Out of Time

Jonathan Willis
February 04 2014 10:19AM

The NHL gives every team a finite amount of time to determine whether its draft picks are NHL-ready or not – as a rule, three years of professional hockey for skaters and four for goaltenders. After that, those players become waiver-eligible and any team in the league can take them.

For the Edmonton Oilers, that means decisions need to be made on a number of significant minor-league prospects, or else there is a risk of losing them for nothing.

The List

As I read the CBA, the following group of players are to be waiver-eligible next season for the first time:

  • Mark Arcobello
  • Curtis Hamilton
  • Roman Horak
  • Anton Lander
  • Andrew Miller
  • Tyler Pitlick

Taylor Fedun would also normally be eligible, but it seems that NHL preseason games don’t count as professional games for the purposes of waiver exemption, and he was injured before playing a regular season or playoff game in 2011-12. By that interpretation, he has another year of exemption from waivers before the Oilers have to worry about someone grabbing him.

What It Means

For some of these guys, this doesn’t really mean a lot. Curtis Hamilton has finally started turning a corner, but he’s fought injuries again too and has an unimpressive track record; it’s probable the Oilers can waive him without worrying about losing him. Andrew Miller is in a similar situation; he hasn’t made the case that the Oilers need to promote him and it’s likely other teams will see things the same way. Roman Horak’s credentials are a little more impressive, but not enough to worry about; every team tries to sneak guys like Horak through waivers. The Oilers have the option of parting with all of these guys as restricted free agents; I expect they’ll be re-signed but it isn’t guaranteed.

Mark Arcobello is a bit of a concern, but potentially not for the Oilers. He will hit Group Six unrestricted free agency this summer, so it’s entirely possible he won’t be returning to Edmonton.

There are two guys worth worrying about here: Anton Lander and Tyler Pitlick.

Lander is a guy I have talked about at some length recently. At the AHL level he’s a high-end two-way centre; he’s the Barons best penalty killer, plays on the power play and centres a power-vs.-power line. He’s responsible in his own end, a character player and this year he’s emerged as a point-per-game weapon in the minors – despite getting very little help since the departure of Linus Omark.

Lander’s a controversial player because that offence hasn’t been evident in the NHL, but the vast majority of his NHL experience has come on either a terrible fourth line (no pivot on the team has been able to make that line effective) or in 2011-12 when Lander was clearly not ready for the majors. If it were up to me, Lander would see some NHL time with real players after the trade deadline.

Pitlick is a few months younger than Lander, and a much less impressive player in the minors. What he does have is a nice blend of skills. He has reasonable size (listed at 6’2”, 196 pounds), exceptional speed, a heavy shot and a willingness to finish his checks. He’s a guy whose natural talents might move him to the NHL ahead of some more complete players because he has the speed to keep up while those other guys don’t (Martin Marincin, who has great talent but had rough edges in the AHL, is a good example of this). Like Lander, he’s a good option for trial minutes after the deadline.

Why It Matters

There are a lot of reasons I’m pushing for cameos for both Lander and Pitlick, but the biggest two have to do with my view of NHL fourth lines and the players who inhabit them.

For one thing, fourth lines should be cheap. This is one of the few areas where a team can save itself some money to use elsewhere, so ideally at least two of the three guys on the fourth line should be carrying six-figure cap hits (I have some time for the 10th forward, the guy who moves up in event of injury, being paid at a premium).

Currently, the Oilers’ fourth line of Luke Gazdic, Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones comes at a cap hit of just under $4.4 million. Assuming modest raises across the board for Pitlick, Lander and Gazdic, that number could be $2.5 million next season; that’s almost $2.0 million the Oilers can spend somewhere else. Edmonton could probably save even more money if they offered one-way deals to Lander and Pitlick; say matching two-year, $650,000 contracts, which would trim another $500,000 off the books.

The other big point is that the talent gap between ‘first-line AHL player’ and ‘fourth-line NHL player’ is awfully small, and because of that aging curves matter a lot. Ben Eager very quickly went from ‘solid fourth-line player’ to ‘AHL depth option’ and it’s something that happens to a lot of fringe NHL’ers as they get into their late 20’s and beyond.

