11-12 Questions about 11-12

The Taylor versus Tyler debate is a distant bell. Another long season in the L column is almost complete. Oiler fans have the draft lottery ahead of them, and then a spring filled with debates over this year’s #1 and a plethora of possible roster moves. Let’s get started.

We’ve already talked a little about some of the candidates for number one overall, and the debate will continue through draft evening. This is not a slam dunk for any of this year’s models, and unlike last year it’s a difficult race to follow because there are so many candidates. The debate will heat up after the draft lottery and the Oilers know where they’ll pick.

  1. Do the Oilers address defense, center or grit with the top pick? I think they’ll take Adam Larsson. Why? Well, Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor has taken a player "in the range" in the first round since becoming head scout: Jordan Eberle was selected 22nd overall in 2008 and all major scouting services had him in the first round–Bob McKenzie ranking him 29th (Redline Report had Eberle where he was taken, #22); MPS was chosen 10th overall (McKenzie had it pegged this time, #10 and Redline had the Swede #6) and Taylor Hall was #1 everywhere but Florida where a hanging chad made it unclear. Bob McKenzie had it Larsson, RNH, Landeskog and then Couturier in February and his final rankings are probably going to be similar. The smart money is on Larsson at this time.
  2. Do the Oilers stay with the NK-DD tandem in 11-12 or go shopping? Although Khabibulin has two more years on his contract and hiding him in the minors offers no relief, it’s likely the Oilers will add some insurance at the position. It may come in the form of another Martin Gerber or the Oilers might end up being (Viktor) Fasth enough to sign a veteran Euro free agent.
  3. Will the Oilers make a big move this summer, either in trade or via free agent signing? I think the Oilers will make a few major signings this summer, but it won’t be "big name" variety additions. They will sign Anton Lander and a few of the CHL kids, and I suspect a young man like Adam Larsson has an outstanding shot at an NHL job if he shows well at this fall’s training camp. Viktor Fasth might not look like a huge item the day he’s signed, but could go a long way to settling things in the cage. Should the Oilers begin next season with Dubnyk and Fasth as a tandem and Khabibublin deep in the heart of Oklahoma that should be considered a major move.
  4. Are the Oilers putting themselves in danger re:50 man list will all of these college signings? Edmonton has been active this spring, signing Tanner House, Taylor Fedun, Hunter Tremblay, Olivier Roy and Mark Arcobello. However, they have plenty of room for the Lander’s and Hamiltons, as Capgeek tells us there are 27 (actually 29 with Tremblay and Arceobello added) along with 12 restricted free agents. Even if the Oilers sign all 12 rfa’s–and they won’t–that would leave 9 spots open on the 50 mission cap.
  5. What are they going to do about the powder blue-line? The Oilers have Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney, Jeff Petry and Kurtis Foster under NHL contracts for next season. RFA’s include Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney. Minor leaguers in the mix include Alex Plante, Colten Teubert, Taylor Fedun and Johan Motin. I think the Oilers will look at bringing Jim Vandermeer back for another year and assume Foster will be much better next season. A top 4 of Whitney-Petry, Smid-Gilbert seems likely from here, with Foster, Peckham and Vandermeer rounding out the NHL roster. This leaves Taylor Chorney in something of a no-man’s land and I believe he may be dealt over the summer.
  6. What do the top 2 lines look like in the fall? I believe the Oilers will operate (as they have in the recent past) as if they can ice "three scoring lines" and the 9 names in play will be Horcoff, Gagner and Cogliano at center; Hall, MPS and Jones on LW and Hemsky, Eberle and Omark on RW. The wild card is that kid Hartikainen, who could be an ideal item in the ongoing effort to marry size, grit and brains to a skill line. His emergence late may impact the Ryan Jones contract.
  7. Will they spend a roster spot on Steve MacIntyre again this fall? Yes. The Oilers have invested money and minutes in developing a nuclear deterrent. Why stop now? He’ll play 40 games a year under Renney.
  8. Which of the kids outside the pro portion of the organization has the best chance of making the big team in 11-12? Anton Lander. The Oilers have Horcoff, Gagner, Cogliano and Colin Fraser as NHL contracts and minor leaguers Ryan O’Marra and Chris Vande Velde at the top of the depth chart. Lander’s SEL experience should put him in the mix for that 4th spot, forcing Fraser to 13F (ahead of MacIntyre) or to OKC with Khabibulin.
  9. How will the Oilers handle round one of this year’s draft? They’ll pluck Larsson number one overall and make a trade up to around 15 in order to acquire C Mark McNeill from the PA Raiders.
  10. Is there an alternate universe on the draft? Yes. They draft Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and then trade up to get Duncan Siemens at around 15.
  11. Will they sign any free agents? I think they’ll make a push for guys like Viktor Fasth in Europe and Boyd Gordon (57.9 faceoff %) this summer, but heaven knows if they’ll be able to sign any NHL free agents. A year ago they signed Kurtis Foster and Gordon would fit into the "day 3" group of free agents so there’s always a chance.
  12. Which NHL Oilers will be dealt this summer? There’ s a difference between the men who are available and those who will be dealt. Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky might have been in play, but injuries might hold up deals in this regard. NOTE: I’m not suggesting the Oilers should trade either player, but in Hemsky’s case he’s outside the heart of the cluster age-wise and Gagner’s being sent away might be possible should they choose RNH. Men like Kurtis Foster, Gilbert Brule and Taylor Chorney could be in play.

