Free Agent Centres: Western Conference

Jonathan Willis
June 17 2013 10:50AM

With the likely departures of Shawn Horcoff, Eric Belanger and Jerred Smithson this summer, the Edmonton Oilers are in a position where they need to rebuild their depth chart at centre. Aside from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who underwent surgery this summer) and Sam Gagner (an unsigned restricted free agent), the Oilers simply don’t have reliable NHL options.

Could some of the answers be found in this summer’s class of unrestricted free agents?

We’ll look at the Eastern Conference options later on; for now let’s look at the West.

The Western Conference Class

This isn’t a strong group, and it gets weaker once seen through the prism of the Oilers’ needs. The names that stand out to me are as follow (in alphabetical order).

Steve Begin. The 35-year old enjoyed a surprisingly effective campaign in Calgary after getting released by Vancouver last year and spending the season before that in the minors. He’s a smallish (6’, 192 pounds) agitator who hits, fights and kills penalties; there is no questioning his effort but there are better players on this list.

Kyle Chipchura. Chipchura really found a home in Phoenix the last couple of seasons after bouncing around the league over the last few years, but despite improved offensive totals he’s in the same range as most of the fourth-line guys on this list; he has yet to crack the 20-point mark in the majors and was never particularly prolific in the minors either. He has decent size (6’2”, 203 pounds) and fights more than most of the guys on this list but he’s not a regular penalty-killer and his on-ice totals aren’t particularly good.

Matt Cullen. He’s definitely a little on the old side (he turns 37 in November) but he’s coming off a very strong season and has been a reliable secondary offensive option for his entire career. Like Filppula, he plays centre and wing, both special teams and wins faceoffs (54.7 percent last year); at 6’1”, 200 pounds he’s also slightly bigger.

Valtteri Filppula. The Finn with the impossible to spell name is coming off a disappointing 2013 campaign, one where he picked up just 17 points over 41 games. On the plus side, he has a history of offensive production (generally in the 35-40 point range, though he recorded 66 in 2011-12), he can play both centre and left wing, he’s a strong faceoff man (winning 55.4 percent of his draws last year) and he just turned 29 in March so he’s in the prime of his career. He’s played on both special teams in Detroit, though primarily on the power play. As far as negatives go, there aren’t many; the most glaring one is that he hopes to cash in this year (reportedly seeking more than $5 million per season). He’s also a little on the small side (listed at 6’, 195 pounds).

Boyd Gordon. Bruce McCurdy wrote a nicely detailed piece on Gordon as an Oilers option a few days back; he’s a defensive specialist and a very good one. Like both Cullen and Filppula he’s a mid-size forward (6’, 200 pounds) and not overly physical; unlike those two he is a dedicated checking centre who has never topped 30 points in an NHL season. Ownership uncertainty in Phoenix means he may very well find himself looking for a new home this summer, but he’s a guy who likely tops out as a third-line centre.

Maxim Lapierre. Every time I say his name I feel the urge to duck; the Canucks agitator is roundly disliked in Edmonton but that doesn’t mean he would be a bad fit for the team. Like Gordon, he’s a defensive specialist who wins faceoffs, kills penalties and sits in the prime of his career; unlike Gordon he is significantly bigger (6’2”, 207 pounds) and extremely physical. Vancouver has been slow to talk to him, so he’s likely heading elsewhere this summer. His offensive numbers also have some possibility of improvement – like Gordon, he’s never cracked the 30 point barrier but he has been a ~20 point scorer in situations where he started almost exclusively in his own end. In a more balanced role, he might deliver more.

Manny Malhotra. One of the best third-line centres in the league between 2005 and 2011, Malhotra’s career is in some jeopardy after suffering a major eye injury near the end of the 2010-11 season. No player in the Behind the Net era has played more defensive minutes; given how close Malhotra came to zero offensive zone usage under Alain Vigneault it’s possible no player in NHL history has started a higher portion of his shifts in the defensive zone. The question is whether the 6’2”, 220 pound centre – who still kills penalties and excels in faceoffs – has lost his game to that eye injury, or whether he’d rebound if given less Sisyphean minutes.

Brad Richardson. Richardson has a Stanley Cup ring, but far more importantly once upon a time he fought Teemu Selanne:

He’s been an effective utility guy with the Kings, but unlike many of the other options here he isn’t a penalty killer and despite playing a chippy game he isn’t all that big. On the other hand, he’s had some pretty good offensive seasons for a fourth-liner – he was a point-per-game guy in the minors and despite poor totals the last few seasons has occasionally challenged the 30 point mark in limited minutes.

