Free Agent Possibilities: Fourth Line Centre

Jonathan Willis
July 13 2013 12:18PM

It’s been nearly a week now since unrestricted free agency opened, and the best players on the market have already signed contracts with their new teams. For a team in need of depth NHL’ers, however, there remain options.

The Oilers are arguably such a team, and the good news is that there are still players available to fill the fourth line or spare centre slot.

We had profiled some of these players before free agency began; now we’ll have a look at what’s left.

The Remnant

Photo: Leech44/Wikimedia

Steve Begin, previously earned $525,000 in Calgary. Older, smallish forward who nevertheless plays an honest game – hitting, fighting, killing penalties – and had an effective season for the Flames in 2013.

Eric Belanger… Just kidding.

Tim Brent, previously earned $800,000 in Carolina. Tim Brent’s offensive production disappeared in 2013 – he went from 20 and 24 points in two preceding seasons to three. Some of that probably had to do with injury, and the rest with an unbelievably bad 3.45 on-ice shooting percentage. The depth centre has built a career on doing little things relatively well – he can kill penalties, is a decent faceoff man, hits a bit and blocks shots.

Scott Gomez, previously earned $700,000 in San Jose. The 33-year old Gomez found a role in San Jose as a depth centre at even-strength and a second power play option. Despite his ugly plus/minus, he didn’t actually have a terrible season by the shot clock – the Sharks were a team that out-shot the opposition and they were a hair better at with Gomez on the ice than with him off it. Unfortunately for San Jose, their depth lines were snakebit all season percentage-wise (six regulars has an on-ice shooting percentage below 6.0 at 5-on-5) and so that out-shooting didn’t pay off offensively. Gomez managed a very respectable eight points on the power play, and wins faceoffs – coming away with a 55.9% win rate in 2013.

Jeff Halpern, previously earned $700,000 in Montreal. Played tough minutes, starting three of four non-neutral zone shifts in his own end of the rink, which goes some way toward explaining why he only had three points last year. A 37-year old with almost 1,000 NHL games under his belt, Halpern was a pretty decent scorer not all that long ago, and still adds faceoff ability, penalty killing and a bit of toughness to the lineup.

Manny Malhotra, previously earned $2,500,000 in Vancouver. Malhotra’s a special case, in that he was one of the NHL’s best third-line centres before an eye injury threatened his career. Vancouver shelved the two-way stalwart – one of the league’s best faceoff men and penalty killers – and clearly believes his career should end; Malhotra reportedly disagrees and wants a chance to show he can still play, being unready to give up at the age of 33.

Marty Reasoner, previously earned $1,400,000 in Long Island. The 36-year old ex-Oiler had some decent seasons out East as a third-line forward, but slowed down after joining the Islanders, with one goal in 92 games and a cumulative minus-28 rating. He had something of a bounce-back 2013 campaign in that he went from minus-25 to minus-3 (a renaissance mirrored in the shot numbers, which went up dramatically) and he did it despite playing brutal defensive zone minutes. Also, according to no less a source than Matt Greene, he’s an offensive juggernaut.

Jerred Smithson, previously earned $800,000 in Edmonton. I’ve previously described him as a reserve centre, and I think that still holds true. He’s essentially a generic bottom-six centre who can be plugged into a penalty kill or a fourth line and expected to make safe plays while adding size, faceoffs and some physicality.

David Steckel, previously earned $1,100,000 in Anaheim. I’m just going to quote what I’ve said about Steckel previously, because it all still applies: “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.” The only real question with Steckel is contract terms, since he’s coming off a multi-year, seven-figure deal.

My View

Photo: Michael Miller/Wikimedia

With each player, I ask myself two questions. First, is he likely to be a better fit than Anton Lander as the Oilers’ fourth-line centre in 2013-14? Second, if not, is he likely to be a good fit as the team’s 13th forward, a player who comes cheaply enough and offers enough over a Mark Arcobello or Ryan Hamilton or Will Acton to be worth signing?

