Goalie In, Young Gun Out?

Jonathan Willis
October 16 2013 08:21AM

 

If TSN's top duo of Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger are to be believed, Craig MacTavish is taking measured action in response to the Oilers' troubles early: assessing the trade market for goalies but not on the verge of making a deal. 

In the TSN story, McKenzie says that MacTavish has been working the phones since at least the weekend, scouring the league for available goaltenders and determining the cost of them. He also indicates that a deal likely isn't imminent, because teams don't like making moves this early. Dreger adds that Buffalo probably doesn't want to move Miller before Christmas and opines that "the Oilers are getting to the point where they realize they're going to have to give up one of their young guns."

The Goalies

There really isn't much surprise on the goaltending angle. 

First, MacTavish trying to get a read on who is available and what it might take to land them is an intelligent response to what has happened in Edmonton's net so far. Both NHL goalies have struggled. The third-stringer, Richard Bachman, has been impressive in Oklahoma City but his prior career makes him an uncertain option long-term. There's a decent chance that Devan Dubnyk responds if given a little more rope, particularly since this kind of four-game stretch isn't unheard of - even for good goaltenders. But the preparatory work needs to be done so that if the struggles continue a move can be made with no time lost.

Second, it isn't shocking that NHL teams are reluctant to deal goalies right now. What applies to Dubnyk (that he's been bad, but over too short a span to write him off) applies broadly across the league. Even teams getting strong performances early need to be wary; they might find themselves making a trade and then having nowhere to go when a hot streak ends.

The Young Gun

The question with Dreger's comment is how much of it is informed by knowledge of the inner workings of the Oilers' brain-trust and how much is his own read on the situation. 

As I see it, there is no pressing salary cap need for Edmonton to dump one of its young stars, and despite the strength at right wing there is no real place where positional constraints are going to force a move. Where it might make sense is if the price of acquiring a desperately needed piece at another position (read: a top defenceman in the prime of his career) is the trade of a young forward. Depending on the specifics, that might be a trade that makes the Oilers a better team, a case of moving strength for weakness rather than hastily mortgaging the future. 

The math on that trade always works out the same way. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out; without him the Oilers don't have a top centre. Taylor Hall is out; without him the Oilers' left wing depth chart looks terrible. Sam Gagner is out; he just signed a deal with a no-trade understanding and he's hurt anyway. Justin Schultz is likely out, because defence is the position the Oilers need the most help at and there's still reason to hope Schultz can evolve into a player effective at both ends of the rink (he's 23 years old and has yet to play his 100th professional game).

If one of the young forwards is out, the position to move is right wing; that's the only place where there are two guys currently/likely to evolve into first line players. As a secondary point, it's also the only place where the number three man on the depth chart looks like he could be a pretty nice fit in the second slot for the next few years. If the Oilers are making a top forward for top defenceman swap, it's almost certainly Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov leaving town.

But nothing in the TSN report indicates such a move is imminent; McKenzie doesn't talk about it at all and it's a sure thing that Edmonton isn't moving an Eberle or a Yakupov for a mediocre goaltender or a pending UFA, the two descriptors that fit all the players actually mentioned by name in the report.

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 ubermiguel
October 16 2013, 08:42AM
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Everyone read that mc79 link and calm the f#$% down! MacT is working the phones like a good GM should and Dubnyk is going to regress to his mean (.917) which is a solid NHL goalie. Unless of course the fans ride him like a rented mule and destroy his confidence forever.

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#2 oilers2k10
October 16 2013, 10:54AM
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Yakupov has 31 pts in 53 games in the NHL. About the same pace that most 1st overalls score at in their first 80 or so games..

He's exactly the type of Sniper Oilers have needed for years, but now that the Oilers have one fans aren't able to put up with the time it takes for the player to find his game.

He's not Stamkos, not Mogilny, not Bure, he's not Kovalchuk...yet. Just like those players, Yakupov will take a little time to get there, if Oilers fans can wait it'll be worth it, then we'll have one of a kind on this time, if not..go ahead trade him but you'll be sorry..bigtime. 40 plus goal scorers dont come around very often..Yakupov could very likely be one very soon.

Patience people.

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#5 ghostofberanek
October 16 2013, 11:00AM
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DSF wrote:

I'm sure he knows a thing or two about hockey.

His assessment of Yak's game sounds pretty accurate to me and, based on him being benched for two games, it appears his NHL coach agrees.

Do you disagree?