Nation Radio hits the airwaves again today, Noon to 2pm on Team 1260 radio. Scheduled to appear are Corey Graham, play-by-play voice of the Edmonton Oil Kings; Tom Benjamin, an outstanding Canucks blogger; Bruce McCurdy from Cult of Hockey; Lorne Molleken from the Saskatoon Blades; Jim Byers, play-by-play voice of the Oklahoma City Barons and Gregg Drinnan of Taking Note. I am overwhelmed by the number and quality of emails we get every week, and look forward to hearing from you at nationradio@theteam1260.com again this morning.

  • Omg if the lineup looks like this next year:

    Horcoff, Gagner, Cogliano, Fraser or _______, Hall, MPS, Jones, Hartikainen, Eberle, Hemsky, Omark and _____________.

    Whitney-Petry
    Smid, Gilbert
    Peckham-Vandemeer
    Foster

    +Either Lander, or RNH

    I will not watch that team, its the same team as this year + another lotto pick (if even that)

    Screw it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I think Gilbert Brule is signed for next season as well, may have to make room for him in that group of Horcs,Gags,Cogs and Fraser.

    Steve has to be ultra aggressive this summer, move some of these guys out. Combine players with the 20th pick as well as that 31st pick and move up when possible. We need a center as well as a d’man who can step into this lineup in the fall.

  • forestscooter

    hmmm… for the first half of the season i was all for Larsson, but listening to the arguments over the course of the year I am firmly against taking a 1D with the #1 pick. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t take RNH. I guess the oilers have to get that #1 pick first though.

    When is the lottery draft ? is there a date set ?

  • Who gives the Oilers the best chance at finishing 26th or better next year, RNH or Larsson?

    Tambellini will draft the player who’ll give him the best chance at winning NEXT year.

    At some point loyal fans start looking like stupid consumers, and it’s getting close.

    A lotto pick next year only confirms Edmonton’s GM is a lemon.

    • Tambellini will draft the player who’ll give him the best chance at winning NEXT year.

      I don’t buy that. If Tambellini was interested in trying to win next year then the Penner trade makes no sense at all.

      Tambellini plans to milk this 4-6 year window for all it’s worth because if he actually starts trying to win and still fails anyways…

  • O.C.

    LT said…

    “I think the Oilers will look at bringing Jim Vandermeer back for another year and assume Foster will be much better next season. A top 4 of Whitney-Petry, Smid-Gilbert seems likely from here, with Foster, Peckham and Vandermeer rounding out the NHL roster. This leaves Taylor Chorney in something of a no-man’s land and I believe he may be dealt over the summer”

    If a play is made for Larsson, wouldn’t he look good learning beside the vets?

    What are realistic options to Oil for Shelly this off season?

  • GtK

    RNH current wingers:

    Andrej Kudrna 6’2 200lbs
    John Persson 6’2 195lbs

    RNH future wingers (if drafted by the Oil):

    Taylor Hall 6’1 195lbs
    Jordan Eberle 5’11 185lbs

    RNH is currently playing JUNIOR with 15lbs and 4″ more that he will be in the NHL playing against men….

  • GtK

    Omark will not be going anywhere.

    During this stretch the holes that you have talked about are being shown on everyone still in the line up. However the plus that Omark has is the continued ability to make plays. He is giving and getting others the opportunity to get points.

