SWAY

Lowetide
July 14 2013 12:17PM

The Edmonton Oilers aren't done with roster moves, they have a few holes to fill before September 15th when Craig MacTavish hands off to Dallas Eakins for the fall and winter. A summer full off addition and subtraction leaves the roster with 2 goaltenders, 8 defensemen, 12 forwards and an unsigned Gagner. The roster holes are pronounced and significant, and if we're talking playoffs in 2013-14 they must be addressed.

TOP DRAWER

There are elements of this team that are (in my opinion) top drawer and worthy of the second season. They have a dynamite 1line (Nuge-Hall-Eberle) and an emerging 2line unit (Gagner-Perron-Yakupov) if they can get Gagner signed and Perron's possession stats move with him to Alberta's north country.

I'm also convinced the Oilers 3-7 blueline group will be strong and deep enough to weather the storm. If the 3-4 tandem is Andrew Ference-Justin Schultz and the 5-6 is Nick Schultz-Phil Larsen/Anton Belov/Corey Potter then I think that represents major improvement year over year in that area.

Finally, the goaltending. I think the Oilers can expect the tandem of Dubnyk-LaBarbera to be strong enough to get the club into the playoffs for the first time in a generation (or at least it seems that long) and despite Ryan Miller rumors I expect management is convinced the duo offers enough quality to proceed as is when training camp opens.

MUCH IMPORTANT WORK BEING DONE

Despite many transactions, the top pairing--the most important item--and the 3rd and 4th lines remain in an uncertain state.

The Smid-Petry duo did not have a strong 2012-13 season, much chaos happened on their watch. I think a case can be made that the shortened season, the quick coming together of the roster and systems employed by the new coach probably had something to do with it, but it's also true that given a full season this tandem has played the opposition to a tie in a previous season.

VOLLMAN PLAYER USAGE CHART, 2011-12

This is a Vollman Usage Chart, I call it the Vollman Sledgehammer because it takes my bias and wallops it with a big old Sledgehammer (have you ever seen a man use a Sledgehammer? It's pretty frightening), leaving me with a new view on reality. There is no mercy from the Vollman Sledgehammer, but there is truth. Smid-Petry is in the upper left quadrant and in blue and baby that's a good thing. Can they do it again? I don't know, but it's always wise to bet on someone on the way up as opposed to on the way down. Smid and Petry healthy should certainly have their best days ahead of them.

And if you're going to improve the top pairing, make it a veteran player like Braydon Coburn. I think that's what the Oilers management is thinking--improve this graph (the last full season one) or go with Smid-Petry. Seems wise to me.

THE 3 AND 4 LINES VIA VOLLMAN

This is a graph using last year's numbers applied to this year's 3 and 4 line candidates. Boyd Gordon looks like he's going to earn his money and it is very lonely at the top of this graph. The club also signed Jesse Joensu but his portion of this graph is a mere 7 games and is highly unreliable (I included it as a curio).

What to do with the bottom 6? Improve it.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Craig MacTavish hasn't worked this hard only to lay a Thanksgiving turkey for the fanbase. I think the Oilers can probably get by with the current blue depth chart (doesn't mean they won't improve it, just means if there's nothing out there they can proceed as is) but the bottom 6F needs some help toot sweet. My guess is that Gordon, Smyth, Jones and Brown will be part of the forward group on opening night, with Lander, Joensuu and Eager as possibles for NHL employment.

From here, it looks like the return for Ales Hemsky is extremely likely to be a two-way forward who can join Gordon at the tough end of the Vollman Sledgehammer.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#101 nuge2nail
July 15 2013, 08:39AM
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EHH Team wrote:

How do you know that Gagner would have signed for a reasonable price?

Maybe he was looking for $5M+ per year on a multi-year deal.

Oiler Domination To Follow

This year would be considered a break out type year for Gagner.

Hence why he will want and rightfully deserves more money on a new contract.

Anyone with any common sense would realize that Gagner would have been much cheaper to sign last year instead of now.

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#102 nuge2nail
July 15 2013, 09:53AM
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DN wrote:

No one is knocking the roster in those terms. The problem with it is that it's over the cap and thus unworkable. In theory, your additions are all fine, just too expensive.

Oiler Domination To Follow

We have 7.7 in cap space now, when Hemksy is gone we have 12.7.

