AT RANDOM: MIDDLEMEN

Robin Brownlee
July 03 2014 01:47PM

I don't see the debate about how the Edmonton Oilers should fill the holes they have on their roster at centre in terms of black and white when it comes to how or if Leon Draisaitl fits into the equation next season. I find myself pulled between preference and practicality.

Call it sitting on the fence if you like, but as we sit here during the first week of July, I don't think there's a hard and fast answer as to whether Draisaitl should be in the mix when the puck drops on 2014-15. I weighed in on the issue in my last item here.

In terms of preference, there's a reasonable case to be made Draisaitl should be returned to Prince Albert of the WHL next season, no matter what. Don't rush the kid. Don't burn a year of his entry level contract. Jason Strudwick of TSN 1260, for example, made the case on his show and on Twitter Wednesday. David Staples of The Cult of Hockey says the same.

I get where they're coming from. I just can't embrace the "no matter what" part of the argument on a day that Draisaitl took his first twirl on the ice as a member of the Oilers at a development camp in Jasper. I'm in the wait-and-see camp.

LET IT PLAY OUT

93-RNH-9

I can't sit here today and tell you with a straight face Draisaitl is ready to play in the NHL next season. Likewise, I can't say for certain he won't be ready when the puck drops. I don't know. Do you?

I don't think Draisaitl should be handed a roster spot because he's a third overall pick. I don't care about the optics. I don't think he should make the team by default because after first-liner Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and utility man Boyd Gordon, the Oilers are woefully thin down the middle.

As I wrote June 28, even if Draisaitl gives strong indications he's not in over his head, I don't want to see him force-fed into a second-line role. At the very least, GM Craig MacTavish has to find a proven NHL centre – easier said than done – who can provide a buffer and split the ice that's up for grabs time between RNH and Gordon.

Whether Draisaitl sticks in Edmonton or is returned to Prince Albert, the bottom line for me is that the Oilers will be making a mistake if they don't at least let him compete for a job before making a decision based on merit. Let this play out.

WHILE I'M AT IT

Berglund

  • Jonathan Willis took a thorough look at centre Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues as a possible target for the Oilers recently and I concur with his take. I like Berglund and I think he slots in behind RNH as a second/third-line option. The question, as always, is the ask.
  • I got plenty of reaction on Twitter Wednesday when I said I'd be willing to trade anybody not named Taylor Hall, RNH, Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Ben Scrivens, or Justin Schultz for Berglund. A lot of it was along the lines of "You'd trade Nail Yakupov?" Yes, yes I would. I recognize there's an element of risk, but I'm not as sold on Yakupov as many fans are. Not exactly trading him for a bag of pucks here.
  • A lot of people think Mark Fayne might be a pleasant surprise as an addition to Edmonton's blue line. Numbers like him, too. Haven't seen him enough to have a feel for him. As a low-cost depth player, I like the addition of Keith Aulie.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 DieHard
July 03 2014, 03:20PM
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Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate wrote:

I've said it once, I'll say it again...

David Musil, Dillion Simpson and a 2nd rd 2015 pick for Berglund

Just drop Simpson and you got a deal.

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#52 Josh
July 03 2014, 03:22PM
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Bullets Hockey wrote:

I think Brock Nelson from NYI should be considered.....he's a big body that can play center or wing. And the asking price shouldn't be too much.

It would cost but he has huge potential. Not sure NYI would trade him

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#53 Pouzar99
July 03 2014, 03:24PM
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I agree it is too early to decide. MacT has said they will base their decision on what is best long-term for Draisitl, based on what they see at camp, the exhibition games and up to nine NHL games if required. Surely he is not ready to just step in as a second line center, but he may be ready to do what Monaghan did last year with Calgary, playing sheltered minutes with different lines and getting more time and opportunities as the season went along. As Oiler fans, especially now that the team has made some smart, positive acquisitions, we have to be patient with the development of Klefbom, Nurse and Draisitl and so does team management.

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#54 Chunkylover69@google.ca
July 03 2014, 03:24PM
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The Swarm wrote:

I am not sure if anyone bothered to check Arco's stats while he was playing in the top 6.

