LONG ROAD TO CONFERENCE FINALS

Watching the talent, skill, heart and grit on the Lighting, Bruins, Sharks and Canucks and it becomes even more clear that the Edmonton Oilers have a long way to go before contending for a conference title. I know the Oilers are in rebuild mode, but I hope their management staff has been keeping close tabs on the ingredients these four conference finalists have mixed together to be successful.

Any rebuild has to contain a vast amount of hope and faith when you consider that teams blessed with loads of talent like Detroit, Washington and Philly couldn’t get to the final four this year. Fans, and even management to some degree, have to hope their player decisions pan out and that in time, hopefully not too long, they will be competitive on the ice.

At first glance it is easy to see why these teams are four wins away from the finals; Elite players.

Marty St. Louis, Tim Thomas, Joe Thornton and Ryan Kesler have been great. These four teams have loads of depth, but the one ingredient that they have, that the Oilers currently lack, is a stable of reliable players. Players that will give a consistent effort, not necessarily with their point totals, but just how they go about playing the game. 

 

The Oilers have too many wildcards on their roster right now, and moving forward Steve Tambellini needs to bring in a few players who possess the key ingredients to success; accountability and consistency.

The Oilers need to decipher the difference between a "good guy" and a "good teammate."

Dustin Penner was a good guy. He joked around with his teammates, he cared about them as people, but as a teammate I don’t think he was what the organization needed. He didn’t give his best effort often enough. Subtle things like showing up for a nine a.m meeting at 8:59:55 doesn’t make you a leader, and it sets a bad example to the young players. Not every player needs to be a perfect teammate for a team to win, but you need your leaders and veterans to be that way, and then hopefully the youngsters will pick up on it.

SHAWN HORCOFF:  is a true professional. When Horcoff gets ripped it is for his salary; rarely his work ethic. Even the biggest Horcoff bashers recognize that effort isn’t his downfall. Get past his salary and he is the type of teammate the Oilers need more of. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have that internal drive to be the best, and so far they have shown they are willing to put in the extra effort necessary to improve and become differnce makers in games.

RYAN WHITNEY:  has improved that element of his game the past few years. Theo Peckham looks like he has it. Ryan Jones’ game is pretty simple, and hustle is not something he lacks. Andrew Cogliano has really worked on battling and being more prepared, and if he is in your bottom six then you are okay. Ales Hemsky plays hard, and while I’d like to see him work harder at practice to improve his game, he has lots of respect in the room because of his fearless attitude during games. Magnus Paajarvi and Jeff Petry give you the impression that they are learning what it takes to be effective on a nightly basis in the NHL.

The rest of the current lineup has more wildcards than guarantees and that is a problem that needs to be rectified.

SAM GAGNER: Gagner is still very young, and with four years of NHL experience there is a good chance Gagner could have a break out season soon. Like many young players, Gagner has battled with inconsistency more than anything. You can’t always look at points or stats to judge a player’s worth, and Gagner needs to be willing to battle on a nightly basis. Gagner is the toughest player to accurately assess. Will he become a 60-point player? Can he improve his faceoffs? Is it too risky to deal him? If Gagner is here in October he needs to answer those questions and show management that he is a key piece of the rebuild.

TOM GILBERT: No player can drum up a heated debate amongst Oiler fans more than Gilbert. Some loathe him for his lack of aggressive play, while some "stats" guys feel his numbers are much better than what you see on the ice. Gilbert clearly has NHL skill. He skates well, has a decent shot, is a good passer, but he needs to be more consistent. Gilbert was 17th in the NHL in TOI/game last year, so obviously he has an opportunity to influence a game postively and negatively. I don’t see the Oilers trading him, and I don’t expect him to become a Jason Smith type defender, but he needs to battle harder for loose pucks. No current stat clearly illustrates how hard a player works, but too often we watch Gilbert losing a battle in front of the net or in the corner. If he doesn’t want to be more physical,  then he needs to be better positionally. Gilbert has to become a player his teammates and coaches can rely on every shift; because he has above-average NHL skills, and if he is willing he has the ability to be a difference maker in games.

LADISLAV SMID: Smid is an RFA, but he won’t demand/command a big raise so he is very affordable. Entering his 6th season, Smid is another guy who needs to become a reliable player for Tom Renney. Like Gagner, he is a top-ten pick, 9th in 2004, and the time has come for him to be more consistent. Smid competes hard, but I’d like to see him put in some extra work to improve his shot. He will never be an offensive force, but if he can improve his point shot it could lead to a few more goals, or at least a few more assists on deflections. He wasn’t 100% healthy last  season, after neck surgery in March of 2010, but he should be completely healthy in September, and he needs to find some consistency in his game so the coaching staff knows what to expect from him every night.

LINUS OMARK: He electrified the crowd with his shootout moves last year, but in too many games he’d make a stunning play on one shift, and then disappear for the next period. He was a rookie, so he gets some latitude for inconsistency, but with Eberle and Hemsky on the RW, Omark needs to be tenacious on every shift, not every 4th shift. He isn’t afraid to go into the tough areas, and he protects the puck very well, but he needs to become more committed in his own zone if he wants to play more five-on-five. If Omark can be consistent and productive, it will give Tambellini more trade options, while Renney could use it as a bargaining/leverage for handing out icetime on the PP and evenstrength. 

KURTIS FOSTER: Foster wasn’t happy with his play last season, so I’d like to think he’ll come to camp hoping to prove something. My concern with Foster is if he the capability to compete hard on every shift. His teammates like him and he is good in the room, but the Oilers need more guys that the opposition doesn’t like on the ice, and I’m not sure Foster possesses that quality. If he isn’t contributing on the PP, then he really isn’t that effective. He should have lots to prove come October, and the fear of not getting another contract is a great motivator, but I don’t see him as a long term fit.

GILBERT BRULE: His health is the biggest question, and I wonder if the Oilers will take another chance on him or possibly buy him out? Because Brule is only 24 the Oilers could buy him out at 1/3 of his final year. He is owed $1.8 million so the Oilers could buy him out at $616,667 and spread that out over two years, so his cap hit would only around $308,333 over the next two seasons. Buyouts are the harsh side of the business, and it might look a bit heartless considering all the injuries Brule had last season, but the reality is he wasn’t reliable last season. The Oilers aren’t up against the cap, so they don’t need to make room salary wise, but I wonder if they think they will need to make room for another body? I’d roll the dice with Brule and start him as my 4th line centre. Give me a specific role and see if he accepts it.

