Lux et veritas

Lowetide
August 04 2013 01:00PM

The Edmonton Oilers will have a small window of opportunity for a skill center this fall, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues his rehab from shoulder surgery. The two most likely candidates for the job are Mark Arcobello (in photo courtesy Rob Ferguson) and new hire Andrew Miller--signed during the MacTavish era. From a distance, it looks like a close race. Let's look a little closer.

THE MAN FROM YALE

Andrew Miller is a 5.10, 180 center with terrific skills and an impressive college resume. Corey Pronman from Hockey Prospectus broke down his skills when Miller was signed by the Oilers:

  • Pronman: Miller displays above-average qualities in terms of his speed, puck skills and overall offensive instincts. In his Senior season especially he showed the ability to consistently create scoring chances and keep the play flowing in the right direction.

There are some concerns from Pronman, however:

  • Pronman: The concerns I would have with Miller are firstly his physical game. He’s a 5′9′’ forward and although he does work hard, I’m not convinced he has the necessary grit and physical qualities to be anything more than replacement level in that area in the pro game. With Miller you also wonder if he has enough offensive talent, meaning if he’s dynamic or merely good, to overcome his size. I see reasonable arguments for and against him on that issue depending on which night you saw him.

Pronman's concerns about Miller's offense are strengthened when we run Miller's college numbers through Robert Vollman's new equivalency for ECAC college players. (Vollman's book is here).

ANDREW MILLER'S NHLE (USING VOLLMAN'S METRIC)

  • Age 21 82, 3-18-21
  • Age 22 82, 7-19-26
  • Age 23 82, 4-18-22
  • Age 24 82, 10-13-23

Those numbers suggest an offensive "tweener" and if they do reflect his true offensive value then Miller is unlikely to have an NHL career. However, history tells us that he'll get every chance to show what he can do during training camp and pre-season, for a couple of reasons. First, he's a new center and the club will want to see what he can do as soon as possible, and secondly Craig MacTavish signed him and believes in him.

  • MacT: “He’s not big, but he’s strong on the puck and he’s got great hockey sense. He’s a real cerebral player.”

THE MAN...ER..OTHER MAN FROM YALE

Mark Arcobello is basically the same age, but has been playing pro hockey for three seasons. In 2012-13, Arcobello had a terrific year with the OKC Barons, scoring 22-46-68 in 74 AHL games and playing in his first NHL game with the Oilers. Arcobello also impressed with 236 shots on goal (3rd in the league) and flourished with and without help from the NHL lockout players.

Arcobello's NHL equivalency from last season (I ran all the Barons forwards through Vollman's number awhile back) gives us 82, 11-23-34, or a significantly stronger offensive number than Miller's.

Also important is that MacTavish likes what Arcobello can bring and in fact signed him this summer.

  • MacT: I liked him last year, I was an advocate of giving him an opportunity, especially in our bottom six last year, but he only came up for the one game. It all boils down to your ability to make plays with the puck. When he played with Hall and Eberle in Oklahoma City this year earlier, his production was excellent. It was actually on par with Nuge. I’m not saying that he’s Nuge, but it was on par with Ryan. So I think that we’ll get him to training camp. When we signed him again to a contract I had a conversation with him and told him that he would get a look at training camp. He hasn’t played in an exhibition game or didn’t last year, so we’ll get a look and the rest will be up to him to prove to the coaching staff that he’s got enough game to warrant a bigger look as training camp goes by. I promised him that opportunity and we’re going to give it to him.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

The Oilers have not supplied new coach with many depth options at center via the draft. The top end guys (Nuge, Gagner) were lottery picks, Gordon is a free agent signing and Miller/Arcobello are college men. Will Acton is an AHL veteran signed for insurance, and only Anton Lander represents the non-lottery draft group in this battle. Perhaps Travis Ewanyk can push his way into the conversation.

For the Oilers, they need a 4C and a replacement C for the Nuge as he readies himself after surgery. What does that mean? Oiler fans are going to see a lot of these Yale products in pre-season, and we should pray to Baby Jesus at least one of them can grab a job and perform well in it.

Center is not a position of great depth at this time.

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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 TSN 1260.
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#1 Sanaa Montana
August 04 2013, 01:08PM
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Im excited to have my comment trash-ed for the fist time.!..

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#2 David S
August 04 2013, 01:19PM
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I don't understand the love for Arcobello. Buddy has played like one game in the bigs. We really have no idea how he'll do playing a month against the best players in the world.

Yes, yes we have NHLE's and gushing coaches but don't guys who play in the top six either have to work their way in by merit or just be plain damn good (neither which Arcobello has done/is)?

