Earl brings the news!

The flurry of free agent signings and trades Steve Tambellini negotiated on July 1st has taken a lot of time to digest. Even now we’re mulling over lines and pairings, and one California blogger has uncovered something you should know about Andy Sutton. Don’t worry, it’s good.

When Andy Sutton was acquired for Kurtis Foster on July 1st, I felt it was a solid depth move: Sutton is a huge defender, and his acquisition addresses the need for a physical player and also the dire need for a veteran defenseman. Plus he has a history of helping out on the penalty kill.


My feeling on July 1st (and now) is that the key addition to the opening night roster for the Oilers blue will be Jeff Petry. Although he is not certain to be on the roster, Petry is the logical option for 4th defender on the depth chart. Why? Several reasons, including the fact that Cameron Barker has never succeeded in a top 4D role in the NHL–and even more alarming is that he’s rarely been asked to do so.

In Sutton’s case, a year ago he played third pairing opposition and very little nightly (12EV minutes a night with a solid PK total, 2.5 minutes). It’s been my belief that Sutton would be a 5-7D option and a player who has a real chance to be a healthy scratch often this season. A guess at the opening night roster might be:

  1. Ryan Whitney
  2. Tom Gilbert
  3. Ladislav Smid
  4. Cam Barker
  5. Theo Peckham
  6. Andy Sutton
  7. Taylor Chorney (healthy scratch)

And if Ryan Whitney’s injury problems become an issue then Jeff Petry moves onto the roster opening night.

Changing my mind?

Earl Sleek is a quality blogger who has been data mining the secondary numbers long enough to be credible. He found an impressive third pairing stretch run for Mr. Sutton.

  • Earl Sleek: Wait a goddamn second — Andy Sutton was useful at 5-on-5 down the stretch?!  So says the data, at least.  Obviously this was cushy minutes, but maybe it did take the guy most of the season to find a groove he could play in.  I was as happy as anybody that the Oilers traded for Sutton, and still sort of am — he was a healthy scratch too often for that money — but in the right situations, the guy can be effective.

Emphasis mine.

What does this mean? 

The Oilers blue has the makings of a Greek tragedy. Although they have some quality at the top (Whitney, Gilbert) and there are good young ones who will have one more year of experience (Peckham, Petry), the heart of the order is still in a period of transition. Are Cam Barker and Andy Sutton really better than Kurtis Foster and Jim Vandermeer?

Earl Sleek’s data mining suggests it may be true.

Nation Radio is back on the air today at noon (Team 1260). Before I tell you about the lineup, allow me to thank Robin Brownlee for delivering outstanding episodes the last two weeks. Top drawer guests and terrific questions throughout the programs, he certainly showed why he’s a respected member of the Edmonton media community. I expect Robin will be hosting more shows as we roll along (although Wanye hasn’t told me–all I ever get from Wanye is a ringing door bell at 6am, a brown bag on fire as I open the door and the opportunity to say "not again!" and mean it).

This week:

  • Jeff Krushell from Krush Sports Performance. Jeff is probably the smartest man I know and has worked with various sports organizations (notably the Blue Jays). He’s an expert on nutrition and health, so I’ll ask him about RNH and his training program designed to put on weight without losing agility and we’ll also talk about Ryan Whitney’s injury and the impact injuries have on elite athletes.
  • Matt Bugg from dobber hockey. Matt is an outstanding source of information on young players–draft eligible and beyond. I’ll ask him what we can expect from the Oilers young guns this season and perhaps get a quick look at the 2012 draft.
  • Kirk Luedeke from Bruins draft watch. Kirk is a wonderful resource that we relied on heavily this past season for draft information. He’s off to Redline report for 11-12 and we’ll congratulate him and then talk about the 2011-12 season for the Bruins, Oilers and more.
  • Pat McLean from Black Dogs Hates Skunks. We talked a few weeks ago but didn’t finish it, I’ll play what is perhaps the most interesting portion of the interview: a fascinating look at the 1972 Canada-Russia series replayed through modern scoring. It is and was a revelation.

Hope you’ll join me, emails welcome at nationradio@theteam1260.com and much of the discussion will surround the Oilers in 2011-12. Team 1260 at noon.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It doesn`t take a rocket scientist to know that Sutton is an ungrade 5×5 on Foster. Its just nice to have that confirmed, good read. I liked the line about Anaheim being clutch as %”!`, made me laugh all morning.

