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.

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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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#51 Sliderule
February 04 2014, 01:19PM
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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.

Last year Ralph had Bucky in the press box for most of season and ran the power play himself.

This year Eakins has Bucky on bench and reportedly running the power play.

The umbrella pp was the favoured system last year same as this year.

There is only one difference that I see.

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#52 loweblows
February 04 2014, 01:22PM
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Zarny wrote:

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.

The players on the powerplay hasn't changed from last year. The only change was coaching. That's on the coach.

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#53 Blucifer Copperballs
February 04 2014, 01:24PM
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The only plus I see to having Lander/Pitlick on the 4L is the $$ tradeoff you mentioned, IF it can be used to bring in talent in a top 6 role, and not to inflate a salary under the new cap. Other than that, Jones/Joenseu, Smyth and Gazdic have, on some nights as of late, been the bright spot of a game, not in scoring, but in energy and momentum. They have even garnered that praise from Eakins and the media in some cases.

I'm exicted to see Pitlick in a 4L role as an energy player, but to say he has any benifit now over a current player is wrong. In the future, hopefully, but he was reckless when he was here, hurting himself and throwing a questionable hit in a game, if memory serves.

I've seen enough of Lander to hopefully not see him in orange and blue again, IMO. I understand his AHL #'s are good, but he hasn't looked right at the NHL at all.

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#54 Wigswag
February 04 2014, 01:34PM
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It doesn't matter how long you play in the minors. You have to raise your game when you get to the show. It's time to see what they've got.

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#55 pkam
February 04 2014, 01:34PM
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tabs wrote:

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

You may think Gagner is not worth 4.8M, but it doesn't matter because his agent knows how much similar players get signed for.

In last offseason (before 2012-13), the Canes signed Tuomo Ruutu to 4 years @4.75M per. Go compare his number to Gagner's.

This offseason, the best NHL GM Ken Holland signed Steven Weiss to 5 years @4.9M per. A player who is at his prime (30) and is just slightly better than Gagner at 23. What do you think Holland will choose if he is given Weiss at 4.9M for 5 years and Gagner at 4.8M for 3 years?

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#56 westcoastoil
February 04 2014, 01:35PM
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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.

Ignoring the 4th line is a mistake, but as you pointed out the $2M potential difference and proper management of the cap and young players has a far greater effect than the marginal difference between the players that this team will be rolling out on the 4th.

In most cases 5x5 their 6-10 minutes will be against other 4th lines and really their overall impact in a season is probably not more than 2 or 3 pts in the standings. By the time that 2 pts in the standings makes a difference to this team's playoff fortunes, finding the 4th solution shouldn't be an overly difficult easy task.

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#57 Zarny
February 04 2014, 01:37PM
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loweblows wrote:

The players on the powerplay hasn't changed from last year. The only change was coaching. That's on the coach.

Actually last year the Oilers PP had Gagner healthy and playing well all 48 games.

This year Gags had his jaw rearranged and has played half the year hurt.

The reality is that after 48 games this year (since that is all Krueger coached) the difference between last year's PP and this year's PP amounted to 4 goals.

That's it...4 goals over 48 games. That was the difference between last year's PP and this year's PP.

Coaching my a$$.

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#58 pkam
February 04 2014, 01:41PM
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loweblows wrote:

The players on the powerplay hasn't changed from last year. The only change was coaching. That's on the coach.

Our PP% at home ranks 5th at 23.3%. Our PP% at home last year ranked 8th at 21.2%.

The problem this year is the PP% on the road ranked 28th at 11%.

Is it the coach fault that the team can be so successful at home but so terrible on the road?

Why the players stop doing the things they do at home? You think the coaches teach them a different PP for the road game?

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#59 Tikkanese
February 04 2014, 01:44PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

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.

Jones isn't back to his old self. He's actually improved. He used to float and goal suck a lot. Now for the most part he's forechecking hard, hitting and even the odd fight. He seems to only get sat when he reverts to his old floating ways.