COLIN FRASER: Fraser wasn’t effective at all last season. He only scored in two of 67 games, and he wasn’t great on the PK, but the most disappointing part of his game was that he wasn’t a shift disturber very often. After playing with guys like Adam Burish and Ben Eager, you would have thought Fraser would have seen what it takes to be an effective 4th liner, but for one year he didn’t do it. Fraser could be in a hard fought battle for the 4th line centre spot with Brule in September, and if that is the case, I don’t like his chances of making the team.

J.F JACQUES: Based on his icetime last year, I don’t see the Oilers bringing him back. Guys need to play to make an impact, and it seems the Oilers have lost faith in Jacques. He shows glimpses of being an impactful, banging fourth liner, but he also has long stretches where he doesn’t. I think they will re-sign MacIntyre over Jacques.

STEVE MACINTYRE: With the unfortunate passing of Derek Boogaard, MacIntyre is the #1 ranked heavyweight, but he doesn’t have many guys willing to fight him, so he needs to bring more than just his fists. If he is going to be a factor he has to dedicate himself to playing and understanding the game better. He needs to just go up and down his wing. He has to know his assignments and where he should be on the ice. Last year, in the limited minutes he played, too often he was in an area he wasn’t supposed to be. If he wants to play next year, he has to do a better job of understanding the whats, wheres and whens of the game.

JASON STRUDWICK: I don’t see him back in Edmonton next season. He could catch on with another team, because he is very respected around the league. The Oilers need a guy like Strudwick, who plays hard every shift and keeps the opposition honest, but is a bit younger and quicker.

LIAM REDDOX: Reddox gives you everything he has on every shift, but he doesn’t have enough to make an impact unfortunately. I will take Teemu Hartikainen over Reddox today, because Hartikainen is a load down low and he’ll wear down the opposing D-men.

2010 was the Summer of Steve, and he had more misses than hits when it came to player moves. I hope he understands he needs to acquire some players who will bring a consistent effort every night; regardless of whether they are scorers, bangers, checkers, penalty killers, puck-movers or stay-at-home defenders.

The Oilers need to shed their wildcards and pick up a few solid sixes, eights and the maybe even an Ace.

  • John Chambers

    This is an excellent assessment, LT. Another point worth mentioning is that among the reliable guys, quite a number are still a ways away from their prime. Hall, Ebs, and Paajarvi won’t be Conference Final-calibre contributors for 3 or 4 years.

    Stop dreaming, Nation. We’re going to tank it next year, tank it the year after that, and then be on a merry road ahead. Tomas Vokous sure ain’t no panacea.

          • John Chambers

            I was fine with you calling it weak. It doesn’t offend me.

            Try to take a zen attitude toward it. All this struggle will only make stronger. Like watching the Karate Kid train under Mr. Miyagi … all the waxing on and waxing off will serve us well.

            Remember that painful loss to Carolina, or the the Rangers, or that stretch of futility that came before those back to back wins over the Canucks? That kick to the mouth will earn us RNH! That is your handle after all, isn’t it?

            There is no quick fix. That’s why ELPH was invented.

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

            It’s been discussed a tonne so I don’t want to get too deep into it, finishing last (or close to) for many years doesn’t guarantee success.

            I’d also say RNH is one of, if not the most likely of the recent 1st overall picks to bust (or at least be a very average player).

            Sure would be a waste of time coming in last just to draft a bust (or even a 60 point player)

          • Let's Rebuild

            You make 60 points sound like a death sentance. If we had a team with 5-6 guys who only score 60 points we would be all right.

            For example look at Boston’s top scorer’s this year:

            Krejci – 62 Lucic – 62 Bergeron – 57 Nathan Horton – 53 Recchi – 48 Kaberle – 47 Chara – 44 Ryder – 41 Peverley – 41 Marchand – 41

            They didn’t even have a guy who scored over 63 points this year and most of those guys played at least 80 games. If RNH can get 60 points to complement the other 60+ point potential players for the Oilers noboby will consider him a bust.

            To the point – if you do not have a guy who can score 100 points, the next best thing is to have a crapload of guys who can score 50-60 points.

            Can I say “crapload” on this site?

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

            Ya I’m fine with 60 point players and if we were drafting 4/5/6 etc I’d be happy I just dont want to go through a last place finish to aquire one.

            Drafting 1st overall expectations really should be for an elite offensive talent.

          • Bucknuck

            Only Nine players got more than 80 points last season and only one that got over 100. If you assume that a hockey career usually spans 15 seasons, then looking at this season your chances are 9/15 of getting a a PPG player at any point in the draft.

            If you get a player that gets 60-80 points then I think you have succeeded.

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

            60 – 80 I’m not so worried about (70+ specifically)

            It’s the 50 – 60 seasons I wouldn’t be satisfied with (for a 1st overall pick)

          • Caping RNH at 60 points or saying that he’s the most likely to be a bust is completely arbitrary. If there was some kind of evidence to support that claim then he wouldnt be considered the #1 player by 6/10 scouts polled by TSN.

            Unless rickithebear lobotomizes me until I believe his goal/assist rule for projecting players there is no reason to think that RNH cant be a great NHL player.

            I just want to see how you, or anyone, is coming up with this “fact” that RNH is most likely to bust.

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

            It isn’t a fact, it’s my opinion. That’s why I stated it as my opinion, not as fact.

            I belive he COULD be and elite player and that he most likely will be at worst a solid player.

            However, I think he has worse odds then guys like Crosby/AO/Hall/Tavares etc had

          • bleedingoil

            no, sorry….do the math – you just told us that 60% of the players “at any point in the draft” are PPG players. Its more like .89%, less than 1% – takes 16 years to draft a PPG player. There are only 26 career PPG players in modern history (more than 500 career points) and the number jumps to 54 when you consider all players in history with no minimums. of 6027 players in hisory 54 did it.
            54/6027 = .00896 (.89%)

            (see above and read below if you wanna see the math)

            23 dress for a game, less 2 goalies = 21
            21 players x 30 teams = 630.
            9 playes more than 80 points.
            9/630 = 1.42% chance to score 80 points

            you dress 21 players out of 630
            21/630 = 3.3% of the league playes on your team

            so 1.42% of your 3.3% will score 80 points.

            in a normal draft you have 7 chances in 210 draft.

