Why is Oklahoma struggling?

With Oklahoma’s win over Texas on Thursday, the team’s record moves to 15-10-4, one game over 0.500. While it’s better than the other side of the win/loss line, it isn’t what was expected out of a team that has (for most of the year) boasted a trio of high-end NHL’ers up front, the AHL’s best player on the blue line, and the reigning AHL goalie of the year.

What’s the problem?

Honestly, it’s a difficult question and despite watching this team from day one I don’t have a solid answer. I have some ideas, but that’s it.

Depth. This is an area where the Barons have had some problems, both up front and on the blue line. There has been a lot of talk about how prospects like Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick and Curtis Hamilton aren’t getting power play time and so there needs to be an asterisk next to their absurdly low offensive totals, but these are guys struggling to tread water in depth roles. Pitlick and Hamilton are both minus players in largely third-line minutes; Lander’s performance has surged since being assigned regularly to the top-six but he was a minus player earlier in the year.

On the blue line, Justin Schultz currently sports a plus-14 rating, meaning that the Barons are minus-8 when he is not on the ice. With rookie Martin Marincin imploding, the team’s top left-shooting defenceman these days is ECHL call-up Nathan Deck. Colten Teubert has added muscle but has been just okay defensively; Taylor Fedun has had good moments and bad moments. Schultz might be the league’s best player, but the supporting cast is anemic.

The penalty kill. Given the talent on the team, it should be unsurprising that the Barons are lethal with the man advantage. Unfortunately, the dysfunctional penalty kill has given everything back: the Barons have the best power play and the worst penalty kill in the AHL. The strange thing is that in 2011-12 the Barons had the league’s second-best penalty-killing unit, and on paper a group that includes Chris VandeVelde, Anton Lander, Dane Byers, Tanner House and Magnus Paajarvi should be strong in that department.

The limited impact of the individual. It’s pretty hard to harshly critique any of the four stars playing in Oklahoma. Justin Schultz is the presumptive AHL MVP at this point, and if he wasn’t Jordan Eberle would be. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is plus-7 and better than a point-per-game player; after a slow start coming back from surgery Taylor Hall has scored nine times and added 14 assists over his last 15 games.

But while all four play big minutes for Oklahoma, the team has used 33 different players. Even in a feature role, they aren’t on the ice all the time, and even the best stars can’t make up entirely for a weak team.

The Bottom Line

Despite the weaknesses on the roster, there’s no way the Barons should be mired near the playoff bubble. The penalty kill should not be stuck in last place. The second-tier prospects should not be collapsing the way they have. Dane Byers should not be a five point guy. A team that has boasted Eberle, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Hartikainen and Paajarvi as five of its top six for the majority of the year should not be struggling the way it has. The Barons have been handed a huge advantage this year, and they appear to be squandering it.

A farm team is supposed to find the balance between winning and development. The Barons aren’t winning enough and outside of the phenoms they aren’t looking especially good from a development angle either. It’s a problem.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • DSF

    Speaks to your last post JW.

    The depth behind the young NHL stars just isn’t very good.

    While you can make an argument the supporting cast is not getting opportunity, the best forwards outside that core group are Arcobello, Paajarvi and Hartikainen who have all had their numbers pumped by playing with the big four and getting significant PP time.

    Remove the stars and the whole thing could collapse.

    Also worth noting is how much of the Barons’ scoring has been on the PP and, if you consider, once the NHL season gets going, it’s likely the top PP could feature Paajarvi, Arcobello and someone like Pitlcik with Marinicin and Fedun, it’s likely going to be a pop gun offence.

    • Oilertown

      I wouldn’t say PRV and Hartikeinens numbers have been pumped by the big 3 considering they have been on their own line with Lander the last 7 or 8 games and have been playing quite well.

    • At evens the Barons are outscoring the opposition 66-to-59, with virtually all of the advantage coming from the top line – particularly Eberle, though of late Hall, too.

      The PP should still be good at the points – Fedun and Marincin have done pretty well on the second unit – but up front there’s no question it is weak. If they can’t get the PK to compensate, then they’ll be in trouble.