I don't see any other option right now other than Lander in the 2C and Smyth taking draws on the fourth line. Might not be ideal but RNH being out for a month means the season could be over by November if we piss away games giving key slots to guys who clearly aren't ready/qualified.

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#3 Spydyr
August 04 2013, 01:24PM
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How about getting a complete 2C and letting Gagner fill in for the Nuge until he gets back. Then move Gagner to the wing where he belongs.

You know, if you might like to make the playoffs after seven years.

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#4 David S
August 04 2013, 01:28PM
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Spydyr wrote:

How about getting a complete 2C and letting Gagner fill in for the Nuge until he gets back. Then move Gagner to the wing where he belongs.

You know, if you might like to make the playoffs after seven years.

^ THIS.

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#5 Sanaa Montana
August 04 2013, 01:28PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

Im excited to have my comment trash-ed for the fist time.!..

Who the #@$% is the fynny guy propin' my comment?!

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#6 Oilcruzer
August 04 2013, 01:31PM
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This blog is missing candy. Everyone loves candy.

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#7 DSF
August 04 2013, 01:31PM
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Andrew Ebbett.

5'9" 175

U of Michigan.

Final NCAA season: 41GP 14G 28A 42P

Best AHL season: Age 23 71GP 26G 39A 65P

Best NHL season: Age 25 48GP 8G 24A 32P

Going to war with Andrew Ebbett playing in your top 6 is a recipe for disaster.

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#8 Spydyr
August 04 2013, 01:33PM
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DSF wrote:

Andrew Ebbett.

5'9" 175

U of Michigan.

Final NCAA season: 41GP 14G 28A 42P

Best AHL season: Age 23 71GP 26G 39A 65P

Best NHL season: Age 25 48GP 8G 24A 32P

Going to war with Andrew Ebbett playing in your top 6 is a recipe for disaster.

5'9" 175

Is he blue too?

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#10 DSF
August 04 2013, 01:36PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Also Dick Cheney. He would be terrible in the top 6F. And Gilligan. Worthless.

Pretty much.

And the Oilers keep drafting defensemen and wingers.

Go figure.

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#11 Spydyr
August 04 2013, 01:38PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Also Dick Cheney. He would be terrible in the top 6F. And Gilligan. Worthless.

The skipper has some size..... Slow feet though.

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#12 John Chambers
August 04 2013, 02:13PM
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You guys pray to baby Jesus, or full-grown Jesus, or bearded Jesus for depth at Centre, and I'll do the same with Allah. With matters this important it's imperative we have our bases covered.

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#15 Quicksilver ballet
August 04 2013, 02:21PM
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This is what we bought, at an unprecedented rate no less. We supported this from day 1. 5 yrs of this crap and still no end in sight.

Screw you 6 rings Lowe.

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#16 Senhor
August 04 2013, 02:41PM
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MacT does not care about fans otherwise he would do something this month to give wanna-be GMs something to talk about.

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#17 Mike Krushelnyski
August 04 2013, 02:54PM
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Does anyone have a good explanation as to why we haven't signed David Steckel? Anyone?

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#18 Senhor
August 04 2013, 03:01PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

Does anyone have a good explanation as to why we haven't signed David Steckel? Anyone?

Maybe $$$ he wants? Otherwise, I have the same question. Even his accidental hits take guys out. Right, Sid?

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#19 TayLordBalls
August 04 2013, 03:02PM
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it's amazing that there is no one better in the system (yet).

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#20 Larry
August 04 2013, 03:24PM
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David S wrote:

I don't understand the love for Arcobello. Buddy has played like one game in the bigs. We really have no idea how he'll do playing a month against the best players in the world.

Yes, yes we have NHLE's and gushing coaches but don't guys who play in the top six either have to work their way in by merit or just be plain damn good (neither which Arcobello has done/is)?

I don't see any other option right now other than Lander in the 2C and Smyth taking draws on the fourth line. Might not be ideal but RNH being out for a month means the season could be over by November if we piss away games giving key slots to guys who clearly aren't ready/qualified.

Your high

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#21 Oiler Alaa
August 04 2013, 03:41PM
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The reason MacT has not added another center is because he is tapped out on the Cap pretty much.

He was suppose to get rid of [ trade] Hemsky, but no one wants this china doll, even for a third line center.

Message to Lowe: you think you overpaid this guy?

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#22 Oiler Alaa
August 04 2013, 03:41PM
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The reason MacT has not added another center is because he is tapped out on the Cap pretty much.

