GDB XLIV: The return of Gregor and the DFF

After being isolated from any live hockey for two weeks, and only one highlight, the World Junior Gold medal game, it sure will be nice to see an epic battle tonight for the chance to draft Taylor Hall.

The Blue Jackets have three wins in their last 24 games, and they have given up six or more goals eight times this season. Steve Mason has struggled mightily, with a 3.31 GAA and an ugly .890 SV%, while Jeff Deslauriers’ numbers are going in the wrong direction as well, 2.95 GAA and a .903 SV%, so he will rest tonight and Devan Dubnyk will get his second career start.

Dubynk can only improve on his first start, when he surrendered seven goals, and he is excited about getting back in. He played two games in Sprinfield this past weekend and he felt good about his game. He told me he wants to focus on not playing as deep in his net as he did in his last start. Henrik Lundquist is the only goalie who plays well deep in his net, and Dubynk knows he has to be more aggressive tonight.

The Oilers are comfortably in the bottom five, but now the fans want more than just the bottom five; they want to be the worst. It doesn’t sound like the cavalry is coming so that dream is very much alive, but it might take a hit tonight.

The Blue Jackets have been horrendous for two months and Mason is playing like he has mono again. The Oilers will really need to stink it up tonight to stay 29th.

Ken Hitchcock prides himself on coaching solid team defense, but the Jackets have given up the second most goals, 150, in the league and he isn’t happy about it. I doubt Scott Howson wants to get rid of his coach, but if the Jackets continue to struggle Hitchcock will be in trouble.

Lubomir Visnovsky skated today, but he was put through the paces after practice, so he won’t go tonight. The pairings will be Souray/Gilbert, Smid/Staios and Grebeshkov/Strudwick.

Potulny making the most of his opportunity

While many forwards have struggled this year, Ryan Potulny has made the most of his opportunity. He is playing on both special teams and lately he has been in the top four forwards in ice time. Potulny has five goals and three assists in his last seventeen games, and he has scored some “goal scorers” goals.

I was one who thought Potulny would be a regular on this team, nevermind a guy who plays 16-20 minutes a night. While the DFF or the Fall for Hall is on, a player like Potulny is playing to make a name for himself.

He is a prime example of why the DFF is so difficult to achieve because there will always be some players who are playing for a roster spot, and in some cases their career. Potulny has earned the trust of Quinn and if he continues to play well and improve, he could go into training camp next season as a guy whose name the coaches have written in pen rather than pencil or a with a question mark.

Trip tips

If any of you are planning on taking a holiday anytime soon, I highly recommend Costa Rica, and specifically Tamarindo. The weather is outstanding, the beaches are white, brown and in some cases black. Surfing is awesome and the scenery on the beach and in the countryside is breath taking.

I’d recommend you take the tour at Rincon de la Vieja. The white water tubing and zip line were top-notch. If you go around Christmas or New Years make sure you go to one of the Fiestas in the small town. Watching the bull-riding; seeing average guys stay in the ring to play bullfighter is great entertainment. I spent an hour in the ring and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Luckily I never came close to getting trampled, but I did see a few guys get the horns/stomped.

It is a beautiful country and the people were very proud and hospitable. Tamarindo is a  five-star holiday destination in my books.

  • Travis Dakin

    I wonder if there is any player on the Oilers roster that actually wants to be in Edmonton right now. Things are bleak. I honestly thought I'd never have to go through this in a season again.

  • Milli

    Ugh, even the tv networks can't spell Gagner's name right. In the scoring summary "Gagne 1 goal". Pfffff! Almost as bad as hockey night in Canada whenever they put up "Alex Hemsky" on the screen.

    • Eddie Shore

      Terrible hockey game…absolutely terrible. Uninspired effort against a team that is playing just awful right now and were ripe for the pickings. Only thing that makes it worse is that Carolina lost as well.

      I should say that I am pleased with the outcome but would've liked to have at least been entertained.

  • No matter how much I cheer for the DFF, I still get really sick in the stomach watching these athletes wear my sacred logo while Sh**tin the F**kin bed! The Oilers jersey doesnt deserve dinks like these!
    *there, I feel a little better now*

    • Its almost like the whole team basically gave up. I dunno man. Moving Horcoff to the big line and burying Gagner with slugs seems ludicrous to me. That Penner/Nilsson/Gagner line seemed to work. As soon as Horcoff swapped for Gagner, it went into the toilet.

