AND SO IT BEGINS…

I’m glad to see that things have returned to normal in the Nation and around Edmonton when it comes to the Oilers. After a summer where many said they’d be happy with a rebuild and were just going to enjoy the games, it only took three games for people to start questioning many players on the Oilers.

Actually it didn’t even take three games before people were suggesting that Sam Gagner will never pan out, and now, after the Oilers first loss of the season people are clamouring for the return of the Macblender….Ah good to see things are back to normal.

Let’s start with Gagner.

What are realistic expectations for the 6th overall pick in 2007? Can he be a true number one centre?

I think it is too hard to look at other players and project that Gagner should be like them. It is a fascinating angle, but one that ultimately is hard to accurately predict since he is on a different team, with different players and even a different era.

But we need to find some line/number that Gagner should attain this season, to show he is improving and is a player the Oilers should continue to groom.

Would 55 points be a fair number?

That would be a career-high for Gagner, but is it enough to be considered a number one centre? I think that term is what causes lots of debate.

Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin and Nick Backstrom are bonafide number one centres, but they are at the upper echelon of the scale. Gagner isn’t close to being one of them, and might never be, but does that mean he can’t be a solid asset for the Oilers?

This is Gagner’s fourth season and it is reasonable to suggest he increases his production and improves his faceoffs.

In 2008, his rookie season (I use the year the season ends, just to be clear. No one says the Oilers won their first Cup in 1983/1984, they say in 1984!) there were 30 centres with 55 or more points. 25 teams had one guy with 55+, while only five teams didn’t have a centre with 55 points.

In 2009, 32 centres had 55+ points, from 24 different teams, and last season 33 centres had 55+ points from 25 different teams. (Keep in mind this is 100% accurate because there is the odd guy listed as a C that plays W and vice-versa, but it is pretty close. Positions from NHL.com)

The Oilers haven’t had a centre with 55 points since Gagner came into the league, but if he reaches 55 that would put him in the conversation as "first-line" centre. Of course, he’d be at the lower end. If he gets to 65 points that puts him around the top-20 mark.

If you want to say the Oilers don’t have a top-ten #1 centre, no one will argue that, but I don’t think 55 points is unrealistic for Gagner, and if he reaches that and more that will put him in the top 30.

I thought Gagner and Hemsky were the two best forwards last night for the Oilers. Gagner has three points in three games, and he hasn’t been dominant in any of them, but last night was his best. I don’t think anyone can say with certainty that Gagner has no chance of being a top-30, first line centre. He doesn’t look like he’ll be top-ten, but I think 55+ points is not only realistic, it has to be a necessity for him this season.

MACBLENDER RETURNS

He doesn’t look like he’ll be top-ten, but I think 55+ points is not only realistic, it has to be a necessity for him this season. After only three games many were calling for some line juggling in Lowetide’s article.

I don’t think the current lines will stay together the entireseason , but is three games enough time to build come chemistry? Tom Renney said at the start of the season, that his biggest challenge will be to remain patient, and allow his young team to grow and mature. He could do that by juggling the lines, but I don’t think it necessary just yet.

HALL TO JUNIOR?

I don’t see any scenario that has Taylor Hall returning to junior after nine games. None, Zero, Zilch. Hall will undoubtedly struggle at various point this year, but that is part of the learning experience. While he doesn’t have a goal yet, he has missed three glorious chances and if he burys even one of those, I don’t think anyone is wondering if the Oilers would send him back to junior.

Clearly he needs to adapt parts of his game. He won’t be able to dominate, not right away anyways, like he did in junior, and he will need to approach defenders from different angles, but I suspect the kid will figure it out.

I’m excited to be able to watch a potential great player learn and adapt to the best league in the world. Hall is very competitive and has a deep inner drive to succeed. It might take him some time to understand how to get in better shooting lanes, penetrate the zone, how to beat defencemen or get shots off quicker, but I’ll be stunned if we don’t see progress rather quickly.

Oiler fans have a rare opportunity to watch the evolution of a very talented young player, emerge into a great player. The process won’t be quick, and it will be filled with growing pains, but it should be entertaining

  • baai

    Hall reminds me of Hemsky when Hemsky was a rookie. He was always visible, often involved in the the play, just not always productive. Like Hemsky, Hall might not score a ton of points in his rookie year. Give him time, he is a future 80 point player imho.

    Gagner is a ppg player so far. A small sample of games granted, but he is not the problem with this team. The Oilers need answers but they have already mandated that they want to draft and develop them. Give the rebuild a few years not days.

  • Crash

    Tyler Pitlick had a 3 point game tonight vs the Oil Kings and….

    Everyone’s favorite player Linus Omark went pointless yet again tonight for the third straight game (something Eberle never did during his time in the AHL) as OKC lost in OT.

  • @ MattL

    I appologize in advance for the aggression in that last post. I’m not specifically trying to rail against you or anything.

    I am just totally at a loss on this and many other points that people seem to be making.

    Will I be completely pissed if Hall plays the whole year up here?

    No.

    Am I convinced that another year, as described above, will see the ruin of Hall and that a 20 year old debut of a guy on the long track will be significantly worse than a 20 year old pounding it out in the NHL?

    Not even close.

    Would I prefer to see any major contractual decisions that have long term implications be delayed until Lowe and Tamblo are not anywhere near this franchise?

    Absolutely, 100% certain of it.

    Does it make a ton of sense to stagger the big three’s ELCs?

    So many tons.

    Despite the fact that I believe both sides of the conversation have merit, does one side seem extremely fox news like in the presentation of their arguement?

    Yup.

    Does the misrepresentation of opinions as factual arguements really piss you off?

    Yup.

    Does this truthiness coupled with smug, mocking disdain for anyone without a similar opinion REALLY piss you off?

    Yes, Brownlee is looking more and more like the back of a horse.

    • You’ve pretty much run the table with “smug” and “blinding ignorance” and “Bill O’Brownlee” and, now, “the back of a horse.”

      Anything else you need to get off your chest before you get gone?

  • CLARITY . No problem cutting the youngsters slack and patience . As for rest of club i’m not about too. We rebuild every year like all clubs do . If the rest of club that is lagging i’m not prepared to cut them patience and slack like youth. So don’t confuse being patience with older players in same scenario as with the youth .

  • Gagner is good, he will be very good. Hall will be fine, he will learn the ways. Paajarvi needs better linemates, Cogliano is my goat so far this year. Oh and Khabby……well…..wow.

  • Minister D-

    @chartleys

    ~If you’re not careful, they’ll cut your mic~

    Seriously though, it might help if you visit ON *before* media matters on your daily web-browsing so that you’re not all worked up by the time you get here.

    I’m not sure why you’re at such “a loss” to comprehend the points that Brownlee and others are making, which strike me, at least in this instance, as fair and balanced (uh, bad word choice…). IMO, these points can be condensed into one word: “chill.” And yeah, chartleys, you need to chill. It’s a long season.

  • fuck off

    @ Everyone responding to MattL’s post

    A Greater point could not be made about Henrik Sedin vs Sam Gagner. What everyone needs to grasp is that MattL wasn’t trying to compare the two as players of any kind of similitude. Instead it was displaying the kind of patience required with farming up a future Hart Trophy winner. After the 4 years of the Sedin’s both producing well below what people in Vancouver expected from the top 2 & 3 picks there were many questions and arguments for their trades and that’s MattL’s point. Oilers Nation needs to just grab a beer and have a seat for the season because the theme is PATIENCE! So just enjoy the entertaining but frustrating ride for at least another, if not, a couple more years.