Multi-tasking: bang for the buck

Colorado Avalanche at Edmonton Oilers

As much as people like scribbling out line-ups and trying to figure out what the Edmonton Oilers will look like next season, I’ve never had much interest in doing it myself, at least not in April.

Jason Gregor of TEAM 1260 and Oilersnation and Jim Matheson of The Journal have given us their takes on what might unfold and who might move over the summer in the last couple of days. Both were good reads and sparked plenty of discussion.

For me, though, I can’t possibly project with any accuracy what might happen until after the draft and before the opening of free agency, when things start to take shape.

I’ve always found that it’s then, after the picks are made and some deals have been made, GMs like Steve Tambellini start to show their cards one way or another.

Until then, I find the range of possibilities too broad to narrow down with any certainty. If the Oilers draft Tyler Seguin and not Taylor Hall, does it make a difference to Andrew Cogliano or Gilbert Brule or even Robert Nilsson? I think so. If Tambellini unloads Sheldon Souray, does who he gets back impact Jason Strudwick, Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham or Aaron Johnson? Yes.

Or maybe I’m just dim.

Is there a fit here?

Given the many holes Tambellini has to fill, there are two unrestricted free agents I think might address some needs and do it at a bargain basement price — Zenon Konopka and John Scott.

Before anybody accuses me of stealing from Matheson — he mentioned Konopka as a possibility in the last couple of days — those following along know I’ve talked about both before. In the case of Konopka, over a year ago. I stole Konopka from Bob Stauffer then, so there’s no need to steal it from Matty now (although I’ve done that, too).

Now, I know the mention of Konopka and Scott won’t sit well with those who don’t value toughness — knuckle-draggers, the nerds call them — but I think both could fit here, beyond their fistic prowess.

First, obviously, is the toughness factor. And is there really any debate it’s a good idea for the Oilers to add toughness, given the size of their forwards and the kids they might have in the line-up next season? Uh, no.

Konopka, 29, is a ruffian to be sure. He led the NHL in fighting majors with 33 while toiling for Tampa Bay this season.

Scott, 27, who plays with the Minnesota Wild, is a beast. At six-foot-eight and 250 pounds, we know that after watching him slap around Dean Arsene for fun.

Two birds with one stone

Bloody knuckles aside, what I like about Konopka and Scott is they can fill more than one need and do it on the cheap.

Aside from his 265 penalty minutes, Konopka is a centre who won 62.3 per cent of his face-offs this season. That’s Manny Malhotra and David Steckel numbers. Better than Steckel this season, actually. Aside from providing toughness that can play as coach Pat Quinn demands, wouldn’t Konopka fit on the fourth line alongside Zack Stortini and come in handy on the dot? I think so.

As for Scott, he’s less of a player, but he’s not the kind of can’t-play hammer Quinn has no use for. He’d bring toughness to the back end, and that might come in handy because I can’t see adding two tough guys up front with room needed for kids like Jordan Eberle.

Scott could slot in as a sixth or seventh defenceman. He averaged just over eight minutes a night in 51 games with the Wild this season. He’s a spot player who could play in the third pairing and take turns in the press box. The question is if Scott will be available. If Minnesota opts not to re-sign Derek Boogaard, they will almost certainly try to keep Scott.

Konopka made $500,000 this season, while Scott made $550,000. Both are cheap and both fill a need — two needs, actually. If Tambellini doesn’t inquire about both, he isn’t doing his job.

Head games

From Team Hall at Oilersnation, today.

"Hey Robin, You and Stauff broke the news the Oilers like Seguin. Did you get any sense as to the reason why? I hope its not just because Seguin is a centre, because a responsible scout picks the BPA at all times. So how is they have become convinced that Seguin is the better player? What is it I’m not seeing here? How does one "project" a player to be available without a crystal ball? Is it the fact he had no help on his team? How do they explain Seguin getting completely shut down in that series with Windsor?"

Signed,  Concerned Oil Citizen

The job of NHL scouting departments is, and always has been, about projecting who will be the best player three, four, five years after draft day, not who’s the best on draft day. In that sense, BPA is a bit of a misnomer.

Based on conversations I’ve had with scouts, I can tell you this: in the minds of many, Seguin projects as the better player down the road. That’s not stop the presses stuff because other people have suggested that before. It’s why some see Seguin that way that’s of interest to me.

