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Friday, February 27, 2009

Trade Predictions and Pure Speculation

The Early Moves:
  • Montreal acquires Mathieu Schneider from Atlanta for 2nd round pick and condition 3rd round pick
  • Ottawa trades Dean McAmmond and San Jose's 1st round pick to New York Islanders for Mike Comrie and Chris Campoli
  • Dallas acquires Steve Begin from Montreal for Doug Janik
  • Montreal claims Glen Metropolit off waivers from Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh acquires Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi from Anaheim for Ryan Whitney
  • Edmonton trades Mathieu Garon to Pittsburgh for Dany Sabourin, Ryan Stone, and a 4th round pick
  • and so on ...

San Jose
What they need: Depth players - they need to do away with guys like Claude Lemieux and get some gritty wingers. Dallas got the jump on this by acquiring Begin. With the kind of assets San Jose has, they can probably dish out for a real role player - maybe a guy like Dan Carcillo, Chris Neil - or even Sean Avery.
What they have to offer: Draft picks and prospects (though they are running low on quality organizational prospects at every position except goal)

What they need: Until Holmstrom comes back, I could see Detroit acquiring a big winger just to make the opposition goalie's life a living hell. I could see a guy like Mike Knuble being acquired just for this kind of thing. Also, Detroit has a history of acquiring familiar faces (ex. Osgood) so be wary with Dandenault on the trade block.
What they have to offer: Organizational depth players and prospects - Justin Abdelkader is a future role player on some team; Ville Leino - skill player with loads of potential; Jimmy Howard; and with rumours of Kopecky and Franzen hitting the UFA market this summer, expect the less important players (Hudler, Kopecky) to be available as well; Darren McCarty may make a good role player for a team needing some sandpaper and experience

What they need: Veteran defense and gritty wingers - rumours of Chris Pronger and Erik Cole are all over the place. There is also the possibility that Boston trades within the conference and acquires guys like Pavel Kubina and Tuomo Ruutu.
What they have to offer: Petteri Nokelainen, PJ Axelsson, Shane Hnidy, Andrew Alberts, Vladimir Sobotka, Matt Hunwick

What they need: Goaltending depth - they gave up a 2nd round pick last year to get Cristobal Huet. I'd imagine they are willing to give up an equal or lesser amount for someone to back up Jose Theodore, who although he has put together great playoff performances, is still a big question mark. I'd imagine they'd be interested in guys like Huet (again), Khabibulin, Gerber, Roloson (yes, even him) or Kevin Weekes. The Caps may also want to pick up a shutdown D-man and I'd imagine Brendan Witt (post-suspension) or Ken Klee (familiar face) would be of interest to them.
What they have to offer: Michael Nylander, Bryan Pothier, Brent Johnson


What they need: Offensive D-man, veteran checking pesence - I'd imagine Calgary is in the market for some familiar faces in Derek Morris and Jordan Leopold. Guys like Kubina are also available - but for what price? I think that the one disadvantage of trading off Nolan for Bertuzzi was a loss of that veteran savvy. Bertuzzi has been around for a while but he is not a playoff proven player, especially not at a checking line level. I'd expect Calgary to pick up a guy like Radek Bonk (if available) or Tyler Arnason. Yes, I know Arnason is not a proven playoff player - but he would fill that checking role.
What they have to offer: Adrian Aucoin, Eric Nystrom, Todd Bertuzzi, Jamie Lundmark

What they need: They're pretty well balanced of all the teams I looked at. I would suggest some sandpaper at the bottom two lines, however. Like San Jose, they are a team that could benefit from Sean Avery's presence - at least in the short run.
What they have to offer: Cristobal Huet, Nikolai Khabibulin, Cam Barker, draft picks

New Jersey
What they need: Offensive D-man - Johnny Oduya is doing a heckuva job but I'd imagine they'd be in on Kaberle and Pronger if they are available though New Jersey doesn't traditionally like to make big trades. A couple guys I could imagine playing in Devils silks are Tobias Enstrom and Christian Backman.
What they have to offer: Kevin Weeks, Bobby Holik, Brian Gionta


What they need: 1st line C and depth goaltending - I would imagine that if Columbus cannot acquire a guy like Michael Nylander or Nik Antropov, that they would compromise for someone else who is available, maybe the versatile Radek Bonk or maybe former Chicago front-man Tyler Arnason. These second choices are not comparable skill-wise to Nylander and Antropov, but have important backchecking presence.
What they have to offer: Prospects (Sigalet, Mayorov), Jiri Nvotny, Manny Malhotra, Christian Backman

What they need: Scoring and a depth D-man - any team lacking their #1 offensive talent will suffer regardless of available depth. I'd think Minnesota picks up a complementary top 2 line player (Mike Knuble, Bill Guerin) as opposed to a big playoff acquisition (Tkachuk, Frolov). I believe guys like Andrew Ference or Derek Morris will be of interest to them.
What they have to offer: Draft picks and prospects