A team that plans on guys like Lander and Pitlick making the jump isn’t getting Lander and Pitlick as they are now; it’s getting those guys plus whatever incremental improvements they make over the summer and coming into next season. A team signing Ryan Jones isn’t getting him as he is now; it’s getting him minus whatever incremental losses his game suffers over the summer as he turns 30. And given that in the AHL there was basically no gap between Jones and Pitlick, that matters a lot.

It’s not about the second round picks spent adding these players, and it’s not about the time spent on their development. It’s about adding cheap help on the upswing rather than expensive help on the decline. The Oilers aren’t going to find better end-of-roster options for less money than Lander and Pitick, so they may as well make use of them.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 tileguy
February 04 2014, 10:28AM
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Sounds too intelligent for the Oil to grasp.

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#2 Rama Lama
February 04 2014, 10:29AM
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I agree with your assessment on the AHL players .........the one worth keeping especially Lander and Arco as they approach waiver eligibility.

I would love to hear your thought on the PP and why Eakins continues to try this STUPID experiment. I'm talking in particular about using 5 forwards or 4 forwards and JS........which in my opinion is the same thing.

The only thing that this has accomplished is ensuring the following:

1. Never enter the offensive zone without going off side. 2. Perimeter pass and eventually lose the puck....going cross seam. 3. Never having anyone who will actually shoot the puck. 4. Guaranteed to turn the puck over at least twice for an odd man rush. 5. Cause the fans like myself to scream ......at this stage it is better for us to decline the PP.

I believe that the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.........that is Eakins.

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#3 bazmagoo
February 04 2014, 10:30AM
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Totally agree Jon. Sign Ladner and Pitlick to two year, one way deals at a low rate and see how they fair. If they can't make it in the bigs next season, and get picked off via waivers when they are sent down, then so be it. If they make an impact in the NHL, then you've got a 4th line guy on little money, so great!

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#4 bazmagoo
February 04 2014, 10:32AM
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tileguy wrote:

Sounds too intelligent for the Oil to grasp.

That was my first thought as well, I have to admit.

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#5 Rocknrolla
February 04 2014, 10:32AM
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Fist! Agreed JW!

Edit...Fist Fail!

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#6 tabs
February 04 2014, 10:37AM
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Another good article JW, I agree that Lander hasn't been put into positions to succeed at the NHL level.

Pitlick looked good in his last stint with the Oilers before being injured. I would like to see him again before seasons end.

Arcobello is a quality guy who hopefully the Oilers will use as a depth guy going forward.

The Oilers have so many deficiencies in their game and personnel but I truly wish that Ryan Smyth isn't re-signed to another contract. It's time for the Oilers to turn the page on this guy and allow some of the youth to take his minutes.

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#7 Will
February 04 2014, 10:38AM
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Hmmmm, I'm never one to believe a guy needs to be brought up simply because he's a cheaper cap option. I don't think Lander, or Pitlick make the Oilers better.

Though it would also suck to lose them for nothing after all this time spent developing them. Even though trading them would also empty the cupboards on the AHL squad, that might be the best option for some.

As for Arcabello, I'm a bit worried the Oilers lose that guy for nothing. As far as I can tell he is an upgrade in almost every area on Gagner at C. Even though he's smaller, he sure doesn't play like it. He was one of the few bright spots earlier on in the year. Though I hope the Oilers go after a much better option, if they manage to trade Gagner for something significant, I would resign Arco to a one year one way deal.

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#8 bazmagoo
February 04 2014, 10:45AM
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I think the Oilers would be extremely foolish to lose Arcobello, he's taking big steps and seems like a very motivated guy. We absolutely need to ditch Gagner, so having Arcobello and Ladner in the organization moving forward only makes sense to me. Not saying either of them is our future 2nd line centre, but at least they would provide us some options in that position. Arco got 3 points in his first game with OKC last night.

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#10 Spoils
February 04 2014, 10:51AM
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interesting stuff.

Now, did anybody else hear that the Oil are looking at moving Gagner to the Kings.

I wonder if that ends up changing this consideration by impacting the fourth line for next year.

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#11 Zarny
February 04 2014, 10:53AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I agree with your assessment on the AHL players .........the one worth keeping especially Lander and Arco as they approach waiver eligibility.

