Random refreshed thoughts…


Fresh off a two-week holiday, with the dog days of August behind us and rookie camps and main camps just around the corner, I feel energized and excited as we enter one of the best stretches in the sporting calendar.

For sports fans, September and October are two of the best months of the year.

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The NFL and NBA get started. MLB playoff races are heating up, the CFL enters Labour Day weekend, when the season really gets going, and NHL training camps are almost here.

When I’m on holidays, I try to stay away from sports, but I’m never completely successful. Here are some thoughts on recent events and my views on some things that will happen.

  • I don’t understand why people feel the Oilers need to pay Justin Schultz over $3 million on a bridge contract? When P.K Subban signed his bridge deal in 2012, the salary cap was $70 million and his cap hit was $2.85 million for two years. Why should the Oilers pay Schultz more than that on a bridge deal? That is bad business.

    The NHL is a business, and in business you don’t take things personally. Schultz doesn’t deserve more than Subban on a bridge, and this is the only time the Oilers hold the hammer in negotiations. It isn’t personal if they use that advantage, it is good business. If Schultz wants a short-term deal, I wouldn’t pay him more than $2.5 million. I don’t see any comparable that suggests he should get more.

  • The Flames, Oilers and Leafs have hired analytics people in the past month. That is great, but it won’t suddenly make them a more competitive team. The top teams are already using analytics and having success. My question is why did it take these three franchises this long to hire these people? To me, it is another sign that they are behind the times, not ahead of them as some people have written. It has been well documented that the Hawks and Kings have used analytics for years. It is good to see the Oilers, pushed hard by Eakins, taking a more serious interest, but I see it more as playing catch up than leading the charge.
  • I like Todd McLellan’s decision to enter training camp with no captains or assistants. The Sharks had a monumental collapse in the spring. They’ve consistently underachieved in the postseason, so why not send a strong message that things need to improve? If it fires up Joe Thornton, great, but none of the players deserve to be in a comfortable situation after last spring’s meltdown.
  • Many players have had the “C” taken away from them, and still were very productive. Joe Sakic, Brett Hull, Patrick Marleau, Patrik Elias, Eric Lindros, Theo Fleury and others have lost their captaincy. It might be a bit awkward for a few days, but a player’s effort and focus shouldn’t change whether he has a letter on his jersey.
  • I’m a huge fan of offence, and the Oilers’ offence needs to improve for them to be competitive, but their goals against must vastly improve as well. The Oilers were -66 in goals for/goals against last year (I didn’t include empty net goals). Only Buffalo was worse. It seems much of the focus is how will Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov and Draisaitl perform, which is understandable, but the biggest improvement has to come from the blueline and the team’s overall defensive zone coverage.

    The defenders have to be better in their own zone. Mark Fayne and Nikiti Nikitin should be better than Belov, Larssen, Fraser and N.Schultz, but they HAVE to be for this team to improve. If the Oilers can’t defend better or break up the opposition’s cycle it will be another long season.

  • The development of all young players is important, but how the Oilers nurture and develop Bogdan Yakimov, Jujhar Khaira and Travis Ewanyk this year will be the most interesting for me. Yakimov and Khaira are big, strong, skilled centres that the NHL team desperately needs in the future, while Ewanyk could be a solid, gritty, defensive 4th line centre in the future. I believe Todd Nelson’s most important projects this season will be developing his young centres.
  • Louis Debrusk won’t return as colourman on Sportsnet Oilers games this year. I’m hearing former Sharks and NNIC analyst Drew Remenda is front runner to replace Debrusk. I’m not a fan of firing guys this close to start of a season, whether it is a coach or broadcaster. It limits their opportunity to find work. I won’t be surprised if we see Debrusk get some time on a panel this year. He was outstanding at breaking down games on my show when he did Coyotes broadcasts.
  • I see Taylor Hall scoring 90 points this season.
  • The most productive new Oiler will be Teddy Purcell, but Fayne will have the biggest impact.
  • If Greg Chase has a solid first two months in the WHL, he should make the WJC team. He has skill and plays with an edge, something Canada has lacked the past few tournaments.
  • I was surprised the Oilers didn’t sign UFA college goalie Martin Ouellette. He signed an AHL deal with the Phantoms. The Oilers don’t have a lot of goaltending depth in the system.
  • Can’t wait for the NFL season to start. As much as I want the Dolphins to make the playoffs, I don’t see it happening. I see them going 9-7 and missing playoffs by a game. Wash, rinse, repeat. Ugh.
  • Here’s hoping Julius Thomas is a fantasy stud. I have him and Peyton Manning, but my runningbacks are average, so those two need to be great. Fantasy football makes the NFL much more exciting for me.
  • I’d have to look it up, but does any team play well, but then tank late in the year more than the Blue Jays? Maybe it just seems that way, but the Jays are falling out of the race again. It’s too bad.
  • I’m curious who Oilers fans think will play more games for the Oilers this year: Ben Scrivens or Viktor Fasth? Who and why? I say Scrivens because Fasth battles with minor injuries.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