What they need: Gritty winger, playoff presence - Given these needs, I can imagine the speculation around Ryan Smyth, who I believe will not move given his recent statements to the media. Stranger things have happened. I believe Montreal and Detroit are two teams that can help each other. With the acquisition of Metropolit, they have wingers to spare. I think players like Hudler and Franzen will be of interest to Montreal, and players like Halak, Dandenault and Chipchura of interest to Detroit. Perhaps Montreal felt gritty enough when they dealt Steve Begin to Dallas - but I would disagree.
What they have to offer: See above

What they need: Checking presence - I can imagine the return of Mike Peca or the acquisition of guys like Bobby Holik or Radek Bonk, though Holik would be the least likely since he would have to come from New Jersey. Connolly for Peca, perhaps?
What they have to offer: Tim Connolly, Jochen Hecht

What they need: Sandpaper - they haven't been the same since Mike Commodore left. I think they could really use a guy like Ruslan Salei. Rumours also abound of a Cole for Ruutu trade. Rutherford has been known to reacquire familiar faces (Tanabe, Cullen) but there is also rumours that the Oilers are unwilling to move Cole (citing a possible playoff run, perhaps).
What they have to offer: Frank Kaberle, Scott Walker, Tuomo Ruutu


What they need: Team chemistry - though Mats Sundin has gotten a lot better since his first week on the West Coast, I don't believe he has what it takes to cut it against the Western Conference - and neither does his team. The Canucks will get a heckuva performance out of the Sedin twins and Matthias Ohlund (pending UFA status) but the question once again is whether or not they have what it takes to take the next step. I think it's time to get somebody to play with Sundin who's style is comparable to his own. Mike Knuble, Nik Antropov, or maybe even guys like Maxime Talbot. The team needs to gel around its role players: Kesler, Luongo, Ohlund, Bieksa, Mitchell. Despite this leadership core, they have no leadership. I think Vancouver and Edmonton have this in common: with such inconsistency, they are a playoff miracle away from doing something meaningful in the postseason dance.
What they have to offer: Depth at all positions but nothing substantial (those twins are not moving, though expect the Wellwood's and Raymond's to be available)

What they need: 1-2 line scoring, checking line centerman and defensive depth - like every season, the Oilers are in dire need in the offensive department. There are guys available but acquiring them right before they hit UFA is not a good idea for a team on the cusp of the playoffs and a history of having trouble retaining players. If the Oilers stay away from trying to overpay for a rental, they can go after the big fish in the summer. (Spezza, Heatley, Kovalchuk, or UFAs like Madden or Hossa). Reasoner, Holik, Bonk, Avery, and Marchant (familiar face) are available. Also of note would be players like Morris, Ference, and Hainsey. The Oilers pride themselves on developing role players (Moreau, Pisani, Reddox) but they don't have anyone filling other roles such as scoring roles. It's time to deal part of the "kid line" and work on the future. Playoffs or not, it's time to get a scoring threat that will take the attention off of Hemsky. Call it primary or secondary scoring - the Oilers need as much of it as they can get and leave the role player development up to the World of Warcraft. We need skill - NOW.
What they have to offer: Depth at all positions except goaltending - Nilsson, Cogliano, Cole, Moreau, Staios, Gilbert are all players with considerable worth on the trade market

What they need: A little bit of everything - I think it's time to cast out the underperforming and get a sure bet. A team like Philly needs less of the Lupul's and Upshall's and needs more guys like the Jokinen's and St. Louis's.
What they have to offer: Knuble, Upshall, Lupul, Hatcher

What they need: Veteran presence - a young team on the cusp of the playoffs and looking like they make it for the first time in a long time. Forget the Bouwmeester rumours, GM Martin will probably ride it out though he will most likely overpay for a rental player. I can see them dishing out for a Tkachuk, Hejduk, or a Antropov type of player.
What they have to offer: Karlis Skrastins, Nick Boynton, and cheap, affordable forwards

New York Rangers
What they need: Balls - they should just pick up Sean Avery now. And while they're at it, they need some bulking to do on defense. You're fooling yourself if you think Wade Redden is going to carry them. Edmonton's calling, Strudwick is available ...
What they have to offer: Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha

What they need: Balls - another team that could use a Sean Avery character. But with Sidney Crosby at the center of the universe, it is most likely that the Penguins pick up an offensive guy instead, assuming they think Kunitz will play that role. I would still try to acquire a Carcillo or Neil type of player if I were the Penguins. Without Hossa around, the Penguins will need a different type of team dynamic to go far.
What they have to offer: Pascal Dupuis, Jordan Staal, Ruslan Fedotenko, Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora


Though Anaheim is close to the others in the playoff chase, their actions as of late have been indicating that they're planning for the long run rather than for the short term. Acquiring Ryan Whitney is probably a "sayonara" to Chris Pronger.

Brian Burke is looking to acquire assets for building his team. If the Leafs make it to the postseason dance - good on them. But the truth is that Burke will not be a buyer at the deadline.

