4LINE

Lowetide
April 25 2013 05:28PM

Steve MacIntyre put the fear of God in every hockey player he ever faced with this stance. Holy hell, the man can punch. However, the first question an NHL team has to ask is "can he play the game at an NHL level?" In the time after Craig MacTavish stepped away from the Oilers and his return, how many fourth line players could do that?

Between 2000 and 2009, Craig MacTavish used varied talent on his 4th line. Shawn Horcoff played on the 4th line in MacT's first season as coach, but so did Georges Laraque and Daniel Cleary at times. His Stanley run team had Laraque, Todd Harvey and a bunch of kids like Brodziak and Pouliot trying to find their way. His final team--2008-09--had MacIntyre for 22 games, but also Liam Reddox, Pouliot and Brodziak at times.

Bottom line: save for the 22 MacIntrye games at the end of his coaching time in Edmonton, MacT always tried to have a veteran NHL presence, at least two guys who could make and take a pass and he clearly valued a man like Georges Laraque who could bring the physical while also doing things that helped the 4line keep opponents at bay (BG's legendary 40-second keep away antics deep in the opposition end was like a timeout in live action for the rest of the team).

Perhaps the poster player for the MacT 4line era: Marty Reasoner. Speed, smarts, veteran savvy.

MARTY!

Marty Reasoner was a first round pick back in the day and by the time he became a useful NHL player thoughts of being on the top line with PP time were long gone. However, Reasoner was solid to excellent during his time (both times) in Edmonton, and mentored a generation of Oiler youngsters, some of whom made it and others who did not make it.

In fairness to the Oilers, since Reasoner left the club has tried to add that kind of player (Colin Fraser, Belanger) but for the most part it's been a mixed bag with little continuity (especially since MacT exited stage left).

  • Opening night 2005: Reasoner-Harvey-Laraque (MacT)
  • Opening night 2006: Reasoner-Thoresen-Winchester (MacT)
  • Opening night 2007: Cogliano-Jacques-Gagner (MacT)
  • Opening night 2008: Brodziak-Pouliot-Stortini (MacT)
  • Opening night 2009: Gagner-Moreau-Stortini (Quinn)
  • Opening night 2010: Fraser-Jones-MacIntyre (Renney)
  • Opening night 2011: Lander-Hordichuk-Jones (Renney)
  • Opening night 2012: Belanger-Petrell-Eager (Krueger)

The only exception to the "veteran rule" for opening night was the "Kid Line" in 2007 and a pretty interesting 4line to start the following season. Quinn tried to slip truculence onto every line and apparently didn't know Gagner's name for a time, but I think Renney had 2/3's of a solid 4line in 2010 and 2011.

This season's 4line should have been better based on the veteran content.

THE SOLUTION?

Jim Dowd played 70 games for the Oilers in 1999-00, scoring 5 goals. Picked him up in a deal that sent Greg DeVries away and lost him in the expansion draft in 2000 (Minnesota). Dowd played on a line with Boyd Devereaux and Georges Laraque and that 4line could rattle and hum. He killed penalties and he contributed a little on offense and he could win a faceoff and move up the depth chart and not look foolish. Jim Dowd was an extremely useful player, settled that 4line down for a season I'll never forget.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

If we take MacT's coaching style and apply it to the 4line (as we did at the top saying "MacT always tried to have a veteran NHL presence, at least two guys who could make and take a pass and he clearly valued a man like Georges Laraque") then we should expect:

  • a strong, veteran option at center (Dowd, Reasoner) who has enough skill to make plays and can move up the depth chart as needed
  • a veteran presence on the wing who can PK and move up the depth chart as needed
  • a physical winger who can play at pace, not turn over the puck in bad places and take and make a pass

Do the Oilers have that? Well, if they can invest Horcoff and Smyth on the 4line run Mike Brown out there as needed (depending on opponent) they can ice a line of some quality. However, it shouldn't cost that much money to ice a solid 4line. Among the jobs Craig MacTavish has to tackle this summer, that 4line has been bleeding chances pretty much since he left, and the available roster solutions are mostly overpriced for the role they're going to play. 

It isn't job one, but it's an issue.

