GDB 18.0: MORNING MADNESS

Jason Gregor
November 09 2013 09:06AM

Yesterday at 4:45 p.m. news broke that the Oilers had traded Ladislav Smid to Calgary, and a half hour later the Ilya Bryzgalov signing became official. Some wondered if the two deals were connected. I believe they were, but not just for financial reasons.

Trading Smid freed up $2.786 million in cap space for the remainder of the season, and $3.5 mill cap hit for the following three years, while Ilya Bryzgalov was signed for $1.75 million, which starting today is $1.393 million in actual cap space. The Oilers could have signed Bryzgalov to that deal without moving Smid; however, I do see a connection between the moves.

The Oilers aren't making the playoffs this season. The coaches and players won't think that way, as they should, but in making these moves I believe Craig MacTavish recognizes the disappointing reality that the Oilers are already 12 points out of a playoff spot.

I expect the Oilers to be better in their final 65 games, but they won't go 38-17-6 in their final 65 (which would give them 92 points).

An hour after making the deal, MacTavish stated that he felt the Oilers had more depth on the blueline, and he expected Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse to be two possibilities to replace Smid's size. Klefbom is 6'3" while Nurse is 6'4", but neither will replace Smid right now. Both of them will push for a roster spot next season, although Klefbom likely will get some games near the end of this season.

MacTavish made this move with the long-term future in mind, more than the short term, and I believe the Bryzgalov move was also made with the bigger picture in mind.

MacTavish is hoping Bryzgalov can come in and either out perform Devan Dubnyk, or push him to play better. That helps right now, but more importantly he needs solid goaltending so his players can taste some success. I don't see the Bryzgalov signing as a big risk. He can't be worse than what they have, and despite some of his past comments, I doubt he will be a bad influence in the dressing room.

The Oilers are finally starting to get comfortable with Dallas Eakins system, and if they can get some victories they are more likely to buy in even more and should enter next season more comfortable in their overall game. For that to happen they need better goaltending.

The Oilers outplayed Tampa Bay on Thursday, one of the better teams in the league, but they lost. We all saw the need to try and improve the goaltending right away, but I feel that MacTavish also did it with an eye on next season.

Eakins isn't getting fired, and next year will be the first time in four seasons that the Oilers won't have to learn a new system. They will enter a season with some actual continuity and understanding of their system. They won't need 10, 15 or 50 games to get comfortable with their new coach.

The Oilers need to have a strong second half. They will get more comfortable in the system, and if they can win some games down the stretch, at least they will end the season with some confidence.

These trades were about the big picture, and the Smid move also gave MacTavish some cap flexibility so he can make even more moves leading up to the trade deadline.

SMID TRADE...

The Oilers lose this trade today; because Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit are both prospects and there is no guarantee either one of them will ever play. They won't help the Oilers today. It is fair to question why MacTavish made the move, but I believe he made it to get some cap flexibility short term and long term, and he felt Smid was expendable.

Smid was their best shot blocker and most physical defender. He will be missed. Despite his offensive shortcomings, no one ever questioned his willingness and desire. He competed, and he was sick of losing. He was well-liked in the dressing room, and he really enjoyed living in Edmonton. I know being a good guy off the ice, doesn't always coincide with victories on the ice, but the community will miss him. I

On a personal note, I enjoyed interacting with Smid. He was always throwing out barbs and chirps. He would chirp anyone and he was always smiling, even when he was pissed off. A part of me feels bad for Smid, because he is leaving one rebuild for another. I don't see him racking up a lot of wins in Calgary and being on a losing team for that long must start to wear on a guy.

At the same time I don't think Smid's departure is a major blow to the Oilers. They will miss his competitiveness and shot-blocking abilities, but Andrew Ference plays the same game, and if Klefbom is ready next season he has more overall upside.

I also don't think Taylor Fedun's play led to the Smid trade. Craig MacTavish said he had been discussing this deal with the Flames for a few weeks. Smid's puck moving ability was a concern for the team, especially in Dallas Eakins' new system.

TODAY'S GAME....

