AT RANDOM: WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR

For all the defeat and disappointment the Edmonton Oilers endured this season, the mood at Rexall Place today was markedly different than a year ago when the train wreck that was the Oilers had come completely off the rails on the way to 30th place.

Despite finishing with the same number of points as a year ago, 62 from a record of 24-45-12, and finishing a $5 cab ride behind the 29th-place Florida Panthers, who had 72, the gloom, doom and dismay that hung in the air last season was non-existent today.

There were no absolute money quotes, like listening to an unhappy Sheldon Souray put a gun in his mouth and pull the trigger on his NHL career by crapping all over the organization, but there was lots that stuck with me. Most notably, nobody hobbled out of the rink content to use the rebuild crutch to explain away another difficult season.

Here’s some of my impressions on the way to the first tee . . .

HALL FOR CAPTAIN

Taylor Hall should be the next captain of the Oilers.

Jason Gregor talked about this on his radio show today and he also mentioned it this morning at the rink, so I’m not claiming it as an original thought, but I happen to agree with him.

Hall, 19, has an understated disdain for excuse-making and accepting defeat I really respect. It’s not a case of chest-beating, look-at-me-I-want-to-win-so-bad bravado, but rather an honest distaste for mediocrity.

"We’ve finished last two years in a row," he said. "I think we have the pieces to the puzzle to put a good season together next year.

"We don’t want to promise the fans or you guys something we’re not going to do, but it’s time we start winning. Losing can’t be acceptable next year."

We’ve heard that talk before, of course, but seldom from a teenager who lived up to his advanced billing before his season ended in a scrap with Derek Dorsett.

"It’s not fun losing," he said. "Coming into this year, I’m not used to that, but I guess you come to an organization and you have to rebuild. That’s just the way it goes. You go in cycles.

"I think we’re doing it right here. We going to get a high (draft) pick and that’s exciting for the future, but this year was tough losing and something I’m not used to. Next year, we’re hoping to win. For me personally, that’s what I want to do, too."

When Shawn Horcoff’s tour is done here, I’m betting Hall won’t only be the Oilers best player, he will be this team’s undisputed leader. The "C" awaits him.

DULY NOTED

— I was already impressed by Ryan Jones before Sunday’s season finale against Colorado, and he earned a lot of points in the dressing room, and I’m guessing with fans, with his reaction to the goal Liam Reddox scored.

With a chance to reach 20 goals, Jones jammed at a puck Reddox had shot. It had already crossed the goal line, barely, and his first reaction to the official at the net was that the goal belonged to Reddox. He made sure Reddox knew that as players celebrated.

Reddox is a ham-and-egger, a fringe player who might not be even be on the roster or in the organization next season. He’s also a player who has worked his butt off without getting any results for it this season. Jones showed me something with that gesture.

— Like Hall, Theo Peckham impressed me with many of his remarks today.

"We want to have a playoff spot this time next year," he said. "We don’t want to just rely on the old, ‘We’re rebuilding’ stage. For us this year, it was tough. I thought we did a great job of not falling back on the fact we’re young and inexperienced.

"A lot of us in there, we really gave it our all. I’ve been between here and Springfield the last three years. The excuses for losing kind of get old. For us right now, it’s having a good summer and training hard and coming back next year ready to go."

AND . . .

— I don’t expect Teemu Hartikainen to score at the clip he did in limited duty this season, but I’d like to see him alongside Andrew Cogliano and Linus Omark in the bottom six to start next season.

Like Jones, I think Hartikainen might add some limited offensive pop, and Omark’s skill and creativity might provide some mismatches against the usual grinder-type opponents — on top of his power-play duty and sliding up the line-up when needed.

— Where does Gilbert Brule fit next season? Does he fit?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

    • Hey… that’s my captain there bucko. Ease up and learn some respect. Horc is the living embodiment of the hard work and perseverance that every young player on this team needs to emulate if they want to escape the fate of Robert Nilsson. Even IF we weren’t wafer thin at center you don’t run around trading the best two-way player on the team and the captain to boot.

      Edit: *runs for cover in slow motion as he realizes with horror the debate he has just unintentionally reopened**lands behind a jofa helmet*

      • Quicksilver ballet

        He’s the captain of my preferred team as well~S~K~.

