May 20 2014 12:16PM
I'm a huge fan of Lord of the Rings and the the prequels, The Hobbit. Over the years Sam Gagner has earned the moniker "Samwise" here in the Nation, a reference to Samwise Gamgee, one of the hobbits and loyal sidekick to Frodo Baggins.
I've long mentioned that one of the Oilers biggest concerns is their lack of size within their skilled players. The young Oilers have skill, but compared to the rest of the western conference the Oilers look like Dwarfs.
Until they rectify this issue, I don't see this team improving.
I've noticed a lot of people suggest that I put too much stock into the Oilers lack of size. Trust me, lack of size isn't the only issue on this team, and I can't address all of them in one article, but when you take a moment to compare the Oilers top-nine forwards to the top-nine of playoff teams they don't come close to matching up. It is a major concern.
I don't think people realize just how much smaller and lighter the Oilers are compared to the rest of the west. When you combine their lack of size with their lack of experience you get five consecutive seasons of finishing 30th, 30th, 29th, 24th and 28th.
Craig MacTavish has to recognize this, and until he addresses it, I don't see this team competing for a playoff spot.
I've heard just get better players, and of course that will help, but these are considered the Oilers best nine forwards. They have NHL skill, but collectively this group lacks the size to compete against the other teams top lines.
I have outlined the top-nine of forwards of this year's western conference playoff teams (based on TOI). In the case of San Jose I didn't include Brent Burns because Burns will be playing defence next season.
|Anze Kopitar "A"||6' 3"||224||26|
|Jeff Carter||6' 4"||212||29|
|Marian Gaborik||6' 1"||204||32|
|Jarret Stoll||6' 1"||213||31|
|Justin Williams||6' 1"||189||32|
|Mike Richards||5' 11"||196||29|
|Dustin Brown "C"||6' 0"||207||29|
|Dwight King||6' 4"||230||24|
|Tyler Toffoli||6' 1"||196||22|
|Ryan Getzlaf "C"||6' 4"||221||29|
|Corey Perry||6' 3"||212||29|
|Nick Bonino||6' 1"||196||26|
|Jakob Silfverberg||6' 1"||200||23|
|Andrew Cogliano||5' 10"||181||26|
|Devante Smith-Pelly||6' 0"||222||21|
|Matt Beleskey||6' 0"||200||25|
|Patrick Maroon||6' 3"||230||26|
|Daniel Winnik||6' 2"||207||29|
|Joe Pavelski||5' 11"||190||29|
|Joe Thornton "C"||6' 4"||220||34|
|Patrick Marleau "A"||6' 2"||220||34|
|Logan Couture||6' 1"||200||25|
|Tommy Wingels||6' 0"||200||26|
|Matt Nieto||5' 11"||190||21|
|Tomas Hertl||6' 2"||210||20|
|James Sheppard||6' 1"||215||26|
|Raffi Torres||6' 0"||215||32|
|Alexander Steen "A"||5' 11"||212||30|
|T.J. Oshie "A"||5' 11"||189||27|
|David Backes "C"||6' 3"||221||30|
|Jaden Schwartz||5' 10"||190||21|
|Vladimir Sobotka||5' 10"||197||26|
|Vladimir Tarasenko||6' 0"||219||22|
|Steve Ott||6' 0"||189||31|
|Patrik Berglund||6' 3"||217||25|
|Maxim Lapierre||6' 2"||215||29|
|Jonathan Toews "C"||6' 2"||208||26|
|Patrick Kane||5' 11"||181||25|
|Marian Hossa||6' 1"||210||35|
|Patrick Sharp "A"||6' 1"||199||32|
|Brandon Saad||6' 1"||202||21|
|Marcus Kruger||6' 0"||181||23|
|Bryan Bickell||6' 4"||233||28|
|Ben Smith||5' 11"||207||25|
|Michal Handzus||6' 5"||215||37|
|Mikko Koivu "C"||6' 3"||222||31|
|Zach Parise "A"||5' 11"||197||29|
|Jason Pominville||6' 0"||185||31|
|Mikael Granlund||5' 10"||186||22|
|Matt Cooke||5' 11"||208||35|
|Charlie Coyle||6' 3"||221||22|
|Nino Niederreiter||6' 2"||209||21|
|Erik Haula||5' 11"||192||23|
|Kyle Brodziak||6' 2"||208||29|
|Jamie Benn "C"||6' 2"||210||24|
|Tyler Seguin||6' 1"||195||22|
|Cody Eakin||6' 0"||190||22|
|Alex Chiasson||6' 4"||205||23|
|Colton Sceviour||6' 0"||200||25|
|Vernon Fiddler||5' 11"||205||34|
|Shawn Horcoff "A"||6' 1"||210||35|
|Valeri Nichushkin||6' 4"||205||19|
|Antoine Roussel||6' 0"||200||24|
|Ryan O'Reilly||6' 0"||200||23|
|Paul Stastny "A"||6' 0"||205||28|
|Gabriel Landeskog "C"||6' 1"||204||21|
|Nathan MacKinnon||6' 0"||182||18|
|Matt Duchene||5' 11"||200||23|
|PA Parenteau||6' 0"||193||31|
|Jamie McGinn||6' 1"||210||25|
|Marc-Andre Cliche||6' 0"||202||27|
|Maxime Talbot||5' 11"||190||30|
|Taylor Hall||6' 1"||201||22|
|Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||6' 1"||180||21|
|Jordan Eberle||5' 11"||180||24|
|David Perron||6' 0"||198||25|
|Sam Gagner||5' 11"||202||24|
|Nail Yakupov||5' 11"||186||20|
|Boyd Gordon||6' 0"||202||30|
|Matt Hendricks||6' 0"||211||32|
|Mark Arcobello||5' 8"||166||25|
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
- You will notice the Oilers are the shortest, lightest and youngest team. They average 7 pounds less than the Colorado Avalanche. Due to their youth, I think it is safe to say that in three years this group of forwards will collectively be heavier. Hall, RNH, Yakupov and Eberle will all put on more muscle as they mature, but outside of Hall, I doubt any of them become 200+ pounds.
