GDB -3: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Jason Gregor
September 23 2013 12:29PM

Marc Arcobello and Anton Lander received a wonderful opportunity yesterday morning, when it was announced Sam Gagner is out at least a month with a broken jaw. Had Gagner not been injured, neither one of them would have been playing on the top-three lines, and unless Craig MacTavish picks up a veteran off the waiver wire before next Tuesday, one of Lander or Arcobello will be in the Oilers top-nine on opening night against the Jets.

Boyd Gordon was going to be the 3rd line centre, and it looks like he'll get a chance to play with scoring wingers.

Taylor Hall has played with Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth throughout camp, and they will likely start the season together. So that leaves Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Nail Yakupov and one of Ryan Hamilton, Linus Omark, Tyler Pitlick, Jesse Joensuu and Ryan Jones to play the wings with Boyd Gordon and Arcobello/Lander.

It is not ideal to start the season with your first (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and second (Gagner) line centres in the pressbox, but that's life in Edmonton.

In a best case scenario Gagner will only be out a month, which means he'd miss ten regular season games, and return on October 24th vs. the Capitals. Nugent-Hopkins is shooting for the final week of October, but the Oilers will not rush him, so he might be able to return on Sunday October 27th vs. the Kings, which means he'd miss 12 games. Again, that is if everything goes well for both, and maybe one of them returns a bit sooner, but that seems unlikely.

Gagner will have surgery tomorrow, and he's going to have a few plates inserted into his jaw. If is mouth needs to be wired shut his recovery will be longer, so we won't know if he'll be out a month or longer until tomorrow or Wednesday.

OPTIONS

What should Craig MacTavish do?

He can go with what he has and hope that Gordon, Arcobello/Lander can fill the void for the short term.

He can look at the waiver wire and grab a serviceable veteran, if one becomes available.

Look at a trade.

Making a trade from an obvious position of weakness isn't ideal. No team is going to trade him a legit top-six centre, unless he's willing to part with one of Eberle, Perron or Yakupov, and I doubt that happens. We rarely see trades in October, mainly because teams want to see what they have.

The waiver wire might be MacTavish's best bet if he is looking for someone with NHL experience.

Some teams have gotten very lucky with waiver wire pickups over the years, and most centres would love the opportunity to come to Edmonton and play with Eberle, Perron, Hemsky or Yakupov.

There is no guarantee someone more proven than Lander or Arcobello becomes available via waivers, so Dallas Eakins will use the next three games to figure out who deserves the best opportunity of their young career, Arcobello or Lander.

It is clear that Arcobello is ranked higher than Lander today after listening to Eakins. he'll have three games to show he's capable of filling the second or third line centre slot for the short time.

It looks like Gordon is going to get an opportunity to play with skilled forwards, and he'll centre Yakupov and Omark tonight.

LINEUP

Omark-Gordon-Yakupov
Joensuu-Arcobello-Pitlick
Jones-Lander-Hamilton
Eager-Acton-Brown

Ference-Belov
Smid-Larsen
N.Schultz-Fedun

Dubnyk
LaBarbera

RETURN OF THE SMAC....

The Oilers claimed Steve MacIntyre on waivers and he'll be back in Edmonton for the third time. There is no doubt MacIntyre can fight and intimidate, when he's on the ice, but if they only play him four minutes a game I'm not sure how impactful he can be.

I will say this; however, I had four different Oilers walk up to me with a huge smile on their face saying MacIntyre is coming back. There is no doubt the players respect his toughness, but unless the rest of the Oilers players are willing to play team tough, and that doesn't mean just fighting, then MacIntyre will have a hard time policing every player on every team. 

Those who believe having a heavyweight on the bench will stop Zack Kassian from making a dumb play, are just as off-base as those who use Chicago and Detroit as examples of not needing one. The Hawks and Wings are great teams, the Oilers aren't, and until the Oilers start winning they won't get any respect, and teams won't be fearful of their powerplay, because the majority of the game is still played 5-on-5, and the Oilers don't scare anyone at even strength; at least not yet.

The Oilers need more team toughness, not one guy who plays four minutes a night, if they want to properly protect themselves. You can't expect Mike Brown, Ben Eager or Steve MacIntyre to police the opposition, because they don't play regularly enough.