I would love to hear your thought on the PP and why Eakins continues to try this STUPID experiment. I'm talking in particular about using 5 forwards or 4 forwards and JS........which in my opinion is the same thing.

The only thing that this has accomplished is ensuring the following:

1. Never enter the offensive zone without going off side. 2. Perimeter pass and eventually lose the puck....going cross seam. 3. Never having anyone who will actually shoot the puck. 4. Guaranteed to turn the puck over at least twice for an odd man rush. 5. Cause the fans like myself to scream ......at this stage it is better for us to decline the PP.

I believe that the definition of stupid is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.........that is Eakins.

Here is the thing...nothing you listed is because there are 4 F and 1 D on the PP.

Going offside has nothing to do with that.

Perimeter passes have nothing to do with that.

Not shooting the puck has nothing to do with that. In fact, replacing the 4th F with a D likely means less shots.

Turning the puck over causing odd-man rushes has nothing to do with using 4F and 1D on the PP. Absolutely nothing.

Because they do all of that at even-strength too.

It's called having too much junior in your game and it's certainly a problem that needs fixing.

The cross ice passes that get picked off and cause odd-man rushes being the biggest concern imo.

Riddle me this...if Krueger was such a great coach why do all the players he coached last year still do this?

If you think Eakins is the problem you're a fool. These kids have done the same thing since they got to the NHL regardless of who is coaching them.

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#12 Lowe Expectations
February 04 2014, 11:01AM
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I agree that Lander should be given a real opportunity to play. Having said that though it is a two way street. Other teams also have players in their systems that are waiver eligible. I've been saying for a while the Oilers pro scouting is pathetic. There are more than likely some diamonds in the rough out there.

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#13 vetinari
February 04 2014, 11:02AM
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We are likely to be sellers at the deadline, and I suspect that Arcobello, Lander, Pitlick, and maybe Horak will be part of the team after March 5th.

Lander needs a fair shot, preferably with some skill players to see what he can do. He also would be great on the PK with someone like Hendricks.

Arcobello's a Swiss army knife and can play anywhere and would be a good utility forward on most teams.

Pitlick and Horak are works-in-progress should get an audition for the big club at some point.

Hamilton and Miller are likely replaceable through the draft or free agency.

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#14 Rama Lama
February 04 2014, 11:05AM
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Zarny wrote:

Here is the thing...nothing you listed is because there are 4 F and 1 D on the PP.

Going offside has nothing to do with that.

Perimeter passes have nothing to do with that.

Not shooting the puck has nothing to do with that. In fact, replacing the 4th F with a D likely means less shots.

Turning the puck over causing odd-man rushes has nothing to do with using 4F and 1D on the PP. Absolutely nothing.

Because they do all of that at even-strength too.

It's called having too much junior in your game and it's certainly a problem that needs fixing.

The cross ice passes that get picked off and cause odd-man rushes being the biggest concern imo.

Riddle me this...if Krueger was such a great coach why do all the players he coached last year still do this?

If you think Eakins is the problem you're a fool. These kids have done the same thing since they got to the NHL regardless of who is coaching them.

If I'm the coach and the same three guys keep doing the same stupid things........then as a coach you have some options.

Bench them, take them off the PP, find a new players who will do what you want, bring in outside help, the list is long.

Nothing foolish here except Eakins ......doing the same things over again expecting a different result is STUPID and Eakins owns this!!!!!

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#15 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 04 2014, 11:06AM
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Great article. More of this please. It's a tricky balancing act in player development. Ultimately it will be dependent on who the Oilers manage to trade at the deadline and in the summer. Your logic makes sense to me, and Lander, Pitlick and Arco should be the greatest concern in terms of finding a roster spot.

One concern though is a young and inexperienced team getting younger and more inexperienced. Some will say that the oilers have flipped the standard model on its head in that their top six are young and inexperienced and they try and balance this with an older more experienced bottom six. Kind of ass backwards.

However that is the paradox that is the Oilers.

Edit: Also, two rookies on a fourth line makes your team a little softer, less physical. No easy answers here for Oilers Fans and Management

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#16 ubermiguel
February 04 2014, 11:07AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

For my money, Anton Lander's a better 4C today than Ryan Smyth is, and Tyler Pitlick's a better 4W than Luke Gazdic, Ryan Jones or Jesse Joensuu.