      But, honestly, I don’t care how Oklahoma does once the stars are gone. What I can’t figure out is how virtually all of the depth prospects are imploding – and I don’t buy that it’s just an ice-time problem – and despite the emphasis on the NHL talent the team isn’t winning, either. It seems to be failing in both of its primary mandates.

      • stevezie

        Jonathan, you need to be more patient. Developing secondary/depth forwards is not an exact science. There will be plenty of ups and downs along the way. In addition, players with size can take more time to develop than smaller skilled players.

        I am not worried about Pitlick – if he does not score he can still fill a role as a banger/shut down player due to his size and skating. However, as I have stated before, I was never sold on Hamilton for the simple reason that he does not skate well enough – at his “breakout” WJHC he looked slow against the top teams. That being said, at 21 it is still too early to toss him aside. Bigger complementary players take time to develop – look at Penner or Clowe, as examples.

        The fans just need to be patient and wait a bit for the role players to develop. If they don’t, it is always easy to attract NHL experienced/veteran role players if the skill positions are already in place.

        As far as the team struggling, the mix of talent is a bit different this year. Has Nelson adjusted the system as a result? Last year the team was very defensive – is it more open now? As much as the youth on the blue line is an issue (I did not realize Plante was only 23 – seems like he has been in the A forever), is Danis playing at the same level that he did last year?

      • DSF

        I’ve said all along that the Oilers drafting, other than the first overalls and Eberle, has been very weak.

        The lack of success in the 2007 draft, with 3 first round picks, is really starting to hurt.

        • Which has only been magnified by tanking driving for the #1 draft pick, which was accomplished by filling out the roster with the sort of player you’d never (normally) have on a team that believes winning is a good thing to pursue.

          Drafting is great, but it’s only part of the solution. Given the low percentage of drafted guys who actually work out, I think we’re doing OK in that aspect.

          We still have to clean out the guys who basically suck (we all know who they are) and replace them with viable alternatives or “actual NHL’ers” as Lowetide is prone to say.

    • John Chambers

      I think this could be a big problem for the Oilers over the next 1.5 seasons. Surely they’ll have a dynamic pp, but I don’t see the team in general outscoring the opposition 5×5, and they’re not brimming over the edge with depth.

      Luckily Horcoff will get bought out thus summer, Khabi won’t be re-signed, and the money SHOULD be wisely allocated toward affordable veteran talent.

      • DSF

        It’s going to be wild ride in the next 6 months.

        The new NHL proposal pegs the cap at $60 million in 13/14 and the Oilers, including Horcoff’s cap hit, are at $48.5.

        If you take Horcoff out of the equation, they’ll be at $43 million with only 13 players under contract.

        Players needing new deals: (my estimate of new deal)

        Gagner ($3.5M)

        Jones ($1.75M)

        Hartikainen ($1M)

        Smid ($3.5M)

        Backup goaltender ($1M)

        That’s about $56 million so there’s only $4 million left to sign:

        #3C

        3 bottom 6 forwards

        3 defensemen.

        So, even with a Horcoff buyout, that dog won’t hunt.

        The Oilers could really use a skilled centre on an ELC to replace Gagner and they’d better hope Klefbom and Marincin are ready for the big show.

        • Oilertown

          Since when 43 plus 10.5 is 56?

          Jones wont get 1.75M period.

          Coyle is a minus player, Paajarvi even and with more points.

          Arcobello outperform all Houston Aeros rookies stars.lmao.

        • GVBlackhawk

          After all of your comments about Gagner, you would give him a raise? With a 60m cap, you’d give Jones a raise to $1.75m?

          Wow. You’re more generous than the guy who gave Luongo his last contract, and that’s saying something.

          On that note, do you think that Vancouver will be forced to buy him out? Hard to see many teams taking on that contract with a $60m cap hit.

          • DSF

            I’m merely trying to read Tambellini’s mind.

            He gives EVERYONE a raise.

            See Sutton, Andy for reference.

