Pragmatism

Reasoner

A physical game is not a prerequisite for a bottom six forward. There are those who would argue that is, but I really don’t see it as a defensible argument. Consider the following list of forwards:

  • Kris Draper – more than 1000 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Todd Marchant – more than 1000 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Radek Dvorak – more than 900 NHL games, hasn’t been a top-6 player in four years
  • Jay Pandolfo – more than 700 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Sergei Brylin – more than 700 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Matt Cullen – more than 700 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • John Madden – more than 600 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Richard Park – more than 500 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Ryan Johnson – more than 500 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Marty Reasoner – more than 500 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Pascal Dupuis – more than 400 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Matt Pettinger – 400 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Fernando Pisani – more than 300 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Brooks Laich – more than 300 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Erik Christensen – more than 200 NHL games, mostly as a third line forward
  • Dominic Moore – more than 200 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Vernon Fiddler – more than 200 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Andy Hilbert – more than 200 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Jay McClement – more than 200 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward
  • Toby Petersen – more than 200 NHL games, mostly as a fourth line forward

I didn’t include any players with less than 2-1/2 seasons at the NHL level (200 games), and I didn’t include any retired players. I also didn’t include any players who have the reputation of having an above-average physical game. Certainly there’s some grit there – Matt Pettinger and Andy Hilbert, for example, have some decent size and definitely some grit, but they aren’t physically dominant players. The players on that list, and especially at the top of it, have made a career of either shutting down top opponents with speed and positioning, or doing something very simple: scoring more goals than their opponents.

Teams need a balance; a team without physical players is going to get pushed around, and obviously there should be some grit in a team’s bottom-six. But to argue, for example, that Marc Pouliot won’t have a career as a third line forward because he doesn’t have a dominant physical game is to ignore a host of very good players who have proved exactly the opposite.

It’s been that way all down through history – players like Rick Meagher and Bob Gainey forged reputations as defensive stalwarts, despite not being physically dominant. More recently, a player like Marty Reasoner has forged an NHL career despite a) no real physical game b) suspect skating and c) minimal offensive production.

The reason these guys have careers is because despite what people will tell you, toughness, speed and even goal-scoring aren’t the most valuable assets to a team that a player can possess. The most valuable asset is actually rather elementary – scoring more goals than the opposition. It’s how teams win games, and it’s glossed over far too often in favour of big hits and flashy but one-dimensional play.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Besides, right now he’s a key ingredient in a very decent Gagner line. I’m looking more at the long term picture

    I would hope that next year the oilers plan on upgrading him on the 2nd line, regardless of what he is doing right now. We all saw what happened last year with the kid line and how far has that got us this year?

  • Hippy

    If you don't think that Marchant didn't play with grit then you never watched him play. He played much bigger than he was. He competed hard and never avoided a collision.

    Draper is one of the best 3rd liners of all time, so trying to allude that Pouliot is in his category is a large stretch. And we know this started with the comment regarding him and a Potulny possible effectiveness as a 3rd line player.

    Pandolfo won loads of battles and was a stellar penalty killer on championship teams.

    John Madden is a Selke winner and plays much more physical than Pouliot.

    I've always said there is room for Pisani or Pouliot, not both. And Pisani doesn't get knocked off the puck easily.

    I agree the top end guys on the list played a major role on their team, but they are also some of the best at it.

    The rest are players that fill a roster spot but haven't made much impact on their team, or league wide.

    Of all the players listed after Madden, only Laich because he has size and uses it from time-to-time and Dominic Moore because he can win a draw, are any of the others players you would want here?

    Are they better than what the Oilers have?

    And yesterday you said that scoring in the AHL does mean something to the NHL. I used your guys that you stated are good NHLer's and compared the numbers for you.

    Kris Draper – Averaged 0.5 PPG in the AHL and 0.32 PPG in NHL.

    Todd Marchant – Only played 49 games in AHL and had 61 points. His best year in the NHL he had 60 points, but is a career 0.45 PPG player in the NHL.

    Radek Dvorak – Never played in the minors.
    Jay Pandolfo – Averaged 0.77 PPG in the minors, and.0.28 in the NHL.

    Sergei Brylin – Was a 0.91 PPG player in the AHL, and 0.40 in the NHL.

    Matt Cullen – Had 36 pts in 27 AHL games, and is a 0.51 PPG in the NHL.

    John Madden – Had 98 point year in the AHL, 41 is his best in the NHL.

    Richard Park – In 338 AHL games he had 261 points. In 589 NHL games he has 220 points. 0.77 PPG in AHL, 0.32 in the NHL.

    Ryan Johnson – 0.75 PPG in over 200 AHL games, 0.18 PPG in 593 NHL games.

    Marty Reasoner – 125 points in 122 AHL games, and 200 in 530 NHL games.

    Pascal Dupuis – He had 0.61 PPG in IHL, and 0.39 PPG in NHL.

    Matt Pettinger –0.50 PPG in the AHL and averaged 0.28 in the NHL.

    Fernando Pisani – Career best 37 points in NHL, and 60 in the AHL.

    Brooks Laich – 0.47 PPG in the AHL and 0.38 in the NHL.

    Erik Christensen – 0.68 PPG in the AHL and 0.43 in the NHL.