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#60 Zarny
February 04 2014, 01:45PM
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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...

You're right Eakins has thus far failed to influence the needed changes.

Just like Krueger failed.

Just like Renney failed.

I don't care which high-end coach you bring in; won't make a difference.

There isn't a system designed that will protect you from having no top pairing D.

NHL systems are not complicated. They all come down to not getting beat 1 on 1.

Once that happens you're scr*wed and I'm sorry but coaching isn't the problem when Petry gets manhandled by Wheeler to lose the game against the Jets.

And it isn't the system either. It's the player.

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#61 tabs
February 04 2014, 01:48PM
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pkam wrote:

You may think Gagner is not worth 4.8M, but it doesn't matter because his agent knows how much similar players get signed for.

In last offseason (before 2012-13), the Canes signed Tuomo Ruutu to 4 years @4.75M per. Go compare his number to Gagner's.

This offseason, the best NHL GM Ken Holland signed Steven Weiss to 5 years @4.9M per. A player who is at his prime (30) and is just slightly better than Gagner at 23. What do you think Holland will choose if he is given Weiss at 4.9M for 5 years and Gagner at 4.8M for 3 years?

If your only criteria for player worth is points based and your defense/argument is another overpay then you and I will never agree.

Hopefully Gags will be moved shortly and we'll see what his worth is. Taking back another bad contract at 4.8M doesn't make either player a 4.8M player, hope you understand this point.

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#62 S cottV
February 04 2014, 01:51PM
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loweblows wrote:

The players on the powerplay hasn't changed from last year. The only change was coaching. That's on the coach.

C'mon Zarny - the GM is responsible for the roster and the Coach must extract the most from what is assigned to him.

In the harsh world of NHL hockey, the bottom line is winning percentage. 29th place doesn't cut it by anyone's standards.

Ok - so lets not be so harsh, let's allow intangibles to count - so - we can add some moral victories in order to boost that winning percentage some.

Hmmm. Can't really think of anything that appears to be coming together, other than the goaltenders saving Oiler @ss of late.

Everything else - is pretty much still the mess that it started out to be.

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#63 2004Z06
February 04 2014, 01:52PM
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loweblows wrote:

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

They have been playing this way for 4 years and 4 coaches. Clearly coaching is not the issue. You cannot teach "compete, character and hockey IQ". You are either born with them or you aren't.

Wrong mix of players. Period. End of story.

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#64 hankthetank
February 04 2014, 01:53PM
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Whos the better player on nhl ice,

Gagner - trash

Lander - props

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#65 DisappointedFan
February 04 2014, 01:55PM
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@Zarny

Well since we're looking in the spirit of special teams now...

You can't say "Gagner's absence is a reason why they lacked those points" that's just plain B.S. you could have had a bag potatoes on the ice and it would have done just as much. They have struggled recently on the powerplay, no doubts about that. But they got those goals earlier in the year. End of story.

The real issue with the powerplay is how they manage to go from 1 goal against on the Powerplay to being a league leading 10 goals against while on the Powerplay.

WHICH is the main reason for concern here. While yes it's nice that they can still score goals, they also let a "lot" of goals in a well and "recently" have gotten out chanced while on the powerplay.

So yes, I'd say coaching is a slight issue if you're telling them to play certain positions or set ups on the ice that puts their defensive game into jeopardy.

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#66 Randaman
February 04 2014, 02:01PM
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Zarny wrote:

You're right Eakins has thus far failed to influence the needed changes.

Just like Krueger failed.

Just like Renney failed.

I don't care which high-end coach you bring in; won't make a difference.

There isn't a system designed that will protect you from having no top pairing D.

NHL systems are not complicated. They all come down to not getting beat 1 on 1.

Once that happens you're scr*wed and I'm sorry but coaching isn't the problem when Petry gets manhandled by Wheeler to lose the game against the Jets.