            In the 90’s there were 2600 players drafted. 494 have played in more than 200 games. that is a rate of 19% – so you have 1.42% of 3.3% of 19% chance of drafting a consistent PPG player, or a .89% chance. you would have to draft 112 players to get 1 that is a PPG player. At 7 picks per year that takes 1 every 16 years on average.

            I WILL GLADLY TAKE A TEAM FULL OF 60 POINT SCORERS.

          • VMR

            I’d say you also need a Norris contender on your blueline and one of the best goalies in the league in net if the best you have is a pack of 50-60 point guys. Many ways to build a contender, get as many of the best players you can is the first step.

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

            Their was nothing that said any of the other (relatively recent) 1st overalls would be a bust either.

            I have less faith in Hopkins panning out then I did about Hall/Tavares/Crosby/Stamkos/AO/Kovalchuk/Nash etc

          • Jason Gregor

            And which ones have been a bust? You just re-affirmed why your opinion seems completely ridiculous. Who was the last big bust at #1. Patrick Stefan in 1999. Since then all the forwards taken first have been pretty damn good. It seems more like you are just trying to get a reaction, which is even lamer IMO.

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

            What on earth are you talking about? I’m pulling for the team to draft Hopkins and have been for months. That doesn’t mean I have to think he’s a sure thing slam dunk All-star.

            Do people have to believe that all 1st overall picks have the exact same chance of success as each other? Talk about ridiculous.

            Or do you think you can rank 1st overall picks by who has the best and the worst chance of being an impact player?

          • I’ll tell you what. You tell me what role you think Horc should be judged against and then I’ll re-evaluate my position on the guy.

            Here are some choices (feel free to add a category that I may have over looked or mix and match):

            1C, 2C, 3C, Top 3 Forward, Middle 6 Forward, Checking Centre, Role Player, Pylon

            If we’re working with the same expectations we can find common ground.

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

            Yes, health is my major concern with Horcoff. Age will eventually be too, likely sooner rather then later.

            That doesn’t change the fact that as of today he’s still in the mix to be considerd the teams #2 forward

          • Jason Gregor

            You are talking out of both sides of you mouth then. Why would you want them to draft Nugent-Hopkins if you think he has the best chance to be a bust? That makes no sense.

            You still haven’t said why or shown any evidence that backs up why you think he will be a bust.

          • bleedingoil

            How is that talking out of both sides of his mouth?

            It sounds to me like he thinks the higher potential upside of RNH is worth what he perceives to be a higher bust potential.

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

            The issue is that you haven’t been following the conversation since the begining.

            I want the team to draft Hopkins because I think he has the best chance to be an elite player out of THIS YEARS draft class.

            (I think Larsson, Couturier and maybe Landeskoog have less risk (ie less likely to bust) but I think RNH has a far higher top end potential then either of those guys.)

            However out of all the (semi recent) 1st overall picks, I have less faith in RNH becoming a truely elite then most of the others.

            Do you think he has the exact same odds of being truely elite as Crosby/AO/Stamkos did prior to being drafted? Because that’s what you are arguing.

            Now, going back to the original point. I Don’t buy into the long term tank strategy because eventually you are going to grab a player that doesnt’ justisfy puttting up with 6 months of $hit hockey for. (ie I don’t think Turris was worth 6 months of garbage, where as Stamkos probably was)

          • Jason Gregor

            Your first comment about RNH was in comment #19, so I have followed from the start, no where did you state anything else, so don’t try to suggest I wasn’t following along your comments.

            You are comparing him to Turris now? Interesting considering Turris only played junior A, not major junior. Once again not an accurate comparison.

            I wouldn’t compare him to OV, Crosby or even Stamkos, because he wasn’t deemed #1 for years in advance. So bringing those guys up is again an inaccurate comparison.

            You still haven’t said why other than “I think” why RNH will be more of a bust than Larsson, Landeskog or Couturier. Because he doesn’t weigh a lot seems your only argument, and that is a stretch at best.

            You have set yourself up to pound your chest that you were right either way…If the OIlers take him and he pans out you will say you wanted him. And if he doesn’t you will say he was a risk. Get off the fence.

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

            Wow, this is getting ridiculous. We are obviously on a completly different page here because we aren’t talking about the same things at all.

            I’ll try this one last time:

            My original point is not comparing RNH to the other players in his draft class.

            I will capitalize becaue this is the key point:

            I THINK THIER IS A HIGHER PROBABILITY THAT RNH BUSTS THEN THEIR WAS THAT OV/CROSBY/STAMKOS AND A FEW OTHER RECENT #1 OVERALL DRAFT PICKS BUST.

            Part of the reason I feel he has more risk is just what you stated: “he wasn’t deemed #1 for years in advance”

            That is my point, if you want to argue that he is of equivalent or less risk then Stamkos/Tavares/Hall/Crosby/AO etc then fine, you are arguing against my point. However the majority of what you’ve brought up has nothing to do with my point

            The reason This years #1 vs past years #1 is relavant is because we were discussing tanking for multiple years, I didn’t like the idea because you’ll eventually pick a bust and it sure is a waste of a year to finish 30/29/28/27 etc only to walk away with an average player or worse.

            ___________________________________________________

            Now as a side bar, I’m going to comment on a couple of your comments:

            I didn’t compare RNH to Turris, I said that it probably wasn’t worth putting up with crappy hockey for the Coyotes/their fans just to get what looks like a very mediocre hockey player, and that I don’t want to be a bottom 2/3/4 team much longer because eventually we will get a mediocre player or worse.

            I didn’t once mention his wieght so I have no idea where you’ve gotten the idea that I have.

          • Wax Man Riley

            I THINK THIER IS A HIGHER PROBABILITY THAT RNH BUSTS THEN THEIR WAS THAT OV/CROSBY/STAMKOS AND A FEW OTHER RECENT #1 OVERALL DRAFT PICKS BUST.

