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

Edit...Fist Fail!

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#3 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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#4 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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#5 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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#6 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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#7 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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#8 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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#9 **
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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#10 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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#11 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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#12 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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#13 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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#14 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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#15 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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#16 tileguy
February 04 2014, 10:28AM
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Sounds too intelligent for the Oil to grasp.

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#17 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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#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 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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#20 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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#21 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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#22 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#28 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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#29 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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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 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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#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 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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#36 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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#37 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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#38 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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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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#43 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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#44 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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#45 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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#46 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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#47 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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#48 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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#49 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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