under on NHL GMs who'd have even the slightest interest in the one-trick Swede (and Omark isn't even all that prolific at his one trick) is probably two, and those are maybes.

. . . Shane Doan is a helluva player and is leader of men, but if he's expecting a four-year contract for $30 million at the age of 35 to leave Phoenix, he won't have to worry about the need for a moving van unless there's an NHL owner out there who has fallen down the stairs and hit his head in recent days.

Sorry, but $7.5 million a year for Doan at this point in his career would be an over pay of biblical proportions. I get it that Doan wants to cash in on his final contract and that Jason Strudwick is a Kamloops alum, a former teammate and a friend, but listening to him trying to justify how Doan is worth a tall stack like that on Jason Gregor's show Friday made me squirm.

NOT SO FEARLESS PREDICTION

. . . If Tambellini doesn't get anything done in the way of adding another top four defenseman, I see the roster as it stacks up now missing the playoffs but finishing ahead of the Calgary Flames in the standings for the first time in a decade (I had this discussion on Twitter the other day) in 2012-13.

Aided by the new software I acquired for the Bronte 5000, my best guess is the Flames (90 points in 2011-12) will drop off by five points or so, putting them in or around 85 points. I see the Oilers (74 points in 2011-12) improving by 12-15 points, putting them in the range of 89. They'll come up short of a post-season berth for the seventh straight year but finish ahead of the Flames.

AND . . .

. . . If you look at the Twitter rankings of people covering the NHL and combine MSM types with bloggers, Eklund rates third behind only Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger of TSN in terms of followers. One of these three is not like the others . . .

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Spydyr
July 30 2012, 01:19PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

@Spydyr

You say "Trade redundant players.Gagner, Hemsky one of the many 6-8 d-men"

I am just curious how you see Gagner as redundant. If Yak, Ebs, and Hemmer all decided to stay on the right side then I could see Hemsky.

I agree with a package including one or even 2 of Teubert, Peckam, Sutton, Potter or Fedun.

I am just wondering how on a team as thin as us at center you could have your 2nd line centre as redundant. Who replaces him?

Would we actually be looking at Nuge, Horcoff, Belanger, and one of Lander/Vandevelde as our centres?

Hall or trade Gagner and more for a better #2

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#52 Spydyr
July 30 2012, 01:23PM
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The Beaker wrote:

I dont think you know what Redundant means.

Sam Gagner is not redundant in this lineup no matter how you look at it.

RNH, Hall ,Ebs and probably Yak are all younger more skilled small forwards.

So yes other than playing center he is redundant.The team needs size in the top six.They can't have all smurfs.

Move Hall or trade for a better #2 center with Gagner as part of the package.

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#53 Cody anderson
July 30 2012, 02:08PM
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@Spydyr

I like Hall on the wing. I would not be opposed to trying him at center but it sure would not be this year.

He has just had shoulder surgery, has not been able to train like he would in a normal summer, and likely will not have full strength in his shoulder when he returns to the lineup.

There is always a lot to overcome after injury and we would simply be piling on more for him by changing his role at this time.

We are also not loaded on the left side. Hall is our only legit top 6 winger who is used to playing the left side. yak has elite skill and they are talking about moving him to the left side, but his off wing one timer is one of his top weapons.

Look at Gagner's draft class. We should be very happy to have a 22 yr old centre that already has as much NHL experience as him and that has been able to put up the numbers he has often with poor teammates on a last place team in the league. If they decide he is not the right guy going forward and wish to package him with other assets to get an improvement at 2c I would be ok with it. The problem is finding a big centreman with his offensive skill and what that person will cost.

I believe if you put Paajarvi or Hartikainan on the 1st line with Ebs and Nuge you are making up a bit for their size. Gagner flanked by Hall and Yakupov is not a huge line, but Hall and Yak are both strong players that are still filling out and play bigger then they are. neither of them is going to get pushed off the puck regularly.

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#54 Spydyr
July 30 2012, 02:22PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

@Spydyr

I like Hall on the wing. I would not be opposed to trying him at center but it sure would not be this year.

He has just had shoulder surgery, has not been able to train like he would in a normal summer, and likely will not have full strength in his shoulder when he returns to the lineup.

There is always a lot to overcome after injury and we would simply be piling on more for him by changing his role at this time.

We are also not loaded on the left side. Hall is our only legit top 6 winger who is used to playing the left side. yak has elite skill and they are talking about moving him to the left side, but his off wing one timer is one of his top weapons.

Look at Gagner's draft class. We should be very happy to have a 22 yr old centre that already has as much NHL experience as him and that has been able to put up the numbers he has often with poor teammates on a last place team in the league. If they decide he is not the right guy going forward and wish to package him with other assets to get an improvement at 2c I would be ok with it. The problem is finding a big centreman with his offensive skill and what that person will cost.