Jerred Smithson. Oilers fans have had an opportunity to see Smithson firsthand, and he isn’t especially exciting. What he might be is useful as the team’s fifth centre – the guy who sits in the press-box much of the time and fills in as needed. He kills penalties, wins faceoffs, makes safe simple plays and adds a bit of size (6’3”, 209 pounds) and a willingness to hit. If he comes cheaply enough, the Oilers could do worse in a reserve role.

David Steckel. The Oilers could do a lot worse than David Steckel in a fourth-line role. The 31-year old stands 6’6”, kills penalties, wins faceoffs (he’s one of the best in the league in that role) and has an above average physical game. He’s also a guy who does a consistently good job of limiting shots and chances against in a highly defensive role – over the last four years he’s generally been on the ice for three defensive zone draws for every two in the attacking zone. He doesn’t add a lot offensively – he’s in the 15-20 point range most years – but given role and minutes played that’s not bad.

Recently around the Nation Network

It's very possible that we could be witnessing the final days of the Phoenix Coyotes - after years of staving off relocation, it appears the club is in serious jeopardy of moving to Seattle:

Quoting a statement by Seattle's mayor, Mike McGinn, Hansen introduced a pair of potential investors to Seattle city council. McGinn said to KING TV, "As recent news reports indicate, it appears the NHL is taking the new ownership proposal seriously."

Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#2 In the Grease
June 17 2013, 11:08AM
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I like the idea of Steckel as 4 line C ... in fact I liked that idea last season after it was brought up as a possibility several times, and found it vexing Anaheim got him for a prospect(Ryan Lasch, who I admittedly know little about) and a 7th rounder...

Instead we had Tambo paying a 4th for Smithson.

If we were going to audition a pending UFA... I know, I need to turn the page and move forward, it's MacT time.

How's Steckel's footspeed though? I doubt this admin will want the 4th line skating in quicksand.

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#3 Supernova
June 17 2013, 11:10AM
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Sign Lapierre, he is that guy like Andrew Shaw, Brad Marchand, not as talented but he is a pain to play against and you despise him when he is on the oppositions line up.

He is also a good cap hit gamble as well.

how much do you think he would cost for 2 or 3 year term?

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#4 DSF
June 17 2013, 11:10AM
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A couple more JW.

M.Handzus

Derek Roy

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#5 Rogue
June 17 2013, 11:11AM
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What is RNH's progress?

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#6 In the Grease
June 17 2013, 11:14AM
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I would go for Lapierre as well - one of those guys you absolutely hate on other teams, but love on yours, no? - this is a team looking for physicality. It absolutely has to be a high priority with whomever they are vetting for a bottom 6 role.

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#9 popejordon
June 17 2013, 11:19AM
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I didn't know Malholtra had syphilis.

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#10 Supernova
June 17 2013, 11:21AM
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Jon,

can you not use that survey tool like you used for the draft picks.

My guess on a Lapierre Contract would be in that 1.5 million range on a 2 year deal, I would sign him to that and have him slotted to play 4th line and see if he can push up the charts for 3rd line.

Oil need guys who piss off the other team. Lapierre cetainly does that.

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#11 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 17 2013, 11:22AM
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That's a lot of bodies available at less than what Hemsky and Horcoff will demand. In addition to that, there's all the compliance buyout players up for grabs as well. With all this human trafficking this summer. Could be 70/30, that 10 and 83 are back here in the fall again.

Mentioning you want to clean house, and then actually getting this accomplished, can be difficult. Good luck Craig.

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#12 fifthcartel
June 17 2013, 11:23AM
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I read somewhere Vancouver is definitely letting Lapierre walk, and yeah everyone hates him, but I wouldn't hate him on my team.

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#13 Ducey
June 17 2013, 11:27AM
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Sign Lapierre and Steckel for the 3rd and 4th line C's respectively.

Lapierre may be a pr*ck but when he plays for your team its ok. See Esa Tikkanen, Ken Linsmen, Raffi Torres, Marty McSorely.

Bring in those two and you not only improve defensively but the team suddenly has some physicality. Add in some beef at a second line winger spot, the third line wing spot and on the 4th line and now the Oilers would have semblance of a physical team.

