MACT TALKS GAGNER, DEFENCE AND CENTRES

Jason Gregor
July 23 2013 10:10PM

Craig MacTavish wasn't able to make all the moves he wanted this summer, but he's pretty confident he has improved the team enough that they will be competitive.

MacTavish joined me on my radio show yesterday and we discussed re-signing Sam Gagner, his defence, Ryan Nugent-Hopkin's health and the areas of his team he is still hoping to improve. My thought are in italics.

Gregor: Sam joked that last year they were actually in the arbitration room when you agreed to a deal, but this year you made the deal outside of the room. I guess it’s technically getting easier by the year.

MacTavish: Ya, technically I guess. I’ve never really gone through that process before. Had dinner last night with our lawyers and went down to the Sheraton Hotel downtown Toronto this morning. Talked to Jeff Jackson, Sam’s agent, and agreed that we would meet and discuss any alternatives. We were kind of at an impasse the last few weeks.

But went down to meet and ya, it’s always good to get in front of the people you’re doing the deal with. Sometimes, I’m finding anyway, this is a dehumanizing process and it gets pretty competitive, pretty personal, and pretty fiery at times. But when you’re dealing with a person of the integrity of Sam Gagner and certainly his representative Jeff Jackson, who was all business to deal with, it’s good.

The thing that really was evident was we both had common objectives in this deal. Sam really, he’s an Edmonton Oiler, he wants to be a part of this. He wasn’t contemplating a one year deal so he could open up and sign somewhere else. My final analysis was he just wanted the security of being able to stay here. He’s got plenty of confidence in his ability and he felt like if he had to, he’d do another year here and then have more leverage, in my mind, to negotiate a deal where he could get a No Trade deal to stay here. We wanted to keep him, so those were pretty common objectives for us.

*** I think both sides should be happy. The Oilers have Gagner for three more years and by then they should know exactly what they have, while Gagner gets a fair deal and he can still be a ufa before he turns 27 in the summer of 2016.***

Gregor: You talked about how this process is dehumanizing. I get the sense that you are a big fan of the ‘human element’ in sports. You’ve talked a lot about Sam Gagner and his ability as a person, his ability to be a leader and not just the X and O’s. Do you feel a strong human connection is required within your organization in order to have a successful franchise?

MacTavish: Well, you want the right people. Leadership is so important, whether it’s sports, or business, or crocheting. It’s a critical component and element to having success. Good players are hard to find. Sam’s a very good player. Good players that are Oilers and are driven to be Oilers and are passionate about being Oilers are- you don’t want to let those guys go.

Yes, there is a limit and I try to get it to a number that I think is fair and extend that to the player. Good players are tough to find and when we have one that wants to be here and wants to make Edmonton his home, those things are important to us as an organization that we have people who live here. That hasn’t really been the case over the last number of years. This year we’ve got Devan Dubnyk in town, Sam has been here for quite some time. It’s important that guys are out in the community and, not withstanding, what he does on the ice and in the locker room when September rolls around.

COMPARABLES...

Gregor: Gagner mentioned that Versteeg, Voracek and Krejci were the comparables that his side used towards in their brief. Who were some of the guys you felt were statistically and financially comparable to Gagner?

MacTavish: I’m not going to get into the comparables from our side. I don’t know how that helps us. It’s quite a process to go through, how you actually narrow down things to include- I mean we’re trying to include people who substantiate our lower number and they’re trying to get people and draw comparables that substantiate a higher number.

Then you get down in front of the arbitrator, if you do get in that room and argue the case. Here’s a little bit about the process, which I didn’t know a lot about going into this. Each side gets ninety minutes and you can use that ninety minutes however you want. Whether it is forty-five minutes to present your case, and forty-five minutes to rebut the other side’s case, you choose however you want to use your ninety minutes. You get in front of the arbitrator and it’s kind of interesting, but it’s a very divisive process and even reading through the briefs can be pretty divisive. You really don’t want to do that to your players if you can reach some common ground and try to negotiate a settlement.

***It is too bad MacTavish didn't say who they used, although I do know Versteeg was also used by the Oilers. I'd guess TJ Oshie was as well. As MacT stated both sides try to find guys that figure into their argument. Keep in mind that Gagner's camp would have been asking for $5.5 million from an arbitrator.***

Gregor: A t the start of the summer you were very adamant that you wanted to outline your game plan to the fans. You said you were looking to make some bold moves, you wanted to change some things. I’m guessing the majority of the moves have been made. What areas were you disappointed you weren’t able to address?

MacTavish: I think just overall size. We’re still looking for some toughness. Ideally, I thought going in, that we’d be able to market some of our assets and grab bigger, stronger, more physical guys. We had a few guys in mind that we were chasing, but we weren’t able to land. That would be the major thing that I fell short on this summer, but I’m really happy with the way that we’ve improved our defence and happy with the skill level of our forwards.

