TRAIN KEPT A ROLLIN'

Lowetide
March 03 2013 10:07AM

We are quickly reaching the point where "if" gives way to "when" in regard to Jonathan Cheechoo resuming his NHL career. It may not come this season, and it may not be with the Oilers, but the Cheechoo train is rollin' and at some point someone is going to notice.

Once upon a time, Jonathan Cheechoo was an NHL sniper. A decade ago his NHL career had just hit the tracks and he would rip off seasons of 28, 56, 37 and 23 goals from 2003 through 2007. He would then fall off to 12 goals, get traded to Ottawa and eventually find his way to the minors in 2010.

Where he kept scoring, first in Binghampton then Worcester then Peoria. Cheechoo has done some humbling things over the last few years (had to sign a PTO with Worcester in 2010--that's a professional tryout offer where they have a 10-game look at you with no promises), but has never given up on the dream of returning to the NHL.

Why did he fall off the NHL map so quickly? Part of it was injury.

  • Cheechoo: “I had a lot of injuries that last year in San Jose. A lot of little injuries add up after a while. It took a while to open my hips back to get more power, more strength. I had a good finish last year (56 points in 70 games). This year I'm looking to jump right in and get going in a shortened season.”

Cheechoo's story also includes lack of speed, and in the same article he address it:

  • Cheechoo: “With all the injuries that happen during a shortened season there could be some opportunities. I always work on improving and getting up my speed a little bit. I've just got to take care of my game. You never know what might happen.”

THE 501 BLUES

Cheechoo has been stuck on 501 NHL regular season games since 2010 (170 goals by the way, he can score goals) although he's been close a couple of times (Pittsburgh had a look, St. Louis a longer one).

Is it unusual for a player to spend a couple of years in the minors and come back? Not really. It's more unusual for a former Rocket Richard Trophy Winner to spend a minute in the AHL before his 35th birthday, but Cheechoo (as noted above) has had some health issues that took his performance level down a notch.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Cheechoo's arrival in OKC came on the heels of the airlift of NHL kids back to Edmonton. To say he's delivered is an understatement--Cheechoo signed (another) PTO and has gone 8-10-18 in 13 AHL games while averaging 3.5 shots per game. I know the AHL isn't the NHL, but those numbers are worthy of notice.

You may say the Oilers don't have room on RW and that's true--with Eberle, Hemsky, Yakupov and Ryan Jones on the roster Edmonton is rich and young in this area.

However, Cheechoo is 32 years old and wants back in the NHL. If it doesn't come in Edmonton, I think there's a chance he plays #502 somewhere in 2013.

And good for him. A great story, this Jonathan Cheechoo comeback and it's cool part of it is happening in OKC.

(Cheechoo photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved).

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Love Monkey
March 03 2013, 11:27AM
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Every time I see or hear of Cheechoo, I can't help but remember "the save" by Roli.

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#2 yawto
March 03 2013, 10:15AM
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Maybe Cheechoo can come back to the NHL and show some of that chemistry with the fist overalls.

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#3 Eulers
March 03 2013, 10:16AM
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Seems to me he is rescuing OKC from the abyss almost single-handedly. Scary to think where they would be without him in their topsy-turvy season.

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#4 Shane
March 03 2013, 10:23AM
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LT,

I assume if we signed him and called him up he would have to clear re-entry? Therefore we can't really get anything out of this asset??

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#5 Oilfred
March 03 2013, 10:52AM
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Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe re-entry waivers doesn't exist anyomre

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#7 Hammers
March 03 2013, 11:06AM
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The guy deserves another chance but I don't think it will be with the Oil . All I read is about wingers when our real problem is on "D" and "C" . We will never win anything without addressing those 2 positions .

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#8 Raine
March 03 2013, 11:08AM
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Does Cheechii grind down low in the corners, does he go hard to the net, will he open up space for his team mates, will he shoot through traffic, will he dump and chase the puck, can he carry a play?

Honestly, I don't know the answers as I haven't watched him play this year. If he can't do the above then he has no place with the Oilers - if he can do some of the above than the Oilers best make room as they are dying to improve in these categories.

In any case I've always felt Cheecho was the result of a very good Joe Thornton. The Oilers don't have a dominate big body that can make a play on this roster.

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#9 James
March 03 2013, 11:44AM
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He still racks up the goals if you sign him in NHL 13. :)

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#10 Buke
March 03 2013, 12:11PM
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I think it would be wise to try and sign him. I am sure he would take a 1 yr league minimum salary and be happy as a clam playing third line minutes. If he doesn't pan out, you expose him to waivers and nothing is lost. He could be the bigger body we have been looking for on the wing that could move around the line-up as required. This is a low risk high reward type move that could make someone like Hemsky expendable for an upgrade on the D

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#11 Milli
March 03 2013, 12:51PM
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Hey I think everyone can appreciate how damn hard that must be. For a man to keep his chin up and go forward, good on him. Hope he gets his shot. I remember him, man he could fire that puck.

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#12 godot10
March 03 2013, 01:18PM
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I believe that the need for waivers only applies to players who have played in Europe during the current NHL season.

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#13 oilerfool
March 03 2013, 02:26PM
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Off topic a bit... but, what is with the early 70's Alberta Oilers throwback jersey Cheechoo seems to be wearing in the first pic? Anyone have more images of that jersey?

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#15 Frankenstein
March 03 2013, 06:23PM
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Lowetide do you think he will get a shot with us this year?

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#16 Randy
March 03 2013, 08:31PM
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Oilers do not have size, grit, and do not play as a team.......softest team in the NHL

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