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#14 Supernova
June 17 2013, 11:29AM
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@DSF

DSF,

as a canucks fan whats your view on Lapierre?

Handzus has looked really good in Chicago, he would be well suited to stay on a team that is deep at center that can play him in specialist roles with skilled wingers that have speed, he would be dead in the water in edmonton as he would have way to high of demand on him to "drive the river"

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#15 richard
June 17 2013, 11:30AM
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My question is, why are the wings letting V.F. go?

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#16 DSF
June 17 2013, 11:43AM
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Supernova wrote:

DSF,

as a canucks fan whats your view on Lapierre?

Handzus has looked really good in Chicago, he would be well suited to stay on a team that is deep at center that can play him in specialist roles with skilled wingers that have speed, he would be dead in the water in edmonton as he would have way to high of demand on him to "drive the river"

Well, I'm not a Canucks fan but living on the coast I've seen him play a lot.

He definitely is an agitator but he has been prone to taking bad penalties in the past.

You have to ask yourself why Gillis isn't all that interested in re-signing him and I think the answer to that is his lack of production.

While 10 points in 48 games isn't all that bad, the Canucks are looking to get more scoring from their bottom 6, exactly what MacT said he wants too.

It appears the Canucks are going to give their younger guys (Brendan Gaunce and Jordan Shroeder) more of a chance than AV was willing to give them so, for that reason, Lapierre may be deemed expendable.

Of course, the Canucks also signed NCAA free agent Kellen Lain (6'6" 220) who may have a shot at #4C on the team.

As for the Oilers signing him, I can't see much downside unless he wants a lot of money or term.

$1.5M on a two year deal sounds about right.

But the Oilers really need to address their #2C position more urgently IMO.

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#17 Taylor Gang
June 17 2013, 11:44AM
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richard wrote:

My question is, why are the wings letting V.F. go?

Same reason we may let Gagner go: money. 5 million a year is a huge cost for a player after a down year.

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#18 DSF
June 17 2013, 11:44AM
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richard wrote:

My question is, why are the wings letting V.F. go?

He reportedly wants $5M a year.

Same reason they let Hudler go.

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#19 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 17 2013, 11:46AM
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So much junk...

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#22 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 17 2013, 11:51AM
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Don't understand all the desire for a shut down 3rd line centerman. I mean, with Barkov, Yandle, Clarkson and Shea Weber here, it'll be all horn, followed by a puck drop at center ice in store for these troops.

Just say no to a Gordon type.

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#23 DSF
June 17 2013, 11:56AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If they're looking for more production, in what world would Kellan Lain be the answer? Never hit 20 points in college hockey, pointless in his first 13 AHL games.

I didn't say that.

I think Gillis is looking for more production from his #3C with Lain likely to play the Manny Malhotra role on the 4th line (if he makes it).

My best guess is they want Guance to play #3C but it's too early to say if he's ready for the NHL.

Guance had a pretty nice season in the OHL despite some injury problems, scoring 33G and 60P in 60GP.

Here's an article on Lain if you're interested:

http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2013/03/16/canucks-sign-6-6-centre-kellan-lain-from-u-s-college-ranks/

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#24 madjam
June 17 2013, 11:59AM
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Don't see anybody on Ufa list worth persuing at overpays .I think we could do much better thru trade or buyout route , maybe even draft route. Those ufa's appear to be more a temporary stop gap maybe , not much/if any stronger than what we have now . Why bother with them when MacT. seems to want to avoid that route ?

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#25 mr. common sense
June 17 2013, 12:00PM
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Steve Ott. Brandon Dubinsky. Wayne Simmonds. In that order, are what the Oilers need. Simple. Period.

Ott is 3rd line C, 20min atoi, nhl hit leader, pk specialist and the best s.o.b in the nhl

Dubinsky: 2nd line Center, good skater, s.o.b light

Simmonds: 1st line winger with Nuge and Ebs, necessary meat and muscle, line becomes instant success. Then move Hall with Dubinsky and Yak.

=Playoff Team that can do damage

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#28 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
June 17 2013, 12:06PM
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If it becomes necessary to choose from this list..then Laperiere, then Steckle, then Cullen....

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#29 DSF
June 17 2013, 12:07PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That's actually a pretty poor season for Gaunce, offensively, isn't it? Stagnant from the year before. Fell from first in team scoring to second, too.