The Oilers and Flyers are the poster boys for underachieving so far this season. The Oilers sit in the basement of the western conference, while the Flyers are a disappointing 2nd last in the east. The Flyers only have nine points.

Claude Giroux has 0 goals in 15 games. Scott Hartnell has 1 point in 11 games. Wayne Simmonds and Jacob Voracek each have 1 goal in 15 games.

Giroux had 41 goals and 140 points in his previous 125 games.
Hartnell had 45 goals and 75 points in his previous 114 games.
Simmonds had 43 goals and 81 points in his previous 127 games.
Voracek had 40 goals and 85 points in his previous 126 games.

The Flyers are struggling because their best forwards can't produce.

Flyers analyst Steve Coates told me yesterday that the Flyers are an extremely fragile team right now. When something goes wrong in a game they unravel, and they haven't been able to overcome adversity.

Despite below average goaltending and some five-star giveaways the Oilers haven't folded their tents, except for the brutal Detroit game, so far this season. The Oilers have at least battled throughout the majority of their games.

The Oilers need to attack the Flyers right away. Score first and see if the Flyers will wilt. Eventually Giroux, Hartnell, Simmonds and Voracek are going to start scoring, the Oilers have to try and delay that inevitability for at least one more game.

LINEUP...

Perron-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle
Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
Joensuu-Gordon-Arcobello
Gazdic-Smyth-Yakupov

The fourth line could also include Ryan Jones or Wil Acton. Those players rotated in and out during yesterday's practice.

David Perron and Jesse Joensuu will return to the lineup, and the Oilers will dress their healthiest forward group of the season. If you switched Yakupov for Arcobello, the top three lines would be what most projected them to be, but Arcobello has earned the right to stay in the top-nine.

If the Oilers can stay healthy, Eakins will finally have the option to move guys in and out, or up and down the lineup based on performance.

Ference-Petry
Belov-Larsen
N.Schultz-Fedun

Dubnyk

The D pairs could also change with Anton Belov replacing Smid. The Oilers backend isn't very big or physical, but the Oilers feel they can move the puck quickly, and that should allow their fast, skilled forwards to generate offence.

MORNING GLORY....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Flyers and Oilers will each get a point. This one ends in a SO, and the Oilers get the bonus point in a 4-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Wanye and many others miss the first period. Wanye slept in because he spent three hours talking to babes on line after returning home from the bar. Unlike Chip from Napolean Dynamite, none of Wanye's babes lived in the same country, however, so there will be no nuptials in his immediate future. But he will SQUEEEEEEEE when Eberle scores in the 2nd period.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fedun scores for the third consecutive game. His comeback story just gets better and better as he becomes the first D-man in the expansion era to score a goal in his first three NHL games. Fedun was the first D-man to score in his first two games since, Marcus Ragnarsson in 1995/1996. (Thanks to Elias Sports Bureau for getting me that answer.)

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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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 Mac962
November 09 2013, 09:22AM
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I am sorry , and i know its going to take more than a minor miracle to make the playoffs however, you need to alter this lineup still, Not giving pieces away but moves still need to be made and i expect some very soon. You do not give up on the season with 65 to play. Play as good as they did against T.Bay and we win this one. If Dubnyk plays even remotely well that is. Personally , i can't wait for Bryz to get in the cage and see what he can do.

Lets roll up the Sleeves boys. Get it done.

4-2 Oil.

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#2 oilerman53
November 09 2013, 09:22AM
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The physicality and the shots are starting to pile up for the Oilers now. I thought they heavily outplayed Tampa the other night and no that isn't an exhaggeration. This lineup being this healthy should start to generate more offense and people in their right spots. This team may be poised to go on a hot streak here. I love how Bryz looks absolutely nuts in almost all of his pictures.

These guys may finally be buying into the system and Ference finally showed some leadership jumping to Petry's defense on that dirty play. This team looks so different with Hall in the lineup.

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#3 Dave
November 09 2013, 09:22AM
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Would Arcobello better at center than Gagner for the game tonight?

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#4 TDSM31
November 09 2013, 09:22AM
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The Bryz 1 year contract tells me that management is delusional enough to think that they can still take a run at a playoff spot.

