Actual NHL Players

This is Bob Nystrom. A strong, violent winger in the Western League, he didn’t have NHL speed but the Islanders took him anyway. After a cup of coffee at the end of his rookie pro season, Nystrom found himself taking an unusual step on his journey to the National Hockey League.

To quote famous powerskater Laura Stamm: "Just before the summer of 1973 Bill Torrey, the New York Islanders GM, phoned me. He asked if I could teach a promising rookie by the name of Bob Nystrom. Bob had a lot of promise, but his only hope to make the Islanders roster was to improve his speed. After watching him I felt that by improving his skating technique he could be faster. In those days professional hockey players did not have female instructors. To spare Bob any embarrassment, we kept our training sessions to ourselves. We worked from 6 – 7am, five days a week, for eight weeks. Bob didn’t miss a day."

There are all kinds of stories involving the Islanders of that era and their pursuit of hockey players. The club traded for Bob Bourne 6 weeks after not getting him in the draft, sending away two NHL calibre defensemen because they felt he could play.

Last fall, Pat Quinn married qualified "pairs" with hopefuls and also-rans in an effort to improve the overall depth. That’s why JF Jacques ended up with Horcoff and Hemsky, and why Brule and Penner ended up together last fall (an astute move that appears to be taking hold again this fall).

Jason Gregor mentioned in the article below that he feels the top 3 lines might break down thusly come opening night:

  • Horcoff-Hall-Eberle
  • Gagner-Paarjavi-Hemsky
  • Cogliano-Penner-Brule

I agree with Jason, this might be the rotation opening night. There’s no "tough minutes" line in that group and it is a very unusual use of the top 3 players on the roster (Penner, Hemsky, Horcoff), but it makes sense in one important way: the men and boys Renney is adding to the top 9 are just like Bob Nystrom and Bob Bourne 35 years ago: they’re good bets to become NHL players.

I think Renney sees a future 2-way winger in Eberle, and placing him with Horcoff could be a year long tutorial. He also sees some chemistry between MPS and Hemsky, with Gagner the best option at C for what will be a high octane offensive line. The Penner-Brule pairing repeats itself here and gives Cogliano a real shot at playing with skill.

Lets not kid ourselves. They are going to be many nights when these lines spend long minutes without the puck and bottled up in their own end. Having said that, these are the 9 best forwards (and 9 best futures) available on the roster at this time and we shouldn’t be surprised that they end up playing together. Colin Fraser, Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini, Liam Reddox and others remain to fill out the 10-14F spots in the next 10 days.  

Now, if they can get Teemu Hartikainen to Laura Stamm next summer, maybe there’ll be a few more options available to the coach for 11-12.

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    Fist! Who says shoring your kid off to school in the morning doesn’t pay off?

    Excellent article LT.

    Speaking of improved skating, a lot of people mention Big Mac as someone who has improved leaps and bounds. Could there be a hockey player in there somewhere?

    • Bar Qu

      Deeply buried hockey player. Like Journey to the Centre of the Earth deep.

      The SMac signing continues to leave my head shaking. On this roster there is just no space to have him there. None.

      • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

        It just seems funny that the man with the highest IQ in the world, Tom Renney, seems to think he has a place and apparently wanted him. I’m sure there’s more to him than what he brings on the ice. Heck, Jason Studwick is making more than Mike Comrie this year because of his intangibles. Plus, Big Mac can flat-out murderize people.

      • R.A. Slapshotzky

        Are you serious? I think he’ll dress a few important games when needed, and play maybe 2-3 min a night when he does. When he’s there players won’t take as many liberties.
        All he’s gotta do is grin at them from the bench, just ask Semenko about the grin.

        Oiler’s can’t afford not to protect the kids at all costs, in any way possible. Reddox or whoever will fill Smac’s spot most nights, but when you have players like Boogey man, or Matt Cooke… why would you take any chances?

      • Ryan14

        Ask Hemsky, Hall, MS, Eberle, Horcoff, Cogiano, Omark, how they feel having a guy in the lineup who will be able to protect them when other teams send out their goons to scare our young, small players.