            Obbie, I’m sorry man… I hate doing this… I have to though…. please feel free to rip me a new one. I just can’t do this any more, it’s kind of like when your buddy is walking around with a booger hanging out of his nose and no one tells him.

            *totally prepared to be berated by all commenters as it is a bit of a douche move, but I believe when debating in text, thing like this matter*

            I THINK THERE IS A HIGHER PROBABILITY THAT RNH BUSTS THAN THERE WAS THAT OV/CROSBY/STAMKOS AND A FEW OTHER RECENT #1 OVERALL DRAFT PICKS BUST.

            Sorry, dick move I know.

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

            Ha-ha, no worries. I just can’t be botherd with their/there.

            More importantly, are you able to understand what I’m saying? Or am I doing a horrible job getting my point accross?

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

            No, I’m not either. He was just an example.

            How about this then. It probably wasn’t worth the frustration for TB and there fans to draft Alexandr Svitov.

          • Jason Gregor

            If you are comparing him to Crosby and Ovechkin then of course he likely won’t be them. But people had concerns about Kane and that hasn’t been an issue.

            Either way if you want to draft safely with the #1 pick you likely won’t ever win as an organization. Risk/reward.

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

            I’m not even so much “comparing” him to those guys because as you said it’s highly unlikely he will be that good, lets put it this way, I’m not so much commenting on his high end, as I am on his likelyhood to get there (vs other 1st overall picks). I’m saying he’s *less likely* to be an elite player then those 2 were essentially a lock to be a PPG guy, while I’d put the odds of RNH at being a consistant PPG at 50% (just ballparking)

            It’s more of a knock on this draft class then RNH himself. I would have rather had the #1 pick almost any year then this one because I don’t feel their will be as many elite players pulled from the top 5ish this year then most years.

            I’m also glad you brought up Kane, of the last 10 drafts I think this years most resembles Kane’s year, in that there doesn’t seem to be a “slam dunk”. I think it would have been fair to say there was also alot more risk with Kane then there was with Crosby/AO/Stamkos/Crosby/Hall. That fact that Kane turned into an elite player doesn’t change the fact that he was less of a sure thing then the other guys.

          • bleedingoil

            IMO you would have to go back more than 15 years before you would find more than 2 players that you would have drafted differently with a first overall pick. I would have drafted Toews first in his draft class and probably one of the Sedins their year. Go back any further and you are looking back on an entire career in a much different league. Looking back through this years top 10 scorers:

            D Sedin – 2nd overall

            * *M St Louis – never drafted – signed as free agent

            * *C Perry – 28th overall

            * *H Sedin – 3rd Overall

            * *S Stamkos – 1st Overall

            * *J Iginla – 11th Overall

            * *A Ovechkin – 1st Overall

            * *T Selanne – 10th Overall

            * *H Zetterberg – 210th Overall

            * *B Richards – 64th Overall

            All you can do is Pick who you is ranked #1 Overall. Sometimes you can look back and wonder “what if”, or maybe shake your head. Like how about trading the Oilers pick to get Pouliot and NJD taking Parise with your pick? Or how about trading away Reasoner, Yan Stastny and the pick that became Lucic for Samsonov? You can never tell, nor can you look back. You win some and lose some. Take the top ranked overall (unless you have a hole to fill at a specific position like when Pens took Fleury #1 overall)

          • bleedingoil

            here is an old post of yours

            “Their was nothing that said any of the other (relatively recent) 1st overalls would be a bust either.
            I have less faith in Hopkins panning out then I did about Hall/Tavares/Crosby/Stamkos/AO/Kovalchuk/Nash etc”

            So, my post will show you that the only guarantee is that you can draft #1 ranked overall player. There is a less than 1% chance he will be a point per game player, and he may not even score as much as someone drafted 210 overall or even an unsigned free agent.

            So really, to have a whole debate on whether to draft a player or not on his potential to be a bust is moot. He is the best today, so draft him today. Whatever happens tomorrow will be dealt with tomorrow.

            I guess all in all, to say that the best overall player has the biggest potential to bust is the worst statement i have heard here in a while. I think picking a 200th ranked player 1st overall cause he scored a hattrick in his last Junior A game, or won the high school scoring title has the biggest chance to be a bust. Taking the #1 ranked overall player has the biggest chance of being the best in his draft year. He has the minimal risk, so he cant have the highest potential for a bust.

            I was just rolling up all the previous posts in this thread instead of just grabbing one statement.

            Thats what is has to do with your post sir. I am with you and I hope wo do draft RNH.

          • bleedingoil

            so what is your point then? I am confused. I was replying to your statement that RNH has the biggest potential to be a bust. And then you also saying that you want him to go first overall to the Oilers. So, if you think he has the biggest potential to be a bust, then who do you draft. Please dont confuse yourself and compare RNH to Hall, Stamkos, Crosby, Ovechkin, Kovalchuck and then say he has high potential to be a bust. The odds say he has the highest potential to be the best in his class…..based on the opinions of the same guys who put Hall, Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos, Tavares Kovalchuck etc #1. RNH will not be anyone of these people, but barring injuries, he will be a Top 2 center on a lot of teams within a few years. please point out where i am going wrong understanding your post. You were clear that he has the biggest potential to be a bust. period.

          • bleedingoil

            sure if you want to compare him to past #1s I would agree that he will not measure up, but i would not call him a bust. If he is a career 60-70 point player, he will be considered one of the top tier players. If he has a career 80 point pergame stat he will be among very elite company. Only 54 players in history retired with a 1.0 PPG or higher. Heck, only 60 active players have career stats of .5 points per game, so even at 41 points he will be in the top 10% of scorers. You have less than 1% chance to draft an 80 point career scorer, so if you dont score like Ovy, Kovy or Sid, I would not call it a bust. RNH will score 60 points per year minumim. Either way he will be good. The league is too thin past top 6 forwards to be considered a bust.

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

            I didn’t call him a bust if he was a 60 point player. I made two distinct catagories, which is why I said OR 60 point player:

            1. Higher odds of being a bust of most recent #1 overall

            2. Higher odds of being a 60 point player then most recent #1 overall picks.

            I am more then happy to have 60 point players, however if you are drafting #1, and had to endure a 30th place finish to do it, then I do not feel it is worth it to get a 60 point player.