    • Now we’ll wait and see if Gregor responds to actually give you props for this one!

      note – it would be hard to say what this “analytics” team has accomplished, given the results since 2011.

    • Jason Gregor

      How much did they work directly with the Oilers? They weren’t working hand-in-hand like the new hire will be. And other teams had their own advanced stats at the same time, so I wouldn’t put them ahead of the curve. If Oilers used the adv. stats group and had this bad of results, then fans should be very concerned, no?

      • Jason Gregor


        I may have missed it, but what do we really know about what dellow will be doing in the organization? I read he will be reporting to Eakins, so will he even be involved in the discussion at the trades/signing level with MacT?

        But also, MacT said that the Perron accquisition was pushed by the analytics, so that group did have a decent amount of contribution, I wouldn’t write them off.

        • Jason Gregor

          I never wrote them off, I’m saying if they have been involved heavily and the Oilers have been this bad, I’d be concerned.

          Eakins wants to learn more about it and will go more indepth with Dellow. It is good, but the Oilers have many more issues than just a lack of using analytics.

          • Serious Gord

            Jason: your peer bob stauffer maintains that tambellini was very skeptical of stat analysis so even if they had some advance stat resources and/or analysis the GM wasn’t interested in using them.

            MacT has only been around for about a year and a half and nothing he has done leads me to believe he’s putting a priority on advanced stats save perhaps for some very recent acquisitions (fayne?).

            Regardless stats in and of themselves do nothing. It is entirely dependent upon the analyst and then the decision makers.

            Dellow, while reputed to be an excellent – even groundbreaking – analyst is a complete novice at making roster decisions and maybe even more concerning playing well with others in the scouting/analysis sandbox.

            MacT is barely above novice level in being a GM. And thusfar has proven to be very middling to below average at it.

            It could work out. Or it could be an epic disaster. Yet one more area of uncertainty.

  • I stopped reading at DeBrusk won’t be back. Damn. I really liked him. I got the chance to meet him and Quinn for a Sportsnet contest someone else had won (and taken me along for). Hell of a nice guy (as was Quinn) so I hope he bounces back soon. I wasn’t a fan of losing Ferraro back in the day either. Who’s going to break down those fight replays now? I am assuming not everyone liked DeBrusk. Maybe too homer, but I liked his color commentary.

  • Sorensenator

    Good random thoughts. I’m going to take the dark horse pick and say Fasth. Scrivens will either need a rest or get a bit injured, and Fasth will blow the roof off expectations and play the way he did for Anaheim a few years ago, thus securing himself as the number one for the majority (by a slim margin) of the season.

    As such, the Oilers will watch him sign a huge UFA contract in Philly in next year’s off season, where he will immediately get injured and be a drain on the Flyers, as are all their goal tenders.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    Remenda sucks! and the Oilers don’t need Ouelette because they have Nagelvoort. keeping fingers crossed for big guys to make this team in the near future like Yakimov, Chase, Moroz, Khaira and John McCarron.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Have to think Scrivens will play more games, with that being said I could see stretches where he doesn’t play for 4 or 5 games simply because Eakins will probably try ride the hot hand and Fasth can get hot.

