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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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 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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#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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#9 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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#10 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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#12 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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#13 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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#14 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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#15 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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#16 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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#17 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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#18 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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#19 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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#20 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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#21 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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#28 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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#30 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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#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 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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#33 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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#34 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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#35 Rocknrolla
February 04 2014, 10:32AM
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Fist! Agreed JW!

Edit...Fist Fail!

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#36 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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#37 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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#38 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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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 Disappointed Italian Oiler Fan
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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#47 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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#48 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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#49 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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#50 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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