    Dominic Moore – 0.59 PPG in the AHL, and 0.32 in the NHL.

    Vernon Fiddler – 0.49 PPG in the AHL and 0.30 in the NHL.

    Andy Hilbert – Scored 0.90 PPG in the AHL and 0.34 PPG in the NHL.

    Jay McClement – 0.53 PPG in the AHL and 0.36 in the NHL.

    Toby Petersen – Scored 338 points in 442 AHL games, and has 55 points in 220 games. A 0.76 PPG in the AHL and 0.25 in the NHL.

    Not one of them matched their AHL production and in most cases it was quite a bit lower. I think that proves that what Potulny does offensively in the AHL has no bearing on the type of numbers he will put up with the Oilers. Which will be minimal since he won't ever crack this lineup, outside of being an emergency call up.

  • Hippy

    Scott C. Booschock wrote:

    Trying to add some humour here but I guess you all take it serious.

    That's what I was hoping you were doing, or else I would have had to track you down and shake you in an angry mother to infant fashion.

  • Hippy

    Rick wrote:

    That said, I go back to my original point in that on this team, the way it’s made up, you have to have some grit on the 4th line wings.

    Pouliot, for what he brings, is best suited for the third line but then you have to decide if he is an upgrade over what is already slotted in there.

    This team needs balance – that we agree on. But with Moreau, Jacques, Stortini and MacIntyre contending for roles in the bottom six, I don't see an argument that Pouliot can't cut it on this team.

    Besides, right now he's a key ingredient in a very decent Gagner line. I'm looking more at the long term picture for players of his ilk – I think he has an NHL career as a third liner.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ Rick:
    For starters, Pouliot is a centre, and has developed his game to play wherever he can – a utility that should serve him well going forward. People complain about Erik Cole being jumped from left wing to right wing, but Pouliot’s played all three forward positions, and that isn’t something people seem to give him credit for.

    I know he is a center but that isn't what's getting him into the line up is it? Until, assuming that he can, he ever establishes himself as a regular center it's pretty much moot to argue that he is one.

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ Rick:
    Secondly, a bunch of those players on that list are wingers, and most of them (Jay Pandolfo perhaps being the best example) have spent extensive time on the fourth line. Take a look at the fourth lines of the really good teams over the last ten years – most of them have good, talented players without a physical game on not only their 3rd, but 4th lines.

    As I said, it's my opinion that you can't group together both the third and the fourth line.

    As far as saying you never see unphysical guys on the 4th line wings, I never said that either. I fully recognize that there are exceptions. There always are. I also recognize that there are times when player development vs team situation will dictate that a player starts lower down the line up. Horcoff being a prime example.

    That said, I go back to my original point in that on this team, the way it's made up, you have to have some grit on the 4th line wings.

    Pouliot, for what he brings, is best suited for the third line but then you have to decide if he is an upgrade over what is already slotted in there.

  • Hippy

    Scott C. Booschock wrote:

    MacT was a fourth line forward who banged and stuck up for his team mates like he wants Dustin Penner to. He is a great model for any hockey player.He is also in the running for the Jack Adams award, he has done such an excellent job in a team with no skill. If the Oilers let him go he will be the next coach of the Wild.

    Are you trying to be ironic/funny or something? Jack Adams? Do you even watch hockey?

  • Hippy

    @ Scott C. Booschock:

    In the running for the Jack Adams? Seriously? I'll go as far as to say that MacT is not the real problem, rather that it's the boy's club mentality in this team from the top down. Simply getting rid of MacT won't help because we all know that Huddy or Buchberger will take over and it's the same thing.

    Actually, now that I think of it you're right. MacT IS in the running for the Adams, strictly speaking. I mean, he is coaching in the NHL this year so I guess that puts him in the running.

  • Hippy

    MacT was a fourth line forward who banged and stuck up for his team mates like he wants Dustin Penner to. He is a great model for any hockey player.He is also in the running for the Jack Adams award, he has done such an excellent job in a team with no skill. If the Oilers let him go he will be the next coach of the Wild.

  • Hippy

    @ Rick:

    For starters, Pouliot is a centre, and has developed his game to play wherever he can – a utility that should serve him well going forward. People complain about Erik Cole being jumped from left wing to right wing, but Pouliot's played all three forward positions, and that isn't something people seem to give him credit for.

    Secondly, a bunch of those players on that list are wingers, and most of them (Jay Pandolfo perhaps being the best example) have spent extensive time on the fourth line. Take a look at the fourth lines of the really good teams over the last ten years – most of them have good, talented players without a physical game on not only their 3rd, but 4th lines.

  • Hippy

    I think the argument about Pouliot was in respect to being a 4th line forward.

    Depending on what you believe the make of a team should look like, there is a big difference between 3rd and 4th liners. I don't think you can generalize the bottom 6 like that.

    Further, guys like Marty Sakic play a position that doesn't demand the same physicality that people refer to. He is a center, and much like Brodziak who also isn't physical, offers more than just energy.

    Pouliot appears pigeon holed to the wing and on this team, with this make up , the 4th line wingers must be able to play with some sand in their game.

  • Hippy

    How dare you say that Marty Sakic has forged a career as a third liner. He spent at least a third of those games on the first line, for whatever reason that may be it's unknown.

    Willis your data is skewed. 😉