PUSHING THE RIVER

Lowetide
January 01 2014 11:01AM

I think we've established that Taylor Hall is unlikely to make the Olympic team—he's on my team without a throw—but as the calendar turns it's important to keep in mind what Hall's been through this season, and what he's been doing recently.

TAYLOR HALL BY MONTH, 2013-14

Early in the season he was a center, and then he suffered an injury. Although he didn't miss a lot of time (7 games), it certainly had an impact when he returned to play. Still, Hall has been improving and recently has been very good, especially at evens (he has 11 of the team's 81 even-stength goals). In Hall's last 6 games, he's 3-7-10 +4. Things aren't back to normal (his Corsi For % at 5x5/close is lagging from previous seasons) but he's trending in a good direction.

I'd love to see him at the Olympics, but Hall's performances for the Oilers are the real thrill for this fan. Taylor Hall is a difference maker, and the team's recent record (2-0-2 in the last four game) has a lot to do with #4.

Even having a season that looks wonky based on his own established levels, Hall is one of the top players in the game (76th in GVT right now and trending) and if Team Canada passes on him they're addled.

HE CAN'T PLAY DEFENSE!

The 'he can't play defense' argument went full sail during the WHC's last year, when Lindy Ruff chose to hamstring his own team and move Hall down the depth chart. Hall's ability to push the river and help possession makes him BETTER than a defensive forward—the best defense is a good offense—and hockey fans can go overboard making this argument.

Example: Gretzky. People would bitch and moan about his ability to play defense, completely disregarding the fact that the puck was rarely in Edmonton's zone with 99 on the ice. I know, I was there and I did it! Today's modern metrics allow me to understand that Gretzky's offense was so good that the defensive side of the game was reduced markedly with him as part of the solution (that became less of a factor as time wore on, but as an Oiler the ice was tilted in a major way—more than at any other time in history is my guess).

Now, I'm not comparing Hall to Gretzky, but the dynamics are the same. What Hall does well (drives defensemen back, opening up space for zone entries on sorties) has extreme value in possession metrics, and pushes the river in Edmonton's favor. Now, they don't do enough with it, but that's another discussion.

If the group choosing Team Canada focuses on that, Hall makes this team in a breeze.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

My guess is Team Canada passes on Hall, and that he uses it as fuel to punish the hockey world. As an Oiler fan, that's the best thing about looking forward to 2014.

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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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#51 Oliveoiler
January 01 2014, 02:29PM
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NONE of the Oilers should be playing at the Olympics - instead, EVERY day, for hours on end, they should be practicing ALL aspects of the game, particularity defense, PP and PK, watching videos of teams that get it right, game after game and not going to the bar to unwind. Then perhaps, maybe, possibly, by some miracle we will have a decent team AFTER the break to carry over to next season. I know, I'm dreaming, but that's about any of us fans have left - dreams.

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#52 Jackson
January 01 2014, 02:31PM
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Oilers42 wrote:

It's still the highest level of hockey there was for and he still won and dominated Point is hall is one of the best forwards in the league with the 7 games hall missed he would be 3rd in scoring

No team plays the Oilers hard. They have the worst D in the NHL. No team brings their A game to play the Oilers. Hall points are inflated.

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#53 RexHolez
January 01 2014, 02:33PM
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@Oilers42

I agree with you, if I was picking the team Hall would be on it for sure. But I don't see him making it due to the fact that he's on such a terrible team and there's lots of high quality players that can and have won at the professional level. Canada is gonna take proven winners, not a guy with good stats on the worst team in the NHL

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#54 David S
January 01 2014, 02:35PM
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Impartial Oilers Fan wrote:

Can someone please explain why fans and bloggers believe that they're smarter and know more about hockey than the guys in charge of picking the Olympic team?!

I do not understand how fans have an blind belief in players, specifically like Hall and Yakupov. These fans that come across like hockey mom's talking about their own son's, spouting off that they are better than kids picked on a team that their son wasn't.

So, do tell, why are these fans and bloggers not seeing the same flaws in Hall and Yakupov that some of the most important and influential minds in hockey are seeing?

Obviously standard stats aren't the sole criteria, otherwise Hall would be a lock apparently. And its not a anti-Russian thing, because even Russian's own Olympic committee was talking about the glaring deficiencies in Yakupov's game. Yet, everyone that loves to scream YakCity before he's even proved anything substantial, think that its only a Russian bias as to why he needs to improve and drop the prima donna act in the media.