The Oilers need to be more assertive, or MacTavish has to go find some players who have an edge, but also possess the skill to play in the top-nine or top-four. Until that happens, I believe teams will continue to take liberties with the Oilers unless more players decide to show they are willing to stand up for themselves, or have more of a pack mentality. You can't look the other way when one of your teammates is being harassed. It doesn't mean all the Oilers skilled players need to become fighters; they just need to have more players willing to defend one another.

Did Phil Kessel take one punch from John Scott last night? Nope, his teammates came flying in before any serious damage occurred. We all know Scott/Kessel situations are rare, but when all four of his teammates didn't hesitate and come to his rescue, that saved Kessel from a beating, and none of them got injured.

QUICK HITS

  •  Zack Kassian will likely be suspended for at least five games, because the NHL asked, although he didn't go, for an in-person hearing and that usually means a minimum five game suspension. There is no doubt it was a careless play, but I don't buy for a second that he did it because the Oilers don't have a heavyweight. Teams that have heavyweights still suffer injuries. Kassian made a dumb decision in the heat of the moment.

    Hockey is a violent game, and when you have guys skating 30 miles an hour, with blades on their feet, sticks in their hands and body contact is allowed, bad decisions will happen. We need to stop being surprised when a player makes a dumb, split-second decision. We all do it in real life, and often in situations that don't involve competition.

    How many of us have had road rage recently? You freaked, likely over a simple thing, and then started cursing and ofter threatening the person. We all know it is against the law, but that doesn't go through our mind when we are freaking out. We know it is illegal to text and drive, yet most of us still do it.

    Hockey fans and pundits need to stop being shocked or surprised when a player makes a bad or careless decision. Usually they are split-second decisions, and even though the risk of suspension or possible retribution from a tough guy looms overhead, that doesn't go through a player's mind milliseconds before he hits a player.
     
  • The most positive news for Oiler fans coming from the MacIntyre news, and Gagner injury is that Hall is going to play even more minutes according to head coach Dallas Eakins. If Hall is on the ice 21-22 minutes a night, that means the Oilers have a much better shot of winning more games.
     
  • Despite all that I understand why the Oilers got MacIntyre, and I think it was necessary. We all know the Oilers have been pushed around for years, and if having MacIntyre on the bench makes every player even a bit more confident it will be worth it. The key is using him in certain situations to initiate physical play, rather than just respond when the opposition takes liberties on the Oilers. Reacting after the fact isn't going to change anything.
     
  • Anton Belov looked very good in his first game on Saturday. He made some excellent passes out of the zone, and looked solid defensively. It was only one game, but I thought he made a very good first impression.
     
  • Ryan Jones needs to play with more tenacity and competitiveness. Eakins has preached "compete" and Jones, Acton, Lander, Omark and Joensuu all need to show more of it, if they want to be here when the season starts. 

 

 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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#101 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 04:33PM
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nuyour wrote:

Can they put Jones on waivers?

AFAIK, once a player has reached waiver eligibility (we know Jones has because that's how we got him), they must be put on waivers to be sent down.

Jones is on a one-way, though... so that sucks.

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#102 michael
September 23 2013, 04:38PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Good question. Initial reaction is yes, but if they planned on playing one or both of Eager and Brown and having a C as the 13th forward, maybe they just slot MacIntyre ahead of one of 13 or 55 and expose that guy to waivers.

The issue is Belov to me. He has a two-way deal, so could go down and they keep 7 D, but if he plays well and they want to play him, are the willing to only keep seven and expose Grebeshkov or Larsen to waivers?

I see them going 14 and 7...and putting Belov in minors or one of Grebs or Larsen on **cough***IR***cough***

I think the Oilers send Larsen on waivers.

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#103 Sidney Frosby
September 23 2013, 05:33PM
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@Jason Gregor

How come Mac-T is not looking to deal Omark for Konopka????

Seems like Minnesota would love the cheap kick at offense and help on their PP and the Oilers really would love Konopka's toughness and faceoff ability.

Plus Minny saves $325k against their cap....

Plus Minny has Mike Rupp.......

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#104 Woogie63
September 23 2013, 07:25PM
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Yikes

Over the careers of our top 3 centres - Hall, RNH, Gagner what is the percentage of missed games due to injury.. Need to count what Hall would have missed ladt year.

We have an URGENT need at centre. Murray solved Alfie within a day...what will MacT's Bold move be to respond?

