Building next year’s bottom five

Jonathan Willis
May 23 2013 09:53AM

While the Oilers have no shortage of problems in their top-nine forward group, things get really ugly afterward. How should the fourth line and the reserve forwards change next season?

The Scoring Chances

I’ve taken the scoring chance numbers I recorded this season and split the Oilers into three groups: the top line, the middle six, and everybody else.

  • Top Line (Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle): Out-chance opposition 53-to-47
  • Middle Six (Gagner, Yakupov, Hemsky, Paajarvi, Smyth, Horcoff): Out-chanced 58-to-42
  • Everyone Else: Out-chanced 64-to-36

The top line is fine, the middle six needs a significant overhaul, and the rest of the forward corps is an absolute trainwreck. Most of the discussion this off-season has dealt with the middle six; we’re focused on “the rest” here.

The Incumbents

The chart above shows how the incumbents performed; Ryan Smyth is included as he’s doubtless bound for a lesser role on next season’s team – his performance is also split into games where he played wing and games where he played centre.

On The Outside

Let’s start with the ‘definitely gone’ crowd. Darcy Hordichuk never really got a chance and was replaced; he won’t be back. Lennart Petrell’s contract is up and despite excellent work on the penalty kill, he shouldn’t be back and likely won’t be. Eric Belanger has another year on his deal but seems likely to be bought out. Chris VandeVelde was very carefully used by Krueger (he actually led the Oilers forwards in offensive zone starts), couldn’t score in the minors, and his contract is up.

Anton Lander should start 2013-14 in the minors; not only does he give the Oilers depth but he hasn’t done anything to force his way on to the NHL roster. Ben Eager likely starts there too, assuming he isn’t bought out, given his demotion earlier in the year. Mark Arcobello too seems bound for the minors, assuming he gets another contract.

The Model

Assuming the Oilers run 14 forwards next year, what positions will they play? Obviously, there will need to be one winger for each side and a centre in the starting lineup. There are two spare slots: one will likely go to a tough guy and the other is the reserve forward. Given what happened this year, that reserve spot should probably go to a centre. So ideally, next year the Oilers enter the season with two centres, two wingers, and they probably leave a spot for an enforcer.

Ryan Smyth will get one of the winger spots; Craig MacTavish has already said he’ll be back, and he was significantly better at left wing this season than at centre. Mike Brown is under contract for another year; he often seems a ‘stick optional’ player around the puck but the Oilers have employed far worse players at the enforcer position; he’ll likely get the job. That leaves one winger spot for Teemu Hartikainen and Ryan Jones; Hartikainen has scored in the minors and might yet have upside, while Jones is an unrestricted free agent. The Oilers could trade Hartikainen, but given his minor league performance I would argue it makes sense to give him another chance: his trade value isn’t likely to be especially high and they may as well see if he has more to give. I like Jones on the fourth line, despite a poor year, but the Oilers need the versatility offered by a centre so it likely makes more sense to go out and get one rather than keep Jones.

That leaves two centre spots open. I was surprised how decent Jerred Smithson’s scoring chance numbers were; it’s basically a result of the Smyth – Smithson – Brown line going +17/-13 down the stretch (with Brown occasionally skipping shifts in favour of a different winger). Smithson’s long-term record isn’t all that impressive, but as a reserve centre he might be fine – he’s big, wins faceoffs and kills penalties. If the Oilers can get him cheap and don’t see somebody else they like more, he’d be a somewhat okay 13th forward.

That leaves the fourth-line centre position open, and that’s one the Oilers should be able to address via free agency. Somebody relatively big and capable of killing penalties, with some offence and the ability to play a cycle game would be ideal; Maxim Lapierre in Vancouver is the obvious name available via free agency but he isn’t the only possibility. In addition to other unrestricted free agents (Marty Reasoner, Kyle Chipchura, Adam Hall, Jeff Halpern, etc.) a quality player in the AHL or Europe might appeal, too.

Smyth, Hartikainen, Brown, and two new centres. As long as the Oilers find qualified help at centre, that should be a good enough group to get the job done at the bottom of the roster, and giving Hartikainen a year playing a regular shift with Smyth isn't likely to be a bad thing for his development long-term. The one caveat: the new centre they add for the fourth line might be worth investing some money in, because unless Smyth recovers from a poor year or Hartikainen takes a step forward, he may well be the first option to move into the top-nine when injuries hit.

