OILERS DEPTH…HOW GOOD IS IT?

Does the Oilers potential offensive depth rank up there with the greatest in the history of the NHL, or even in Oilers’ history? It depends on what you consider to be offensive depth. If you have superstar players, then it is much harder to spread the wealth throughout your lineup. 

But the suggestion that seven 40+ players is unrealistic, or would put the Oilers in a class with the greatest offensive depth ever, is simply incorrect.

One of the original bloggers and member of their self-described "Wolfpack", (Unless your name is Alan Garner you should never even mention the term Wolfpack) Tyler Dellow, seems to think that seven 40+ forwards is synonymous with greatest NHL depth ever.

 "Gregor, widely known for his introspection and caution when it comes to joining the argument, doesn’t see this group as particularly historic: he sees them as having offensive depth that ranks only amongst the best in the NHL and Oilers history."

I’m amazed how a person I’ve never actually met seems to think he knows how I go about examining my own thoughts, emotions and actions to such a degree. That is pretty damn impressive to be able to deduce such insight over the Internet. I can’t believe he isn’t writing articles helping others better themselves, rather than just sports blogging. Seems like a waste of talent and ability. I’d also be curious to know what the introspective nature of a person, who writes mostly about ripping other people’s thought and theories, would be?

Fascinating stuff I bet.

But let’s get to the meat of the statement. 

He was referring to my season long projection of Oiler point totals where I had seven Oilers finishing with 40+ points. When I sent in my picks, I included the following, that Wanye decided not to submit. A guy names himself Dictator for Life and this is what you get I guess…

"Who would have thought that Mr. "Anti-number" Brownlee, would spearhead a pool prediction? What’s next an article on the best car accessories to hang from your mirror or hitch?

"I put about 15 minutes of thought into this. I could have wasted hours on it, and done lots of research, but I doubt I would have been anymore accurate. I suck at Pro-line, I suck at picking weekly winners in the NFL, and I’ve yet to win the lottery so I’m not expecting a great result.
 
"I’m sure Lowetide and Willis created some formula that will have them both within 20 points of the actual yearly totals. Brownlee probably had his young son, Sam, flip through a racing magazine and when he pointed to car he liked, Brownlee would use some equation involving horsepower, weight, year, pistons and backseat size to come up with a point total. He did this 13 times using a variety of car mags and cigar brochures. Meanwhile Wayne probably chugged some Copper and Blue Kool-aid and predicted 297 goals for the Oilers."
 
I didn’t put much thought into it, because I’m not stellar at projections/predictions, but I didn’t think the numbers were completely unattainable.
 
According to Dellow,  seven forwards with 40+ points ranks them amongst the NHL’s best?

I POLITELY DISAGREE 

No one could ever compare this Oiler team, or any NHL team, to the free-wheeling Oilers of the 80s, but did you know that in 1989, the first year sans Wayne Gretzky, the Oilers had seven forwards with 50+ points? They’d never done that with Gretzky. Was their depth better without Gretzky or did more guys just get a chance to play a bit more? Were they better without him? You decide.
 
By picking seven forwards with 40+ points, I didn’t even consider the Oilers of the 80s. I just thought this year’s edition has balance through three lines, and it looks like Renney is going to play them in many different situations. He is hoping that when one or two of them hit the inevitable slump, that he can interchange other guys to pick up the slack.
 
And seven 40+ forwards wouldn’t put the Oilers in line with the greatest depth in NHL history, unless you consider the recent Blues, Leafs, Kings and Flames some of the greatest depth teams of all-time.
 
Last season the Blues and Kings had seven forwards with 40+ points. In 2009, before these historic offensive powerhouses emerged, the Leafs and Flames also had seven 40+ points forwards. And  the Blues were one point shy of having seven forwards with 40 points again; T.J Oshie had 39 points in only 57 games. The Wings (8) and Hawks also had seven forwards with 40 or more points in 2009.
 
I won’t go back any further, since I doubt anyone considers the Leafs, Flames, Blues or Kings some of the greatest depth teams in NHL history.

OR SHOULD WE?

How can we determine what defines "great depth?"
 
Conceivably we will all have our own ideas and perceptions about what can be considered great depth. Is it having seven guys with 40 points? Six? Is it having guys in the farm who, when called upon, can contribute in the NHL? Is it having a 3rd line guy who can move up and replace a 1st or 2nd line player when he is injured? Or does depth not matter if you don’t have a few elite or great players?
  
The Blues missed the playoffs last year, while the Kings lost out in the first round. When we think of greatest teams since the lockout neither of them is in the conversation. In 2009, the Flames made the playoffs while the Leafs missed out, and again neither will go down as one of the deepest teams in the history of the NHL.
 