Admittedly, the current fourth line is pretty bad, but these are guys who could improve it.

For the sake of argument, let's say that Lander and Pitlick are rotating 12th and 13th forwards next season. Are the Oilers going to do better with someone else? Who? It's not just the money involved; I don't think they're going to find better players via free agency either.

Maybe I haven't seen Pitlick play enough, but why are you saying he's a better 4W than those guys? Jones especially. Now that Jones has recovered from his eye injury he's back to his old self. He'll never be a full time 3rd line player, but he can slot in anywhere in the line-up for a few games and not embarass himself and he also fights.

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#17 Zarny
February 04 2014, 11:13AM
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It's certainly time to sh*t or get off the pot with Lander and Pitlick.

They were drafted in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Marincin was also drafted in 2010 and looks more NHL ready than either. So much for D taking longer to develop.

I remember an article about Manny Maholtra that talked about knowing what kind of NHL player you are.

It's extremely unlikely either Lander or Pitlick will produce much offense in the NHL. If they are going to have an NHL career they will have to embrace being role players and checkers.

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#18 loweblows
February 04 2014, 11:15AM
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Whoever is let go will be picked up by Detroit and have a successful career.

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#19 Zarny
February 04 2014, 11:19AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

If I'm the coach and the same three guys keep doing the same stupid things........then as a coach you have some options.

Bench them, take them off the PP, find a new players who will do what you want, bring in outside help, the list is long.

Nothing foolish here except Eakins ......doing the same things over again expecting a different result is STUPID and Eakins owns this!!!!!

No actually the players own it since they are the ones actually making the dumb plays. Eakins has yet to lace them up for a single game this year.

And who are you going to put out on the PP if you bench Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Gags, Perron and Yak?

Boyd Gordon? Ryan f*cking Jones? Or maybe you'd dust off Moses Smyth?

There are no new players that can do what you want because none of the rest of the roster can stick-handle or skate let alone play a PP at the NHL level.

Cutting off your nose to spite your face doesn't actually accomplish anything.

I love how all you Eakins haters completely gloss over the fact that Krueger appears to have literally taught these kids nothing last year.

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#20 Will
February 04 2014, 11:20AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

For my money, Anton Lander's a better 4C today than Ryan Smyth is, and Tyler Pitlick's a better 4W than Luke Gazdic, Ryan Jones or Jesse Joensuu.

Admittedly, the current fourth line is pretty bad, but these are guys who could improve it.

For the sake of argument, let's say that Lander and Pitlick are rotating 12th and 13th forwards next season. Are the Oilers going to do better with someone else? Who? It's not just the money involved; I don't think they're going to find better players via free agency either.

That's good logic. It seems Smyth would bring some intangibles that Lander might not have, such as veteran leadership which the Oilers are sorely lacking. Like ubermiguel, I also have not seen Pitlick play enough.

However, I really like the effort Gazdic puts in every night. I know his role is difficult to justify through any type of stats or metrics, but when was the last time we had a fourth line energy winger that could cycle, forecheck, and even win a fight or two? I see what you're saying with the, is that worth the money, but that role is such a difficult one to quantify.

As for Jones or Joensuu, again I can't say. All I know is our fourth line has been one of the most cringe worthy hodgepodges in the Oilers line up for a while now, and if nothing else, the Smyth, Gazdic, Jones / Joensuu line at least seems to have chemistry. But again, for that amount of money, it seems like Mac T could find a cheaper option out there.

Do you think there is a fourth line currently in the league that you would see as a good example of cheap and effective?

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#21 oh yeah
February 04 2014, 11:44AM
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Rocknrolla wrote:

Fist! Agreed JW!

Edit...Fist Fail!

I've checked the site and can't find the instructions for editing my own post. You clearly have found it. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you.

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#22 season not played
February 04 2014, 11:50AM
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Whatever happens in this situation, rest assured the Oilers "brass" will make the wrong decision.

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#23 vetinari
February 04 2014, 11:51AM
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oh yeah wrote:

I've checked the site and can't find the instructions for editing my own post. You clearly have found it. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you.