            (funny enough though Gagner plays to a 50 points/82 pace over his first 4 years and alot of people want to run him out of town)

          • bleedingoil

            so what is your point then? I am confused. I was replying to your statement that RNH has the biggest potential to be a bust. And then you also saying that you want him to go first overall to the Oilers. So, if you think he has the biggest potential to be a bust, then who do you draft. Please dont confuse yourself and compare RNH to Hall, Stamkos, Crosby, Ovechkin, Kovalchuck and then say he has high potential to be a bust. The odds say he has the highest potential to be the best in his class…..based on the opinions of the same guys who put Hall, Crosby, Ovechkin, Stamkos, Tavares Kovalchuck etc #1. RNH will not be anyone of these people, but barring injuries, he will be a Top 2 center on a lot of teams within a few years. please point out where i am going wrong understanding your post. You were clear that he has the biggest potential to be a bust. period.

          • John Chambers

            Actually, I’d be interested to hear your take on how to expedite the re-build.

            Who should we draft? Who should we sign? Who should we trade?

            You don’t like the slow, painful process? Offer your insight into how we make the playoffs in 2 years or less.

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

            I see merit in “tanking” but only for a very short time.

            I was fine with year 1, year 2 I would have liked to added some vets, but so be it, I can understand that we didn’t.

            Year 3 is getting really long in the tooth. The best teams started pulling themselvese out of rock bottom quickly (or at least attempted too)

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

            New platoon goalie (or a miraculous comback from Bulin) + a top 9 center that can PK/FO + a fiesty winger + a top 4 dman and I think we are at least competitive next year.

            Add a second top 4 defender and a #1C and we should be approaching PO.

          • John Chambers

            Okay, that was reasonable.

            I think the big problem that people don’t realize is that although we have the right personnel in Hall, Ebs, etc, they’ll still take a couple of years to mature before they really become impact players. During that time I would prefer to draft in the lottery rather than finish 11th in the conference.

            So therefore I’m against signing Bieksa, Tim Connolly, and Tomas Vokoun, and will wait to cross that bridge when the ’10’11 rookies are onto their second contracts and we’ve been able to separate the wheat from the AHL players.

            I take it back somewhat … I would sign Bieksa immediately for 5-years as he is a total son of a bitch that this team needs. Maybe Max Talbot as well.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Can’t believe we squabble as much as we do when we’re both wanting the same thing. Guess the only difference is i want it all done before the start of the next season.

  • IJ

    That was the best analysis i have read so far. It wasn’t whiny, (like so much of the analysis has been) just accurate. I hope Strudwick gets some form of a coaching position with the oilers. He is great, but he is definitely slowing down. There are going to be a few gems in free agency this summer i think. I hope the oilers sign a couple of affordable ones.

  • Bucknuck

    This is what I never understand especially at the pro level, “his work ethic can’t be questioned…”

    Great he tries hard at being the best he can be but the best he can be is a third line centre, really, on the worst team in the NHL.

    Sean Horcoff no longer deserves a pass for his work ethic. He has a contract he does not live up to. He is injured far too often. He is NOT Wendell Clark.

    Why do we always accept these third line muckers like Buchberger, MacTavish, Horcoff, Pisani, because they are good “team” guys and give great quotes. I don’t. This isn’t some community league “everbody plays because they are committed and work hard even though they have no talent” team. This is a major professional team.

    Sorry, John Short said it best a few years ago on your show “how can these guys be the ones to show the young guys how to win when they have never won anything themselves?” At least MacT and Bucky were “winners”. Horcoff has won zip, nada, zilch. I would rather have Souray back and eat Horcoff’s contract.

          • Bucknuck

            I agree with you.

            Yeah, Horcoff is overpaid. Get over it. He’s still a good player. It’s not as though this team is anywhere near the salary cap, so the amount he is earning is irrelevant.

            He’s the only guy on the ice who seems capable of winning a faceoff, and when healthy he’s a reliable second line centre. If we actually had a #1 centre on this team it would probably help his numbers a bit since he wouldn’t be up against the other team’s best defenders all the time.

            He is a leader on this team and I am glad the Oilers have him.

          • Souby

            I couldn’t agree with you guys more. Horcs is a heck of a player and leader. Maybe his contract was a statement that the Oil are loyal to their players after the whole Ryan Smyth contract/trade fiasco. Whether that was the case or not, you can’t fault Horcs for signing for those $$$$. I would have done the same in a heart beat, as would any of you.

            Putting the contract aside and if he can stay healthy, Horcs has the ability to put up 50-60 points, win face-offs, kill penalties and lead this team; thus the “C” on his chest.

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

          Why don’t you enlighten us all on what to do with Horcoff then? Buy him out? Trade him? I’m sure you’ll have something thoughtful to say.
          It’s easy to be knee jerk & say trade him because you don’t like his salary but Lowe is the one who put it out there for him to sign.

          • Jason Gregor

            They can’t trade him. They won’t buy him out.

            Where can you trade a 5.5 Million cap hit that in the past 4 seasons averages 65 games and 42 points? A stellar .65 points per game!

            I am just tired of people saying Horcoff gets a pass because of his work ethic.

            I am blinded by Horcoff’s contract yes. I am also blinded by his glaring statistical decline since ’06 when he was “rewarded” for a Stanley Cup run led by Chris Pronger and his fluke out of 73 points.

            One time the guy got 73 points!

            Remember when we used to think we needed Doug Weight because he was the only guy that had a 100+ point season?

            Guess everyone who is a Horcoff nuthugger accepts mediocrity and that “70 points is a great season 4 years ago! Horc’ll do ‘er again!”

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

            Theirs no point in getting rid of him until he’s either the 14th best forward or we need the $$ to add a superior player.

            2-3 years from now your rant might be relavant. Today it isn’t.

        • Bucknuck

          If you look at centres, only 20 of them got more than 60 points last year. Only 10 of those got more than 70 points.

          Do you think that Gagner or Horcoff might get more than 60 points if they played a full season?

          The idea of giving up on a 21 year old who might ONLY be a 60 point guy is ridiculous, as is the idea of giving up on the only veteran other than Hemsky who has gotten over 70.