Streakcred

Don't forget that it's not too late to play StreakCred - the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Now it's only $10 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here.

Recently around the Nation Network

Yesterday, the Vancouver Canucks fired head coach Alain Vigneault, as well as his assistants. In his writeup on the dismissal, Thomas Drance offers this assessment of Vigneualt :

Alain Vigneault is the winningest coach in franchise history, and a stellar bench boss - in my estimation - who will presumably be hired by another NHL franchise in short order.

 Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some recent pieces here at Oilers Nation:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 yawto
May 23 2013, 10:00AM
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It would just be nice to see some of these picks taken just outside the fist round start to challenge for these depth positions.

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#2 Tikkanese
May 23 2013, 11:58AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If the Oilers bringing in Jesse Boulerice didn't drive you away, why would Maxim Lapierre?

I barely remember Boulerice. He barely played here and I barely saw him play elsewhere before he came here. I thought he was basically just a bad light heavyweight goon?

Lapierre is a disgrace to the game of hockey. Fits right in with half of the Canucks roster! Dives, whines, yaps constantly, doesn't back up his yapping, hides behind the linesman and teammates and yaps even harder, dirty, cares more about being the center of attention than what's happening on the ice, isn't liked by his own teammates, turtles, constant threat to take misconducts for chirping. Basically an all around bad example for up and coming hockey players and humanity in general.

The stats I'm guessing say otherwise but from what I've seen he isn't even much of a hockey player either. Pretty much a Mac-T non factor other than his extra curricular activites that do more harm than good.

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#3 rickithebear
May 23 2013, 01:12PM
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Smyth is done two years ago? 1. Go to NHL.com 2. Select player stats for 2011-2012 season. 3. Select LW 4. Select points Report 5. Choose Even points. A team needs even production.

What you will see is smyth tied for 24th with Nash, Landeskog, ladd with 38 points.

this year he played half the year with Brown Eager and Petrell. his season pace was 9 EVP and -26.

With everyone else he was on a 35 EVP +6 season pace.

I won't let him being forced to play Center with those three even black holes ruin my understanding of his play on the wing with real players.

Plus he was the 7th best PK GA winger in the game last year. Replace the 7th best.

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#4 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
May 23 2013, 01:47PM
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Oilers and Flyers could do each other a favour. Breire (5 mill remains) to the Oilers for Horcoff (7 mill remains), and each team buys (comp) each player out. Then the original team is free to re-sign the player at a greatly reduced rate if they wanted to. Both players are due similar amounts over the last two yrs of their contracts.

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#5 djc
May 23 2013, 09:49PM
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DSF wrote:

Roy scored 32 goals and 81points at Gagner's age.

No comparison.

If you're looking at 3 scoring lines, Roy is a better investment that either Gagner or Horcoff.

Mason Raymond is a clear upgrade on Ryan Jones and can do spot duty in the top 6.

Are they ideal? No. they're not.

But I doubt ideal is coming for a visit this fall.

Sam Gagner was 23 years old last season.

The season when Derek Roy was 23 years old, his stats were 21G 42A 63 points in 75 games.

Gagner's points this last season prorated for 75 games would have been 22G 37A 59 points. Ya, no comparison at all.

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story though ...

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#6 Tikkanese
May 23 2013, 10:44AM
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If Maxim Lapierre becomes an Oiler I will quit being an Oiler fan. I've been a huge fan since day one of their NHL days.

The fact that JW even mentioned him as a possibility, let alone stating "the obvious name available via free agency" has made me lose all respect for JW.

Lapierre and his ilk is exactly the kind of player the NHL should be trying to get rid of before "nuclear heavyweights". They at least have honor.

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#7 Buke
May 23 2013, 11:42AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'd be fine with Steckel, but he's practically the definition of offensive non-factor. He averages 15 points per 82 games played.