            I’d wager a Luongo trade is already completed pending the signing of a new CBA.

            The Canucks will buy out Ballard and instantly get $9.5 million off the books and I expect they will also trade Mason Raymond and get another $2.275 million in cap space.

        • GVBlackhawk

          Klefbom is a maybe but I can’t see Marincin being ready in two years. He is so error-prone right now. He is likely going to need anther two or three years in the AHL.

          There are many teams who are going to have issues dealing with a 60M cap. The Oilers are no exception.

          • DSF

            While they’re not an exception, they’re also not a very good team.

            If you take a look at Minnesota, since we are discussing them, I assume they will buy out Dany Heatley ($7.5M) and will be instantly $16 million UNDER the cap even after signing Parise and Suter.

            With Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, Larsson, Palmieri, Brodin and maybe Dumba ready to step in on cheap contracts, they’ll be the opposite side of the coin to the Oilers.

            Boston, Vancouver, Calgary, Philly, San Jose and the Oilers look to be the teams that will struggle to get under the cap and ice a competitive team.

            2 of these are not like the others.

          • DSF

            @ DSF – “With Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, Larsson, Palmieri, Brodin and maybe Dumba ready to step in on cheap contracts, they’ll be the opposite side of the coin to the Oilers.”

            You are kidding, right? Looks like Oilers’ fans are not the only ones with rose colored glasses……

            Brodin got hurt on an NHL speed play by a player not know for hitting and has played how many games this season in the AHL? So far, it has been a waste of half of a development year. He is better off staying there for the full year, getting healthy, and learning the more physical North American game at a slower speed. That being said, if the Wild would like to ruin one of their potential blue chip prospects, as an Oilers fan I say let them go right ahead and do it.

            Dumba is not close to being NHL ready – heck, he could not crack the WJHC squad and who from that team could step right in? FWIW, I did not view him as a lock for the NHL when he was drafted due to his size and style of play and I have not seen anything to change that view yet. He can get away with it in the dub, but playing against bigger men that can skate is another story.

            Granlund is possibly ready, but it still might benefit him more to play in the AHL for a year to get used to the different style of play and increased number of games. Paajarvi could have used that approach as well…….

            Coyle = Paajarvi or Hartikainen as far as stats go in the AHL this year, and both are on the bubble as far as playing in the NHL this season for a weak team (although I would like to see both start off the season with the Oilers to see what happens).

            Larsson – see above re: Granlund, but even less ready than him. He is not ready to play in the show.

            Palmieri – may (finally) be ready this season, but if not, it might be time to move him as he was an 07 draft pick and is getting long in the tooth………

          • DSF

            This is all nonsense.

            1) You think Klefbom (who has never played in NA) is in a better position than Brodin? And yet everyone is pencilling Klefbom in for next season?

            2) Minnesota’s defensive depth looks like this:

            Suter-Gilbert
            Falk-Scandella
            Spurgeon-Brodin/Stoner/Cuma/Dumba

            No need to rush anyone and there are no Peckhams or Potters in that bunch.

            3) Granlund is so much better than Paajarvi he’s in another area code.
            Thing is, Granlund will be playing centre behind Koivu with Cullen, Brodziak, Konopka and Torrey Mitchell (among others) for support. He’ll be fine.

            4)
            Jason Zucker: 13G 12A 25P

            Hartikainen: 9G 11A 20P

            Nick Palmieri: 9G 10A 19P

            Paajarvi: 4G 15A 19P

            Charlie Coyle: 11G 7A 18P

            Johann Larsson: 6G 10A 16P

            Palmieri is the same age as Gagner and is cheap. Why would you move him?

          • Oilertown

            @ DSF – Are you kidding me? Your post was all nonsense – the Wild will avoid cap issues by playing all of these young prospects, not proven NHL players, and succeed? Give me a break.

            If you want to drag Klefbom into the Brodin discussion, that is fine. He is set back a year now as well due to his shoulder, so I doubt he will be ready until 2014-15 at the earliest. Based on his injury history, he may never be. It happens. Luckily for the Oil there is more than just one prospect in the pipeline .

