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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#1 geno
July 03 2014, 01:49PM
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Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

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#2 Nomad787
July 03 2014, 02:18PM
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I agree about Leon. But man am I glad your not the GM. I get your not that high on yak but seriously how would that deal make any sense. Berglund will never be more than what he is now, yak is 20 and has played a year and a half on a very bad team.

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#3 jonny94
July 03 2014, 02:08PM
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I would not trade Yakupov for Berglund. A defensive prospect and maybe a draft pick is the most I'd give up. We need a stop-gap for Draisaitl we don't need to make a statement trading Yakupov, that seems counter productive for Berglund.

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#4 HallFever
July 03 2014, 02:26PM
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You just can't trade Yak now. The pain we went through to get him at number 1 and to trade him now would be a big mistake. You need to give him at least 2 more years to know if he is the real deal. It won't take Yak to get Berglund. The Blues need to shed salary. Give Yak a Center like Berglund to play with and you will see a big improvement with that alone.

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#5 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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#6 DieHard
July 03 2014, 02:37PM
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Yak for Berglund is the dumbest trade you've suggested. True, Yak has issues but you can do better than Berglund. I'd give 2015 2nd for him though.

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#7 DieHard
July 03 2014, 02:40PM
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HallFever wrote:

Wouldn't Gernat or Musil + a 3rd round pick get it done for Berglund? I would also consider Klefbom if needed.

Everybody quit trading Klefbom. Damn-it.

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#8 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 02:16PM
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Sign David Legwand then, he produces a little more offensively and the only thing you are giving up is term and money, not Yakupov.

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#9 Jayz
July 03 2014, 02:38PM
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Thank god your not the gm browny. You don't move a player after a down year...especially if the said player is 20 and was the first overall pick!! I agree Bergland is a good target but not at that cost. I think a dman going back the other way is more likely with all the recent additions and not much in the way of breathing room in cap space.

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#10 Bullets Hockey
July 03 2014, 02:19PM
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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

I like Vinny but I can't see him waiving his NTC to come to the Oilers.

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#11 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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#12 Gordie Wayne
July 03 2014, 02:06PM
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I like what MacT has done so far...if I am him, this is what I do next:

1. Sign 6'2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years). The other decent C available in UFA just don't do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

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#13 Ed in Edmonton
July 03 2014, 02:27PM
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Berglund may have been a 3rd line center in St. Loo, but would fit as No2 with the Oil and that's what makes him attractive.

If in a couple of years RNH and LD progress to fully competent 1 & 2 centers, Berglund goes back No 3 and all is good in the universe.

It might be time for a "bold move".

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#14 Scrivy
July 03 2014, 02:53PM
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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...

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#15 Robin Brownlee
July 03 2014, 02:08PM
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geno wrote:

Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

Like I said, there's risk in moving a player as young as Yakupov, but I see enough I don't like in his game that I'd be willing to make the move -- as I said I would for Clarkson (in the scenario Gregor put forth) before the horrid season he just had.

I think Berglund is capable of taking on more minutes here. Perhaps not as a full-blown 2nd line centre right away, but in the 2/3 role I mentioned. By the way, Berglund has averaged more minutes as the third-line centre you peg him as than Yakupov has in his roles here.

Feel free to disagree with the premise, but spare me the anti-Russian/anti-logic bit.

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#16 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
July 03 2014, 02:22PM
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If MacT can't bring in a center he has failed as a GM. Ever since he was hired we've been constantly begging the Oilers to bring in a NHL centerman. The biggest need on the team for two years,two free agency periods and nothing to show. If RNH and Gordon get hurt we are playing meaningless hockey before christmas again.

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#17 Chunkylover69@google.ca
July 03 2014, 02:44PM
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Berglund for yak makes us a better team right now and I get that. But Berglund isn't enough to drag us deep into the playoffs so to me its a waste of a blue chip talent. If we are going to give up a player with the huge upside potential that yak possess it must fetch us more. Give him time to get the stink off of last years performance and Yakupov will be coveted by every GM in the league.

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#18 Zarny
July 03 2014, 07:46PM
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Berglund isn't enough for Yak imo.

Draisaitl has only played in NA for 2 years. Unless he comes into camp and looks better than Nuge I send him back to Jr.

He has a lot to learn. He's only been a dominant player for one year. In Jr he'll have the ability to try new things and develop his game in ways he wouldn't be allowed to in the NHL.

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#19 jonrmcleod
July 03 2014, 02:16PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

I like what MacT has done so far...if I am him, this is what I do next:

1. Sign 6'2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years). The other decent C available in UFA just don't do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

You do realize there's a salary cap, right?

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#20 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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#21 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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#22 Hoss
July 03 2014, 08:24PM
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Trading Yakupov for a third line center, even a very good one would be a complete panic move. He had a rough year obviously but it is way too early to throw him away. Yikes

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#23 GriffCity
July 03 2014, 02:20PM
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IF we traded Yak for Berglund, one of two things would almost certainly happen. Either Yak goes to STL and explodes for 30-40 goals and everyone goes back to believing he is a legit #1 overall OR Berglund comes to EDM and craps the bed.

Its not worth the risk at this point to move Yak until he has another terrible season and we trade him for a puck bag. Right?

Its actually a bad situation for the Oilers, and given their track record of the majority of trades over the last handful of years, one would think that either way the Oilers are going to end up getting screwed in the ear.

