Shoot the Moon

This is the day Steve Tambellini can finish laying the foundation for the Edmonton Oilers rolling out over the next decade.

A chance to shoot the moon, to grab Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson and add another solid item later in the draft. Should things roll out as they should, Edmonton will have a legit player or prospect in the chute for most of the positions required for a quality NHL team.

  • Elite calibre offensive center: 
  • Quality secondary offensive center: Sam Gagner
  • Impressive checking center: Anton Lander
  • Elite calibre offensive left winger: Taylor Hall
  • Quality secondary offensive left winger: Magnus Pääjärvi
  • Impressive checking left winger: Teemu Hartikainen
  • Elite calibre offensive right winger: Ales Hemsky
  • Quality secondary offensive right winger: Jordan Eberle
  • Quality secondary offensive right winger: Linus Omark
  • Impressive checking right winger:
  • Complete blue with wide range of skills: Ryan Whitney
  • Complete blue with wide range of skills: Martin Marincin
  • Puck moving bluewith defensive ability: Tom Gilbert
  • Puck moving blue with defensive ability: Jeff Petry
  • Physical defender who can PK: Theo Peckham
  • Physical defender who can PK: Ladislav Smid
  • #1 goalie: Devan Dubnyk

Not all of these players are where I’ve slotted them, but have the resume to deliver on promise. Adding RNH and a defender with a wide range of skills covers off more on the list. And there’s more: Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, Tyler Bunz and others should be considered for slots on the list. The Oilers are building a strong pipeline. Here’s my guess for today’s additions:

  1. #1: C Ryan Nugent Hopkins: I think the separation comes down to things like first step quickness, ability to make plays and anticipation. The numbers suggest there are four forwards in a tight group at the top, but the "saw him good" group have all reached the same conclusion: he’s the BPA. I’m impressed that so many scouts and scouting services mention his 2-way game. I think the Oil Kings playoff series and his performance in the Top Prospects game (where he made a sweet Doug Weight pass to Sven Bartschi on one shift and then broke up a play while hauling ass on the back check on the next shift) cemented RNH as the class of this year’s graduates.
  2. #19: D Joe Morrow: Nice range of skills. I think teams should draft Joe Morrow’s whenever they’re available, because if a couple turn out then you’re set for a generation. Wide range of skills, including solid defense, nice headman pass and a heavy shot, he’s improved in leaps and bounds over the last two WHL seasons. His ranking is spotty and he could slide, making him an exceptional value.
  • Lowetide

    I’m not sure. The Oilers will likely take a goalie, but it seems to me the club has a couple of kids bubbling under. I guess it comes down to value: is he the best player on their board?

    Personally, I bet they go defense at 31.

    • VMR

      Not big on Musil especially after this quote from Bob Mackenzie.

      “NHL Upside – Will need to improve his skating to make the NHL as a fifth or sixth defenceman. “

  • VMR

    Greg Brady: Dany Heatley thinks Ryan Smyth is going too far in manipulating the system to play exactly where he wants/not live up to his Kings contract. (Twitter-Sportsnet)

  • VMR

    Also it seems the scouting report has Gibson as a potential 1B-2A goaltender so there seems to be some doubt of whether he can develop into a starter.

    Also Pierre Mcguire keeps insisting on drafting a defenceman but here’s something interesting.

    Boston – none of their starting 6 were Boston draft picks. All were acquired by trade or free agency

    Vancouver – only drafted Bieksa and Edler. The other 6 dmen they have were also acquired via FA and trades.

    Not saying drafting isn’t important but dmen who are prospects and draft picks seem to be more useful as trade bait to acquire assets that are missing from your team. Even Chicago only drafted Keith, Seabrook, and Hjarmarsson as Sopel, Campbell, Boynton, and Jordan Hendry were all FA signings.

    Although Adam Larsson is seen as having a very short development time compared to most defenceman there is still no guarantee he adapts quickly to the NHL game.

  • DoubleJ

    I heard in a interview that Musil is living with Gary Roberts right now training with him. That shows he’s dedicated to being a nhl d-man.

    I think Musil is player that needs to be taken if he’s around at 31.

  • Lowetide

    The only thing I can think of is that they have another deal that involves either that third round pick, another deal that involves a player LAK are requesting as partial payment for Smyth, or another deal that involves a lot of money coming Edmonton’s way.

    Otherwise, Smyth fits. He just does.

  • DoubleJ

    It’s true that the Edmonton Oilers finished 30th in the National Hockey League last season, but many fans were willing to forgive them for that. After all, the team employed a dazzling array of highly-touted youngsters at every position. Up front, the combination of Taylor Hall, Linus Omark, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle earned the acronym H.O.P.E., and they joined young veterans like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano. On the back end, the talent wasn’t as pronounced, but capable young players like Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Petry and Theo Peckham still offered the promise of a better future.

    There is a lot in that group of names to be optimistic about.

    However, the Oilers did employ one group of players that it is difficult to find any justification for. These largely awful, largely older forwards filled the bottom lines, providing neither the promise of upside that other members of the team did, nor the talent that a veteran presence is supposed to add to a rebuilding group. This is why I suggest wholesale change prior to the start of 2011-12 for the bottom of the Oilers’ forward corps.

