Six to eight new Oilers

Jonathan Willis
July 12 2013 12:45PM

At his end of season press conference, Craig MacTavish was asked if there could be six to eight new Oilers, and he said “I think that’s fair.” With the moves so far this summer, the team is now in that range.

The full quote:

I think that’s fair. There’s going to be some significant and meaningful change for sure. I think in today’s era, even when you win there’s significant change, and when you’re in the situation that we’re in at this stage of our development as a team there’s every reason to expect there’s going to be at least that many, 6-8 new members [of the Oilers].

The Changes

The depth chart above is my personal view of where things are right now, and assumes no changes. Reasonable people can disagree on the order, but that should be a serviceable list.

Assuming that Ryan Hamilton, Philip Larsen and Richard Bachman all end up missing the team, that makes six new Oilers to the starting roster; if Hamilton and Larsen make the team that takes the club to eight.

Changes Ahead?

I expect that we will yet see a trade that ships out Ales Hemsky, but maybe that doesn’t happen. Bob Stauffer hinted in his show yesterday that Ales Hemsky could be back with the team if MacTavish can’t find a return that satisfies him, and MacTavish has always left himself that out. I’ve never been a guy who believes a player has to be a prototypical third line player to play on the third line; just because EA Sports calls it a checking line doesn’t mean it must be devoid of offence. Certainly, Ales Hemsky’s ability to get the puck out of the defensive zone without losing possession is something that wouldn’t hurt a third line taking primarily defensive zone minutes, and having a little bit of counterpunch is always a good thing.

I also would not be surprised to see a player like Nick Schultz moved, since as things currently stand the Oilers will either need to push one of Nick Schultz or Anton Belov out of the top-six or slide a left-shooting defenceman over to his off-side.

But even if that doesn’t happen, MacTavish has delivered on his promise of off-season change.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Flames Nation, Kent Wilson opines on the Flames' contract talks with defenceman T.J. Brodie. Why does it matter? Because in doing so, Wilson spends a bunch of time reflecting on the general nature of so-called "bridge contracts" - like the one-year deal Sam Gagner got last season. Wilson cites another example of the bridge contract ending badly:

Namely, that the player will get drastically more expensive to retain in the near future. On the one hand, there's the concern associated with committing dollars and term to a player who turns out to be mediocre or worse. On the other hand, there's the possibility the player will be able to hold a team over the barrel a few years down the road. A recent object lesson in the pitfalls of bridge deals is PK Subban - the Canadiens played hardball with the young defender this past off-season (and lock-out), resulting in a contentious negotiation that eventually ended in a lowball two year deal worth $2.87M per year. Of course, Subban won the Norris trophy this season, so you can be certain Montreal will be paying out the nose to keep their young star once his bridge contract expires after next season.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, 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, 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 2004Z06
July 12 2013, 10:58PM
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Some people here crack me up. Grabovski has no class? The same kind of class that Nonis had in telling him he was keeping him and then buying him out?

I think if a new coach came in and ruined my game by not using me in the right role and then demoting me to the point of a buyout, I might be pissed too.

Every Leaf fan post I have read says he was a hard worker and a good guy in the room.

Yet you say Phaneuf is a character guy/leader. Phaneuf is a coward! Cheap shots, beaks off and then when the opposition calls him out, he runs and hides behind the officials. Not what I would call character material! WE NEED a centerman that can win draws, forecheck hard, be aggressive in generating turnovers and be defensively responsible. Sounds like Grabovski to me!

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#2 northof51
July 12 2013, 03:02PM
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@nuge2nail

About Grabovski....

It's been mentioned before that Eakins past with the Leaf's will likely influence at least some roster moves. If Eakins shares the same opinion of Grabo as Carlyle and Nonis, then it doesn't seem likely that Grabo will land in Oil Country.

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#3 David S
July 12 2013, 02:10PM
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OT, but any of you guys in Edmonton need to know this. The Pint Downtown and Wanye are debuting Nation Beer.

You heard me right. NATION BEER!

You're welcome.

Oh and six to eight moves? Excellent!

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#4 Bucknuck
July 12 2013, 04:29PM
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northof51 wrote:

About Grabovski....

It's been mentioned before that Eakins past with the Leaf's will likely influence at least some roster moves. If Eakins shares the same opinion of Grabo as Carlyle and Nonis, then it doesn't seem likely that Grabo will land in Oil Country.

Yeah. If the oil signed Grabovski I would be disappointed in them.