Gagner came back from injury in Game 14. Prior to that Arco had 10 points in 13 games. Extrapolated that puts him with 63 pts over and 82 game season, or in the top 20 for Centres in the league.

Yes it's a small sample size, but it would be more representative of what to expect from him in the 2C spot, rather than looking at his entire 41 games, where for the last 28 games he was not in the top 6 and playing guys like Joensu and Gazdic.

So 10 points in 13 games. Wins face-offs. Responsible in his own end.

He makes $600,000.

If this is not a money ball pick, I am not sure what is?

We all know why he was moved out of the top 6 and it certainly was not based on merit.

The guy can play and is an NHL'er. Full stop.

You are completely right! He showed to much great play last year to think a German child will walk in and take what's his. He showed Gagner who he is and he will show the new kid as well. I have a great feeling about this arco fella! Either a for real bonafide 2nd C comes in or Arco will have more time to prove he belongs...

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#55 Danger Pay
July 03 2014, 03:25PM
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Breaking News!!! Yak has changed his number from 64 to 10 for the up coming season. So that should be the end of that trade Yak stuff!!! Problem Solved. *dusts off hands and goes back to trolling the internet*

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#56 DieHard
July 03 2014, 03:26PM
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HallFever wrote:

I know but something of value needs to go the other way. What do you suggest? Hopefully not Yak ha.

2015 2nd rounder. St. Louis doesn't need or want him anymore. They want a draft choice. Preferable a 1st but in 2015 a second could be as good as a first depending on where the Oilers land next year.

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#57 David
July 03 2014, 03:26PM
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Berglund is a 3rd line centre his minutes have been decreasing ever since he got in the NHL. Have you looked at his point totals last year?

People like him because he is big, not for his talent

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#58 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 03:26PM
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Scrivy wrote:

You're losing your touch Brownlee.

You'd trade Yak for Berglund? A soon top line winger for a 3C? Can I get that in writing so I can remind you of it 1.5 years from now?

I would not even trade Petry for Berglund.

If only there was a way to rate the relative value of players......back to JWillis' articles...

I'd trade him for Berglund and a 2nd rounder. If Oiler fans want to wait another 2 years to see if Yakupov turns it around then your taking up a roster spot of a player that can actually help this team.

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#59 Craig1981
July 03 2014, 03:27PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

Does anyone else think we need more penalty killers on this team? Our top 5 for in avg PK time per game last year for forwards: Hendricks, Gordon, Acton, Lander, Smyth

This isn't going to cut it...we need a guy like Winnik.

And before anyone says Berglund is the answer to this too, he was 6th highest forward on Blues in PK time per game.

I disgree with Winnik. I like the 4th line with Gordon, Henricks, and Pitlick/Gadzic. So Winnik isn't needed as much (Though I like him as a player)

I do think a solid 2 way center would work (though Arco was OK in that roll) I have to believe one of Hall, Eberle, Perron, Poilot, can learn to kill penalties.

.....thought wouldn't Coglino look nice on the 3rd line and then to of taken Ryan Murray instead of Yak.

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#60 HallFever
July 03 2014, 03:29PM
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@DieHard

Got to be pick + prospect similar to Perron. It would be great if it was only a pick but just can't see it.

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#61 pelhem grenville
July 03 2014, 03:32PM
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FreshMess...Berglund or Couturier and Yak all first round picks and you say Yak's a minor leaguer?

I'm not a fan of the kid or a zealot but you are just plain wrong...

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#62 Fresh Mess
July 03 2014, 03:39PM
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@pelhem grenville

Of course he's a minor leaguer. His play was not even close to NHL level. Draft position is irrelevant. Daigle, Barker, Stefan ?

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#63 Whitey31
July 03 2014, 03:42PM
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Sorensenator wrote:

What are you talking about? Clarkson was a UFA last year, there was no trading anything for him.

I have been trying to hammer this into people for quite some time, Yakupov, as skilled as he may be, and all the potential he possesses is still adding the same dimension to the team they already have..more or less, even if he turns it around.