Everyone Else
Who's available - Bill Guerin, Martin St. Louis, Chris Neil, Alexander Frolov, Jordan Leopold, Tyler Arnason, Derek Morris, Jason Spezza, Jeff Tambellini, Ian Laperriere, Olli Jokinen, Ron Hainsey, Ken Klee, Michael Tellqvist, Steven Reinprecht
Who's got clauses? - Ryan Smyth, John Michael-Liles, Adam Foote, Milan Hejduk, Adam Foote
Who's not going anywhere? - Ilya Kovalchuk, Bryan Little, Paul Stastny, Joe Sakic, Shane Doan, Kyle Turris, Peter Mueller, Luke Schenn, Trent Hunter, Kyle Okposo

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blue Jackets and Oilers Rumble for Playoff Spot

Jan Hejda's first NHL goal was a thing of beauty. Not in how he scored it, mind you. But the beauty was all in how he celebrated it.

He is now an important defensive presence on the Blue Jackets blue line. The Oilers acquired him for a 7th round pick but lost him for nothing, marking one of the biggest blunders with regards to organizational assets that I can recall from recent memory. Glencross and Reasoner being the others. To acquire a steady, stay-at-home D-man the price isn't high, but around the playoff push, the price is definitely higher than a 7th round pick.

However, the Oilers have been playing well of late. Not a full 60 minute game - mind you. There are still patches in the games when the Oilers go AWOL and the fans go "oh shit." If the Oilers can come through on special teams, I can see the Oilers getting an easy win against Columbus.

Will they let me down? Will they let us down? Facing Columbus is a must win situation: the Oilers don't have the option of losing.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Applying Cold War tactics for the Oilers PP


It's been a long time since I saw the Oilers play a full 60 minute game. Tonight, they came close. But tonight, it was not a story of a disheartening play. Rather, it was a story of a disheartening loss caused by unfortunate circumstances.

The Oilers were forechecking hard and finishing their bodychecks. The forecheckers were turning over pucks, pressuring point men, attacking on the fly, and keeping the intensity level high. The Oilers D (with the exception of Steve Staios) were making safe plays, turning the puck over quickly for outlet passes, and playing a tight but smart defensive game. Yet, the Oilers still lost the game and here a few reasons why.

One deadly flaw was Smid and Moreau allowing the pass to a wide-open Iginla for the 1-1 tying goal. The other was Staios getting caught on a bad Oilers line change and attacking the shooter instead of the passer - who to his knowledge, had apparently come out of nowhere. Roloson bailed out the bad line change who I believe was Sam Gagner. It's okay to change with the puck in transition 5v5 but in OT you cannot wear yourself out in the offensive zone and hanging your team mates out to dry on a self-manufactured odd-man rush, the same way you can't overcommit to the point of exhaustion on the PK: it's all about taking advantages opportunities and forcing the other team to make the mistake in such situations and the Oilers were the ones who made the mistake in this circumstance. If Gagner did the same thing in OT or in a 4v4 situation in the playoffs, I would bench him without a second thought.

I'm sure David Staples will have a similar outlook on the play of Staios, Moreau, and Horcoff over at his blog. I would suggest that Sam Gagner be subscribed to a lesson how to make good dump-ins and/or a lesson from Hemsky on how to gain the blue line,

Of particular interest is the fact that Glencross is so effective in Battle of Alberta games. He is built to play the style of Western Canadian hockey and he has shown he is invaluable on both the Oilers and the Flames, setting up Lombardi by screening Roloson.

Also of interest is that Curtis Glencross screened Roloson with his back turned to the play. Not that I think this is a valid rule at all, but last time I checked if a player is not involved in the active play what is screening the goalie with his back turned - that's the rule and it's illegal. Except I forgot that it's only illegal if your name is Sean Avery, and not Curtis Glencross. My mistake.

I call shenanigans.


As the scouting report probably made clear to the Oilers - Kipper is a goalie who can be beat by deke moves in the shootout because his angling and reactions make him less prone to shooters. However, the opposite scouting report obviously revealed the Oilers had a lot of skill guys with a lot of moves.

I'd hope that MacTavish throws a few different looks next time he picks the 3 shooters for the shootout roster. Nilsson, Gagner, and Hemsky are all skill guys who can "stickhandle in a phone booth" but Kipper was well aware of this. Gagner's gaffe plus Nilsson being pokechecked by Kipper meant that Hemsky probably should've chose to shoot.

He probably didn't shoot because the Oilers, and Oilers' fans, were expecting something of the highlight real variety. Often times, the Oilers rely too much on Hemsky and though at first glance Hemsky looks like a ballhog, it soon becomes apparent that the other Oilers, such as Horcoff (who was good at faceoffs tonight but atrocious at all other things hockey-related) and Penner become spectators who expect him to set them up perfectly or find them in a tough situation. Sometimes that means Horcoff stand on the half-boards waiting for a one-time pass that has no business being tried; sometimes this is Penner along the corner boards waiting for the cycle that was defeated at the blue line (due to lack of puck support which provides passing lane options to Hemsky, the puck-carrier). The outcome of this is Penner and Horcoff (two players who can skate) becoming spectators in what is not a spectator sport.

So with Gagner's gaffe and Nilsson's failed attempt on his mind, was he going to shoot?

