CAN'T KEEP THE KIDS DOWN ON THE FARM

Lowetide
June 16 2014 10:01AM

marincin by rob ferguson

According to an article in the Edmonton Sun by Terry Jones, Craig MacTavish won't rush the kids, including the defensemen.One problem: They're already better than the veterans.

klefbom ferguson2

Quoting the article, quoting MacTavish:

  • "We’re not going to compromise our young prospects on defence,” he said of forcing the likes of Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin, etc. into the line-up until they are ready. “We’d rather they played in the American Hockey League or junior.”

Music! Love it! One problem. Martin Marincin is better than the other LH veterans, and Klefbom is close enough for jazz.


VOLLMAN SLEDGEHAMMER OILER BLUE

oilers defense 13-14 with klefbom

A quick summary of the graph: Blue bubble like Marincin's (this is Corsi Rel) is very good, Petry/Belov good, Klefbom a little good. Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference—not so good. Also, Oscar Klefbom and Mark Fraser have the tough zone starts, and Petry/Marincin face the toughs.

WHAT DOES THE VOLLMAN TELL US?

Prospects don't develop in a straight line, and maybe Martin Marincin arrives at camp looking like a rookie pro. I don't think it's likely, and I can't imagine Dallas Eakins giving up his big defenseman—unless the Oilers plan on grabbing two LH defensemen who are in fact better and have more experience.

The bottom line is this: It's all well and good to say you're sending the kids back to the American League, but when they're performing better than your veterans it's a tough sell.

I can't imagine a scenario where a healthy and effective Marincin sees the AHL next season, and the same is basically true for Klefbom (although he could start there again, depending on the summer).

And Nurse? We'll see. A lot of things get said in June, it's a lot different when the rubber hits the road. 

(Photos by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 ubermiguel
June 16 2014, 10:11AM
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Sample size Lowetide, sample size. Justin Schultz looked like an all star after 44 NHL games too.

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#2 freelancer
June 16 2014, 10:12AM
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This seems to completely contradict MacT's earlier statements that he wasn't planning on making huge changes to the defense this summer. If he doesn't expect them in the line up, that means there will have to be significant change in the lineup to replace them.

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#3 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
June 16 2014, 10:13AM
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Good article LT.

Looking at pending UFAs I'm wondering if MacT will be after Andrej Meszaros? He's 6'2", shoots left and will be 29 years old next season.

He's probably not as good as Markov or Boyle, but neither of those guys are coming here and he's younger. A guy like Meszaros probably isn't the stud D-man we all covet, but he'd likely do a decent enough job pushing the prospects down the depth chart a bit for a year or two...

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#4 Racki
June 16 2014, 10:13AM
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The Oilers are very weak on the left side. Marincin and Klefbom shouldn't make the team because there is no competition. MacTavish should be doing his best to make it harder on Klefbom and Marincin to crack the line up. Markov signing would help that, plus it would help make Schultz and Petry's jobs here far easier.

I look forward to the day Klefbom and Marincin are regulars but only if they are properly paced into the roster.

I think MacT is working hard to improve the left side but my worry is he's looking more at Matt Greenes than he is Andrei Markovs.

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#5 Racki
June 16 2014, 10:15AM
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freelancer wrote:

This seems to completely contradict MacT's earlier statements that he wasn't planning on making huge changes to the defense this summer. If he doesn't expect them in the line up, that means there will have to be significant change in the lineup to replace them.

Where did you hear that?? Or how did you interpret that I should ask. He said he wasn't going to pick up middle of the road D men. Like it sounded like he wasn't going for Belov / Larsen / Ference types but was going to swing for the fences instead.

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#6 A-Mc
June 16 2014, 10:18AM
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This is always something i ask myself around this time of year. The general rule is to not rush prospects, and i get that. It makes sense.

But!

"What if the prospect is an upgrade on what you have currently"?

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#7 freelancer
June 16 2014, 10:19AM
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@Racki

It was his end of year presser I believe. Depends how you interpret middle of the road I guess. If you look at our D last year, this was roughly the lines. Petry-Marincin, Schultz-Ference, Klefbom-Fraser. By removing Klefbom and Marincin (according to our D depth) you are removing a #2 defenseman and a 3/4 guy.

I just feel Mac is going to be hard pressed to fill both spots this summer.

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#8 Jason Gregor
June 16 2014, 10:20AM
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Free agency has some solid veteran LH D-men. Sign a few of them so only one of those three kids has to play in Edmonton. If none of them do start the season in Edmonton that isn't a bad thing.