We’ve added depth to our third and forth lines; certainly much more depth on the back end. I don’t know, I’m always cautious. I’m an optimist, but I’m a cautious optimist. When I look at some of the combinations that we have going into this season, I’m pretty excited. It’s going to take a spark, somebody’s got to light a spark but whoever that is, whether it’s the coaching staff, or whether it‘s Sam, Taylor, Nugent-Hopkins, or Justin Schultz, or Devan Dubnyk, if somebody lights a spark this thing could take off in a hurry.

***Size is an issue, and MacTavish won't stop trying to address that need. He likely will spend the next 18 months trying to mix in some size with his skilled players. I agree with his stance that if one or two of their players can grab the team's attention with a hot start, they could start winning. If Eakins can get all hands on deck and have them playing with desire, passion and determination the Oilers skill might keep them in the playoff hunt.***

Gregor: Can you update us on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? Do you expect him to participate in pre-season games or will you be cautious and wait until the regular season?

MacTavish: Well, we’re hearing that everything is optimistic, but you don’t want to count on him being ready to start the season. The optimistic forecast would be that he could be potentially ready to start the season, but the pessimistic forecast would be that he would be ready November 1st, the end of October. We’ll leave it at that and let the medical staff decide. We’re certainly not going to rush him and hurry him into the lineup, that’s for sure.

*** I like that MacT won't rush Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers have to look big picture. The Oilers' goal is to be competitive for many years, not just the first month or two of this season. I'd be overly cautious with Nugent-Hopkins.***

OPTIONS AT CENTRE...

Gregor: Let’s take the pessimistic point of view. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins isn’t ready to start the season. You’ve got Gagner, you’ve got Gordon, and I guess you’ve got Anton-Lander. Regardless of when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is ready, you would like to add another centreman before the start of the season?  

MacTavish: No, I think we’re good there. We’ve got some depth with Arcobello, we’ve got Will Acton. Andrew Miller is a guy who I’m expecting will have a very good training camp as well, until Nuge is ready to play. I mean, injuries are a part of it. You look at any other team’s depth chart; there are always gaps in their depth chart. Sometimes these gaps allow players and opportunity to step in and really establish themselves as NHL players. You need a chance if you’re a young guy on the outside looking in. This could potentially be that chance if Nuge isn’t ready to go October 1st, but I don’t anticipate doing much more.

***I'll admit I was a bit shocked when MacTavish said he was happy with what he has. He knows Miller and Arcobello better than I do, so we'll see if he is right. There is still 10 weeks until the season starts, so it is too early to know exactly when RNH will return, so part of MacTavish's response could have been about hiding his cards. He might not always be so forth coming in who or what he wants. He also knows that there will be some veteran UFAs still floating around in September, and if it is clear RNH won't be ready until November, or later, and the three kids stuggle in preseason, he could sign a veteran then. The preseason will be much more interesting watching how Arcobello, Lander and Miller play.***

Gregor: Tell us more about Andrew Miller. What are his strengths as a player?

MacTavish: Andrew Miller is a lot like Mark Arcobello. He’s actually out of the same program; they’re both from Yale University. Miller is a strong guy on the puck. He’s a smaller guy, but he’s highly skilled with a real keen intellect to play the game. He scores big goals, he knows where to go, he knows when the opportunity is presenting itself, he goes to the right position. He’s going to look really good at camp, I can tell you that. It’s whether he can overcome the exhibition game hurdle. Then the later exhibition games present another hurdle as well as teams pair their roster down and the competition gets a little bet steeper. Then, of course, the ultimate hurdle of playing in a regular season game. We’ll see if he’s ready for that, but he’ll sure look good early.

Gregor: You bring back Denis Grebeshkov, add Belov, and Ference, clearly puck possession was your main thing. You mentioned lack of size up front. Did you want to add somebody with size on the back end?

MacTavish: Well, I think that when you have Ladislav Smid and Andrew Ference, both guys that can play a physical game we’re okay. Size is one aspect of it, but it’s the willingness to play a physical game. Laddy certainly fills that need for us. Andrew is a guy that plays with a lot of bite and has some physical play.

Our team, we’re too far down the road of playing a skill game. We want to play a real fast game. We want defence that will pivot and skate hard back for pucks and get the puck moving quickly, transition the puck up quickly to our forwards. We’ve got a highly skilled group, I think, and if we can get back quicker for pucks --one area I thought we were real weak in last year was our ability to retrieve pucks quickly and institute the breakout, get the puck moving D to D, get it up ice quickly and get it in the hands of our forwards we should be fine.