Agreed that 15 pts/82 isn't exactly offensive but looking at Lapierre for example:

2010/11: 12.62 pts/82 2011/12: 19.00 pts/82 2011/12: 17.08 pts/82

Last 3 years: 16.16 pts/82

Looking at what the Oilers have sent out on the fourth line centre over the last year (Belanger, lander, Smyth, Smithson, Vande Velde etc., 15pts/82 is a drastic improvement in that department (approximately 5.65 pts/82)

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#8 dawgbone
May 23 2013, 10:02AM
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I was really hoping Brown wouldn't be looked at as a viable option for the Oilers.

You figure the Oilers would have seen enough out of him last year to tell them that he doesn't bring anything of value...

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#9 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
May 23 2013, 10:32AM
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4 - 93 - 14 -- Smoooooffff like butta!
91 - 89 - 64 -- Sooooooffff like I never see before!
?? - 10 - 83 -- Old and busted, and even missing a piece...
94/56 - ?? - 13 -- This is just carnage!
?? - ?? -- Oilers should just hold open try outs...

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#10 Greg The Hammer Valentine
May 23 2013, 10:39AM
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@bwar

I like the idea of looking for a quality 3rd linr center and sending Horcoff to the fourth. I wonder what the price would be for a guy like Martin Hanzal.

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#11 Closetgm
May 23 2013, 11:01AM
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Stahlberg is another very interesting player that I am sure is on the oilers radar. Sign two of,in order, stahlberg, bickell, penner, Torres. And trade for a big center. That leaves horcoff smyth harti and smithson. A big improvement over what we have now. There are other options too but this is the kind of overhaul the oilers need.

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#14 Buke
May 23 2013, 11:03AM
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What about getting a guy like Steckel for the 4th line Centre role? He's big, averages about 1.5 hits per game and his faceoffs are around 57% while averaging about 10:30 in ice time last year.

In 2011 for Toronto he averaged 12:30 in ice time, 2.2 Hits/game, 58% faceoff potting 8 goals and 13 points. Not an offensive dynamo, but hardly a non-factor.

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#16 Tikkanese
May 23 2013, 02:53PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I never knew that about Boulerice, surprised that wasn't a bigger story. That said, I could see Lapierre pulling something like that someday. I hope he's out of the league soon, let alone hope he never becomes associated with the Oilers.

He may have a good obscure stat or two that you are deeming the Oilers needing on the 4th line but if Lapierrre is the answer to the Oilers winning, I would rather continue losing.

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#17 Tom
May 23 2013, 03:46PM
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rickithebear wrote:

Smyth is done two years ago? 1. Go to NHL.com 2. Select player stats for 2011-2012 season. 3. Select LW 4. Select points Report 5. Choose Even points. A team needs even production.

What you will see is smyth tied for 24th with Nash, Landeskog, ladd with 38 points.

this year he played half the year with Brown Eager and Petrell. his season pace was 9 EVP and -26.

With everyone else he was on a 35 EVP +6 season pace.

I won't let him being forced to play Center with those three even black holes ruin my understanding of his play on the wing with real players.

Plus he was the 7th best PK GA winger in the game last year. Replace the 7th best.

I wish I could understand what you are saying.

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#18 DSF
May 23 2013, 07:10PM
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Greg The Hammer Valentine wrote:

Horcoff + Rajala + one of our second round picks for Hanzal? That would be terrific, but I doubt it could happen. However, I don't agree we have nothing to offer for a trade with Phoenix. In fact, I think it would we one of top 3 most probable trade partners.

Martin Hanzal led all PHX forwards in TOI/G and scored .59 PPG.

He's 6'6" 240 and signed is signed for another 4 years at $3.1M.

If you want Hanzal from Phoenix, start with Eberle and then add a lot more.

Horcoff (and his toxic contract), an AHL player and a second round pick?

Good grief...why would Phoenix do that?

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#20 geno
May 23 2013, 10:08PM
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djc wrote:

Sam Gagner was 23 years old last season.

The season when Derek Roy was 23 years old, his stats were 21G 42A 63 points in 75 games.

Gagner's points this last season prorated for 75 games would have been 22G 37A 59 points. Ya, no comparison at all.

Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story though ...