    • Jason Gregor

      Horcoff can show them how to prepare properly. That is a key factor. Of course he won’t show them how to be 100 point players.

      Do you not remember how Lee Fogolin taught the young guys key things about being a pro. Did he teach them to win? No, because I don’t think a player can teach you to win, he can teach you to prepare properly so you have a better chance to win. That is what Horcoff can do.

      You just proved my point that you can’t get past the contract. Why blame Horcoff because the Oilers overpaid him?

      And why do you want Souray over Horcoff? What has Souray won? Has he ever been to a Cup final? He has won a grand total of two playoff series in his entire NHL career, so once again you have shown that your hatred for Horcoff is blinded solely by his contract.

  • IJ

    Cogliano doesn’t fit in the bottom six on this team–weak on the dot and paper thin physique. The Mac Attack could have a place on this team–don’t rule out the importance of a tough guy–I still remember the havoc Bogie wreaked on this team when Bogie was with the Wild and poor ole Stortini still engaged him. Funny how guys like Hordichuk made fun of Stortini and yet guys like Hordichuk don’t want to engage big Mac. The secret for Big Mac will be to minimize stupid solo penalties but to get the opposition to engage him which as Bogie demonstrated is possible. Guys across the league know what happened to Ivanans. Renney and management need to let Mac know that the occasional appropriately timed instigator penalty is okay and even encouraged.

  • Mantastic

    great article gregor, i like your use of quotations around stat guys when describing gilbert. but i do believe there is a market for gilbert, i would think a possible trading partner in colorado if they don’t draft larsson or maybe TBL but they do seem pretty tight on the salary cap.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    But Gregor, based on the comments posted in some of the other threads, wouldn’t all the Oilers need to do to get to the conference finals next year is package up Hall, Eberle, and the #1 pick this year to land Seguin?

  • big joe grizzley

    grizzleys got zero time,or respect for tom gilbert,this guys as soft as the fat guy standing in line at burger king right now!cowardesss is a trait i dispise…ps… how the hell did this guy get a letter on his jersey?…theres lots of resons why were a last place team,mabey thats one of the reasons…bjg is out

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      Wow For Sure I never saw that game but that is exactly what they(COACHES?MANAGEMENT) need to LET big Steve do even if it is 10 min after the Hit the player will live in mortal fear all game until Mac hits him it would only take about 3-4 experiences of this sort over a ten game period for other teams to think twice about taking liberties.

    • Further to that I would tell Big Mac to deliver more of his famous bodyshots a la Prust and less headshots to avoid media scrutiny over the current hotbutton topic of concussions. I would think 7 to 10 instigator fights this season would be nice and especially against some of those big mouths like Mr.I don’t want you to take my seconds Avery and Mr.Dirty hit and I’ll run away Cooke.

  • I would easily add Horcoff into the Wildcard slots, despite his high level of professionalism.

    Horc has been overly injured, much like Hemsky, and his effectiveness is dropping faster than local donair sales after Penner was traded.

    His willingness to fight for pucks seems to have fallen, he’s been more timid in the offensive zone, his point totals are shrinking year over year, his ice time has been dropping, and his once lauded faceoff percentage is barely holding its own against Gagner.

    This business about him being maybe the 2nd best forward on the team is completely fabricated. He is an OK player at this point. He could bounce back, and I will be overjoyed if it happens, but his on ice play screams WildCard. You cant count on him to be a difference maker.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      “This business about him being maybe the 2nd best forward on the team is completely fabricated”

      Hardly, his PPG wasn’t much lower then Hall or Eberle and he’s better in other aspects of the game.

      It’s not a slam dunk that he’s better then Hall/Ebs, but it isn’t a slam dunk that he’s worse either.

      • He cant be counted on to be a difference anymore.

        Team Rank for Various Stats

        F/O% 3rd; P/G 7th; P 8th; GP 17th; TOI/G 5th (top Forward); +/- 4th (great bounceback from last year); S% 7th

        Nothing here is convincing me that he’s the 2nd best forward, but he is still a fair middle 6 NHLer.

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

          Penner isn’t here anymore.

          5th in PPG amoungst forwards

          .05PPG out of 4th/3rd

          .08PPG out of 2nd

          If the other guys had a wide margin on him on PPG then I’d agree, but they don’t.

          He scores at too close of a rate to inferior 2 way players to say it’s a slam dunk that he ISN’T in the running for #2 forward on the team.

  • Spydyr

    Does anyone think Sam Gagner is going to be a faster skater this year?Will he suddenly develop a better shot?Will he be stronger in the corners and with the puck?

    Myself i can’t see any of that happening at this point of his career.He has slow foot speed, a weak shot and is soft on the puck.

    Thats not going to magically improve over the summer.

    He still has his greatest asset.His youth.Time to move him for a missing piece in the puzzle . Tough big center.Top 4 d-man .Especially if RNH is drafted #1

    • Do you want to guess which Oiler led all other centres on the team in Points, Points per game, and Take Aways?

      If RNH is drafted and Gagner moved, who is going to be the 2C? Horc? For how long do you see that working out?

      • Spydyr

        The 1st line centre maybe the tough big centre mentioned as a possible return on Gags trade.Leading a team in points when every player except Eberle (who missed what 14 games) hits 42 points and gets injured for the season is not an accomplishment.It is by Default.Horc has been number 1 or 2 centre most of his career here.Why stop now?

        You cannot build a team over night but you have to move some pieces of the puzzle that are repeated over and over (small skilled forward AKA smurf). To get pieces you need. Big centre top 4 d. You have to trade something to get something.Enough of the magic bean trades. Trade a NHL player for another NHL player. To fill a need.

        I was all for the rebuild but tanking 2 years in a row is enough.The young players cannot learn to accept losing.Time to get competitive or the apathy the fans are showing now will turn to indifference and that will cost the team big time.

        • You cant trade Gagner for a Big 1C any more than you could trade Tom Gilbert for Zdeno Chara.

          Gagner is one of the least repeated players in the organization. There is nobody in the organization under 21 that looks like they could legitimately be a 2C. Pitlick is a Winger and Lander looks like a 3C at best. Who else is there?