- I've read many suggest the Oilers can be like the Avalanche. A young, skilled, fast team. In theory that makes sense, but which Oilers will be the solid two-way, skilled forwards like O'Reilly, Stastny and Landeskog? (I believe Stastny re-signs in Colorado)
- I've read many suggest that Chicago isn't that big. You will notice the Hawks average 204 pounds in their top-nine. They are only a few pounds lighter than the Kings, Ducks and Sharks. The other factor very few people talk about is that the Hawks top-nine forwards are the 2nd oldest in the west. They average 28 years of age, only the Kings are older at 28.2 years of age. Along with their great skill, the Hawks have good size and a lot of experience.
- The Oilers top-nine as it sits today will give up an average of 10 pounds/player against every team except Colorado. Combine that lack of size, with a lack of physical players and experience and it is a losing combination.
- This is not new, however, it seems the organization and some fans believe it isn't an issue. News flash: it is a major issue and until MacTavish finds some heavier, older, skilled forwards to protect his young forwards, this group won't be winning very often.
- Size doesn't matter in every situation, but when the other team's skilled players -- who are just as good, and in many cases better than the Oilers -- are bigger and stronger, they will simply win more battles, cycle the puck easier and create more opportunities.
- The Oilers do have a few forwards in the system who have some size, but none of them are ready for the NHL just yet. Mitch Moroz (211), Jujhar Khaira (210), Greg Chase (205) and Bogdan Yakimov (202) are all over 200 pounds and have some skill. Will that translate into NHL skill? We will wait and see, but until they are ready to contribute in the NHL MacTavish has to add some skilled size into his top-nine to give them a fighting chance in the western conference.
- Cory Crawford isn't as good as Jonathan Quick, Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist, but he's a damn good goalie. He never seems to get any respect. He just keeps winning and playing solid.
- Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller will both be UFAs this summer. Will either of them go to a contending team? Do you think they are difference makers?
- The Oil Kings should have four more players drafted next month. Dysin Mayo, Edgars Kulba, Aaron Irving and Brett Pollock will likely go, and Mads Eller could also hear his name called. Bob Green built a stable of very good WHL players, and now we'll see how many of them can go to the next level.
- The Edmonton Rush were 17-3 in the regular season and playoffs, but their season ended due to a 10-minute mini game. They lost 2-1 despite outshooting Calgary 12-5 in those ten minutes. The rule sucked for both teams, but it shows you how finicky pro sports can be. The best team doesn't always win. The Rush are young and should be just as good next year. They also own the #3 overall pick (Philly's from the Brodie Merrill trade two years ago) so they should get another very good player.
- Tough break for the Habs. Oilers fans know how it feels to lose your starting goaltending in the playoffs, but unless the Habs forwards can beat Lundqvist it won't matter if Price is playing. Lundqvist is playing sensational right now.
- I still can't believe Glen Sather was able to acquire Ryan McDonagh for Scott Gomez and his $7 million contract. What was Bob Gainey thinking?
- Reminder to get your tickets for this year's King/Queen of Karaoke contest this Friday at On The Rocks. All proceeds go towards the MS Bike Tour and I guarantee you will have a great night. This year's group of finalists are even better than last year, and someone will win $1,000. Buy tickets here.
Last week I wrote a quick update about the Gregor Foundation and wanted to thank all of you for helping make it a success. I received this email from Larry, one of the teachers, and I wanted to share it with you. Thank you once again for helping out our Foundation.
We’re sitting here at our desks reading your article with tears in our eyes. In fact, I’m in the middle of helping "Peter" with his English. You did an excellent job of capturing the moment. There is a good portion of our society that either does not know or perhaps, even care about these kids. The Fresh Start program through Edmonton Catholic works with the kids that do not fit into the traditional school setting…many are brilliant academically, but suffer from varying forms of mental illness, bullying, substance abuse issues, criminal activity…some are school phobic, many have suffered abuse, neglect and abandonment in their lives. Most have little to no parental guidance and many are either independent students or wards of the court.
The bottom line, however, is that we still have to get them to the same finish line as every other kid in the Province, namely to write their Diplomas and graduate. And, as I said to you before, had you not stepped in to help, these guys would not have gone to their graduation. So many of them have been dumped on and let down over and over by adults in their lives…but you, your family, friends and volunteers and of course, your listeners, have let them know that there are far many more people out there who care. It’s the ultimate win-win! We will make sure you get Grad pictures. Thanks again from all of us.
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