As I mentioned he had injury issues but was much better as the season progressed.

He was 9th in OHL playoff scoring with 22P in 17GP.

That's decent for a low first round pick who projects as a third line player.

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#30 DSF
June 17 2013, 12:13PM
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In other news...lots of discussion over at Lowetide that the Oilers are in the running to sign 22 year old Corban Knight.

He was a 5th round pick in 2009 of the Florida Panthers but he and Florida could not come to a contract agreement because the Panthers are so deep at centre (despite what you may read here).

He's a 6'2" 220 right shooting centre who put up 49P in 41GP in his final season at UND.

Could be a potential 3rd line centre right there.

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#31 ubermiguel
June 17 2013, 12:13PM
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Gagner & RNH as our only centres? God lord, we need someone that can win a draw. Steckel and Malhotra look like the budget options. Filppula would be the high-end acquisition.

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#32 Coco crisp
June 17 2013, 12:14PM
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I'd love to see VF on this team. He is unbelievably underrated. I'm not convinced he's worth 5 stacks a year.. But he would still flourish here in edm.

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#33 RyanCoke
June 17 2013, 12:16PM
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lol at smithson kills faceoffs and wins penalties. does that sum up his game lmao

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#34 Sanaa Montana
June 17 2013, 12:25PM
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Supernova wrote:

Jon,

can you not use that survey tool like you used for the draft picks.

My guess on a Lapierre Contract would be in that 1.5 million range on a 2 year deal, I would sign him to that and have him slotted to play 4th line and see if he can push up the charts for 3rd line.

Oil need guys who piss off the other team. Lapierre cetainly does that.

Oilers need to piss off the other team by being better than them. Lapierre is a goof.

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#35 DSF
June 17 2013, 12:28PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Gagner & RNH as our only centres? God lord, we need someone that can win a draw. Steckel and Malhotra look like the budget options. Filppula would be the high-end acquisition.

I'd be very careful with Malhotra.

The Canucks had him play the first 10 games of the season to assess how his eye injury was affecting his play and then shut him down saying they were worried he was a big risk to get re-injured because of his limited vision.

While he was still very good on face-offs, (65.3%) his overall play had diminished a lot.

He put up zero points (only 2 SOG) and was -3 in 9GP.

Of course, this is a team that traded for The Remains of Ryan Whitney so anything is possible.

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#36 Ever the Optimist
June 17 2013, 12:33PM
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Lapiere and Malhotra as 3rd and 4th line centers

that would take the oilers a long way from soft and easy to play against.

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#37 Young Oil
June 17 2013, 12:47PM
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That free agent crop looks like it is only good for a 4th line center, I'd take Gordon or Steckel in a second if the price is right, but I think the best way to get center depth is through a trade, so you don't overpay salary wise quite as much. A couple days ago I suggested a trade with CBJ:

Would Gagner+N.Schultz+Musil+2014 1st for Dubinski+Nikitin+Johansen be fair? If not, what else would we have to add/replace?

Dubinski can mentor our younger centers into becoming better two way players, and Nikitin and Belov have played together before, and would ease Belov's transition into the NHL.

Sign Gordon, and that would make our center depth better than it has been in years.

RNH Dubinski Johansen Gordon/Steckel

Looks even better considering we'd likely have one of Monohan/Lindholm/Barkov after the draft.

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#38 Will
June 17 2013, 12:49PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Aside from the fact that likely none of those players are available, the first line is already a success. Hall, RNH and Eberle outplayed their opponents this year by a significant margin and were the only line on the team that did so.

With that said: I'm not sure I like the idea of that trio together long-term - it might make sense to do what lots of teams do and separate the top talents (think Forsberg and Sakic, Zetterberg and Datsyuk, Kane and Toews - splitting them up gives two top lines that are hard to match).

It would be great if instead of needing to split up our dominant top line, we could build talent around Yak on the second line and actually get some rookie contract years from a productive and dangerous second line.

Getting a power forward LW to play with Yak (cough Nichushkin), then grabbing a veteran centre capable of playing with some skill (perhaps you find one of them in the UFA Eastern conference), might make our top two lines some of the deadliest in the NHL.

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#39 DMPP26
June 17 2013, 12:49PM
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Jonathan,

To your point about splitting the top line, couldn't we do this:

Gagner - Hall - Yakupov RNH - 2LW - Eberle

instead? I think Gagner's tough metrics this year are a function of usage rather than talent (as this year's corsi and such were a departure from his previous trend). Why let a promising young talent go - unless he won't take less than $5MM annually.