59 to 63? no comparison

also I hear when Wade Redden was 28 he was really good so EDM should trade J Schultz for his rights

Roy just had 28 points. Not exactly a huge upgrade of immeasurable comparisons on Gagner's 38P

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#21 bwar
May 23 2013, 10:16AM
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I was kind of thinking Horcoff would either be bought out or be the fourth line center next year. I guess that will really depend on who we can get in free agency. Should be a few options available for a 3/4 center.

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#22 GVBlackhawk
May 23 2013, 10:23AM
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dawgbone wrote:

I was really hoping Brown wouldn't be looked at as a viable option for the Oilers.

You figure the Oilers would have seen enough out of him last year to tell them that he doesn't bring anything of value...

What are you talking about? The Oilers were 7-2 when Brown fought (according to Don Cherry). That's all I need to know. And Smithson was really good in the faceoff circle one year in the playoffs.....

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#23 madjam
May 23 2013, 10:25AM
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First off : I'd be disappointed if we have to use Horcoff as first or second line center . So he drops into bottom six if we hope to progress. Hopefully Hopkins will emerge as legit first or second line center . Last year he was not ready yet .

Bottom six I have Horcoff and possibly Paajarvi , and hopefully we can upgrade the rest . Manupulating the others around doesn't appear to be the answer to bottom six , and will most likely lead to poor results again next season .

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#24 Klima's Mullet
May 23 2013, 10:29AM
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yawto wrote:

It would just be nice to see some of these picks taken just outside the fist round start to challenge for these depth positions.

Agreed...I think Pitlick and Rajala will get at least a cup of coffee in the show when the inevitable injury bug strikes. Pitlick is effective when he plays physically and Rajala is a pain the rear to play against. His emergence may soften the blow if some bodies are moved out for a #1 D (Gagner, Paajarvi, etc).

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#25 westcoastoil
May 23 2013, 10:33AM
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Seen a lot of Lapierre and not a fan. I'm not sure that his chirping, turtling, diving, etc. and overall attitude is what you want on the ice or in the room. Too bad because otherwise he's an effective 4th liner.

For UFAs Gordon and Chipchura have come out of the Phx "defense first" world. Thinking outside the box Wellwood on a 1 year could give you some nice flexibility if the plan is to slot him between Smyth and Harski b/c he could play up for short spells if needed. Can't PK, but he's good on the dot.

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#26 15w40
May 23 2013, 10:39AM
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I would think Boyd Gordon would be a viable option as well for a 3/4 centre.

For an in-house shuffle, move Peckham up to 4th line winger (been mentioned before by different posters numerous times).

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#27 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
May 23 2013, 10:39AM
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With all the guaranteed contracts the Oilers already have. There will likely be very few changes in the bottom five next season. This is Edmonton we're talking about here, not a team committed to success/winning.

Had to laugh yesterday when Gillis mentioned that this game is a results driven business. Obviously, the Oilers have their own standard when it comes to what's acceptable, and what isn't. Edmonton desperately needs Dave Tippet. He'll come in here, raise the work ethic considerably, and hopefully render some of this current deadwood useless. Tippet has no patience for guys who never stray from their comfort zone.

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#28 Rama Lama
May 23 2013, 10:43AM
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With RK as coach, I doubt Hartikianen will get much of a chance to play.

If Smyth, Smithson, and Brown are not replaced, not much will change on the fourth line.

Smyth is good but far too slow now, even on the fourth line. Smithson is the new Belenger....totally useless in every way. Brown is the smallest least feared enforcer in the league.

It's bad enough we have Horcoff doing what Horcoff does, really nothing well except playing defense.........he is totally one-dimentional, and can't even win face-offs anymore.

Need at least three, rough and tumble type players to be added to the bottom six or NOTHING changes.

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#29 15w40
May 23 2013, 10:47AM
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@Greg The Hammer Valentine

Hanzal would be awesome at #2 for the Oilers but I don't think the conversation even starts without either #14 or #64 as part of the deal.

That's even if they didn't just hang up when his name is brought up.

Hanzal is a fast, big, heavy, responsible centre and they are hard to get unless its through the draft.

For what he is, his contract is reasonable at just over 3 mil and Phoenix I don't think would be looking to add $$ to their bottom line at this point.

If Edmonton can add him for a deal that works then it should happen like yesterday.

