A RECIPE FOR LOSING…

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I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings and the the prequels, The Hobbit. Over the years Sam Gagner has earned the moniker “Samwise” here in the Nation, a reference to Samwise Gamgee, one of the hobbits and loyal sidekick to Frodo Baggins.

I’ve long mentioned that one of the Oilers biggest concerns is their lack of size within their skilled players. The young Oilers have skill, but compared to the rest of the western conference the Oilers look like Dwarfs.

Until they rectify this issue, I don’t see this team improving.

I’ve noticed a lot of people suggest that I put too much stock into the Oilers lack of size. Trust me, lack of size isn’t the only issue on this team, and I can’t address all of them in one article, but when you take a moment to compare the Oilers top-nine forwards to the top-nine of playoff teams they don’t come close to matching up. It is a major concern.

I don’t think people realize just how much smaller and lighter the Oilers are compared to the rest of the west. When you combine their lack of size with their lack of experience you get five consecutive seasons of finishing 30th, 30th, 29th, 24th and 28th.

Craig MacTavish has to recognize this, and until he addresses it, I don’t see this team competing for a playoff spot.

I’ve heard just get better players, and of course that will help, but these are considered the Oilers best nine forwards. They have NHL skill, but collectively this group lacks the size to compete against the other teams top lines.

I have outlined the top-nine of forwards of this year’s western conference playoff teams (based on TOI). In the case of San Jose I didn’t include Brent Burns because Burns will be playing defence next season.

LOS ANGELES
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Anze Kopitar “A”  6′ 3″ 224 26
Jeff Carter   6′ 4″ 212 29
Marian Gaborik   6′ 1″ 204 32
Jarret Stoll   6′ 1″ 213 31
Justin Williams   6′ 1″ 189 32
Mike Richards   5′ 11″ 196 29
Dustin Brown “C”  6′ 0″ 207 29
Dwight King   6′ 4″ 230 24
Tyler Toffoli   6′ 1″ 196 22
Average 6′ 1/2″ 207.8 28.2
ANAHEIM
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Ryan Getzlaf “C”  6′ 4″ 221 29
Corey Perry   6′ 3″ 212 29
Nick Bonino   6′ 1″ 196 26
Jakob Silfverberg   6′ 1″ 200 23
Andrew Cogliano   5′ 10″ 181 26
Devante Smith-Pelly   6′ 0″ 222 21
Matt Beleskey   6′ 0″ 200 25
Patrick Maroon   6′ 3″ 230 26
Daniel Winnik   6′ 2″ 207 29
Average 6’1.3″ 207.6 26
SAN JOSE
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Joe Pavelski   5′ 11″ 190 29
Joe Thornton “C”  6′ 4″ 220 34
Patrick Marleau “A”  6′ 2″ 220 34
Logan Couture   6′ 1″ 200 25
Tommy Wingels   6′ 0″ 200 26
Matt Nieto   5′ 11″ 190 21
Tomas Hertl   6′ 2″ 210 20
James Sheppard   6′ 1″ 215 26
Raffi Torres   6′ 0″ 215 32
Average 6′ 1″ 206.6 27.4
ST.LOUIS
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Alexander Steen “A”  5′ 11″ 212 30
T.J. Oshie “A”  5′ 11″ 189 27
David Backes “C”  6′ 3″ 221 30
Jaden Schwartz   5′ 10″ 190 21
Vladimir Sobotka   5′ 10″ 197 26
Vladimir Tarasenko   6′ 0″ 219 22
Steve Ott   6′ 0″ 189 31
Patrik Berglund   6′ 3″ 217 25
Maxim Lapierre   6′ 2″ 215 29
Average  6′ 0″ 205.4 26.7
CHICAGO 
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Jonathan Toews “C”  6′ 2″ 208 26
Patrick Kane   5′ 11″ 181 25
Marian Hossa   6′ 1″ 210 35
Patrick Sharp “A”  6′ 1″ 199 32
Brandon Saad   6′ 1″ 202 21
Marcus Kruger   6′ 0″ 181 23
Bryan Bickell   6′ 4″ 233 28
Ben Smith   5′ 11″ 207 25
Michal Handzus   6′ 5″ 215 37
Average  6′ 1″ 204 28
MINNESOTA
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Mikko Koivu “C”  6′ 3″ 222 31
Zach Parise “A”  5′ 11″ 197 29
Jason Pominville   6′ 0″ 185 31
Mikael Granlund   5′ 10″ 186 22
Matt Cooke   5′ 11″ 208 35
Charlie Coyle   6′ 3″ 221 22
Nino Niederreiter   6′ 2″ 209 21
Erik Haula   5′ 11″ 192 23
Kyle Brodziak   6′ 2″ 208 29
Average  6′ 1/2″ 203.1 27
DALLAS
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Jamie Benn “C”  6′ 2″ 210 24
Tyler Seguin   6′ 1″ 195 22
Cody Eakin   6′ 0″ 190 22
Alex Chiasson   6′ 4″ 205 23
Colton Sceviour   6′ 0″ 200 25
Vernon Fiddler   5′ 11″ 205 34
Shawn Horcoff “A”  6′ 1″ 210 35
Valeri Nichushkin   6′ 4″ 205 19
Antoine Roussel   6′ 0″ 200 24
Average 6′ 1″ 202.2 25.3
COLORADO
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Ryan O’Reilly   6′ 0″ 200 23
Paul Stastny “A”  6′ 0″ 205 28
Gabriel Landeskog “C”  6′ 1″ 204 21
Nathan MacKinnon   6′ 0″ 182 18
Matt Duchene   5′ 11″ 200 23
PA Parenteau   6′ 0″ 193 31
Jamie McGinn   6′ 1″ 210 25
Marc-Andre Cliche   6′ 0″ 202 27
Maxime Talbot   5′ 11″ 190 30
Average 6′ 0″ 198.5 25.1
Edmonton
Name  Height  Weight  Age 
Taylor Hall   6′ 1″ 201 22
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins   6′ 1″ 180 21
Jordan Eberle   5′ 11″ 180 24
David Perron   6′ 0″ 198 25
Sam Gagner   5′ 11″ 202 24
Nail Yakupov   5′ 11″ 186 20
Boyd Gordon   6′ 0″ 202 30
Matt Hendricks   6′ 0″ 211 32
Mark Arcobello   5′ 8″ 166 25
Average  5′ 11″ 191.7 24.7

