GDB 49.0: DEBATE IN DALLAS

Four years ago the Taylor vs. Tyler debate was just beginning. For the next six months both sides debated the merits of Hall and Seguin. The Oilers chose Hall and the Bruins happily settled for Seguin. Four years later both have developed into dynamic offensive players and both of them still have room to improve.

The debate isn’t as intense as it was four years ago, likely because both are producing and both fan bases are happy with the player the drafted, or in Boston’s case the players they received when they traded Seguin, but their individual success means the debate will continue and maybe even intensify in the future.

They play different positions, and in their first three years they played for teams at opposite end of the standings spectrum. Hall was saddled with the pressure of being the face of a franchise, while Seguin got his feet wet being surrounded by great players and winning a Stanley Cup.

When Seguin was traded to Dallas this past summer he was thrust into a situation similar to Hall. Both of them will now be looked upon to lead their respective franchises to the playoffs, and in the incredibly competitive western conference that won’t be an easy task.

This year their offensive totals are very close.

Hall has 18 goals and 43 points in 41 games.
Seguin has 21 goals and 41 points in 43 games.

Seguin is playing with Olympian Jamie Benn and Russian man-child Valeri Nichushkin. They’ve become a very dangerous line, and I’m curious to see Lindy Ruff will match the Seguin line against Hall’s line tonight. Ruff would get a better matchup playing Seguin vs. the Arcobello line; however, many coaches know that their best players like the challenge of playing against the other team’s top line. 

I’d argue that the Seguin trio is just as much of a challenge as facing Sidney Crosby’s line, and a bit different due to the size of Benn and Nichushkin.

Hall and Seguin will forever be linked together, and four years later I still think Hall is slightly ahead of Seguin, but only by the slimmest of margins. 

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Gagner
Yakupov-Arcobello-Eberle
Perron-Gordon-Hemsky
Jones-Smyth-Gazdic

Ference-J.Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Belov-N.Schultz

Bryzgalov

No reason to change the forward lines. Keep them together and try to build some chemistry. I understand why coaches changes lines frequently, even the top teams do, but I’d keep the top-three the same for a few more games just to see what happens. 

Corey Potter is back skating, and the only player you might take out for a game is N.Schultz because he’s playing the right side. I wouldn’t do it, but that seems like the only option on the blueline.

QUICK HITS

  • The dilemma facing Craig MacTavish over the next eight months will be deciding how he wants to construct his blueline. Martin Marincin has looked good, albeit in only ten games, and if he keeps playing well do the Oilers plan to have him in their top-six next season along with J.Schultz, Jeff Petry and possibly Darnell Nurse?

    That would be three D-men in their top-six with less than 130 NHL games, and Petry will have less than 240 games under his skates. I don’t see them succeeding with that much inexperience on the blueline. For me, Nurse will need to be incredibly good to last more than nine games. Inserting more youth into the lineup won’t help. If all four of them make it, that means two of them will be paired together. I know Marincin and Petry have played together the past few games, but it is asking a lot of Marincin to be a top-four D-man next year.

    I would bring ensure I have at least three proven, steady veteran D-men at the start of next season, and if the young kids play well enough to keep them, then at least you will have some insurance when they hit a rough patch. I’d err on side of caution and start with more veterans and less youth on the blueline next October.
     

  • I agree with Willis that Petry is a competent NHL D-man, but my issue with him is his consistency at key times of the game. For instance during the 5-on-3 vs. Chicago. Petry has control of the puck, but can’t clear the zone. Keith keeps in it, and seconds later it is in the back of the net. Petry has to get that puck out of the zone. We don’t know if the Hawks could have regrouped, re-entered the zone and scored, but not getting the puck out allowed them to stay set up.

    Petry is a competent D-man on a bad hockey team, but I’m not sold he is a guy you build around. He might be a good complementary player, but I don’t see him as a backbone defender.
     

  • Ales Hemsky will be traded. Why would he re-sign in Edmonton to be the #3 RW. By March 5th, Eberle and Yakupov will still be on the team, so the Oilers won’t be able to guarantee him a spot in their top-six at that time. They could roll the dice and keep him with the hope they move one of the other two, because their value is higher, before free agency starts and convince Hemsky to stay, but I doubt that happens. So rather than lose him for nothing, he will be dealt before the deadline.

    There is a large contingent of fans and media who don’t like Hemsky, but you can’t overlook his skill. How many forwards can walk around Duncan Keith and score like he did on Sunday? Of course you’d like to see that more often, but that play is why opposing GMs will still be intrigued by Hemsky. Hemsky has basically been playing in a 3rd line role this year, but he has the skill to be a top-six forward. He is still fearless on the ice, and I suspect he will have success in a new situation.

    The question is what kind of return will Hemsky fetch? Teams have always overpaid for players at the deadline. An aging Robyn Regehr got Buffalo two 2nd rounders last year. The Sabres also received a first rounder for Paul Gaustad a few years ago. Every GM is willing to pay something different. MacTavish must be hoping Hemsky plays well at the Olympics, because a good showing there will increase his value significantly. 

TONIGHT…..