Of the list above, Steckel is the name I would submit with no qualifications as a better fit than Lander. He fills the same roles (fourth line even-strength minutes, regular penalty kill work), has similar offensive ability and brings more size, faceoff ability and much more toughness to the role than Lander does. More than that, he’s still young enough that on a one-year deal there’s no reason to expect a drop-off in performance.

Aside from Steckel, two other names stand out to me. One is that of Scott Gomez, provided that the coaching staff is comfortable employing Nugent-Hopkins or Gagner (or both) on the penalty kill; if they aren’t, Gomez hasn’t regularly killed penalties since 2009-10 and would be a risky addition.

The other name is Manny Malhotra: he is, without question, a gamble, but on the right contract he could be a brilliant one for the Oilers. Provided they were able to get him without overpaying, one of three things might happen. He might rebound, in which case he’s a brilliant value signing. He might come back part of the way, in which case he’s a strong fourth-liner. Or, he might genuinely be done, in which case the Oilers have a ready substitute in Lander and haven’t spent a lot of money on Malhotra.

Aside from those three, Tim Brent or Jerred Smithson might be worth a look at a near league-minimum deal as press-box forwards to start; the team saw last year the hazards of going into the season without a spare centre and with Lander currently slated to start on the NHL team there isn’t a lot of depth in the minors – just Will Acton, who has yet to record his first 20-point AHL season, and players like Mark Arcobello and Andrew Miller who aren’t good fits for a defence-oriented line.

If it were me, I’d try and get Steckel signed for one year at a reasonable dollar figure; if that were impossible I’d then try and do the same with Manny Malhotra. Failing that, a depth centre like Brent or Smithson seems better than the status quo.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Leafs Nation, Steve Dangle interviews Toronto beat writer James Mirtle, who offers his take on all sorts of issues, and the following advice to up-and-comers:

It can take a long time to break into exactly what you want to do, but then again, that's the case in lots of industries right now. In the beginning, be willing to work any job and any hours and impress the people you're working for. Become well versed in new and social media and don't be afraid to be different. Don't get discouraged if it takes years to get where you want to go - that's usually the case for everyone. Know what you're covering inside and out, try to always get things right and, in the end, if you do good work, you'll get noticed and rewarded.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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 Thumby
July 13 2013, 12:22PM
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Agreed! We need the size so go after steckel!

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#2 mr_nihilism
July 13 2013, 12:30PM
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Judging from your description of Steckel, I`d say he`d be worth acquiring.

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#3 Craig1981
July 13 2013, 12:35PM
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I think right now the question should be is where we can find a 3rd line center

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#4 Rik
July 13 2013, 12:43PM
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Manny Malhotra should not be playing hockey. Ask any Ophthalmologist.

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#5 Smokey
July 13 2013, 12:47PM
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Steckel or Smithson would be fine. Frankly don't know how hard it is to sign a fourth line center. Rather Lander be a call-up. I am not terribly bullish on him, don't think he skates or scores at NHL level, and expecting him to be effective for 82 games is a tough task. The holes left on this roster, third line winger, and NHL caliber fourth line center and winger is making me think we are drinking kioolaid and making the playoffs is not in the cards. Either MacT has cards he hasn't shown or he's no better then Tambo.

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#6 John Chambers
July 13 2013, 12:50PM
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Nik Antropov

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#7 WhattaMike
July 13 2013, 12:52PM
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Hey JW...nice joke about Belanger...lol.

I read this today with interest and due to that ya answered a question before for me on this type articel too. In your answer ya gave me ya mentioned Steckel and now reading more about him...I can see why ya like this player.

I see him as a great fit as a 4th line centre based on your info and I wonder about if he, Smyth and Jones would make a good fourth line altogether.

That would make the lines start looking a bit interesting with...