          Horc has been in steady decline for years and he’s not getting younger. So your plan is to move the best young C in the organization for a player who is Bigger and Better than Gagner (good luck finding a trading partner with that one), and in a worst case scenario just pray to the hockey gods that Shawn Horcoff can be a 1C for the better part of a decade.

          What could go wrong?

          • Jason Gregor

            I think you might be too quick writing off Pitlick as a centre. He was moved to the wing for one year in MH because they had two veteran centres ahead of him. The Oilers could play him in the middle in OKC or he’ll go to the middle in MH this year.

            Many Oiler D-men were really impressed by him at camp last year. He is hard to control, especially down low, and has a chippy side to him, which this team really needs down the road.

          • Yes, I am currently writing off Pitlick as a C prematurely, but I’m doing it because as it stands right now he doesnt have the experience at C to suggest he can come in and do the job at the NHL level.

            However, I think you are bang on when you say that the Oilers could rectify that by puting him in OKC this year and letting him play the middle. When that happens I will do a complete 180 in regards to Pitlick being a Centre for the Oil.

          • If switching from wing to centre was easy for young players then surely Hall would have played more than a handful of games at C. Gilbert Brule would be a fulltime C, and the Oil wouldnt have been relying on Cogliano to be the 1C at year’s end.

          • Jason Gregor

            If it happens just once fine, but when you are always last it isn’t great. There is also body language when you walk in and many other factors. If you think leaders always arrive at the last second you are mistaken.

          • Why does it matter? If someone is on time they are on time. What benefit is there to arriving early? To look eager?

            What body language are you talking about? What other factors do you mean?

            Why does a player have to be a good leader to be a good teammate? I thought the topic was good teammates, not leaders. Why can’t a player be a leader if they are always punctual?

            Some people consider it just as rude to arrive too early to as meeting as it is to arrive late.

            Unless someone is late I cannot possibly see why there is a problem unless you can tell me more about this body language and other factors problem.

            If you think leaders are only people who arrive 20 minutes early for everything you are equally mistaken. Most good leaders I know value their time more than that.

          • Little Buttcheeks

            I didn’t read anywhere where Gregor said anything about being 20 mins. early.But if a guy is rolling in into a meeting as it is getting started he is either selfish,doesn’t care or both.

          • When I was younger I used to ask the same question. If you want to know the answer, go to the meeting 15 minutes early several times in a row and you will realize a few things. The head honchos and top brass don’t walk into the meeting at 6:59am. At 6:59am the meeting is informally already over, and they are just waiting for you to arrive. This means that not only have you effectively already missed the meeting, and missed the chance to schmooze and chat in an informal ‘pre-meeting’ setting with the top guns, you’ve also gotten yourself noticed by the bosses (and not in the way you want): you’re the guy who is late.

          • A) That’s a wonderfully condescending response, thank you for telling me about when you were young.

            B) In my experience the “top brass”, as you put it, walk in exactly as the meeting is about to start because they are much too busy to sit around schmoozing with the help 15 minutes before they need to be there.

            If a meeting is set for seven you need to be there and ready to go by seven. Unless there is more to the story I don’t see how it suggests he was a bead teammate. It’s a huge reach.

          • Wax Man Riley

            A) Your response is wonderfully condescending.

            B) Where do you work that the management and executives that are running the meeting aren’t there preparing long before the staff is there?

            I see what you are saying that it doesn’t necessarily make him a poor teammate, but it sure does not make him a leader on the team.

            Any of the leadership (management and employee leaders alike), in any company I have worked for are always early.

          • A) I share my personal experience and you feel insulted. You feel condescended to simply because you believe yourself to be a much more important person than you really are. With maturity your ego and incredulous indignation should diminish to the point that you can see that you aren’t so important that everyone at the meeting should wait for you due to a technicality.

            And by you I mean me, since, as I said, I had to learn this lesson.

            B) where? …. at the squeegee intersection? Leaders come early. The bosses aren’t there early so they can schmooze with you. You see, you aren’t as important as you think. They are there early precisely because they are very busy and as soon as the ‘late guy’ arrives they can get this over with.

            Arguing that people should wait for you due to a technicality is selfish. You put yourself ahead of the group. This is not a leadership quality.

            The leaders arrive first. Follow?

            Are you going to start showing up a little early from now on or are you going to continue to put yourself ahead of the team and then somehow justify it? Be aware that doors go both ways: entry and exit. Are you coming in, Tiger, or are you leaving? The team needs to know.

            [Condescending Machine off]

          • I’m not insulted by your personal experience. I am amused by your “when I was younger” vanity. A comment like that is by definition condescending, it has nothing to do with my feelings, I was just pointing out the obvious.

            Nobody at a meeting is waiting if there is a 7:00 meeting and people are am ready to go by 7:00. Meetings are meant to start on schedule….this is not a technicality, it’s a schedule. Meetings start on time and end on time. This is proper etiquette.

            If your bosses are more interested in games than they are in efficiency and making money I feel sorry for you. Your job sucks.

            I am willing to accept that there may be more to it in this case, but I haven’t heard it yet. I am also willing to accept that NHL players have less demands on their pre-meeting time and can be expected to arrive early for team building reasons, even if I don’t agree with their reasons.

            I cannot accept that someone is a bad teammate because they fail to arrive early for meetings.

            @ Waxman

            You commented that your bosses are there early preparing, but if they are still preparing for the meeting at that point they probably shouldn’t be leading anything.

            Also…I don’t think condescending means what you think it means.

          • Jason Gregor

            If you don’t think constantly showing up with seconds to spare before a meeting doesn’t subtly send the wrong message then there is nothing we can say to show you the error in those actions.

            And walking in like it is a pain in the ass to be there doesn’t send the right message either.

            This was told to me by a player, so I’ll take his word that it was an issue, despite you thinking it shows Penner is good at time management.

          • If a teammate told you that he walked in like it was a pain in the ass then why didn’t you say that in the first place? You didn’t consider it relevant? That’s a much more of an indicator than the fact the he was on time for meetings.

            Second, the comment about time management was in response to people telling me all about their high powered business meetings and how they had time to sit around for 15 minutes. I know how you hate it when people take your statements out of context…

          • Wax Man Riley

            I think Horc is a good #3C. He was put (IMO) in a perfect role last year until he was hurt (surprise?)