      And I don't care what people say, DD doesn't look ready for the show.

  • Jason Gregor

    @ Dennis

    When is the last time Pouliot has played ? Now when has he played top lines ? Rypein is one hell of a good hockey player. He would be on this team. Pouliot probably not unless injuries.

  • swany

    Gregor, in response to your e-mail (which I sent back also), yes the Oil should have MPS, Eberle, and Hall in the lineup next year this is a rebuild and to do it right, they need to decide on what players will be here 3 years from now and try to trade the rest and let the kids play. Yes we will suck next year as well but we get another top five pick plus our cap would be around 44 mil then in year 3 you have money to try and trade or get a UFA (hopefully players realize what the oil have by then) and want to come. Next year I would go with Penner, Gagner, Hemmer. MPS, Horc, Eberle. Brule, Cogs, Hall 4th line of Storts, Potulny, Stone. on D Vish, Smid, Gilberts, Grebs, Struds, Chorney. Yes the D looks week but can it be any worse than this year plus this drops about 12 mil off the cap. Size could be an issue, but MPS is 6.2 200 Penner is big, Hemmer has proven to go to the tough areas and we will have to wait and see if Eberle, and Hall will do the same. Let these guys play together so they get to know one another we can't keep turning over players (not that we did last year) but a team should try and stay together for a few years. Look at Pit, Chicago there core is locked up for atleast 5 years that's what the Oil need to do.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      That still leaves the team with crap balance. Pitsburg/Chicago/Washington are BALANCED.

      The team needs legit 3rd liners and shut down defenders more then it needs another top 5 pick in 2011.

      • swany

        I get that and you are right (in a way) question do you think the Oil can add some good third line guys and compete next year anyways? My point is drop the cap let these guys play, learn and get ready to be a good Offensive team then you can add the pluggers, look at this year how many third line guys were out there cheap and there will be those guys when we are ready to go for it in 2 or 3 years, we even might have someone in the organization that can do it by then. All I'm saying is there really a need to add 28-32 year old third lines to a team trying to rebuild it sort of goes against everything we want this organization to do, this is what we are talking about when RB, Gregor, Bob all say whats the plan is it a full rebuild, a half rebuild or what.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I think people go to far to the extreme with "rebuild" wanting basically every player over 25 off team. If we were to go full rebuild right now, it could be 3/4/5 years before we are competitive.

          We've already got the young offensive hotshots both on the team and in the system, we need the one catalyst "superstar" prospect to add to that, we should hopefully add that in Hall this year.

          Hall/Gagner/Brule/MSP/Eberle will likely all be top 6 guys in the next 2-3 years, no one has that much youth in their top 6, let alone going another 2-3 years in the tank to add more.

          As you said role players were cheap and plentiful this past summer, but that was more of a function of the cap going sideways. Once the cap starts to rise again, the spending on the Ethan Moreaus of the world will start up again. This summer is likely the last chance to get bargin basement prices.

          As soon as someone mentions adding some UFA's, everyone thinks "quick fix!! Rebuild is off!!"

          UFA's are now available at 25/26/27 not just 30/31/32 like they used to be… we don't need the high priced UFA (well we do, but we need the role players more…who are dirt cheap)

          Who would I lose? Moreau 33, Souray 33, O'sully 24, Nillson 25, Stone 25, Grebs 27

          Who would I add from the UFA market? Nystrom 26. Armstrong 27, Betts 29, Volchenkov 27

          In other words we'd be cashing in old guys for younger guys and replacing duplicate parts for pieces of similar age but fill a bigger whole in the roster.

          We would still have the young core of Gagner/Brule/Gilbert/Smid/MSP/Hall/Eberle and in no way would a rebuild be underminded…however, coupling the FA signings with one smart trade for a guy that can pot 25 and play in multiple situations and the team would be a legit threat for a 5/6 spot.

