RUNNING THE SHOW

Back in the olden days we didn’t call them power forwards. We used words like "rugged" and "filthy" and of course good teams often had at least two of them sprinkled throughout the lineup. Which brings us to the question of the day: does a powerforward need to be a good hockey player, or is it possible to insert an enforcer/Coke Machine into the heart of the order and get a good result?

DAVE SEMENKO!

I’m here to tell you there was a time when a big enforcer could run a few shifts with the elite players and help move the offense forward. However, the offensive partners for Dave Semenko were Wayne Gretzky and Jarri Kurri, so it was a somewhat unique situation.

In more recent times–and not to pick on him–JF Jacques was inserted onto a 1line by Pat Quinn in an effort to get physical players into the lineup–force the issue, as it were.

It did not work out.

ACTUAL NHL PLAYERS!

The Oilers don’t need Milan Lucic, exactly–they could use a Curtis Glencross or a Wayne Simmonds or a Steve Ott–you get the idea. Edmonton has been home to these player types before, and a lot of them! If we use the following criteria: top 6 in points among forwards, and the size/presence/ability (at least 6.0, 200 with few exceptions) to do the job, we get the following Oilers over the years:

  • Mark Messier, 1979 to 1991
  • Glenn Anderson, 1980 to 1991
  • Mike Krushelnyski, 1984 to 1988
  • Esa Tikkanen, 1986 to 1993
  • Craig Simpson, 1987 to 1992
  • Scott Mellanby, 1991 to 1993
  • Shayne Corson, 1992 to 1995
  • Jason Arnott, 1993 to 1998
  • Ryan Smyth, 1996 to 2007
  • Bill Guerin, 1997 to 2000
  • Raffi Torres, 2003 to 2008

Your mileage may very, I excluded names like Pat Hughes, Dave Hunter and Kelly Buchberger because they were (imo) outside the top 6F requirement but they certainly qualified in some or most areas. On the other side, you may feel my inclusion of Ryan Smyth as a power forward is perhaps unfair, but for our purposes I think he meets the requirement.

So, according to my estimates, the last PF in fact employed by the Oilers was Raffi Torres. Fair?

ANYONE ON THE WAY?

I think the list above tells us that we’re looking in the wrong place when discussing Mitch Moroz as a future top 6 power forward. Craig Simpson had all world hands, Ryan Smyth had wonderful skill, Mark Messier was a real straight shooter–these players were "skill first" types who could also handle the heavy load.

THAT’S a real power forward.

I don’t think Taylor Hall is a classic PF but he does have size and is a physical player. This season, he’s been doing more damage, in the past the damage was done to him. I think as Hall matures he may emerge as more of a physical presence–let’s remember he’s still only 21–and he’s close to a pim per game this season. I also think Nail Yakupov could emerge as a physical player who could take care of business.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

After that, we’re talking about two trains on different tracks–the big coke machine prospects like Mitch Moroz, Travis Ewanyk and the recently acquired Kale Kessy–and then big skilled kids like Jujhar Khaira who could develop into that role.

This week’s trade of Tobias Rieder tells us one thing–the Oilers feel they have enough undersized skill guys. I’d rate Khaira as the best bet in the system to emerge as what we might consider a classic PF.

Lowetide at High Noon hits Team 1260 today at noon Edmonton time. It’ll be archived right after the show (courtesy producer Conner Halley) and I hope you can tune in using whatever listening device you prefer. Scheduled to appear:

  • Elliotte Friedman from HNIC. Elliotte’s 30 thoughts are a weekly stop for the nation, and his use on network television of terms like “Corsi” may cause a revolution.
  • Evan Daum from the EJ and Golden Bears hockey and football. We’ll talk about the Oil Kings series victory last night and the upstart Medicine Hat Tigers (that’s the next opponent for the OK).
  • Tom Lynn, player agent for Veritas hockey. Tom will discuss the DeKeyser signing and other college free agents who may be available, the Hobey Baker nominees and the upcoming draft.
  • Gene Principe from Rogers Sportsnet. We’ll talk about the trade deadline and the life of a broadcaster who spends so much time with the team on a day when one or more may be sent away. I’m hoping for a pun or two, but won’t push it.
  • Kirk Luedeke from Redline Report. We’ll talk Iginla to Boston and what happened, we’ll talk draft and I’ll ask about new Oiler prospect Kale Kessy–Kirk had some great info on him before the 2011 draft.
  • Rob Soria from Oil Drop. I’ll ask Rob about the deadline and what the Oilers should do over the summer to take that “next step.”

Questions and comments welcome, I’ll tell you as I get closer to the show time the best way to reach me is twitter @Lowetide_

  • Concur

    Unfortunitely, it’s too late for this management to identify we need power forwards in our top six. We won’t attract UFA power forwards. We have to either trade or draft these type of players. Managements philosophies have suddenly changed but little too late. We are still years away from competing for a Stanley cup. That’s why tambo and Lowe should be fired. Why do u think Pittsburg traded for power forwards.

  • Concur

    I was sad to read the trade of Rieder. I agree with you that SKILL should come first and then the development of GRITTY. One Oiler that I think gets that now is Paajarvi. He now drives to the net and provides a little more physical presences in games, I also think he can still go up a few notches in physical play, but it is nice to see that he is starting to get it. The Oilers across the board need to develop that grittiness, not just in hitting people, but more in defending themselves. I see scrums constantly where there is only 1 or 2 players with emotion and the others are skating away… SAD

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Give Taylor Hall 2 more years. He’s gonna be a thorn in alot of teams backside. We need to find a term that encompasses a mean prick, who skates like the wind. TTMF’er is missing a vowel or two it seems. (Take That Mother Trucker) It doesn’t roll of the tongue like power forward, but it will capture his character.