The Leafs scored 250 goals in 2009, 10th most in the league, but they gave up the most at 293. They sacrificed offence for defence. The Flames were 9th in goals, 254,  but gave up the 8th most and lost out in the first round. Even the Red Wings, who scored a league hight 295, gave up 244, 12th most that year. Only the Hawks were able to have balanced depth and score often, 264, while surrendering only 216 goals.
 
The Blues of 2010 had seven forwards with 40+ points despite only scoring 225 goals, when the league average was 232.9 and western teams averaged 234.9 goals. They had incredible balance five-on-five amongst the seven scorers. Alex Steen had the lowest EV points at 29, while Andy McDonald had the most with 35.
 
You might argue that the Blues didn’t have anyone with more than 60 points so they were able to spread out their scoring more, but the Flames of 2009 had two guys, Iginla (89) and Cammalleri (82) with more than 80. So having 40+ balance can still happen with a dominant first line connection, as long as your 2nd and 3rd lines can score EV. Craig Conroy had zero PP points but finished with 48, while Rene Bourque had only one PPP and finished with 40 points.
 
The great part about the Internet is that if you aren’t on your toes, people will point it out, and that is great for the readers. It forces you to go back and look at things differently, but it also allows you to discover that some accusations are unfounded and exaggerated.
 
Many pundits and management-types feel the Oilers have a lot of skilled players in their top-nine. It will be difficult for seven of them to reach 40, but I sure don’t consider it an accomplishment that make them one of the "great depth teams in NHL history". And if one of them finishes with 39 or 38 points I will hang my head in shame because I made such an outrageous and naive prediction: Seven forwards with 40 points. What was I thinking that the Oilers of 2011 could somehow walk amongst the Blues and Kings of 2010 and Flames and  Leafs of 2009?
 
If that happens I guess I’ll have to have a deep introspection, not only into my emotions, but also at my predictions of point totals.
 

RIGHT TIME TO FIGHT?

I have a lot of respect for Bob McKenzie, one of the most connected guys in hockey, but I didn’t agree with his article on the Ivanans/MacIntyre fight.

It was the first game of a new season, and I don’t think it matters at what point the fight happened. For the past few years the Oilers have been considered, and proven to be, an easy team to play against. They didn’t forecheck hard, they were soft in their own zone and they didn’t intimidate anyone physically.

Renney has stated he wants his team to intimidate in every aspect of the game this year. Whether it is via skill, speed, forechecking, neutral zone play, defensive coverage, hitting and, if need be, fighting. He wants the Oilers to be harder to play against this year.

Ivanans hit Brule, with a borderline hit, and then got his stick up in the face of Magnus Paajarvi late in the 3rd period. I had no problem with his hit on Brule and if he doesn’t get his stick up, accidently I thought, in Paajarvi’s face, I really doubt that the fight would have happened. But once he got Paajarvi in the lip, MacIntyre needed to square off.

And this is my beef about questioning why the fight happened. I think the outcome of the fight bothered him more than the timing of the fight.

Had the two had a similar scrap to the one in preseason, where both guys landed some big shots and both guys skated away, would McKenzie have had an issue with the fight? I doubt it, since last night in the Detroit/Anaheim game when it was 4-0 their were two fights. The difference was that no one got KO’ed in those fights. (One was between Corey Perry and Pavel Datsyuk, so it was unlikely we’d see a KO).

Last year heavy-handed Colton Orr buckled Matt Carkner not once, but twice in separate fights. Carkner didn’t stay down very long in the second one, and thankfully he was okay.

 

 Carkner also had got the better of Orr last year.

 

Because those fights happened in the first period, and guys were able to skate away rather quickly makes them okay? I don’t recall an article mentioning possible serious injuries when those two were tossing the knuckles, so why now?

I find it hard to accept the line of  thinking from those who like fighting, "but only as long as no one gets hurt." When you have guys throwing bombs there is a chance someone could get hurt. I don’t think I’m a neanderthal in thinking that way. If you don’t like fighting, that is fine, you will probably turn away or switch the channel when one occurs. That’s fine. I don’t like reality TV, so I don’t watch it.

Of course it made most of us– some of you loved it– uncomfortable watching Ivanans sprawled out on the ice for a minute after the fight. No player wants to see a guy seriously hurt, and most fans don’t either. But that risk is always there, and the players know it. The tough guys know their role, and when the point comes where they don’t want to do it anymore they will walk away. Georges Laraque didn’t want to do the job anymore and so he left, with a nudge from the Canadiens. I don’t recall anyone calling him a pansy for not wanting to do continually drop the gloves.

We all know the job is tough, and that’s why most fighters are fan favourites in every city. Because the majority of fans know they could never do that job, even if they were tough enough to do it.