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#5 Jay Gray
November 09 2013, 09:23AM
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I totally agree with everything you got here Jason.

The Oilers lineup for today has me excited. Uncle Yessy is back baby, have mercy.

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#6 Rustyknuckles
November 09 2013, 09:23AM
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Ironic that Smid was the player saying if the team didn't start performing someone was going to get traded. I wish him all the best, it's really to bad he had to go to Calgary though.. Now I have to hate him!

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#7 Kirk Brakenberry
November 09 2013, 09:25AM
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Robin, what is it you wanted to say? Smid was a warrior for this team it is sad that he will not be here when they start to see success...they will see success right...right??? I am not sure our best path is to hope to new young d men our the answer. We need to move one of the young guns to get proven studd dmen. None of them should be untouchable in this quest.

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#8 Reality Check to the head
November 09 2013, 09:25AM
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Game Day prediction: Oiler Fans continue to be frustrated by: 1) Morning Games on a Saturday 2) Ineffective goal-tending and 3) Waiting for a deal that is bold

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#9 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 09:26AM
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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: An Oiler takes a cheap shot.All the other players on the ice check to make sure their skates are tied.

Dubnyk manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.Letting in yet another weak goal.

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#10 vetinari
November 09 2013, 09:27AM
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Listening to MacT's comments, they were obviously high on the goalie prospect that they acquired for Smid. As for Smid, he was a warrior and one of my favorites but we have too many defence men and given his cap number, the only one of value in a trade at this point in time. As for Bryzgalov, desperate times call for desperate measures and his contract is low risk for one season. However, it signals to me that LaBarbera and Dubnyk are both likely to be gone by this time next year. Welcome to Bold Moves Territory. Population: 2.

GDP: oilers 4 flyers 3

The moves will get some players finally motivated to play a full 60 minutes.

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#11 Soccer Steve
November 09 2013, 09:30AM
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Smid trade = 1 step back, 2 steps forward. I hope there are more of these.

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#12 The Oilers Shot Clock
November 09 2013, 09:31AM
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@TDSM31

What would you have them do? Not try? The one year contract means MacT is willing to let Bryz play for a new contract next year with another team and hopefully we can benefit from a motivated 33 year old with limited time left. He might even be worth something at the deadline if he plays well. The signing was forced on all of us.

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#13 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
November 09 2013, 09:31AM
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Smid without the puck was poetry in motion. Smid with the puck? Flipping the puck up the glass doesn't work in todays game. When you watch the better teams the defence puck movement is creative and usually against the flow of play. The way Smid moved the puck was almost a turnover every time he moved it. A great soldier but becoming a dinosaur in todays game. Good luck Ladislav

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#14 nunyour
November 09 2013, 09:32AM
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Good move Mact,hope Bryzgalov gives us some quality goaltending.

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#15 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 09:33AM
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The GM should have grabbed a goalie in the off season like this commentator suggested many times.Instead they sign Dubnyk's buddy to back him up.

Yet another mistake in a very long series of mistakes.

Now yet gain they a scrambling trying to find quick fixes instead of building a team the right way .From Goal on out to defence to centre then wing.They did is bass akwards and it appears with no long term plan in place.

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#16 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 09:34AM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

Smid trade = 1 step back, 2 steps forward. I hope there are more of these.

The time for "magic beans" has passed.How about trading for actual NHL players.

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#17 GTL
November 09 2013, 09:37AM
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Meh.... Oilers are slump busters ... Giroux scores today

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#18 tileguy
November 09 2013, 09:38AM
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Squeeee indeed, a full lineup. Season starts today.

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#19 Geoff
November 09 2013, 09:39AM
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Having just compared the avalanches D lineup to our own they are not much better but they are all 6'1 200 pounds plus. I wish ours was like that :(

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#20 Spoils
November 09 2013, 09:39AM
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Well, look at that forward lineup!

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#21 Ron Burgundy
November 09 2013, 09:39AM
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Jason (or others) - how does the 50 contract limit work?

According to Capgeek Bryz brings us to 51 contracts. Do the rules perhaps allow a team to go over 50 if players are on IR (as I'm guessing MacIntyre and Pitlick are)? Or do the "buried" Grebs/Eager not count for some reason?