And it isn't the system either. It's the player.

Ok, I get it. Some people hate Eakins and believe that coaching is the issue AGAIN!!

1. Is this because of the pedestal that these players are put on these days? When I mention trading gagner and Eberle for some immediate help I get trashed big time. 2. Is it because of the assistant coaches that have been sheltered through all the changes due to their internal relationships with 6 Rings? I lean in this direction. 3. Is it because Eakins has lost the room? I think there is a group (Click) in the room that won't listen to anybody! It has to be one of these three as any player that has achieved this level can pick up a new system in 20 games as posted earlier by JW I believe. Some chips have to fall or we are in for a long dissapointing two or three years with this group and YES Smyth should retire!

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#67 Shredder
February 04 2014, 02:01PM
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I don't know if it's because this discussion has been going on longer this year than others, or maybe for too many years, but there is only word to describe this conversation:

BORING

Is that just the Oilers in general, or are we just saying the same things over and over?

"Coach A can't do task B" "Player X isn't motivated to hit/go to the net/take more shots/play in his own zone/etc." "GM Lowe is the problem"

I can't wait for the playoffs so I can cheer for team who stands a chance, and then maybe you guys will just shut up.

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#68 loweblows
February 04 2014, 02:01PM
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loweblows wrote:

The players on the powerplay hasn't changed from last year. The only change was coaching. That's on the coach.

Actually quite a few different names have played on the powerplay this year. -Belov -Larsen -Arcobello -Fedun -Grebeshkov -Gordon -Marincin -Joensuu -Perron ....Are all new this year who have had PP time

Gone are: -Whitney -Paajarvi -Horcoff... to name a few

So in fact, it is the players that have changed. A lot of the names that have changed are from the second PP unit mind you, but that still takes up a considerable amount of PP time. Another thing to compare is the fact that we are playing Eastern conference teams this year...as well as we now play LA, SJ, ANA, PHX more often that last year.

Not saying Eakins has been a positive for the PP, but he is far from being the problem. It is the players hes given.

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#69 Randaman
February 04 2014, 02:03PM
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hankthetank wrote:

Whos the better player on nhl ice,

Gagner - trash

Lander - props

Play Lander with second line players for more than a couple shifts and then you will have a fair comparison. Defensively speaking we all know the answer already. Point wise remains to be seen.

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#70 pkam
February 04 2014, 02:05PM
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tabs wrote:

If your only criteria for player worth is points based and your defense/argument is another overpay then you and I will never agree.

Hopefully Gags will be moved shortly and we'll see what his worth is. Taking back another bad contract at 4.8M doesn't make either player a 4.8M player, hope you understand this point.

If you don't use stats to compare players, what do you use? Points is only part of the stats, there are others stats like +/-, hits, GvA, TkA. You can check them all.

If you think the two I quoted are overpay contracts, I can list a couple more. Hodgson just signed for 6 year @4.25M. Burrow just signed for 4 years @4.5M. Look at their stats these 3 years and tell me if Gagner is still overpaid.

I have listed 4 contracts from 4 different teams that are overpaid in your opinion, mow can you tell me 4 contracts for top 6 forward signed in the last 2 years that you think are not overpaid to prove I am wrong?

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#71 YakSaitl
February 04 2014, 02:19PM
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What do you guys think about trying to bring in Nino Niederreiter from Minnesota? He is listet at 6'2" with 209 lbs. He plays a very gritty game and this year he also puts up some points (26 points in 57 games). He is just 21, which is a little bit of a problem because the oilers would need veteran presence, but I think he has a very big upside!

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#72 DisappointedFan
February 04 2014, 02:22PM
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YakSaitl wrote:

What do you guys think about trying to bring in Nino Niederreiter from Minnesota? He is listet at 6'2" with 209 lbs. He plays a very gritty game and this year he also puts up some points (26 points in 57 games). He is just 21, which is a little bit of a problem because the oilers would need veteran presence, but I think he has a very big upside!