If you are a regular member, I know that beside the Props button on every post (top right hand side), there are two small radio buttons -- "reply" or "edit".... I hit "reply" beside your post to give you a response. If you instead hit "edit", you can get a cursor in the comment box and edit your comments. If you are not a regular member (i.e. someone with a regular name and logs in to post), you may not get that option (an unregistered user may edit another's posts). Hope that helps.

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#24 pkam
February 04 2014, 11:52AM
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oh yeah wrote:

I've checked the site and can't find the instructions for editing my own post. You clearly have found it. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you.

If you're the author of the post, there should be an 'Edit' button under the 'Replay' button.

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#25 Dougy weight
February 04 2014, 11:52AM
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Keep em, let em go, who cares. What really matters is the players who play 15-25 min a night. 5 min players shouldn't be discussed until something is done with the young core players work ethic and commitment to the defensive side of the puck. Lock them in a room and make them watch videos of Datskuk. Trade eberle and a pick for a top 2 dman such as a yandle, erhoff or giardi. Also for those thinking we will get something for gagner, sorry but it won't happen. Terrible contract for an ahl type player. If anything hopefully we can pull off a trade like what we did for horcoff and ditch the contract

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#27 S cottV
February 04 2014, 11:56AM
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Zarny wrote:

Here is the thing...nothing you listed is because there are 4 F and 1 D on the PP.

Going offside has nothing to do with that.

Perimeter passes have nothing to do with that.

Not shooting the puck has nothing to do with that. In fact, replacing the 4th F with a D likely means less shots.

Turning the puck over causing odd-man rushes has nothing to do with using 4F and 1D on the PP. Absolutely nothing.

Because they do all of that at even-strength too.

It's called having too much junior in your game and it's certainly a problem that needs fixing.

The cross ice passes that get picked off and cause odd-man rushes being the biggest concern imo.

Riddle me this...if Krueger was such a great coach why do all the players he coached last year still do this?

If you think Eakins is the problem you're a fool. These kids have done the same thing since they got to the NHL regardless of who is coaching them.

You are pretty much acknowledging that Eakins has thus far, failed to influence needed changes in the way the core player group performs - which I agree with.

The suggestion that appropriate influence is not possible with this player group - as in "regardless who is coaching them" is something I really would not agree with.

There is a big difference between a coach of Eakins stature and a top end NHL coach - with regard to the ability to influence needed change with a player group.

A player group core that is primarily comprised of young first overalls and first rounders would certainly be a challenge to influence. Not the kind of guys that will just "lap up" whatever it is you throw at them.

There is no question in my mind that a top end NHL Coach with experience, proven systems, winning record, the right charisma and the ability to push a wide range of buttons - stands the best chance at influencing a difficult player group.

Eakins has none of the above and has gone through a trial and error - back tracking learning curve that has landed the team (for some controllable and non controllable reasons) in 29th place and out of the playoff picture by mid November.

Not good for the sake of influence...

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#30 S cottV
February 04 2014, 12:03PM
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Zarny wrote:

Here is the thing...nothing you listed is because there are 4 F and 1 D on the PP.

Going offside has nothing to do with that.

Perimeter passes have nothing to do with that.

Not shooting the puck has nothing to do with that. In fact, replacing the 4th F with a D likely means less shots.

Turning the puck over causing odd-man rushes has nothing to do with using 4F and 1D on the PP. Absolutely nothing.

Because they do all of that at even-strength too.

It's called having too much junior in your game and it's certainly a problem that needs fixing.

The cross ice passes that get picked off and cause odd-man rushes being the biggest concern imo.

Riddle me this...if Krueger was such a great coach why do all the players he coached last year still do this?

If you think Eakins is the problem you're a fool. These kids have done the same thing since they got to the NHL regardless of who is coaching them.

You are pretty much acknowledging that Eakins has thus far, failed to influence needed changes in the way the core player group performs - which I agree with.

The suggestion that appropriate influence is not possible with this player group - as in "regardless who is coaching them" is something I really would not agree with.

There is a big difference between a coach of Eakins stature and a top end NHL coach - with regard to the ability to influence needed change with a player group.

A player group core that is primarily comprised of young first overalls and first rounders would certainly be a challenge to influence. Not the kind of guys that will just "lap up" whatever it is you throw at them.

There is no question in my mind that a top end NHL Coach with experience, proven systems, winning record, the right charisma and the ability to push a wide range of buttons - stands the best chance at influencing a difficult player group.