He was suppose to get rid of [ trade] Hemsky, but no one wants this china doll, even for a third line center.

Message to Lowe: you think you overpaid this guy?

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#23 judgedrude
August 04 2013, 03:45PM
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It's been a year now since I saw Arcobello play against the Marlies in the playoffs, but every time something good happened, he was on the ice tilting it in favour of the Barons. Much more so than PRV, who had many a "soft wrister from the top of the circle" to kill the play.

I saw him good and think he should be able to grab the 2C slot while Nuge waits to become the next 6 Million Dollar Man.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoLs0V8T5AA

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#24 Spydyr
August 04 2013, 04:08PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Hahaha. I call Mary Ann!

Good call.She is small and skilled (one can dream) so she would fit into the top 6.

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#25 TayLordBalls
August 04 2013, 04:46PM
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@Spydyr

do you mean 'onto the top six'?

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#26 Wax Man Riley
August 04 2013, 04:48PM
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Larry wrote:

Your high

His high? Or my high?

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#27 David S
August 04 2013, 04:48PM
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Hmmm...apparently replacing a 2LC in the NHL isn't nearly as hard as I figured. From some of the comments here, the position is over-rated and just about any C with decent numbers from the minors should fit in fine. Actual NHL qualifications are obviously not that big a deal. Plug and play it seems.

My bad. Winning would seem to be over-rated here as well.

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#28 David S
August 04 2013, 04:49PM
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@David S

And yes, that comes off like a dickish post.

But c'mon guys. Freakin' Arcobello as a plug and play 2LC in the NHL?

Am I missing something? Really?

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#29 Romulus' Apotheosis
August 04 2013, 05:13PM
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DSF wrote:

Pretty much.

And the Oilers keep drafting defensemen and wingers.

Go figure.

The problem isn't drafting centers. It's drafting nhl players.

Since 2010 the following players were drafted as centers:

PITLICK MARTINDALE RNH EWANYK YAKIMOV ROY PLATZER CHASE

Getting players to play center in the NHL is hard. Drafting centers isn't.

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#30 John Chambers
August 04 2013, 05:14PM
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@David S

Hey Dave,

This is the most depth we've had since '06 ... Except at centre. I mean, how bad could it be?

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#31 Romulus' Apotheosis
August 04 2013, 05:17PM
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David S wrote:

And yes, that comes off like a dickish post.

But c'mon guys. Freakin' Arcobello as a plug and play 2LC in the NHL?

Am I missing something? Really?

I don't know about dickish.

"Plug and play" is a red herring. No one sensible is suggesting he's ready to walk into a 2C job.

They are saying he's shown very, very well in a very good league at the age when prospects start to really cook.

The only reason the 2C job is being debated is injury related. In an ordinary situation he'd be a call-up, 13th/14th F, C/RW option hoping to find a spot.

No need to rag on the player. He's shown very well so far. It's a good story and a good player to have in the system.

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#32 Romulus' Apotheosis
August 04 2013, 05:20PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

Does anyone have a good explanation as to why we haven't signed David Steckel? Anyone?

Somehow all 30 teams have missed out on him so far.

I think part of it is simply the way the market works once the frenzy dies down.

People go on vacation and forget about it.

I gather his agent's phone picks up around TC.

Oh...and he'd be a great 4C for the Oil.

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#33 RexLibris
August 04 2013, 05:21PM
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John Chambers wrote:

You guys pray to baby Jesus, or full-grown Jesus, or bearded Jesus for depth at Centre, and I'll do the same with Allah. With matters this important it's imperative we have our bases covered.

What about Buddy Christ? Always liked him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FigprdcBGA

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#34 RexLibris
August 04 2013, 05:23PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Hahaha. I call Mary Ann!

Rats. Missed it by this much...

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#35 DSF
August 04 2013, 05:31PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

The problem isn't drafting centers. It's drafting nhl players.

Since 2010 the following players were drafted as centers:

PITLICK MARTINDALE RNH EWANYK YAKIMOV ROY PLATZER CHASE

Getting players to play center in the NHL is hard. Drafting centers isn't.

The Oilers passed on a couple of very good centres to draft Nurse.

In other news, Jim Nill acquired 3 NHL centres in one day.

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#36 Casey
August 04 2013, 05:31PM
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David S wrote:

I don't understand the love for Arcobello. Buddy has played like one game in the bigs. We really have no idea how he'll do playing a month against the best players in the world.

Yes, yes we have NHLE's and gushing coaches but don't guys who play in the top six either have to work their way in by merit or just be plain damn good (neither which Arcobello has done/is)?