    Let’s take a closer look at the forwards who spent 20-plus games at the bottom of the Oilers roster last season. Age is calculated as of September 1, 2011.
    Player Age GP G A PTS +/- TOI/Game

    Colin Fraser 26 67 3 2 5 -2 10:16
    Liam Reddox 25 44 1 9 10 -8 14:59
    Gilbert Brule 24 41 7 2 9 -7 13:47
    J-F Jacques 26 54 4 1 5 -6 7:04
    Ryan O’Marra 24 21 1 4 5 -2 11:01
    Zack Stortini 25 32 0 4 4 -2 7:05
    Steve MacIntyre 31 34 0 1 1 -1 3:32

    That’s a lot of players coming to the end of the prospect phase of their careers (the age of 25 is generally viewed as the point where expecting further improvement is a fool’s errand), taking up ice-time and not giving much back. The offensive results are bad, but advanced statistics from Behind The Net show just how little some of these players are contributing. Each numeric value is followed by a team rank (out of 16).
    Player Relative Corsi ZoneStart

    Colin Fraser -9.6 (12th) 47.0 (15th)
    Liam Reddox -6.5 (11th) 53.8 (3rd)
    Gilbert Brule -4.1 (9th) 49.3 (12th)
    J-F Jacques -10.4 (13th) 47.9 (14th)
    Ryan O’Marra -21.1 (15th) 60.4 (1st)
    Zack Stortini -4.5 (10th) 45.2 (16th)
    Steve MacIntyre -29.1 (16th) 53.1 (5th)

    There is a case to be made that some of these players belong somewhere close to an NHL lineup. Gilbert Brule isn’t too far under water in terms of Corsi, and at least he has the excuse of injury and a track record of decent goal-scoring ability to offer in his defense. Zack Stortini adds some toughness to the lineup and started a ton in his own zone, even if that is mitigated by the fact that in 2010-11 he was an offensive sinkhole. Finally, Colin Fraser looked reasonably competent in a depth role for the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks in 2009-10, so maybe there’s hope that he rebounds. Steve MacIntyre’s a worse than useless hockey player who is really, really good at punching people in the head, so mileage is generally going to vary on that player type.

    Beyond those iffy examples—and make no mistake, each of them was, at the very best, the most marginal of NHL players—there simply isn’t an excuse. Liam Reddox is a good AHL player, and probably gets underrated as a rule, but he shouldn’t be spending half the season averaging 15:00 per game. Nothing in Jean-Francois Jacques’ career suggests that he deserved more than a 10-20 game audition. Yet since 2005-06, he has dressed 160 times for the Oilers. Jacques was in his fourth NHL season before he recorded a goal! Ryan O’Marra’s the worst of the three—he’s 228 games into his AHL career and has just 21 goals, while he’s recorded more than 20 points in an AHL season just once, but as bad as that is, it doesn’t compare with his ineptitude in the NHL. In more than 20 games of playing a fourth line role against the worst players in the league, with the vast majority of his shifts starting in the offensive zone, he somehow managed to contribute nearly zero offense while running up the worst possession number of any actual hockey player on the team.

    The Oilers have taken some steps already. Stortini was waived and demoted; he almost certainly won’t be back. Liam Reddox has moved on to the Swedish Elite League, where I expect he’ll fare well. Ideally, the purge won’t stop there; if one or two players slip through (perhaps Brule and Fraser, though I wouldn’t be heartbroken if either had donned the jersey for the last time), it would be okay, but the Oilers should look at replacing no less than five of these counterfeit NHLers.

    Send O’Marra back to the AHL, and make sure he stays there. Dismiss Jacques entirely. Let Steve MacIntyre play three minutes a night for some other team with a love of fighters that add no other dimension.

    It’s not like the Oilers are going to be hard up for replacements. Young players like Teemu Hartikainen and Chris Vande Velde will compete for spots in training camp, as will players coming out of junior and European leagues, like Anton Lander. At least with players like that, there’s always the hope of improvement no matter how bad they are now.

    In a perfect world, though, those youngsters would start the season playing heavy minutes in the AHL. Every summer, perfectly good veterans have trouble finding a home. Dominic Moore, for example, couldn’t land a contract until nearly August last summer; he scored 18 goals for Tampa Bay and played a key support role on a team that went to the conference finals. The Oilers need to start trying to win games, to show improvement; trying to find useful veterans among the free agent castoffs is a good place to start doing that. If the young players in the AHL earn an extended showing, the team can always send away those older veterans for draft picks at the deadline.

    • I think he said trade for Smyth. Haha, no actually he said our bottom 6 blows and that our kids who will take those roles in the future shouldn’t be rushed and should spend some time in the AHL. Appeal to UFAs for our bottom 6.

    • Lowetide

      I wouldn’t do that, but would have to be considered a Gagner booster. I like that pick at number 8, and if NJD take Ryan Murphy at #4 I believe the Flyers might be willing to move back.

      What would it take? Have no idea.

      btw, I really like the future at C if they take Nugent-Hopkins. RNH-Gagner-Lander is a nice group down the road apiece.

  • @Lowetide:

    For your list, what if you switched Ryan Jones to the right wing, as he’s been known to do, and slot him into that “Impressive checking right-winger” position, and add our fourth Ryan, Ryan Smyth, over on left as another Quality left-wing… 🙂

    • And is this history right? Oilers lose Smyth, go after Penner to fill the void, then create a void by trading Penner then fill the hole created by trading Penner by filling it with the original guy that was filling the hole in Smyth.

      I wonder if Smyth cries again when he sees the roster.