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall and Seguin each finish with two points, but the Oilers lose a close game 5-4.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Martin Marincin has another strong game giving hope to beleaguered Oiler fans that in the future the blueline will eventually improve.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Many of the Nation readers will send emails to Kate Beckinsale’s fanmail account after noticing she isn’t wearing a ring in the above photo. Good luck fellas, if any of you get a response let me know, we will post it on the Nation. After the Oilers loss, many will numb the pain by watching Underworld.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)

    Stauffer was mentioning during the game that the Oilers have progressed at 5 on 5 but it’s been hard to notice because the Oilers schedule has been so difficult recently. Please. If your progress is only noticeable against other bad teams then you haven’t made progress. This team is still just as badly outchanced against playoff teams as they were when the rebuild started.

    Amazing how you can see progress when you’re paid to see it.

  • vetinari

    Alright, here’s the game plan…

    1. Gagner, you’re done for the night– hit the showers. You scored your goal and you are -1 for the night. If we play you anymore, you’ll lose trade value when you finish the night at -3.

    2. Defence, apparently you learned all there is to know about the game from NHL94. Sadly, so did Dallas and they can get past you using the same “left-right-left-right-one-timer” move that would result in your brother throwing the game controller across the living room when you ran up the score.

    3. Forwards. Back check like you’re trying to get out of the tab at last call.

    4. Bryzer. Pretend like the first period didn’t happen. And, oh yeah, stop talking to Dubnyk during TV time outs and taking pointers from him. He was once scored on during the ceremonial faceoff.

    5. Eakins. Take that “pout and grimace” and go brush up on line combinations, line matching and tactics and come back when you have something new to offer. Here’s a copy of NHL94 to get you started. You actually appear as a player in it. With Florida. Lost a lot that year with them. Remember? Good times. Must bring back the memories for you…

  • Oilers4Ever

    Hey.. set a new record tonite for the shortest Oiler game I have ever watched, 14 seconds and hit the remote about the same time I saw that look of awe on Eakins face. Usually this year it had been taking me about a period or so to throw in the towel but the pattern was obvious real early, not a damn clue what any of them on the ice are doing , this gets more and more pathetic.

    • emonkee

      Don’t worry Yaz, I check my app, saw the score 3-1 and didn’t even bother checking till now.

      Honestly, I think the culture of the team has got to change. I mentioned yesterday wondering why are the oilers are still talking about that own goal scored by the hawks? They lost the game, there is nothing to laugh/talk about anymore…

      You can only blame the coach so much. I am sure a lot of people are upset with Eakins, but c’mon, the oilers on most nights don’t play a complete 60.

      The best game I watched this year has got to be the Penguins game last week. Not because they won, but because they are willing to fight back at all cost, down 2-0, tie it up, down 3-2, tie it up.

      I didn’t watch tonight’s game, so not sure if they try hard enough. But this season, more than the previous 20 something season, has made it real tough to follow them.

  • Zarny

    IMO there is no debate.

    Hall has 93 pts in his last 86 games; Seguin has 73 pts in his last 91 games.

    Throw in the fact Bos had to put a bodyguard outside Seguin’s room to prevent him from skipping out to party on game nights in the playoffs and I don’t see him being the centerpiece of any Cup contender. The Oilers made the right choice.

    I don’t see Petry as a top pairing D either but I think he can be a 3-4 guy.

  • Zarny

    My perspective is I have been involved in hockey for over 50 years. I grew up in professional hockey dressing rooms as my father played professionally. I played up to the junior level and have had extensive minor league coaching experience.

    I have a number of observations. First, I think Coach Eakins has lost the room. This is a much better team than they are currently playing–even the defense .and goaltending.You cannot tell me from a talent level Calgary shoulld be ahead of them in the standings. Teams like Colorado,, Tampa Bay,Dallas, Carolina,Montreal are arguably no better or not much better on paper But there are getting much better coaching. I find Eakins very flat behind the bench. I think this team needs a more animated coach to instill more fire. Also there seems to be very little communication or collaboration on the bench with the other coaches which I find unusual. Maybe they have split into factions or are just pissed off at each other. One could predict this dysfuntionality when you come here with 2 holdover asst. coaches who are close friends of management and the one coach you get to pick you have his son on the team and you are put in the awkward position of having to cut him. I think dallas would have had a lot more credibility with his players if he had brought hiis own coaching staff and not a coach who immediately has a perception problem because his son is playing on the team. Also we have had more than our bad calls this year with the refs. I think a head coach should be working the refs rather just appearing to be oblivious most of the time. If you watch seasoned coaches like Hitch or particularly Torts they work the refs when they get a bad call and this seems invariably to having an impact in getting calls evened up later. Also these coaches have much better body language when there teams get scored on which i think this is important as players feed off their head coaches when adversity strikes. One final issue I lwould like to raisedI would like to raise is why is OKC using different defensive systems than the parent team. Rocky Thompson was recently interviewed on radio and said they were using systems they had been using for the past 3 years in the A.H L and it sounded like they had rejected using Eakins’s systems. I do not think this is very good when you have so many players going back and forth.
    I think then Eakins has to go along with his entire coaching staff. This is going to get worse before it gets better.I would suggest bring Todd Nelson and his staff ( like Maurice in Winnipeg) for the rest of the year to see what they can do. They deserve a chance. If it doesn’t work you can find a more experienced coach in the fall. This time interview a number of candidates and get a headhunter to help .you. One final comment–Lowe has to go- more on that later. I will provide my own top 10 list.