          • Jason Gregor

            You might find this hard to believe but I'm in total agreement with you…I think it's possible via role player UFA acquisitions and some good trading to ice a competitive team as early as next season or the season after and to me that includes at least 2 of Eberle, Hall (if we get Hall) and MPS.

            I agree with the dumps Moreau, Souray, O'Sully, Nilsson, Stone, Grebs. I'd also add Pisani, Potulny, Pouliot, Staios. And I wouldn't care if I used Cogs and Gilbert as well as trade bait.

            I like adding Armstrong, don't mind Nystrom, but I'd rather add Tootoo myself but that's neither here nor there. Instead of adding 4 UFA's I'd try trading for some help. Supposedly Chicago needs to dump salary. Who will be available Sharp? Byfuglien? Barker? Seabrook? They've all been mentioned in the rumour mill. There may be others that have been mentioned such as Jeff Carter or Nathan Horton. I'd try to get in on some of that using guys like Cogs, Gilbert, Grebs, O'Sully, Nilsson, Pouliot, draft picks as bait. I know Chicago apparently doesn't want salary in return so an RFA or 2 and a pick or 2 could get you a good player or two.

            I know you won't get much for Nilsson or Pouliot, but maybe a package of something can get you something.

            As you said:

            We would still have the young core of Gagner/Brule/Smid/MSP/Hall/Eberle and in no way would a rebuild be underminded…however, coupling the FA signings with one smart trade for a guy that can pot 25 and play in multiple situations and the team would be a legit threat for a 5/6 spot.

            Shock of the day is we agree

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Ha-ha, I don't think we ever really disagreed. You just went wild when I didn't want 3 guys under 20 added to the forward core next year 😉

    • Jason Gregor

      Next year I would go with Penner, Gagner, Hemmer. MPS, Horc, Eberle. Brule, Cogs, Hall 4th line of Storts, Potulny, Stone. on D Vish, Smid, Gilberts, Grebs, Struds, Chorney.

      In my mind you can't have Gagner, Horcoff, Cogliano, Eberle, MPS, Brule and Hemsky in your top nine. None of them are over 6 feet and only Brule plays physical, although Hemksy has gonads the size of apples because he goes in tough areas.

      And even if you have the 12 you mentioned, and Ryan Stone doesn't skate well enough or do enough to be in my 12 next year, then that means they have to trade O'Sullivan, Nilsson, Moreau and let Pisani and Pouliot walk.

      If Tambellini can find takers for 19, 18 and 12 he'll have had a great start to 2010. I would re-sign Pisani for a million if he stays healthy the remainder of this season, although if he is healthy by the deadline I bet he gets traded and unless the organization does a 360 I don't see them letting a former 1st rounder, Pouliot, walk away for nothing.

      I've said many times I'm not a fan of 78, but you still try to get something in return.

      • swany

        Fair enough Jason we need to add size that can skate, who do you think would work and what do you do with MPS, Eberle, and the draft pick, to me they have to play in the top nine because that's there potential. And OOB I see your point and that works for me as long as there's room for Eberle, MPS and the draft pick.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I would give 2/3 of Eberle/MPS and whomever is drafted this year one more year to develope. You can then use one to replace either Penner or Hemsky (contracts up in 2 years) or swap them for a stud defensmen.

          Normally I'd be on the "full rebuild" bandwagon, but I strongly believe we've got enough young skill. I'd say the same for Columbus and St Louis. We could very easily be next years Pheonix with a few smart moves.

          To tell you the truth, by far and away my biggest concern with this team is goaltendin… I don't know how they are going to solve that issue.

      • swany

        Jason, how about a trade such as Cogliano, Petry and a 2nd round pick for Byfuglien and Cam Barker? Or what do you think Chicago wants back in a trade when they dump salary off the books?

        This would give us Penner, Byfuglien for size in the top 9. You mentioned MPS as not being over 6 ft but if I'm not mistaken isn't he actually 6'2" now and may not be done growing.

        I would let Pouliot and Pisani walk next season if I couldn't get anything for Pouliot. And yes I agree much of the required changes hinge on finding takers for 19, 18 and 12

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I would prefer Sharp too but I have this feeling Chicago might not trade Sharp. And I hope we are able to sign Hemsky to an extension when his contract is up.