We need a different make up in our top 9. Yes we added Pouliot and Purcell however those type of players are not seen down the middle in Edmonton. Yakupov could fetch that type of centre man in Patrick Berglund.

Bring in sometime you don't have, and move out something you have plenty of..... DUH?

So if i had a garage full of sports cars and I need a truck, I should just trade my brand new Ferrari (considering the price we paid for him) for an F-150...DUH? Maybe if i was getting 4 of them, but Berglund straight up is ridiculous.

I understand the frustration that Nail brings to certain fans as we all hoped he would be better (becoming an Oilers logic), but if he was drafted by a team with depth do you think he would have even played yet? Did you have an issue with his 1st season?

The same people that want to throw Yak under the bus are the same ones that think Leon should go back to juniors..just think about that for a sec?

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#64 pelhem grenville
July 03 2014, 03:43PM
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Danger Pay wrote:

Breaking News!!! Yak has changed his number from 64 to 10 for the up coming season. So that should be the end of that trade Yak stuff!!! Problem Solved. *dusts off hands and goes back to trolling the internet*

...he needs to double his 24 point output make his plus minus come down to zero...THEN he can stay...

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#65 pelhem grenville
July 03 2014, 03:46PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Of course he's a minor leaguer. His play was not even close to NHL level. Draft position is irrelevant. Daigle, Barker, Stefan ?

...his coaching wasn't close to NHL level either...

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#66 I Remember the Orange Jerseys
July 03 2014, 03:50PM
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Taking into consideration that he will likely play sheltered minutes on the third line, and that he’ll have Ramsay coaching him rather than Bucky, I strongly suspect Yak will have a far better year this coming season.

Nonetheless, there’s no player currently on the roster that I’m more torn about. He could potentially become an elite scorer, but he could just as likely become a prima donna and bolt for the KHL at the end of his ELC if he’s unhappy with his circumstances.

That said, if I was in MacT’s shoes, and I could get a reasonably young 1-2 center, or a 1-3 defender for Yak, plus or minus a combination of picks and prospects, depending on who’s coming back this way, I’d be willing to roll the dice and send him packing.

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#67 Ed in Edmonton
July 03 2014, 03:52PM
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Whitey31 wrote:

So if i had a garage full of sports cars and I need a truck, I should just trade my brand new Ferrari (considering the price we paid for him) for an F-150...DUH? Maybe if i was getting 4 of them, but Berglund straight up is ridiculous.

I understand the frustration that Nail brings to certain fans as we all hoped he would be better (becoming an Oilers logic), but if he was drafted by a team with depth do you think he would have even played yet? Did you have an issue with his 1st season?

The same people that want to throw Yak under the bus are the same ones that think Leon should go back to juniors..just think about that for a sec?

To extend your analogy, if the F-150 results in you progressing your business so you make enough money so you can get as many sport's cars as you may want....

We also don't yet know if Yak is a Ferrari or an Edsel (or some where in between).

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#68 jeremy
July 03 2014, 03:53PM
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DieHard wrote:

2015 2nd rounder. St. Louis doesn't need or want him anymore. They want a draft choice. Preferable a 1st but in 2015 a second could be as good as a first depending on where the Oilers land next year.

Yeah why does St Louis not want centre depth, and if they have to keep him, once again such a terrible thing, then they will play him on the wing like they did last year. If you think a 2nd rounder gets you Berglund then you must be either still drinking from Canada day or starting the 4th of July celebrations early.

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#69 Joils
July 03 2014, 04:00PM
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Am I the only person afraid mact is gonna trade petry for bergland? I hope the minimal depth we have finally establishedat d lasts longer than 3 days.

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#70 BlazingSaitls
July 03 2014, 04:06PM
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Please stop trading Yak. Please stop trading Eberle. Please stop trading Perron.

Lets make another go of it this year. I cant envision Yak's stock decreasing any more than it has so in my eyes it stays the same or improves.

If Yak improves next yr the Oilers can then decide if he is part of the long term plans or trade him with actual value.

As far as Ebs and Perron go just stop... Stop it now. I hope they are both Oilers for a very long time.