Seems to suggest more moves on the way in any case. As does the fact that Yak is on the 4th line given our depth at RW, and we are playing (and presumably scouting) a team we've been linked to in trade rumours for about 6 months. Could be an interesting day.

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#22 Hemmercules
November 09 2013, 09:42AM
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Spydyr wrote:

The time for "magic beans" has passed.How about trading for actual NHL players.

Don't you ever get tired of constantly complaining about everything?

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#23 Soccer Steve
November 09 2013, 09:45AM
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@Spydyr

"Yet another mistake in a very long series of mistakes." Such as?

MacT trading a soon-to-be albatross contract in Smid. *Fixed*

MPS for Perron. *Highway Robbery*

The Contract (+Horcoff) for Larsen. *Fixed*

Boyd Gordon.

I like MacT so far.

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#24 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 09:51AM
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Hemmercules wrote:

Don't you ever get tired of constantly complaining about everything?

So you like what the Oilers have done the last eight years?Good for you.

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#25 Spoils
November 09 2013, 09:52AM
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RNH-Hall-Ebs

Gagner-Perron-Hemsky

Arcobello-Joenssu-Yak

Gordon-Jones-Gazdic

Smyth scratched.

Sub in Gordon for key draws, double shift hall/perron in place of yak at times, but give yak some PP. Ride perron and Uncle Yessy if they get hot.

Dub let's in two softies after bad defensive giveaways, oilers win 5-2

Arco scores again, gags gets on the board...

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#26 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 09:57AM
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@Soccer Steve

MacT trading what little toughness he had on the back end in Smid for magic beans.If they wanted Brossoit the should of drafted him.I was hoping they would. Mistake.

Not signing a legit goalie to push Dubnyk .Mistake.

Not getting a legit number two centre.Mistake

Signing Hemsky for five million mistake

Signing Grebs. Mistake.

I could keep going on but I will stop with.The press conference to remove all doubt the team is run by morons.Mistake.

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#27 Eddie Shore
November 09 2013, 10:06AM
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@Spydyr

I dont know who is worse, you or Serious Gord... Do you not get tired of saying the same things over and over and over?

MacT should have just called you for your advice in the summer and we wouldn't be in this mess. Or, Dubnyk could have made some saves in October.

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#28 Hemmercules
November 09 2013, 10:07AM
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Spydyr wrote:

So you like what the Oilers have done the last eight years?Good for you.

Lol. Some I like. I never did like tambo from the beginning, that set them back a bit with his passiveness and likely a Lowe puppet. I think Mact has more pull on his own than tambo did. With a new coach and so many new players I expected bumps this season. Not to mention shaky goaltending. I believe Mact put in a solid effort on trying to acquire a goalie this summer an came up short. I come here to vent a bit too I admit, things are rough. I learned last year during the lockout period not be so emotionally invested.

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#29 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 10:07AM
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Spydyr wrote:

MacT trading what little toughness he had on the back end in Smid for magic beans.If they wanted Brossoit the should of drafted him.I was hoping they would. Mistake.

Not signing a legit goalie to push Dubnyk .Mistake.

Not getting a legit number two centre.Mistake

Signing Hemsky for five million mistake

Signing Grebs. Mistake.

I could keep going on but I will stop with.The press conference to remove all doubt the team is run by morons.Mistake.

Funny thing....with the exception that I like MacT and I thought that Smid was never going to be part of the winning equation moving forward, I agree with most of what Spyder has to say......and yet I'm happy today and looking forward to watching the game!.....What the hell?!?!

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#30 oiler_head
November 09 2013, 10:13AM
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I am disappointed that Smid was moved for prospects. I am amazed that Omark couldn't have been dealt as part of cap/contract clearing. What does that say about Omark who must be pissed that he's back in OKC after a brief, safe, though unspectacular, shot with the Oilers. I wonder what he did to which hockey god to be stuck in the situation he is in.

Oil 5-2 - just to tease us long suffering fans before they drop their next three.

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#31 lucky
November 09 2013, 10:13AM
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So what up with LaBarbera? Does he need waived to report to OKC, or are they going to carry a three headed monster again?