1st line - Hall-RNH-Eberle, 2nd line - Perron-Gagner(likely)-Yak, 3rd line - ??? -Gordon-???Hemsky?? 4th line?- Smyth-Steckel-Jones

Without other new players or changes upcoming...that would likely make Brown, Eager and Joensuu (or even Hamilton) any one of the two extras here (or one can be slotted in somewhere between 3rd to 4th after shifting Jones...so far.

No matter...I like the idea of Steckel over Lander right now for at least a year while Lander does a bit more to show what he has/can do...from the Barons.

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#8 G Money
July 13 2013, 01:29PM
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Steckel at the right price would be great, but as you note, that's probably unlikely. He's still unsigned though, so you never know.

I still think Wellwood's an option, again at the right price only. While he doesn't look like the prototypical 4th line C, he is a real hockey player, and in a pinch could play up on line 2 when the inevitable injuries hit. i.e. depth at C - what a concept.

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#9 Cutterov
July 13 2013, 01:36PM
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Not to sure what the love affair is with Smithson. He was beyond brutal as an oiler... Zero speed, zero puck skills, not overly physical, mental mistakes in his defensive zone coverage, bad trade for tambo... I still can't get over that oil change episode where tambo is asking his scouts if he should make the deal... Umm no Steve you are the gm, the scouts provide you a report and u make that deal... If we are getting a depth centre Steckel at 750 000 would fit perfectly.

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#10 PaperDesigner
July 13 2013, 01:43PM
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Steckel would be grand, but they also need to add at least one more third line winger by my count. Two would be ice, but I suspect they think Jones is that player.

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#11 Supernova
July 13 2013, 01:47PM
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Jonathon,

I am right there with you on this same order.

I wouldn't go past one year for any of these players, and I wonder if Manny Maholtra would take a professional tryout. I don't think he is worth the risk on a contract spot with what he has been through the last few years.

Lander should be our 5th Center called up when a injury happens. If he spent the whole year in the AHL that would be best for him.

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#12 EHH Team
July 13 2013, 01:54PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I think right now the question should be is where we can find a 3rd line center

Are you giving up on Gordon already?

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#13 Sincethewhadays
July 13 2013, 02:00PM
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So why haven't we signed steckle yet. MacT seems like he's going in the right direction, but it's painfully obvious that we need another Center, and I'm wondering what the hell is the delay?

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#14 Felix
July 13 2013, 02:10PM
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@Sincethewhadays

They are waiting to sign Sam Gagner and then trade him.

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#15 EHH Team
July 13 2013, 02:13PM
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Steckel definitely seems worth going after. I imagine several other teams feel the same way so a multi-year offer might be required.

Is 3 years at $1.25-$1.5/yr reasonable? The only problem I see is that it would eliminate a spot for Lander next year.

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#16 Sincethewhadays
July 13 2013, 02:18PM
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Felix wrote:

They are waiting to sign Sam Gagner and then trade him.

That's all well and good, but if Gags gets traded and IF he gets traded for a different Center then we STILL need one more on top of that. IF Gags gets traded for something other than a Center, then we'll be down 2 centres.

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#17 Rama Lama
July 13 2013, 02:25PM
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Let's just play Lander .........he deserves a real audition. He was playing with multitude of has been players, and even on his worst day of hockey, he is better than Belenger and Smithson.

Steckle is intriguing but only if he is going to play tough mean agressive hockey. If that were the case I's sure one of the GM's would have picked him up by now. I'm just so happy we do not have to watch Belenger play any more...........almost the worst sigining in the history of the Oilers history. Anson Carter owns that, lock , stock and barrel.

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#18 Cody anderson
July 13 2013, 02:27PM
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I would offer a few more UFA bargain short term deals and see if any stick. Bottom is still brutal.