        Times/needs change during the darkest years this franchise has ever seen. 70% of this roster will turn over in the next 20 months. Shaun can’t do the heavy lifting anymore, he can’t stay healthy, he can’t lead the team on the offensive end of things anymore. He’s a finacial albatross to this hockey club to which there’s no escape for atleast the next two yrs. Horcoff is wearing the same Inland Cement shoes Eyhan Moreau was wearing his last year here.

        I’m sure Shaun is a super duper great guy and has accomplished many great things as a hockey player but i’m sure the kids seated next to him know it’s that contract that has him in that dressing room and not nesessarily his abilities on the ice…..we’re better off having Ryan Smyth in his spot. This hockey clubs needs have changed considerably since Shaun signed this contract 3 yrs ago.

        • I’d like to think that the kids see him more as the guy who helped them through their first couple years, with lots of advice on positional play, what to watch for in certain situations, etc.

          I would like to think that contract considerations don’t really factor into the culture in the dressing room, and that Horcoff can offer a 19-year-old some valuable info on how to function in the NHL. But I’m an optimist LOL

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Good coaching covers all the areas you mentioned Mr. Dodd sir. I just think things are bad enough here now where it might be worthwhile to dress this contract dump up as a trade by adding a decent pick as well as a prospect to make it appealing to a team with cap space. We would surely make better use of that 5.5 cap space during the 2012/2013,2013/2014 seasons. Can’t see it making any sense keeping him here beyond the end of next season, hopefully they can bait the hook and find a buyer by then.

  • Hemmertime

    Bang on with Jones. I think hes a decent player who had a career year, might have this many goals again. But I doubt his effort will slide and hes a guy with outstanding character.

    From his interviews and his twitter (I read his more than Hall’s) I’ve really grown to like him. Last night just sealed the deal for me, I hope we re-sign him.

    I miss Penner’s interviews already.

  • Dan the Man

    I’m thinking that before Horcoff’s contract is up we might have a situation where he realizes that it’s Hall’s team and he passes the C on to him much like Fogolin did to Gretzky.

    • Those were extraordinary circumstances involving a once-in-a-lifetime player with Fogolin and Gretzky, but you might be right.

      I’m just not into forcing the process and getting into talk about stripping Horcoff of the C and giving it to Hall, that sort of thing.

      • Dan the Man

        Agreed that those were pretty extraordinary circumstances and I think Horcoff is a fine captain so I’m not someone who wants to see him stripped of his captaincy but maybe a better analogy would have been Brind’Amour handing the C over to Staal.

        The Fogolin – Gretzky situation was just the first one that came to mind.

      • A better comparison would be Brindamour passing the torch to Staal

        I LOVE Brule’s game but he’s so frustrating with his random injuries/illnesses. He’s a small guy that plays like he’s 6’5. I donttgthink a buyout is a good move and a trade is not worth it. Is it really a problem if Brule plays on the 4th line with Vande Velde??

  • D

    If the organization invests in him in the medium term, Jones can be one person who really helps define the attitude and culture of this team for the foreseeable future.

  • Crash

    Nice to hear that Gregor has gone from Hall being a guy who would only be good for exciting us to a guy who just may be the next captain. No surprise to me that Hall has won him over.

    I really would have liked to have seen how this team would have performed had they stayed relatively healthy and not lost Whitney, Hemsky, Eberle and Hall to so many games. Although the silver lining was getting to introduce some of the other prospects into the league.

    Brule probably doesn’t fit. I’m not sure Cogliano does either if the Oilers draft a center with the 1st pick. Really like Hartikainen, a nice gritty player on the boards who can slip away from opponents and do some damage around the oppositions net. I like Jones willingness to stand at the blue paint. I think the PP got better once the Oilers were forced to use some guys that would go there.

    So yes, next year it is….I just hope they stay mostly healthy so we can really find out how good they are.

      • Crash

        Your article Apr 20, 2010 titled Taylor or Tyler

        In the article you have thoughts around Crosby vs Ovechkin…you mention how you like Crosby as the better choice over Ovechkin and it’s spun in such a way as to say that Ovechkin is exciting but Crosby is a champion. And you spin it as though Seguin constitutes Crosby while Hall constitutes Ovechkin.