If he shot (and Hemsky has a great shot) perhaps losing wouldn't have felt so sour. Maybe. But I'm sure there would be more than a few puzzled souls out there feeling like Hemsky could've done more. Hemsky has a history of shooting high and wide in the shootout and his success has mostly come when he can deke out the goalie. So he could've deked him out but failed. He could've faked the shot. He could've gone five hole. I'm sure us fans have all manners of suggestions. Hemsky, for once, did what was expected, and unfortunately, Kippers saw it coming.

Hemsky is a great player. But tonight anyone who watched the game will have saw him battling the puck. And to expect him to come through after the first two shooters failed miserably - is a bit unfair. Sure, he's Hemsky. Almost every night he's our best player and if he fails once due to situations he can't control, don't blame him for it.

How can MacTavish avoid such pressure situations?

He should avoid sending out 3 dekers and have at least one shooter. Such shootout rosters would look like this:

Hemsky <-deker
Horcoff <-shooter
Nilsson <-both

Gagner <-deker
Penner <-shooter
Hemsky <-deker

Pouliot <-both (or some would say neither ... but he's got some good SO moves)
Cole <-shooter
Hemsky <-deker

In hockey as any sport or activity based on strategy, deception of the opponent is key. By being predictable, we are making it easier for other teams to play us, not harder. I'm not saying my shootout rosters would rip up the league, but I can guarantee they would be more successful at confusing opposition goalies.

Erik Cole, Liam Reddox, and Steve MacIntyre

Holy moley what happened to Erik Cole. Gone is the lost and confused Cole of the first half of the season. This Cole is still hitting like a demon but now he's creating chances (for himself, and others) and making plays. His forechecking makes the opposition D shit their pants and as a result I would've gave the second star to him, not to Shawn Horcoff as CBC or Rexall did.

Liam Reddox is looking like a more and more effective hockey player. He's had his ups and downs. In training camp I was eagerly anticipating his call-up and when he scored in his first game up I was extremely pleased. MacBlender shortly blew his play to chunks by playing him in a role that does not befit him at this stage in his career. By finding a home as an energy player with above-average hands (relative to other 3rd-4th line rookies) he has become a valuable spark that has seen Brodziak and Stortini pick up their play as of late.

I'm also impressed with MacIntyre's ability to make the safe play so that the Oilers can have organized line changes. In this department, he may have the edge over one Sam Gagner, who manages to make a lot of boneheaded blue-line turnovers prior to line changes as a result of forcing plays when he has no puck support. Understandably, Gagner has the better skill set. But perhaps MacIntyre's awareness of his lack of offensive ability allows him to look at the situation and make the safe play. Gagner will learn this as he becomes an older hockey player.

Brownlee or somebody over at OilersNation quoted MacIntyre has having said something about having to learn how to "play hockey" if fighting was ever taken out of the game. By crashing the net, making safe dumps for chases and/or line changes, something some other players are unwilling to do or unaware of doing, means he's well on his way to achieving that. It's something that Stortini learned a while ago and it's something MacIntyre is starting to do very well.

Special Teams

The Oilers looked great on the PK.

The same cannot be said of the PP.

Every knows the Oilers pass too much on the PP - waiting for the Souray or Horcoff slapshots to open up and this is apparent to opposition NHL teams as well because they shut down those passing lanes in a blink of an eye. A developing trend in the Oilers play that I've noticed is that when they drop their foot movement in anticipation, the Oilers neglect to provide puck support down low. Instead, they resort to throwing the puck back to Souray and Hemsky.

Though I'm sure this is the M.O. for the Oilers PP strategist to have as many Souray point shots as possible, remember that a big weapon can merely be a deterrent as well.

During the Cold War, the phrase "mutually assured destruction" mean that you must be M.A.D. to try to use a nuclear weapon which would most likely lead to a situation of nuclear winter and guaranteed destruction of the involved nuclear-armed nations. The aftermath would be a blanket of aerosols that would blanket the Earth and snuff out all living things in a short or long term ice age situation.

Having the nukes as a deterrent is like having Souray like a deterrent. He draws the forechecker up high to blot out the slapshot but that should automatically mean Gilbert and Hemsky move up to form a triangle so that Souray has two easy outs in terms of passing lanes. This makes it easy to drive it up the middle because the forward is up so high to defend the one-timer that the passing lane opens up.

Now that the Horcoff passing lane is gradually being phased out by NHL teams, it's time for the Oilers half-board players (Hemsky, Gilbert) to simply take it to the middle, shoot it, and get the rebound chance for Penner and/or Horcoff. Why? Because Horcoff can simply be a decoy as well.

Having weapons and firepower is only effective if you know how to use it. The Oilers need to be able to force other teams to play them a certian way on the PK, instead of running their PP around what the PK unit dictates.

The Oilers have not learned how to run an effective powerplay yet. From what I've seen, the Oilers play better without man advantages because it usually just kills their skating game, switches momentum in favor of the opposite team and gives the opposite to the desired result of actually making it harder on the other team.

If I were the Oilers, I would hire someone who actually knows how to run a PP unit so that the weapons are being used to their full advantages - someone who is so scrupulous that he can recognize the team's biggest weaknesses and then eliminate them immediately.