The Oilers gave up the most goals in the NHL last year, they don't need to get younger on the blueline, they need some experience. If they spend another year in the AHL or junior it will benefit them and the Oilers in the long run.

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#10 #ThereGoesTheOilers
June 16 2014, 10:20AM
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It will be a lot easier for MacTavish to stick to his guns and keep the kids where they need to be if he can work some magic before the month is out.

Find us a couple half decent defencemen and the kids will be alright.

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#12 Racki
June 16 2014, 10:29AM
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@freelancer

I got the impression he was all over the idea of acquiring a top pairing LHD. No way should Marincin or Klefbom be considered that guy right now when the best player you can pair them with is Jeff Petry (whom I really like BTW). But personally I did get the impression a second pairing wasn't on his wish list and I didn't agree with that part. I'd try and sign a markov/Niskanen type plus also try to acquire the 2nd tier guy like Nikitin or someone like Bellemore.

But the main thing is, a top pairing should be one of his targets and I'm pretty sure that has been the plan.

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#13 freelancer
June 16 2014, 10:41AM
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@Racki

Agree all around. Didn't mean to imply Marinin should be in that top pairing spot. Only that due to our depth that is the position he was put it.

Maybe it's just my Oil pessimism. We have needed top defensemen for the last 4-6 years and it hasn't happened. Every defenseman on this team is playing 1-2 spots higher than they should. I'm just having a hard time believing all our D needs are going to be addressed over one summer.

In MacT we trust.

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#14 Zarny
June 16 2014, 10:46AM
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The Oilers should be able to count on Marincin this year. It's been 4 full seasons since he was drafted so he's hardly being rushed.

What they need to avoid is throwing Marincin into the deep end as a top pairing D. They need a stop-gap so Marincin and Ference are on the 2nd and 3rd pairings.

Which means the Oilers will need to do something wild and crazy like sign or trade for a couple of D who are actually capable NHL players.

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#15 Racki
June 16 2014, 10:47AM
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@freelancer

I wasn't implying you thought that Marincin should be the top guy.. Didn't think that was your opinion. That was more my commentary on the current situation. The need for a top pair is obvious and I am quite certain MacTavish and Co see that. I got the impression from the year end presser it was one area they were swinging for the fences for. Basically his comment to me meant that they weren't cheaping out this time around and hoping someone played above their skill level.

I'd expect a pretty serious offer to Markov or Niskanen or someone high end.

It's hard not to be pessimistic, I know. I think MacTavish is more of a man of action though than the evaluator before him.

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#16 Lexi
June 16 2014, 10:52AM
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Doesn't Markov for 3 years make the most sense? I would think the Islanders and Detroit would be biggest threats to sign him and I've got to think the Oil can afford to outbid them. With the cap going up, I think the biggest risk of this move would be they will need at least 2 of Marancin/Klefbom/Nurse to be legit top 4 Dmen in three years on value contracts. I think it's a good bet, because if they don't the rebuild isn't going anywhere anyways.

Markov allows them to sign a Ramsay coached Weaver or Bellemore like guy as a value Right shot D.

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#17 Zarny
June 16 2014, 10:55AM
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@Racki

I'm sure MacT is a lot more interested in Andrei Markov than Matt Greene.

After reaching the Eastern Conference final though, how interested do think Markov is going to be to sign with a 28th place team? He'll turn 36 in December and is one knee injury away from retirement.

I think you're 100% correct that neither Marincin nor Klefbom should be a top-pairing D this year but Edmonton will be a tough sell for a guy like Markov.

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#18 Racki
June 16 2014, 11:06AM
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@Zarny

Yes this is unfortunately true, but I'm thinking money will be a big factor in convincing him. Hard to say. There aren't a lot of options out there right now unfortunately, unless you are willing to play it a bit more safe (then you start looking at the Faulks, et al). It'll be pretty easy to strike out in this area again, or settle on a project player.

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#19 Young Oil
June 16 2014, 11:14AM
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Signing a bunch of free agent D who are good enough to push Marincin and Klefbom out of the lineup is a lot easier said than done. Sure, you can throw tons of money and term at an aging veteran, but that isn't guaranteed to help the team. Marincin was leaps and bounds better than Ference over the last half of the season.

Furthermore, we aren't the only team trying to sign the free agents, and let's be honest, at this point we are one of the least desirable places to play, so it would take lots of money and term to draw one free agent Dman here, let alone 2 or 3.

We should definitely strive to push Marincin down the lineup, but definitely not out of it. He played like a top 4 defenceman last year, and was by far our best Dman on the left side. He has a huge value contract to boot.