Essentially, I get the sense some scouts believe Seguin thinks the game better and they think that will translate better five years down the road than the physical game Taylor Hall relies on.

While Hall and Seguin are listed as about the same size, Hall is actually playing at 202 pounds. He’s dynamic for many reasons, and one of them is the physical edge he has over players at the OHL level.

There is some question, and rightfully so, how that physical aspect of Hall’s game will play out in the NHL against bigger, stronger opponents who are seasoned pros. I’m not saying Hall is a knucklehead who can’t think the game and relies too heavily on physicality, but it’s more of an element with him than with Seguin.

Whitney recovering

Forgive me if this has already been reported, but, as expected, defenceman Ryan Whitney had surgery to repair his right foot last Friday after seeing a specialist in Carolina.

Whitney, 27, had a procedure called an osteotomy, which helps re-align the bones in his foot. He was born with abnormally high arches and had the same procedure on his left foot while with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Oilers PR man J.J. Hebert tells me the procedure was a success. The recovery time is about three months, so Whitney should be ready to resume off-season training well before camp opens.

While I’m at it

— I see the MSM is aboard the Ales Hemsky speculation train, as is the possibility he might not re-sign here after his contract is up in two seasons and whether or not the Oilers should trade him while they can still get something for him. Better late than never, I suppose.

Matheson talked about it today in a live-chat thing with Dan Barnes put on by The Journal. Matty’s seen and heard many of the same things I have, so I was a bit surprised it took him so long to come to the same conclusion.

That’s not meant as a shot at Matty because he’s a friend, but I’m surprised we haven’t read something from the full-time beat people before now. Jim spends as much time covering the rest of the NHL for his must-read Hockey World as he does covering the Oilers.

— Still on Hemsky, why is it some people immediately revert to denial and play shoot-the-messenger when a reporter raises questions about Hemsky, as Matheson did today?

As was the case when speculation about Souray surfaced a year ago, knuckleheads with ZERO inside information would rather rip the reporter — in this case Matheson — as being irresponsible for speculating based on what they’ve seen and heard rather than asking themselves if what’s being said is possible or even likely.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Bucknuck

    Man this Hall and Seguin debate is getting hot.

    These two guys are so darn close I cannot understand what there is to get so excited about. The stats can be read either way.

    Seguin has a lot going for him with his regular season play and the fact he is a centre and a right handed shot.

    Hall seems to be the “big game guy” and that is incredibly valuable and so hard to quantify.

    It’s a great position to be in.

    Be happy in Oil country!!

    • Bucknuck

      Bucknuck, you’re right, debate is scorching hot between Hallians and Seguinites. Fun to stir up some conflict since we have no playoffs to get mad about.
      here’s a little fuel on the old fire:
      Hall is faster, bigger, stronger, more physical, and has a better shot. So theretofore, we should pick Seguin, because thats what Stubborn Oilers Management Has Decided.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Got to admit that it’s bugging me that you present this like the Oilers are going off board here (assuming that is even the way they are leaning). Especially after Brownlee explained that scouting staffs are looking to find the best player down the road, not the best player today.

        • OilFan

          Which scouting staff ours ? Everyone else isn’t sure who is better now, how do you predict down the road ? You draft the best player not the position they play. I think we really need a center and this maybe our only chance at one really though for Tambo

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

            Well he says:

            “The job of NHL scouting departments is, and always has been, about projecting who will be the best player three, four, five years after draft day, not who’s the best on draft day. In that sense, BPA is a bit of a misnomer”

            so im assuming all do it.

          • OilFan

            I’m not disagreeing with robin or the article or the tought of Seguin being our pick. I like Seguin because he plays center and it seems to be close between him and Hall. But how is the Oilers scouts so sure at this point ? I hope they are right and we get the best player

          • They haven’t said one way or the other. Everyone is just assuming they are leaning towards Seguin. Fans & media could be right, or maybe the organization wants us to think that. Could be used as leverage on draft day for another pick or a player. Who knows…

            They are both quality players – which ever way the Oilers go we are getting a good player that will be under the microscope for the rest of his career if the other guy turns into the next one.

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

            Well we don’t really know “how sure” they are of him. Reports have been they are leaning that way. But they can obviously change their mind.

            My point was that Seguin is both ranked #1 by central scouting as was cited as the top pick by 3/10 scouts informally polled. So it isn’t like this is “the wild and crazy Oilers managment going off board” which has been implied.