I really thought our team was a very easy team to apply pressure to. I know that we’ve made improvements in that area. That’s the way I like to play. I don’t like a chip and chase game. I like a team that can make three, or four, or five passes and open the ice up, attack and build some speed in our attack and that’s what we’re going to be.

***I respect that MacTavish has a system in mind and wants to find players that fit into that system. It is obvious he wants good skaters who can move the puck. I like that strategy, but I'd be concerned about how they will defend. If teams start to carry the puck into the zone, rather than dump it in, how will the Oilers counter that. They will need good sticks, and body position, but sometimes having a player who is big and strong and can skate and pass is a big benefit. Similar to his forward group, I'm sure MacTavish would like to eventually mix in some size on his blueline.***

Gregor: Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle were invited to Canada’s Olympic camp next month. You played with a lot of guys who got that experience, to get together and learn from the best players in the world. What do you hope those two guys take from that experience?

MacTavish: I think just the professionalism. Taylor and Jordan are very professional guys. They’re very passionate guys. I think that’s what the more experienced players will get from those two guys, maybe more importantly. That those guys are going to come in there and add a certain infusion of passion and intensity and just the joy of playing the game. One thing about both of those guys is that they love to play the game. Sometimes that can wear off a little bit on more experienced guys. I think the group will get that from Taylor and Jordan.

As for what Taylor and Jordan will get from the group, it’ll be just the details of the game. I really believe that the older players realize just how important all the little details are to the game. Play without the puck. I mean, how important that is tactically to have coordinated defence and everybody doing a job defensively. I think you can’t win anywhere really, unless you have that; certainly at the highest level. The best players in the game recognize that, how coachable they are and how much they appreciate how important structure is to overall team success. I think our guys will get that message from that group that they play with. It should be just a terrific experience for both those players.

***Hall and Eberle are both extremely competitive, and both of them will use this camp as extra motivation. If Hall plays like he did last year, it will hard for Canada not to add him. Eberle needs a good start, and if Eakins uses him on the PK and he shows his versatility he will be in the conversation. Both will need to be very good for the first three months of the season to have a realistic shot of making the team.***

WINNING WITH SKILL...

Gregor: When you look at Perron, what made that deal the right trade for you to make?

MacTavish: Just the skill level. I just love his skill. This guy can make plays in the offensive zone. He makes direct plays in the defensive zone on breakouts. He plays both sides. Our hope is that our style of play and my instinct says that our style of play will better suit David Perron.

He comes from a very good system in St. Louis, a very structured system. Watching videos of David, he looks to be a very responsible, hard working player so that’s going to help. I really feel that the way we play the game could potentially complement his game and make him a more productive player. I’ve talked to him a few times. I fully appreciate how excited he is to be coming into this group.

You know, sometimes when you’re right on top of a situation you can’t see the forest through the trees. So when you bring in guys that see the skill level and the potential, maybe more importantly, of our team and how excited they are to be a part of that, it really makes me take a step back and realize how significantly this situation has improved over the last number of years.

Gregor: This might be too far ahead, but h ave you talked with Dallas Eakins about if you on going with thirteen forwards and eight D-men, or fourteen forwards and seven defencemen?

MacTavish: That’s a training camp decision and certainly a coaching decision for us. It looks like our greatest depth is at defence. It might come down to, at the end of the day, who we don’t want to lose through waivers. Those will be decisions that will be made through training camp.

I’ve said before, I want a level of competition at this training camp that we haven’t seen in a number of years. I think we haven’t had the depth in the last number of years that we have now, to bring that level of competition. I know players are bright, they’re reading their situation. I certainly did as a player, and you know that you’re going to have to be on top of your game from the outset. I want to send a message that we mean business from the first day of training camp. We’re going to get that level of competition here. The players, I’m sure, are going to be ready to compete because the competition will be fierce for those jobs.

Gregor: Would Oscar Klefbom have to blow your socks off, for him not to start the season in the American Hockey League?

M acTavish: That’s going to be up to Oscar and the coaches. I’m anticipating Oscar is a very, very good player for us at training camp and where it goes from there, will be dependant on Oscar. We’ve said before that there’s nothing wrong, it’s actually a benefit, to have players get some seasoning in the American Hockey League. Oscar’s played against men, so maybe that’s less important with him. He sure looked good at that development camp, as you would anticipate, playing against some lesser experienced guys. What I saw last year, when I saw him play over in Sweden, was a pretty developed player.

***If Klefbom makes the team that means he earned it, and this organization needs more of that. They need internal competition throughout the lineup. The 2nd PP unit needs to push the 1st PP unit. Veterans and young players need to earn their icetime every game, and I suspect Eakins will deliver this message on the first day of training camp.***

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 lucky
July 23 2013, 10:35PM
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Now, just for fun, play back a clip of a Steve Tambellini interview.