From what I saw tonight, the Oilers are definitely good enough to make the playoffs. But from the mistakes, gaffes, and slight strategic errors on the behalf of a few players and/or coaching staff, we might need some more tough losses like the one we had tonight to remind us that playing less than a full 60 for a game that was 65+ is not acceptable for a team slipping quickly out of 8th... 9th... spot.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Peckham's House

Peckham cleans house behind the net.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lemieux vs Peckham

Ryan Garner wrote a pretty good article about Claude Lemieux's on-ice antics which is rare coming from a Hockeybuzz.com reporter. Nonetheless, it pretty much summed up what I was thinking when I was watching the game Tuesday night.

What the video doesn't show is Lemieux rubbing his visor helmet into Peckham's face while he was in the doggy pile, which is akin to a headbutt with a visor on ... which isn't cool.

Oilers @ Dallas Thursday Night

Prediction: 4-3 Oilers win in shootout

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Do you want Cole-slaw with that?

On the right there is Erik Cole recieving an award from Clarkson University for playing at Clarkson University from 1997-2000. Recently an Boston Herald article has surfaced saying that Erik Cole expects to be a Boston Bruin in the immediate future. Since the Clarkson jersey looks pretty close to the Bruins jersey, I felt the picture was needed.

Cole has had a pretty terrible season in Edmonton so far. His numbers in previous seasons could easily be reflective of the piss poor Southeast Division. This year he currently has 22 Points and is on pace for a substandard total of 31. This includes having 9 points in his first 33 games, 12 in the next 11, and a total of 1 point in his last 12 games or 0 points in his last 9. What Cole has done consistently all season is hit. He currently leads the Oilers with 112 hits with Ethan Moreau in 2nd with 96 hits. This is where the dilemna comes in: do we dish out Cole for Sobotka and defenseman Matt Lashoff or keep him around for his physical play come playoff time? Also I believe that Cole will 100% not be an Oiler next season, so do we try to salvage whatever we can out of him before we lose him to free agency?

Personally I think trading Cole hinges on the decision for the Oilers to make that playoff push or not. Trading Cole could ultimately mean that we are not planning to make a push for the cup or the playoffs. Either that or Tambolowe has a preset deal in place for another gritty power forward. I would really hate to see us get into a 1st round playoff matchup with the Calgary Flames having the least physical team in the league, which would probably lead to the Oilers getting bent over and me having to deal with Flames fans for the next 3-4 months. In that case Cole becomes obselete here and trying to salvage the Pronger/Lupul/Pitkanen trades should be ideal for the Oilers organization.

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Schneider Traded

Schneider Traded - list down to Morris, Leopold, and Kuba. Any other suggestions Oilers fans?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Reasonable Trade Deadline Acquisitions (Updated)

2008-09 Wish List
  • Offensive D-Man (To replace Visnovsky AND Grebeshkov)
  • Defensive D-Man (To fill the void we've had all season)
  • Checking-line Faceoff Specialist (To fill the void we've had all season)
  • Chippy Winger (To fill the void we've had all season)
  • Goaltending depth (To backup Roloson for the stretch-run AND playoffs)
Reasonable Trade Deadline Acquisitions (Updated)

1. Derek Morris (PHX) (pending UFA) * (Alberta Connection)
2. Philip Kuba (OTT) (pending UFA) *
3. Jordan Leopold (COL) (pending UFA) *
4. Jason Smith (OTT) * (Former Oiler) (Alberta Connection)
5. Marty Reasoner (ATL) (pending UFA) (Former Oiler)
6. Chris Gratton (TMP) (pending UFA)
7. Mathieu Schneider (ATL) (pending UFA) *
8. Gary Roberts (TMP) (pending UFA)
9. Steve Begin (MTL) (pending UFA)
10. Bobby Holik (NJD) (pending UFA)
11. Marek Malik (TMP) (pending UFA) *

* Guys who have played, or have the ability to play 20+ minutes in a game. This is crucial considering the injuries to Visnovsky and Grebeshkov.

Oilers Tradeable Assets

Among the tradeable assets, the assets are ranked from most tradeable to least tradeable. The list DOES NOT take into account the contribution the player makes to the team, only their relative value to another team. The tradeable assets list also doesn't take into account whether or not the player has huge plans in the organization's future, only that at this moment in time, they are most tradeable. This list does not include core players like Hemsky, Horcoff, Souray, Visnovsky, etc.

Denis Grebeshkov (most valuable asset, contract wise and value wise!)
Sam Gagner *
Andrew Cogliano *
Robert Nilsson *
Ladislav Smid
Rob Schremp
Steve Staios
Dustin Penner
Ethan Moreau **
Marc Pouliot
Ryan O'Marra ***
Zach Stortini

* Now most people will ask me, how can you trade the kids?! They are the future! This is in fact, my own opinion as well - that the future of the Oilers rests on the shoulders of one of these 3. But in reality, the Oilers will not be able to keep all 3. All this list shows is the trade value of Sam Gagner compared to Robert Nilsson.
** " You can't trade Ethan Moreau! He's our Captain! " you say?! I say nay! The fact that the Oilers have traded Wayne Gretzky, Jason Smith, and Doug Weight should say something about the job security for one Ethan Moreau.
*** Ryan O'Marra sucks. Yes, I know it. You know it. But it's all about draft pedigree for some players. The fact that Danny Syvret could fetch Ryan Potulny, and the fact that Gilbert Brule could fetch Raffi Torres - should say something about how tradeable a Ryan O'Marra type player is.

