The Edmonton Oilers are improved for 2014-15, but there are miles to go. The roster has the Jacks and Kings for the rest of this decade—Hall, Nuge, Yak, Leon, Darnell—there’s only the matter of maturation for the top end. It’s those darn 6’s and 7’s and 9’s—Craig MacTavish used to find them five at a time a decade ago—that keep this team running in circles.
The Edmonton Oilers need someone like Marty Reasoner. Stat.
THE BACK STORY
Marty Reasoner was drafted in the middle of the first round in 1996, a center with skill and some ability to play a physical game.
Reasoner’s early career in St. Louis was good to very good, and the Oilers picked him up as part of the Doug Weight trade on July 1, 2001. That was a heartbreaking trade for Edmonton fans, Doug Weight is a special name in this city to this day.
Reasoner was impossible to dislike, and after some wobbly bits (he was waived once) became a quality center and mentor to many of Edmonton’s finest young wingers. Marty Reasoner as an Oiler was able to adjust to the skills placed on his line, so there were times when Daniel Cleary, Fernando Pisani, George Laraque, Raffi Torres, Todd Harvey, Patrick Thoresen and others played with Reasoner in the middle. He adapted, adjusted, mentored and the line thrived with the funny guy from Honeoye Falls, New York kept on rolling.
Marty was part of the 2005-06 Stanley team until the trade deadline, when he was sent to Boston for Sergei Samsonov (that trade also saw Edmonton trade the pick that would turn into Milan Lucic). Later that spring, with injuries piling up and Marc Pouliot suffering from mono and Rem Murray signed back into the NHL, the Oilers could have used Marty Reasoner.
WHY DO THEY NEED HIM?
Marty Reasoner’s gift to the Oilers was twofold: he could mentor youth from the center position and he could cover up myriad errors from the kids until they could fly on their own. You may think in reading this it’s an overstatement, but under Craig MacTavish men like Reasoner and Fernando Pisani were vital in making sure things went smoothly.
And partly because of that, the Edmonton Oilers were a dynamite even-strength team during that time.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THEM?
They can be found on the waiver wire, I’d bet tomorrow sees some names being made available who might fit the bill. Trades are the most likely source, a smaller deal for someone who has played in the league for a time and comes with a reasonable two-way reputation.
The New York Islanders have several forwards who might fit, I’d suggest someone like Josh Bailey might be available some time this season. As fans, sometimes we get fixated on the past and what has been accomplished instead of focusing on the future with the past as back story. If we look at Bailey’s season in 2013-14 via the Vollman Sledgehammer:
He shows up in the tough portion of the graph (tough competition, extreme zone starts) and he has a nice blue bubble (represents a positive shot differential). He plays a lot with Frans Nielson—who is a brilliant player capable of pushing the river and dragging his mates along with him—but Bailey is a worthy bet. Edmonton isn’t going to acquire Bailey on the waiver wire or even at a low price, but he’s an example of the player they might want to look for this fall if things don’t develop as hoped for Draisaitl, Arcobello and Acton. I also like Joakim Andersson in Detroit, although he struggled this past season.
Then again, that’s exactly where Marty Reasoner found himself just before he turned his career around under Craig MacTavish.