Hall - Nuge - Eberle

Perron - Gagner - Yakupov

Morrow/Penner - Gordon - Boyes

Smyth - Steckel - Jones

D-corps of

Ference - J Schultz

Smid - Gilbert

Klefbom - Petry

Belov/N Schultz

Subsitute in whatever we can get for Hemsky and a bubble Dman for one of the UFA signings or package them for prospects or daft picks. Belov

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#19 Cody anderson
July 13 2013, 02:31PM
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I still wish Smyth would retire so they could find a better fit for the 4th line lw

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#20 Oilersman
July 13 2013, 02:34PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Let's just play Lander .........he deserves a real audition. He was playing with multitude of has been players, and even on his worst day of hockey, he is better than Belenger and Smithson.

Steckle is intriguing but only if he is going to play tough mean agressive hockey. If that were the case I's sure one of the GM's would have picked him up by now. I'm just so happy we do not have to watch Belenger play any more...........almost the worst sigining in the history of the Oilers history. Anson Carter owns that, lock , stock and barrel.

I actually liked Antoine Carter. Well for a little while anyway. Seen him on Off The Record the other day. Brought back memories. Haha

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#21 Mike Krushelnyski
July 13 2013, 02:56PM
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I was wondering why Steckel was still unsigned when I assumed he was around 35. I had no idea he was so young.

I agree with the poster who suggested Wellwood if we miss out on Steckel. He's an effective centre and we have Gordon to play the shutdown/PK minutes.

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#22 Woogie63
July 13 2013, 03:01PM
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Lots of trouble in RiverCity. The bottom 6 going is to be easy to play against. The other top lines are going to circle the games they play the Oilers. This team is going to be very one dimensional, speed is our ONLY game.

Will we be a strong team on the cycle - no Will be able forecheck with one forward - yes Will we be able forecheck with two forwards - not with that defense Will we play a left/right wing lock - no MacT has called that Are we going to play a puck possession game - no will not win enough face offs. We will be effective if we can play 1980's Oilers game consistently

Quality teams with great coaching and advanced pro scouting are going to figure out the Oilers. I predict a long second half and just missing the play-offs again.

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#23 vetinari
July 13 2013, 03:21PM
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I suspect that we won't make another signing until the team determines whether Hemsky can net a roster player in return, or Philly finally trades Coburn. When either Hemmer goes or someone gets Coburn, I expect more Oiler moves to follow.

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#24 OilersBrass
July 13 2013, 03:46PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

I would offer a few more UFA bargain short term deals and see if any stick. Bottom is still brutal.

Hall - Nuge - Eberle

Perron - Gagner - Yakupov

Morrow/Penner - Gordon - Boyes

Smyth - Steckel - Jones

D-corps of

Ference - J Schultz

Smid - Gilbert

Klefbom - Petry

Belov/N Schultz

Subsitute in whatever we can get for Hemsky and a bubble Dman for one of the UFA signings or package them for prospects or daft picks. Belov

Rumors are Morrow is close to signing in Montreal for a 2 year 10M deal.

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#25 Smokey
July 13 2013, 03:53PM
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Cutterov wrote:

Not to sure what the love affair is with Smithson. He was beyond brutal as an oiler... Zero speed, zero puck skills, not overly physical, mental mistakes in his defensive zone coverage, bad trade for tambo... I still can't get over that oil change episode where tambo is asking his scouts if he should make the deal... Umm no Steve you are the gm, the scouts provide you a report and u make that deal... If we are getting a depth centre Steckel at 750 000 would fit perfectly.

I don't anyone necessarily loves the guy, just think he is better then some other options.

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#26 Rocket
July 13 2013, 03:59PM
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Steckel is intriguing as he has tool The Oilers could use. I wonder how Lander will develop this year. I hope he breaks out but maybe playing a lot in the AHL is in the cards.

Smithson is average at best and hopefully pretty easily replaceable. Thanks Tambellini.

Just say no to Gomez.