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#5 Mark-LW
July 12 2013, 05:09PM
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Giant wrote:

I can't believe how many people want a Hemsky Jagr Tandem. Eakins talked about tenacity and work ethic. The last thing the Oilers need is two streaky players who play great... when they feel like it, and skate in big slow circles when they don't. Jagr has been notorious for it his whole career, an we see the same out of Hemsky every game: one shift brilliant, next shift lost.

Jagr is a well known gym rat/hard worker and Hemsky is a forward who can play tough minutes and come out ahead in shot differential (not in a Krueger system)

What are you taking about exactly?

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#6 Pouzar99
July 12 2013, 06:59PM
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On the Grabo situation. His numbers are good. He feels he has something to prove, and his over-the-top F-word interview has probably scared teams off and driven his price down. Eakins spent a long time in the Leaf organization. I would rely on his judgment on this one. If he says 'no,' that is good enough for me. If he says 'yes,' and the price is reasonable, that is also good enough. My hunch is 'no.'

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#7 bwar
July 12 2013, 11:31PM
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The downside to Nick Schultz is basically that he has a big contract to be playing a 5/6 D role. More or less we could use that money elsewhere and it might be time for Klefbom or one of our other D prospects to make the jump up to the NHL and Nick Schultz is sitting in their roster spot.

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#8 Smokey
July 12 2013, 12:51PM
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Bring back the Prince and get Jagr.

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#9 Eddie Shore
July 12 2013, 02:07PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I haven't seen a lot of Will Acton, but he's been described to me as the Marlies' version of Chris Vande Velde.

There's a decent case he could be slotted above Arcobello, but I like Arcobello's versatility.

Given Eakins history with Acton as a member of the Marlies, I would assume he would have him above Arcobello in the pecking order.

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#10 OilClog
July 12 2013, 05:01PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Yeah. If the oil signed Grabovski I would be disappointed in them.

Why? for bringing in NHL talent? Maybe Lander starting off the season on the big club is a good thing in your world.. not mine. Sign Grabovski to a 1 or 2 year deal, cut losses easily if it fails. If it succeeds, brilliant!

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#11 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
July 12 2013, 09:36PM
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Giant wrote:

I can't believe how many people want a Hemsky Jagr Tandem. Eakins talked about tenacity and work ethic. The last thing the Oilers need is two streaky players who play great... when they feel like it, and skate in big slow circles when they don't. Jagr has been notorious for it his whole career, an we see the same out of Hemsky every game: one shift brilliant, next shift lost.

Mario Lemieux ....Peter Forsberg....Joe Thornton.......

Other guys who skate in big slow circles.......

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#12 G Money
July 12 2013, 10:11PM
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Smokey wrote:

Don't buy the Phaneuf rumours. Like he would come here with Miss Cuthbert.

I enjoy hating his guts. Don't want to have to cheer for his. He would be a whole lot better dman at 23 mins a night. Hes not a horse like Weber, to much of a liability.

Four times for emphasis, huh ...

Not sure if he is a fit from a salary value perspective but:

You do know that Mrs Phaneuf (they just got married in PEI did they not?) is from Calgary and that Phaneuf is from Edmonton, right?

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#13 Tayranchula
July 12 2013, 11:09PM
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I for some reason do not understand the reasoning in trading Nick Schultz. Hes played like 800 games in the NHL and is a solid veteran. Why would the Oilers let an older undrafted rookie Belov take his spot? I understand Belov is a puck mover and Schultz isnt but hes played 800 games in the NHL. I think Schultz in the 5th spot adds alot of depth to a shaky d lineup the Oilers have. Trading him now for a bag of peanuts isnt going to help things out in Oilerland. Just my opinion.

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#14 Bauerxxx
July 12 2013, 12:55PM
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Just curious about Will Acton the oilers signed him this summer. Is he actually lower on the depth chart than Arcobello?

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#15 Taylor Gang
July 12 2013, 12:56PM
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Get Jagr for the third line! My mouth has salivated to the thought of Hemsky and Jagr on a line together, plus Hemmer may get his confidence back.

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#16 Will
July 12 2013, 12:56PM
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Hmmm, it's looking good so far and you didn't even include Klefbomb in the defence.

I'd still like to see us somehow nab a Coburn, or hope of hopes a Yandle. And even though Hemsky might be good on the third line, I think an all or nothing shut down third line might be the better bet with size issues still remaining up front.