Try to get one really good Dman to play top pairing minutes. Trying to get a few of them through free agency, especially at the contracts they will be demanding, could really handcuff the team going forward.

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#20 Spydyr
June 16 2014, 11:17AM
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How about icing the best team possible regardless of age.If you are the best player available in camp at your position you are on the team.

Yes, it is that easy but not for "The Braintrust".

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#22 Spydyr
June 16 2014, 11:30AM
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Lowetide wrote:

That's exactly my concern. Bringing in veterans is great IF they're better than Marincin. The kid had a helluva year, and if MacT plans to get 6 better than him he better pack a lunch.

The problem I see is the Oilers have preordained their team before camp for many years now.

It would be refreshing to see someone play their way on or off the team in camp this year.

If they trade Marincin as part of any deal they better be getting back a top pairing guy under 27.

Trading youngsters for older players like Hartnell makes very little sense.We have all suffered this long don't trade the future for the now.IMO the suffering is almost over.This should be the last year not competing for a playoff spot.

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#23 Craig1981
June 16 2014, 11:32AM
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I am all for signing some older D-men for one year contracts and after 20-60 games the young guys prove to of progressed so much they can't be kept down, trade the veterans for mid round picks (Mitchell, Morris, Hainsey sort of players)....Is there any thing I am missing where this isn't a good idea?

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#24 Racki
June 16 2014, 11:32AM
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Lowetide wrote:

That's exactly my concern. Bringing in veterans is great IF they're better than Marincin. The kid had a helluva year, and if MacT plans to get 6 better than him he better pack a lunch.

Again I think best bet is to make it as hard as possible for the young guys to crack the lineup. MacT mentioned earlier that he isn't looking for middle of the road D. Marincin and Klefbom are likely good options in the future but you don't want these guys here by default, IMHO. As someone else noted sample size is also very important to consider. They can still sign couple D and have these young up and comers win their spots.

MacT needs a better plan than rolling the dice on youth working out than having no backup other than "well, at least there's McDavid!"

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#25 Oilbaron
June 16 2014, 11:42AM
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this means they're changing the music at rexall right??

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#26 dawgtoy
June 16 2014, 11:43AM
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Spydyr wrote:

How about icing the best team possible regardless of age.If you are the best player available in camp at your position you are on the team.

Yes, it is that easy but not for "The Braintrust".

YES!

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#27 steveb12344
June 16 2014, 11:44AM
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Lowetide wrote:

That's exactly my concern. Bringing in veterans is great IF they're better than Marincin. The kid had a helluva year, and if MacT plans to get 6 better than him he better pack a lunch.

I wouldn't worry about Marincin L.T. I remember one of the interviews with Eakins near the end of the year where he was discussing sending some of the youngins back to OKC. When he got around to Marincin's name, he said emphatically: "And he's never going back"

The original quote said something like; leaving our young guys in AHL, or Jr, until they are ready.

At this point, I think we all (including MacT, and Little D)agree that our Marty the Martian is NHL ready with a bullet!

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#28 Dog Train
June 16 2014, 11:49AM
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Mactavish should approach the off-season with the mindset that Marincin and/or Klefbom will not make the team. Ideally, they are competing for a spot on the third pairing. However, they both offer more upside than Ference so most likely they are lobbying for a spot opposite Jeff Petry on the second pairing.

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#30 bwar
June 16 2014, 11:51AM
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I have a hard time believing that even Klefbom won't make the roster in the fall. I think things would be really crazy if Oilers end up drafting Ekblad. Unless MacT really hits a home run in Free Agency and working trades, I think we will see an incredibly young defensive unit next season.

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#31 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
June 16 2014, 11:54AM
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Lowetide wrote:

I think that's where pro scouting comes in, and that has honestly been an area of worry. I don't know if Meszaros is a good risk, but he could be a flat out bargain if healthy.

One of those things that will suss out over time, hope they make the right bets.

Oh, well if the Oilers pro scouting department is on the case then I'm sure everything will work out beautifully!

*pounds another jug of Kool-aid*

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#32 steveb12344
June 16 2014, 11:55AM
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Lowetide wrote:

I'm not worried about Marincin, he'll be fine. I am worried the Oilers are going to go out and sign two inferior veterans for big money and get worse.

It's absolutely possible that this could happen.

I agree, that would suck. Though when MacT said at year end that he would be either going big or staying home, in regards to acquiring Dmen. Well let's just hope he meant it.