            As much as I dislike Gagner, if you consider MPS to be a bad comparable for Granlund then comparing Pamlmieri to the Hobbit is a joke. The fact that he is the same age as Gagner and from the same weak draft class is actually detrimental to his case. While I still think the Oilers should trade Sam, he is at least a proven NHL player. Palmieri has yet to prove he can be a regular 4th liner in the show, let alone anything higher. If he does not pan out soon he should be moved to free up a space for a younger prospect – that is how the meat market of professional sports works.

            WRT Granlund, he is a great prospect and all I was pointing out is that a full year in the AHL might be better for him. As we often see with European players, once the 40 game mark is passed in their rookie year they hit the wall and plateau for a bit. Would it hurt him to spend the full year in the AHL and work through it there first? I also think we need to wait a bit longer to see how much better he is than MPS. After Paajarvi’s rookie season wasn’t the sky the limit?

            I did not include Zucker in my rebuttal as he looks NHL ready to me, or a test run at the least.

            WRT to the other forwards that you listed, their numbers are comparable to Harski and MPS, who you like to run down, but since they are Wild prospects they will somehow be better off?

            In addition, as far as the Wild’s blueline depth is concerned, I never said that the Oilers’ blueline was better. However, if you want to discuss it, here are my thoughts:

            I am curious to see how well Suter plays when he is being keyed on instead of having Weber as the main man on the blueline. Personally, I think the Suter contract is a big risk that will be an issue if he does not meet expectations as they will be paying #1 money and term to a #2/#3 d-man. If I had to give that type of contract to one of Weber or Suter, I would go with Weber just like the Preds did (and I am pretty certain every other GM in the league would as well).

            While I have always argued that the Wild got the better of the Nick Schultz – Gilbert trade (the Oilers lost big time on that one IMHO), the rest of the blueline is average. If Suter goes down then you will have big problems as there is a lack of proven depth. As someone else pointed out above, the rest of the Wild defence, including the Hobbit known as Spurgeon, are average or below average d-men at best.

            You say in one breath that there is no rush to bring up Brodin or Dumba and they mention them in the depth list again? Why? I could throw out Klefbom, Marincin, Musil and Gernat as well as they have as good a shot at making the NHL as those two (although, in Musil’s case, I highly doubt it due to his lack of speed). We will see if Dumba ever makes the NHL, and this year is basically a write-off for Brodin development wise due to injury just like Klefbom and Gernat.

          • DSF

            A thoughtful post.

            But a couple of points.

            This whole discussion was framed around the 2013/14 season and how the Wild and Oilers would deal with a lower cap so your concern about “rushing” players like Brodin and Granlund is unfounded.

            BTW, Brodin had a broken collarbone which is far less serious than a shoulder or knee injury and Brodin is already back skating with the Aeros so will not miss an entire season of development as is the case with Klefbom.

            Comparing Paajarvi to Granlund is not a joke. Granlund led the SM Liga in scoring last season (PPG) and currently is only 2 points behind Paajarvi in scoring despite only playing half as many games.

            As you say, European players often hit a wall in their first NHL season so it would seem to me a 48 game schedule should be just what the doctor ordered, no?

            BTW, I have no issues with Hartikainen…looks like an NHL player to me…Paajarvi not so much.

            As for the D, if you look at the underlying stats, Suter is actually a better #1D than Weber and your contention that Nashville chose Weber over Suter is nonsense.

            They wanted to sign Suter but he chose to go to free agency. While I agree these long term contracts are risky, it’s quite likely the Wild just signed the best defenseman in the NHL now that NIk has retired.

            If you look at cup winning teams (the 06 Carolina Cindrellas excepted, they are almost invariably built from the back end out with above average goaltending (Backstrom, Harding), a stud #1D who can play 30 minutes a night (Suter), tremendous centre depth (Koivu, Granlund, Brodziak, Cullen, Mitchell, Konopka, Coyle, Phillips), some wingers who can put the puck in the net (Parise, Setoguchi, Heatley, Zucker, Larsson and some exceptional value players on ELC’s (Granlund, Coyle, Zucker, Scandella, Brodin, Larsson).