So again, please, inform me why fans and bloggers are right about Hall and Yakupov and their respective Olympic selection committees don't see them the same way??

http://stream1.gifsoup.com/view8/4735540/wiser-s-slow-clap-o.gif

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#55 David S
January 01 2014, 02:47PM
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EricOG wrote:

Thing is Eberle and Gagner are finishers by nature. So putting them both together makes that line a null one.

Last night they created nothing, the only lines creating were the Hall line and a little bit from the Hemsky-Gordon-Smyth line. That, is on coaching.

They were lugging around a career AHL'er who's had a smattering of (failed) games at the NHL level.

Watch the difference tomorrow night with Yak on that line. #NightAndDay

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#56 RexHolez
January 01 2014, 02:57PM
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If the oilers picked seguin and hall went to Boston I bet he would of made team canada! Sorry you were drafted by this joke of a franchise Hallsy

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#57 EricOG
January 01 2014, 02:57PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

The coach is excellent.

It may not be all the players he wants, but he's done a heck of a job with what he's been given.

Are we talking about the same coach who stuck Acton into the train wreck that was the 4 line at the start of the year?

When they want to play good, they play great. The rest of the time, you can make a video of them with the Benny Hill theme song and it will come out natural.

Say what you want, but in the end, this whole crap show is coaching and management.

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#58 John
January 01 2014, 03:30PM
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USA left off Keith Yandle from the team because of defensive ability.

Hall not much defensive ability

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#59 TayLordBalls
January 01 2014, 03:34PM
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EricOG wrote:

Are we talking about the same coach who stuck Acton into the train wreck that was the 4 line at the start of the year?

When they want to play good, they play great. The rest of the time, you can make a video of them with the Benny Hill theme song and it will come out natural.

Say what you want, but in the end, this whole crap show is coaching and management.

Nonsense!

The Oil have turned the corner. The coach is excellent.

MacT will invest in quality D at the appropriate time.

This team has the makings of something truly spectacular.

The dynasty years were exactly the same - the Oil could score, but the other team scored more. Fans complained!

The moment they added quality D that team became a powerhouse.

So it was and so it will be again.

Hang onto your britches because its something special.

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#60 Velo
January 01 2014, 03:42PM
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Like Hall. Enjoy watching him develop. I still wouldn't have him on my Oly team. How someone with such high offensive iq is so crap in his own end I'll never know. On larger ice his angles and reads will leave his side of the ice exposed. His offensive gifts and his ability to develop other areas are not in question IMO. Just not there yet.

That said, the Olympics are not best of 7's. A hot Hall could be very valuable. But, I'm not taking that risk if I'm picking players.

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#61 Fred
January 01 2014, 03:43PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Nonsense!

The Oil have turned the corner. The coach is excellent.

MacT will invest in quality D at the appropriate time.

This team has the makings of something truly spectacular.

The dynasty years were exactly the same - the Oil could score, but the other team scored more. Fans complained!

The moment they added quality D that team became a powerhouse.

So it was and so it will be again.

Hang onto your britches because its something special.

NO,

The moment they fire Kevin Lowe they become a better team

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#62 RexHolez
January 01 2014, 03:43PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Nonsense!

The Oil have turned the corner. The coach is excellent.

MacT will invest in quality D at the appropriate time.

This team has the makings of something truly spectacular.

The dynasty years were exactly the same - the Oil could score, but the other team scored more. Fans complained!

The moment they added quality D that team became a powerhouse.

So it was and so it will be again.

Hang onto your britches because its something special.

Kevin Lowe? Is that you trying to keep your job by trying to blow that same smoke??

Katz should walk into a grocery store, pick the first person he sees and make them G.M. Then appoint the check out girl as the Coach, and have random draws every game for assistants! I bet the team would improve dramatically

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#63 PapaMike
January 01 2014, 03:48PM
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When is the Canadian roster going to be annouced?

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#64 RexHolez
January 01 2014, 03:50PM
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PapaMike wrote:

When is the Canadian roster going to be annouced?

Jan 7

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#65 PapaMike
January 01 2014, 03:50PM
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Sorry about the bad spelling....

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#66 Rod from Viking
January 01 2014, 03:53PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

OT:

For the hemsky and gagner lovers out there including MacT - take a good look at that Gleason trade. The oil doesn't have the cap room to even be in on the conversation because those to stiffs are still on the roster

I would hope the Oilers were very interested in Gleason he was exactly what they need, and they would have had to trade someone for him, the problem is Gleason had a limited 5 team no-trade clause, I would have to assume Edmonton and their brilliantly run organization would have been on that list.

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#67 Serious Gord
January 01 2014, 03:58PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Nonsense!

