BAD TO THE BONE

On about day two of the National Hockey League’s existence, someone said to someone "we need more size" and began a quest that continues to this day. The size/speed/skill prospect trifecta is so rare that NHL teams can go a decade or more without having one—Edmonton sent their last complete power forward away on November 15, 2000—and spend dozens of draft picks in vain pursuit of a successor.

DRAFTING COKE MACHINES IS A LONG SHOT

Jonathan Willis wrote an interesting piece on the subject of size recently, and it got me thinking about the discussion regarding the current Oiler forwards. Perron misses being a power forward because of size and speed (he’s certainly skilled enough) but has a definite role in the physical side of the game. A line containing Perron has the ability to score and agitate, and offers the opposition a unique set of challenges. 

Tonight, Perron stood out in a big way, imposing his will on the other team, agitating the opposition and trying to get things going. He’s also a good hockey player, so he’s agitating other good players for the other side. The club could use more actual NHL players who have an edge, and size is fine but the idea is to acquire players who are difficult to play against, tough to defend, difficult to predict from shift to shift. 

AGGRESSIVE FORECHECK

Perron’s style forces the issue, pressures the other side and causes errors, which means turnovers and chances off the rush. The NHL has all kinds of players who bring that extra element along with significant skill; I would include Sidney Crosby, Dustin Brown, Brendan Gallagher, Scott Hartnell, Ryan Kesler and others. How many of those would you consider power forwards?

This is an element the Oilers should have in spades, and they do get their chances, but there are also long periods when breaking out against Edmonton is a breeze (and at least some of this has to do with coaching style and the system played under a coach’s direction) and tonight is a perfect example.

I think that sometimes when we say "the Oilers need to be more physical" what we mean is "why can’t the Oilers be more aggressive on the forecheck, finish their checks and make sure that every pass is challenged when possible?"

That’s a major area of opportunity, and Perron’s really good at creating turnovers that can turn into chances. On a night like tonight in Columbus, when the Oilers aren’t really interested in competing for 60 minutes, a player like Perron stands out in a good way.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

You can’t just stand there and watch greatness walk away, playing NHL hockey requires a lot of work without the puck. The Oiler players have all of the skills, but for prolonged periods this season:

  • They have been passive defensively
  • They have looked like they are unsure of their next move
  • They have not  been making it difficult for the other team to execute passes
  • They do not look like they’re engaged in each and every play in the game

The Nashville game was a golden example of pressuring, rolling four lines and allowing your best players to wheel.  It looked like the coach and players had finally arrived at an agreeable system, and the learning curve for both finally arrived at something that could be successful.

Tonight in Columbus, the Edmonton Oilers were miserable again. The Oilers need more guys who get agitated at losing, and can agitate the opposition and are actual NHL players.

More David Perron’s, please and thanks.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    It was a good game last night.

    We need size big time, the pp sucked, and the oil needed to play harder with the puck.

    (A)Pronger would be so great, that guy is scary.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Everyone on this team is suffering because there isn’t a #1 and #2 blue liner on this hockey club. The Oilers have some skill….but there isn’t a capable pair of defenseman around to get them the puck with time to do something with it.

    A couple of top pairing D’men, and a second line center. The Oilers are still wandering in the desert.

    Good thing Kevin knows a lot about winning. I’d hate to see how bad it could’ve gotten without it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Just wanted to comment on your gif there LT.

    I have that same pair (mens of course) of Levi jean short shorts, but they just don’t have the same affect on the opposite sex when i’m wearing them. Thought I could make this work, even with a very subtle muffin top thing I got going on. Could it be my almost athletic thunder thighs I was blessed with? Am I missing sumfin? The clerk told me they looked great….

  • oilerjed

    When is it time to admit that the rebuild needs to be blown up? I think that time is here now, everybody agrees that we need size and grit and there is not much of it on the farm, maybe Nurse in 2-4 years.

    It is time to make trades with the kiddies. Overpay or 2 for 1 or maybe stockpile some draft picks. We are not going to become a competitive team like this.

    Sure glad I don’t pay thousands for season tickets, and quietly sit back and do nothing. Kev, you gave it your best shot, time to move on.