      • Bucknuck

        You’re funny. Are you related to Taylor Hall? Since you gave me pro Hall comments I will counter with the very well documented pro Seguin comments.

        Since Hall had less goals than Seguin, how is it that he has a “better shot”? One could argue that because Seguin had less gifted linemates (and defensemen) that he had to do most of it on his own, wheras Hall got a lot sweeter passes and his high assist totals are due to his linemates being great, not necessarily because he is elite. Also with Seguin you have someone who thinks the game well and is in a position to dominate the ice much better than Hall, being in the centre position.

        Oh the arguments. So fun. I am firmly on the fence.

        If they pick Hall I will be happy. If they pick Seguin I will be happy. If they pick anyone else there will be a black smudge on the ground where I used to be standing as I will spontaneously combust.

  • OilFan

    7 out of 10 scouts take Hall over Seguin that is according to Mckenzie. This is one of the reasons why I think the Oilers will take Seguin. I’ve heard that they think Seguin will be better three years from now, really and no one else can tell who is better now.

  • OilFan

    Since the Oilers don’t follow the dorm. Hall is dynamic to watch something the fans would love, Sequin the better player down the road. Just like Eberle Sequin will be in the minors next season

    • Sequin, or Seguin, cannot play in the minors next year. He’ll play his 9 games and they’ll make a decision. On the off chance it looks like he’d benefit from another year of Jr, the Oil will send him back. As for Hall, having already played 3 years in Jr, he has nothing left to prove at that level (aside from a possible WJHC tourney). He’d have to look pretty bad to not stick in the NHL next year. Chances are, both will stick. My $0.02.

  • — Still on Hemsky, why is it some people immediately revert to denial and play shoot-the-messenger when a reporter raises questions about Hemsky, as Matheson did today?

    Whats the message,and whats the message if he is raising questions(can that even be considered a message)?? Or is this speculation or wishfull thinking to have something to write about for the next month or two?

    Did Hemsky give someone a cold shoulder during an interview in the past? Is this why we are being bombarded with these trade talks?

  • OilFan

    If they Oilers move Hemsky I hope they can get a first line center and just maybe they draft Hall. But I’ve been hearing Seguin from all Edmonton media not just the guys here. Listening to REAL hockey experts Hall is the guy.

    • Then we can start rumours and speculations on who we are going to trade to get Hall and the New Centre a RW to play with.

      Give this Hemsky trade talk a rest for good or atleast for two years, just like Bad Boy, He Ain’t Going NoWhere!

      I believe none of this media you listen to is employed by the Oilers. So why take their opinion to heart? In Edmonton around this time a year is their recession season. They have nothing to do, so most of them make up sh!t to keep people around.

    • So you’re suggesting that one half of every scouting department that has studied these players in depth arent the REAL hockey experts?

      I havent heard a single group have a concensus on the two picks. An anonymous group of NHL scouts were polled on TSN, at minimum half of them didnt have a legit chance to draft either. How much in depth scouting do you think was wasted on players their teams didnt have a chance to draft? Why should we take this poll as Gospel?

    • As opposed to the FAKE hockey experts? There are tons of scouts and tons of opinions. I lean towards Seguin but let’s face it, most of us have not seen either of these guys play much (if at all). We can look at the stats and work with what we have seen and heard from others.

      My feeling with Seguin is that, if there is any doubt, go with the centre. If we ended up picking the wrong guy at the end of the day what else is new? Add your Seguin/Hall jersey to the wall beside your Bonsignore, Kelly and Devereaux ones.

      Stu “Magnificent Bastard” MacGregor has done a pretty good job of drafting these past few years. I’m content to accept whatever he thinks and I’ll just cross my fingers and hope TambLowe doesn’t f&*k it up.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Konopka had a good FO%, but I don’t think it’s fair to say he was used as a faceoff specialist. He took 462 FOs which was 1000 less than Lecavalier, less than half of Stamkos’ totals, and a handful less than Halpern who played 20 fewer games. Nate Thompson was used as often on a per game basis. He took his share when his line was on the ice, and his line saw a lot of ice in their own end, but I think it had more to do with trying to keep Vinny and Stamkos out in offensive situations as much as possible than them wanting Konopka out there in defensive ones.

    As a bit of a reference, Dustin Penner took over 400 draws for the Oilers this year.