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#2 Oilcruzer
July 24 2013, 12:40AM
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lucky wrote:

Now, just for fun, play back a clip of a Steve Tambellini interview.

Last Tambo Interview...

"We don't want to make the wrong decision. I want to assess our needs and then discuss with our team, our coaches, our scouts. Then I need some time to reflect. Once I have that, then Kevin and Scott and I will talk things through. Then I need to re-evaluate this. Then I start by calling other GMs, you know, to see if they are evaluating and what they would like to do. But you know, you don't want to tip your hand, so it's best to appear disinterested. Then maybe the odd player might be available. Then I need to evaluate the market and our team, our goals, our future. Then there are the prospects in the AHL. That's a whole other story. You need to assess if you want to move an active player or perhaps a prospect. Then there's the matter of whether their contract is one you can move. Those contracts are a tricky thing to deal with. I have to evaluate them first. That takes time. Then there are the draft picks. I look at those and discuss with the scouts and then with Kevin to see what the future holds and if we should maybe hold those or trade them. Then I evaluate the options. Don't get me started on the prospects we have in the ECHL, that's a whole other set of challenges. Oh, and now we have a capologist too, and I also need evaluate some more after talking to them. Then Katz hired some voodoo guys who apparently do some advanced statistics. I talk to them and I evaluate our options some more. You don't want to jump into these things Gregor, you don't want to make the wrong decision. Often it's better to stick with the hand you have."

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#3 Todd
July 24 2013, 09:47AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Dear ON readers:

Can we please quit prefacing our comments with the excruciating phrase "and I, for one"

It does not make you sound erudite. It is redundant and pretentious.

Also I am proposing an armistice to quit torturing each other with the idiotic 'just saying' and the pointless 'it is what it is'

Thank You

You sure are erudite with your big words and grammar lessons on a hockey blog comments section.

Seriously who uses the word 'erudite', then calls people pretentious? Kettle black?

Relax and enjoy the us poorly written comments tapped on a cell phone while taking a dump in he outhouse on the job site.

I mean, it is why it is, right?

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#4 David S
July 24 2013, 10:39AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Dear ON readers:

Can we please quit prefacing our comments with the excruciating phrase "and I, for one"

It does not make you sound erudite. It is redundant and pretentious.

Also I am proposing an armistice to quit torturing each other with the idiotic 'just saying' and the pointless 'it is what it is'

Thank You

I for one welcome our new internet grammar overlords!

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#5 Taylor Gang
July 24 2013, 09:57AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Dear ON readers:

Can we please quit prefacing our comments with the excruciating phrase "and I, for one"

It does not make you sound erudite. It is redundant and pretentious.

Also I am proposing an armistice to quit torturing each other with the idiotic 'just saying' and the pointless 'it is what it is'

Thank You

Am I the only one who hasn't really noticed that, or isn't bothered by it?

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#6 Spydyr
July 24 2013, 09:57AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Dear ON readers:

Can we please quit prefacing our comments with the excruciating phrase "and I, for one"

It does not make you sound erudite. It is redundant and pretentious.

Also I am proposing an armistice to quit torturing each other with the idiotic 'just saying' and the pointless 'it is what it is'

Thank You

I for one am just saying it is what it is a hockey blog.

There got them all.

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#7 5inatrailer
July 23 2013, 10:58PM
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lucky wrote:

Now, just for fun, play back a clip of a Steve Tambellini interview.

"Blah blah blah.compete.blah blah blah.maturity. Blah blah blah. Souray? Blah blah my cats name is mittens"

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#8 Sanaa Montana
July 23 2013, 11:04PM
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I don't know why you omitted Yakupov from the Olympic question. Out of the three invited, Yakupov is the most likely to make his team and make an impact in the Olympics.

I would also bet the Oilers will start the season with 13-8.

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#9 David S
July 23 2013, 11:58PM
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RJ wrote:

Size down the middle has been a crying need for years. MacT's response is to add two 5'9 & 5'11 centers to start the season? I can only hope this is part of some misdirection ploy.

Because highly skilled big C's are SO easy to acquire.

In fact, I was down at Safeway the other day and you could get an additional ten bucks off with your Safeway card if you bought more than two.

http://images5.fanpop.com/image/photos/30300000/Godzilla-Facepalm-godzilla-30354011-640-387.jpg

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#10 bazmagoo
July 24 2013, 01:47AM
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@Josh Oiler - (The Underground Hockey Insider)

"We shud be happy that we have a strong top 6. Probably the best in the league."

Didn't make the playoffs but we probably have the best top 6 in the league. I'd like to think of myself as one of the biggest Oilers fans in the world but I have to say I laughed out loud when I read that one.

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#11 Spydyr
July 24 2013, 08:56AM
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Ever the Optimist wrote:

One guy out there still that would be cheaper than Borcht is Malhotra ..... a tryout contract possibly. You want to talk about a leader who has everything to prove.