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#33 ThinkingOutLoud
June 16 2014, 11:55AM
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We're all sick of finishing last, but aside from Hall we didn't really get any superstars from the draft. RNH will be good, I hope Yak bounces back this season, and Ebs was an incredible pick that late in the 1st round, but look at what Makinnon did for the Av's during the year and in the playoffs. A bonafide superstar would be a welcome addition... So what about playing all the young guys and let them learn at the NHL level? If they rock, fantastic. If they don't, "The Edmonton Oilers are proud to select Connor McDavid...."

One more season of agony could pay off better than the previous 8 combined.

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#34 Will
June 16 2014, 11:58AM
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I would be okay seeing Marincin and Klefbomb stay up. That leaves room for one big top 2 guy on the right side who can help mentor. A quote from Klefbomb was really telling in that he felt he actually played better in the NHL because his teammates were in the spots for him to make outlet passes. I think there comes a point where staying in junior might actually hurt development.

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#35 madjam
June 16 2014, 12:08PM
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How many of theses are reasonable cost to Oilers ? M.Greene , Niskanen , D.Murray , M.Fayne , C.Stoner , A. Alberts , B.Orpik . With 92 UFA defenceman we should be able to get some at reasonable cost .

The way it is sounding , our AHL club might be better set up than the parent club which would seem ridiculous .

We need a special teams player like B.Marchand in a trade . C.Stewart would be another acquisition to add for grit , etc..

Bold moves might come about this off season ?

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#36 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
June 16 2014, 12:08PM
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@ThinkingOutLoud

Nathan MacKinnon definitely helped Colorado this year, but I think the Avs success had more to do with their goalie playing out of his mind. Having a rookie coach that didn't soil the sheets the way ours did helped too.

Also guys like Duchene, Landeskog, O'Reilly, Stastny and having players like Erik Johnson finally live up to expectations helped them turn it around.

Even though their core is young (and sublimely talented), it wouldn't surprise me if they came back down to earth a bit next year if their goaltending levels off.

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#37 Brad 21
June 16 2014, 12:36PM
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@Will

I agree and as time went on he got better and better. I thought Marincin was the one that tailed off at the end of the year. Some of the first passes that Klefbomb made out of our zone last year absolutely flabbergasted me. And I am not easily amazed. We haven't seen passing like that from a defenceman in a very very long time. Do not trade the future for help now, stay the course. We finally have goaltending that can stop a beachball. Without acquiring another defenceman we will still finish higher than we did this year. I am not saying don't go out and get a defenceman I am just saying don't sell the very bright future of these kids to get it.

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#38 Tayranchula
June 16 2014, 01:08PM
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For me Maricin should be the only young dman to start the season in the top 6. Klefbom should be the number 1 call up from okc to start the year and nurse should play junior again in hopes to play world juniors and a deep playoff run. Oil need 2 veteran defence men that have played at least 400 games IMO.

Do the oil try and throw big money at Markov or nisaknen? Markov has injury problems and is on the last leg of his career and nisaknen could have had a career year without even touching the offensive number he collected this year. If the oilers do make a move to get some help on the back end it will more than likely be from a trade. I would be targeting teams that had a failing year the San Jose's, st Louis or Philly. Those team could possibly part with useful players.

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#39 rickithebear
June 16 2014, 01:33PM
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Cup Champions Dmens EVGA/60 and EVA/60

#4 A. Martinez 1.37 EVGA/60 and .45 EVA/60

#6 M. Greene 1.50 EVGA/60 and .51 EVA/60

#8 W. Mitchell 1.61 EVGA/60 and .44 EVA/60

#9 Muzzin 1.63 EVGA/60 and .72 EVA/60

#10 Voyanov 1.66 EVGA/60 and .70 EVA/60

#29 Doughty 1.85 EVGA/60 and .50 EVA/60

You have 5 of the Ten best EVGA dmen in the game.Who are near the league average in EVA .55 EVA/60. So you cannot key on the strong puck movement side.

We need the same type of D.

Bellimore 1.73 and .36 1st comp/4th team

Niskanen 1.81 and .68 1st/1st

M. Fayne 1.66 and .49 2nd/3rd

Marancin 2.08 and .36 1st/4th

Ference 2.19 and .62 2nd/2nd

Engelland 2.20 and .54 2nd/3rd

Petry 2.24 and .72 1st/1st

J. schultz 3.23 and .57 2nd/3rd

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#40 rickithebear
June 16 2014, 01:44PM
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There is no way to make up for a 3.23 EVGA/60

There are 45 forwards with GF/60 better than 3.23.

These are the lines that are slightly better than even with this kind of defence.

Lucic-Krejci-Iginla

Saad-Toews-Sharp

Landeskog-Statsny-Parenteau

Macarthur-Turris-Ryan

Kunitz-Malkin/Crosby-Neal

Good luck winning with that kind of EVGA.