I’m not naive enough to that MacIntyre is anything more than strictly a specialist. I feel for the guy, knowing that he is looked upon only to be the protector, and he has to do so by fighting other super-heavyweights who possess the same devastating punching power that he does.

If the coach always preaches to his players to play 60 minutes, how can you expect MacIntyre or Ivanans to only fight in the first or second period? While it might not be fair, or necessary in some people’s eyes, the reality is if one tough guy is running around late in a game that has already been decided, then the other tough guy needs to ensure he makes it known that that type of behaviour won’t be tolerated. Ivanans played that way because he wasn’t scared of MacIntyre and he probably won’t be the next time they meet.

And I do think the fight had some meaning.

These teams play twice more this month, and MacIntyre needed to make it clear that if guys want to tip toe on the borderline of fair play, they will have to answer to him. You might not like the rules of the  hockey jungle, but they are there; and most players and fans enjoy them. 

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I admire the guys who do tough jobs, whether it is keeping sports radio interesting through the long Edmonton summer, analyzing microscopic stats and finding new correlations and patterns, or trading knuckles in the neutral zone.

    What I don’t like is when someone starts sounding smug and condescending, that he has all the answers and the rest of the world should get started on the admiration.

    Dellow’s work is usually insightful and well-researched, but it should come with a Smug Alert.

    By the way the TSN spoof was priceless. Whitney was really struggling to not burst out laughing and Hall looked like he was born to pout.

  • PrinceEdwardOiler

    “Ivanans played that way because he wasn’t scared of MacIntyre and he probably won’t be the next time they meet.”

    Scared? I’d be surprised if he could even remember…

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Ha-ha, great article Gregor. Dellows has some interesting stuff, but he can certainly be a twerp when it comes to stuff like this. Good to see him exposed on this one.

  • PrinceEdwardOiler

    What was Ivanans doing on the ice in the latter part of the game while losing 4-0. He took out Brule and MPS which is what he porbably wanted to do. No one seens to criticize Sutter for this decision, just about what Big Mac did.
    Ivanans got what he deserved and good for Renney and Mac! I am supprised a Bob Mac’s comments also…

    Let this be a warning to all the other teams out there, we are not the same Oilers of last year.

    Enjoyed the read Gregor! Who gives a crap about what a complainer who lives in his mom’s basement thinks.

  • PrinceEdwardOiler

    OK, maybe I don’t have anything better to do after all..

    From what I believe is the pertinent section of the CBA that deals with this, I see nothing at all that indicates 18 yr old Euros are any different from North Americans when it comes to maintaining their negotiating rights:

    ————–
    8.6 Reserve List-Exclusive Rights.
    (a) Commencing with the 2005 Entry Draft, a Player selected by a Club in the
    Entry Draft shall be registered on the Reserve List of the selecting Club as an “Unsigned
    Draft Choice.”
    (i) Subject to the provisions of Sections (b), (c) and (d) below, such
    registration shall establish for such selecting Club the exclusive
    right of negotiation for the services of each Player selected and
    registered as against all other Clubs up to and including June 1 of
    the next calendar year following the date of his selection.
    (ii) Subject to the provisions of subsection (iii) below and Sections (b)
    and (c) below, if, on or before June 1 of the calendar year next
    succeeding the Entry Draft, the claiming Club makes a Bona Fide
    Offer (as defined below) to its claimed Player of an SPC, the Club
    shall retain the exclusive right of negotiation for the services of
    such Player up to and including the second June 1 following the
    date of his selection.
    (iii) Notwithstanding anything set forth in subsections (i) or (ii) above,
    if a Player is drafted for the first time at age 20 and re-enters the
    Entry Draft at age 22, the Club that selects him as a re-entry may
    retain the exclusive negotiating rights to the Player for only one (1)
    year and may not acquire exclusive negotiating rights to the Player
    for a second year by extending a Bona Fide Offer, provided,
    however, this provision shall not apply to a Player drafted from a
    club outside North America whose rights, under all circumstances,
    shall continue to be governed by Section 8.6(a)(ii).
    ————–

    If you can find a section of the CBA that indicates otherwise, I’d love to see it.

  • PrinceEdwardOiler

    Hey Jason,

    I agree whole-heartedly with the “article written by McKenzine” portion of this entry. What question I have to ask is: where was the piece written following the incident where MacIntrye had his orbital broken by Godard a few years back?

  • fuck off

    BIG props for this article Greggor!! Well done and some deadly video links.

    I too disagreed with the honorable Bob McK and was disappointed by his view on the subject. Hopefully he, like Ivanans will come to his senses and realize that it was a legit fight that belonged in the game to keep everyone in line so that it didn’t get any uglier than it did. We all know how ugly the BoA can get.