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#27 Cody anderson
July 13 2013, 04:02PM
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Cutterov wrote:

Not to sure what the love affair is with Smithson. He was beyond brutal as an oiler... Zero speed, zero puck skills, not overly physical, mental mistakes in his defensive zone coverage, bad trade for tambo... I still can't get over that oil change episode where tambo is asking his scouts if he should make the deal... Umm no Steve you are the gm, the scouts provide you a report and u make that deal... If we are getting a depth centre Steckel at 750 000 would fit perfectly.

I really don't think anyone loves Smithson.

I think most people would prefer almost anyone to Lander. I think there are many people that do not believe Lander will ever be an NHL caliber player.

He is a borderline AHL player. It would be a huge strech to call him a prospect.

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#28 Craig1981
July 13 2013, 04:04PM
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EHH Team wrote:

Are you giving up on Gordon already?

Not giving up at all. I just don't think someone with a career high of 8 goals should be your 3rd centerman. What if gagner or rnh goes down. I highly dought both will lay 82 games. You need a guy that can play up and I don't think he can. I'm a fan of his signing though

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#29 WhattaMike
July 13 2013, 04:11PM
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Lander needs to work on the 1st to 3rd line centre roles for the Oilers to know exactly where he slots in or not at the NHL level.

His being on the Barons for one more full yr with first call up options is not hurting him at all, and with all the playing time he will get down on OKC, this improves him or shows him to be a bust.

RNH, Gagner, Gordon and say...one of Steckel or even then... a possible trade for either of Konopka/Zack Smith for picks or an equivalent average prospect would bring up the bottom six and then if, Hemsky is tradable for a tough gritty 3rd line winger.

With no very recent new trade action or UFA signings by the Oilers (since the Perron deal), I am now more curious about both Ryan Hamilton and Joensuu quite a bit right now for the 4th line, if bumping Jones up to 3rd RW status. Eakins does have a full knowledge of what Hamilton is like and I see this a big plus for the spot on the 4th line.

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#30 KSC10032
July 13 2013, 04:36PM
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@WhattaMike

Is this an appropriate spot to suggest Patrick Thoresen -- who might also be a solution @ 3rd line wing?

He may wish to stay in the KHL for $$$ reasons though,...

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#31 DonDon
July 13 2013, 04:37PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I think right now the question should be is where we can find a 3rd line center

Yes, Gordon is pencilled in as the 3rd line centre for now.

Where is the Oilers' 2nd line centre?

it doesn't appear to be Gagner, in MacT's new roster Gagner is a winger, probably on the 3rd line as 1st line has Hall and Eberle and 2nd line has Perron and Yakupov. What is the going salary for a 3rd line winger? It certainly isn't what Gagner or his agent expects. What happens if the arbitration rules over $4M?

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#32 madjam
July 13 2013, 04:46PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

Lots of trouble in RiverCity. The bottom 6 going is to be easy to play against. The other top lines are going to circle the games they play the Oilers. This team is going to be very one dimensional, speed is our ONLY game.

Will we be a strong team on the cycle - no Will be able forecheck with one forward - yes Will we be able forecheck with two forwards - not with that defense Will we play a left/right wing lock - no MacT has called that Are we going to play a puck possession game - no will not win enough face offs. We will be effective if we can play 1980's Oilers game consistently

Quality teams with great coaching and advanced pro scouting are going to figure out the Oilers. I predict a long second half and just missing the play-offs again.

Oilers , like a lot of clubs now are going toward a scoring third line but also defensively sound . A lot have also a very effective shutdown line in the fourth . We appear to be going for a strong offensive third line . Will there be enough grit , size and toughness to make much a difference this year ? We have to be a much better club next year just to compete in our new division .

We are not there yet , and teams need only play us as they did last year and they should have success once again against us . I don't see them changing how they play us until we can show we can do better than in previous years of handling it. We have the individual skills in place perhaps , but are team play is sub par . Last season we still were bad playing as a team , and we were in trouble if any team played the board game against us . To Willis : Will any of your list make us that much better than current personnel keeping in mind we need upgrades not last years that were not difference makers . I doubt , and hope MacT. is far from done yet . Some things are encouraging at least . Perron , Gordon and better defensively perhaps .