I think I'd be more concerned with him putting up another 55GP with 1 goal...if a first overall like Yakupov can struggle here, you certainly don't want to bring in a guy that can REALLY struggle here.

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#73 **
February 04 2014, 02:30PM
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Lander has proven he can't keep up in the NHL. Pitlick can play center. I would like a line of Ryan Smyth, Gazdic, Pitlick and Joenssu better than one with Lander (for next year anyways).

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#74 tabs
February 04 2014, 02:32PM
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pkam wrote:

If you don't use stats to compare players, what do you use? Points is only part of the stats, there are others stats like +/-, hits, GvA, TkA. You can check them all.

If you think the two I quoted are overpay contracts, I can list a couple more. Hodgson just signed for 6 year @4.25M. Burrow just signed for 4 years @4.5M. Look at their stats these 3 years and tell me if Gagner is still overpaid.

I have listed 4 contracts from 4 different teams that are overpaid in your opinion, mow can you tell me 4 contracts for top 6 forward signed in the last 2 years that you think are not overpaid to prove I am wrong?

I really don't care for these type of discussions because nothing will change at the end of the day. You believe Gagner has considerably more value then I and that is okay.

Mark Arcobello has a contract at $600,000 and out performs Gags in almost every category. Lander would do the same.

I don't need to look around the league at other players with some similar stats to feel better about what the Oilers are paying Gagner annually.

Just maybe, Gagner isn't worth a contract playing 2nd line minutes for the Oilers whether is contract is 600k or 6M.

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#75 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 04 2014, 02:32PM
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Kodiak wrote:

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.

Callahan type....yes. Callahan no. Callahan is a clear upgrade on Gagner, but is still a small injury prone player, and even if he was a fit, anything over $5 million is an overpay. IMO.

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#76 bazmagoo
February 04 2014, 02:50PM
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I would be more comfortable with Arco and Ladner battling for 2nd line minutes next season than I would with Gags in that spot. Watching him and Eberle float on the backcheck is painful to watch, I can handle one but not two players on a line doing that. Especially not the center!

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#77 Randaman
February 04 2014, 03:00PM
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pkam wrote:

If you don't use stats to compare players, what do you use? Points is only part of the stats, there are others stats like +/-, hits, GvA, TkA. You can check them all.

If you think the two I quoted are overpay contracts, I can list a couple more. Hodgson just signed for 6 year @4.25M. Burrow just signed for 4 years @4.5M. Look at their stats these 3 years and tell me if Gagner is still overpaid.

I have listed 4 contracts from 4 different teams that are overpaid in your opinion, mow can you tell me 4 contracts for top 6 forward signed in the last 2 years that you think are not overpaid to prove I am wrong?

I would take any one of those players over Gagme any day. Yes, he is overpaid at his current level of play.

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#78 pkam
February 04 2014, 03:21PM
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Randaman wrote:

I would take any one of those players over Gagme any day. Yes, he is overpaid at his current level of play.

I am glad you are not the Oiler GM.

Stephen Weiss: 30 years old, 4+ years left @ 4.9M, 2G 2A 4 pts and -4 in 26 games.

Tuomo Ruutu: 30 years old 2+ years left @ 4.75M, 5G 9A 14 pts and -17 in 49 games.

Alexandre Burrows: 32 years old 3+ year left @ 4.5M, 0G 4A 4 pts and -10 in 25 games.

Cody Hodgson: 23 years old 5+ years @ 4.25M, 14G 16A 30 pts and -17 in 45 games.

I am sure the Wings, Canes, and Canucks are very happy to trade their player straight for Gagner. Am I glad you are not the Oilers GM.

Sabres probably won't because they think Hodgson is an asset.