Honorable Mentions
  • Trent Hunter (NYI) (he just signed a contract extension, though) (Alberta Connection)
  • Yanic Perreault (UFA)
  • Chris Neil (OTT) (pending UFA)
  • Scott Nichol (NSH) (pending UFA) (Alberta Connection)
  • Mark Smith (UFA) (Alberta Connection)
  • Nikolai Khabibulin (CHI) (pending UFA) (G) (highly unlikely, though possible)
  • Manny Legace (STL) (doghouse and waiver wire) (pending UFA) (G)
  • Jeff Woywitka (STL) (pending RFA) (Former Oiler) (Alberta Connection)
  • Daniel Tjarngvist (COL) (pending UFA) (Former Oiler)
  • Peter Budaj (COL) (pending RFA) (G)
  • Andrew Raycroft (COL) (pending UFA) (G)
  • Erik Christensen (ATL) (pending RFA) (Alberta Connection)
  • Martin Gerber (OTT) (G)
Ideal Trade Deadline Oilers Transactions

1. Acquire a big-minute eating shutdown D-man: Derik Morris (and NO, Strudwick is NOT an option)
2. Acquire an offensive D-man to take Visnovsky's place: Kuba or Leopold will do. Schneider has experience but he is also old as hell.
3. Acquire a faceoff specialist: Marty Reasoner, Chris Gratton, or Yanic Perreault will do fine.
4. Acquire a chippy winger: Steve Begin, Chris Neil, or Scott Nichol (who also plays C) will do fine. (we haven't had one since Raffi Torres - NO, Reddox does NOT count)
5. Acquire a veteran backup for Roloson: Budaj/Legace

Oilers Playoff Lineup (After Acquisitions)

Penner - Horcoff - Hemsky
Nilsson - Gagner - Cole *
Cogliano - Brodziak - Neil/Begin
Moreau - Reasoner/Gratton - Pisani

Souray - Gilbert
Smid - Kuba/Morris/Leopold/Schneider
Staios - Peckham **
Grebeshkov (4-6 weeks on the IR)
Visnovsky (out for season)

Legace/Budaj/Raycroft/Gerber/Khabibulin (here's hoping the Oilers don't go after Cujo the way they went after Nedved a few years back)

* If the Oilers make the playoffs - that is. If the Oilers are in danger of missing the playoffs, expect Cole to be dealt away.
** Anybody who watched the Oilers play LA Kings will agree about how much better Peckham played than Strudwick did. Anybody who watched the Oilers play all season will agree that Strudwick makes a better forward than D-man.

I belive Begin could be had for Pouliot. Thickoil (Travis) believes Neil could be had for Stortini and a low pick. Guys like Rob Schremp and Ryan O'Marra could be valuable to a team with low farm team depth, so they would make good bait for pending UFA players (plus, we could use more room for signing guys like Petry, Nash, and Eberle). Mathieu Roy may be on the block but he may not fetch many takers - which would lead me to the belief that he may receive one more chance to play in Edmonton.

Both Jacques and Pisani are almost healthy, so that's good news for Oil Country.

2008-09 UFA Wish List

This UFA wish list is in order of most desired to least desired:
  • Jay Bouwmeester (D)
  • Ilya Kovalchuk (LW)
  • Niklas Skrastins (D) (the former NHL ironman)
  • Marian Hossa (LW/RW)
  • John Madden (C)
  • Chris Neil (RW)
  • Fredrik Norrena (G)
  • Jaromir Jagr (LW/RW)
  • Johnny Oduya (D)

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Visnovsky should have February 3rd Clause

Lubomir Visnovsky has a history of not playing well on February 3rd of any year. In fact, he has been injured three times on February 3rd since joining the NHL. Coincidence is hardly an explanation. Visnovsky should avoid playing on this day.

The latest incident involved a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on February 3rd of 2009 when he dislocated his shoulder on a harmless looking play behind the Oilers net. Leaning into his opponent at the wrong angle, Visnovsky dislocated his right shoulder and had to undergo season-ending surgery.

How will the Oilers keep Visnovsky from playing on February 3rd next year? Or the year after that? He is a professional athlete and an independent person. However, if the Oilers keep paying his bills they should have some say in the matter. Some research has proposed that the Oilers should pursue amending his contract by adding a February 3rd Clause to his list of conditions (Flores, 1). Suggestions for specific consequences following from neglecting the February 3rd clause could include in waiving of his NTC rights or forfeiting one game's worth of salary.

In conclusion, Lubomir Visnovsky should be prevented from playing on February 3rd of any year from now on, whether with the Oilers or anywhere else. Implementation of this could and should include a February 3rd Clause, built into his contract, with proportional consequences.