    BOLD moves are needed if we are going to compete in time for the new elephant, errr I mean arena.

  • Oilerz4life

    We just have to be patient guys…. Isn’t that the message we keep getting force fed for how many years now. We don’t need to do strange things like assemble players that can build team chemistry or have a purpose! we dont need quality d-man or goaltending! We got 3 1st overall picks!! It doesn’t matter if they can fit into a team system! Just give it time, any year now this perpetual bottom feeder team is gonna magically turn around and click!! These championships are gonna start rolling in so fast we’re gonna run out of room on the shelf! Does that about sum it up??

  • CMG30

    LT I could not agree with you more on Perron…….on drafting “Coke Machines” , that can play the game of hockey, I could not disagree with you more.

    It’s not as hard to draft these types of players, as you suggest. They are there to be had, but our obsession with the skill/speed option over size/skill option is the real problem.

    Each and every year player like this are drafted by other teams. You can go down the list of every team and find players like this, except for the OIlers. I suggest it’s a matter of will and scouting strategy.

    Your notion of these players being rare is true but IMHO they are there if you are looking for them.

  • CMG30

    I Really have no problems with the Oilers drafting the most skilled guys first because there are no guarantees with the picks and that way you have the best chance to avoid a bust. (At least in the first few rounds, after that it’s kind of irrelevant to me as most of them are a crap shoot anyway) The NHL is littered with teams that drafted for position over quality and a good many of those teams ended up worse for it.

    Having said all that, when you draft for skill you’re not going to have a balanced team and therefore you must be willing to move some of those guys for the pieces that you still need. Sadly, this part of the process takes patients because deals involving those caliber of players are not easy to make happen.

  • Bucknuck

    Watching the game last night, I couldn’t help but think: “The Oil need more Arco and less Gagner.”

    I am a Gagner fan, and I was happy when they resigned him, but I am a bigger Arco fan. The guy is always checking, always skating, and always making plays. I don’t understand why he isn’t being played more.

  • Bucknuck

    Too many pretty boys. Great danglers but that’s it.
    Ebs and Nuge skating around with eggs in their pockets.
    Sammy snowpants gets tossed to the side like a flyweight.
    Buncha perimeter pussys.

  • S cottV

    Whether poor drafting, poor development, and or failure to make the right trades – the Oilers are in trouble because they do not command centre ice on the first two rotations and they cannot push the play up and out from the back end. RNH will not be a bonafide 1C for two more years, Gagner has no presence at 2C and there are no legit 1 and 2D men. The result is lack of possession and too much play on the wrong side of the red line and Corsi stats clearly show this. What good are high end wingers in these circumstances? Strength in the middle and a back end that pushes up and out – will make average wingers and goaltenders look better than they are. Weakness in the middle and back end will make pretty good wingers and goaltenders look awfully average. The Oilers are @ss backwards in the way this whole thing appears to have been mis-orchestrated. MacT needs to relieve his impatience by filling the 2C, 1D and 2D holes and that wont be easy because it does not appear to be in the system in the near term. If can be addressed – the team will be in a position to win consistently, once RNH matures into a legit 1C. Right now he is clearly and rightfully so – in training….

  • “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

    – Arnold Glasow

    Don’t trade a piece of the core for wins now. In the light of the years to come, it will be seen as a fool’s move. Eventually these kids will stop looking around for someone on the team to do what needs to be done, and they will do it themselves.

  • Johnnydapunk

    As much as the 6Rings circus does my head in, I hate the fact that a problem the Oil will always have is that it seems like Edmonton is on the No trade list for a lot of players, which means either, signing players to bigger contracts than other teams have to pay, and having a more of a limited choice of players who would come here on a trade. Seems like so many players have a trade clause in their contract that it can’t be easy to get players we need here. Until the Oil become semi decent and give the impression that there is a chance to make a cup run, they will be stuck with a limited choice or players.

    Doesn’t help that 6Rings has burnt a few bridges in his reign of terror here which can’t make trades or signings any easier.

    Maybe that’s why I’m annoyed but not apocalyptic about the Oil’s sometimes painful play,we can only work with what we can get.