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#105 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 23 2013, 10:08PM
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So....let me the first to ask......when do they announce.the Captaincy.....and assuming that its on or before the first game of the season....does that eliminate Gagner from the discussion?

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#106 CaptainLander
September 24 2013, 09:52AM
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Based on what I have seen in the last couple games, my season starting lineup looks like this, I have liked the way the guys on the fourth line (below) have for-checked. Pitlick has been a very nice surprise, though he would fade away.

Smyth Hall Eberle Perron Arcobello Hemsky Joensuu Gordan Yak Hamilton Acton Pitlick

Ference Jschultz Belov Petry Smid NSchultz

Dubs Labarbra

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#107 Mikey
September 24 2013, 10:21AM
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Smokey wrote:

Ahead of Smid? Maybe eventually. He definitely is seems sound and makes smart effective plays. I'd like to know how he just became so good in a period of a year. However, he was playing with a very effective and experienced partner in Ference and that can't be under estimated. I'd like to see him with another partner to see if he can carry a pairing. I am very impressed after tonight..

Larson looked good. Guy sure can skate well. Watching him in Dallas he did not play like this when I watched him. Defensive zone needs improvement, but he should make the club.

Grebeskov should get one more game, then a plane ticket to OKC.

Fedun was ok. Doesn't hurt you and makes simple plays.

Smid looked like a guy who was out for a skate tonight. Looks like he knows he doesn't need to try hard.

Defence ain't the problem, but boy am I scared about two AHL centers.

Belov played with Grebs in his first game and made Grebs look good.

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#108 DSF
September 24 2013, 10:31AM
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@Ducey

Mark Spector ‏@SportsnetSpec 10m

Linus Omark waived for purposes of assignment to OKC. Expand

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#109 michael
September 24 2013, 10:31AM
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Can anybody here make an argument for Ryan Jones making this roster. He has looked passive and out of sorts. His play looks tentative. Not on my roster.

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#110 Yep
September 24 2013, 10:32AM
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Ducey wrote:

Got a link?

Oilers twitter

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#111 oilerjed
September 24 2013, 11:06AM
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IM not sure why Eager is being considered for the lineup? has been a non factor as far as I could see, Acrobello either(but stays by default). I understand Pitlick is young but if he can keep up this pace he has to have a shot. Shultz Sr and Ryan Jones(sorry ryan)are not going to work for the oil this year if this team is going to progress. JJ-Hall-Yak Perron-Acrobello-Eberle Hamilton-Gordon-Hemsky Smyth-Acton-Brown

Is there ant chance Pitlick will move to Center?

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#112 oilerjed
September 24 2013, 11:17AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Jesse Joenesuu (sp?) I'm going to have to learn how to spell his name because he's making the team if he keeps playing like he did last night.

I'd also say Will Acton is ahead of Arcobello and Lander. In fact, I would even say that I would be a little worried if the plan is to use either Arcobello or Lander to fill the Gagner void.

I agree but really what is the option?

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#113 Lochenzo
September 24 2013, 11:26AM
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oilerjed wrote:

I agree but really what is the option?

I was flipping between the Oilers and Nucks/Yotes game. Gilbert Brule looked good, but I only saw him for a few shifts. Brule is there on a PTO. Not sure if Phoenix signed him yet or not, but if he is still available, I would hope the Oilers have a pro scout or two keeping tabs.

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#114 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
September 23 2013, 02:12PM
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@Spydyr

Zac should have plenty of time now to go to Denver and tape that Sports Select commercial.

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#115 brian_d
September 23 2013, 02:59PM
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At this point, are we desperate to make a pitch to Connolly/Malhotra?

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#116 Rama Lama
September 23 2013, 03:37PM
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I meant Kassian.........big thumbs!

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#117 Smokey
September 23 2013, 04:04PM
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I'm not sure what signing SMAC does other then it gives the media types a great interview and someone to entertain the kiddies in the dressing room. Love the guy, he's funny, but honestly, why?

Kassian still makes the cheep hit if SMAC is keeping the bench warm. Zach's got bricks in his head and even if SMAC manages to get on the ice at the same time as Kassian in one of his three 40 second skate abouts, Kassian is strong enough to tie him up.