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#71 Ed in Edmonton
July 03 2014, 04:24PM
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Joils wrote:

Am I the only person afraid mact is gonna trade petry for bergland? I hope the minimal depth we have finally establishedat d lasts longer than 3 days.

Have you looked at the depth the Blues have on D. I don't think they would have any interest in Petry.

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#72 Smokey
July 03 2014, 04:26PM
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DieHard wrote:

Just drop Simpson and you got a deal.

I agree, there was concern over Simpson, Jultz'n the Oilers. I'd like to see a year before we start sending kids out the door.

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#73 DieHard
July 03 2014, 04:29PM
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jeremy wrote:

Yeah why does St Louis not want centre depth, and if they have to keep him, once again such a terrible thing, then they will play him on the wing like they did last year. If you think a 2nd rounder gets you Berglund then you must be either still drinking from Canada day or starting the 4th of July celebrations early.

That is all that I would do for Bergland.

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#74 DUH
July 03 2014, 04:31PM
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Whitey31 wrote:

So if i had a garage full of sports cars and I need a truck, I should just trade my brand new Ferrari (considering the price we paid for him) for an F-150...DUH? Maybe if i was getting 4 of them, but Berglund straight up is ridiculous.

I understand the frustration that Nail brings to certain fans as we all hoped he would be better (becoming an Oilers logic), but if he was drafted by a team with depth do you think he would have even played yet? Did you have an issue with his 1st season?

The same people that want to throw Yak under the bus are the same ones that think Leon should go back to juniors..just think about that for a sec?

Well a garage full of sports cars can be misleading. You may have a Ferrari, but you can also have a Mustang 5.0 and lets say a Vette Z06. Now all these cars go fast, but one costs 250,000 or more, another costs 50,000 and the other costs 150,000. Again they all go fast, now I need to go pick up a load of drywall for my basement. None of the cars will do the job very well, so now I need a different type of vehicle, a truck. Id prob trade the 5.0 in for a truck.

Now trading Yak for Berglund? Not a good idea..............DUH?

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#75 Greg the Hammer Valentine
July 03 2014, 04:32PM
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Yakupov for Berglund = bad move

Yakupov for Couturier = good move

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#76 Soccer Steve
July 03 2014, 04:43PM
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75+ comments less than 3 hours after hitting the web...

I wouldn't be surprised if Brownlee finished the article and during his final proofread he threw in the Yakupov-Berglund sentence just to mess with you all. Then he hits submit and starts to cackle maniacally at his screen deep inside his home(? office? lair?).

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#77 BlazingSaitls
July 03 2014, 04:53PM
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@Soccer Steve

Instead of editing ill just edit/erase and send my apologies. I interpreted you comment wrong.

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#78 Soccer Steve
July 03 2014, 04:57PM
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BlazingSaitls wrote:

Instead of editing ill just edit/erase and send my apologies. I interpreted you comment wrong.

At what point did I "knock" the content?

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#79 Soccer Steve
July 03 2014, 04:57PM
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BlazingSaitls wrote:

Instead of editing ill just edit/erase and send my apologies. I interpreted you comment wrong.

It's all good.

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#80 BobbyCanuck
July 03 2014, 04:59PM
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I think MacT has done a fine job so far this off-season. Our quest for a 2C may end up as 'a selling the farm' situation.

Would it be worth it? We still have very little depth, and will not have the bench strenght to be considered a contender for a couple of more years. Like previous seasons, one key injury, and our season is toast.

So why not rotate the prospects through out the year, it will help them figure out as to what level thier game needs to at to stay in the NHL. Especially bring them up during the last 20 games of the season, you remember that time of year? The time which seperates the boys from the men, our prospects will quickly learn the difference between the regular season, and play-off hockey expectations.

I do not think we will make the play-offs this coming season, nor do i think we will win the Cup the following season, so why trade away your potential for a quick fix today?...

If we compete everynight, and hopefully win half our games, I would be ecstatic.

I would pull the trigger on a trade:

Crosby for Eberle and Yakipov Subben or D.Kieth for Petry and Yak

Laugh all you want, we traded away the greatest (argue this all you want) player in NHL history, would it not be nice to be on the recieving end of the same?