            The Wild are now perfectly built to be a cup contender but, as you say, injury can derail that scenario for any team.

            I expect Brodin will play in the NHL at some point of the season while Dumba is a ways away.

            You obviously should put Klefbom, Marincin, Musil and Gernat in the Oiler’s D depth chart but are you convinced that group stacks up well against the Minnesota young D group of Brodin, Scandella, Falk, Spurgeon and Dumba?

            Justin Schultz is obviously going to be very good so it’ll be interesting to watch how he and Brodin compare over the net several years since they are likely now more comparable than Brodin and Klefbom.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            1) You think Klefbom (who has never played in NA) is in a better position than Brodin? And yet everyone is pencilling Klefbom in for next season?

            Brodin has played all of 8 games in the AHL. That’s likely the difference on Craig Button’s list of top 30 prospects. He has Klefbom at 18, and Brodin at 17.

            For the vaunted Minnesota defensive depth, Suter and Gilbert will be a good pairing. For nearly 20% of the cap, they better be. As to the others, as you point out with Klefbom, you might want to wait to see if they’re players.

            PS: What’s the Luongo deal that doesn’t have Vancouver take on cap?

          • DSF

            I think Brodin and Klefbom are likely as close as Button says they are.

            But, as noted, Brodin doesn’t have to step in and be a top 4 defenseman right away. Minny has better depth.

          • DSF

            Are you really defending the defensive depth of the Wild? They have a top end #1 in Suter, a #3 in Gilbert, and then…

            And please don’t bring up the Oilers defensive depth if you reply to this. Everyone knows it’s lacking- that has been discussed ad nauseum. We’re talking the Wild here, and there’s no way you can honestly say they have anything resembling depth or a “rock solid top 4.” Yes, Suter is very good, but he can’t play left and right d at the same time for 60 minutes a night.

          • GVBlackhawk

            The same thing that would happen to the Wild…they would be hard pressed to win anything.

            But nobody here is arguing that Oil lack defensive depth. On the other hand, you are making the case that the Wild have depth, which is a complete fallacy.

          • DSF

            Marco Scandella – 83GP in the NHL

            Clayton Stoner – 116GP

            Justin Falk – 72GP

            Jared Spurgeon – 123GP

            Nate Prosser – 57GP

            Steve Kampfer – 61GP

            Jonas Brodin

            Tyler Cuma

            Looks like pretty decent depth to me.

          • GVBlackhawk

            Or in other words:

            Scandella – one season in the NHL

            Stoner (best name ever) – just over one season NHL

            Falk – less than one season NHL

            Spurgeon – just over one season NHL

            Prosser – half season NHL

            Kampfer – half season NHL

            Brodin – no NHL experience; just missed half the season

            Cuma – no NHL experience

            What looks like pretty decent depth to you looks like a potential unmitigated disaster to me.

            None of these guys has much/any experience. The ones who do got killed at the NHL level.

          • Oilertown

            Just got home from the Rebels vs Oil Kings game, Dumba looked awful.. even more he was the responsable for a SH Oil king goal.he a minus player tonight in a 6-1 loss.He might be a good player but hes years away from the big show!!!

          • DSF

            Let us take a closer look at this “very nice group.”

            Marco Scandella: 83 NHL games: 3 goals 11 assists -31 rating

            Justin Falk: 72 NHL games: 1 goal 11 assists -20 rating

            Jared Spurgeon: 123 NHL games: 7 goals 28 assists -5 rating

            Jonas Brodin: At least a year away.

            Matt Dumba: Probably 3 years away.

            And having Gilbert play huge minutes is not really a positive. Good player, but not good enough to play huge minutes. Certainly if he was playing for the Oilers you would admit as much.

          • Basically 3 sophmore defensemen, and a couple of rookies in the top seven. That doesn’t cut it at the NHL level.