        Is it any coincidence that the year the Oilers get rid of their goon they reach record setting man games lost to injury numbers?

        • Kodiak

          Ah, yes it was coincidence. With Big Mac in the lineup 2 years ago we still had ridiculous amounts of injuries.
          Generally, it isn’t the other teams goons inducing injuries, it’s the Matt Cooke, Alex Burrows, Cal Clutterbucks that are involved. They won’t fight Big Mac and he is too slow to catch other teams top players to punish them.
          Goon fighting goon is fun and all, but it has nothing to do with preventing injuries to star players.

        • Ducey

          Yes, it is a coincidence. Would SMac have prevented Iginla from dumping Souray in the end boards, or dmen from rubbing out Hemsky on the boards, or Smid’s neck finally falling apart, or Peckham getting run over while trying to hit a SJ dman, or Bulin’s back, etc, etc.

          Do you think Boogard is going to stop doing what he does because he might have to fight someone his own size? He is going to do what he does because he will be unemployed if he doesn’t.

          SMac won’t really help “protect” the skill players. Matt Cooke et al are going to still take cheap shots and they are not going to be worried about SMac as they will be justified in turtling if he comes calling. In fact, SMac is likely to do the most for guys like Peckham, Stortini, Vandermeer who won’t have to fight out of their weight class.

          SMac can help this team, but preventing injuries won’t be part of it.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ya, great article! Nystrom turned out to be one of the best grinders ever and could score points too. i do like the looks of those 3 lines though. good point about SMac, Bar Q, with him and Zach and JFJ and Jones and Fraser all needing spots, guess a couple of them will sit off and on.

  • EasyOil

    LT, you thinking Omark starts in the minors and gets a call up? Sounds like the kid is busting a gut to get on the team, even if he is showboating somewhat.

    It seems almost inevitable that one or two of the kids (probably not the big 3, but maybe Omark or Cogs, even as a throw-in on a trade) will be traded at some point in the year, which is a shame as I personally have enjoyed watching all of them progress!

    I also thought Hartikainen was reported to have vastly improved his skating, was it that bad to begin with that it is still not NHL calibre?

    • That’s what I’ve been thinking too.

      Probably better for Omark’s confidence and development to be the go to offensive guy for the Barons and the first offensive call-up for the Oilers than spending a few minutes a night with grinders/a number of nights off in the press box.

  • positivebrontefan

    I’m a big fan of Cogs…. but O-for in the face off circle the other night? After spending all summer working on face offs? Move Brule in to the middle and stick Omark on that wing.

    • Kind of my thoughts too. Although I’d still be happy with Cogliano on the wing. But it’s pre-season, so I’m hoping that this won’t last much into the regular season, if at all.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    fake center Cogliano – out (im sure plenty of teams would love a faster north american WINGER). Omark in. Brule moves over to center. Omark is older by a few months so hes just as mature and serious about being a pro. the “time to adjust” crap and “confidence” nonsense is obviously not hindering this kid from being a tenacious, highly skilled SOB. he wants to score. he wants to create and not be passive. perfect attitude to me but i guess letting the “old guard” of drat picks die hard is the canadian way when the xenophobia is always hiding just under the surface on certain players.

    • Ducey

      Smaller players like having a beat cop out there on the ice. They play “bigger”. I laugh every time I see someone posting something about how worthless SMac is. It’s in the same vein of posts whining about Strudwick. Really people, putting a winning hockey team together requires more than reading a stat sheet and making assumptions based upon what you see there. Chemistry, confidence, and attitude are not found so easily.

  • Ducey


    I can’t shake the feling that despite all the talent here, there are still some major roster construction problems going forward.

    This is still a pretty small, soft, top 9. Seems to me that at least three of the projected top 9 can’t be here in two years.