  • Guy Lafleur

    First off Thornton would have to agree to come to the OIL and hes a California beach bum now so that aint happening so get that dream out of your head . Jultz should take whatever the OIL offer he aint as good as the hype machine that followed him outta college , trade him and Petry for a solid centre , lots of defensive prospects now i dont see why Nurse cant step right in and learn on the job .

    • Stack Pad Save

      I would like to JSchultz through another contract to see if he can develop some more on his defensive game to become a solid NHL d-man. Than if he turns out to be the second coming of Wideman or Green trade him.

      I would also like to see how well he plays with a confident and good defensive partner like Fayne.

    • Sorensenator

      Agree 100% that Joe is not coming here…not a chance in hell. But the idea to trade Schultz and Petry is crazy. Our defense is improved but not even close to a point where we can give up two of them. This year Petry doesn’t have to play way over his head and he may actually have a good year.

  • BlazingSaitls

    1)Jultz – agree with you 100%

    2)Advanced stats gurus – hey man, better late than never.

    3)Sharks/Jumbo – I just dont care and I never want to see Jumbo in an Oiler jersey at the cost of picks or prospects.

    4)Captaincy – is overrated

    5)defensive zone coverage – This has to be improved dramatically with the move MacT made. If not we Oilers fans are in for a world of hurt.

    6) OKC development – Yakimov and Khaira will draw much of my focus this year. Im very excited to see how Nelson can develop these behemoths.

    7)Debrusk – Im a BC Oiler fan. Listed to 630 ched for all my Oilers and follow awesome blogs and fansites such as Oilersnation. Dont care. sry Louis.

    8)Hall – atta boy. aim high. 90 pts? sure why not.

    9)Fayne/Purcell – I personally feel Benoit will be both most productive and most impactful new Oiler.

    10), 11), 12), 13), 14)- dont care

    15) Fasth/Scrivens. I think Ben will get the majority of the workload and truly establish himself as a number 1 goalie in the NHL. Fasth will be a reliable back-up.

    • Stack Pad Save

      I disagree about Joe, as something involving Perron and picks would mean the Oilers go from play off miss, to possible western contender. The guy made Cheechoo a 50 goal scorer. He could do it for Pouliot and Yak or Purcell no problem.

      Now you have a situation where you need one more 3rd line LW, preferably a vet in case Draisatil will centre that line. Conveniently, Penner is still unsigned, and would likely complimant Draisaitl’s slower paced possession game.

      Do you really not see this as an upgrade:

      Hall Nuge Ebs

      Poulliot Thorton Yak

      Penner Draisaitl Purcell

      Hendricks Gordon Pitlick/Arco/Lander


      That is a tremendous looking team. I also think you could get the picks back when Petry is traded at the deadline. Meaning you swapped Perron for Thorton.

      I am also very excited to be keeping a close eye on farm development. Not only do they have some interesting d prospects still marinating, but now it will be wonderful to see which of the two big centres wants to be the Oilers’ 3rd line guy next year.

      It will be exciting to have Draisaitl with a year of NHL under his belt, and then have either Yakimov or Kharia arrive at the same time as Nurse.

      • BlazingSaitls

        I wont comment on Perron anymore. I went overboard and made like 5 posts on that topic a couple articles ago. At risk of beatin a dead horse I ll leave it be.

        This is the first year Im stoked to follow Oilers farm team :)Go Barons Go!

        I agree about Draisaitl and the prospects. It will be very exciting if one of those two can make the jump next yr.

        • Jason Gregor

          Okay, I did not read those comments but I am guessing they are something to the effect of it would be stupid to trade away such a good player who fills a specific team need?

          If you’re looking to beat a dead horse, you’ve come to the right place.

          If that was the effect of your comments, I partially agree with you. However, Perron is on a high value contract right now, so they will either need to sign him to a big extension, trade him before then, trade him at the deadline in two years, or lose him for nothing.