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

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  • You will notice the Oilers are the shortest, lightest and youngest team. They average 7 pounds less than the Colorado Avalanche. Due to their youth, I think it is safe to say that in three years this group of forwards will collectively be heavier. Hall, RNH, Yakupov and Eberle will all put on more muscle as they mature, but outside of Hall, I doubt any of them become 200+ pounds.
  • I’ve read many suggest the Oilers can be like the Avalanche. A young, skilled, fast team. In theory that makes sense, but which Oilers will be the solid two-way, skilled forwards like O’Reilly, Stastny and Landeskog? (I believe Stastny re-signs in Colorado)
  • I’ve read many suggest that Chicago isn’t that big. You will notice the Hawks average 204 pounds in their top-nine. They are only a few pounds lighter than the Kings, Ducks and Sharks. The other factor very few people talk about is that the Hawks top-nine forwards are the 2nd oldest in the west. They average 28 years of age, only the Kings are older at 28.2 years of age. Along with their great skill, the Hawks have good size and a lot of experience.
  • The Oilers top-nine as it sits today will give up an average of 10 pounds/player against every team except Colorado. Combine that lack of size, with a lack of physical players and experience and it is a losing combination.
  • This is not new, however, it seems the organization and some fans believe it isn’t an issue. News flash: it is a major issue and until MacTavish finds some heavier, older, skilled forwards to protect his young forwards, this group won’t be winning very often.
  • Size doesn’t matter in every situation, but when the other team’s skilled players — who are just as good, and in many cases better than the Oilers — are bigger and stronger, they will simply win more battles, cycle the puck easier and create more opportunities.
  • The Oilers do have a few forwards in the system who have some size, but none of them are ready for the NHL just yet. Mitch Moroz (211), Jujhar Khaira (210), Greg Chase (205) and Bogdan Yakimov (202) are all over 200 pounds and have some skill. Will that translate into NHL skill? We will wait and see, but until they are ready to contribute in the NHL MacTavish has to add some skilled size into his top-nine to give them a fighting chance in the western conference.

QUICK HITS….