  • Ender

    For those shaking their head at Big Mac, I have to ask why they think having a Meathead in the nicest sense of the word patrolling the fourth line 4 minutes a game, 30 games a year is bad thing. His spot is interchangable with Storts, and if your playing Calgary, or Vancouver and you need to play him, well all be thankful we have him. This team lacks size up front, and a guy like that makes everyone bigger. Hes got a alot of value.

    I think it blows that Omark will not make this team, but well see him as an injury replacement. Some games in the A will help him get settled to the North American game. I think it boils down to that he`s competing with Cogs for the spot, and Cogs will get it based on that hes got a one way deal. I wish that were not the case, because there is no one out there more hungry then Omark, and when you see a guy bust his ass on forcheck, and go into the corner, it fustrates you to know that those minutes are going to go to a softy in Cogs. I am not anti-Cogs, I just think he doesn`t fill any role here. He won`t be top 6 anytime soon, and hes not much of bothersome checker. Tell me one team that laments facing Cogs anynight. You hope the coaching staff wont play him a center, so you can watch him loose 70 percent of his draws.

    Also for those trashing Struds, give him a couple more games. Hell be fine. I thought he was done last year, and in the end I realize he played decently all things concidering. We need a vet to be the number 7, not a young guy who should be playing. He fills a role as 25-40 games guy, and this year he wont need to play 70 games. Do we want Peckham, Bell, Petry rotting in the luxury suite eating shrimp coctail, let them man the farm 20 mins a night.

    I think the biggest question is what a fourth line will look like, we know Storts, and Fraser, and Big Mac will be here. But if Jones and Jacques return then I think that is the preference. I think that is where the only decisions on these forward lines need to be made.

    • SMac’s position is NOT interchangeable with Stortini’s. Zack has worked exceptionally hard to become an NHL player (did you see his new moves last game?). On top of which he’s becoming a pretty decent middleweight. He’ll draw multiple penalties every game and makes very few defensive mistakes. He could play a full shift every night and not be a liability. SMac? Not so much.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Ya, I agree. Stortini is getting very close to moving from 4th line plug to solid 3rd line energy winger that can help out in multiple situations.

        • If I were looking for an unsung success story on this team I’d be picking Stortini for sure. Two years ago he was day-to-day as far as having a roster spot. I’d bet some cash that he surprises more than a few people this year.

  • I have to wonder if there would be any merit in having Omark as the 13th forward.

    Take Omark, Hall, MPS, Eberle and sit 1 out every game on a rotation.

    It might keep the young guys fresh as they adjust to the schedule and travel.

    Would the potential freshness offset the potential loss in chemisty though?

    • D-Man

      I don’t think the potential of sitting the rookies for a 1 game rotation helps them at all… Don’t get me wrong – looking from the press box might help with positional play, but the best way these kids can learn is to get ice time and as much of it as they can. Hall and Eberle should be accustom to playing 80 plus games from their time in juniors. MPS is a boy stuck in a man’s body with his frame and is ready… Omark unfortunately has a two-way contract and is only 5’9″… He uses that frame to 110% of his capability, but is still a small guy nevertheless…

      I don’t think you’ll see Omark here unless we get a) injuries or b) deal one of our smaller skilled forwards. The only name that comes up when thinking trade is Cogs… I’m not ready to give up on him on the wing with Brule and Penner yet… His top end speed could make him effective on the PK; do I dare say Todd Marchantish???

      • Also, I agree they should be there for games played but I think being a top flight JR player for 80 games will be a lot different then playing in the NHL. Travel is different, the game is faster and people are going to be a lot more aggressive on the rookies. Bumps and bruises will be a lot more common then they were at the JR level.

        Throw in the fact that running that many in the top 9, there won’t really be anywhere for them to hide and get the “easy” minutes.

        Don’t get me wrong, I agree Omark is on the small side and realistically should start AHL. Just wondering out loud. Having the extra person around to keep them fresh and hopefully challenge them was all I was wondering about.