        I never said you said Hall was only a good player…I said you spun Hall as one who would only be good to excite us Oiler fans not lead us to a championship (ie: like Ovechkin). Your two quotes at the end of the article are below.

        “It should be a win-win situation for the Oilers, regardless of who they choose. But if the goal is to build a championship team, not just an exciting team, then leaning towards Seguin makes more sense”

        “Similar to why Crosby is a better — not more exciting– player than Ovechkin”

        Perhaps I’m reading it wrong but it seems like this means that Seguin equals championship, Hall equals excitement. No big deal..it’s nice to see you’ve recognized Hall as much more than just an exciting hockey player. IMO I think Hall is actually more like Crosby than he is Ovechkin. Or possibly a combination of the two and I agree, he is captain material.

  • Dan the Man

    It’s hard not to cringe a little at the thought of Cogliano between Hartikainen and Omark. ‘A’ for effort and attitude, but Omark should be with someone who has a half way decent chance to cash in on his passes. Maybe if he wasn’t getting killed on the dot you could make a case for it.

    I’d rather see Hartikainen with Omark and Paajarvi – a Finn, a Swede & a Swinn (or a Fwede)!

  • I remember starting to like Brule’s game again right before he got injured. They could try to trade him, but I doubt there’d be any takers, or they could buy him out, but what would the point be to spreading his cap hit out next year, when that money could be better spent re-upping, say, Linus Omark? I think you bring him to camp, and see if he can beat out guys like Fraser, Lander (if he comes over this year), Cogliano and Hartikainen for a bottom six role. Would it be the worst thing in the world to bring in a lot of guys who can potentially play themselves onto the roster, and let the best of them emerge?

    Best case scenario is Brule turns into a middle six forward who can play physical and chip in some offense. Worst case scenario is he gets hurt again, and isn’t offered another contract. What’s the harm in giving him a chance to play himself into the mix again?

  • D

    Landeskog , Hall , Paajarvi , Hemsky , Hartikainen , Vandevelde , Horcoff , Eberle , Omark , Gagner , Jones , and Cogliano and maybe Landers . Oilers may make off season AHL trade for faceoff man at a cheap price like Zigomanis . Defensively they hope Teubert can make jump , with a possible newbie if they can latch onto Musil with their second pick this year . We simlpy don’t appear to be a team with enough NHL talent to move forward that way . Landeskog should fill Penners role .

  • Mitch

    @Brownlee

    Can the Oilers make the playoffs next yr? I would make Hall the captain this summer, don’t waste any time making the switch. This kid understands pressure,Canada and small market Edmonton. It will also help deepen the bond with the fan base. Ryan Jones is a major part of this team, he’s not a part of the core but the culture. Move the bandaids out, Gilbert Brule and Ales Hemsky are among the candidates. I could go on forever, Tambo said they were 20 players away, that list is probably at about 13 now. Yes Gagner still must go, Cogliano gets a pass because he can stay healthy. Could Souray fit here somehow?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Good point.

      Get that meeting over with, Katz is into him for 2/3rds his salary anyways. A #2 or 3 d’man wouldn’t hurt. He’s still probably better than anything we have here now.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      Way to early for that He needs to earn it not have it handed to him on a silver platter. His day will come but for now let him think about the possibility and what he would do with it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Do Hartikinan and Jones play the same wing? Cause if they dont I think Jones deserves a 3rd line position if re-signed and Hartikinan playing between the 3rd and 4th line until some chemistry and experience is established and having Horcoff center them on the 3rd.

  • I really can see Hall channelling the spirit of Mark Messier, maybe not like the Moose’s brute intimidation, but more by his passion and competitive fire. I’m relieved the season is over and we are discussing such topics. We can’t go wrong on draft day, and the future is bright. See you all in September.

  • Aah yes… strip the guy that all the kids look up to and learned alot from this year of the “C”. Put that “C” on Hall. When the team stumbles as they will next year, the fanbase start in on our Captain being too young, not ready, etc.

    Great idea.

    • bigrroberto

      You’re an idiot. Just because people think he’s the next captain doesn’t mean next year. The next captain could be 2,3,4,7,10 years. I hope not that long, hut that’s the point that you seem to be missing.