I disagree, only for the reason that every 19 year old hockey player needs to learn a thing or two before they reach their full potential. It's ridiculous to suggest that Yakupov won't be a star because a scout doesn't like things about his game. He can skate like the wind, he's got a hard, accurate shot and he works hard on his game all the time. Being benched means nothing at this point of his career.

Good Grief.

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#6 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 08:54AM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Everyone read that mc79 link and calm the f#$% down! MacT is working the phones like a good GM should and Dubnyk is going to regress to his mean (.917) which is a solid NHL goalie. Unless of course the fans ride him like a rented mule and destroy his confidence forever.

If you are a goalie that lets fans ruin your confidence. Then you were not much of a goalie to begin with.

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#7 Rotten Ron
October 16 2013, 08:30AM
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I wouldnt rule out Schultz, like you said the oilers need defence and Mr. Schultz provides none.

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#8 james_dean
October 16 2013, 11:05AM
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We have two types of oilersnation readers....

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#9 RT
October 16 2013, 08:55AM
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Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

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#10 Mikey
October 16 2013, 11:49AM
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DSF wrote:

The alarming thing about Kravchuk's comment is his assessment that Yak has zero defense and his unwillingness to use his line mates....exactly what Eakins is seeing.

If you watch last night's game, you'll see plenty of both.

Of course Yak could change his game but so far it seems he's not getting the message.

Right, you do realize he has only played 55 or so games?

What do coaches say? I mean good coaches. "You can teach defense, but you can't teach offense."

In recent history I can think of two Russians (we will go with them becuase thats what Yak is) Ovechkin and Kovolchuk. Both of them, in their younger years had an issue with ______?

Answer: Using their linemates and playing D.

What did both of them eventually start doing?

Answer: They both started to use linemates more and back check more.

CRAZY!

Give the kid some time before you give up on him, like you did with Schultz, who you said would be a lock to sign in VAN. And Eakins, who you said would be a lock to sign in VAN.

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#11 oilers2k10
October 16 2013, 11:04AM
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ghostofberanek wrote:

I disagree, only for the reason that every 19 year old hockey player needs to learn a thing or two before they reach their full potential. It's ridiculous to suggest that Yakupov won't be a star because a scout doesn't like things about his game. He can skate like the wind, he's got a hard, accurate shot and he works hard on his game all the time. Being benched means nothing at this point of his career.

Good Grief.

Perfectly put..

Most NHL veterans can only dream of having the skating, shooting, puckhandling and passing ability of Yakupov, no matter how much they practice their skills they will never get to where Yakupov is at 19 yrs old. Yakupov is willing to work on the rest of his game, he's not even fighting it, he wants to improve but at 19 he's simply not there yet.

A few years of patience will pay off.

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#12 ghostofberanek
October 16 2013, 10:31AM
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S cottV wrote:

I know a polarizing figure, but I wonder if something involving Phaneuf and Reimer could be worked out?

If it gets Elisha Cuthbert in Edmonton, where we'll run into each other, she falls in love with me, leaves Phaneufinstein and we live happily ever after..... what were we talking about again?

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#13 Racki
October 16 2013, 02:53PM
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Yakupov scratched... Travesty.. What are these clowns thinking? They will ruin this kid, if he didn't already suck so bad...

Nichushkin scratched... What a good move by Dallas! This will help out this young, future star!

From the guy that brought you great insight like "Whitney is not an NHLer" until the Panthers made a great move signing this pp specialist for cheap.

DSF logic.

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#14 Racki
October 16 2013, 03:10PM
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I'm referring to your trollery in another thread where you pointed out how integral of a pp guy Whitney was for the Oilers and how the Panthers got him for so cheap, yet with no games between that and your comment in April where you pointed out he wasn't an NHLer (correctly). You seem to adjust your argument to whatever pisses off the most Oilers fans.

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#15 Oiler Al
October 16 2013, 08:42AM
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And, no other GM, wants Lowe's golden haired boy Hemsky!!!

While most successful teams build from the backend out, Oilers were chasing Boys on the Bus, Vol 2.

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#16 Spoils
October 16 2013, 12:27PM
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I honestly don't really care if we make the playoffs this year. We aren't winning the cup. We might win the cup in 3 years - meaning not only are we not in a rush to make a BOLD move for a goalie, we are better off waiting.

possible to do a 9th overall pick = corey schneider level.

I say wait for the market to swing towards the supply side, then make a move.

last thought - the best chance to get MORE than one cup is for the embarrassment of riches scenario - meaning Nurse/Klef pay off, and we don't trade our stars.

feels like the world is doing everything to try and get us to admit we can't have it all. we are so close - let's not throw away that dream yet.

darkest before the dawn as they say

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#17 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 09:04AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

I saw positives also. Hope it was more the Oilers playing well than Pittsburg not bringing their A game.