Vancouver would not play Malhotra for safety reasons. Unfortunately the injury has damaged his vision. Can the Malhotra rumors go sit beside the Weber rumors over in the corner?

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#13 j
July 24 2013, 08:40AM
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We would have to believe that MacT is being coy about centre ice. He comes from the school of building a great team down the middle and our current crop aren't going to compete on a nightly basis against the league's best. I like the line-up and am optimistic however it will take a considerable amount of direction from Eakins to evolve Nuge and Sammy into the types of players that win championships. Nuge may get to a point in his career where we can mention Datsyuk in the same sentence but Sammy will never be Zetterburg. Bergeron and Krecji? Maybe. But these two depend upon big wingers to bang and distribute. Chicago really only has Toews as a legitimate world class centreman. Perhaps that is our model. We wait...

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#14 Fresh Mess
July 24 2013, 09:38AM
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Dear ON readers:

Can we please quit prefacing our comments with the excruciating phrase "and I, for one"

It does not make you sound erudite. It is redundant and pretentious.

Also I am proposing an armistice to quit torturing each other with the idiotic 'just saying' and the pointless 'it is what it is'

Thank You

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#15 oliveoilers
July 24 2013, 10:04AM
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Spydyr wrote:

I for one am just saying it is what it is a hockey blog.

There got them all.

And I, for one, agree with you. It is what it is. Just sayin'. Does one sentence paragraphs make you erudite?

Look at me, I'm erudite.

(Now to google what erudite means.)

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#16 David S
July 24 2013, 10:39AM
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Aw crap. I did that wrong.

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#17 rubbertrout
July 24 2013, 10:43AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Dear ON readers:

Can we please quit prefacing our comments with the excruciating phrase "and I, for one"

It does not make you sound erudite. It is redundant and pretentious.

Also I am proposing an armistice to quit torturing each other with the idiotic 'just saying' and the pointless 'it is what it is'

Thank You

Using "erudite" isn't the slightest bit pretentious though?

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#18 Young Oil
July 23 2013, 10:25PM
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Great interview, thanks JG!

I for one have been incredibly happy with what MacT has done this summer, and there hasn't been a single move I have disliked.

The only things I am worried for right now is forward depth and the PK. If we can get a 3rd line LW, and a 4th line C, both with some sign of a two way game, I think we have a playoff team. Hemsky would probably would have to go to make cap space though, but that's a tradeoff I'd be willing to make.

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#19 RJ
July 23 2013, 11:05PM
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Size down the middle has been a crying need for years. MacT's response is to add two 5'9 & 5'11 centers to start the season? I can only hope this is part of some misdirection ploy.

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#20 Jimmer
July 23 2013, 11:10PM
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I'm still concerned about the faceoff circle. Horcoff for Gordon is a wash in that regard. Everyone else will probably be less than 50%.

For a puck posession team this is critical.

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#21 nuge2nail
July 23 2013, 11:32PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

The team has improved. Center depth is the only concerning issue left.

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#22 Josh Oiler - (The Underground Hockey Insider)
July 24 2013, 12:12AM
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Okay folks: HEMSKEY is a top 6 forward on any other team in the league. We shud be happy that we have a strong top 6. Probably the best in the league. As a matter of fact, our two PP units will be unstoppable. And that's without HEMSKEY.

Gordon is a legitimate 4th line center sandwiched with Jones and Smyth will be awesome.

Now just building our 3rd line. Arcobello and HEMSKEY with ???

We shoul have got George Parros for our 4th line, so we could have moved Jones up to the 3rf line.

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#23 bumboclate(In MacT we trust!)
July 24 2013, 12:12AM
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Anton Lander played really really well during the playoffs. Seems like Mact is banking on that. I pray Nuge is ready for the begining of the season!

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#24 David S
July 24 2013, 12:27AM
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Josh Oiler - (The Underground Hockey Insider) wrote:

Okay folks: HEMSKEY is a top 6 forward on any other team in the league. We shud be happy that we have a strong top 6. Probably the best in the league. As a matter of fact, our two PP units will be unstoppable. And that's without HEMSKEY.

Gordon is a legitimate 4th line center sandwiched with Jones and Smyth will be awesome.

Now just building our 3rd line. Arcobello and HEMSKEY with ???

We shoul have got George Parros for our 4th line, so we could have moved Jones up to the 3rf line.

Hemsky. ALES freakin' HEMSKY.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ales_Hemsky

*Slap*

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#25 David S
July 24 2013, 12:29AM
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bumboclate(In MacT we trust!) wrote:

Anton Lander played really really well during the playoffs. Seems like Mact is banking on that. I pray Nuge is ready for the begining of the season!