If you shipped him out for a solid third line RW, or even a really good fourth line centre to add some depth at the centre position, I'd be pretty happy with what Mac T managed to do in a week what Tambillini couldn't do in years.

In all this talk about decent third and fourth line guys, I noticed nothing has really been said about Eagre, and is anyone else miffed we didn't take a look at Cheechoo for any of these depth roles?

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#17 WhattaMike
July 12 2013, 01:11PM
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Hello JW and its another great article to read. I am one who is very happy so far with the changes though I did like Horcoff and Paajarvi these past years too.

I was also one who liked Whitney and Peckham but they never got to the place they should have played at...sorry that happened too. Fistric is a great hitting guy but not one with a heck of skill. Now these guys, among others are gone and it was with necessity this had to be done.

Three questions JW... (with being inclusive or not of trading Hemsky, N. Schultz or Smid,even Gagner, and/or prospects, draft picks etc),...

1) Do ya think arbitration will support Gagner too much and then he will have to be stuck with a new one yr deal...then traded by the deadline next spring?

2) Do you see 3 more bigger player moves from the Oilers..be it trades or UFA still...such as for one more 3/4 defenceman? another centre for the 4th line? a decent skilled or very tough and gritty agitating 3rd/4th line winger?

Myself?...I was thinking of possible type deals for Coburn or even Nikitin on defence (trade)... Zack Smith or M. Talbot for 4th line centre (trade), and even M. Raymond (UFA-not tough here - move R. Jones down to 4th) or maybe get Clifford (trade) as another 3rd to 4th line winger...

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#18 WhattaMike
July 12 2013, 01:13PM
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Sorry JW...only two questions not three...lol.

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#20 Bauerxxx
July 12 2013, 01:19PM
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@Jonathan Willis

So its like a white tape or black tape scenario.

Thank you

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#22 Giant
July 12 2013, 01:30PM
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I can't believe how many people want a Hemsky Jagr Tandem. Eakins talked about tenacity and work ethic. The last thing the Oilers need is two streaky players who play great... when they feel like it, and skate in big slow circles when they don't. Jagr has been notorious for it his whole career, an we see the same out of Hemsky every game: one shift brilliant, next shift lost.

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#23 westcoastoil
July 12 2013, 01:49PM
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With Eakins TO connections, that they haven't signed Steckel yet it would seem unlikely that they would at this point.

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#24 Rocket
July 12 2013, 02:16PM
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I know there has been a lot of Jagre love on this site lately & it would be awesome if he joined The Oilers but I don't see him signing in Edmonton.

There's no chance, or like a 1% chance of him in an Oilers sweater next season.

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#25 Rocket
July 12 2013, 02:17PM
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@David S

The NATION is slowly taking over the world one bar at a time. Every great revolution starts in a pub.

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#26 toprightcorner
July 12 2013, 02:18PM
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I am worried if they start Lander in the NHL this season. He needs to spend at least one more year in the AHL, if not two so he can develop into a top tier third line checking centre that can put of decent numbers. I also think he would be better served as a 2nd line center, 1 PK and no PP on the Barons as he will never be a guy playing a top line role, we shouldn't put him in a position that he develops in that role.

IMO, they need to add 2 centers, one for the fourth line that can kill penalties and another to play a bit on 4th line wing and the extra in the press box. Steckel would be a good add with excellent dot success and size. Or a Jay Beagle , Nate Thompson, Derrick Macenzie, Jim Slater or Adam Hall.

Maybe a Konopka who could probably be had cheap as he is also great on the dot but when you play the bigger teams, he can be put in the lineup with Brown to help out on toughness.

I am concerned about Konopka as he easily supplies any teams need for a faceoff guy and a tough guy who can at least play hockey but he never lasts on a team. Maybe a bad guy in the room?

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#27 nuge2nail
July 12 2013, 02:25PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

Malone is available, and TB is offering a 3rd round pick just to take him. Morrow would be a nice fit on the third line as well.

As for center, at some point one of our top two centers will get Injured. At that point we will need our third line center to play top six.

Currently our roster could not handle one Injury to our Cs. Grabovski would be perfect on a 4 year 16 million dollar deal. He can move up no down the lineup and if he rebounded like expected, Gagner could be traded.

FA wise we need a third line center who can move up into the top six throughout the season, pushing Gordan into the top 9. We currently don't have the center depth to be successful and compete for the playoffs, IMO. Injuries happen.

