GETTING MIGHTY CROWDED

One area the new head coach of the Oilers can help himself is in the deployment of Swedes and Finns. While the Canadian kids won the day early in the rebuild, there is an abundance of untapped potential in the group we’ll call the Nordics. Do they match up well for the roles available?

There are only so many seats still available for this edition of the Boys on the Bus. If we assume the Oilers will draft Nail Yakupov next month, it’s getting mighty crowded for the skill slots among the forwards. Hall, Eberle, The Nuge, Nail, Sam and Hemmer makes 6, and we’re still waiting for the first Swede or Finn.

The Oilers have a nice group of kids from those two countries, but under the Renney regime they were blocked or got passed like a house on the side of the road. I’m in no way suggesting the coaching staff was anti-Euro, it’s just the way the cookie crumbled. Paajarvi was beaten to the NHL jobs available on the wing by an older player (Eberle) and a #1 overall selection (Hall) as a rookie and he still posted some solid crooked numbers.

This past season, Edmonton acquired Ryan Smyth and along with Ryan Jones, Ben Eager and pleasant surprise Lennart Petrell blocked the way for Paajarvi and Finn Teemu Hartikainen.

GETTING MIGHTY CROWDED

The jobs on the wing that should be available this fall are the role players, the checkers, the penalty killers, the worker bees. That role would seem to suit Hartikainen, and certainly Lander’s skill set dovetails nicely into that scenario. However, Magnus Paajarvi–despite having an abundance of skill and lightning speed that should be a huge asset on the forecheck, would appear to be a "tweener" on this roster: not skilled enough to beat out the projected top line wingers, and perhaps not ideal for the gritty, "let ’em know you’re there" roster spots the new coach will no doubt want for his bottom 6.

I think the coaching change means a new lease on life for all the forwards who did not perform as expected this past season. That includes Eager, Paajarvi and the rest but a player like Paajarvi will need to arrive at training camp as a man on a mission. That goes for Lander and Hartikainen too. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

It’s too early to say these kids are at a crossroads–all three could play in OKC another year and hone their skills with an eye to making it fall 2013. However, the opportunities are dwindling and with each passing acquisition the window of opportunity closes a little.

  • 15w40

    Your article hits on a sore spot for me The veteran play of last season ST called out his veterans The fans I think are done waiting on transition players who underachieve. For me and many others Ben Eager failed to live up to billing He either finds his way in a trade elsewhere or finds himself in OKC next year. Belanger or Lander? Easy answer for me.Lander, Belanger is death on ice with the puck I think his boxcars reflect what we will see with him playing in Edmonton. The style of play is counter to what Belanger played in the past

    Of the names you mentioned Petrell is the most versatile of the Nords. Can play an uptempo forecheck,PK,and can throw some grit in when needed.

    I believe Ryan Smyth signs elsewhere. Hejduk took 2million per season. Thats the bar. Ryan should be looking at that as his comparable.

    I think Lander Petrell and MP should make up the 4th line.

    The longer the AHL playoffs go the better chance that Lander and MP have of making next seasons team. It certainly will weigh in thier favor if the Barons make the finals.

    Lastly. I do not believe Hemsky is a lock to be here next season. I think teams looking to upgrade thier scoring will come knocking on June 22cd. Nashville for example. Radulov and Kotex will be moved. No way do they show up in training camp. Trotz buried them and did it publicaly. KHL here we come. Radulov should have stayed where he was wanted.

  • 15w40

    Paajarvi should be ready this season to remain with squad and perhaps Hartikainen on third or fourth line. Gagner seems like he may be a bit of a miss on top two lines if we draft Yakupov , unless we go with 3 offensive lines . Gagner probably will be tradebait . Is Nash on our radar ?

    Hemsky looking great at Worlds , and hopefully will have a banner year with us next season .

  • 15w40

    Even though the oil have a lot of good parts, they have a lot of holes as has been discussed at great length. Its great to talk about depth at certain positions but depth really only means a great deal when there is a balanced squad at all positions. I still say draft the BPA if that’s Yakupov but in the end you may need to entertain dealing one of the golden boys to strengthen your position elsewhere. Not calling MPS a golden boy at this point but there was sure some high hopes for this guy. Maybe he will flourish in another organization that doesn’t appear to have their top 6 sew up. Maybe you can pry Ryan Ellis out of Nashville for a bigger lightning fast winger like MPS. They need offense. We still need a heavy defenseman that can play against top lines like Robyn Regher. Is Travis Hamonic available from NYI?? Can Gagner be successful playing with smallish wingers?? Not that he couldn’t be a good second line centre – but maybe not with the mix of top 6 the Oilers are assembling right now. That leaves the need for a prototypical big 200 lb plus centreman like a Jordan Staal. This will be Belanger last year so there is room for Lander if his development continues. Whoever the new skipper is, he is going to have to deal with player issues stemming from where they fit into the puzzle. Does Ben Eager really think he should be a top six player?? Does Ryan Smyth think he is a second line winger that should be making 3 mil a year?? Will Horcoff allow the transition of the room to the younger guard?? What’s the backup plan for Dubnyk – do we have a young up & coming goaltender that they are excited about??

    Still plenty of questions to answer and issues to be dealt with before we are contenders and unfortunately depending on what happens with the CBA, the Oilers could be burning a year off of entry level deals for nothing if there is no season this fall.

    The way I see it we need to be at least a second round to final 4 team in the next two seasons. If we are not then the Oilers will have become the next NYI and there younger players will be looking for places to play that can win – or at least don’t have to spend 5 months a year in a winter fishbowl.

  • O.C.

    The Oil need to showcase the assets as much as possible. Playing against the Marlies helps.

    Players who figure they are above playing in the AHL and want to be traded to another team do the Oil and themselves no favours.

    IF (big if) MPS breaks through, that creates a way to move a centre.