  • I tried it at home

    I enjoyed the part about how the Sutton/Foster trade looked from the other side’s point of view. I have a habit of scanning through blogs from other team’s supporters, on the theory that if you want to know yourself, look through another’s eyes. Or something like that. Hey, coffee!!

  • I like the history that Sutton has of bring able to lower the BOOM on guys with their head down – even going out of his way to do so. It is comforting that (at least in the Duck’s last 30 games) this seemingly didn’t cost the team defensively.

    Now, do we add Anton Strålman or Chris Campoli or neither?

  • John Chambers

    A lot of you hate the fact that management is doing this, but ST & co are purposely trotting out a sub-par defense, and in my estimation plan to address the D after the ’11-’12 season.

    I offered some ideas around my theory here: http://www.coppernblue.com/2011/7/8/2266020/building-a-championship-blueline-an-oilers-management-imperative#storyjump

    Why else did we pass up on Hannan or Colin White? That would’ve provided for a short-term solution that make the possibility of making the playoffs more viable.

    In other words, management would rather us lose a plethora of games 6-4 while giving Petry, Chorney, and possibly Teubert and Plante lots of ice time to evaluate them.

    Expect us to land in our just out of the draft lottery as a result.

    • Lowetide

      This assumes the Oilers didn’t make an offer to Hannan or White. I suspect you’re correct, but wanted to point out that if the Whitney injury is severe then the Oilers may well have been in on one or both of them.

    • Puritania

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but your theory sounds something like this: Let the kids up front fly. Take a good look at what you’ve got to work with not back end. Play Khabby 40 games. Lots of goals for, but more goals against. ELPH (in the West). Lottery pick. Sign Ryan Suter. Book table at the Pint for 2013 playoffs.
      If so, me like.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    bikini girl mentioned that the Oilers offered White a contract AFTER he cleared waivers-so I think they had interest in him, just not at the $3M his previous contract carried

  • Puritania

    I’m glad we did not pick White off waivers. He’s questionably a top 4 d right now, albeit probably here in Edmonton he would be.

    I don’t think adding Hannan or White makes you a playoff team over the course of the year. The Oilers need a legitimate top 2 defensemen other then Whitney to really get them that far, and these types requires developing assets or acquiring someone. If I were a betting man, I would not bet for the Oilers to be in the mix next March. If they are, then they should look at bringing in a vet at that point rather then over paying White. I really don’t believe Hannan wanted to be here.

    My point is this, why waste money on these type of guys, when your not likely to make the playoffs.. Secondly with 49 players on the active roster I rather they sign Martindale and Davidson sign, then pick up another 5-6 defensemen, but then again I’ve been drinking a lot of copper colored koolaid lately.

  • paul wodehouse

    gotta love this LT

    Google search for your Earl Sleek …”…Earl Sleek>>> Character Bio BACKGROUND… Not many of the other mercenaries care for Earl Sleek…His loud outspoken personality is sure to get him killed,…”

    I liked his take on Sutton and it kinda soothes this nervous heart…thankyou for showing this much support for Petry too …imo he has a great future replacing the fragile Whitney one day…

    BTW has jeanshorts seen the jeanshorts…yikes!

    mira who?

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Patience. As I recall, every year by the end of training camp there are 1 or 2 other defencemen in the Hannan/White range that teams put on waivers. You know, a highly paid veteran that has lost a step. (Maybe Poti this year to get the Caps under the cap?)

    By that time, Tambo will have a better idea of Whitney’s health situation and can assess whether any of the d-men on the waiver wire are worth taking. I hope he takes one regardless of the situation, as no one behind Whitney qualifies as a top-4 for a competitive team.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Is Sutton better than Vandermeer??? If Sutton unties his panties and actually fights somebody in the first 25 games or so…then ya…by a country mile…Vandy ‘fought’ his way out of a job IMO…Sutton takes no prisoners and should be a fan favorite come Dec or so…(hopefully)

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Program of excellence seemed to be the mark of the Oilers throughout the years . To accustom ourselves to the type of rebuild they are attempting seems radicadically different from normallity . I obviously do not like what the Oilers did to a large extent , or any clubs that do the same sort of deliberate futility . Clubs should look to find a way to win , not lose in other words . I see Staios is still wanting for a job . Like it or not , i would still like to see a cultural change in upper mangement one dedicated to maximizing the on ice product every season .