Eakins has none of the above and has gone through a trial and error - back tracking learning curve that has landed the team (for some controllable and non controllable reasons) in 29th place and out of the playoff picture by mid November.

Not good for the sake of influence...

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#31 Serious Gord
February 04 2014, 12:04PM
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tabs wrote:

Another good article JW, I agree that Lander hasn't been put into positions to succeed at the NHL level.

Pitlick looked good in his last stint with the Oilers before being injured. I would like to see him again before seasons end.

Arcobello is a quality guy who hopefully the Oilers will use as a depth guy going forward.

The Oilers have so many deficiencies in their game and personnel but I truly wish that Ryan Smyth isn't re-signed to another contract. It's time for the Oilers to turn the page on this guy and allow some of the youth to take his minutes.

Re-signing Smyth would be grounds for dismissal of MacT and Lowe all on its own.

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#32 Fresh Mess
February 04 2014, 12:10PM
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Good entry. I'm not trolling when I say I honestly don't feel any of those players would be much of a loss if they were claimed by other teams.

Lander would be worth re signing to a two way deal because the farm needs scoring and leadership. I really feel IF Lander ever becomes an NHL regular, it will be by going the Shaun Van Allen route: 6 years in the minors eventually becoming an elite AHL scorer, and then transitioning to a savvy defensive bottom six forward at the NHL level.

Ryan Jones may be willing to take a pay cut to say, 1.2 million in return for the security of a two year deal. He would be a better option in the bottom six than any of the farmhands highlighted here. The majority of them should probably be cut loose.

Smyth should not be re signed.

Arcobello I would like to see signed to a low dollar, short term one way deal. I suspect he tests UFA and signs elsewhere.

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#33 Serious Gord
February 04 2014, 12:13PM
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S cottV wrote:

You are pretty much acknowledging that Eakins has thus far, failed to influence needed changes in the way the core player group performs - which I agree with.

The suggestion that appropriate influence is not possible with this player group - as in "regardless who is coaching them" is something I really would not agree with.

There is a big difference between a coach of Eakins stature and a top end NHL coach - with regard to the ability to influence needed change with a player group.

A player group core that is primarily comprised of young first overalls and first rounders would certainly be a challenge to influence. Not the kind of guys that will just "lap up" whatever it is you throw at them.

There is no question in my mind that a top end NHL Coach with experience, proven systems, winning record, the right charisma and the ability to push a wide range of buttons - stands the best chance at influencing a difficult player group.

Eakins has none of the above and has gone through a trial and error - back tracking learning curve that has landed the team (for some controllable and non controllable reasons) in 29th place and out of the playoff picture by mid November.

Not good for the sake of influence...

I asked rob brown on air last night how many games should it take before the coaches systems are to be considered fully implemented - he said twenty games. That was almost forty games ago.

I then asked a supplemental question as to whether defensive play is mostly a player issue or mostly a coaching issue. He said it was the latter.

Thus by a veteran nhlers metrics Eakins is a miserable failure as this team continues to be a disaster - the worst team in the league by a considerable margin - on defense.

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#34 By corner, do you mean circle?
February 04 2014, 12:15PM
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I would love to see both Lander and Pitlick get some time after the deadline. I have been so impressed with MM and Arco this year that I keep wondering who else might be ready to make the jump and in the case of those 2, inexplicably look better than half of the current Oil roster!

On an unrelated, cold weather, Fantasy GM question - let's say you are Mac T and you are itching to get bold. You decide that your main priority is to bring in a true #1 d and you know you that you will have to be aggressive and move some pieces that are going to hurt.

1) Would any d-man be worth a package of Ebs, JSchultz and their first? If so, which players would make that list?

2) Alternately would any d-man be worth Yak, Petry and Nurse? Again, if so which players?

I'm just curious if anyone thinks that these are the kind of terms that the Oil will be looking at in order to make a deal that will substantially improve their blueline. I tried to look at it from the POV of another team and what could entice them to part with an integral piece of their roster.

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#35 tabs
February 04 2014, 12:18PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Re-signing Smyth would be grounds for dismissal of MacT and Lowe all on its own.

With 24 games remaining and no one in the media or otherwise talking about this being Smyth's last hurrah in the Oilers colors gives me pause. Frankly it scares the sh*t out of me.