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#80 madjam
February 04 2014, 03:55PM
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Well, the Oilers could have built the team around defence and goalie first if that was the plan to begin with. However , they felt the Oiler fans would only support a fast skilled offensive flair type team .Despite the atrocious results our team has faired over the last several seasons one thing has remained constant - sellouts for going the way that they did . In retrospect , how many would have preferred to do the rebuild the conventional way and pass up on the young offensive talents we have ? Surprisingly , not very many . They give us what they thought we wanted , but did not perceive such a long period of futility in results area . We are what they built - like it or lump it . Obviously most still prefer it or the building would be far less than capacity each night .

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#81 Richard
February 04 2014, 04:09PM
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Edmonton has had the wrong philosophy for decades, outscore the opposition. The NHL changed Oilers didn't. You don't win 6-5 games anymore. Oilers know nothing about playing a two way game. Many hockey people have known this for years Burke Ruff, and many players in the NHL. Oilers won't be making the playoffs anytime soon unless they change their philosophy and management.

Firing a coach or GM has not worked well except to give the organization an excuse to say the rebuild starts now. Daryl has not learn't anything.

Hint: Get rid of the Old Boys Club.

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#82 Randaman
February 04 2014, 04:45PM
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pkam wrote:

I am glad you are not the Oiler GM.

Stephen Weiss: 30 years old, 4+ years left @ 4.9M, 2G 2A 4 pts and -4 in 26 games.

Tuomo Ruutu: 30 years old 2+ years left @ 4.75M, 5G 9A 14 pts and -17 in 49 games.

Alexandre Burrows: 32 years old 3+ year left @ 4.5M, 0G 4A 4 pts and -10 in 25 games.

Cody Hodgson: 23 years old 5+ years @ 4.25M, 14G 16A 30 pts and -17 in 45 games.

I am sure the Wings, Canes, and Canucks are very happy to trade their player straight for Gagner. Am I glad you are not the Oilers GM.

Sabres probably won't because they think Hodgson is an asset.

My error, I did not check back to see who the other players were. Weiss and Ruutu are not included as players I would take. I don't like Gagner but I am not stupid. By the way Carolina is trying to unload Ruutu so they are in the same boat as we are with Gagner, stuck with an underachieving large contract. My opinion. Maybe broken jaws are tougher than when I had mine broken but Burrows and Gagner are both struggling but I would still take Burrows over Gagner TODAY. Who knows in 2 years.

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#83 David S
February 04 2014, 04:48PM
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You know if Ryan Smyth isn't playing on the 4th line next year he'll be working his sick top cheddar lasers* over at Kentwood Ford, right?

*AKA "The Smytty Clapper"

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#84 camdog
February 04 2014, 05:01PM
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The reality is that the Oilers power play for the first time in many, many years has lost the team momentum. Whether from weak shorthanded goals or very poor performances that have changed the tide of a game.

The reality is also that on 4 on 4 they are exceptionally better than last year. Last season they were last in 4 on 4 goals for, this season they are first.

One can argue whether it's coaching that has lead to the changes, one can also argue that other teams have scouted us and adapted. No matter how we and try and spin it we suck.

On a side note as bad as Whitney was last season, other teams would try and take his shot away. I don't know many teams that can have a good powerplay without having a shot from the point. This is more on the GM than the coach as far as I am concerned.

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#85 pkam
February 04 2014, 05:17PM
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Randaman wrote:

My error, I did not check back to see who the other players were. Weiss and Ruutu are not included as players I would take. I don't like Gagner but I am not stupid. By the way Carolina is trying to unload Ruutu so they are in the same boat as we are with Gagner, stuck with an underachieving large contract. My opinion. Maybe broken jaws are tougher than when I had mine broken but Burrows and Gagner are both struggling but I would still take Burrows over Gagner TODAY. Who knows in 2 years.

At least there is some common sense now.