So basically we need to fit Grabovski, Gagner, and Umberger with the 12.7 cap space.

Brown, Lander and JJ cap space can be used in morrow.

Seems plausible to me.

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#103 EHH Team
July 15 2013, 09:53AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

This year would be considered a break out type year for Gagner.

Hence why he will want and rightfully deserves more money on a new contract.

Anyone with any common sense would realize that Gagner would have been much cheaper to sign last year instead of now.

The rumours last year seemed to be that Gagner wanted a big contract (Eberle & Hall got $6M/yr each) and the Oilers wanted to see if he would have a good year, be more consistent and earn a big contract. He had that remarkable two consecutive games in 2012, including the eight point game, but it wasn't clear if that was a total aberration or if there was further untapped potential.

Nowhere did I read last year that Gagner would have signed a multi-year deal for a "reasonable" price. I remember reading & hearing speculation in the $4.5-5M range, and his agent's demands might have been higher.

I don't think you can characterize 2013 as being a breakout season. Inconsistency remains a bit of an issue with him. He continues to have defensive issues and hasn't improved much on face-offs. The situation hasn't changed a whole lot other than he is one year away from being a UFA. The team & Gagner still appear to differ on his value.

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#104 15w40
July 15 2013, 09:55AM
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Oilers went from 29th to 24th this year. I would say that they have made improvements in the roster but still holes remain.

With the UFA situation A, being quite weak and B, none of the top guys will come here anyway, that is typically not a viable option for Edmonton.

Trading has proven to be difficult especially with the constraints being put in place of not willing to trade the most marketable assets that they have.

The only other way is through the draft and that seems to be what they are doing. It also means having to wait the longest for the most visible improvement. It also presents the most risk of losing players that you have developed in the process simply because the process is taking too long. Case in point - Gagner, may walk for nothing or force a trade at 50 cents on the dollar because the oilers have no leverage anymore.

People use Chicago as a template but they can get free agents and they also have a better record with picks after the 1st round (this without any real research or data to back it up) just the way it looks from afar.

Edmonton needs to make another jump in the standings this year to at least be in the hunt on the final weekend of reg season play. Hall & Eberle are locked up, and I suspect so too will be RNH and J Schultz this year.

The Gagner situation is a prickly one and could set a dangerous precedent. If he walks for nothing or forces a bad trade, it will look awful because both player and organization have said they both want to continue down the path with each other but yet were unable to come to an agreement.

I get if the Oilers need to make a decision based on finances and if the Gagner camp is holding them ransom now but it better not turn into Smyth 2.0 where they are playing chicken over $2 mil across a 5 year deal. IMHO

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#105 EHH Team
July 15 2013, 09:59AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

We have 7.7 in cap space now, when Hemksy is gone we have 12.7.

So basically we need to fit Grabovski, Gagner, and Umberger with the 12.7 cap space.

Brown, Lander and JJ cap space can be used in morrow.

Seems plausible to me.

It may be plausible in the short-term but, unless there is a huge increase in the cap next year, you will have to dump players in order to sign RNH & Schultz.

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#106 aeiouY
July 15 2013, 10:18AM
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KYLE BEACH

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#107 Clyde Frog
July 15 2013, 12:59PM
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Mark Kassian wrote:

It's not really about elite anything......it's a team game.....notice how most, if not all of your "elite" goalies play for teams that either play a pure defence first style...or at the very least have very balanced defensively sound teams....Dmen and forwards...and coaches........the Oilers have had NONE of the above.....

Brodure played his entire career for the most defensive team in the league, notice how any goalie who plays for Pheonix or Nashville looks damn good if not Elite....Mike Smith plays two years in TB and looks like crap...moves to Pheonix and looks like an all star. Bryzgalov looks like an all star in Pheonix can't stop a beach ball in Philly. Billy Elliot in St Louis. Boborovski in Columbus, Anderson in Ottawa...Etc.....

Sutter moves to LA as coach...plays a pure defensive style system...Quick becomes an ELITE goalie.....

Lemaire coaches Minnesota...they have stellar goaltending....now...not so much

The examples are endless.....think about it for a minute or two....why can teams like Detroit and Chicago excel with below average goaltending....it's because they play sound defensive hockey as a team.....

The quality of a goaltender's stats is a function of the team in front of him.

Its hard to argue when your right, so there it is...

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