He won't be. And from what I've seen we have a crapload of away games in October.

Mother of god.

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#26 Bushed
July 24 2013, 12:49AM
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"If somebody lights a spark..."

What the hell does that mean? Aren't the GM and coach supposed to provide the strategic direction?

So, somehow, from some unidentifiable someone (player, coach--who knows who?--apparently) there is supposed to be some magical result?

Still no size and grit, but a few depth centres may look OK early in camp before they get killed in exhibition or regular season games?

Really?

WTF?

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#27 bazmagoo
July 24 2013, 01:48AM
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@Bushed

"If somebody lights a spark..."

I think he's referring to the internal competition for captain. Make no mistake about it, Horcoff wasn't providing any sort of a ongoing spark as the captain. Maybe he is referring to who grabs the team by the cajones and makes it his team? Sounds like the captaincy is up in the air to me.

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#28 bazmagoo
July 24 2013, 01:56AM
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I think MacT likely has his eye on a free agent or two, but they are probably asking for too much money. The closer we get to the season starting, some long time NHL'ers will likely get desperate and start signing one year deals in the $1 million range. Happy to see him (potentially) holding his cards closer to his chest.

Hemsky will likely be dealt as well, my guess it's a matter of how much salary we'll have to eat (hopefully none like Horcoff, MacT convinced me he's the man for the job when he pulled that one off). Likely trying to get a legitimate 3rd-4th line guy (no specific position) without having to eat any of Hemmer's salary. Strikes me as a tough thing to pull off in a decreased salary cap world.

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#29 bazmagoo
July 24 2013, 02:05AM
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lucky wrote:

Now, just for fun, play back a clip of a Steve Tambellini interview.

Personally I thought Tambi was a legitimate GM - never really given much of achance.

Remember, the verdict is very much still out on MacT's managing skills (a game has yet to be played).

The tank job was in for 3 years, in my opinion Tambi was the fall guy for an obviously apathetic franchise.

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#30 Oilcan
July 24 2013, 02:24AM
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I think RNH will improve his FO% this year throughout the year.

As a whole unit I don't think the centres (Gagner, Lander, RNH) are as bad at FO as the numbers suggest, with the wingers gaining more experience I see the percentage going up. It is very infrequent for a center to win a draw completely clean.

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#31 WhattaMike
July 24 2013, 05:49AM
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Great interview JG....and I for one am very okay and happy with MacT's actions thus far this summer and with what he says in the interview.

He did very much bring the depth up for defencemen on this team and I for one think Belov is gonna be a major surprise for the good of the Oilers with his hitting and skating, passing abilities (plus he is only 26 yrs old). Defence is becoming a very good strength finally (not there all the way yet but certainly improved).

The wingers on the top six are excellent for this team and both RNH and Gagner will be fine (one is just 19 and the other only 23.... so cut them slack those whining people). The only thing wrong with the wingers right now is grit and extreme toughness/meanness but still...with the bottom six concerned...the team is not bad with Jones, Hemsky, Smyth, Joensuu, then Eager (if he plays at best potential), Ryan Hamilton, then Mike Brown.

hemsky (if not traded), Smyth and Jones can likely still give good to very good offence for this team... (IMO-Be more than NON-FACTORS!!!)

Gordon is an excellent addition and yes the 4th slot is of question....but....Lander is only 22 yrs old so give him some slack too people. He is of not bad size now (6' -195 lbs I believe?)and he can certainly skate/pass the puck/is already near or around the 50% faceoff mark).

Arcobello can play well if given time up here and he has very decent offence ability while Miller has to show us he can adjust from college. Acton may be the one dark horse no one suspects yet and I think he will surpirse too. His brother Keith (associate coach) will know all he can do as a 4th line centre.

All in all, a very positve start for MacT as new GM and I know that...thru this interview even...that he wants to get bigger, tougher and more skilled...and has now realized he has to be a touch more patient to make deals for those kind of players. MacT gets a B+ so far from me...

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#32 madjam
July 24 2013, 06:11AM
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Breath of fresh air having an in your face madia friendly GM talking over so many aspects of the team .

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#33 The Beaker
July 24 2013, 07:00AM
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@WhattaMike

Acton is a third line AHL option if we are all being serious. His best AHL season is 19 pts in 67 games. And Kieth is his dad not his brother. yeesh

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#34 Spurzey
July 24 2013, 07:18AM
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Brother?

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#35 BArmstrong
July 24 2013, 07:30AM
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@ Quicksilver ballet

What day is it? Hey, hey... what day?...

JULY 24th!!!

SHEA WEBER DAY

Bold? Hemsky, J Schultz + 2014 1st for Weber. Oilers keep some salary. Does this get it done? Where's that salary cap at?