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#30 Ducey
May 23 2013, 10:48AM
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I can't see Hartikanen making a living as a 4th line player. His value is a front of the net presence and cycler. He is better used in the top 9 to add some muscle.

Do we know if he needs to clear waivers?

I'd like them to bring in 4th line C who can win faceoffs, can hit, will fight a little and can PK. The winger should be someone with some edge who can move up and down the line up and can complete a pass, PK and hit.

Hall- Nuge- Ebs

Yak - Gagner - Harsky

MPS- Horc - new winger

Smyth - new C - new W

Smithson/ Brown

This means Hemsky is gone. I would think they could consider MPS for the 2nd line and add a winger to the 3rd line.

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#31 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
May 23 2013, 10:52AM
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15w40 wrote:

Hanzal would be awesome at #2 for the Oilers but I don't think the conversation even starts without either #14 or #64 as part of the deal.

That's even if they didn't just hang up when his name is brought up.

Hanzal is a fast, big, heavy, responsible centre and they are hard to get unless its through the draft.

For what he is, his contract is reasonable at just over 3 mil and Phoenix I don't think would be looking to add $$ to their bottom line at this point.

If Edmonton can add him for a deal that works then it should happen like yesterday.

The conversation doesn't start with Ebs or last year's 1st overall pick for Martin Hanzal. It ends with them when MacT hangs up the phone with extreme prejudice!

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#32 Toro
May 23 2013, 10:53AM
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Wow doesn't sound like our roster is gonna change much at all with your suggestions , another year of losing if that's your big plan JW, good thing your not GM , I'd say Brown and Smyth should be the 13th and 14th players , first line obviously 4,93,14 second line (new guy) 89,64 , third line 91,10, (new guy), fourth line , 56 (new guy ) (new guy).... Smithson doesn't bring any toughness with his size, Jones doesnt bring toughness , Smyth doesn't bring toughness , and your suggestion to get Lapierre or Reasoner neither brings toughness , sounds like we're gonna be a softer team. When clearly this roster needs to get tougher. Every new guy I suggested needs too bring toughness ie guys like Horton, Clarkson, Clowe, Torres those are the type of players we need to go after , not Lapierre and Reasoner Ha!

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#33 Closetgm
May 23 2013, 10:53AM
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I love the idea of moving horcoff to the fourth line and replacing him with a good 3rd line centre. We definitely need to get a more competitive bottom six. The top two lines need a lot more support than they are getting. Bigger stronger faster 3rd line with some crash would be ideal. I also wouldn't be to upset if they brought back Torres or Penney for that 3rd line. Just dreaming but hey isn't that what we do. Lol

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#34 Spydyr
May 23 2013, 10:57AM
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So from what I gathered your saying replace the 4th line center and that is all?

Um, no.Unless they want another lotto pick.At least six forwards have to go.

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#36 madjam
May 23 2013, 10:58AM
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Loved Eberle's optimism on current club being ready to make surge to playoffs next year . I don't share that same sentiment if we continue to use current personnel and prospects . We need outside help badly I feel . We still haven't produced enough viable talent in the organization to justify we will be a contender next year. Promoting some prematurely may very well leave us at low value status quo or less . I hope we can do better than Gagner in top six , but don't know if he will be that valuable on wing/center bottom six ?

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#37 WhattaMike
May 23 2013, 11:05AM
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The problem here is whether the oilers keep being reluctant to release and/or trade the right players.

The top five of six are assuredly set for now with a definite power winger needed such as.....maybe drafting Nichushkinand playing him with Gagner (if not traded) and Yakupov.

personally i believe the Oil is wanting one of three centers at the #7 position at the draft....>Monahan, Lindholm, or Bo Horvat. This then probably would put Gagner into a trade package as he is not an excellent enough two way type checking centre.

Or....the oilers go for established NHLers such as Horton, Bickell, Stalberg, etc, and put any of them with gagner and Yakkers.

Now the bottom needs several immediate changes. I would like Horcoff to stay if only he can play one more season at his best (unlikely) and if he cannot then trade him or buy him out. if we are not gonna make the playoffs again, keeping him ruins opportunity for a younger player to learn.

other than him probably staying, Ryan Smyth is the one to show and lead from the fourth to third lines.