Otherwise, what is the point? Let the kids play, some will play themselves into proper NHL stars, others maybe career journymen. To soon to tell.

I am just happy that next year we will be playing meaningful games past Novemenber 15.

Yeah yeah, does not take much for me to put on my rose-coloured glasses. But this time, its gonna be different, this year we will earn respect

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#81 Mike Wazowski
July 03 2014, 05:03PM
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Looks like Berglund was signed to a three-year contract extension in late June. Appears to be a $3.7 million dollar cap hit. Not a bad contract.

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#82 Whitey31
July 03 2014, 05:22PM
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@Ed in Edmonton & DUH You both agree we need a truck to haul drywall as do I. My point was that you dont trade one of the top end sports cars for a work truck. Yes an older mustang would be more like it!

Eakins tried to haul drywall..sorry chopped wood with a sports car and it didnt work out to well. doesnt mean the car is crap, it was just used for the wrong job.

If Yak was drafted by Detroit, this would probably be his 1st full year in the league. Kruger gets 31 points out of the kid in 48 games yet the new system/coach only gets 24 points in 63 games. Must be all Nail's fault right, cause the team as whole did spectacular things with the new system/coach! Im not pointing fingers, just shocked that so many people have given up on him already?

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#83 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 05:32PM
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Whitey31 wrote:

@Ed in Edmonton & DUH You both agree we need a truck to haul drywall as do I. My point was that you dont trade one of the top end sports cars for a work truck. Yes an older mustang would be more like it!

Eakins tried to haul drywall..sorry chopped wood with a sports car and it didnt work out to well. doesnt mean the car is crap, it was just used for the wrong job.

If Yak was drafted by Detroit, this would probably be his 1st full year in the league. Kruger gets 31 points out of the kid in 48 games yet the new system/coach only gets 24 points in 63 games. Must be all Nail's fault right, cause the team as whole did spectacular things with the new system/coach! Im not pointing fingers, just shocked that so many people have given up on him already?

Not so much giving up on him but rather needing different type of players regardless if he turns into a good goal scorer.

Even if Yak turns into a 40 goal guy, I would trade him in an instant to acquire a #1 D because it fits the mould of our team better.

Besides he isn't going to be a 200 ft player. We need more of these.

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#84 Jasmine
July 03 2014, 05:33PM
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@Woogie63

Gagner was run out of town by Oilers fans.

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#85 Jonathan Willis
July 03 2014, 05:37PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Gagner was run out of town by Oilers fans.

Yes, yes and we all give Lowe too hard a time because we compare him to Sather.

I know you're excited because you've found a new line to add to your schtick but you don't need to include it in every comments section here.

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#86 Jasmine
July 03 2014, 05:44PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Players were run out of town when Slats was here, too.

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#87 RexHolez
July 03 2014, 05:48PM
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if Drai looks good and earns a spot, you gotta give it to him. but hopefully he'll have nhl competition for the job. he'll look good compared to the ahl competition much like nurse did

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#88 camdog
July 03 2014, 05:55PM
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@Whitey31

Yak's first season wasn't much different than last season. The difference was that in the shortened season, when the Oilers were out of the playoffs Krueger let Yakopov have fun and Yakopov went on fire to finish the season and he scored more on the powerplay. The lack of powerplay scoring last season affected everybody on the team. You remove the last dozen or so games from his rookie season and he's the same player.

It's still too early to trade him, because we don't know what we have, he has a lot of things to work on, but has one of the best shots on the team. What Yakopov desperately needs is a veteran type centreman, like a Berglund. If the team fails to obtain a veteran centre to complement his game it would be a very, very big mistake.

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#89 bwar
July 03 2014, 06:10PM
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I'm kind of hoping someone gives Justin Schultz a big offer sheet and the Oiler's let him walk.

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#90 camdog
July 03 2014, 06:16PM
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@camdog

Oh and Yakopov had Horcoff. I don't remember how much they played together, but it sure beat watching Yakopov playing with Sam.