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#32 oilerjed
November 09 2013, 10:13AM
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Spydyr wrote:

MacT trading what little toughness he had on the back end in Smid for magic beans.If they wanted Brossoit the should of drafted him.I was hoping they would. Mistake.

Not signing a legit goalie to push Dubnyk .Mistake.

Not getting a legit number two centre.Mistake

Signing Hemsky for five million mistake

Signing Grebs. Mistake.

I could keep going on but I will stop with.The press conference to remove all doubt the team is run by morons.Mistake.

Spyder, why don't you put your money where your mouth is and go get yourself management job with some junior B club. Honestly you are offering nothing but "I said this before, they should have done this....Blah blah blah. You have it in your head that you know more about the NHL then those that have spent the last 30 years INSIDE it. Give it a break. There is a slight chance that you don't have all of the information right? Have all the moves been perfect, you dont have to like them but put your ego down and go back to offering something useful to the conversation

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#33 Alsker
November 09 2013, 10:15AM
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Its unfortuneate that Bryz didnt fly into the city of brotherly hatred to meet the team, and go thru the pregame skate with them. The frenzy it would have caused may have shook Holmgren into doing something foolish. And it would have given Gene lots and lots of material to annoy us with all game...lol

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#34 Kim
November 09 2013, 10:17AM
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Having no confidence in your goalie kills a team, players believe they cannot win. So I understand their desperate move to get Bryzgalov. Other goalies were probably too high of a price.

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#35 Bryzarro World
November 09 2013, 10:18AM
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In his first game Bryz will pitch a 42 save performance and yak will score a hatty. While celebrating his third goal Bryz will grab him and tell him to "chill because three goal is nothing compared to the universe". Yak's mind will be blown to the point where he gives up hockey and pursues a degree in 18th century Belgium lesbian studies

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#36 Hemmercules
November 09 2013, 10:19AM
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Spydyr wrote:

MacT trading what little toughness he had on the back end in Smid for magic beans.If they wanted Brossoit the should of drafted him.I was hoping they would. Mistake.

Not signing a legit goalie to push Dubnyk .Mistake.

Not getting a legit number two centre.Mistake

Signing Hemsky for five million mistake

Signing Grebs. Mistake.

I could keep going on but I will stop with.The press conference to remove all doubt the team is run by morons.Mistake.

Mact actively tried to land a goalie this summer and decided to wait 17 games before signing the only one available for reasonable money/assets.

No one expected Gagner to get a broken jaw. Kinda hard to just grab a number 2 centre at the last minute. And I'm not suggesting Gagner is quite fit to be a centre, I never really thought he was great at centre as many others don't but that's the path the oilers are taking with him.

Tambo signed hemmer. Mact actively shopped him and eventually gave up because there were no takers. Now he's apparently shopping him again.

Grebs. You got me there. Brutal move but fairly low risk

As much as losing sucks the reality is Mact has been gm for a short period. Making changes takes time and effort. GM of the oilers may be one the the hardest GM positions in professional sports.

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#37 Shooter
November 09 2013, 10:22AM
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Is there suck a thing as being able to trade the team president? Go ahead and trade Lowe for a used skate sharpener and a bag of pucks.

The biggest problem with the current line up is the lack of grit and team toughness. Go through tonight's line up and check off which players are tough/gritty. Not many check marks right? I get trading Smid to free up cash but we just traded away a tough d-man and didn't get any toughness in return. Our forwards are the softest group in the nhl. You could maybe get away with that if all the d-men were big, tough, nasty, SOBs but our D might also be the softest in the league. It will take a lot of juggling and time by Mac T to address this issue.

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#38 2004Z06
November 09 2013, 10:25AM
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Spydyr wrote:

The GM should have grabbed a goalie in the off season like this commentator suggested many times.Instead they sign Dubnyk's buddy to back him up.

Yet another mistake in a very long series of mistakes.

Now yet gain they a scrambling trying to find quick fixes instead of building a team the right way .From Goal on out to defence to centre then wing.They did is bass akwards and it appears with no long term plan in place.

