During his transition from the coaching ranks to that of senior advisor, Pat Quinn saw fit to make Sam Gagner his fourth-line centre to start the 2009-10 season. I, and a lot of people, are guessing successor Tom Renney sees Gagner as his first-line centre when the 2010-11 season begins.

It doesn’t take a vast intellect to deduce Gagner, the ink still damp on his two-year contract worth $4.55 million, will likely be the Edmonton Oilers top centre when the season begins. That it’s crossed my mind is proof of that. Sam slots there a lot when Oilers fans scrawl their line-up and line combinations. What are the other options?

I could have asked about that obvious possibility when I spoke to Renney today for an NHL.com feature I’m doing on Taylor Hall, but it slipped right through the sieve I call my mind as I was scribbling superlatives about the two-time Memorial Cup MVP.


Not long after I whiffed with Renney, Bob Stauffer became the 7,097th person to toss out the possibility Gagner will start at pivot on the top line on today’s edition of Oilers Lunch on TEAM 1260. It wasn’t so much that as the accompanying tidbits that grabbed my attention. We best follow along . . .


Those who haven’t figured out that when Bombastic Bob suggests something it’s likely because he knows something, haven’t been paying attention.

So, while saying Gagner could (will) start the season as Renney’s top centre is no revelation, I’m guessing the make-up of the first three lines Stauffer suggested might be.

— The way Stauffer sees it, 19-year-old Swedish rookie Magnus Paajarvi, taken 10th overall in the 2009 Entry Draft, slots in on the first line alongside Gagner as his left winger, with Ales Hemsky on the right wing.

— Hall, who played both left wing and centre with the Windsor Spitfires before the Oilers ran to the podium and called his name in Los Angeles this summer, will line up as the left winger on the second line with Shawn Horcoff at centre and Jordan Eberle on the right side.

— Dustin Penner, who led the Oilers with 32 goals and 63 points last season, begins 2010-11 on left wing with Gilbert Brule at centre and yet-to-be-signed (soon-to-be-traded?) Andrew Cogliano on right wing.


Has Stauffer taken a peek at the white board in Renney’s office? Is he simply making an educated guess? I don’t know because I haven’t asked him. Interesting take, though.

Is Paajarvi seen as a better complement to a puck-handler like Hemsky than Penner? Might not Renney at least take a look at Hall in the middle during the pre-season? Likewise, might he not do the same with Penner?

And, if we’re scratching out our line-ups, isn’t the speedy Brule a better fit between Hall and Eberle on the attack than Horcoff? Likewise, wouldn’t Horcoff be more effective with Penner, and vice-versa?

One thing is certain: any line-up that keeps Cogliano away from the face-off circle is a good thing, so putting him on the right side makes sense from that point of view.

I want to get a peek at that white board . . . stay tuned.

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

  • Oilemup

    I don’t like penner on the third line at all. You have to put hall or pens on centre to make it work. I see it as

  • Hags9k

    I would roll em out as follows, and I think most of the forwards would be happy with their linemates. Except for maybe Cogs who has to get it through his head he is not a top 6 scorer and needs to check like his life depends on a Selke trophy.

    1. Big Dusty – Gagner – Hemsky
    2. Hall – Brule – Eberle
    2A. PJs – Horcules – Cogliano
    4. Big Mac/Jones – Fraser – HB


  • Hags9k

    I would roll em out as follows, and I think most of the forwards would be happy with their linemates. Except for maybe Cogs who has to get it through his head he is not a top 6 scorer and needs to check like his life depends on a Selke trophy.

    1. Big Dusty – Gagner – Hemsky
    2. Hall – Brule – Eberle
    2A. PJs – Horcules – Cogliano
    4. Big Mac/Jones – Fraser – HB


  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Just got Sportsnet One on Telus TV!

    677 and 678 for HD. looks like the Oilers got their own channel! 678! Sportnet Oilers?

    For SD people its 106, and 107!

  • Hags9k

    It’s Aretha Franklin time for Penner again as he just can’t get no respect. No matter what he does the previous year, he always comes back for the next year on the second or third line. If Stouffer is right and Penner starts behind Paajarvi, a kid who has never played a single game in the NHL, it wouldn’t surprise me if Penner thought what do I have to do to get some respect around here. I’m sure he’ll be thinking see ya edmonton when his contract is up.

  • Oilfan22

    No better time to start Hall on his career as a center than right out of camp. As well, we need Horcoff on the 3rd line to handle the ‘shadow’ duties, pk, etc. He can’t handle all the ice time from the 1st two lines and take every important draw as well. Penner deserves to be on the 1st line..plus he can take draws in a pinch.. Keep the kids together..shelter the 2nd line… Lines should look like this.. Penner- Gagner- Hemmer, MPS- Hall- Eberle, Brule- Horcoff- Cogs, Jones- Fraser- Storts,,,, JFJ, Mac

  • VMR

    I’m pretty sure the lines will change shift by shift and be a constant blender for months. But They have to give Penner-Gagner-Hemsky a shot after that 13 point game they had in Columbus last year just before Hemmer went down with injury.

  • VMR

    I can easily see T. Hall having the same type of year like Matt Duchene had for Colorado. I dont see any reason why he wouldn’t. very simular type of player in my opinion.

      • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

        @ DAVID S

        Exactly, he’s actually surrounded by more talent with the Oil. This team is gonna be fast as hell with Hall and MPS! Holy crap i cant fricken wait!

        • A rookie upsets the balance of a line, just by being new and inexperienced. We’ll have three lines with rookies. Yeah, we’ll be fast as hell but it’ll be Wile E. Coyote against the Roadrunner this season, and we’ll be the coyote. In fact, alot of guys are predicting a return to lottery territory.

          If it works out better, then great. But I’m not under any illusion that the amount of rookies, shaky goaltending and lack of quality veterans throughout the lineup can lead to much more than “exciting last place hockey” (per Wanye).

  • Admitting that the lines will be a blender – if you want to achieve some balance and depth down the middle what about Brule/Penner/Hemsky as your #1? Normally I wouldn’t consider Brule a 1st line C, but he played very well with Big P last season, he’s not a raw rookie, he’s got a great shot, Penner’s defence helps protect him in his own end and Penner & Hemsky have had success together.

    That leaves Gagne to C the #2 line with MPS/Hall (whichever is the playing the best) on the L and Eberle on the right a revamped kid line if you will and Horc with Cogs on the R and Hall/MPS on the L. Gives Gagne a chance to continue to grow (he isn’t facing the Sedins). If Eberle struggles then perhaps that’s when Giroux gets his shot.

    Horc let’s you protect whichever of Hall/MPS has the tougher time adjusting.

    Fraser/Jones/Storts is a very solid minute eating 4th line. JFJ and Big Mac can eat popcorn and sub in against Calgary

  • You have to make the team first. There will be rookies in the line-up this year all right, but maybe not all of the Big 3. Anyone besides Hemsky’s spot up front is not for certain (“Hey You Guys”). With the shuffle of coaches, and injuries who knows what the starting line-up may look like? When you score over 100 goals in the last 2 seasons(at the pro level) how can you not give Giroux a legitimate role on the worst team in the league. With all of our depth you can not just throw in the most recent draft picks into the line-up(except Hall). Anyone in the Oilers system has an awesome chance of making the team this year including D-man. You can not exclude anyone that has been trudging it out in the minors for five years waiting for there shot, or even a late draft pick. If they dont perform, there not gonna be handed a spot. The inside competition for the forwards are overwhelming, you figure theres gonna be some type of unloading either during camp, or right after.