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#36 rubbertrout
July 24 2013, 07:46AM
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Is it just me or does anyone else always read Gregor's transcripts of his interviews assuming everyone speaks like they were cast in Fargo?

Ya.

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#37 Spydyr
July 24 2013, 08:01AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

"We shud be happy that we have a strong top 6. Probably the best in the league."

Didn't make the playoffs but we probably have the best top 6 in the league. I'd like to think of myself as one of the biggest Oilers fans in the world but I have to say I laughed out loud when I read that one.

That is exactly my thoughts too.

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#38 Spydyr
July 24 2013, 08:02AM
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BArmstrong wrote:

@ Quicksilver ballet

What day is it? Hey, hey... what day?...

JULY 24th!!!

SHEA WEBER DAY

Bold? Hemsky, J Schultz + 2014 1st for Weber. Oilers keep some salary. Does this get it done? Where's that salary cap at?

You would have to throw in the rights to Omark too.

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#39 Ever the Optimist
July 24 2013, 08:23AM
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One guy out there still that would be cheaper than Borcht is Malhotra ..... a tryout contract possibly. You want to talk about a leader who has everything to prove.

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#40 michael
July 24 2013, 09:04AM
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I think we go into this season with Hemsky and Smyth on the 3rd line. The center? we'll wait and see what shakes out in training camp. The Oilers are dealing from a position of weakness and what GM has ever dealt from that position? let Hemsky play softer minutes and see what he produces.

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#41 Bushed
July 24 2013, 09:08AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

He isn't talking about being captain. He's talking about a player doing great things to inspire the team and get them to follow. Doesn't have to be the person wearing the C.

He is suggesting if they can get on a roll, which he believes needs to be kick started "sparked" by someone then maybe his team gains confidence.

And @Bushed the coaches don't play the game. They can't spark a team. They can prepare them and choose a game plan, but it is the players who execute it.

OK, fair comments Gregor.

I get that GM and coach can't execute the game plan, but if you're saying they have no role in leading or motivating a team, we'll have to disagree.

The tone of MacT's comments suggest that success will be dependent on uncontrollable factors, which is true, but to what extent?

After the Tambo tenure, maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I'd prefer to hear MacT taking on more accountability for himself and Eakins when it comes to the team's performance. That "leadership starts at the top" kind of concept vs. that wandering aimlessly in the desert kind of concept, you know?

I think MacT has learned very quickly from the "bold moves" fallout to not broadcast his intentions any more. And he's saying the right things about competition for jobs.

Perhaps he's now erring on the side of understating and over-delivering. I get what he's saying about "gaps", but ours are still too large in a couple of areas.

I don't (want to) believe he's done yet.

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#42 Bushed
July 24 2013, 09:19AM
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j wrote:

We would have to believe that MacT is being coy about centre ice. He comes from the school of building a great team down the middle and our current crop aren't going to compete on a nightly basis against the league's best. I like the line-up and am optimistic however it will take a considerable amount of direction from Eakins to evolve Nuge and Sammy into the types of players that win championships. Nuge may get to a point in his career where we can mention Datsyuk in the same sentence but Sammy will never be Zetterburg. Bergeron and Krecji? Maybe. But these two depend upon big wingers to bang and distribute. Chicago really only has Toews as a legitimate world class centreman. Perhaps that is our model. We wait...

^^ Great comments.

Short-term, we need a D and a C to start the season.

Longer term, the team's player mix will need to evolve. It will indeed be interesting to see where MacT's vision ultimately takes us.

My fingers are crossed...

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#43 Todd
July 24 2013, 09:41AM
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Ever the Optimist wrote:

One guy out there still that would be cheaper than Borcht is Malhotra ..... a tryout contract possibly. You want to talk about a leader who has everything to prove.

Mmmmm borscht. Yummy, and makes your poop red.

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#44 tileguy
July 24 2013, 09:50AM
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Ever the Optometrist wrote... Malhotra. Of all people you should know his glass eye would break with one heavy check.

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#45 Rama Lama
July 24 2013, 10:10AM
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Josh Oiler - (The Underground Hockey Insider) wrote:

Okay folks: HEMSKEY is a top 6 forward on any other team in the league. We shud be happy that we have a strong top 6. Probably the best in the league. As a matter of fact, our two PP units will be unstoppable. And that's without HEMSKEY.

Gordon is a legitimate 4th line center sandwiched with Jones and Smyth will be awesome.

Now just building our 3rd line. Arcobello and HEMSKEY with ???

We shoul have got George Parros for our 4th line, so we could have moved Jones up to the 3rf line.

Please take off those rose colored glasses.........Arcabello with Hemsky on the third line.

Most third lines are designed for a defensive, hard hitting, simple hockey. Exactly how will play this role on your third line......Hemsky is a end-to-end, soloist type of hockey player, and Arcobello is small and slow?