Burrows is just an average 2nd line players. He had one great seasons with the Sedins in 2009-10. That is about it. He is at the end of his prime at 32, I doubt he will ever get back to even 50 pts a season. In 2 years, I think he probably will be a 30 pts 3rd line players. Like Horcoff but a bit cheaper at 4.5M. I still wouldn't take him over Gagner but everyone can have their own opinion.

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#86 Dog Train
February 04 2014, 06:23PM
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Lander and Pitlick both need to get a long look after the deadline. I wouldn't even mind Horak getting some games in. As sick as I am of being a seller, we need to be practical at the deadline. If we can get something for Smyth, Jones, Hemsky or even Gagner then we should do it. I am all for having a young, energetic and cheap fourth line next season. The opportunity is there for Lander and Pitlick, they just have to take it.

As for Arcobello, I think his window of opportunity has likely closed with the Oilers. He was a great story and I hope that he gets a chance somewhere next season.

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#87 camdog
February 04 2014, 06:34PM
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Arcobello reminds of Liam Reddox. Only difference is the fans loved one and didn't like the other. Personally don't understand the contrast in how both players were viewed by some Oiler fans.

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#88 Rod from Viking
February 04 2014, 07:46PM
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tabs wrote:

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.

Ryan has been a battler and needs to retire,his body is wore out. Eakins must not think the same since he is playing him all the frickin time instead of Yak on the powerplay. I hope he goes to a contender at the deadline and he wins a cup.

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#89 Oilerz4life
February 04 2014, 07:49PM
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JW, I think you've been spending a bit to much time in OKC bro. Sure those guys you're talking about deserve a shot, but can you honestly see them unseating the entire forth line for 2 mil savings for the Oilers? The salary cap is going up next year and the boys will get evaluated in camp to evaluate whether they're ready or not.

Lander is a sure shot in OKC but every time they give him a shot in Edm he comes up a bit short. The players you're talking about deserve a look no doubt, but to say at this point in their development that they can unseat the entire forth line on an NHL roster is a bit of a stretch I think IMO.

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#91 tabs
February 04 2014, 09:10PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Oilers fourth line is terrible, but in any even two spots - those of Smyth and Jones - are opening up as those players turn UFA anyway.

Jonathan, I will sleep better at night knowing both Jones and Smyth have moved on....

Rod from Viking, Smyth's body is worn out and his desire has left the building. Immensely popular with posters under the age of 40 I think but I've never understood his connection with Joe Fan.

Maybe 20 years of terrible hockey is the obvious explanation.

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#92 Oiler Al
February 04 2014, 09:57PM
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Gadzic and Joensu play 4 minutes a game because they are terrible players, revived from other teams scrap heap and have no business being in the NHL. Might as well bring back Zack Stortini.

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#93 Citizen David
February 04 2014, 10:05PM
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This is a perfect article. Please oh please! Let them do this!

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#94 @Oilanderp
February 05 2014, 01:02AM
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#95 Oilerz4life
February 05 2014, 02:33AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Oilers fourth line is terrible, but in any even two spots - those of Smyth and Jones - are opening up as those players turn UFA anyway.

Fair enough. I still feel that whether Lander can fill that role or not is debatable. Still waiting on bold moves.

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#96 Walter Sobchak
February 05 2014, 05:17AM
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Zarny wrote:

Actually last year the Oilers PP had Gagner healthy and playing well all 48 games.

This year Gags had his jaw rearranged and has played half the year hurt.

The reality is that after 48 games this year (since that is all Krueger coached) the difference between last year's PP and this year's PP amounted to 4 goals.

That's it...4 goals over 48 games. That was the difference between last year's PP and this year's PP.

Coaching my a$$.

You forgot to mention the record breaking 10 short handed goals against & Gagner played the same easier minutes on the PP last year the same as this year.

Your top players are on the PP so the excuse that defense is worse doesn't wash here.

There are fundament changes to the PP that both Renney and Krueger used but Eakins & Mactavish completely went away from.