            I’m not sure why you guys bother getting drug into arguements with DSF when he is obviously just trying to get a rise out of you.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            1) You think Klefbom (who has never played in NA) is in a better position than Brodin? And yet everyone is pencilling Klefbom in for next season?

            Brodin has played all of 8 games in the AHL. That’s likely the difference on Craig Button’s list of top 30 prospects. He has Klefbom at 18, and Brodin at 17.

            For the vaunted Minnesota defensive depth, Suter and Gilbert will be a good pairing. For nearly 20% of the cap, they better be. As to the others, as you point out with Klefbom, you might want to wait to see if they’re players.

            PS: What’s the Luongo deal that doesn’t have Vancouver take on cap?

          • stevezie

            Palmieri being as old as Gagner is a strike against him, non? He’s putting up Pajarvi numbers and is older.

            I do think you’re right about Zucker- often overlooked prospect.

            Anyone claiming to know who will be better between Brodin and Klefbom is a fool- they’re young D so it’s a close call at the best of times but with their respective injury history they’re both nothing to write in ink anywhere. Brodin is the better bet at this time but it’s close enough that no one should be talking tough.

            Granlund is awesome, no reasonable person would deny this.

            I don’t know why you cut Coyle so much more slack than you seem willing ot give any Oiler prospect. His numbers are nice, but pretty far from amazing.

            Unrelated note- What happened to Chris Kreider?

          • DSF

            As noted, Palmieri was a third round pick and nothing more than a depth player.

            The Brodin-Klefbom debate is certainly up in the air since both are injured but as I noted earlier, Klefbom is the best Oiler D prospect and everyone is counting on him being a top 4 defenseman yesterday.

            Brodin doesn’t face that kind of pressure because Minny already has a rock solid top 4.

            I expect, though they will have very similar careers.

            Coyle is an interesting prospect because he has played in 3 different leagues in the last 12 months.

            He’s also a 6’2″ 210 winger who is putting up decent numbers in the AHL.

            What’s not to like?

          • DSF

            In 2012-2013, when the cap hit becomes an issue, they’ll have Suter@7.538, Gilbert@4, Scandella, Faulk, and Spurgeon as RFA’s. Only Clayton Stoner has a good contract, but he (like Gilbert) will be a UFA at the end of that year. But, hey, Brodin might get into another game this year, right, so he won’t be a rookie technically?

            PS: Specifically, what’s the deal with Luongo going to be? Luongo and a high pick for a lower pick and a cap dump. Jeez, Gillis is such a great GM.

          • Sorry, I meant 2013-2014. But you knew that, and yet again, didn’t answer the question. So, while composing another response, I’ll ask again:

            What specifically do you think the magical Luongo deal will be? Please enlighten us as to the return you expect, be them players or picks. I’ll wait patiently….

          • DSF

            There are apparently two teams in the running.

            Toronto and Edmonton.

            If it’s Toronto, I expect Burke will give up Kadri and a young defenseman.

            If it’s Edmonton, I would expect a multi player trade with Hemsky and a prospect going the other way for Luongo and Raymond.

            All speculation of course.

          • DSF

            You’ve clearly pointed out, earlier in the thread, why Edmonton can’t take on any more cap, so they’re clearly out of the running.

            Kadri, a player like Max Everson, and a cap dump (or agreeing to take on cap space, as permitted in the new CBA) from TO?

            Yep, sounds like Gillis is maximizing his opportunities.

          • DSF

            Hemsky’s deal is only two years, and was structured to pay players like Hopkins.

            If Luongo’s deal wasn’t until 2022, it would be closer. Hey, if they sign the deal now, perhaps his deal might end before the next lockout.

            Nah, never happen 😉

          • DSF

            Good grief.

            Palmieri was a third round pick.

            Is that all you’ve got?

            Paajarvi was a top ten pick and is being outscored by a third rounder.

            That’s embarrassing.

          • You forgot about: Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, LA, Montreal (Already over 60M signed), Nashville, New York, Pittsburgh, Tampa….

            There are only a handful of teams who do not have a similar problem.