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#91 albertabeef
July 03 2014, 06:17PM
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Chunkylover69@google.ca wrote:

You are completely right! He showed to much great play last year to think a German child will walk in and take what's his. He showed Gagner who he is and he will show the new kid as well. I have a great feeling about this arco fella! Either a for real bonafide 2nd C comes in or Arco will have more time to prove he belongs...

All I've read on here for the past 2 years is that Gagner/RNH duo was too small. Now you think a smaller guy will fit the bill??

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#92 Whitey31
July 03 2014, 06:23PM
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Sorensenator wrote:

Not so much giving up on him but rather needing different type of players regardless if he turns into a good goal scorer.

Even if Yak turns into a 40 goal guy, I would trade him in an instant to acquire a #1 D because it fits the mould of our team better.

Besides he isn't going to be a 200 ft player. We need more of these.

Absolutely agree when you are talkin about a #1D which is a big difference form Berglund (from your original post).

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#93 Geoff
July 03 2014, 06:25PM
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albertabeef wrote:

All I've read on here for the past 2 years is that Gagner/RNH duo was too small. Now you think a smaller guy will fit the bill??

Well in his defense Arcobello does play a lot bigger then his actual size

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#94 MessyEH
July 03 2014, 06:28PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Gagner was run out of town by Oilers fans.

Gagner bought his own ticket out town.

Did the Tampa fans make him only worth a 6th round pick, and 2 million of his 4.8 million cap hit be retained. Oh yeah let's not forget Tampa also a gave phoenix a serviceable NHLer.

So let's recap. Tampa gave Phoenix 4 million bucks, a NHL player in Crombeen,and Sam Gagner! For a 6th round pick.

(You draft Janitors and people to work the concession stands with 6th Round picks. )

But, it was the Oilers fans who ran Gagner out of town.

Sam Gagner is a fine hockey player. But, he did this to himself. 7 years with almost no growth from the player. Is that the fans fault?

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#95 Kevin
July 03 2014, 06:30PM
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Good read RB- I too would package up Yakupov and whatever to answer the call down the middle with Berglin. The Oil are and have been slim and slight down the middle for years. I would argue they have never really replaced the towering center they once drafted- that being Jason Arnot. Who trades big skilled Centers ?? Well our beloved Oilers, that's who. If we can some how land Berglin, this would definitely put a stamp on this team as being at least legit. Yes, still holes but at least should put up a fight on most night. In the mean time let's all give Eugenie Bouchard a big hug and well wishes as she endeavours to make Canadian history on the courts ! Go Eugenie !!

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#96 Harlie
July 03 2014, 07:02PM
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Jasmine wrote:

Players were run out of town when Slats was here, too.

Please provide a link or a source or STUFF IT!

Waiting..

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#97 Wintoon
July 03 2014, 07:03PM
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Everybody wants a solid #2C and whenever a possible trade is put forward they jump all over it. Typical behaviour from Oiler fans.

If you want a decent asset you have to offer a somewhat comparable value to the other team. This could be in the form of players, prospects, picks or Cap space.

Hopefully MacT can deliver.

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#98 Wintoon
July 03 2014, 07:03PM
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Everybody wants a solid #2C and whenever a possible trade is put forward they jump all over it. Typical behaviour from Oiler fans.

If you want a decent asset you have to offer a somewhat comparable value to the other team. This could be in the form of players, prospects, picks or Cap space.

Hopefully MacT can deliver.

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#99 Dockstaff
July 03 2014, 07:06PM
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yaaaaaaa wrote:

trade for vinny lecavalier. shouldn't be too hard. can teach the kids something. former cup winner. Nuge - Lecavalier - Draisaitl - Gordon isn't a bad centre line up

HELL NO! Start watching Sports Centre!

Listen to any of the experts, MacKenzie, Dreger, Ron McLean... Lecavalier is not a leader. They gave him the C in TBay and it turned out to be a disaster. He is reported to be the first off the ice at practice and often skips optional skates. He won't teach anything but bad habits and why someone else can back check.

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#100 Dog Train
July 03 2014, 07:14PM
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If Mactavish can add a #2 C, then I would be perfectly comfortable with a fair competition between Arco and Draisaitl for the #3 C.

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