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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 Team 1260.
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#51 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 26 2013, 12:43PM
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@John

Philly and Buffalo are at 64 million next season with approx only 17 players signed. They're probably not looking to take roster/salaried players back in return, prosects/picks may be enough for support type players like this. These teams need to move a few contracts, not just one or two.

This summer will be like no other. Between teams needing to shed salary, cutting support players loose so the can extend a player they want to keep/lock up longer term, the Oilers are entering an unprecedented summer of opportunity.

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#52 John
April 26 2013, 12:56PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Philly and Buffalo are at 64 million next season with approx only 17 players signed. They're probably not looking to take roster/salaried players back in return, prosects/picks may be enough for support type players like this. These teams need to move a few contracts, not just one or two.

This summer will be like no other. Between teams needing to shed salary, cutting support players loose so the can extend a player they want to keep/lock up longer term, the Oilers are entering an unprecedented summer of opportunity.

I agree teams like those two might look at trading guys like hartnell and ott but what the other guy was suggesting just doesn't seem feasible, either in terms of finances (down the road) or through giving up picks and players.

i also agree that we should get more depth but this is just too much. there is no way your going to add vermette, ott, hartnell and weber without giving up your 1st this year in addition to eberle, gagner, klefbom, hemsky, etc. eberle, gagner and kelfbom MIGHT be close to getting weber if you throw in a 2014 1st rounder as well. i don't see philly parting with hartnell for hemsky,prv, etc.

the fact of the matter is that we just don't really have that many players with trade value.

the other issue is if you add all those players mentioned, i doubt the guy was thinking about how much it was going to cost once guys like rnh and yakupov need new deals. that would destroy this team if you signed all those guys (clarkson, horton) and traded for weber, vermette, ott, and hartnell.

good start but way off in terms of feasibility.

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#53 Team Seguin
April 26 2013, 01:20PM
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Bring back Thoreson, Grebby, and Reddox.

Boom. Done.

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#54 Team Hall
April 26 2013, 01:31PM
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I think you put Hartik and Lander in the minors, Potter in the minors as callups. Brown I'd put in the pb for tough teams.

They are not legit NHL players yet. We need a legit 3/4 line. And one beast in the top 6.

Here is our 3/4 line so far:

xxxx Horc xxxxx Jones xxxx xxxx

That's all I'd keep so far. MacT has his work cut out on those lines, but it is doable.

Defense so far:

xxxxx xxxxx Smid Petry Schultz Schultz

That's all we have NHL caliber folks. That's why we're 25th.

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#55 messyEH!
April 26 2013, 05:30PM
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Team Hall wrote:

I think you put Hartik and Lander in the minors, Potter in the minors as callups. Brown I'd put in the pb for tough teams.

They are not legit NHL players yet. We need a legit 3/4 line. And one beast in the top 6.

Here is our 3/4 line so far:

xxxx Horc xxxxx Jones xxxx xxxx

That's all I'd keep so far. MacT has his work cut out on those lines, but it is doable.

Defense so far:

xxxxx xxxxx Smid Petry Schultz Schultz

That's all we have NHL caliber folks. That's why we're 25th.

I would throw fistric in there as an actual NHL defenseman. I don't understand why RK hates him so much.

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#56 2 AM
April 26 2013, 06:11PM
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Team Hall wrote:

I think you put Hartik and Lander in the minors, Potter in the minors as callups. Brown I'd put in the pb for tough teams.

They are not legit NHL players yet. We need a legit 3/4 line. And one beast in the top 6.

Here is our 3/4 line so far:

xxxx Horc xxxxx Jones xxxx xxxx

That's all I'd keep so far. MacT has his work cut out on those lines, but it is doable.

Defense so far:

xxxxx xxxxx Smid Petry Schultz Schultz

That's all we have NHL caliber folks. That's why we're 25th.

THank you, your comment makes sense.

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#57 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 26 2013, 10:59PM
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@John

I know from our perspective it certainly appears impossible. When a teams ultimate goal isn't to secure lottery picks, everything changes. Even if half of these changes are made it would be of great help to this club.

Losers quit, while more successful GMs fight like hell/will do almost anything to help their hockey team. Now that Lowes focus isn't gathering lottery picks, a more aggressive management group could accomplish more than anticipated. Never was much for giving up and thinking why even bother. Hope the Oilers have changed their mindset now, and are headed in this direction.

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