      • Try reading the whole thread, bigrroberto, and you might have noticed that a few folks (Quicksilver and a couple others) brought up to Brownlee the idea of exactly that: taking the C off Horcoff in the summertime and handing it to Hall.

        A real idiot jumps to your conclusion because they didn’t read the previous couple pages.

        There are alot of smart, regular posters on ON. It would serve you better to try and participate intelligently by reading what you’re replying to first.
        When you don’t, you look like a… you guessed it: Idiot.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I was thinking about Omark being a bottom-six guy, and my first reaction is to think that his skill puts him as a top-six player for sure.

    But then I look at the lineup and realize that you don’t want to lose him, but maybe there isn’t a spot for him on the 1st or 2nd line.

    If he is a winger on the third line, with some concentration on the defensive side of the game, he can bring a very high-end scoring potential against the other teams’ 3rd.

    …Or this can appear in hindsight to be mis-using the skill set of a player and more reason to fire Tambo… we will see in 5 years…

  • Crash

    I can see Lander, Omark and Hartsy as our 3 rd line. Ve,Jones and Cogliano on the fourth. In all this I am not seeing Fraser. He either starts the year in OKC or gets a trade. He underwhelmed this year. And you can’t say he wasn’t given an opportunity to bring it. I was listening to a Nationradio interview that said Landeskog has played at centre this season. Maybe thats who Stu will spend his pick. I like RNH but Landeskog plays like Hall and brings the physical game. Win the draft lottery tonight and that will make us all feel a little better.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Does Brule get bought out this year? Have to think that if the organization really thinks injuries are an issue that you start cutting ties with some of these injury prone players.

  • stevezie

    Anyone who wants Hall to be made the captain over the summer… I’m shaking my head while typing the idea… would do well to remember the early years of Vinny Lecavalier. He’s 19, just let him play hockey for a few years.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        No link = Bullship Obbie.

        Pretty sure for much of the last 2 yrs Shaun, like the rest of us, has to buy a ticket if he wants to watch Team Canada in action.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Babcocks coments were about how well Horcoff has been playing this year, the second was from Rob Blake on how Horcoff was on team Canada’s radar for this years world championships.

          If I provide links, do you disappear from ON forever?

          You need to give me some insentive to dig through the old blogs 😉

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Mike was probably just rewarding Shauns prior service to Team Canada, stroking Horcoffs ego. Have to think there was no real consideration to have #10 on that team this year with his injury history the last 24 months. Can’t think of any reason Mike would be involved with the World Championships with him being busy with the Wings at playoff time and all.

            Are you sure you’re not just making this up, or was it just a dream Obbie?

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Babcocks comments had nothing to do with Team Canada, he was simply talking about how well Horcoff has been playing.

            It was Rob Blake that said Horcoff was on Team Canada’s radar.

            Gregor also mentioned that he’s talked to numerous people involved with the NHL and they all think highly of Horcoff as a player.

            Face it, you’re dead wrong.

        • Peterborough

          His value to this team right now is very high as a mentor. He played his heart out for us and have you already forgot about him blocking Lidstrom’s shot with his face on our run to the finals?

          But the main point is this 19.5 mil over 4 years at a cap hit of 5.5 per. No takes him. Not at that price and term, So forget it.

          Come back to this in two years time and we’ll talk.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            That was up high in the neck area, probably closer to the collar bone. I can appreciate that those players all went above and beyond the call of duty that spring. Why should we still have to pay for that 5 yrs later?

            I don’t see anything wrong with trying to move Horcoff asap along with a premiun 2012 draft pick, a prospect/roster player. There’s alot of benifit to not having to deal with this issue anymore, this contract has done more harm than good.

          • Peterborough

            I agre with you its a bad contract. It Will be a huge anchor in two years time. Right now though its not as cap space is no real issue. In two years time a bottom feeder team might like the contract as it give them cap hit without paying the dollars (he earns 4 and 3 per in real dollars).

            But right now his contract makes him untradable. And I really don’t see the upgrade to be made. Plus not having him will ensure a lottery finish next year with no pick to reward us for another season of ineptitude.