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#41 The Last Big Bear
June 16 2014, 02:27PM
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Shot counting statistics mean nothing for defencemen.

Go look at the top 10 or top 30 NHL defencemen in terms of TOI. That is a solid list of guys who are, at the very least, the best on their own team.

Now look at the NHL's top 10 or top 30 defencemen based on Corsi, or CorsiRel, or Fenwick, or any other shot-counting stat.

You get a random list of defencemen who are generally offensively-inclined, most of whom are not even the best defenceman on their own team.

Yeah, Duncan Kieth manages to sneak in there pretty consistently, but not as consistently as Anton Strahlman, Sami Vatanen, or of course Martin Marincin.

Meanwhile the WORST defenders in the NHL by shot-counting stats are guys like Dan Girardi, Robyn Regehr, and Johnny Oduya.

It's not a sample size problem, it's just that while shot-counting stats are great for evaluating forwards, they're kinda useless for defencemen.

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#42 jdh10
June 16 2014, 03:20PM
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paul stastny is (according to McKenzie) asking for 5 X 6.6. Will 7 X 7 get him here? An investment that must be made for this team.

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#43 Will
June 16 2014, 03:31PM
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Brad 21 wrote:

I agree and as time went on he got better and better. I thought Marincin was the one that tailed off at the end of the year. Some of the first passes that Klefbomb made out of our zone last year absolutely flabbergasted me. And I am not easily amazed. We haven't seen passing like that from a defenceman in a very very long time. Do not trade the future for help now, stay the course. We finally have goaltending that can stop a beachball. Without acquiring another defenceman we will still finish higher than we did this year. I am not saying don't go out and get a defenceman I am just saying don't sell the very bright future of these kids to get it.

In one of the many abysmal home shutout games I went to, the second last game of the year might have been the worst. Against the kings, and no one on the team seemed to care, Except Klefbomb. He was the only guy who had the weight to break up the Kings cycle and get the puck out of the zone. The Oilers would be better with two more of him. Fortunately, all that's really needed is for Nurse and Marincin to gain some weight and develop properly.

I am still really high on the team drafting Ekblad as that would eventually make the D any combination of our three left shot D: Klefbomb, Nurse, Marincin. And our three right shot D: Ekblad, Petry, Schultz.

If you look at teams who did successfully build through the draft like Chicago, eventually their young D had to take steps forward to become the top pairing guys they are. I look at those six names and cannot think of another D core with that much potential talent, skill, and just plain mix and depth. Every pairing has the potential to be lethal. It's a Big D core when Nurse and Marincin put on some weight, and each pair would have a wide array of size, nastiness, positioning, passing, shooting, hitting, and puck moving. It'll take a few years to develop properly, but once you have it in place, it almost wouldn't matter who was playing up front.

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#44 BlazingSaitls
June 16 2014, 07:15PM
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@Racki

I think there are 29 teams that would take Marincin. The kid not only can tread water on a horrible team he showed a great future ahead of him. Its high pressure in Edmonton regardless of win/loss record. I personally have seen enough of Marincin to include him as an untouchable. I don't care about points, get the puck up ice. This kids a stud and great draft.

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#45 Quicksilver ballet
June 16 2014, 07:53PM
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The Oilers will be submitting more offers than any team on record this summer. Only, many of the ones that matter will slingshot back at them and knock them on their collective arses (thanks, but no thanks). Nothing but B or C options (Fools Gold) will be available to them.

Stay the infinibuild course. Take this summers boobie prize, and start pondering next seasons boobie prize. Like it or not, the Oilers are only halfway to their goal. This nightmare will still be a work in progress when they move into the new building.

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#46 PutzStew
June 16 2014, 08:22PM
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Was almost worth reading until you screwed it up with fancy stats. Please see willis on how to write a readable blog and the use of fancy stats in a readable blog.

Other wise I agree with you. Please rush the kids and depend on Shultz more. No point in developing player properly when you can continue to entertain former fans like myself, with the clown show that is the Oilers and the Kool-ade drinking fans that support the show.

PS Former Oilers Fraser, Stool and Green had another pride today. LA will have to make another trade with the Oilers and to rid themselves of another cast off like Smyth or Scrivens next year so they can win it again. Seems to be a lucky thing to do.

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#47 pelhem grenville
June 17 2014, 07:17AM
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...lucky thing to do as Lombardi FINALLY gets his head out his a$$ and becomes better at his job...if MacT only gets THAT lucky he TOO could turn your clown show you once loved into a better bit of entertainment...that's when you'll be back on the bandwagon...luck schmuck!

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