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#36 ubermiguel
February 04 2014, 12:18PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Jones hasn't scored a goal in 33 games.

Joensuu's been a worse player, and Gazdic's only in the NHL because he can fight.

I don't think Pitlick's a world-beater, but he's a fast skater with good size who likes to hit and can kill penalties and will be hard-pressed to deliver less offence than those guys.

Basically, at this point I don't think Jones is an NHL player any longer and it looks like Joensuu never was. Pitlick might be; that's why he should get a cameo now so the Oilers have some certainty one way or other before they go shopping this summer.

Makes sense. Basically we know what we've got with Jones, he's on the NHL bubble, and probably won't develop any further. Pitlick has some potential.

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#37 Racki
February 04 2014, 12:19PM
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Not so sure on Lander at all, but Pitlick showed he has the skill set required for a bottom six player up until getting hurt. It was a big disappointment because he fit in so well. I look forward to seeing him in the bottom six some more, hopefully sooner than later. He plays with a lot of energy and we know that he can bring the odd offence (the main reason he was drafted) even if it isn't at the level we hoped.

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#38 Fresh Mess
February 04 2014, 12:23PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Makes sense. Basically we know what we've got with Jones, he's on the NHL bubble, and probably won't develop any further. Pitlick has some potential.

Potential based on what? I'm not opposed to having another quick look at him after the deadline, but the word "potential" is overused by the fans of this team. I see nothing that suggests there is an NHL player there.

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#39 Johnnydapunk
February 04 2014, 12:23PM
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Great article as always !

I'm hoping the Oil can do a bit of cleaning of the cupboard so to speak and let some of the dead wood go. Whilst I like the effort that Ryan Jones puts in, he just doesn't do it for me, there are better players that play the way he does on the Oil, and I don't even know if he would be worth keeping in the minors. I can't see him improving and maybe another club could be the answer for him, or if that fails, Europe or the KHL would,welcome him with open arms. I don't think the Oil would miss him much, even of he seems like a nice enough dude.

As for Smyth, I'm torn about him, he brings leadership and that presence that the young Oil need, but at what price? I like him on the 4th line, and his versatility is valuable so for me at least, it's a hard decision.

My view is that this is not a good time to be a young, semi decent player in the Oil organisation, meaning the AHL players that are young and inexperienced at the NHL level is the last thing the Oil need right now.

I wasn't sold on Arcobello At first, but he is growing on me and I hope the Oil sign him as he can fit somewhere.

The thing is, all of this is dependant on what the Oil do about sorting out their problem of terrible defence. As they should trade away a kid for a stud defenceman, or going b*lls to the wall and try to sign an RFA defenceman. depending on who they trade will open up a spot on one of the first two lines, so if that happens, that will be a big factor on who to keep and let go.

A small positive is that we can see the issue clearly now that it's not bad goaltending that is a problem (it still may be next season depending on who is signed) but terrible defence. At the moment, if the Oil went in with Bryz and Scrivens with Bachman being the 3rd for next season, I wouldn't be that worried. I'm sure that will change soon enough though :-p

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#40 NsxZero
February 04 2014, 12:24PM
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I do hope that we see callups after the trade deadline. What I'm worried about is that we stay stagnant and no roster spots open up. That would truly be a waste of the rest of the season.

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#41 Spydyr
February 04 2014, 12:26PM
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Getting rid of Ryan Smyth and Ryan Jones works for me.Replacing them with younger players is even better.

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#42 Oilcruzer
February 04 2014, 12:29PM
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Been pumping Pitlick and Marincin tires for three years as two guys the Oil require to develop and keep.

A new question hit me. Is it possible that Lander is already a better option than Gagner?

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#43 Oiler Al
February 04 2014, 12:40PM
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Zarny wrote:

No actually the players own it since they are the ones actually making the dumb plays. Eakins has yet to lace them up for a single game this year.

And who are you going to put out on the PP if you bench Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Gags, Perron and Yak?

Boyd Gordon? Ryan f*cking Jones? Or maybe you'd dust off Moses Smyth?

There are no new players that can do what you want because none of the rest of the roster can stick-handle or skate let alone play a PP at the NHL level.

Cutting off your nose to spite your face doesn't actually accomplish anything.