I believe strongly that Yakupov is the new stronger Hemsky type player and therefore hemsky should be traded in a package for a defenceman or at least a 2nd round pick/prospect.

Petrell, Jones, Smithson are not the anwswer either but they each have one to two qualities to stay. I would like to upgrade with better offense and more meanness included.

Now That leaves four new needed player options, unless keeping Brown. then two extra depth players for forward are needed as well but we those in Lander and Hartikainen for now. These two need to be here now to leaqrn and play so as to improve.

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#38 The Soup Fascist
May 23 2013, 11:06AM
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15w40 wrote:

Hanzal would be awesome at #2 for the Oilers but I don't think the conversation even starts without either #14 or #64 as part of the deal.

That's even if they didn't just hang up when his name is brought up.

Hanzal is a fast, big, heavy, responsible centre and they are hard to get unless its through the draft.

For what he is, his contract is reasonable at just over 3 mil and Phoenix I don't think would be looking to add $$ to their bottom line at this point.

If Edmonton can add him for a deal that works then it should happen like yesterday.

An adequate veteran for Ebs or Yak.

Is this Garth Snow?

Look I don't mind Hanzal but you are out to lunch mentioning either of those guys. Overpay of all overpays.

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#40 shea78
May 23 2013, 11:26AM
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I cant understand why there's no love for Brown? He's exactly what we need in that 4th line role! Hit's, fights, energy. I for one would like to see Horcoff as our 4th line center, but if that is going to happen Mac T has some serious work to do. Hanzel would be a great fit for the second line, if he were available. We are going to be in trouble at center next year, due to the fact that RNH is out for an extended period of time. Mac T has to realize that(unlike Tambo last year) and load up on some NHL caliber centermen. When are our draft picks going to be contending for roster spots on this team? Maybe it's time to start looking at our scouting and development as a possible problem?

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#41 15w40
May 23 2013, 11:26AM
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@The Soup Fascist

Not saying I would make the deal either, just thinking about Phoenix's situation with money and what Hanzal means to their team.

I don't see a transaction where the Oiler's have something that would fit the Coyote's bill for what they would let Hanzal go for.

It would go both ways - what the Oilers would be willing to offer wouldn't be good enough for Phoenix and what the Coyote's would want the Oilers wouldn't part with.

My point was if there was a trade that would work for both teams, Hanzal is exactly the type of center man they could use.

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#42 jonny94
May 23 2013, 11:30AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'd be fine with Steckel, but he's practically the definition of offensive non-factor. He averages 15 points per 82 games played.

I'm not a stats guy by any stretch but what would be deemed as acceptable for offence from your 4th line? 20-25pts over an 82 game season? And who in the NHL would be an ideal 4th liner to set the standard this team should be based around? I don't know much about bottom six players on winning franchises haha

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#43 Ducey
May 23 2013, 11:39AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Hartikainen can't be sent down; he needs to clear waivers. The way I see it, if you need to keep Hartikainen on the big club, and you're bringing Smyth back, then build a fourth line that cycles - cycling wears down the opposition defenders the same way chip and chase does.

There's no way Hartikainen has shown enough for top-six minutes.

I would agree, but he also has not been given a shot there for any period of time. Top 6 seems the best place to put him. Its where he plays in OKC. He is more of an offensive player than a defensive one.

He does have 130 pts in 188 AHL games in his career. I could see him putting up 35 to 40 pts with Yak and Gagner. Thats all Hemsky has done for the last few years.

If they are going to play him on the 4th line then they can't play him with Smithson and Brown and expect anything. They are going to have to get two complementary players who can cycle. I don't know if Smyth can do that anymore.

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#44 WhattaMike
May 23 2013, 11:41AM
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Hey JW,

would Jersey be interested in a trade deal package involving....a) Hemsky or b) Gagner....so as to get a defenceman and/or third to fourth line players with meannes/grit....such as Ryan Carter or Barch plus a 2nd round pick in this draft?

It sounds like downgrading but the pick would be good. I would love the Oil to get Clarkson somehow without any of the five kids in any deal..but I believe Jersey wants him there.