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#40 madjam
June 17 2013, 12:59PM
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WILLIS : Can you run a Western and Eastern Buyout column with the UFA group ? The buyout sector is far more appealing than thethin UFA market this year . That's where all the competition and meat lies this year .

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#41 Rogue
June 17 2013, 01:06PM
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Secure the Finn from Detroit.

Trade Gags.

Get 2 of Richardson, Lapierre and Steckel. We need the grit and nastiness.

Keep Smithson as Number 5 and let Landers and others have another year in OKC.

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#42 Supernova
June 17 2013, 01:11PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

Oilers need to piss off the other team by being better than them. Lapierre is a goof.

Well obviously, they need to be better than the other team. There are many elements to that. Look at the teams that where / are playing the last few weeks. Players that play outside the top 6

Chicago has Bolland, Shaw, and Bollig among players that piss off the other team.

Boston has one of the best "pests" he is in a top 6 role now, but Marchand is a guy who makes the other team watch for him and lose concentration on the game plan.

Detroit had abdelkader and he was always in Chicago's face, annoying them.

I could continue to make examples but won't carry on. In order to play "multiple systems" (from Coach Eakins) you need players with multiple skill sets. We have the High end skill now we find the complementary pieces. Some of that will be Big, Strong guys who can score and hit. Others need to be a "pest"

Lapierre is a goof, but if you watched what happens the last few years when the Oil played the Canucks he continually got the Oilers to watch him instead of concentrating on the game of scoring goals.

add to that he wins more than his share of faceoffs, is bigger and hits more than almost any Oiler, also kills penalties. He supplies what we have needed for the last few years on the 4th line.

I am only asking for 11 -12 minutes a night in that role. Playing more than that would indicate one of two things

1) Oilers had serious depth at center issues (which we know that they do)

2) he earned more time from good play

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#43 Racki
June 17 2013, 01:13PM
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Re: Smithson "He kills faceoffs, wins penalties"

Pretty sure you have that jumbled up a bit, JW :P Or you just really don't like him!

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#44 Supernova
June 17 2013, 01:16PM
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@DSF

"You have to ask yourself why Gillis isn't all that interested in re-signing him and I think the answer to that is his lack of production."

Valid Question but the Canucks needs and the Oilers needs are different.

I only want Lapierre for exactly what he has done in Vancouver if he can out produce that it is a bonus. Playing 12 minutes a night winning more than 50% of his draws, hitting, and agitating other teams. I am not asking for alot but the Oil has really missed that. If he can do everything that Belanger has done, and hit and agitate it is a clear upgrade and it won't take much to overcome Belanger lofty standards.

This is one move independent of the need to also fill the 2C/3C roles.

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#45 DSF
June 17 2013, 01:16PM
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madjam wrote:

WILLIS : Can you run a Western and Eastern Buyout column with the UFA group ? The buyout sector is far more appealing than thethin UFA market this year . That's where all the competition and meat lies this year .

ANA - None

CAL - None

CHI - Montador?

COL - None

CLB - None (may want to trade Wiz or J. Johnson)

DAL - None

DET - Samuelsson?

LAK - None

MIN - Heatley (if not still injured)

NSH - None

SEA - None

SJS - Havlat

STL - None

VCR - Ballard

WPG - None

Pretty slim pickings.

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#46 DSF
June 17 2013, 01:23PM
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Supernova wrote:

"You have to ask yourself why Gillis isn't all that interested in re-signing him and I think the answer to that is his lack of production."

Valid Question but the Canucks needs and the Oilers needs are different.

I only want Lapierre for exactly what he has done in Vancouver if he can out produce that it is a bonus. Playing 12 minutes a night winning more than 50% of his draws, hitting, and agitating other teams. I am not asking for alot but the Oil has really missed that. If he can do everything that Belanger has done, and hit and agitate it is a clear upgrade and it won't take much to overcome Belanger lofty standards.

This is one move independent of the need to also fill the 2C/3C roles.

Im not sure their team needs are all that different.

Both Gillis and MacT have said they want more production from their bottom 6.

While I agree Lapierre is a significant upgrade on Belanger, for several reasons, if the Oilers are only able to upgrade to that extent and the Canucks upgrade further from there (no guarantee of that), the Oilers fall one small step further behind in the race for the playoffs.