I love how all you Eakins haters completely gloss over the fact that Krueger appears to have literally taught these kids nothing last year.

Zarny,I would not argue that Krueger had not taught these kids much last year. He had 48 games to do it in. It would appear that in 58 games Eakins has done nothing with improving this team. They are playing the same way in game 58 as they did game8.

PS.. Calling people "fools" because they have a different opinion than yourself, does make you a genius.

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#44 Kodiak
February 04 2014, 12:50PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

To a degree, focusing on the top-nine makes great sense; that's what matters the most.

But most fourth lines play about 10 minutes per game; that's 17 percent of any given contest. Ignoring line four is a mistake.

And ignoring the $$$ the 4th line eats up is also a big mistake. I'd rather save $2m on our 4th line and use that to overpay a Callahan type player that can have a bigger impact.

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#45 Vinny
February 04 2014, 12:53PM
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Arco is in such a tough spot. He doesn't really fit in that 4th line C role, and that seems to be the only one that's open. But he is versatile.

He could fill in for Gordon if he went down, he could fill Gagner's spot too.

If RNH and Gagner were down at the same time...like that would ever happen: Gordon and Arco could do passable jobs as 1C and 2C, better than putting wingers in the center spot. Probably with Gordon as 1C, to match the power vs power a little better.

He's not an improvement on any of those positions, but that's a lot of versatility to be had for less than $1M.

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#46 Cain
February 04 2014, 12:57PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Re-signing Smyth would be grounds for dismissal of MacT and Lowe all on its own.

Agreed.

I didn't think he should have gotten as many games this year as he has already.

What does he give you that is so much better than giving those minutes to somebody else doesn't?

Veteran leadership? Please...The Oilers are a perennial basement dweller. Where exactly is Smyth leading them to? He got benched for one game last year and displayed his "veteran leadership" by refusing to speak to the media about it. Don't try to sell that as leadership...if it were anybody else, the media would have been all over it,but it got pushed to the side because it was "good old Smitty".

Good riddance, old Smitty.

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#47 pkam
February 04 2014, 01:01PM
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@Oiler Al

"PS.. Calling people "fools" because they have a different opinion than yourself, does make you a genius."

You are lucky because I don't want to make myself a genius this way.

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#48 Zarny
February 04 2014, 01:05PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Zarny,I would not argue that Krueger had not taught these kids much last year. He had 48 games to do it in. It would appear that in 58 games Eakins has done nothing with improving this team. They are playing the same way in game 58 as they did game8.

PS.. Calling people "fools" because they have a different opinion than yourself, does make you a genius.

No Al, having a different opinion than me doesn't make anyone a fool. Far from it.

What is foolish is constantly driveling about coaching as if that is the Oilers problem.

Renney, Krueger, Eakins...they weren't/aren't the problem.

The problem is the roster isn't good enough. The players aren't good enough.

How is anyone surprised that playing young players who make mistakes with other young players who make mistakes and then supporting them with by far the worst blueline in the NHL is a recipe for anything but an unmitigated disaster?

You can't make chicken salad out of chicken sh*t.

You can't coach your way around having no top pairing D. They are on the ice for almost half the game.

You can't coach your way around players like Eberle or Gags throwing some limp wristed pass across the ice or in general making dumb plays. Not when the rest of your bench should never see the ice against top 6 F.

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#49 tabs
February 04 2014, 01:09PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Been pumping Pitlick and Marincin tires for three years as two guys the Oil require to develop and keep.

A new question hit me. Is it possible that Lander is already a better option than Gagner?

When I proposed that Gagner's value last summer was a 2nd round pick and anything over 3M per season was a massive overpay I was criticized and many called me out as a troll.

I was also adamant against Ryan Smyth re-signing back here and stated that our group of "core veterans" needed to be shown the door. I included Gagner with that group as someone that wouldn't prove to be a 2nd line centre.

It's been almost 4 years since I and a few others were outspoken about these players.

Oilcruzer, I wouldn't be against you taking Gags spot Thursday night :) Lander would be a huge upgrade imho

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#50 loweblows
February 04 2014, 01:15PM
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@Oiler Al

I would argue that they are playing the same way after 58 games. They are playing worse. Something is terribly wrong with the coaching.

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