He did. Labarberra could not have been predicted to be this bad. This is Mac T's do-over and he will grab a legit number one in free agency this summer.

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#39 Grant Fuhrer
November 09 2013, 10:25AM
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Last time the Oilers played an afternoon game I ate waffles for breakfast then headed to the CTC to watch them pick up an ugly W against the Sens.

I just made waffles. Here we go...

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#40 Fresh Mess
November 09 2013, 10:29AM
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Gregor, I don't buy your explanation of the Smid trade.

If the club needed cap flexibility going forward, then why sign Ference this past summer to that ridiculous contract? Why sign freakinGrebeshkov after he washed out of the KHL for ridiculous money? Why verbally agree to not trade Gagner and sign him to big money?

Ference is older(past his best actually) slightly more expensive, and signed to an equally long contract. Other than experience winning, Ferrence brings no upgrades over Smid.

I guess that is the thanks Smid gets for giving up his UFA open market status, and signing a four year deal for slightly less than market money. He committed to this city in every way, and was discarded for a miserable return.

I do not trust the judgement of Oilers management.

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#41 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 10:30AM
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2004Z06 wrote:

He did. Labarberra could not have been predicted to be this bad. This is Mac T's do-over and he will grab a legit number one in free agency this summer.

He was no to grab a free agent goalie this summer.No doubt there.It will probably be an over pay though.I just hope he gets a franchise calibre goalie capable of winning the Cup in four years.

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#42 Fresh Mess
November 09 2013, 10:37AM
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@Spydyr

"...capable of winning the Cup in four years."

why? so the oilers can trade him to a cup contender at the deadline four years from now as they make their annual dive for the lottery?

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#43 rob
November 09 2013, 10:37AM
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bryzgalov =Rollie 2.0!now pull a trade with the rangers and beef up back end,off to the playoffs we go!

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#44 Rama Lama
November 09 2013, 10:37AM
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I'm a little surprised at myself.........I for one have not missed J.Schultz and hardly noticed that he is MIA.

I'm hoping that it was his injury that made him nearly invisible in his last few games.

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#45 bazmagoo
November 09 2013, 10:43AM
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@Kim

"Having no confidence in your goalie kills a team, players believe they cannot win."

Anyone who's played hockey at any level knows how true this is.

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#46 madjam
November 09 2013, 10:43AM
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Rebuild NBR. 2 in full bloom . First was such a success they plan on doing NBR.2 tame way as Lowe and TAMS taught them - get rid of viable NHL players for projects/ suspects . Deja vue ? Whoopie . When questioned why they used this agenda , it was thought to be a breeze kalov .So cold here they suffered a clitch/mild freeze brain cramp ? Tongue in check of course ?

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#47 Paq Twinn
November 09 2013, 10:45AM
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This will sound Bryzgalov-ish but some fans just can't see the forest from the trees. GOILERS!

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#48 Oasis
November 09 2013, 10:46AM
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Big game for the Flyers. I can hear their dressing room now "Guys, if we can't get out of our scoring slump against the Oilers......we might never get out of our slump". Flyers have had this game circled for weeks.

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#49 Johnnydapunk
November 09 2013, 10:50AM
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lucky wrote:

So what up with LaBarbera? Does he need waived to report to OKC, or are they going to carry a three headed monster again?

He is going to have to clear waivers with the small hope that someone will pick him up. The Flames did the same with Joey MacDonald a week or so back.

I'm guessing he will go down to OKC and toil there until his contract is up.

Also think it is a 4 headed monster as Bachman is still up but on IR :-)

Not wanting to get anyone's hopes up, but the last time the Oil had a 4 headed goalie monster (Morrison, Conklin, Markkanen, and Roloson) that eventually turned to a three headed monster was the 2005-06 season where they made it to the Finals.

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#50 Alsker
November 09 2013, 10:53AM
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Oasis wrote:

Big game for the Flyers. I can hear their dressing room now "Guys, if we can't get out of our scoring slump against the Oilers......we might never get out of our slump". Flyers have had this game circled for weeks.

Now, now, Duby is not the cure to a scoring drought, just ask Scotty Upshall.

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