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#28 lolhockey
July 12 2013, 02:32PM
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Stop with the Jagr comments, please! I've been a fan of his since he came into the league and even I know it's not going to happen. He will want to be on the 2nd line, at the very least, and it's not going to happen on this team. He's played RW for over 20 years and he's not going to suddenly move to LW. Could he play LW? Probably. Will he? No. Are they going to move Eberle or Yakupov to LW and delay their development playing on the side they prefer just to accommodate Jagr? No.

Ignoring the above, let’s talk about the PP. Jagr has played the right wall since the beginning of time. Is he going to replace Nuge on the first PP? Is he going to replace Yakupov or Hall on the second PP? He will sign with a bubble team that needs a second line RW and ultimately get traded to a contender that needs him at the deadline. He’ll make his money and play on a contender by the end of the season. That’s how he operates at this point.

As much as I’d love to own an Oilers jersey with Jagr’s name on it, it ain’t gonna happen.

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#29 Freewheeling Freddie
July 12 2013, 04:52PM
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The Coburn deal will come together. Still need some meat and potatoes in top six. Wonder if the Oilers still have interest in Paul Ranger. Iron Maiden now has their own beer called The Trooper

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#30 Pouzar99
July 12 2013, 04:56PM
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I`m pleased with what MacT has done so far and I think he has enough room to add one or two big bottom six forwards, including one in exchange for Hemsky, if he can find a satisfactory offer. I am confident the Oilers will be an improved team but whether they will be a playoff team is difficult to say. We still do not have a genuine top D pairing. Players like Klefbom, J. Schultz and Nurse might be there some day but that would be a few years down the road. That is ultimately what we need to take the big step up.

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#31 bulldog12
July 12 2013, 05:01PM
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MacT is on the right track but I don't see enough depth of forwards and especially at centre Injuries are going to happen Defense will work as a group Trade Hemsky and Petry to get that other cman Eager is going to win a spot at training camp

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#32 Top Cheddar
July 12 2013, 05:10PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Yeah. If the oil signed Grabovski I would be disappointed in them.

^This all day long. ^ MacT talked about removing cancers, not adding them.

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#33 HallFever
July 12 2013, 05:16PM
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Hemsky for Ryan Carter and a 2014 2nd round pick. Then sign Penner on a 2 year deal.

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#34 Bucknuck
July 12 2013, 05:24PM
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OilClog wrote:

Why? for bringing in NHL talent? Maybe Lander starting off the season on the big club is a good thing in your world.. not mine. Sign Grabovski to a 1 or 2 year deal, cut losses easily if it fails. If it succeeds, brilliant!

For bringing in an entitled little sh!t who's defensive game stinks. EDIT... OK, his defensive game is just fine... but I still don't want him.

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#35 OilClog
July 12 2013, 05:56PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

For bringing in an entitled little sh!t who's defensive game stinks. EDIT... OK, his defensive game is just fine... but I still don't want him.

I'm pretty sure Grabovski's defensive game is pretty darn tootin solid there skippy. I would go compare his defensive stats against our current centers.. but other then Gordon who is from another team previous.. I'm scared the results will cause my eyes to bleed.. He's currently better then what we're sporting champ.

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#36 OilClog
July 12 2013, 06:02PM
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Top Cheddar wrote:

^This all day long. ^ MacT talked about removing cancers, not adding them.

He didn't say a damn word publicly until the Maple Leafs axed him.. He's a man, he's entitled to his opinion and option of voicing it publicly to the MSM when they ask the "tough" questions.. after he's been released..He would walk in and immediately feel the need to prove himself against our cluster of talent.. Adding more talent, drive, and want to win.. is a bad thing? a cancerous thing? you believe everything you hear? come on son.

Penner said similar words about MacT's departure... but you know, another cup since. No biggie

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#37 nunyour
July 12 2013, 06:02PM
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Ference will help on d,but the rest on your list have proven nothing in the nhl yet.Gordon will replace Horcoff but will be the same type of player as he was,Perron will be the best addition in the top six,but nothing really has changed in the bottom six.Adding borderline nhl players is not much of an improvement,and thinking that they are going to be great players for us is foolish.

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#38 Walter Sobchak
July 12 2013, 06:06PM
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Good read Willis

Couple O things.

like your depth chart, but, I have to believe the Oilers rate Klefbom higher then N.Schultz.

Nothing to back it up with just an overall hunch and MacTavish glowing report out of minni camp.

I think the odd men out are Potter and Larsen.

With FLA depth at C now, would it not be a great idea to get Shawn Matthias out of FLA.