Literature Cited

Flores, Marion. "Visnovsky and the February 3rd Clause." The Refinery 13 February 2009. p. 1 of 1. http://edmrefinery.wordpress.com/visnovsky-and-the-february-3rd-clause

Further reading: here

Bitch please ... MLA Citation Style

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Game Day against the Habs

3-2 Oilers W in a Shootout


Priceless piece by Wanye.

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FW: NHL Oilers deny reports they will sign Jagr

This just in:

EDMONTON, Canada (AFP) — Czech Republic superstar Jaromir Jagr will not be leaving Russia to join the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers this season, according to Oilers president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe.

The Edmonton Journal had reported that a European hockey expert said sources told him the nine-time NHL All-Star now playing in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League was in the final stages of talks to join the Oilers.

Just months ago, Jagr ditched the NHL's New York Rangers to join the Russian league and Jagr is also playing to play for his homeland at the 2009 World Championships in May.

The talks, if true, could be aimed at bringing Jagr to Edmonton next season.

Jagr, 37, has 25 goals in 48 games this season for Omsk, a club that suffered tragedy in October when 19-year-old Alexei Cherepanov collapsed after a shift during a game in Moscow and died shortly thereafter.

Jagr helped Pittsburgh win the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup titles and led the NHL in scoring five times. He has 646 NHL goals in 1,273 games with Pittsburgh, Washington and the Rangers in 18 NHL seasons.

Hossa and Jagr? Disgusting.

How will we resign Grebeskhov? Does this spell the end of Cole in Edmonton? Who will be #1 next year - Roloson, DesLauriers, or another? And why is it that nobody ever interviews GM Tambellini - but head of hockey operations Kevin Lowe instead? Hmmmm ...

Most importantly - if the Oilers administration are preparing for next season - what does this mean fans sould expect for the balance of this season?


Monday, February 9, 2009

Trade Deadline Approaches

Oilers Trade Deadline Acquisition History

1. Depth players instead of superstars (ex. Dick Tarnstrom, Dwayne Roloson, Sergei Samsonov, Petr Nedved, Anson Carter)
2. Pending UFAs / RFAs or signing free agent role players (ex. Rem Murray, German Titov)

Recent Oiler Trade Trends

1. Acquiring local products (ex. Jason Strudwick, Joffrey Lupul, Gilbert Brule, Robert Nilsson)
2. Trying to develop within the system to fill organizational needs over paying a price to acquire superstars (ex. Jeff DesLauriers, Ladislav Smid, Ryan Potulny)
3. Trades involving big names have all come in the off-season (ex. Chris Pronger, Erik Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky)


1. Unless hell freezes over (or Tambellini is GM Christ), the Oilers will not acquire a big name before the trade deadline
2. The Oilers will acquire a depth player for lines 2-4 or defensive depth 4-7
3. The Oilers will not acquire another goaltender (all the available goaltenders are not cap friendly)
4. Possibility of a local product being acquired is high

Reasonable Trade Deadline Acquisitions

1. Trent Hunter
2. Erik Christensen
3. Mike Commodore (unless the BlueJackets are going to make a serious, serious run at the playoffs this year)
4. Doug Weight (I'm sure there is some smoke to this gun)
5. Jonathan Filewich
6. Bryan Little (I know we have a lot of small forwards, but we seem to be collecting them lately in the form of Brule, Potulny, Gagner, etc. but hey, they're currently higher on the depth chart than the Brodziak's and Strudwick's of the team)
7. Jason Smith
8. Johan Franzen (I don't know about you, but he would be a great fit on this team)
9. Steve Begin
10. Chris Neil
11. Nik Antropov (yes, it is possible even with Brian Burke)

Random thoughts and questions on tradeable assets:

1. Do we still have the rights to Mikhnov and Bumagin? I'm sure these skilled players would have some market value to teams like the Maple Laughs, the Rangers or the Red Wings
2. What is a reasonable expectation for what Rob Schremp (Hockey Jesus himself) will fetch on the open market?
3. Who is the most expendable Oiler core player (for the purposes of trading for a skilled LW)? I've heard names like Staios, Gilbert, and Penner tossed around
4. If we only get to pick one to keep - Grebeshkov (RFA) or Cole (UFA) - who would it be?
5. Do we bring in a goalie to replace Roli next year - or resign him to backup DesLauriers who might be given every chance to prove he deserves the #1 job?

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Puck Battles

Now that's what I call battling for the puck.

What the Edmonton Oilers need to start doing is winning those puck battles - along the boards, in open ice, in front of the net, or behind the net. With a little more intensity in game situations, the Oilers would avoid a lot of the problems they have right off the bat. If they attack the zone of movement (and I'm not suggesting a left-wing lock or puck-side attack here) depending on the team they're playing, they wouldn't be chasing the puck so much.


Problem: Detroit is a passing team that likes to set up the one-timer or the tip-in on-the-go during the offensive rush. The only time they really shoot from the point is if they can get a screen in front of the goalie.
Solution: This won't always work, but it will make Detroit's life a living hell - send two forecheckers in to flush out the puck, cover the passing lane for the other two and keep the defense fairly deep to cover the dump-ins. If all else fails, tie up the puck along the boards, instead of trying to ring it around the boards like some have tried ...