    Addon: I to agree that Landers has the potential to replace cogs in the line up – depending on his choices (he may just to opt for one more year in Europe) and how he does in training camp. Very good chance that next years centers are Gagner, Horcroff, Landers, Vandevelde. (Give us an entire swedish line ;))

  • slopitch

    Hey LT, interesting questions. I would have liked to see your answer to “where do the Oilers finish next season” or “are we a lottery team again”.

    I’d like to see them sign a goalie like Fasth and ditch NK. And I dont know enough to chose btw GL, RNH or Larsson. Its too bad cause we need both a #1C and #1D.

    According to http://tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?id=39245 LA plays all teams in its conference and all of them without Kopitar. Hopefully the pick can be in the 15 range without much help.

    • Lowetide

      I’d say the Oilers will finish 12-15 in the west, so the lottery is possible. I’ll say 6th overall is where they pick in 2012’s draft. Hall/Eberle and the other kids are going to improve and you can’t discount that, but there are holes that we can see from here and we haven’t seen any signs the organization is going to address them.

      • slopitch

        Ya your probably right. I think they will be hard pressed to finish in the lottery range again so its time to start addressing need. I dont see them being able to attract a player at fair value though so it might take an overpay – which is ok as long as the term is short (we have the cap space).

        The optimist in me is hoping for a healthy Whitney and thinks Hemsky will stay healthy on a contract year. Still a lot of ground to make up however.

        • Lowetide

          speeds: Colorado looks lost. They may turn it around but I expect there’s going to be some management turnover there and more changes. Columbus is a mess, Minnesota looks lost and I don’t see Calgary having a run like this season.

          The Oilers SHOULD be better next season. They have some nice things and should they be able to stay healthy (and improve the ghastly special teams) they should be able to post 30 wins (or a little more).

          I think they can be better than two teams in the west, which puts them 13th and (all things being equal) about 6th in the draft.

          • I guess I could see COL as a possibility, but they have had worse goaltending than EDM this year, once again the market sees more goalies than jobs and COL should be able able to improve their goaltending via UFA without much difficulty. Who knows, maybe they get Vokoun and gain .02 in sv% right there? That said, I would probably expect Khabibulin to be better next year, if EDM keeps him and if he stays healthy, so maybe that’s a wash? I think it’s a point in COL’s favor. Who knows what kind of money COL is interested in spending, but then again who knows what EDM will be spending either.

            I don’t know I agree that CLB is “a mess” and that MIN “looks lost”. Both are on pace to finish with more points than last year, and both will probably finish 25 points ahead of EDM this year. That’s a lot of ground to make up.

          • Horcsky

            This article is clearly an April fools joke, and I don’t believe it for a second!

            That aside, if point 2 comes true and they actually do bury Khabby in the minors, then I would believe that management is serious about righting the good ship Oiler.

  • T.C.

    A wise GM would keep the smooth skating, puck moving Taylor Chorney and move Tomr Gilbert. Gilbert would bring much more in return and the only thing he has over Chorney is size which he doesn’t use anyway.

    Also don’t think Omark makes it through the summer. I liked him early but this stretch run is exposing the holes in his game.

    Lowetide I would rather you get baxk to telling us what the Oilers should do, not what you are hearing/think they will do. The MSM tells us all the time what the Oilers are likely to do but there are few media types that will openly challenge the decisions of Oiler management. This is the Lowetide I remember. Don’t allow yourself to become just another MSM guy.

    • Lowetide

      That’s coming. 🙂 I think it’s important to factor in what the organization is doing with regard to the summer. That way the disappointment is at least expected.

  • Lowetide

    The Oilers have done the pump on Cogliano about as well as could be expected this year. They must follow through on the dump, while the dumping is good.

    Horcoff, Gagner, (Boyd Gordonish guy), Lander, Fraser, Vandevelde, O’Marra plus a centre draft with one of the two first round picks.

  • Good post, I do have a concern though;
    Why on earth would we trade Gagner over the likes of Cogliano?
    I see no point in keeping Cogliano, I think what you see is all you’ll get out of him, Where as Gagner has potential and way better up side.
    I always ask myself before I post on situations like this, do I see this person being here in 3 years? I just can’t see Cogliano beibng here or fitting in long term.

    • Lowetide

      Put yourself in the shoes of any NHL GM that ST speaks with. In that frame of mind, are you asking about Cogliano? Or are you asking about Gagner? That should answer your question.

    • Lowetide

      Wes: I agree, Gagner is the better young C imo. However, there is some evidence that coach Renney sees a 2-way player in Cogliano and I don’t think that race is as settled as it was a year ago.