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#18 book¡e
October 16 2013, 11:25AM
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DSF wrote:

I'm sure he knows a thing or two about hockey.

His assessment of Yak's game sounds pretty accurate to me and, based on him being benched for two games, it appears his NHL coach agrees.

Do you disagree?

Kravchuk's comments say the following. IF he doesn't listen to the coach and change his game, he has not future. IF he does listen to his coach and adapts he has a future.

Kravchuk does NOT indicate what he thinks Yakupov will do.

This seems like a pretty innocuous statement to be making a big deal of.

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#19 Boourns99
October 16 2013, 08:32AM
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JONATHAN YOU SHOULD HIDE WANYE WILL WANT TO TAKE HIS WRATH ON SOMEONE. THAT YOU SHOULD MENTION EBERSQUEEE IN THE SAME BREATH AS TRADE IS BLASPHEMY.

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#20 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 16 2013, 10:47AM
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These two items really ought to be disassociated.

There's no way a team is trading a star forward for a G. History shows this never happens. Besides, the options being discussed aren't near worth that price and it's highly unlikely a team offloading right now wants to take on salary.

1. The Goalie search is due diligence after the start. But the "nothing imminent" is a good sign. The percentages should rebound (they may not, but they should).

2. shopping a young star F only makes sense for a top 2 D under contract long term in their mid-20s. anything else is crazy.

I agree if something is done, it's Yak or Ebs and probably Ebs. But the most likely solution to this non-problem is trading Hemsky at the deadline or riding him into the late season and losing him to free agency.

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#22 Todd
October 16 2013, 01:35PM
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Serous Gord wrote:

They should hav traded hemsky rather than signing him. Failing that MacT should have bought him out and used the free cap room to have more freedom to trade for a player who has a higher cap hit than what he sends back.

Eakins may one day be a fine nhl coach. But the oil has enough unproven elements to deal with already - adding an unproven coach using unproven tactics was a big mistake. And I think they are playing worse than they would under a proven conventional coach. I am arguing that Klowe and company were loath to get one - hence the chirade of interviewing proven nhl coaches for an ASSISTANT coaching role answering to a rookie coach in Krueger (only 48 games experience) - because they don't want anyone of stature in the league inside asking questions...

I am all for making steps to progress - as long as it doesn't retard our progress towards winning the cup. Trading now - when we have no cap room - when in another year we will have plenty - would require the unloading of one of the stars - gagner and hemsky are not going to work. So let's sit and wait.

Not sure what you base your "they are playing worse" statement. Impossible to prove (either way). I agree, if they had another coach the results would be different. Better, worse, who knows. But different. Your baseless impossible to prove opinion is just an opinion so quit acting like your feelings are fact.

In terms of facts... Last year this team outshot the other team 8 times all year (19%). And that was flagged by many as the root cause of all problems. So far this year in 7 games we have outshot the opponent 4 times (58%). Dooby single handedly gave away the Jets game and the Leafs game. Would 3-3-1 with massive statistical improvements be a reason for 10 alarm panic, fire the coach, Eakins is a loser talk.

Small sample size? Yes. Stupid to draw conclusions from? Yes. If we had even marginal AHL goal tending this team would be .500 at worst and everyone would be talking about how the systems are starting to work and be patient.

I'm sure people will dig up all sorts of irrelevant ridiculously small sample size stats about how much worse we are doing under Eakins. Stats over 6-7 games are pointless. Unless you think Lundqvist is actually worse than Dooby and that the Flames are a lock for the presients trophy.

PS - I don't think there is 1 person on here who doesn't agree about firing Lowe. But whats the point. Its not happeneing. Why not just rant and rave about Katz firing himself. Get over it. Maybe next summer, but this year b1tching and moaning again over Kevin Lowe is wasted air.

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#23 dangilitis
October 16 2013, 01:58PM
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DSF wrote:

I'm sure he knows a thing or two about hockey.

His assessment of Yak's game sounds pretty accurate to me and, based on him being benched for two games, it appears his NHL coach agrees.

Do you disagree?

Hey DSF. How's Nichushkin working out? Looks like he has as many NHL points so far as Nurse...

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#25 ed in edmonton
October 16 2013, 09:04AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

No team stays above 500 with bad goaltending. As one sage hockey person once said "goaltending is 70% of any hockey team, unless its bad, then it 100%".