Your third line composition needs some serious re working!

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#46 rickithebear
July 24 2013, 10:40AM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

Am I the only one who hasn't really noticed that, or isn't bothered by it?

Opinion - point of view not based on fact or knowledge.

I am quit happy with these. Tells me it is an opinion right away.

My wife an editor in the quebecor news chain, has to write opinion pieces. I tell her I enjoy her opinion pieces!

Jason I am entertained by your opinions. Especially the petry had a bad year last year!

Now for the facts. D men better than league Avg GAA facing 1st line opponents and tops in the league in PKGA. Chara; Boychuck Oduya; Hjarlmasson B. Jackmann Smid; Petry

Now add in top 40 in blocks and hits: Smid; Petry

Thats it! we had the third best dpair against the other teams best at even who were elite on the penalty kill had top level block and hit rates.

only Petry and smid! Petry had a bad year? So you think Chara had bad year.!

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#47 Czar
July 24 2013, 10:46AM
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Spydyr wrote:

I for one am just saying it is what it is a hockey blog.

There got them all.

I like your comment,just saying.

So spelling Does count?

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#48 vetinari
July 24 2013, 11:49AM
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RJ wrote:

Size down the middle has been a crying need for years. MacT's response is to add two 5'9 & 5'11 centers to start the season? I can only hope this is part of some misdirection ploy.

@RJ - not to be logical or anything, but it takes more than a couple of months to undue years of neglect by a former manager... and opposing NHL managers don't just trade away their best and/or biggest players for belly button lint and a Keg gift card.

Do you not think that MacT has called almost every other GM in the league to see what's available and what the asking price was?

I agree that we could use some more beef at centre (and on the wing, and on defence, and heck, even in goal) but those players don't come cheap and aren't around every corner, otherwise, the whole freakin' league would be made up of Chara clones!

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#49 Yakman
July 24 2013, 11:52AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Personally I thought Tambi was a legitimate GM - never really given much of achance.

Remember, the verdict is very much still out on MacT's managing skills (a game has yet to be played).

The tank job was in for 3 years, in my opinion Tambi was the fall guy for an obviously apathetic franchise.

Good GMs get recycled pretty consistently in the NHL. If Tambellini never works as a GM again it will be pretty clear what other organizations thought of him...

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#50 rickithebear
July 24 2013, 12:20PM
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All the people who relate every players performance to the team performance are being silly!

we have units!

Players on specific units.

look at the team line by line. situation by situation.

The one that kills me the most is people using wins and GAA as a measaure of a goalie.

Winning is about outscoring the other team. Goalies cannot score. They have no affect on this. Eliminates 50% of the game.

Goalies cannot back check, break the cycle, limit shots.

All they can do is stop the puck that get to the net

90% Starters have a save% range of .900 to .930 the league average is .915-.916 sv% There are 5/30 .900 to .906 20/30 are .907 to .923 66% of the league 3/30 are .924 to .90

a .907 facing 29 sh will have 2.70 GAA .923 facing 29 shots will have a 2.23 GAA Most goalies can influence the game by +/- 0.24GA/gm

The shots for/gm per starter vary from 23 to 33 per team. the league average for shots is 29/gm.

you take the average goalie. .915 facing 33 shots 2.80 GAA .915 facing 23 shots 1.94 GAA the team in from to f the goalie can influence the game by +/- .43GAA

so the 50% that is GA. the team affects 31% of GA. and goalies affect 19% So wins are 81% affected by forwards and D. 19% by goalies.

GAA is 31% team and 19% goalies.

All I know is when i am looking for a goalie it sure is not wins or GAA. average it is high Save %.

Cause a goalie with limited shot count has almost zero chance of improvement. Give me a high save % facing a high shot count goalie. Cause when the shots faced goes down. look out. The GAA goes down and the wins go up the only question is whow much the Save% goes up as the d improves with shot reduction..

Last year Riemer .924 32.2 shots faced Bishop .920 33.3 SHots faced Dubnyk .920 32.3 shots faced 2.58GAA Holtby .920 32.3 Shots faced

Schnieder .927 28.9 shots faced. moving to NJD 23 Sh/gm a reduction from 2.11 GAA to 1.68 GAA

Bernier .922 23.9 shots faced Good luck with that move to TO Mr bernier. you are trying to replace a goalie with a better Save% who faced +8.3shots 35%/gm more shots than you.

Price .905 Save% 27.2 shots faced. the guy gas been a league average or worse goalie 4 of the last 5 years.

there are 4 goalies who clearly show they are great and once there team reduces the shot count likely make the jump to percieved top 5 in the game.

Team Canada: what the! is a .945 Save% goalie for canada.

for the wins and GA duds! undefeated and 1.00 GAA.

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