I believe if you put Paajarvi or Hartikainan on the 1st line with Ebs and Nuge you are making up a bit for their size. Gagner flanked by Hall and Yakupov is not a huge line, but Hall and Yak are both strong players that are still filling out and play bigger then they are. neither of them is going to get pushed off the puck regularly.

You are right.With Hall coming off the surgery this is not the best time to try him a center.Give it some time than why not give it a try.

And yes Gagner has the points but brings little else.My take is to win the cup you need more size on the top two lines.Of all the kids Gagner is my pick to go.

Yours may be different.You have to give something up to get something back.

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#55 Cody anderson
July 30 2012, 02:23PM
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what size do you consider small? Are you looking primarily at height or weight? How tall or heavy does a guy have to be not to be considered small?

There is no questions that Nuge is currently slight of build and will very likely never be really heavy or seen as a power forward but he is over 6' tall and is still filling out.

Gagner is listed as 5'11" 195 lbs, which is not huge but is actually a good healthy weight for someone under 6'

Hall is drawing many comparisons to Messier. He is not huge but I see him playing a power forward kind of game. He will round out over 200 lbs which is above average for top 6 players.

They say Yak is a gym rat, so he will continue to fill out and will most likely end up around the 200 lbs weight as well.

I would love for them to all get taller and more muscular without losing any speed, evasiveness or skill, but that is not the way it works. I do think that we should be trying to add complimentry players with size, and judging by the draft the Oilers seem to be focusing on adding size this way.

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#56 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 30 2012, 02:37PM
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Sick'em Spyder.

Redundant was a good word to use.

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#57 BurkeTheTurd
July 30 2012, 02:44PM
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If you lose Gagner, and one of the other centres gets hurt, which is more than likley for a periods of time over a season...Oils are 30th again.

We need a second line centre, horc can't be that for a full season. Then imagine if we lost horc or nuge for 30 games, this team is toast.

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#58 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 30 2012, 02:51PM
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@ Spyder

All that matters is scoring and stopping goals from being scored.

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#59 Cody anderson
July 30 2012, 02:52PM
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i just went through the lineup that I have suggested to see what listed hight and weight is of our players. Obviously we have a very young top 6 which means in a lot of cases they are not done growning and in almost all cases they still have to fill out.

I believe if you averaged out the height and weight of all top 6 forward in the league you would get a player that is about 5'11.5" and around 193 lbs.

We are not as far off that average as most people (including me) thought.

Paajarvi 6'2" 204 - Nuge 5'11" 184 - Eberle 5'11" 187 (line avaerage 6'00.67" and 187+)

Hall 6'1" 194 - Gagner 5'11" 195 Yakupov 5'11" 185 (line average 5'11.67")

These guys are all young and still have to fill out. I see Paajarvi being over 210, Nuge being over 190, Eberle being over 190, Hall being over 205, and Yak being over 200.

With 2 years of natural growth our top 6 is average size in the NHL. We obviously get smaller if you remove Paajarvi out of the top 6 and replace him with Hemsky who is 6'00" and 185 with no growth projected.

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#60 Cody anderson
July 30 2012, 02:54PM
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oops second line should be average of 191 lbs.

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#61 geoilersgist
July 30 2012, 03:16PM
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JW wrote a great article about size last week

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#62 Cody anderson
July 30 2012, 03:20PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

When you say a "1 dimensional offense only player brings 99% of the game and is only lacking 1% and that doesn't matter" that simply is not true. I like Gagner and thinks he brings more to the table then just offense.

That being said if scoring was all that mattered Omark and Schremp would make up an effective 2/3 of a 1st line on an NHL team. There is a lot more to hockey then just scoring. It would not matter if you got 100 points a season. If you finish every season as a minus 50 player you are hurting your team more then you are helping them. Obviously plus/minus does not measure the quality of competition you face or the amount of PP time vs PK time you have. It does however measure if your team is winning or losing while you are on the ice.

defence is just as important as offense. Then there are the intangibles such as drawing penalties, hitting, standing up for teamates, leadership etc.

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#63 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 30 2012, 03:42PM
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@ Cody

Yes, I oversimplified in my second point, and was going to go back and change, but didn't bother.

I should have just left my post as my first point.

All that matters is contributing to scoring goals AND contributing to stopping goals from being scored, that is all.

You can argue on the methods used to score and stop scoring, but really that's just outside noise to the main function of a hockey player.

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#64 Bucknuck
July 30 2012, 05:42PM
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WeridAl wrote:

Look what Lowe did to this franchise, he drove it into the ground and made it the laughing stock of the NHL. Do you want to go that route again, just hoping to make the playoffs every year. Or do you want to have a contender for the cup.

Did you even read what I wrote? I wasn't praising or criticizing Lowe or Tambellini. I was pointing out that they had different managing styles. This is Tambellini's team, win or lose he gets the credit.