            Draft well and be patient, it sucks, but its beats being the Leafs. . . or god forbid the Flames (PS have you seen the delusional verbal diarrhea Flamer fans spew??? They think their team can sign UFA like Richards + keep Tanguay and Glencross. LOL They sign no one. 6 mil in cap space and 6 roster spots to fill 1G 3Ds and 2 FWs add to this one of the 3-4 weakest prospect pools and few draft picks comming

            = sooooo screwed!!!!

            They can’t be this silly!!! I guess the can and are! Anytime I get discouraged about our situation I just have to think of theirs.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I’d love to hear what “harm” it’s done. Their is no point in wasting assets to get rid of him now. 2-3 years from now? Maybe. But not right now. Their is NO benifit to “not having to deal with this issue”….(whatever those “issues” are)….well maybe in your delusional mind thier is.

            And that doesn’t even address the fact that he’s still one of the top 3-4 forwards on this team.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Didn’t say it needed to be done now. It should be done before the start of the 2012-2013 season though. Hopefully Gagner’s gone with that Kings pick so we could grab Stome or Couturier. NuHo and either one of those two should be ready for that 12-13 season, leaving little need for your famed #10.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Your plan is so laughable.

            We go into the final season of Hall/Eberle on Rookie contracts (ie what is likely one of our better chances at having a really strong team) with rookies at 1C and 2C.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            So many options Obbie, what if Taylor Hall is the No.1 center, maybe one of the kids stick this fall and the other follows in 12-13.

            Fear not Obbie, if you’ve grown weary i’ll take the helm for a few months so you can get your beauty rest. I got it all figure out, if you need to know anything…. just ask brother.

          • Peterborough

            Changed my mind your plan has anexcellent chance of getting us another 3 top 2 picks surely by then we can find a centre for 2017?

            I like both those kids but such a gamble that they either one becomes as effective as Horcoff, saying they will both be an upgrade in two years is beyond foolish.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Age and experience doesn’t win every battle. Youth and enthusiasm could easily outperform the experienced veterans on this 30th place club 2 yrs running.

            Peterborough, the bar is set at an alltime low here now. How could it get any worse choosing youth over underperforming veterans with plenty of experience….at doing what? The only thing the vets of the last 5 yrs have learned here is how to deal with the negative media conditions.

            Not sure who coined the phrase but i first heard it when the Oilers climbed Mount Islander. Youth and enthusiasm will always overcome age and experience. Bossy, Trottier or Bob Cole?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Looks as though Bob Stauffer has joined in on that Herbal Magic band wagon as well. Noticed the last broadcast he looks a little thinner. It appears to have helped his voice as well, his words seem a little clearer, that throaty sometimes slured sound seems to be much less noticeable when he’s talking now.

  • Peterborough

    “He shall rise up from the east, and he shall journey to the west, arriving with much jubilation from all the peoples. Through the trials and tribulations he shall lead those who go into battle with him, and they shall be victorious. Whence the earth hath traveled around the sun fourteen times after the new milennium, then shall he raise a silver goblet above his beautiful head, and bring a city to its feet.”-Nostradamus*

    *not actually

  • Peterborough

    Well played Mr. Brownlee.
    I’d like to see us add one bigger veteran into our bottom six for next year, but otherwise, we have the pieces, they just need to learn on the job.

  • Peterborough

    Random thoughts.

    -Horcoff can be captain for a couple more years without controversy except here on ON (LOL). But he belongs as 3rd line C

    -Anton Lander, I don’t see him making the team. He had some improvement in boxcars (49GP 11G 15A) but went from -2 to -14 year over year

    -I don’t like either RNH or Larssen as #1 for us. RNH is Sam Gagner (who, in fact, had better stats for more years in major junior) and Larssen looks to be Jay Bouwmeister on the upside – he scored 4 goals last year and 1 this year.

    -Matheson wrote today that maybe we take a swing at RFA Shea Weber this summer. Let’s just say, I didn’t need a little blue pill when I read that one. Would solve a big hole for a long time (turns 26 this summer).

    -When are we going to turn one of our young talents into a center? Which one? Hall would seem the obvious candidate but I hope it’s someone else. Magnus? Eberle? Beuhler?

  • Redhouse

    Editing my comment, I know Gagner did NOT do it for longer in junior, he still had more points in fewer games in his draft year. I stand by my general comment.