            He was in a teaching role, as able to contribute a bit offensively, but was there defensively so the kids could roll. I’d like to see more of that this year.

          • Wax Man Riley

            I know! What a conundrum wrapped in a quandary and covered with a riddle.

            He isn’t a #1C, and is more suited as a #3C/responsible 2-way/defensive center. Last year however, he was so well-suited with Hall and Eberle because they weren’t #1 wingers. Not on most teams in the league anyway.

  • Ender

    I could just scream. I just typed basically a whole article (roughly 8 paragraphs) detailing why MacIntyre was a good guy but had to go.

    Knowing that it was a long post and not wanting to lose it through ‘technical difficulties’, I did what I usually do which is highlight it and press Ctrl-C (so that I can re-paste it again somewhere if I lose it). Except that in this case I actually hit Shift-C. Which wiped out my whole piece and replaced it with a capital C.

    MacIntyre needs to be gone next season. If you don’t agree, feel free to read my in-depth explanation why this is necessary below.

    C

  • Wax Man Riley

    Which brings me to my next point…. the context is there. I get it.

    OV, Crosby, Stamkos,etc… were locks. You knew what you were getting. This year’s draft is tougher to tell. Any of the top 5-ish could be the correct pick, you just think RNH is the one to go with.

    I’m so torn on this. I love what Landeskog brings. He is smart (he speaks 4 languages fluently), physical, and talented, but not a #1.

    Couturier is big and talented and scored 10 less pts in 11 less games.

    RNH… well, we have discussed at length RNH.

    Those 2 are fighting it out right now for #1

    Larson is not in the conversation for me at #1. Draft the C, not the D.

  • Mantastic

    can we not say the same about last year about hall? does it mean he has a higher chance of going bust because he wasn’t coming into the draft year being lock #1 overall pick?

  • Spyder wrote: “If RNH is drafted and Gagner moved, who is going to be the 2C? Horc? For how long do you see that working out?”

    As to the reasons Horcoff gets “ripped”, it isn’t just his salary. It is the salary + length of contract + injuries + decline in play = a big problem at centre. There is no NHL calibre first or second line centre or maybe not even a third and fourth line centre and the club is stuck with Horcoff, Gagner, Fraser and Brule all under contract. Are there any NHL calibre centres in waiting on the farm at the present time?

    The long road to conference finals is a really l-o-n-g road until the Oilers braintrust fixes the problem at the centre position. Plus a lot more at the back end.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Does anybody know what Jeff Carter makes /yr and the term of his contract? I’m just curious because if I was Mr.Dithers Id see if Philly would take JDD+Brule and this yrs 2nd round pick for Carter, He’s Bigger can score and a 1st line center to carry the Oilers over til the likes of Pitlick and RNH(maybe)make the team

    That trade might sound waaaaay out in left field but I’m with the rest of the ppl that say ST HAS to do something this off-season to make this team better and PUSH for the playoffs, if not make them next season. If he doesn’t if I’m Katz I’d fire his “assesing the situation” a$$ before next season even started.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I don’t understand why Andrew Cogliano is getting a pass. He’s useless as an NHL player. Bad on offense + bad on defense = bad at hockey. I’d say trade him but I can’t imagine anyone taking him. He only looks like a reasonable fourth line player in comparison to a truly awful player like Colin Fraser.

    Anyway Sam Gagner is 20X the player Cogliano is. Any analysis that places a ? next to Gagner but approves of Cogliano is misguided from the start.

    • Jason Gregor

      You might be a tad misguided because you are basing it solely on who has more talent. That wasn’t the point of the article. Cogliano has become a consistent player, in that his effort is always there. Not everything is points related, and if you read the entire article you will see that I mentioned Gagner has more potential, but at some point he needs to bring that potential on a more consistent basis.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    It will be an interesting off-season for sure. There isn’t as much of a thirst for blood this year compared to last but if we are to add any pieces, then some bodies will need to be moved. I would like to see us add at least 1 or 2 top 9 players (preferably a center) and roll out a fourth line of Harski, Bru and Jonesy with Mac as a sub for certain opponents. We could also use a top four d-man. Hopefully an honest effort is made to improve next season because while the rebuild is cute and everything, nobody gets better by getting their butts kicked every night.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Tigerunderglass wrote: “Why does it matter? If someone is on time they are on time. What benefit is there to arriving early? To look eager?”

    Ever hear about Vince Lombardi time? Vince Lombardi time has been adopted by organizations that wish to be top performers, in sports and business. If a meeting starts at X-time, those attending should be present and ready to go just prior to x-time so their mind is into the business at hand.

    Some people may not appreciate Lombardi time, but winners usually do.

    I don’t know if meeting Lombardi time is a problem with the Oilers. Perhaps with some individuals. The Oilers have far more problems than Lombardi time. Watching tonight’s San Jose-Vancouver game makes one realize how far away the Oilers are from being a playoff contender, not a Stanley Cup contender. That is even farther away.

  • 2 Cents on a couple comments:

    1. Horcoff is a good fit for the Oilers, yes his contract is bad but it makes no difference he is still an asset and we don’t need the cap space for anything right now (In 2 years then yes I will have a problem)

    2. How is RNH most likely to be a bust? He was 1st overall in the WHL draft had a great rookie year last year (I believe he was high in the pre season draft rankings) and now he is number 1, if he gets 60 points somehow he is a bust yet if Couturier gets 60 points people won’t label him as one (Yes I get draft position but in this case they are argued for number 1). I like how people say he is a bust but don’t back it up, say the pros and cons of RNH and the pros and cons of Couturier then make a statement.

    3. Give Gagner one more year (while RNH is in the WHL) if he elevates his game then awesome we have our #2 Center if he doesn’t trade him for something that fills a hole and fits the “plan”

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    That was a great assessment of Gilbert in one paragraph.

    Also, with Omark I think he was held back a bit offensively by the coaching staff to work more as a linemate than an independent flashy scorer.

    There were a lot of times, especially late in the season where he put in hard work on the boards, went into tough areas and primarily tried to set up teammates, which is very good foundation work for his career after his highlight-film play in Sweden.

    I expect Omark to show us more next season, and I have little doubt that he will.