Last year Yakupov played R half wall, this year he floats in no mans land between the point and the high slot, completely ineffective, not to mention you have a second year player who's been on the wrong side of two on ones.

Last year, Hall played down low, again on the R half wall or down low by the net, this year RNH occupies that spot.

This is the essence of coaching, the players are told were to go, were to set up, the coaching staff has yet to change the PP which leads me to believe they like the overall PP.

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#97 Oiler Al
February 05 2014, 06:25AM
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Winnipeg wins again.. Nah coaching won't make a difference!

PS... any coach that would have Gagner on the last minute of the game on the ice is not too smart.

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#98 j
February 05 2014, 09:04AM
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Lander is a point per game AHL player with leadership, defensive acumen, faceoff skills and pedigree. If he were on another farm team, we would be drooling all over him as the answer to our woes. I say give him a legitimate chance now that he has matured into the player we had hoped for 2 years ago. He was very poorly managed back then. Thankfully, he had the fortitude to persevere - let's not screw it up again by getting rid of him or playing him improperly. Give him a defined role and some time with actual NHL players. It make not work but a bird in hand is better...

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#99 Joy S. Lee
February 05 2014, 12:11PM
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pkam wrote:

I am glad you are not the Oiler GM.

Stephen Weiss: 30 years old, 4+ years left @ 4.9M, 2G 2A 4 pts and -4 in 26 games.

Tuomo Ruutu: 30 years old 2+ years left @ 4.75M, 5G 9A 14 pts and -17 in 49 games.

Alexandre Burrows: 32 years old 3+ year left @ 4.5M, 0G 4A 4 pts and -10 in 25 games.

Cody Hodgson: 23 years old 5+ years @ 4.25M, 14G 16A 30 pts and -17 in 45 games.

I am sure the Wings, Canes, and Canucks are very happy to trade their player straight for Gagner. Am I glad you are not the Oilers GM.

Sabres probably won't because they think Hodgson is an asset.

I'd jump on that Hodgson for Gagner trade...and I'd toss in something (maybe a 4th?) to seal the deal.

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#100 Joy S. Lee
February 05 2014, 12:26PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

You forgot to mention the record breaking 10 short handed goals against & Gagner played the same easier minutes on the PP last year the same as this year.

Your top players are on the PP so the excuse that defense is worse doesn't wash here.

There are fundament changes to the PP that both Renney and Krueger used but Eakins & Mactavish completely went away from.

Last year Yakupov played R half wall, this year he floats in no mans land between the point and the high slot, completely ineffective, not to mention you have a second year player who's been on the wrong side of two on ones.

Last year, Hall played down low, again on the R half wall or down low by the net, this year RNH occupies that spot.

This is the essence of coaching, the players are told were to go, were to set up, the coaching staff has yet to change the PP which leads me to believe they like the overall PP.

Here's the difference, so far as I can tell: these kids are SO FOCUSED upon getting set up in the offensive zone, that they have completely abandoned their most useful weapon: chaos, created by their speed and skill.

In other words, teams check the Oilers PP very aggressively. This should actually lend itself to our advantage, because our skill guys tend to gain advantages by creating odd-man situations, and aggressiveness does that by its nature, if you can chip the puck past or around the pressure, and then make a skill play with the newly gained space.

The biggest problem is that these guys are passing up opportunities where they could actually garner a good chance due to the aggressiveness of the opponent, because they made it PAST the defense, and then STOPPED to set up, instead of ATTACKING NOW. They have lost the inclination to attack because of an over-commitment to the setup.

The PP setup is designed to create openings, so you can score. Why on earth are you passing up openings so that you can set up the designed system? That makes no sense whatsoever, but if you watch, this team will do exactly that, turn away from a clear opportunity to go to the net, so that they can get things nicely set up. Problem is, that means the defenders get to set up, nice and calmly, too. That is a very, very flawed perspective, and one that needs to change immediately.

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