A package that inicluded Hemsky at half cost?

Matthias would solve a lot of problems.

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#39 Walter Sobchak
July 12 2013, 06:07PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

For bringing in an entitled little sh!t who's defensive game stinks. EDIT... OK, his defensive game is just fine... but I still don't want him.

Grabovski is a gem in advanced stats! you got the facts backwards there.

still agree with you on the attitude......Pass.

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#40 madjam
July 12 2013, 06:29PM
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David S wrote:

OT, but any of you guys in Edmonton need to know this. The Pint Downtown and Wanye are debuting Nation Beer.

You heard me right. NATION BEER!

You're welcome.

Oh and six to eight moves? Excellent!

Does it come in blogger size and blogger glass ?

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#41 Bucknuck
July 12 2013, 06:42PM
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Geez... You guys are pretty awesome. You are right in assessing his defensive play (GRabby). His Corsi was pretty good.

Still... I don't want him. His exit interview was NOT classy. He might have been right in all that he said, but doing it the way he did was churlish and rubbed me the wrong way.

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#42 Taylor Gang
July 12 2013, 07:25PM
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Can we please get Coburn?

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#43 oliveoilers
July 12 2013, 07:26PM
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Listened to Stauffer today, and some lunatic (ex-assistant GM) from T.O. was saying that we're kicking tyres on Phanuef? Thoughts?

Also, on Grabovski, while it wasn't classy how he went out, burning bridges and all, Nonis did issue him a challenge 'to be better next season'. Then promptly bought him out. So we don't know what went on behind the scenes, it sounded like he was promised to stay, but this is business and there are no certainties!

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#44 Oiler Al
July 12 2013, 07:37PM
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Anyone have an opinion where Gagner might come in on this deal [ if he is coming that is].

Would he be a comparable player to Bozak, who got a bit more than $4 million X 5 yrs. I would suggest that Gagner is looking for something in the $5mil. range and MacT is closer to Bozaks deal, which I personally think where it should be.

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#45 Citizen David
July 12 2013, 08:08PM
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oliveoilers wrote:

Listened to Stauffer today, and some lunatic (ex-assistant GM) from T.O. was saying that we're kicking tyres on Phanuef? Thoughts?

Also, on Grabovski, while it wasn't classy how he went out, burning bridges and all, Nonis did issue him a challenge 'to be better next season'. Then promptly bought him out. So we don't know what went on behind the scenes, it sounded like he was promised to stay, but this is business and there are no certainties!

I think Phanuef would be better than Coburn. He would cost more to get though. Getting either one would give us a defence good enough for a playoff push.

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#46 Space Dad
July 12 2013, 08:19PM
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Interesting article on Belov. Especially intriguing is his commitment to improving himself as a player, to the extent that he prefers signing short term contracts for the added incentive. I also come away thinking he'll fit in great with the mentality that Eakins and MacT are purportedly trying to encourage in the locker room. Maybe this guy ends up in our top 4?

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/anton-belov-khl-top-defenseman-big-future-edmonton-193311931.html

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#47 madjam
July 12 2013, 08:34PM
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Citizen David wrote:

I think Phanuef would be better than Coburn. He would cost more to get though. Getting either one would give us a defence good enough for a playoff push.

Wouldn't surprise me if he is inquiring about Phaneuf . Seems to fit the character template and other aspects MacT. is looking for . Definite upgrade from Coburn . Good age and leadership qualities , and maybe most important , offensive ability and puck movement . Certainly a good upgrade . Have you booked it yet ?

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#48 Taylor Gang
July 12 2013, 08:49PM
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Citizen David wrote:

I think Phanuef would be better than Coburn. He would cost more to get though. Getting either one would give us a defence good enough for a playoff push.

Phaneuf is an upgrade on Coburn for sure, but he's like Horcoff. Nobody was questioning how good he is, it's the price point.

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#49 Smokey
July 12 2013, 09:03PM
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Don't buy the Phaneuf rumours. Like he would come here with Miss Cuthbert.

I enjoy hating his guts. Don't want to have to cheer for his. He would be a whole lot better dman at 23 mins a night. Hes not a horse like Weber, to much of a liability.

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#50 Smokey
July 12 2013, 09:03PM
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Don't buy the Phaneuf rumours. Like he would come here with Miss Cuthbert.

I enjoy hating his guts. Don't want to have to cheer for his. He would be a whole lot better dman at 23 mins a night. Hes not a horse like Weber, to much of a liability.

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