The Oil have turned the corner. The coach is excellent.

MacT will invest in quality D at the appropriate time.

This team has the makings of something truly spectacular.

The dynasty years were exactly the same - the Oil could score, but the other team scored more. Fans complained!

The moment they added quality D that team became a powerhouse.

So it was and so it will be again.

Hang onto your britches because its something special.

Not sure if this is insanity or deeply committed sarcasm...

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#68 admiralmark
January 01 2014, 03:58PM
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Forget Hall, I cant believe Gagner's not gonna make the team?! lol

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#69 Kr55
January 01 2014, 04:01PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Nonsense!

The Oil have turned the corner. The coach is excellent.

MacT will invest in quality D at the appropriate time.

This team has the makings of something truly spectacular.

The dynasty years were exactly the same - the Oil could score, but the other team scored more. Fans complained!

The moment they added quality D that team became a powerhouse.

So it was and so it will be again.

Hang onto your britches because its something special.

19th in the NHL in GF/G. Yeah, Oilers are scoring machines all right.

Sorry, but we're pretty much back to the 1 line team thing again. Completely dependent on short bursts of talent to get anything done with very little useful structure to anyone's game. We're in the wrong division to play a terrible team game. I hope you have some good positive spin ready for when the Oilers break the playoff drought record in a couple years.

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#70 Rod from Viking
January 01 2014, 04:32PM
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If Simmonds or Braden Schenn plus Coburn was really offered up for Eberle and a pick or prospect(as long as not Nurse) and turned down by Mac T that is really sad, two of those three are exactly what we need.

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#71 hall the time
January 01 2014, 04:44PM
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The kids (Yak, J Schultz) are chickens running around with their hears cut off thanks to coaching, things don't look to be changing anytime soon.

Thanks to the coaching the rookies have taking a big step back in their development this year and probably will become duds' by the time we MACT figures out the coaching is the problem among other things.

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#72 Taylor Gang
January 01 2014, 04:52PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

If Simmonds or Braden Schenn plus Coburn was really offered up for Eberle and a pick or prospect(as long as not Nurse) and turned down by Mac T that is really sad, two of those three are exactly what we need.

I heard the Flyers were interested in Ebs but I never heard what they were willing to cough up...

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#73 Ed in PV
January 01 2014, 04:55PM
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David S wrote:

They were lugging around a career AHL'er who's had a smattering of (failed) games at the NHL level.

Watch the difference tomorrow night with Yak on that line. #NightAndDay

When does the buzz bombing start again?

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#74 Jason
January 01 2014, 04:57PM
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@Taylor Gang

Sean Couturier for Eberle would be a good trade for Edmonton

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#75 Taylor Gang
January 01 2014, 05:14PM
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Jackson wrote:

No team plays the Oilers hard. They have the worst D in the NHL. No team brings their A game to play the Oilers. Hall points are inflated.

What an ignorant thing to say

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#76 Taylor Gang
January 01 2014, 05:28PM
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Jason wrote:

Sean Couturier for Eberle would be a good trade for Edmonton

Young inexperienced player for an even younger one...

Envision Couturier on the Oilers tomorrow night against San Jose. Do you TRULY think that he will help us out? Against a team like the Sharks? I don't know about you but that really wouldn't help the cause. Trading for a player like Coburn and Simmonds would, but not only Couturier.

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#77 Jason
January 01 2014, 05:35PM
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@Taylor Gang

You don't understand how to build a team.

Ask Lindy Ruff about Hall.

You truly don't get it.

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#78 Jason
January 01 2014, 05:43PM
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@Jason

Taylor Gang knows how to trash a comment, howerver he does not know hockey.

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#79 RexHolez
January 01 2014, 05:50PM
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I don't think you can trade eberle for anything other then an actual NHL defenceman. It'd be nice to have atleast 1 of those

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#80 Wax Man Riley
January 01 2014, 06:16PM
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David S wrote:

They were lugging around a career AHL'er who's had a smattering of (failed) games at the NHL level.

Watch the difference tomorrow night with Yak on that line. #NightAndDay

I agree.

That line would have been much different t with Yak on it. Eberle and Gagner are too slow on their own and need Yak's speed.

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#81 gr8one
January 01 2014, 06:19PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

OT:

For the hemsky and gagner lovers out there including MacT - take a good look at that Gleason trade. The oil doesn't have the cap room to even be in on the conversation because those to stiffs are still on the roster

The ignorance of this post is astounding on so many levels.

First of all, the Oilers have over 12 million of cap space currently, more than enough to make taking on Gleason's salary a moot point.