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#45 madjam
May 23 2013, 11:48AM
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Brown is another Stortini . Like to see B.Sutter , C.Neil , Reaves and even J.Boll added .

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#46 misfit
May 23 2013, 11:48AM
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Brown would be my ideal "extra forward" simply because I don't think he should be a regular in any NHL lineup. The other "spare forward" should be a centerman. Smithson would be ok, but I'd be just as ok with Lander even though most would rather see him getting big minutes in OKC than spending half his season eating popcorn with the Oilers.

I agree with Willis in that Jones would be my ideal 4RW, but I'd be ok with Hartikainen in that role as well (and groomed to replace Smyth as the 4LW the following year). At this point, I guess we're assuming Hemsky stays.

With the importance of the center position, I think our 4C should be a player like Belanger (though maybe the Belagner of years past) who can slide up if needed and play on special teams. If Lander is your spare, then your 4C should be someone who you could live with as your 3C if needed. Maybe that means you make a trade for a guy like Fiddler or McClement instead of signing a UFA.

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#47 russ99a
May 23 2013, 11:50AM
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MacT is quoted saying that the bottom six were the most deficient on the roster and needs the biggest shake-up.

So there's no way we're going to see 5 current roster players coming back to fill those 6 spots.

Pencil in Smyth, Hartikainen (unless they deal him) and Horcoff (ditto) as the 4th line, and Brown as tough team draw-in/press-box/injury fill-in 13th forward.

I think it's pretty obvious we need an entirely new 3rd checking/tough minutes/shutdown line (along with that tough 2nd line winger, 2 experienced defensemen and a backup goalie) to make the playoffs next year.

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#48 Will
May 23 2013, 11:54AM
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I have a question, what is it exactly we want our fourth line to do? Is it wear out the opposition? Protect the kids? Be physical? chip in on offence? And if it is offence, exactly how much offence is considered good for a fourth line? Stortini got nine goals one year, is that enough?

I would imagine it will be something like not get out-chanced but If they are out playing a tough second scoring line, that is going to happen.

For me, a good fourth line can win a defensive zone face off, and retrieve the puck, then be an energy force that does a good job of the chip and chase, and a better job on the forecheck. A good forecheck will wear down opposing defenders, and help create fourth line scoring chances.

Having said that, Smyth is a good fourth line winger as he can cycle well, and park himself in front of the net for some garbage. All these suggestions are fine but I'm still not really sure what it is you're looking for the fourth line to actually do.

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#49 Ryan Z
May 23 2013, 11:54AM
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I have a proposal for everyone.

Lets not try to find a 4C.

Lets find an upgrade at 3C and slot Horcs in at 4C.

Easier said than done, and it would be costly, but we could potentially add depth at C AND add size to the roster.

1. Teenagers 2. 2 kids + size (Hemmer out) 3. 2 guys + upgraded Center 4. Smyth - Horc - Brown

Doesn't matter which way you spin it, we need Center depth.

I'd really like to see Gagner on the wing or on another team. He's killing us in front of our net.

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#50 The Soup Fascist
May 23 2013, 11:56AM
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15w40 wrote:

Not saying I would make the deal either, just thinking about Phoenix's situation with money and what Hanzal means to their team.

I don't see a transaction where the Oiler's have something that would fit the Coyote's bill for what they would let Hanzal go for.

It would go both ways - what the Oilers would be willing to offer wouldn't be good enough for Phoenix and what the Coyote's would want the Oilers wouldn't part with.

My point was if there was a trade that would work for both teams, Hanzal is exactly the type of center man they could use.

I agree, I like Hanzal big time. Huge guy with some skill. I just would not give up either of the players you mentioned for a 35 - 40 point forward. Not even close.

You are correct his contract is somewhat reasonable at $3.1 mil through 2017, so it would take something to get him out of Phoenix. Just far less than one of the kids.

I think people underestimate how valuable Horcoff's contract is to teams trying to spend to the floor. For $7 million in real dollars you get $11 million in cap hit (over the two remaining years) and he is a serviceable bottom six player.

He HAS value. Horcoff and something could get you Hanzal IMO, especially if Phoenix is watching their dollars (aren't they always). Whether MacT would pull the trigger ....?

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