        • D-Man

          You’re right about the difference between junior and NHL… However, Hall has nothing to prove in junior and can’t play in the AHL. MPS and Eberle could learn more in the AHL, but they’ve proven that they are NHL-ready. Omark is pretty close, but is the odd man out…

          They all need ice-time, even if they won’t find easy minutes.. Unless they prove otherwise, sitting and watching will only take them so far… Reddox would probably be your best bet as the 13th/14th forward. He’s not going to give you the offensive flair but he can definitely add to your PK and having him sit for 20 to 40 games won’t hurt his production or development… He’s not getting any better than where he’s at now…

          • Lowetide

            Agreed there is no point to sending Hall back to juniors. I highly doubt it will help his development and whether it would be right or not, the public outcry when he left would be very very very loud.

            I also agreed that the Ginger Dwarf will most likely be in the press box with the Big Smac.

            Was just throwing it out for S&G and to see other peoples thoughts. The rotation concept is one that works in football and I was just wondering if there would be any appreciable benefit to using it here with the rookies.

            Ahh, gotta love being the armchair GM where anything goes and nobody says no when you make a trade off 😀

  • Panda13

    I like the idea of rotation of the 4 rookies.

    But do we have the roster spots for it? SMac as 13th F, Struds as 7th D leaves only one spot. And isn’t that spot possibly occupied by Souray? If we suspend him for being a negative influence do we get the spot back until he is traded?

    If that is the case then it further emphasizes the importance of resolving the Souray situation quickly?

    Another question…how many times could you send a player down and recall him with out fear of waivers…ie Omark and SMac play waiver yo-yos or maybe Smac and Jones / JFJ.

  • Ryan14

    Man games lost to injury: 05-06: 134; 06-07: 286; 07-08: 340;
    I couldn’t find final totals for 08-09, but they were on pace, as of game 45, for around 261. Last year was 531. Players like Hemsky, Grebeshkov, Reddox, Jones were being abused by the teams goons (Brendan Witt, Boogard). As JG has noted, Mac’s presence has already been felt in the pre-season. Players such as Hemsky are more comfortable on the ice, and are on record as saying so. will there still be injuries? Yes. But you won’t see the dirty shots or the liberties that were being taken on our smaller players.

    The Oilers, and the rest of the league know what purpose Mac is serving.

  • I did see Storts blow by a defender last night, but so what, it was not exactly a steller Canucks defence last night. Storts is an average middleweight. He did good last night against a guy who declining in the fist a cuff department. If he is distinguish his game from SMAC he needs to become a penalty killer, not just have a great pre-season and show some speed down the wing against a weak defence. He is sound positionally and has twice the hockey sense as Steve, but I am not convinced on this team he is still not interchangable, until he shows a ability to kill penalties, and intimidate players who take liberties with the young guns. I don`t believe hes playing every night this season, because I am not sure he plays over a healthy Jacque when SMAC presence is needed. I do however hope that he does, I like the guy alot. Hes a pest and annoyance, but in reality he deserves 8 minutes a night in comparison to SMAC`s 4 mins.

    I just heard from Stauffer while writing this comment that he believes Storts plays every night, so maybe thats your trump card.

  • Ryan14

    It is my experience that those who dismiss the people who “read stat sheets” do so in part because they fail to understand the numbers.

    Jason Strudwick may be the nicest guy in the world, but it’s been demonstrated on blogs like Copper & Blue that he makes those who play around him worse.

    • According to advanced stats and Cult of Hockey, R. Nillson and M.A. Poilet are good (not great) NHL players that deserved to stay on the roster, at least through training camp.

      I don’t need advanced stats to tell me that, in fact they weren’t deserving of a spot on our team. Most of us could watch the damned hockey games and see that Poilet’s pervasive tendency was to skate around in a mental fog waiting for the puck to come to him. And that Nillson brought his own web of game-killing softness. I agree with your conclusions about Strudwick,not because of advanced stats, but because when I watch him, I can see that he’s too f$$king slow and that leads to mistakes. I’m sick of watching our opponents play as if we have only one D half the time.
      No stats for that.

  • Ender

    jr_christ wrote:

    Who lets that idiot Willis write on ON? The guys a damn flames fan!!