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  • Cory Crawford isn’t as good as Jonathan Quick, Carey Price or Henrik Lundqvist, but he’s a damn good goalie. He never seems to get any respect. He just keeps winning and playing solid.
  • Ryan Miller and Jonas Hiller will both be UFAs this summer. Will either of them go to a contending team? Do you think they are difference makers?
  • The Oil Kings should have four more players drafted next month. Dysin Mayo, Edgars Kulba, Aaron Irving and Brett Pollock will likely go, and Mads Eller could also hear his name called. Bob Green built a stable of very good WHL players, and now we’ll see how many of them can go to the next level.
  • The Edmonton Rush were 17-3 in the regular season and playoffs, but their season ended due to a 10-minute mini game. They lost 2-1 despite outshooting Calgary 12-5 in those ten minutes. The rule sucked for both teams, but it shows you how finicky pro sports can be. The best team doesn’t always win. The Rush are young and should be just as good next year. They also own the #3 overall pick (Philly’s from the Brodie Merrill trade two years ago) so they should get another very good player.
  • Tough break for the Habs. Oilers fans know how it feels to lose your starting goaltending in the playoffs, but unless the Habs forwards can beat Lundqvist it won’t matter if Price is playing. Lundqvist is playing sensational right now.
  • I still can’t believe Glen Sather was able to acquire Ryan McDonagh for Scott Gomez and his $7 million contract. What was Bob Gainey thinking?
  • Reminder to get your tickets for this year’s King/Queen of Karaoke contest this Friday at On The Rocks. All proceeds go towards the MS Bike Tour and I guarantee you will have a great night. This year’s group of finalists are even better than last year, and someone will win $1,000. Buy tickets here.

  • Last week I wrote a quick update about the Gregor Foundation and wanted to thank all of you for helping make it a success. I received this email from Larry, one of the teachers, and I wanted to share it with you. Thank you once again for helping out our Foundation.

We’re sitting here at our desks reading your article with tears in our eyes. In fact, I’m in the middle of helping “Peter” with his English. You did an excellent job of capturing the moment. There is a good portion of our society that either does not know or perhaps, even care about these kids. The Fresh Start program through Edmonton Catholic works with the kids that do not fit into the traditional school setting…many are brilliant academically, but suffer from varying forms of mental illness, bullying, substance abuse issues, criminal activity…some are school phobic, many have suffered abuse, neglect and abandonment in their lives.  Most have little to no parental guidance and many are either independent students or wards of the court.

The bottom line, however, is that we still have to get them to the same finish line as every other kid in the Province, namely to write their Diplomas and graduate. And, as I said to you before, had you not stepped in to help, these guys would not have gone to their graduation. So many of them have been dumped on and let down over and over by adults in their lives…but you, your family, friends and volunteers and of course, your listeners, have let them know that there are far many more people out there who care. It’s the ultimate win-win! We will make sure you get Grad pictures. Thanks again from all of us.

Lawrence

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      • ghostcoins

        Well written article . That shows why we look like boys playing against men on many nights . Question is whether they can address this discrepancy adequately , and so far they are far from doing it .

      • ghostcoins

        These size stats always make me laugh. I’ve met a handful of these guys, mostly Oilers, and there’s no way they’re accurate. I can’t comment on weight, but you can knock 1-2 inches off most of those guys.

        Unless that’s the height and weight of the players in full gear and skates. There’s NO way Kane is 5’11”.

        • ghostcoins

          I think all NHL teams (and indeed all pro sport teams)are compelled to pump up the tape measure stats of their players. To what end I’m not sure. I think the important thing is the relative rankings rather than the absolute numbers.

        • Jason Gregor

          Both have to happen. I only focused on one issue in this article.

          Oilers need at least one, likely two experienced top-5 defenders, or they will have to play a lot of youth on the backend next year.

          I think it is a risk and asking too much if they have J.Schultz, Klefbom and Marincin all in their top-six D on opening night.

          • Jason Gregor

            The hall/nuge/ebs line looks like they can play without needing more size. Perron seems to hold his own. I’m a fan of yak and think he’ll turn into a player.

            Are you suggesting we need to get rid of one of these guys for more size or would you be happy with simply a bigger second line center?

            Would you consider ference a top 5 defender? I believe the oilers need a true top pairing Dman. Not simply a top 5

            • Jason Gregor

              Getting a top-pair D-man isn’t easy. Only way you get one is moving Eberle or possibly Perron. Ference is a top-five at this point IMO.