Second, and more important, Gleason is TERRIBLE, the last thing this team needs is another slow defender that can't pass the puck. Especially @ $4m/per for two more years after this season.

N.Schultz is a better option than Gleason.

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#82 Taylor Gang
January 01 2014, 06:27PM
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Jason wrote:

Taylor Gang knows how to trash a comment, howerver he does not know hockey.

On what basis do I not know hockey? I don't agree with your opinion, therefore I'm ignorant?

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#83 Serious Gord
January 01 2014, 06:41PM
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gr8one wrote:

The ignorance of this post is astounding on so many levels.

First of all, the Oilers have over 12 million of cap space currently, more than enough to make taking on Gleason's salary a moot point.

Second, and more important, Gleason is TERRIBLE, the last thing this team needs is another slow defender that can't pass the puck. Especially @ $4m/per for two more years after this season.

N.Schultz is a better option than Gleason.

So if the oil have so much cap room - why did MacT unload smid? This is the first I heard that the oil had that much room.

And yes, Gleason isn't worth the dough - but then neither is Ference or phaneuf. Maybe what is considered an over pay is what really is the going rate for established defensemen that aren't tied up by a team that can afford them.

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#84 TayLordBalls
January 01 2014, 06:43PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Kevin Lowe? Is that you trying to keep your job by trying to blow that same smoke??

Katz should walk into a grocery store, pick the first person he sees and make them G.M. Then appoint the check out girl as the Coach, and have random draws every game for assistants! I bet the team would improve dramatically

Your just using Lowe as a scapegoat.

The structure of the team is that:

Lowe manages the upper management of the team /

MacT manages the staff (coaches) and secures players.

Coaches manage the players.

Consider that Tabo and MacT have essentially started a new NHL team from nothing.

Hall, Nugent Hopkins, Eberle, Yak and others have not come close to peaking yet.

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#85 Serious Gord
January 01 2014, 06:48PM
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An tangential to the topic of Gleason - if there's a worse GM than the Lowe/tambo/MacT group it's Jim Rutherford.

He has made some doozy mistakes over the years and yet he still seems to survive - the 'canes owner grew up a red wings fan - maybe it's the same syndrome as Katz has...

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#86 Serious Gord
January 01 2014, 06:58PM
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TayLordBalls wrote:

Your just using Lowe as a scapegoat.

The structure of the team is that:

Lowe manages the upper management of the team /

MacT manages the staff (coaches) and secures players.

Coaches manage the players.

Consider that Tabo and MacT have essentially started a new NHL team from nothing.

Hall, Nugent Hopkins, Eberle, Yak and others have not come close to peaking yet.

Lowe was coach Then became GM and HIRED MacT Then he HIRED Tambo and had a heavy hand in the HIRING of Quinn and Rennie

He then fired Tambo and HIRED MacT. And he had a very heavy involvement In the assistant GM search sitting in on most of if not all of the meetings including the first meeting with Eakins who was HIRED by MacT. And he is the guy who has done most of the HIRING of the scouting and assistant staff.

This team continues to have Lowe's fingerprints all over it - as one would expect a POHO to have - look at how Burke is following lowes lead.. He's not the scapegoat - he is at the top of the blame pyramid.

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#87 gr8one
January 01 2014, 07:15PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

So if the oil have so much cap room - why did MacT unload smid? This is the first I heard that the oil had that much room.

And yes, Gleason isn't worth the dough - but then neither is Ference or phaneuf. Maybe what is considered an over pay is what really is the going rate for established defensemen that aren't tied up by a team that can afford them.

http://www.capgeek.com/oilers

That $12+ million is before bonuses and the projection after bonuses is still well over $6m, still plenty of room to add a player with Gleason's salary, so suggesting that Gagner's and Hemsky's salaries are preventing this team from making moves is absurd. Especially since Hemsky has been one of the teams best forwards.

As to your other point, overpaying a bit for a player I can't say as I necessarily disagree with that as long as that player is useful and helps the team.

Gleason is neither. I also think the Ference contract was ill advised and a poor signing, I don't mind the dollars, nor the player but four years was dumb. Phaneuf on the other hand is a legit top pairing D and I don't really think that's an overpay in regards to the new CBA and where the salary cap is going, I think it's pretty spot on for what a player that brings what Phaneuf brings will be getting going forward.

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#88 Serious Gord
January 01 2014, 07:32PM
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gr8one wrote:

http://www.capgeek.com/oilers

That $12+ million is before bonuses and the projection after bonuses is still well over $6m, still plenty of room to add a player with Gleason's salary, so suggesting that Gagner's and Hemsky's salaries are preventing this team from making moves is absurd. Especially since Hemsky has been one of the teams best forwards.