Given the weakness the Oilers have a #2C, they really should be looking at a bigger upgrade at #3C.

Of course, if they move Gagner, things change.

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#47 WhattaMike
June 17 2013, 01:26PM
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I am glad ya wrote of these W.C players JW as it provides good insight on the player and his just finished season.

I like Boyd Gordon for obvious PK reasons and he had very decent stats/income for the UFA offers upcoming.

Although not a Maxim Lapiere fan with van...of course being an Oiler fan..lol...I can see him providing decent 4th line minutes in place of landers for now due to Lander needs a good start down in the AHL to show he is ready.

Also, JW...I read of jason gregor's latest piece in the journal about a college kid named Corban Knight - a top centre at N.D (excellent faceoff percentage/two way play/offense skills)and he is size-wise impressive (6'-2"/201 lbs) for a kid of 22 who won't sign with Florida. He is now avialable to choose his own team and he trains/works out lots with Eberle in Calgary.

IMO...I would like to have MacT sign this kid asap if possible.

JW...what do ya think of this kid and of the chances he may sign with Edmonton?

He did play for the Oilers before...lol..in Okotoks though.

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#48 mr common sense
June 17 2013, 01:32PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Aside from the fact that likely none of those players are available, the first line is already a success. Hall, RNH and Eberle outplayed their opponents this year by a significant margin and were the only line on the team that did so.

With that said: I'm not sure I like the idea of that trio together long-term - it might make sense to do what lots of teams do and separate the top talents (think Forsberg and Sakic, Zetterberg and Datsyuk, Kane and Toews - splitting them up gives two top lines that are hard to match).

In order for Hall, Ebs and Nuge to become the true stars that they are, they need the peace of mind and freedom on the ice to succeed. What Hartnell is to Giroux is a perfect example. A diminutive wizard....once it became clear to all that if you touch Giroux, you also leave behind two teeth, he got the space and respect he needed to hone his craft.....remember, Giroux only 3 yrs ago was just a player with "talent"....look at him now.

Steve Ott is CRUCIAL. Every effort must be made to get this player, he is one of a kind. Hall will grow into a barbarian in the mold of Iggy.....same with Yak, so perhaps not a worry there but Ebs and Nuge need the grit I identify throuh Ott, Dubinsky and Simmonds in order for them to become the pure stars they are. Nobody should be confused by this. The chumps identified as ufas will always exist....but the skill/grit combo is worth every penny and has a DIRECT correlation to the ability of "talent" to become "Superstardom"

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#49 WhattaMike
June 17 2013, 01:44PM
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Unless somone knows what the cap hit will be for 2014-15...there is no way the Oil will pay Gagner about 5 mil a yr long term...then RNH is coming up for his raise too...then as well as J. Schultz, etc,...and with that in mind I can't see the Oilers then paying out another say 5 mil to Filppula or anyone else for bottom six roles.

Thats why Hemsky and Horcoff shall be traded or bought out...IMO.

The only type players going to get high end UFA type money will be a top 2nd line LW to go with Yakupov...such as a Horton or Stalberg, Bickell..or Clarkson.

Also...JW...what about ...Bernier being on the necessary trade list as LA needs to do this or they can lose him to an offer sheet that returns only a 2nd round pick? Is he a good deal type player for the Oil to go after?

IMO, he would play good enough to even maybe steal the #1 position from Dubnyk and he is only 24 yrs old.

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#50 Supernova
June 17 2013, 01:48PM
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@DSF

once again bringing in Lapierre is independent of what happens on lines 2 and 3.

Quite possible they trade Gagner, or resign him to a long term deal.

If they resign Gags they will need a really strong 3C.

Maybe they resign Gags, and sign Bozak (fairly similar players) and Gags moves to wing and only plays center upon injury.

I think MacT will want to have 5 centers in his line up every night. Which would force someone to play out of position to me that person is Gagner.

So i am looking for them to bring in 3 Centers this summer for the big club, I don't see MacT trading Gagner as he has been pretty glowing in his comments about him. I don't think Bozak is a huge fix but there isnt much available on the free agent front (Wiess will almost certainly be signed for 5.5 to 6 million before July 5th).

So unless MacT has a big trade in the works, I think he will keep Gagner, try and add someone of a similar skill set and also add a center for lines 3 and 4. Lapierre fills one of these holes.

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