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#26 Cody anderson
October 16 2013, 09:13AM
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I hope they do not make a panic trade. Unless you are getting an elite top 5 goalie the cost at this point is going to be too high for the minor upgrade you are going to get.

If we give Dubnyk some time and space he should revert back to at least league average, which is probably the best we are going to get at this point anyways.

A team that is not deep, that is comprised of 1/2 new guys, that has a rookie coach, introducing a new system, could very well take some time to gel. Sure this is the worst start any of us could have imagined, but it is very early. Gagner should be back next week, and although the points have not come as of yet the boys are not playing that badly.

Last night we were all around the net, and I would say we out-chanced one of the best teams in the league. One more goes in or we get one more save and we are looking at a potential upset.

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#27 Danger Pay
October 16 2013, 11:44AM
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I think we can all agree that the Oilers were not going to Contend for the Cup this year. Sure the expectations have grown but prior to opening night all the experts had the Oilers missing the post season. Stay the course and don't buy into the media hype/rumors. All I've heard is either Yakupov or Eberle to the Leafs for Reimer or Gardiner? Yeah that might be a great story to write about and would help the Leafs but that does not make sense to me at all.

Stay the course and start adding some defence (Nurse is on the way) and goaltending (we landed Kujo and Roloson in the past) to compliment our amazing top 6. A top 6 BTW the Oilers have wanted and needed for a long time now. Unless it is some crazy deal like Yakupov for Seth Jones or a team's current #1 goalie, trading any our young future studs (especially for another teams backup goalie?) as a knee jerk to a tough start, would reek of desperation and would ultimately hurt the franchise. Let other teams, their fans and the media Keep Dreaming about adding one of our studs to their team.

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#28 Bryan in SK
October 16 2013, 10:29AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Speaking of Lundqvist, he's struggling too. I blame the pads. Both Lundqvist and Dubnyk have the same pattern on their pads.

Is Frederic Chabot with the team on the road trip? I have no ideas of the capabilities of Chabot as a goaltending coach, but Stephane Waite gets a lot of press for working with Corey Crawford in Chicago and now working with Carey Price this year. Watching Dubnyk in Toronto, it's pretty clear to me that Dubnyk is not feeling it. For a big guy like Double D, he needs to rely on his butterfly and make himself big and just 'know' that pucks are going to hit him. That's where the goalie coach comes in to help get him to where he needs to be, physically, mentally and emotionally.

I've mentioned Chabot in previous posts. Before making any trades, Dubnyk or otherwise, I'd try a goaltending coach change. In hockey, or in life, changing a mentor can change a career.

And I'd ESPECIALLY try this change before shipping out any of the young guns.

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#29 misfit
October 16 2013, 10:59AM
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"If TSN's top duo of Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger are to be believed..."

When is Dreger ever to be believed? The guy is an absolute joke of a "hockey insider". With that said, McKenzie is the best in the business, and it's very reasonable to believe MacT is making calls on goaltenders. I think most would have assumed that's happening already even if nothing was said. I mean, he looked all offseason for goaltending and I can't imagine anything that's happened on the ice so far has made him think it's less of a concern now.

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#30 vetinari
October 16 2013, 11:04AM
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james_dean wrote:

Oiler fans are crazy about hockey and thats fine.

Just dont run anyone having a hard time out of town

Ie Poti Arnott

Deep breath... Count to ten

Could throw pit cannon in same category

I had to read your comment out loud three times before I figured out that the "auto correct" monster must have changed "Pitkanen" to "pit cannon" in your post.

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#31 MessyEH!
October 16 2013, 11:33AM
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I wouldn't trade anyone yet. Give it 15 more games. The fact is we need a #1d. Not a goalie.

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#32 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 08:39AM
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One would think a team with no real goalie prospect would have taken a goalie the last draft.

When this was mentioned at draft time it received a lot of negative feedback. It is sad when a second tier fan notices issues before the "braintrust" does.

This is turning into the rebuild without a plan.

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#33 DrunkGuyTy
October 16 2013, 09:44AM
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Too bad Dreger and McKenzie seem to be joining the rest of the MSM and focusing on traffic hits rather than any real credible 'insider' information. Haven't heard anything new from them in some time.

Too bad we couldn't know for sure when DD was going to snap out of this funk - we all know he will eventually.

I would never have thunk that if we traded one of the young guns, it would be for a goalie. I don't like that idea. At. All. ...for a 1-2 d-man - sure.

