One of the ongoing mysteries surrounding the Edmonton Oilers is the ‘elevator shaft’ 4th line. A tough 11-12 season should have been followed by a mass exodus for the offending parties. So, with all due respect, what the hell?

The Oilers used much of their forward roster at one time or another on the 4line this season. Sam Gagner played there coming off injury, Taylor Hall played there when coach Renney double shifted him. However, for the most part the forwards who spent time on the 4line were:

  • Eric Belanger
  • Lennart Petrell
  • Anton Lander
  • Ben Eager
  • Darcy Hordichuk
  • Magnus Paajarvi
  • Linus Omark

Behind the net shows us the way, with the top 7 forwards on this graph qualifying as 4line QC.Your mileage may vary, but I think that’s a fair line in the sand.

It’s interesting to note that of the 7 names listed at the top of the graph, Edmonton signed #1 (Hordichuk) and #4 (Petrell) since the end of the season. Linus Omark remains qualified but unsigned and is unlikely to return.


We have talked in the past about King’s metric, he has counted the scoring chances for Edmonton’s games over the past few seasons. He does the hard work at mc79hockey, and Derek Zona did the other hard chore in counting all of them and putting the SC totals in rational order.














































Again, these are Dennis King numbers via Derek Zona, I’ve excluded the other forwards and we’re concentrating on this group of 4liners. As we can see, Magnus Paajarvi–seldom used and sent down–is the only player in the group above do (re-mi). MP did play on other lines and this isn’t a perfect reflection since a guy like Hordichuk would never have the chance to play on a truly skilled line, but it’s also true Paajarvi is already a better player (and that is reflected here).


We don’t have years and years of 4line TCF/TCA totals to compare this to, but the 11-12 4line looked like scrambled married to addled and the numbers above show it. If coach Krueger has a plan–and I think he does based on what he said about Eric Belanger–then I think it is reasonable to look at Magnus Paajarvi (and Teemu Hartikainen) as options.

The club signed Lennart Petrell, which would seem to indicate endorsement (Petrell got a contract before Krueger was hired, interestingly). I would also think Paajarvi and Hartikainen are in the mix, although both can be sent down without clearing waivers.

Could the Oilers go with a 10-14F group that would include Belanger, Lander, Petrell, Eager and Hordichuk again?



We all have our questions for Steve Tambellini. I’d like to know if that top 4 defenseman is coming along soon, David Staples and Jonathan Willis are focused on the goaltending and you may have your own unique thoughts on the roster as it idles in the driveway this summer.

But the question I have for Ralph Krueger is this: HOW are you going to make that 4line go? Maybe the famous Archie slap?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I was going to post this in your previous article, but seeing as how you’ve got this one up now I’ll ask here…any chance on an interview with Hall to see how his rehab is going? I only ask about it because in your other post someone asked about asking Whitney on his ankles and my 10 watt lightbulb went on in my head.

    Now to some good reading

  • I tried it at home

    Belanger, Eager, and Sutton. Is there anyway we can add professional scouting to Stu Macgregors job description? Or at the very least, have him give the guys there a few tips on how to do thier jobs? Its been a weakness for way too long.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    IMO, Ive never worried to much about the 4th line as long as it can add some muscle to the game when called upon something Renney didn’t do way to often last year. Im not saying the 4th line has to be made up of the MacIntyres or Laraques but that line should be used to make a statement to the other team that we wont be pushed around and if you run our skilled players your gunna get the “archie slap” of a life time, instigator rule be dambed.

    Hopefully Krueger uses the 4th line that way and guys like Eager and Peckham answer the bell without thinking twice.

  • Lexi

    To me the key to the 4th line is Belanger. A key test of Krueger is to get him to accept his role of 4th line C, PK and win some draws for RNH. I’ve got to hope Krueger can inspire him that being a 35 Yr old journeyman making $1.75 Mill is not a bad life, and if nothing else if he plays hard we could trade him to Montreal for a depth Dman. Belanger played top 6 minutes on a playoff team and scored 40 pts just a year ago so I’ve got to think there is still a player there.

    If Belanger accepts his role he should be an above average 4th line C and hopefully Ralph will do a better job of identifying the right guys on the 4th line. If the 4th line doesn’t bleed this year that would be a simple improvement.

  • Cervantes

    The 4th line was a random assortment of spare parts last year… goons, penalty killers, scorers in Renney’s doghouse, prospects gaining some NHL experience. The problems with the 4th line wasn’t with the players themselves as much as with the coaching staff having no clear plan of what to look for from a 4th line. If you patch together random players without any role, then you can’t expect much from them.

    • Lowetide

      Totally agree. Which makes their return all the more curious. I’ll be watching Krueger’s moves with interest. Seems to me it should be a fairly easy task (it isn’t like you’re asking a great deal) but Tom Renney flushed Zack Stortini and replaced him with death.

      • Cheap Shot Charlie

        Just wondering if there is a possibility that Belanger is a 3rd line center option. Were his poor statistics a reflection of the quality of his linemates. Would he be any better between Smyth and Horcoff given Horcoff’s workload and touchy shoulders. That way they could save Horcoff’s faceoff work for powerplay and pks. Then give the 4th line a clear direction as a physical line with Vande Velde, Hartikainen, and Jones. All three have shown an ability to lay the body and if the clear directive is physical play these three have the size and ability to do such a thing. Also Vande Velde is capable in the dot and gives Edmonton much needed size in the middle 6’2 210. They also skate well enough and Jones and Hartikainen are better quality players than Eager, Petrell, and Hordichuk on the wing.

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      That’s an interesting mix just because the 4th line would be essentially just like the 3rd line. Possibly, on nights this would work (when they play a skilled team) but a 4th line is usually full of one trick ponies (face of specialists, fighters, energy). Belanger, MPS and Harti have more to offer. I like that you’re thinking of using the extra skill but who’s going to drop the mitts if this is your 4th line? And in what situations would you use this line rather than the Horc, Smyth, Jones line?

      If Harti or MPS are not going to play 10+ minutes a game they shouldn’t be here. They need ice time if they’re to become anything more than a injury plugs.

      I would suggest, as it sits, Eager (whether he likes it or not); Hordi; Petrell; Belanger are the right mix for a 4th line.

  • Cervantes

    Hordy mentioned that Krueger was going to give him more rope and let him run around some more, even of it meant a penalty or some unpaid time off courtesy of Shanny. Maybe he was blowing smoke, but hopefully not.

    Personally I’d rather have a fourth that can play ten minutes, but without a heavyweight it’ll be interesting to see what we do this year. I think the minute load needs to be spread out more than before. We can’t have another season of Horcules and Mullet pulling twenty minutes a night. It’d be nice to have a fourth that can match up with other teams bottom six for skill, maybe rolling Harski and MPS beside Belli and Eager. Personally, that seems like a waste of a year of those two though. We’re simply overloaded with parts that don’t match up too well in the bottom six, and some moves need to happen.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I have no idea why they signed Petrel, at least Belanger can play some PK and is a wizard at FO and Eager and Hordichuk have some toughness… Petrel really doesn’t do anything.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Renny was given a very confusing mandate ( develop the young guys) and did what he could. Since so much time was spent developing our youth, the third lines and fourth lines had no clear mandate.

    For most teams the third line is a shut down line, and the fourth is a energy physical line. It is no use moving players around ( up and down) if their skill-sets do not match the role they are designed, and developed for.

    As for Belenger and Horcoff their skill sets suggest they belong in the AHL not the NHL. If I havd to I would give Horcoff a shut-down role ( third line) and Belenger a one way ticket to anywhere someone will accept a fast skater with no vision, or offensive skills.