  • Congratulations. You win the hair-splitting award. Konopka took 462 face-offs and won 62.3 per cent of them. Penner’s winning percentage was what? (47.7)

    Konopka is better in the circle than anybody the Oilers have now. He can fight, and he plays the kind of game perfect for a fourth-line centre. As a bonus, he’s relatively cheap.

    So your issue is he isn’t a “face-off specialist?” Really? Did I use that term at any point in the item?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Count me in. I’m getting my “Team Konopka” t-shirt.

    BTW, seems to me that guys who win face-offs also tend to win other physical battles.

    In other words, faceoff wins can be used as something of a proxy for a guy who is strong on the boards (but I’m just speculating about that).

  • Ender

    Bucknuck wrote:

    If they pick Hall I will be happy. If they pick Seguin I will be happy. If they pick anyone else there will be a black smudge on the ground where I used to be standing as I will spontaneously combust.

    I think this is where I am too. They’re both good players and I’ll be hoping for the best from whichever one wears our jersey.

    As a best-case scenario, I’m wondering about the following:

    Speculation is that the Oilers are leaning toward Seguin, but they haven’t tipped their hand. Speculation also has Boston leaning towards wanting Hall.

    Robin, any chance that Tambi rolls the dice, trades the first overall to Boston for the second overall and, say, a sixth-rounder? Ideally, that would see Boston get their guy, the Oil get the guy they wanted anyway, and the Oil get a depth player for their trouble. Boston might do that deal if they feel strongly enough about Hall, but it sure puts pressure on Tambi because if he wins and Seguin turns out to be the better player, he looks like a genius. If Hall rounds out better in the first couple years, though, Tambi might not survive to see if Seguin ever proves him right.

      • Ender

        Boston isn’t sure. Nothing is a sure thing until it happens. Yes, it might be smart for Boston to sit tight and take whatever comes their way. For the price of a depth pick or bit player, though, they could be free of chance and be sure to get the guy they want. That might be a price they’re willing to pay.

        Teams trade up in the draft all the time. I’ve seen teams trade up one spot to get a guy projected to go 10 picks later. Teams like to be certain. Maybe Boston is willing to pay to be certain.

        • For sure nothing is written in stone, but I think it’s a pretty good bet that the Oil take Seguin based on the needs of the Club.

          I know teams trade up and down all the time. I just dont think it’s going to happen in part because it’s being reported that the Oilers are leaning heavy towards Seguin. And I’m just assuming they want Hall because Boston isnt deep on the Wing.

  • MrCondor

    It appears that everyone with an opinion is pretty evenly split between Hall and Seguin. ISS and Central Scouting pick Seguin. Bob MacKenzie’s sources say Hall.

    Hall has put up better numbers, but Seguin carried his team. Hall appears more NHL ready now, but people predict Seguin will be better with time.

    They seem to be pretty evenly matched. It’s a 2 horse race.

    What does appear clear from what I’ve read is that Hall is more of an offense first guy, and Seguin is more of a 2 way. I know Seguin can score and Hall can back check, but these are the generalizations.

    So instead of comparing Hall to Seguin, we need to identify what the oilers need (I know, a lot) and what they already have in their system.

    Our top 4 forward prospects are Eberle, MPS, Omark and Nash. That is 3 offense first guys and one 2 way player.

    We are far deeper on the wings than center.

    Shouldn’t this lead the Oilers torwards Seguin?

  • MrCondor

    You take Hall with first choice because he is a proven commodity and you know you can’t go possibly wrong by doing so now ,or down the line . If Sequin somewhere down the line pans out to be the player some predict and somehow be better overall than Hall , big deal ! You still made the right choice at the right time, and you know you’ll always be happy with Hall even if somewhere down the line Sequin rises above him . It’s not a hard choice to make – you take the proven commodity over the crystal ball approach . Lets remeber Hall will be improving over the years as well , as he is very unlikely to have reached his maximum limits as well !!

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      did i sleep through the last 3 years and miss Hall playing in the NHL?

      how the **** can anyone coming out of junior be considered a “proven commodity”? WTF have they proven? that they can dominate other kids?

      yes, a very select few (lindros, crosby etc) are the exception to the rule. Is Hall considered to be that good? i dont think so. Do we honestly have to start listing the trail of bodies that indicate the amount of junior players who light it up in junior and end up amounting to SFA in the NHL?

      proven commodity? be better.