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#33 RJ
July 13 2013, 04:47PM
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I don't know where the Oilers are at in terms of the total number of contracts. But if you're looking for roster depth and centers who can win faceoffs, then why not sign two or three of them? Sign a Steckel. Sign a Malhotra. Sign a Gomez.

Let Lander compete with established veterans. If he wins the 4C outright, then he should be the 4C. Otherwise, start him in OKC.

Closer to the trading deadline, some team will come calling wanting to shore up their center position, and the Oilers will have assets.

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#34 Craig1981
July 13 2013, 04:48PM
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@DonDon

I know Gordon currently sits 3rd on the depth chart and yes MacT says he is happy to start the season with him there. I just think a team that is in the top half has him as a 3rd line. And what???? You must be trolling cause Gagner is a center, who was 2nd in team scoring. His position is not going to change. I would be HIGHLY surprised if he goes to arbitration.

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#35 Quicksilver ballet
July 13 2013, 05:54PM
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David Steckel it is. Not much for options on that list. i'd give him a 2 yr test drive.

Only 11 more sleeps till the big day. The day that shocked the hockey world. Yeah, I went there.

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#36 Toro
July 13 2013, 06:03PM
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DonDon wrote:

Yes, Gordon is pencilled in as the 3rd line centre for now.

Where is the Oilers' 2nd line centre?

it doesn't appear to be Gagner, in MacT's new roster Gagner is a winger, probably on the 3rd line as 1st line has Hall and Eberle and 2nd line has Perron and Yakupov. What is the going salary for a 3rd line winger? It certainly isn't what Gagner or his agent expects. What happens if the arbitration rules over $4M?

Gagner will be the second line center you must be smoking crack if you think he's gonna end up being a third line winger on any team in the NHL, Gagner in my opinion was the second best forward on our team last season and your saying hes a third line winger ... Give your head a shake...

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#37 Saytalk
July 13 2013, 06:18PM
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I am assuming management is looking to resolve the Gagner contract and ongoing trade talks (Hemsky, Cobourn or whatever the rumour mill digs up next week) before trying to sign anyone else for more than a million.

Until Eakins teaches the forwards how to backcheck, the fourth line center needs to be a checker who can kill penalties. So I'm all for signing Steckel or Halpern, but please not Gomez, Wellwood or Antropov.

If you really want another scorer, then you might as well dream of the Oilers signing Prospal to a one-year deal and then putting him on a line with Gagner and Yakupov to play heavily sheltered even strength minutes. This would free up Perron to play with Gordon and Hemsky on a line that could play the tough minutes. I doubt MacT could find the cap space to fit all of those players, but at least in this dream, there would be one other line after Nuge-Hall-Eberle that wouldn't get destroyed at even strength and another line that could consistently score (albeit with a lot of sheltering). Wow, this team has a lot of tinkering to do in order to get around having such a one-dimensional 2C.

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#38 madjam
July 13 2013, 06:39PM
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If we keep Gagner , will he not be first line center until Hopkins returns to lineup ? Was Gagner ever our designated second line center before last years shortened season ? He's climbed up thru acclamation in some ways , because our centers were/have been a weak part of our team . One has to ask themselves if he's riding the coattails of some of our elite fab 5 ?

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#39 Craig1981
July 13 2013, 06:47PM
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@madjam

He complents them well. Not elite, but very talented. It think he actually fits well with eberle and hall and leaves RNH to give more depth to yakapov and perron.

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#40 justDOit
July 13 2013, 06:48PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

David Steckel it is. Not much for options on that list. i'd give him a 2 yr test drive.

Only 11 more sleeps till the big day. The day that shocked the hockey world. Yeah, I went there.

I'm sure that MacT is waiting until that anniv to announce his big, BOLD trade:

Hall, Belanger, and Musil

for

Kadri, Liles, Orr, 2 1st rounders, and 0.015% of the Ontario Teacher's Retirement fund.