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#34 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 11:34AM
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MessyEH! wrote:

I wouldn't trade anyone yet. Give it 15 more games. The fact is we need a #1d. Not a goalie.

They need both.

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#35 Mikey
October 16 2013, 12:07PM
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DSF wrote:

You can only teach something if the student is paying attention.

So from 55 games, a benching, and two quotes, you can tell that he isn't going to listen?

You are smart!

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#36 MessyEH!
October 16 2013, 02:14PM
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DSF wrote:

The Leafs didn't "rebuild" at all.

Burke refused to burn it to the ground.

And they missed the playoffs 7 years in a row after losing in the conference semi finals in 2003-04.

Since Lowe was promoted to GM 13 years ago, the Oilers have made the playoffs 3 times.

Everyone together now!

Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go. Lowes gotta go...

Yup, your insight of the obvious, is always appreciated!

Yadda yadda yadda Oilers are not as good as (insert team.) Yadda yadda yadda I'm a big ,slanted, misleading, troll. Who cherry picks stats to humiliate, an already disenchanted fan base.

Enjoy your stealing candy from babies and your general tom foolery.

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#37 ghostofberanek
October 16 2013, 10:41AM
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@DSF

So Igor Kravchuk is the authority on who's valuable and who's not now?

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#38 Racki
October 16 2013, 02:08PM
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DSF wrote:

The Leafs didn't "rebuild" at all.

Burke refused to burn it to the ground.

And they missed the playoffs 7 years in a row after losing in the conference semi finals in 2003-04.

Since Lowe was promoted to GM 13 years ago, the Oilers have made the playoffs 3 times.

Did we forget the work that Cliff "the cleaner" Fletcher did before the Leafs brought Burke in?

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#40 S cottV
October 16 2013, 08:50AM
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I know a polarizing figure, but I wonder if something involving Phaneuf and Reimer could be worked out?

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#41 PSinghBSc
October 16 2013, 09:09AM
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I'm quite concerned with all of this talk of moving Yak or Ebs. We all want to win now but systems take time to develop. I hope MacT doesn't press the panic button on a aging goalie on the backend of his prime to salvage a season. We have been rebuilding for ages, hate to lose talent like Yak or Ebs. Top 6 forwards are hard to come by.

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#42 Rotten Ron
October 16 2013, 09:12AM
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S cottV wrote:

I know a polarizing figure, but I wonder if something involving Phaneuf and Reimer could be worked out?

Is last years leader in giveaways and a late 20's goaltender prone to losing concentration and giving up soft goals things you think the oilers need more of?

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#43 Racki
October 16 2013, 11:01AM
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Odd that questions of Yak being a team guy aren't really there last year.

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#45 TM8Trent
October 16 2013, 11:54AM
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It's time to call up Mr. Bachman. He can't be any worse than DD is currently playing and if nothing else, I just want to hear Takin' Care of Business as he leads the Oilers through the derrick

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#46 Quintana
October 16 2013, 02:16PM
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Get Hiller out of California.........a 2nd and Marincin should do it.....I think thats a good trade for the Oilers.

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#47 Quicksilver ballet
October 16 2013, 04:54PM
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I remember Matheiu Garon was playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens org). Many thought he was the best goaltender not in the NHL. Lowe waited 2 yrs patiently and got him for nothing one summer as a UFA. He came in and had one strong season and then faded like a candle in the wind.

Like D'men, goalies are a crapshoot. No way in Hello should the Oilers put up one of their finest for yet another possible Garon type. Edmonton has a difficult time assessing skaters, let alone goalie types. Unless it's a Weber type deal, we best tough out yet another difficult season. Sign that Ty Rimmer kid (they had at camp) and give him a shot. What do they have to lose...

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#48 Oiler63
October 16 2013, 10:25AM
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Don't think any of the allegedly available goalie is worth Eds or Yak city. Action is needed to address the goalie situation but you don't want to get ripped off. At the same time, the "We are going to lose no matter how hard we try" mentality will kill the confidence of the team. Again, oilers are in a very tough spot.

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#49 Ryan2
October 16 2013, 09:22AM
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RT wrote:

Instead of jumping on the misery band wagon like every one else i saw last nights game as a sign that the team is starting to grasp the new system . If they had played that way all year they would be above 500 even with bad goal tending. I believe they are going to start to win more then they lose in a game or two as this system is perfect for this team and its average size.

Rob Brown summed the SWARM up best in his post game comments. To paraphrase "It can work in Juniors, might work in the AHL, but in the NHL there will be skilled players that can beat the overcommitment and it leaves the high slot open for great chances."

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