    He got off to a bit of a slow start this season but the last 15 games he’s been a rock star.

  • TayLordBalls

    I like Juggy! I would be describe a true PF to be someone like Mark Messier! Can kill you in the corners, score on you, and beat you sensless if you look at him the wrong way.

    If you cant carry a hockey play…….the title “goon” comes to mind.

  • The Soup Fascist

    If you consider the guys we today think of as NHL power forwards – it may be worthwhile to look at their 18 year old seasons in the CHL.

    Lucic 68 points 147 PMs WHL

    Clarkson 28 points 122 PMs OHL

    Clowe 25 points 43 PMs QMJHL (partial season)

    Moroz 34 points 140 PMs

    While certainly Lucic appears to be in a class by himself, there was nothing special in Clarkson or Clowe’s game at that time that would show them as potential Top 6 NHLers.

    I am not saying Moroz is a bona fide NHLer but I am saying the role in which he has been employed this year there is potential for offensive upside. I also would say it is too early to say he is not a prospect. Take it with a grain of salt as I am no expert, but I have seen Moroz play a fair bit and he is not without offensive skill. Next year is an important year.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Ummmm. Either you are going all Nostradamus on me or you do not realize Moroz has yet to play his 19 year old season. Kid is still 18. That is why I think next season will be telling.

          • Supernova

            I agree with you Soup Fascist, I expect better totals next year, Oil kings will give him and Lazar more ice time and most likely Ewanyk.

            I also think these players are hard to project out, if you told Clarkson himself he would score 30 in the NHL he probably wouldn’t believe you,

            They take longer to develop, need the right opportunity and have a shorter shelf life.

            I absolutely love Lucic, but if we can find a glencross or a Simmonds, or even a Dorsett/ Clutterbuck type it would a huge dimension.

            The sooner the better but these players are always valuable because they are so rare.

            There is probably 20 that are top 9 FWD”s in the NHL. What is that percentage 20 out of 700?

          • Oilfred

            Stats without context. The other played on scoring lines. Mitch has not. The Oil are grooming him to be a bottom 6 that can play.

            Apples and Oranges . . . have you been taking lessons from DSF?

  • The Soup Fascist

    Maybe someone can answer this for me but Ian White In Detroit is a UFA at the end of the year and I believe he gets HS a lot of games, has he fallen off the map or is Detroit trying to go with something else?

    • The Soup Fascist

      Avoid this guy like the plague. By all accounts not a great guy in the room. I am not one to gossip ….. OK I am, but I don’t feel good about it …. but everything I have heard about this player is not good. Has not stayed anywhere too long.

      I realize that doesn’t answer your question but I am assuming part B is “why don’t the Oilers pick him up?”

    • The Soup Fascist

      What the Fascist said, and he’s 28, small for an NHL D, isn’t scoring a lot, and according to Ninja Greg’s usage charts is playing softer competition and not killing them, which for a skilled player he should be.

      Now that Huskins has been dealt, only Lashoff is behind him in effectiveness, who is 6 years younger.

      Sounds perfect and I’m sure comes with Stevie Y’s endorsement.

  • RexLibris

    I’m still ticked at the management team for trading Reider. They not only sold low, they undersold low, in my opinion.

    Kessy may become a Mike Brown type player, but I have a feeling that Reider could develop into a a more serviceable, defensively aware and offensively competent 3rd line winger. A line of Lander, Reider and Pelss could’ve been a coach’s dream.

    I’m tired of this team snipe hunting for this big mean player, and wasting valuable resources pursuing it, when they so often seem to miss the talent and skill lying right under their noses.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Really? Your view actually surprises me. Not that I hold out any great hope for Kessy, but I never understood all the love for Rieder. He strikes me as a small player who does a lot of little things but does not do anything overly well. Plus he also has shown degeneration in his offensive numbers this year.

      The Lander / Pelss / Rieder line you propose does not seem like a bunch that would be especially daunting to play against.

      I viewed this as spare part which we have a lot of for a spare part we may need, with neither player likely to contribute significantly in the NHL. Granted, I see way more WHL games than OHL – so I will defer to your opinion as to Rieder’s abillities. I will try to watch him a little closer as he progresses.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Lowetide! Thank you. I was having this conversation with my Dad yesterday when he got all hot and bothered by the Milan Lucic trade rumors.

    I said, “The old guard here think power forwards have to look like Mark Messier or Glenn Anderson — two hall of famers. They don’t. The Oilers have employed functional players in the PF position for years and they got run out of town for one reason or another — Arnott, Guerin, Torres, Penner, etc.”

    I went on to say that somebody like Wayne Simmonds is a nicer fit for our top 6 today. And that Lucic – despite his pedigree and talent – is a bad bet for a team with an apex sometime after 2015.

    So you nail it right here: “I think the list above tells us that we’re looking in the wrong place.”

    Well said.

  • I like Reider but I think that management felt like Kessy would be a better fit in our pro system than Reider for next season. Toni Rajala has been scoring everywhere he has played and adding another, similar and small RW might not have been the greatest mix. I don’t know a lot about this Kessy kid but he did score a hat-trick in his last game. These power forward types always seem to develop a little slowly so hopefully he has more offense to his game.

  • Supernova

    First time I’ve seen an Edmonton scribe finally mention the key names: Simmonds, Glencross, Dubinsky or the absolute beauty……. Steve Ott, 2 of these 4 and the oil are set