  • Hallisimo

    @ RB

    Have you heard anything regarding MPS father being pissed at oilers management, I’ve read in a couple of places now where he states that Magnus wants to come over and play but that he has not heard from the oilers in months, is this in anyway accurate? If so perhaps the souray issue is a little more legit.

  • GSC

    NEW FOOD FOR THOUGHT . TAMBELLINI opens new trading doors and partners for Oilers by making it appear he and organization are leaning toward Sequin !! He is probably right not tipping his hat till last minute, and should have the most people and doors open that he can get to bargain with around draft time and going into next season. Good for him if this is his strategy – i applaud him for that approach if indeed it is his newer methodology . I think it much easier than trying to be the chaser all the time from a position of perpetual weakness than the new approach from a position of strength we now hold . Guess what ? the Oiler doors are now “open for business” from a position of strength – this could get really interesting come draft time and off season changes .

    • MrCondor

      My god you’re a genius!!!

      There is no way that the other teams in the league would reconize that the Oiler’s are “open for business” unless local media hinted towards drafting Seguin.

      madjam for GM!!!!!

    • Eddie Shore

      Nice quick research but don’t be so quick with declaring CS as winners…

      Keaton Ellerby was ranked 4th and Angelo Esposito was ranked 8th and there are some real household names ranked by CS in the top 30 such as Tommy Cross 12th, Stefan Legein 13th, Nick Ross 18th, Nicholas Petrecki 21st, Mike Hoeffel 22nd, Patrick White 23rd, Nick Spaling, etc…just a few and all of them ranked ahead of Brandon Sutter.

      Does NHL CS get the win there too?

        • The parents of the family who lived beside us when I was about 10 used to yell and scream and generally raise a ruckus every night just after dinner. “Yes, it is,” followed by “No, it isn’t,” that sort of thing. “Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. No . . .” Night after night. Week after week. Year after year. He’d say “it’s night,” she’d say “it’s day.” He’d say “it’s too warm,” she’d say, “it’s too cold.”

          I assumed the parents were either insane or drunk or both. I once asked one of the boys from that household something along the lines of, “What’s wrong with your mom and dad? What are they always fighting about?”

          “Uh, nothing,” Jody said. “That’s just the way they are.”

          There, you have it.

  • Mitch

    I think for Hemsky, it’s only a matter of when he’s trade and for who, the sooner the better. Edmonton has so much change that will happen it don’t make sense to try and resign Hemsky. Hemsky will also command huge money which will not make sense to the roster at that time.

  • @Robin Brownlee

    How dare you reporters make speculation about players? What makes you have any right to believe that you know anything more than the average fan, who has Internet access? How dare you? I say.***

    Now, maybe if, one of you pencil pushers had raised questions about Souray’s desire to be an oiler before the season even started. Or if maybe you had mentioned something about Whitney requiring surgery in the off-season to correct a foot problem he’s had since birth, I would be able to believe you.

    Oh yeah, that’s right, you did.

    So what I’m getting at is….

    I, for one, appreciate the information you bring to us. Whether it pans out to be true or not remains to be seen. Anything can happen between now and next season, and obviously you know that more than anyone.

    So…..

    From what you’re hearing. Do you belive the oilers think they can be contenders in the next year or two, or do you get the feeling that they’ll actually
    commit to a true rebuild?

    *** I hope the blatant sarcasm was picked up

    • Fair question, but it’s difficult to set a time limit on what you call a true rebuild and it depends on what you mean by “contend.” Contend for a playoff spot? For the Cup?

      It’ll depend on who the Oilers draft this summer. It’ll depend on how many of the young players already in the system develop and how many get a roster spot. It’ll depend on how well Tambellini fills holes on defence with trades and free agents. Who does he buy out? Who does he get for Souray? Who does he get in other trades? It’ll depend on how well Horcoff and Hemsky bounce back. It’ll depend on the progress, or lack of same, of Gagner and Smid.

      I don’t think it has to take five years, but I don’t think you’ll see the Oilers come roaring back to be “contenders” next season, either.

      The important thing is that Lowe and Tambellini learn from the dismal failure of the last four seasons and commit to doing this properly, without shortcuts, no matter how long it takes.

      • Mitch

        @ Robin Brownlee

        Robin I’m just watching the playoffs here, I have a thought when it comes to Hemsky. I would call Pittsburgh and offer Hemsky plus any other player in the organization for Staal. Or is Hemsky enough, just as long as we don’t deal any draft picks.