As to your other point, overpaying a bit for a player I can't say as I necessarily disagree with that as long as that player is useful and helps the team.

Gleason is neither. I also think the Ference contract was ill advised and a poor signing, I don't mind the dollars, nor the player but four years was dumb. Phaneuf on the other hand is a legit top pairing D and I don't really think that's an overpay in regards to the new CBA and where the salary cap is going, I think it's pretty spot on for what a player that brings what Phaneuf brings will be getting going forward.

So why was smid dumped?

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#89 6 ring circus
January 01 2014, 07:36PM
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As long as Lowe keeps bringing Katz autographed jockstraps from the boy's on the bus teams, his job is secure.

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#90 gr8one
January 01 2014, 07:38PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

So why was smid dumped?

I have no idea.

If I had to speculate though my guess would be was that his skillset wasn't prized by the new coach coupled with he extra flexibility moving forward to have that extra breathing room to be able to make bigger moves.

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#91 Oliveoiler
January 01 2014, 07:53PM
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@K_Mart

Unfortunately, Taylor Hall is VERY predictable to other teams. He plays with passion, but plays the same reckless moves around the boards - game after game, immediately alerting the opposition to what he's going to do. Then, if he doesn't fall down, he will give the puck away as the opposition is waiting for him. He scores when he has a breakaway or clear ice, when he's up against D men from the other team, he's hooped. Does that answer your question?

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#92 Oliveoiler
January 01 2014, 07:57PM
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Taylordballs - you obviously live in Colorado - your brain is fried from too much LEGAL whacky baccy.

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#93 Rod from Viking
January 01 2014, 07:58PM
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@Serious Gord

So why was Smid dumped?

To make room for J Schultz 7x7mil extension, this was done before they knew the cap was going up, or for Shae Weber's contract....

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#94 Gaz
January 01 2014, 08:02PM
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@Oliveoiler

Not really. He's in the upper echelon of scorers in the league, so he's doing something right.

Everyone is 'predictable' to a degree. The excellent players produce despite the other teams having a book on them. Hall's been in the league long enough for other teams to know what he's bringing, and he produces.

Even if we allow for your argument re: clear ice and breakaways - shouldn't we then acknowledge that he is good at finding clear spots and good at hitting a gap to create a breakaway opportunity?

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#95 TayLordBalls
January 01 2014, 09:05PM
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Oliveoiler wrote:

Taylordballs - you obviously live in Colorado - your brain is fried from too much LEGAL whacky baccy.

my glass is half full, while yours seems to be half empty

"Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent. In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself.".... Mark Twain

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#96 S cottV
January 01 2014, 09:25PM
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If Hall was playing with a top end veteran 1C, a pure sniper on the opposite wing and 2 legit top pairing d men on the first rotation - he would probably be going to the Olympics. Who you play with makes a huge difference, especially when you're a winger.

RNH will be that vet 1C in the next few years and hopefully the Oilers fill the other holes, so we can see Hall at full complimentary power because it would be pretty awesome.

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#97 David S
January 01 2014, 09:29PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

So if the oil have so much cap room - why did MacT unload smid? This is the first I heard that the oil had that much room.

And yes, Gleason isn't worth the dough - but then neither is Ference or phaneuf. Maybe what is considered an over pay is what really is the going rate for established defensemen that aren't tied up by a team that can afford them.

Salary dump. The team wasn't going to make a playoff push and Katz ordered some cost trimming.

That's the scuttlebutt anyways.

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#98 Alsker
January 01 2014, 09:36PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I agree.

That line would have been much different t with Yak on it. Eberle and Gagner are too slow on their own and need Yak's speed.

Not to mention someone to blame for the f*ckups.

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#99 Oiler Al
January 01 2014, 10:12PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I would hope the Oilers were very interested in Gleason he was exactly what they need, and they would have had to trade someone for him, the problem is Gleason had a limited 5 team no-trade clause, I would have to assume Edmonton and their brilliantly run organization would have been on that list.

Oilers don't need a Gleason. They just got rid of a similar player with similar contract... Smid.

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#100 Rod from Viking
January 01 2014, 10:53PM
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@Oiler Al

He is a lot harder to play against and is an excellent fighter so really he and Smid are not the same except for the contract. I don't know what happened to Gleason but he used to play a lot like the one K-Lowe let get away, one Matt Greene, but according to Mr Willis he is not the same player he was and he is only 30.

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