      • Word to the Bird

        A good example of this is Garbutt on Dallas, here is a 15 point guy that has scored 2 goals and a couple assists against the oilers the last 2 games, gace Bryz a concussion and is allowed to roam the ice at will. This my friends is what ails the Oilers, size!

  • Zamboni Driver

    So I get that they’re trying to trade him.

    But really I wonder what, exactly, Gagner has to do to get benched.

    AGAIN he stands and watches as someone pops it in the net. Gotta be the 10th time this year.

    Spec had the ‘revelation’ that the Oilers might be overvaluing Hemsky and Gagner.

    Gee.

    Ya think?

    Gagner is 7 years in the NHL. On top of being of marginal skill, clearly the guy is a complete idiot.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    On a completely unrelated point.

    6′ 2″ 207 lbs.

    That is the average height and weight of Team Canada. Goalies, forwards and defensemen all included. Only two guys below 6 ft, both 5′ 11″ and one of them is Crosby.

    Big and skilled beats small and skilled. That is all. We now return you to you’re regularly scheduled programming

  • A-Mc

    In a article elsewhere today Eakins was quoted as saying he sometimes forgot Hemsky was on the bench and apologized for his missed icetime. Another scathing indictment of Eakins ineptitude. Hemsky probably cant get out fast enough.

  • Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)

    President of Hockey Operations?? You could hire anybody, I mean literally anybody in the world for that position and this team couldn’t be worst than it is and has been. Seriously, pick some random African tribesman that’s never left his jungle tribe, make him POHO and this team would probably be better!! How on earth is KLowe still bloody getting paid by this team???

  • Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)

    Another defensive gem by Gagner, I am betting he is either a buyout at years end, trade and eating 1/2 his salary or trading for an even worse contract.

  • vetinari

    Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!

    4-1 Stars? Really? Really? They are barely above you in the standings and you can’t keep up with the Stars?

    How many coaches in the NHL can you name that you think Dallas Eakins is better than?

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    Petry is a competent D-man on a bad hockey team, but I’m not sold he is a guy you build around. He might be a good complementary player, but I don’t see him as a backbone defender.

    I don’t actually think we’re all that far off here, Jason. I don’t see Petry as a top-pairing guy; I see him as a useful second-pair right side option. The way guys like Belov and Marincin have fared with Petry as their second-pair partner makes me think that if he’s the number four guy on the blue line you probably have a pretty decent blue line.

    Mostly though, the Oilers’ defence is a wreck and so I think Edmonton’s in a position where they have to make the most of the useful defencemen they have – Petry, Ference and Justin Schultz.

    • Jason Gregor

      Yes their D is a mess, but my major concern with Petry is his inability to get good position in front of the net. He refuses to, or can’t, lift guys sticks. Happened again tonight on 3rd goal. Better players will make team better, but winning battles is on the individual regardless of how good rest of team is. I’m not saying trade him, but when this team becomes good I don’t see him as a key piece.

      I don’t see anything that Petry is doing that makes Marincin better. Marincin has a better stick, has made smart reads and for a guys with only 11 NHL games under his belt is playing with more confidence.

      I’m not a big believer in WOWY. It suggests that Petry influences Marincin, but doesn’t’ include the 3 forwards who are the ice. I think it gives to much credit/onus on one player. That is just me though.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      I said this in the other thread.

      You need to look deeper into Belov’s WOWY numbers.

      http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=1802&withagainst=true&season=2013-14&sit=5v5

      Not only is Belov’s number better with Petry, but so is Petry’s number with Belov. And both are worse apart.

      Also, everyone (minus Larsen) plays better with Belov.

      He looks to me like a competent 5-6 guy on a playoff team. The Oil should re-sign him.

  • Bryzarro World

    I would like to see MacT aggressively pursue guys such as Ehrhoff, Shattenkirk, Byfuglien this summer. Guys who are at least serviceable in a 1-2 position. Realistically if someone like that can be picked up, plus and additional 3-4 guy. Plus a mix of Ference, Petry, Schulz, maybe Nurse or Marincin. That is a solid mix of vet talent to support developing defensemen.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      i’d be surprised if the Blues offer up Shattenkirk! then again if they could get Eberle out of the deal, i could see them doing it. they’d have Ebs but still have Pietrangelo and JayBo on the back end.

      • vetinari

        I feel Eberle for Shattenkirk straight across is an overpayment on our end. It would be nice to acquire someone like Morrow or obviously Stewart as well but then high prospects or picks would have to be attached from our side as well.

  • Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)

    Ok so, 1 or 2 more years of Lowe?? Then we’ll need to give his replacement probably 4 years to clean up this mess, so we’re looking at 6-7 years. Lord help us