The Big Picture View of the Small Forwards

Small hockey player

The Oilers, as of right now, have nine forwards under 6’ tall on their roster. Four of those forwards are locks for the team, and two more are likely.

Locks

  • Sam Gagner: 5’11”
  • Patrick O’Sullivan: 5’11”
  • Andrew Cogliano: 5’10”
  • Mike Comrie: 5’10”

Likely

  • Robert Nilsson: 5’11”
  • Gilbert Brule: 5’10”

Possible

  • Rob Schremp: 5’11”
  • Jordan Eberle: 5’10”
  • Liam Reddox: 5’10”

Of that group four of those guys (Gagner, Cogliano, Comrie, Nilsson) are not a fit anywhere but on a scoring line, although Gagner and Cogliano might be able to grow into two-way players.

Additionally, Patrick O’Sullivan is probably best utilized in a scoring role against less than stellar opposition, and Gilbert Brule hasn’t shown that he’s capable of playing a defensive role; in other words, everyone but O’Sullivan needs to be put in a position to succeed – not too many own-zone starts, and not too many shifts against the Getzlafs and Iginlas of the league.

This is all relatively common knowledge, and has been discussed ad nauseum on message boards, radio, TV, and this site.

Let’s Step One Year Forward

Does anyone here believe that Jordan Eberle isn’t going to get a push next season, or that he’ll be anywhere other than on the Oilers’ roster? He should go back to junior this year, but the fact that he’s pushed his way into the conversation at this camp, combined with his draft pedigree means that he’ll almost certainly be an Oiler in 2010-11.

Let’s not forget 5’9” Linus Omark. Omark is coming off a tremendous season in Sweden, and so far has apparently had some issues with his KHL team. Maybe he makes the team, maybe he doesn’t; either way, it seems very likely that he’s going to challenge for a spot on the roster next season.

Next, we consider Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. Paajarvi isn’t in the same range size-wise (6’1”, 201lbs) as the other players we’re considering, but his skill-set certainly is: he’s a young player with offensive talent who needs to round out his defensive game and probably needs some shelter from his coaching staff when he comes to North America. Maybe he starts next season in the AHL, but it’s easily within the realm of possibility that he pushes for a roster spot.

The Oilers are going to need to make decisions on all three of these guys, and it’s very difficult to imagine that either Eberle or Paajarvi are going to be tossed aside. Based on what he did in Sweden, it also seems like it would be a shame to send out Omark without taking a look at him.

In Other Words…

The Oilers are over-stocked with small players with a largely offense-only mindset. They have three remarkable prospects coming in next season, all of whom are going to be (at least initially) of much the same skill-set.

Individually, there’s an argument to be made for every one of these players. Gagner and Cogliano are obviously valuable players. Robert Nilsson, coming off a bad season, continues to show flashes of brilliance and is a guy who would be nice to keep. Mike Comrie’s had a strong preseason, and brings some experience and edge that the other players don’t. Patrick O’Sullivan has a few skills (shooter, penalty-killer) in short supply on the Oilers, and on top of that has put up better totals in the NHL than any of the other young guys. Gilbert Brule was a 6th overall pick in 2005 and has untapped offensive ability and a physical edge.

The fact of the matter though, is that however valuable these players are individually, there isn’t room for all of them. Certainly one, probably two and possibly as many as three are going to be shipped out by the start of next season.

Barring an outstanding return, Gagner, Cogliano and O’Sullivan are the three currently on the roster that I would keep.

  • Hippy

    I really like the idea of a Penner, Patty O, and Comrie line. If Comrie and O'Sullivan can keep the offense up, they could really benefit from Penner's presence in front of the net.

  • Hippy

    Jimmy wrote:

    If Edmonton and Nashville are kicking tires, could Goc be back on the table?

    it's too bad. we could have "Goc" that guy for next to nothing! 😉 (recycled joke alert)

  • Hippy

    swany…
    we got lots of cap space if we would just make hockey descisions !!! Pisani 2.5 ( brutal ) Pouloite .95, Brule .8 Schremp .7 Staios 2.8. Totals 7.7 million, all could be buried in the minors and would free up a ton of space, or heaven forbid we find a sucker to take some of those contracts of our hands, even better……Robbie N. would of been a perfect, cheap pick up from a penatily kill and special teams point, where we desperatly need some size and defensive abilities, both we are sorrily lacking right now……

  • Hippy

    tlbest wrote:

    swany…
    we got lots of cap space if we would just make hockey descisions !!! Pisani 2.5 ( brutal ) Pouloite .95, Brule .8 Schremp .7 Staios 2.8. Totals 7.7 million, all could be buried in the minors and would free up a ton of space, or heaven forbid we find a sucker to take some of those contracts of our hands, even better……Robbie N. would of been a perfect, cheap pick up from a penatily kill and special teams point, where we desperatly need some size and defensive abilities, both we are sorrily lacking right now……

    Brule will stay up here, Schremp won't count against the cap because he won't make the team MAP will be waived (hopefully) no way do they do anything with Steve or Pies sorry Pies is a local boy who they won't waive or put in the minors

  • Hippy

    RE: Pisani

    How many RW's on this team can get sent out against Ryan Getzlaf's (or Datsyuk, or whoever) line?

    Maybe Hemsky?

    That's Pisani's value. He can play against the other team's best players. Now, he might be a little overpaid, but the Oilers can't just send out Ryan Stone and hope for the best.

    This team needs more veterans, not less, and that means Moreau and Pisani stay where they are.

  • Hippy

    Pouliot actually makes .825, which is part of where his value comes in: he's one of the few players on the roster with a good shot at outperforming his contract.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    RE: Pisani
    How many RW’s on this team can get sent out against Ryan Getzlaf’s (or Datsyuk, or whoever) line?
    Maybe Hemsky?
    That’s Pisani’s value. He can play against the other team’s best players. Now, he might be a little overpaid, but the Oilers can’t just send out Ryan Stone and hope for the best.
    This team needs more veterans, not less, and that means Moreau and Pisani stay where they are.

    Where were you last night when I battled trolls, newbies and a few plain old haters for hours on this very issue?