I would see if they can throw an offer sheet to Steve Ott for 1 year at about 1.8 - 2.5 mil and see if it has traction. Not the best offensive guy but like Hendricks, Ott brings an edge every night and is hard to play against. That is after all exactly what we said needed to be improved upon to compete in the West is it not?

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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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#27 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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#28 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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#29 shaner
July 03 2014, 01:51PM
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I agree with the take of getting Backlund. What do you think of trying to sign Legwand as a centre option?

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#30 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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#31 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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#32 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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#33 The Last Big Bear
July 03 2014, 09:54PM
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Everyone who is calmly talking about whether or not Arcobello should be a 2nd line centre in the western conference...

You are on drugs. BAD drugs.

I'm just going to go ahead and list the 2nd line centres in the western conference today, and you tell me when you see guys who are clearly behind Arcobello. This shoud be illuminating:

Mike Richards

Joe Pavelski

Brad Richards

Ryan Kesler

Tyler Seguin

Sean Monahan

David Backes

Matt Duchene

Ryan Johansen

Markus Granlund

Sam Gagner

Nick Bonino

Whoever the heck Winnipeg is dressing,

I'll cut to the chase. RNH has to wake up early and eat his Wheaties to stay in the top half of that list. He has upside, but that's where he is now.

Show me a team that dresses Mark Arcobello as 2C, and I'll show you the team that finishes last in the conference. And some of you may still think that's a viable strategy, but 8 years of sucking hard and drafting high has resulted in a situation where Mark Arcobello is the 2nd best centre on the team.

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#34 thekid
July 03 2014, 02:57PM
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@Fresh Mess

I believe the word most people would use is "dullard".

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#35 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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#36 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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#37 yaaaaaaa
July 03 2014, 02:16PM
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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

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#38 Pucker
July 03 2014, 07:57PM
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Too early to give up on Yak. I agree with an earlier poster. I think Robin is trolling.

We certainly need a centre but Berglund isn't going to get us into the playoffs. Sign Legwand or find a stop-gap centre.

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#39 Quicksilver ballet
July 03 2014, 09:58PM
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I wouldn't even give up Yak for Couturier, and he's a considerable upgrade over another Boyd Gordon clone in Berglund.

I think we're getting way ahead of ourselves worrying about a measly year on an entry level contract. Who in their right mind is more concerned about 3 years from now than they are about the impact of the coming season. Half these kids will probably take a cut in pay when they become UFA eligible. Not all these kids will be superstars to begin with. Some will be fortunate to become support players.

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#40 Bullets Hockey
July 03 2014, 02:07PM
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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.

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#41 Oliveoiler
July 03 2014, 02:44PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

I like what MacT has done so far...if I am him, this is what I do next:

1. Sign 6'2 205 lbs. former 8th overall pick Peter Mueller for cheap short term contract (1.5 to 2 million per for 1 to 2 years). The other decent C available in UFA just don't do it for me (Ott was -38 last year, Roy is small although is a point producer, and Legwand likely wants too much term and money).

2. Sign one of Winnik or David Moss as depth winger for 2.5 to 3 million (we need penalty killers).

3. If MacT is set on trading Petry, then it needs to be for an upgrade at D. Say Petry + prospect like Musil + a 2nd/3rd rd pick for a decent top pairing dman for the team (like Byfgliuen or Coburn or ????)

Petry, prospect and pick for a bona fide #1 defense man, get Mueller or Legwand for a C and let's see what happens - surely to God it can't be worse than last season's implosion. Well done MacT, you sure are making changes instead of dithering like your predecessor.

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#42 Sorensenator
July 03 2014, 02:02PM
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geno wrote:

Berglund's a 3rd line centre...so uh ya....you're selling low on your 20 year old 1st overall pick. We know how you feel on Yak. You thought trading him for Clarkson was a good idea in 2013. Not sure if you're anti-Russian or just anti-logic

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?

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#43 Clubhouse
July 03 2014, 02:17PM
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Totally agree, Drasaitl needs to earn playing on this team.

Would love to see us getting a 2C & 3C (Legwand plus might be too much cash).

IF Drasaitl makes the team no harm in starting on the wing either Mckinnon looked pretty good there this year.

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#44 Casey
July 03 2014, 07:47PM
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As I said before,invite Peter Mueller to our camp. No risk in that. If he dosen't work out than he dosen't work out and we can just let him walk. If he does work out than we can sign him to a 1-year deal.Let Draisatl get his 9 games than go back to junior,if PA gets knocked out of the playoffs early than let him play some games in OKC. Do the same with Nurse.

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#45 The Swarm
July 03 2014, 02:58PM
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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.

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#46 Rama Lama
July 03 2014, 03:13PM
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Robin, what makes you think that Aulie is not another Marlies players Eakins has brought in as a part of his " bring in another Marlies player experiment"?

Just how many times do we have to try this......before someone figures out the Marlies are a AHL team.

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#47 Lowe Expectations
July 03 2014, 03:19PM
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Yakupov was a poor pick at #1. If he doesn't get his game turned around (and that is a definite possibility) I would expect him to got to the KHL once his entry level deal is finished. That means the Oilers get nothing for him & a #1 overall pick was completely wasted.

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#48 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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#49 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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#50 Woogie63
July 03 2014, 02:43PM
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I think I would rather have

1C RNH 2/3C Gagner 3/2C Horcoff 4C Gordon

than

1C RNH 2C ???? 3C Drasaitl 4C Gordon

for 2014/15. I don't care about the cap and term ... I want want to watch some winning hockey.

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