I don't see any other option right now other than Lander in the 2C and Smyth taking draws on the fourth line. Might not be ideal but RNH being out for a month means the season could be over by November if we piss away games giving key slots to guys who clearly aren't ready/qualified.

Well Andrew Miller hasn't ever played pro hockey. Also if he played one game in the NHL who says he can't get better every game he plays?

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#37 voom04
August 04 2013, 05:56PM
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Wonder how many players started there career by getting an opportunity due to injuries?

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#38 bankshot
August 04 2013, 05:57PM
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I have been hoping for a trade to get a quality third line centre that could move up to second line duties at times. A trade of Hemsky to Nashville for Legwand would do just fine. Both players have a year to go on their contracts. $500,000 apart. Nashville gets an ofensive threat, Oilers get a veteran centre with grit.

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#39 Romulus' Apotheosis
August 04 2013, 06:00PM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers passed on a couple of very good centres to draft Nurse.

In other news, Jim Nill acquired 3 NHL centres in one day.

They "passed on" a lot of really good players at all positions if we are just talking about players taken after Nurse.

That's what we call players projected to go in the first round: "really good players."

Taking any of Horvat, Lazar and Gauthier at 7 would have been a mistake IMO. Doesn't make them any less "really good players."

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#40 steelymac
August 04 2013, 06:10PM
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Great articles through the dead times and thanks for that.Perhaps a one one one with Nuge and his rehab would be awsome.

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#41 DSF
August 04 2013, 06:30PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

They "passed on" a lot of really good players at all positions if we are just talking about players taken after Nurse.

That's what we call players projected to go in the first round: "really good players."

Taking any of Horvat, Lazar and Gauthier at 7 would have been a mistake IMO. Doesn't make them any less "really good players."

Drafting a D, whose development paths are very slow and crooked, when your D prospect depth is an organizational strength and your centre depth is below AHL level, is just stupid.

Nurse may well be a very good hockey player in 3-4 years but I'd wager Horvat, Lazar, Shinkaruk and Gauthier will have an impact much sooner.

The Oilers rebuild can't wait forever...the clock is ticking toward huge contracts for a bunch of wingers.

If the Oilers are willing to trade one of the first overall picks to get a bonafide #2C, they may be able to salvage their spotty draft record.

Pitlick, Martindale, Ewanyk, Yakimov, Roy...good grief.

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#42 Romulus' Apotheosis
August 04 2013, 06:38PM
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DSF wrote:

Drafting a D, whose development paths are very slow and crooked, when your D prospect depth is an organizational strength and your centre depth is below AHL level, is just stupid.

Nurse may well be a very good hockey player in 3-4 years but I'd wager Horvat, Lazar, Shinkaruk and Gauthier will have an impact much sooner.

The Oilers rebuild can't wait forever...the clock is ticking toward huge contracts for a bunch of wingers.

If the Oilers are willing to trade one of the first overall picks to get a bonafide #2C, they may be able to salvage their spotty draft record.

Pitlick, Martindale, Ewanyk, Yakimov, Roy...good grief.

"Stupid" is reaching for picks out of organizational need and sacrificing the future.

You don't go to the draft table to solve today's problems. MacT's draft philosophy: "find the player who will have the greatest impact on their team over the course of their career" is a pretty solid way of saying take the BPA.

It is never "stupid" to keep the shelves stocked. It would have been stupid to look to any of those Cs to save the C depth issues this year. Complete "cut my nose off to spite my face" stupid.

ps. How are Lander, Arcobello, Acton and Miller "below AHL level"? Is this one of your "Rajala is a failed prospect moments?"

pps. what on earth could you possibly see to "pfft" at Yakimov and Roy already? The thinness of your facade is showing.

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#43 EHH Team
August 04 2013, 06:47PM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers passed on a couple of very good centres to draft Nurse.

In other news, Jim Nill acquired 3 NHL centres in one day.

So we should trade with Dallas to get Horcoff back?

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#44 DSF
August 04 2013, 06:49PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"Stupid" is reaching for picks out of organizational need and sacrificing the future.

You don't go to the draft table to solve today's problems. MacT's draft philosophy: "find the player who will have the greatest impact on their team over the course of their career" is a pretty solid way of saying take the BPA.

It is never "stupid" to keep the shelves stocked. It would have been stupid to look to any of those Cs to save the C depth issues this year. Complete "cut my nose off to spite my face" stupid.

ps. How are Lander, Arcobello, Acton and Miller "below AHL level"? Is this one of your "Rajala is a failed prospect moments?"

pps. what on earth could you possibly see to "pfft" at Yakimov and Roy already? The thinness of your facade is showing.