    RossCreek wrote:

    I says pardon?

    I don’t think I pardon him until he demonstrates as least a fraction of the hockey sense that Willis does.

    Unless he was kidding and forgot his tildes, in which case I immediately lighten up and enjoy big smiles all around. I’m sure he’ll clarify right away.

    • of course I am kidding – you think anyone is actually stupid enough to insult an ON writer SERIOUSLY on here?!? You’d be bannished from partaking in any interesting oilers talk… I’d have to start reading… AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

  • Ryan14

    So goalies Al Montoya and Mike Brodeur were put on waivers today. Both have had as much or more success in the AHL/NHL then JDD and DD. Will anybody claim them? This could be a good test.

  • Ender

    Panda13 wrote:

    But do we have the roster spots for it? SMac as 13th F, Struds as 7th D leaves only one spot. And isn’t that spot possibly occupied by Souray? If we suspend him for being a negative influence do we get the spot back until he is traded?

    My understanding is that Souray currently occupies a roster spot. He has not been suspended and is currently an active player, albeit not one that has been assigned any ice-time. For all intents and purposes, he is a healthy scratch.

    I believe it is Tambellini’s intent to make a final decision on him prior to the start of the the regular season. The Oilers are reluctant to assign him to OKC too early, since once he’s there he’s not coming back. The Oilers don’t want to lose him on re-entry waivers since then they’re paying half his salary and more importantly agreeing to shoulder half of his cap hit for the remaining two years of the contract. Effectively, demotion to OKC makes him untradeable until the off-season.

    We’ll see which way Tambi plays it in the near future, but until he does we are short a roster spot. Maybe two if we start the season with three goalies – again.

  • Rogue

    Mac is needed,even as a 13th man. We really have no one else to stop other teams from over running our small forwards,at this time.

    Bet that Omark is thinking he should of come here last year? With how rotten the season turned, he would of had some playing time here, and started this year with 1 foot in the door. On the otherside, it may of held back his development playing for Oil or Springfield. I know it is early, but I think he could replace Cogs. Problem is Cogs has little value at the moment. Until the season starts no one will know how any kids will perform. The last thing with Omark is his skill, which other then Hemsky this team has lacked. Somehow, they must get him into the lineup, if he performs in the AHL, or the NHL. Maybe rotating with the other rookies will be the answer. Or maybe he will fall on his face and make the decision easy for everyone. Only time will tell.

  • Rogue

    ……And Struds had better be the 7th dman or I will lose it! Let someone else be 6,Peckham, Belle, Petiot or Petry later this year.

    Send DD and JDD down to OKC and let them play. Gerber has nothing to prove and back up SBS until he gets hurt. Then bring one of them up. but until then, let the boys play, play some rock and roll…….

  • Lowetide

    As Jason Gregor mentioned in the article below, Tom Renney may well have his top 3 lines sussed out:


    I think Renney sees a future 2-way winger in Eberle, and placing him with Horcoff could be a year long tutorial. He also sees some chemistry between MPS and Hemsky, with Gagner the best option at C for what will be a high octane offensive line.

    Where did Renney say and see these things?

    Game 2 was Paajarvi’s big night of alchemy. Wasn’t Paajarvi’s chemistry with Penner and Cogliano that night?

    Didn’t Hall play with Hemsky that night and get sprung for a couple of breakaways?

    • Lowetide

      spOILer: As far as I know Renney didn’t say these things. I was quoting Jason Gregor in the previous article. I can certainly see where you would come to that conclusion and will change the wording.

  • Dan the Man

    Per Matheson:

    EDMONTON — Finnish prospect winger Teemu Hartikainen was one of six players cut by the Edmonton Oilers Monday.

    The 20-year-old forward set up centre Chris Vande Velde for a nice goal against Vancouver Sunday, but was in too tough to make the crowded roster. He was farmed along with veteran forwards Brad Moran and Gregory Stewart and defencemen Johan Motin and Jake Taylor.

