With Dustin Penner shipped off to Los Angeles, the future on the left wing in the top two lines looks to be in the hands of Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi. There is no doubt that Hall can handle the baton, but it will be interesting to see how Paajarvi handles it.
Hall is already on par with Penner’s production, and all signs point to him out scoring Penner by next season. However the picture isn’t as clear when it comes to Paajarvi. There is no rush for Paajarvi to be producing like a top-six winger, but with Penner being gone he should get top-six minutes.
When Steve Tambellini decided to move Penner he made it clear that this team feels they are at least two years away from even competing for the playoffs. You’ll never hear those words uttered from anyone inside the organization, but it is clear that is the path they are taking.
Leading up to the deadline I stated I wouldn’t trade Penner or Ales Hemsky unless I got an NHL-ready player in return, so I wasn’t a fan of yesterday’s deal. I felt that if they traded for just prospects or picks that they would be delaying the rebuild; not wrecking it, but clearly delaying it.
Now that Tambellini has made it clear they where he stands, the next steps will be crucial to ensuring they do it properly.
Colten Teubert, the 13th overall pick in 2008 is in his first professional season, and like most stay-at-home defenders the learning curve has been steep. It is way too early to suggest, based on only 40 AHL games, what calliber of player he will develop into.
Barring a massive change in his style he won’t bring a lot of offence, but a best-case scenario would see him become similar to a Jason Smith or Matt Greene. Suggestions that he is already a bust, or that he’ll only be a borderline D-man are way too premature.
WHAT DOES HIS COACH THINK?
Ryan Rishaug and I spoke with Teubert’s head coach in Manchester, Mark Morris, and got his thoughts on Teubert’s game.
JG: What have you liked about his game?
MM: He has steadily improved. He had a wrist injury that put him on the backburner for quite a while, but when he got in the lineup he surprised us with his steady play and his phyical play. There were times when he was confronted, and he was able to handle himself. He is a big physical presence, and I think his hands will improve as his injury gets better.
RR: Give us the scouting report on the areas you feel are strengths, and what areas he needs to focus on to get to the NHL and stay there?
MM: Like most guys who enter the American Hockey League, the biggest challenge is making the reads. He is a strong skater, so if he makes a poor read he has the ability to eat up ground and shut people down. What I like about him is that he seems to get a piece of somebody every time he is on the ice, and he is a hard guy to play against.
At times when he handles the puck, he might not make the best choice, but he keeps the game fairly simple. He is an old school defenceman in my books; the type of guy that everybody will appreciate over the course of time.He’s not going to wow you in the beginning, but I think over time he will prove that he is a force to be reckoned with and he can be a reliable, dependable defender.
JG: Is he a guy that excels on the penalty kill, and is his style just your typical stay-at-home defenceman?
MM: He is getting there. Because of the length of the injury he had, he’s had to earn his icetime and steadily he’s gotten it. Toward the tail end of the last few games we’ve had him out there in important situations over other players, because he is such a force.
He’s got a good stick, he’ll knock down passes and clear the front of the net. He does a lot of the bull work, and that’s the type of defenceman he is. We’ve come to appreciate him as a very reliable, dependable player. He is a little rough around the edges, he’s very raw, but he is a comer and I think that in time, with some seasoning, he will play.
RR: He is 6’4", how is speed and his footspeed?
MM: It’s pretty good. His first few steps might not be the quickest, but once he is in flight he is a big, stong and powerful kid. If somebody gets a step on him, he usually catches them or gets a piece of them and usually finishes his check. He is a tough guy to play against and he doesn’t let guys stand around (in front of net). He is very aggressive and he boxes out well.
I’d like to see him carry his stick a little bit lower for taking away passing lanes and so forth, but, I think, because he was wearing a support mechanism on his wrist he was probably a little bit careful with that and in time his stick positioning and hands will improve once he gets more comfortable with the strength in his hand.
RR: Can you compare where Teubert is at to Hickey and Voynov?
MM: Hickey and Voynov have a couple years of experience under their belt. Colten didn’t get the same amount of playing time, he was in the ECHL for a bit last season, and then he missed most of the early part of this year, so he’s a bit behind the learning curve.
They are different types of defencemen. Hickey is more of a guy who plods his way up the ice, and thinks the puck around the rink and is a good disher. Voynov is more of a rushing D-man with a booming shot. The combination of the different styles obviously depends on what an organization wants to see.
Fortunately for us we’ve had a variety, and I would say Colten fills that niche of the stay-at-home guy who doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but he is very steady and he commands respect on the ice.
JG: Is his game similar to Matt Greene’s, do you see some similarities between the two?
MM: That might be a good comparison. Obviously Greenie is a guy who has a bit more polish right now and he’s not noted as a great playmaker, but he is an honest player and Colten would fit that bill. He likes to shoot the puck and he is fairly accurate with it.
He recognizes situations and he scored a nice goal recently from the blueline where he ripped one top shelf. I think it has to do with confidence with a young player too, they have to play, they have to get those minutes in because it is hard to teach experience.
Some interesting insight from a coach who has seen him play every one of his 39 pro games thus far. The Oilers didn’t have any rugged stay-at-home defenders in the system, so Teubert does give them a style of player that they don’t really have, outside of Theo Peckham.
WHAT IS NEXT?
This summer they will need to find some transitional players, guys who can help the Oilers try to be competitve while gaining more experience. Teubert and Martin Marincin are a few years away from helping this team, and Alex Plante doesn’t seem to be that close either, so Tambellini needs to ensure he has some NHL-ready D-men so they don’t have to rush any of these kids.
More importantly, he will need to find a few NHL veteran forwards with some size, to counter the lack of size that Renney is currently saddled with upfront.
The Oilers didn’t run any lines at practice this morning, but Renney hinted he would try Paajarvi with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Renney was quick to point out he won’t just hand the job to Paajarvi, "He will need to be an impact player for us, if he wants to stay there long term," said Renney.
Colin Fraser and Steve MacIntyre will be the scratches tonight, so here’s my best guess at what the lines will look like.
Martin Gerber is going to start in goal, which doesn’t make much sense to me considering Dubnyk played better v. Boston than he did v. St. Louis. But Renney feels it is a chance to send a message to his young goalie. "I think Doobby needs to know that I have that latitude as a coach, that when I’ve got two capable goaltenders it (starting) isn’t a slam dunk. I think there are some things that we still need to have him look at in order to be prepared for his next start, so it is just a coach’s decision."
Nikolai Khabibulin has been skating and blocking some shots, but he still hasn’t been cleared to lift anything heavy. They will push him again tomorrow and see how he progresses. Theo Peckham hasn’t officially been diagnosed with a concussion, but he is out for tonight, and he’ll likely sit for a few more games.
WISH UPON A STAR
Katherine Heigl starred in Wish Upon A Star in case you are wondering.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers shut out the Preds 4-0 in their last meeting, but the Preds are desperate for a win and I suspect they will put forth a much better effort. The Preds will skate away with a hard fought 4-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Richard Petiot will have a large cheering section from Daysland in the crowd tonight. The local boy with play in his 14th NHL game, but his first regular season game in Edmonton will have him amped up.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With this asinine cold snap continuing, Octane will try to heat things up inside Rexall tonight. They will unveil two new dance sequences. The girl who always jumps out of her seat to dance along with Octane will be rattled that she doesn’t know the new steps, and will be visibly upset. Most of the guys won’t recognize the new moves, because, well, we are guys and you haven’t been focusing on specific details of their routines. The new choreography will garner lots of attention on twitter though, and the usual Octane haters will complain that their moves suck. Not surprisingly most of the complaints will be from women with no dancing background.