            I should also mention – I love that you consider raw rookies an automatically perfect solution for cheap players but teams signing veterans in a buyers market are screwed.

          • DSF

            Buffalo: $49.6 M committed to the cap.

            Carolina: $50.7M

            Chicago: $57M

            LA: $49.4

            Montreal: $60M (will buy out Gomez)

            Nashville: $45.4

            New York: $51.8M

            Pittsburgh: $52.5M

            Tampa: $57.5

            None of those teams should have a difficult time getting under the cap and all of them have far better teams signed for the 13/14 season.

            For example, the Stanley Cup champions have more than $10M in cap space with 9 players to sign to fill out their roster.

            Considering their core is locked up, they can afford to replace Simon Gagne, Penner and Scuderi with younger, cheaper options.

            Remember they have a ton of gifted youngsters in Manchester.

            Tampa will likely have to buy out a big ticket (Vinny?) but they too have a lot of young talent in Syracuse.

        • John Chambers

          Yeah Hemsky is an expensive luxury, and despite the team’s need for veteran defensemen, Whitney will have to take a significant pay cut to remain on the team.

          The trade that could solve a number of problems is Gagner for a 3-4 defenseman, so It’s a management imperative that he rack up points between Hall and Hemsky when the puck drops in mid-January.

          • DSF

            Yep.

            It’s unfortunate the Oilers didn’t turn Hemsky into a high draft pick + when they had the chance.

            When Minny decided to move Burns, they reaped a reward that will turn the franchise around.

          • John Chambers

            Do you think the Suter / Parise signings along with existing commitments to Koivu, Heatley, and Backstrom hamstring the Wild similar to how it will affect the Oil?

            I think, like the summer of 2005, FA’s will come cheap this summer as teams struggle to get under $60M. As a result, Im not sure Gagner and Smid cone at a $3.5M price tag.

            The NY Rangers will have some tough choices to make.

          • GVBlackhawk

            I wouldn’t be so quick to give up on Hemsky. He’s playing great this year and by all accounts he’s as healthy as he has been in years. And we’ve seen what a healthy Hemsky can do. So if we have hockey this year, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he provides some very nice production. I still believe in Hemsky. 🙂

            And the Burns trade WILL turn the franchise around? A little quick to jump to that conclusion, no? Yes, I will say it was a good trade, but by no means would I declare it a great trade just yet. Setoguchi, outside of one year, has never been more productive than a Sam Gagner, whom you seem to hate, and then you have Coyle and Phillips. Coyle is having a pretty nice pro debut with 11 goals while Phillips has 1 goal. Nothing here suggests the franchise is going to be turned around with that trade.

          • DSF

            Hemsky may still have value but, as John Chambers says, he an expensive luxury that the Oilers won’t be able to afford. (more on that later).

            As for the Burns trade, it signalled a change in direction for Minnesota and was the only the first of several moves.

            They traded Burns, who was about to become UFA, for the equivalent of THREE first round picks. Can you imagine the jubilation if the Oilers could have received 3 first for Hemsky?

            IMO Setoguchi has outperformed Gagner in every season except his rookie year with goal totals of 31, 20, 22 and 19. Gagner may pick up a bunch of second assists but goals are much more important and Gagner has never hit 20.

            Coyle is looking very good as a rookie and, while Phillips is taking some time getting traction, his 10 points is better than a host of Oiler draft picks in the AHL.

            To get under the cap in 13/14, the Oilers are going to have to move a big ticket even if they buy out Horcoff.

            Hemsky would be the logical choice but, with so many bought out players hitting the market at the same time, it’ll be an absolute buyers market.

            We don’t know what the cap will look like the following season but with Hopkins and Schultz up for new contracts I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Hemsky is still an Oiler.

    • I really don’t feel comfortable putting all the blame on him, but the team’s performance so far does not reflect well on him. They have time to turn a corner, but if they don’t it’s going to hurt his coaching career.

      I do wonder why the team hasn’t added a veteran left side defender. I’d almost take Cam Barker at this point.