January 14 2013 06:43PM
Weighing in at 232lbs and standing six feet, two inches tall......Mark Fistric!!
I have been saying since the summer that the Oiler's defence corps was missing a piece. I was convinced the team needed to go out and pick up a solid top-four defencemen. I know, they are hard to find, everyone wants to keep them but to move forward it was a necessity. Today they traded a third round pick for Mark Fistric. He isn't a top-four guy but he will bring something in the bottom pair that I really like.
Fistric is a hard guy to play against. He loves to hit and hit hard. When he plays with an edge he can be very effective. He had 235 hits last year which is pretty impressive. This is an element the Oilers need on their back end. Smid plays hard but outside of him, if we assume Peckham is out of the lineup, these aren't the hardest guys to play against.
He averaged 16:30 a night for Dallas last year in 60 games. Just over two minutes of that was killing penalties. I think he is a pretty good penalty killer. This will take the heat off guys like Smid, Whitney and Petry to have to kill every minute of a penalty. This year everyone’s ice time needs to be monitored and controlled so they all stay fresh.
At times Fistric will run out of position for a big hit and may even take some penalties that will frustrate his coach for hitting but I am all for it. This entire team needs some guys that are physically hard to play against. The team is not built for a lot of heavy games but I think it is important to have some players that can push back. Playing in St Louis or L.A. is no picnic these days.
The skill on this team is running two lines deep which is something to be excited about. The team will be able to score goals and play hockey that is very fun to watch. But when they need to walk down a dark alley in the first round of the playoffs in a series against the Kings, will they come out the other side? Adding a player like Fistric is a step in the right direction but there is still a ways to go.
This is a good addition for the depth on the Oiler's blue line. This bumps Peckham and Potter to some combination of seven and eight. Two guys that can come in and play somewhere between 12 - 18 minutes when required. Those are minutes both can handle and their skill sets are exact opposites.
There will be injuries to the big team, that I can promise due to this schedule, so Fedun and Teubert are now the ninth and tenth guys on the depth chart. This is something that makes me a lot more comfortable. They need time in the minors to continue to develop.
I still think the Oiler's need to add a legit top four guy. This helps with ice time for guys like Smid, Petry, Whitney, who are the legit top four guys right now. Justin Schultz could be there one day and Nick Schultz can fill in as well. The top teams are strong and deep at defence. The Vancouver Canucks just added Jim Vandermeer and Cam Barker, two former Oilers. Say what you will about their abilities but they provide great depth at the 7 and 8 spots.
I don't know that there are any top four defencemen in the making in OKC. I haven't watched them play enough to really get a good idea. Oscar Klefbom has the potential to become one but with his shoulder injury, that isn't likely for a couple years now.
Fistric is a good start for getting a stronger back line for the Oilers but there is still work and decisions to be made.
So what do you want???
Now that the NHL is open for business, fans are happy the league is back but they feel they deserve something. Something for the pain of going through a second lockout in less than ten years. It is hard to argue with that idea. I have said many times that it was and is still unacceptable for the league to lockout the players again this past few months. Let’s not get into that again! No matter how you feel about that, we can all agree the fans suffered.
After the last lockout, the NHL came up with a plan that in hindsight wasn't much but seemed to keep the peace with the fans. Isn't it enough to write in big blue writing in the neutral zone again the slogan "Thank you Fans!"? What do you guys want?
Some NHL teams around the league are trying to make amends with their fans in some way. There are teams that are selling some season tickets are very low prices. Fifty percent off team merchandise for a while doesn't seem like a bad deal to me. Free parking for some home games, not too shabby.
The Oilers have made the first three practices this week open to the public. While watching you can enjoy free popcorn and pop. This isn't earth shattering but it is an olive branch. Sunday night the team played shinny hockey at Hawerlak Park. Afterwards the team signed autographs and posed for some pictures. Again, nothing monumental but it is a gesture.
The social media universe had very mixed reaction to these plans by the Oilers. Some people were happy about the fact they tried to do something. Others thought it was disingenuous. They thought it was a preplanned exercise. Of course it was, how else would it get together? Some felt the players should have done it on their own during the lockout. Not a bad idea but a little late for that now.
After reading through the comments on twitter last night, I went to bed with this thought on my mind... At the end of the day is there any kind of gesture from the teams of the NHL that will ease the pain from the lockout for the fans?
I don't think there is.
Are the fans still just mad and wanting to continue to vent at someone, anyone for a while longer? Will that make everyone feel better? Is this issue with some kind of make-up from the teams to the fans the newest way to express the frustration fans still have bottled up from the lockout?
If that is the case then nothing will heal the wound that has been created by this latest lockout except for time. If redirecting their anger isn't the issue and actually wanting something to make up for the lockout nightmare is the real goal for fans, what do you want?
Tell me!! What will make up for those lost months of hockey? Those lost months of enjoyment? The lost trust between you and the NHL?
Honestly I don't think there is any amount of free stuff or PR events that will heal this wound faster. If I am wrong, let me know what will!