Edit: How often do you sleep?

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#41 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
July 13 2013, 06:57PM
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Malholtra at center and Ryan Jones on the wing.....as long as they stick together they should be able to see the whole ice...

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#42 Rocket
July 13 2013, 07:01PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

I remember that day. I was crazy crushed. Maybe I'll go watch that 30 for 30 now.

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#43 Numenius
July 13 2013, 07:13PM
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Cutterov wrote:

Not to sure what the love affair is with Smithson. He was beyond brutal as an oiler... Zero speed, zero puck skills, not overly physical, mental mistakes in his defensive zone coverage, bad trade for tambo... I still can't get over that oil change episode where tambo is asking his scouts if he should make the deal... Umm no Steve you are the gm, the scouts provide you a report and u make that deal... If we are getting a depth centre Steckel at 750 000 would fit perfectly.

Smithson was not beyond brutal as an Oiler. For a defence of resigning him, see:

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/06/02/the-case-for-jerred-smithson/

"Still, Oilers probably could do worse for 4th/5th line forward depth; bear in mind that at season’s end Smithson was the biggest active forward on the team, while his seasonal totals in faceoff percentage, hits, and blocked shots were all #1 on the squad. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to have a Barry Trotz-trained veteran as a bottom-of-the-roster grinder on a young team that is still learning the ropes defensively. From this distance such a player might make an ideal 13th forward."

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#44 alledmonton
July 13 2013, 07:20PM
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The Oilers would be further ahead by developing Lander. He's good enough for the 4th line now, and has the potential to develop into something more.

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#45 DSF
July 13 2013, 07:22PM
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Body Gordon is a 4C on a good team.

The Oilers still need #2C and #3C.

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#46 madjam
July 13 2013, 07:27PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

He complents them well. Not elite, but very talented. It think he actually fits well with eberle and hall and leaves RNH to give more depth to yakapov and perron.

I agree he does compliment in some respects , mainly in offensive zone . But , did MacT. not want our centers to be more of a protection for the duo's , did he not want our centers to be above average defensively and also above average in faceoffs and physical department ? Maybe i'm wrong in that assumption .You could throw in size I suppose ,but many are offended by that suggestion . I think we all like Gagner but not to recognize areas /ignor other facets of his game is erroneous .

Maybe I am to cautious after seeing Pisani and Horcoff have banner years and end up with big contracts that neither seem to live up to .

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#47 99thOilerfan
July 13 2013, 07:29PM
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I can not think of a time the Oil have the C in such a flux!

Gagner you in or are you out? Let us know, thanks!

( MacT better line up an exit plan, what are would we get back C or the D1 everyone wants? )

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#48 Rocket
July 13 2013, 07:30PM
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@DSF

Totally. The lack of centre depth on The Oilers is astounding. I like that MacT got Gordon but much work still needs to be done.

Steckel would probably be an overpay (like everyone else it seems), but at least The Oilers would be making small steps to get some centre depth.

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#49 DSF
July 13 2013, 07:33PM
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Rocket wrote:

Totally. The lack of centre depth on The Oilers is astounding. I like that MacT got Gordon but much work still needs to be done.

Steckel would probably be an overpay (like everyone else it seems), but at least The Oilers would be making small steps to get some centre depth.

Agree that Steckel would be a good signing and that the Oilers C depth is deplorable.

I've been beating the "draft centres" drum for years but the Oilers apparently don't realize you can't win without depth down the middle.

STL currently has SEVEN NHL quality centres on their roster.

VCR has drafted FIVE centres in the last two drafts.

And on it goes.

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#50 99thOilerfan
July 13 2013, 07:45PM
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So we wait.....

Hold off signing left over UFA that works on 1 yr flyer, and the Oil will wait it out for a cap stricken team looking for a trade? I would go the trade route, better age group to pick from..

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