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?
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_