The Oilers need functional toughness. A Prust, a Neil, a Kenopka who you know can play a regular shift and not get destroyed.

The only way SMAC is useful is if you negotiate to pay him 800000, and you you tell him he's going to loose 200000 to suspensions for jumping the boards.

Who is going he going to fight. Paros? If his presence did not work the first two times why is this different. Pointless move, waste of a roster spot.

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#118 nunyour
September 23 2013, 04:15PM
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Big Mac doesn't need to skate at home when the oilers get last change,send him out for the face off and take the two minute instigator penalty.Let Brown and Eager keep the middle weights honest,if they have to hit the other teams stars they have the speed to do it.I would rather see a fight than see a guy swinging his stick around.The top two lines are to small to have team toughness.

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#119 hockeycrazed
September 23 2013, 04:35PM
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I hope MacT will not rush and get himself a prized centre! He should give Arcobello a shot. As for toughness on the line-up maybe he could see if Hartikainen's willing to come back. More toughness on every line is more important than just go out and get yourself a designated 'heavyweight' in the long run!

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#120 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 04:38PM
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Smokey wrote:

I wish Teemu was here, don't get me wrong. Our bottom six would look a lot better with him rather then say Hamilton or Acton, or Eager. However he seems like he is player who was given 50 games to show if he could hit or score. He did neither. I don't know how good his penalty killing is, and he is not needed on the PP.

Agreed.

He blew it last year when the opportunity was there. And, he didn't want to ride the buses anymore for pennies, which is entirely understandable.

If we are lucky he grows into a really good player and comes back in two years time* like a freebie.

*There may be an opt-out clause. A lot of these Euro contracts let players opt-out at some point if an NHL offer comes around. Maybe Gregor knows.

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#121 kawi460
September 23 2013, 05:07PM
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I was actually hoping to get a younger more skilled player. EX: Devane, Broll, Beach, Maroon, or Mashinter.

I wish we had Ryan Reaves

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#122 Smokey
September 23 2013, 05:10PM
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nunyour wrote:

Tks.To bad because we need more toughness from the bottom guys and he adds none ,and I think he has been out played by a couple young guys.

Jones made the team. There not doing waivers. Hopefully him and Grebeshkov get a whole lot better.

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#123 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 05:21PM
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Smokey wrote:

Jones made the team. There not doing waivers. Hopefully him and Grebeshkov get a whole lot better.

Did I miss something, or is this your opinion?

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#124 michael
September 24 2013, 09:01AM
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JJ locked a spot last night. Acton.Its going to be down to the wire between Hamilton and Pitlick.I really think Ryan Jones has played his way off this team. His game is not up to what it needs to be to earn a spot. Lander needs another season in OKC. He has not been visible during TC. Ben Eager needs to play out the rest of TC and continue to show up and step up. Mike Brown is on this team.Smack is the 14 th forward and I am just tickled that he is here.

On defense I still think Nick Shultz is on the move sooner than later. If only to bolster the Oilers woes at center. Larsen played well last night again.But so did Fedun. It looks like Smid=Petry, J Shultz and Ference. Nick Shultz and Belov. With Grebby the 7th.

Larsen and Fedun are out in . Unless something else gives this week. Potter is on the IR so I do not even think about him.

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#125 Yep
September 24 2013, 10:12AM
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Omark on waivers, lets hope he gets picked up.

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#126 Ducey
September 24 2013, 10:26AM
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Yep wrote:

Omark on waivers, lets hope he gets picked up.

Got a link?

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#127 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
September 24 2013, 11:20AM
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Can't help but feel Acton, Arcobello and Lander are just the best of what's left, rather than deserving of the last two center ice roster spots.

Till the four positions can be filled with actual NHL caliber players, we're stuck on the outside looking in.

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#128 oilerjed
September 24 2013, 12:10PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

I was flipping between the Oilers and Nucks/Yotes game. Gilbert Brule looked good, but I only saw him for a few shifts. Brule is there on a PTO. Not sure if Phoenix signed him yet or not, but if he is still available, I would hope the Oilers have a pro scout or two keeping tabs.

Hasnt that boat already sailed? Another small center is the last thing we need imo. Maybe as a replacement for Acrobello short term but what do you do when Gags and Nuge are back. He is not exactly who I would be looking for on the 4th line long term. I would be more interested who becoms available on the waiver wire this next week.

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