          As such, I think the team would be better served with Joe Thorton. Worse case scenario there is he becomes out third line C as he gets a bit older, but continues to help mentor our youth at the position. Whereas Perron gives the team options on the wings. I love the way Perron plays, and would hate to lose him, but if this was the hypothetical return, then where can I buy stamps?

    • ubermiguel

      1) -Agree as well, some people are taking the contract negotiations to a ridiculous level. Can’t understand there is a business side which cannot be taken personally.

      7) – DeBrusk has been a waste of time since he joined the Oil telecasts. His “insiteful” commentary pointing out why a play was offside might have some use in Arizona but is just a waste of time in this market. I don’t have much of an opinion on Remenda, but the bar is set quite low.

      14) I don’t think the Jays have folded down the stretch so much as they haven’t been that close going into the last 6 weeks. This year for example, since their crazy hot streak in May when they were propelled to top spot, they have been steadily slipping. I don’t think the slip rate has been much different over each 4 week period post hot streak.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Jumbo Joe for Perron and picks, and we get the picks back at the deadline??
    Did I read that right? Doug Wilson didn’t construct this team while high on glue, so he probably isn’t about to start.

    I don’t see Taylor Hall netting 90 points. There isn’t enough intelligent puck moving defenseman on this team to allow the young guns up front to get the puck with speed. They aren’t built to dump and chase. That and the fact that our defensive corps is still weak by NHL standards, means a lot of puck chasing in the D zone. Can’t see it. I hope RNH has a huge year. I hope Yakcity bounces back, but I just see a kid that never was able to get to the next level. Great in junior on a strong team, but fizzled so far in the show. Reminds me of Pavol Brendl from the Hitman unfortunately…..hope I’m wrong.

    Still need a stud Dman and #1 or 2 centre. (Don’t feel the Nuge matches up against Kopitar/Thorton/Getzlaf/Landeskog/Kesler, etc) Two huge holes.

    I feel management has tricked themselves into thinking Fayne and Nikitin are going to turn around the blueline, like they did last year with Ference and Belov/Grebeshkov. They will get exposed on a weaker team.
    Could be another long year…..again.

    • ubermiguel

      If you were the GM of San Jose, would it not appear that your window was starting to close a little bit? The future of that team is going to rest on Pavelski, Couture, and Hertl down the middle. That’s pretty good. Losing Joe for an excellent winger in the prime of his career, and a potential high draft pick in a deep draft, could essentially mean you avoid doing what Calgary did with Iginla, selling a horse past its prime.

      Or, you could try and ride Joe out and watch as other Western teams get better through developing young talent, and you are stuck with a very good, but no longer great hockey club.

      I would trade Joe for Perron and Edmonton’s 2015 1st in a heart beat. Heck even their 2nd and 3rd. Then assuming Petry has a great season not playing top line minutes, I could see him being very valuable at the deadline for a team wanting to make a run and bolster defence.

      • Cowbell_Feva

        The window is starting to close….sure.
        But that doesn’t mean you trade the face of your franchise after signing him long term.

        I’m sure he has at least a limited no trade anyways. I agree Calgary waited too long on Iggy, but those Calgary teams were nowhere near to being what San Jose is at this point. San Jose is a legitimate contender. They did have the Stanley Cup champs down 3-0. (If not for a disgusting Justin Williams goal allowed after plowing in Stalock it may have been a different series).

        Going from Jumbo/Pavelski/Couture to Pavelski/Couture/Hertl is a pretty big dip when competing against the Western Conference. Jumbo has plenty of game left. He was never there for his speed. He is probably the best passer in the world. Crosby isn’t bad either though.

        Outside of Colorado and Edmonton, there isn’t a tonne of developing young talented teams in the West. Most are either established and trying to win now, or non-threating teams. San Jose is a threat, regardless of past collapses come post season.

  • Jultz has his holes as a player, but there’s no denying he is a valuable player to this Oilers team……i just hope he doesn’t get too greedy…….Comrie 2.0 would be a disaster…..