Lowe did some great things as GM (2006) and some pretty crappy things as GM (Smytty trade) and a few things in between. I got to see a competitive team when he was GM, not so much since Tambellini took over. The "rebuild" better be done.

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#65 steelymac
July 30 2012, 05:51PM
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Gagner,Peckam and a few others for Johansson and a Dman from columbus.

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#66 The Beaker
July 30 2012, 06:31PM
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Spydyr wrote:

RNH, Hall ,Ebs and probably Yak are all younger more skilled small forwards.

So yes other than playing center he is redundant.The team needs size in the top six.They can't have all smurfs.

Move Hall or trade for a better #2 center with Gagner as part of the package.

In this line up Gagner is not redundant. It's not like we have depth on the left wing enough that moving Hall to center doesn't leave another hole to fill.

Is Gagner untouchable? Hell no. But If we use him for a trade for a Dman then there is a gap up front that needs to be filled. Therefor he is not redundant. If we had some like say Lander up and coming to take his spot then he would be redundant.

Redundant suggests we could lose him and not replace him and feel no tangible difference.

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#67 K_Mart
July 30 2012, 07:23PM
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In a perfect world:

Whitney plays 90% as well as he did his first season with us. Dubnyk posts a .920+ over 60 games played J. Schultz posts 35+ pts Our pp is top 5 in the league Our pk is top 15 in the league Yakupov shows the scouts they were right and pots 25 and 25 Nuge Ebs and Hall all take steps forward Hemsky bounces back and pots 15g 35 a Gagner goes 20g 30a

Injuries are equal or better

.... If all of these things happen, then we are in the playoffs, and Tambi doesn't have to do much of anything.

To me, there is one big elephant in the way of all of this happening. That is injuries. Without a physical presence in the top six, this may be unavoidable. I've always thought that it should be the player's job to avoid dangerous areas on the ice... but so long as players like Torres are throwing elbows at Ebs we will need a deterrent. The closest top six player we have that fits the mould would be Harti.. or Eager, but truthfully they both pale in comparison to the players like Lucic.

I suppose I just hope that Potter doesn't step on hall's face and Nuge doesnt ?fall down?. If we can just avoid any fluke injuries of that nature this year could be the year we go from basemen to bubble.

There is work for Tambi to do, but it isn't so pressing that he has to force anything.

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#68 6 ring circus
July 30 2012, 10:20PM
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It's a good thing Schultz signed with Edmonton,because Tambellini has taken the rest of the month off,By the time he is finished assessing the team,Dithers should be ready for the trade deadline!!!

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#69 kdunbar
July 31 2012, 12:42AM
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playing Armchair GM...

1) push hard for Bobby Ryan. He wants out and see if Annihiem is really going to trade him.

Hemmer, Parjarvii and a conditional pick for Bobby Ryan.

If the Ducks push for Gagner, I modify the deal and still make the trade. Then look for a stop gap like Arnott.

2) Although most media guys don't like fans mentioning trades with Omark because they are usually unreasonable, I still try to off load him to Columbus, Start with a fourth rounder and settle for a sixth or seventh. If that does not work then release him to be UFA.

3) Wait to see if I can find some sort of deal after movement towards training camp. Talk with Columbus about D men they might be willing to give up.

It is easy for us to think that Tambo isn't doing anything, but really who wants to trade what this team may be willing to give up? That is a very likely reason for the lack of trades. GMs from bottom teams making deals are usually m,aking them and loosing the deal. See Toronto and columbus as examples.

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#70 madjam
July 31 2012, 04:05PM
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Once Hall and Hopkins took injury time our results plummeted onto the shoulders of our veterans who burnt up fast . The youngstars still have to carry this team as the rest of base is poor and inadequate . Never took our original club long to form a powerhouse and great base - not with dealers like Pocklington and Sather at the helm . Huge difference in quality from then and now , that is currently running this failed and elongated rebuild now .

Biggest difference fron old dynasty and todays anti-dynasty is management and owner - not to mention B.Fraser as head scout in his prime .

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#71 Blogscout
July 31 2012, 04:54PM
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ppg player in ahl, regular in team sweden, paced for 43 points his rookieseason playing mostly 3 line low minutes with scrubs, draw penaltys second in the team behind hall. 60+ games in Nhl and a injury season his second one.That kid isnt evaluated yet, but maybe i hasnt that talentscout vision like a few others.

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#72 etownman
August 02 2012, 09:58AM
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Adding J Schultz is a huge piece! Whitney was better the last 20 & will be better to start the season. Perfect pairing for Schultz! Nothing wrong with Smid & Petry as a pair. Then you have N Schultz to sub in for J Schultz at times to relieve pressure until he's totally comfortable! Put size on the third pairing with N Schultz in the form of Peckham or Sutton & that D squad looks pretty damn good in my eyes!

It would be suicide to start trading 19, 20 or 21 year old players with talent at this point! It's a rebuild, let's see what we have before sending pieces out in trades!

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