The difference between a 7th overall pick and a 9th overall pick (Horvat) is infinitesimal.

Unless the player you are drafting is a generational talent (I doubt he is), picking a D in the top 10 is dumb.

Many of the best defensemen in the game were selected in the second round.

"Stocking the shelves" sounds good in theory but, if you keep stocking tampons while you have no aspirins in the store is ridiculous.

Solving the lack of C depth is not a question of this season or even next but the centres the Oilers have in the system are pretty much crap.

When does the team start stocking the shelves with centres?

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#45 DSF
August 04 2013, 06:52PM
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EHH Team wrote:

So we should trade with Dallas to get Horcoff back?

Or the Oilers could trade for or sign a replacement.

Counting on an injured Hopkins, a flawed Gagner, a 4th line centre and an AHL guy who can't piss a drop in the NHL doesn't strike me as very smart.

You?

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#46 HardBoiledOil
August 04 2013, 07:03PM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers passed on a couple of very good centres to draft Nurse.

In other news, Jim Nill acquired 3 NHL centres in one day.

jeez, the Oilers can't please the critics no matter who they draft or what moves they make, can they? Nurse was an outstanding pick! and it was clear the Oil were going to get either a long sought after big, talented center in Sean Monahan, or a long sought after *potential* top pairing d-man in Darnell Nurse. and yet people still complain! unless you have multiple top 15 picks in the entry draft, you can't get all the good players you want...so the Oilers finally draft a *potential* top end d-man that this team has been long criticized for not doing, and people *STILL* complain! unreal!!

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#47 Hammers
August 04 2013, 07:08PM
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Arcobello might fit as a 4th line RW/C if they deem extra centers are needed .Obviously Sept/ Oct maybe the most important month of his career.

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#48 Romulus' Apotheosis
August 04 2013, 07:19PM
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DSF wrote:

The difference between a 7th overall pick and a 9th overall pick (Horvat) is infinitesimal.

Unless the player you are drafting is a generational talent (I doubt he is), picking a D in the top 10 is dumb.

Many of the best defensemen in the game were selected in the second round.

"Stocking the shelves" sounds good in theory but, if you keep stocking tampons while you have no aspirins in the store is ridiculous.

Solving the lack of C depth is not a question of this season or even next but the centres the Oilers have in the system are pretty much crap.

When does the team start stocking the shelves with centres?

It's a big enough difference that MacT and everyone else, excepting you, thought it worth exploiting.

Picking D in the top 10 is risky. I don't think it is dumb. I would have picked the Russian. But today Nurse looks like a safe bet and a better one than any of those Cs and that's all you need to make the pick.

Your analogy is meaningless. Players aren't non-perishable commodities. You can never have enough good players, especially on D.

No NHL team will ever have enough D. Ever.

Time, injury, salary cap, collapse of play, free agency, etc.

Thinking you can stand pat and address other needs because you are good is stupid.

MacT took 4 centers in his first draft. I'd say the shelf stocking started a few months ago.

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#49 HardBoiledOil
August 04 2013, 07:23PM
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DSF wrote:

The difference between a 7th overall pick and a 9th overall pick (Horvat) is infinitesimal.

Unless the player you are drafting is a generational talent (I doubt he is), picking a D in the top 10 is dumb.

Many of the best defensemen in the game were selected in the second round.

"Stocking the shelves" sounds good in theory but, if you keep stocking tampons while you have no aspirins in the store is ridiculous.

Solving the lack of C depth is not a question of this season or even next but the centres the Oilers have in the system are pretty much crap.

When does the team start stocking the shelves with centres?

i really wish i could understand the way you see things...the pro scouts had Nurse in the top 10 as well as Ristolainen, and yet picking a d-man in the top 10 is *dumb*? and many of the best d-men were selected in the 2nd round? really? the Oilers would be better off taking another forward in the top 10 and settle for d-men like Ian McCoshen or Chris Bigras instead? hate to say it, but after Bigras, the 2nd round defensive talent falls off. i'm glad the Oilers took a chance on Nurse, but i would have been equally as happy if they had taken Nishushkin or Horvat or Ristolainen.

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#50 Darrell
August 04 2013, 07:27PM
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DSF wrote:

The Oilers passed on a couple of very good centres to draft Nurse.

In other news, Jim Nill acquired 3 NHL centres in one day.

Horrcoff, Segin and Peverley ? I don't think we missed much but look forward to playing Dallas to see how it plays out ....

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