    • ubermiguel

      I think even KLowe is smart enough to have learned from the Comrie fiasco. And Comrie even came back to play for a little bit so I assume Lowe made an apology at some point. But it’s MacT making the calls this time anyways; he’s alway’s been a cooler head than Lowe going back to their playing days.

  • Tikkanese

    How is Quinn coming back but not Debrusk? Debrusk is no Ferraro but has been a lot better than pretty much every other color man the Oilers’ have had in the past.

    Quinn has always been terrible and boring. Let alone screws up calls all the time on things like Natural Hat-Tricks.

  • vetinari

    I’m not sure either goalie even knows where they should be with a swarm defense. I think the amount each goalie is going to play is strongly dependant on the type of D zone coverage the oilers employ this year. If the skaters are as confused as they were last year, I expect the goaltending numbers will suffer again.

  • Guy Lafleur

    Schultz will sign, I like that MacT is taking his time, that is also good business practise. Maybe they hold off until camp starts… I think the Oilers will give him the bridge but that they would still be open to a longer deal. If they could get him for say 7 years at 5 per season, then why not? perhaps he loses a degree of motivation… But he has talent and they like him so I think the longer deal is still possible…

  • Stack Pad Save

    I think Scrivens plays more as well. I think his drive to do well in Edmonton is so huge that he will put all his efforts into owning that net.

    I would love to see one more move from MacT to force Draistle to have to fight for a spot on the team and not just get handed one. The more competition at center from within the organization the better these guys are actually going to be when they earn a spot. I can’t wait for the days of handing draft picks spots on the Big team are done.

  • vetinari

    Schultz will sign but I can’t see it for less than a number that starts with a “3”… others may disagree but I sense that his camp thinks he should make that kind of money, even on a bridge deal.

    As for the goaltenders, unless major injuries strike, I’m guessing a 60/40 split in favour of Scrivens.

  • BlazingSaitls

    I don;t understand why they rejected my Fantasy Football picks: Taylor Swift, Katherine Heigl, Amy Adams, Luisana Lopilato and Anna Rawson.

    It is FANTASY Football, no?

    Might not win with them but I’d have FUN!

  • Dan 1919

    When I was bored this morning I queued the circus music and came up with a ridiculous trade proposal to get a number 1Dman. Then sadly realized with the gaping whole in C a 1D would likely still not be enough to get these guys in the playoffs.

    Just because this is the internet, let’s say they decided this was going to be a year where they commit to winning, they trade Schultz and this year’s or next year’s first round pick for Duncan Keith. Oiler’s get immediately better with a 31year old star, and CHI stays competitive while taking a big step in securing future development.

    But like I say, unless Draisaitl miraculously becomes the second coming of Crosby, that would still not be enough to get them in the playoffs. I really hope the plan is to wait for camp rosters to form, then make a trade for a C.

    What could possibly be another scenario, are there enough C’s in this years draft that they are 100% confident they can end up with one if they tank?

    Once Gordon retires they will be down to Nuge and Draisaitl (assuming the Draisaitl develops)anyway. Surely they aren’t putting all their eggs in the PROSPECT basket hoping Yakimov or Kharia will pan out. I hope they pan out as much as the next guy but we all know how risky relying on a couple of kids that have never played an NHL game in their life can be.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    We certainly seem to have more attitude/ character/moxie going into season this year , and that should carry us to higher levels of competitiveness . Even our youth seems more positive , and that should lead to a fast gelling of club . Unfortunately MacT. has failed to deliver on a top defender and center . Our team could have really taken off if MacT. had delivered on his two top priorities going into season . All could rapidly fall apart if he continues to not deliver on those two necessity requirements for a playoff hunt .

  • BC BOY

    Peter Budaj should be traded later this fall IF Tokarski shows promises.
    Oilers should trade for Budaj and I believe that a 3rd rounder in 2015 would suffice.

  • Burnward

    I do. As much as I appreciate the good job MacT has done as a GM, he definitely does not deserve to be in his position either. There should be consequences for peoples’ actions. What do you think the family of his victim thinks when they see him living this posh lifestyle after what he has done?