    Centre Jared Aulin, who was in camp on a tryout, was released.

    The Oilers are down to 37 players now — four goalies, 12 defencemen and 21 forwards.

    Read more:

  • Quicksilver ballet

    As much as i appreciated the elements of Bobby Nystroms game back in the day, i’d have to think with another set of eyes surveying the ice a player of Nystrom capabilities would get squeezed out fairly quickly. Perhaps Ethan Moreau is a modern version of Bob Nystrom…. but since the lock-out the game seems to have gotten increasingly more difficult for Ethan.

    • Lowetide

      Moreau’s at an age where his skill set is fading, but I don’t think his player type (or Nystrom’s for that matter) are going away.

      Detroit has all world skill, but they also have players with size and men who can play away from the puck.

      Moreau WAS an effective NHL player. He was 30 during the Stanley run, he is now 35. A lot has changed, but a veteran with size and some 2-way skill age 27-32 or so still has a place in the NHL.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        After my 15 seconds of research i was unable to find a player on the Red Wings roster who had a similar meanstreak to that of Bobby or Ethan. It was the intimidation factor they brought to the rink that caught my attention. When you went into the corner for a loose puck with Nystrom, him grabbing your arm to slow you up was either before or after the not so subtle punch in the head. I just don’t see a player like that on an NHL roster. This was commonplace in the eighties but i don’t see these type of players thriving in the NHL game today. Tonelli, Duane Sutter, Gillies, Trottier, Gilbert, Bourne, Langevin. These guys are probably why we never seen the Oilers at Goose Loonies after the Islanders came to town.

  • Crackenbury

    Today’s NHL is vastly different than what we saw as recent as 5 years ago. The salary cap has had a huge impact on teams being able to retain their talent long-term. Most decent playoff teams have several top quality players surrounded by a bunch of grunts just good enough to get the job done.

    I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest the Oilers will contend for a playoff spot this year. They’ve been been slowly rebuilding for 2-3 years with some great draft picks. At one point this season I expect to see 4-5 rookies in the lineup, not because they need to be due to injury, but because their skill level demands it.

    With the removal of Pisani, Moreau, Potulny, POS and Comrie and the insertion of Hall, Eberle and Parrjavi along with Hemsky and a rejuvenated Horcoff this team is far more competitive than last year. Drop the talk about another lottery pick, it’s not gonna happen.

  • smiliegirl15

    I think Horcoff is going to have a bounceback year this year. It didn’t look like Hemsky’s shoulder was giving him any trouble the other night either so I hope he’s 100%.

    There is definitely hope this year. There is hope every Sept/Oct when the new season starts but this year it just feels different. The game I went to on Thursday had the same kind of energy as a regular season game.

    Pass the koolaid!

  • PerryK

    What I would like to see:





    Whereby the starred players are the two-somes that the lines are built upon with the others exchanging to suit the situations.

  • Lowetide

    Well Nystrom was more than just an intimidating player. He was a solid veteran, certainly during the Stanley runs.

    Detroit currently has Todd Bertuzzi, Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom. All of whom can play a strong game in the physical department. That Abdelkader kid is going to be a load too. Red Wings don’t take stupid penalties, but they lean on other teams.

  • Lowetide

    Kent: Good question. I believe he is. This is from

    In 1990, Sergei Makarov of the Calgary Flames became the oldest player, at age 31, to win the Calder. After that season, the rules for awarding the Calder were amended so that players could only be eligible if they were 26 years old or younger by September 15 of their rookie season.

    To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league. The latter fact was perhaps most prominent when in 1979–80, first-year phenom Wayne Gretzky was not eligible to win the Calder Trophy despite scoring 137 points (the previous rookie record at the time being 95), because he had played a full season the previous year in the World Hockey Association. The trophy has been won the most times by rookies from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have won it on nine occasions.

  • positivebrontefan

    Smac’s presence means that other teams are less likely to goon one of our guys due to the fact that although the guys seems like a big teddy bear off the ice he has that potential to splatter another teams star player just for the sake of sending a message.