              Definitely need a centre with size, but they need at least two or three bigger bodies throughout the top-nine.

              • I’d say they could do it by signing Markov, but of course he is oft injured. A trade for Phaneuf would improve the D here. Pricey contract, but because of that, I don’t see the need to move Eberle or Perron to make it happen. Christian Ehrhoff might be a good target to improve the second pairing… Again I don’t see a need to trade Eberle or Perron to do that.

                The forwards definitely need more size. This will get some weird looks for sure but what do people think about bringing Pancakes back? I think thed important thing is while he doesn’t use size to destroy guys he sure uses it to protect the puck. I also think his two way game is better than most would say. It’s easy to pin the lazy moniker on him but I think he’d would be a good cheap addition to the top 9 and be effective. When used right, I think he’s a guy that improves a line. I think the lazy stigma is overblown because we hate watching big guys be passive physically . No idea if he would come back to this city. Can’t say people were overly nice to him the first time.

                Edit: just catching up to the thread but see his name was brought up already

              • It is hard for me to answer that. As Staples has been saying, the Leafs acquired him for a lot less when his potential was through the roof. I don’t believe he will be traded again for less though, like he does. But perhaps you get him for an up and coming defenceman. It won’t be the popular choice but if you move Klefbom or Marincin that should really get Toronto listening.

                I have a lot of hope for those guys but I believe they don’t develop into their potential if you don’t have a real NHL defenceman for the to play with. I would hate to give one up, but with a Phanuef calibre D man here, it helps solidify the D and let’s these players be groomed into NHLers properly, so it will go a long ways.

                My hope is that Phaneuf trade is like others where the player wants out and has a high salary.. You don’t get 100 cents on the dollar. Still won’t come cheap, but I think one of the key D prospects here piques interest

      • Jason Gregor

        Draisaitl 6’2 210

        Scored 3 points against the states.

        Taking him at 3 will be a good place for the oilers to start getting heavier as he likely fills out at 220 to 225. Big frame and long limbs.

      • OilersDynasty

        Great post Gregor. While I agree with your overall assessment I have a couple of complaints. First off Gagner is listed as 202 pounds? I have a very hard time actually believing that. And second I feel that number is a bit skewed by Arcobello.

        • Strange Tamer

          If Gagne is 5’11” 202lbs, then Getzlaf is “The Mountain” . Looking at the list makes you wonder with all the left shooting defensive depth in the pipeline why we passed on Nichuskin in favor of Nurse.

          The list also makes the Tambellini era (and by extension KLowe) look terrible for being behind the curve in the new size up front trend. Guess thats why we are the worst team in the league the last eight years.

          Lot of 29 year olds on that list, 2003 was a good draft, to bad we missed that one. Some good later round picks that we missed on too. Thanks for ruining the rest of my day by reminding me how inept our management has been in the past and how much further we have to go till we are relevant again.

        • Jason Gregor

          Why would the Oilers website give Gagner extra weight and Arcobello less? I don’t see the benefit of doing that. Arcobello is pretty small. Gagner has a thick lower trunk and likely where he carries his weight. If he is a few pounds lighter and Arcobello a few heavier it still wouldn’t impact the overall average. Either way, they are a small group compared to the playoff teams.

          • Puck_In_Throat

            Sorry I wrote that poorly. While I don’t see gagner as 200+ lbs my point with arco was more that he shouldn’t necessarily be pencilled in to our top 9 at this point. I agree with your overall assessment

            • Jason Gregor

              As of today he is…unless you put Lander or Pitlick ahead of him. That is the scary part.

              I do agree, I don’t see both Arcobello and Gagner in the top-nine in September, but I wanted to illustrate what the current top-nine looks like.

              The Oilers don’t have much size or depth right now in their top-nine.

      • That Gomez for McDonagh trade has to look like one of the worst trades in a really really long time. Imagine the Habs if their top 4 D were Subban, McDonagh, Markov and Georges… Damn…

          • Jason Gregor

            Think an eberle and James Neal trade makes sense? Maybe Pitts wants to shake things up? Maybe we take another contract to even the cap hit.

            Adding Neal and leon draisaitl changes the look of this team going forward.