Problem: Minnesota has a short-handed chance that has promise. What do you do?
Solution: It doesn't matter that Sam Gagner is out of it and still in the offensive zone. Your numbers advantage on the PP means that you will attack the puck carrier head on because his passing options are limited. Standing pat with your stick waving around as if you were a NHL 09 video game character reveals the lack of intensity.

Sure, you can look at the example I gave about Minnesorta and you can say it was a nice pass and nice shot - but the real honest truth is that the Oilers were flat-footed on the powerplay. When you see a short-handed chance and the other team's individual players outworks your team's individual players, you have to commend them. But if two of the other team's individual players outworks your entire PP unit you have an accurate measure of their intensity, desire, and perhaps that's a good measure of how the Oilers coaching staff prepares them for these kinds of important situations.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Crapshoot Summary

First Period: Detroit 5 - Edmonton 0

The Oilers skate around like a bunch of headless chickens on skates. They don't anticipate - they react. In no way do they dictate any aspect of the game, as the Red Wings dominate them offensively, defensively, and physically. They win all the battles for loose pucks and almost all their passes are tape to tape and they crash the net at every available opportunity.

On the other side of the ice are the Oilers: who wouldn't know a pass if it hit one of them; flinging pucks into danger zones and turning offensive chances into defensive liability; making blind passes to players who aren't there; passing off what could be clear shots and potential rebounds. Nobody on this team (save Hemsky, Cogliano, and Cole) cuts to the middle - nobody crashes the net. Same old ring around the rosie along the boards in the offensive zone. Nothing doing - nothing happening.

Second Period: Detroit 6 - Edmonton - 0

The Oilers begin to win puck battles and start to take the puck to the middle and crash the net. Still too many fancy passes that don't go to anybody on the same team - if you're going to try to "thread the needle" make sure the pass goes to somebody.

The increased intensity and attention to detail on offensive breakouts means the Oilers show to compete in the second period.

However, the Oilers still give up a goal near the end of the period.

Third Period: No thanks!

I turned it off at this point. It's like watching a slow and gruelling boxing match that is heavily lopsided in favour of a one competitor. The loser is good enough not to get knocked out, but has no weapons of their own to fight back with. As a result, the loser gets pounded and pounded until his own mother wouldn't recognize him. In this case, it's a 60-minute obligation to play through a hockey game where the Oilers never really showed up.

The Summary:

When you react and don't anticipate (or dictate!) the other team will always pick you apart. Doesn't matter if you're playing Detroit, San Jose, Buffalo, Chicago, or Florida. Doesn't matter if your the Oilers, the Rangers, or the Stars. The game plan was non-existent, another reminder that the Oilers under MacTavish will always be a fringe team because their place in the standings reflects their play on the ice - inconsistent and without purpose, without meaning, without intensity.

I don't care if the Oilers lose - but it's the way they've been losing: listlessly; apathetically; sleepwalkingly (is that even a word? It sure describes the Oilers...).

The Oilers play on the fringe - pass it around on the outside without taking it to the net. Without Hemsky or Visnovsky, the Oilers will usually avoid taking it to the middle, hoping that somehow Souray's point shot will aways turn into something - anything! But often that added pressure to the point shot just forces Souray to turn the puck over either directly or as a ill-advised pass to the man along the half-boards or to the other point man who is probably not open at this point in time.

This fringe personality - it's directly a result of playing a 60-minute penalty kill where the Oilers react - and don't anticipate. It's also directly a result of the coaching staff mentality - because with the quality of players we have on this roster, no fricken way we should performing this poorly. Fire MacTavish already.

However, I'm beggining to think that unless the Oilers lose hardcore, the boys on the bus will never be kicked out of town. They're so entrenched in their safe little jobs that poor performance means a promotion to another position within the franchise (aka. Kelly Buchberger, Kevin Lowe, Jeff Truitt is next) and that's probably what's due for Craig MacTavish. Honestly, nothing will change until the day Daryl Katz gets fed up with this administration - but will he ever be?

The Good News

Niklas Kronwall, Pavel Datsyuk, and Ty Conklin are in my pool. It's sad when your favourite team loses and you're already calculating the amount of points you're going to get in your pool because of it ...

3:10 Update ...

So the only Oiler to get a goal is Zachery Stortini...

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Brodziak gets the shaft.

Recently Craig MacTavish singled out Dustin Penner, Marc Pouliot and Kyle Brodziak at practice for a "bag skate". From what I've heard they weren't taking practice serious like game situations, but for Kyle Brodziak, why should he. He plays with the least skilled linemates on the team. Strudwick, Stortini, and MacIntyre have only had their ice-time with Brodziak. Last year he had 31 points over 80 games, although most of those came with the ever excellent Curtis Glencross. This year he's on pace for a 21 point output pro-rated. I feel bad for him because he has to put up with playing with MacIntyre and Stortini for the majority of his shifts. To me the guy is more than a 4th line plugger, and he shouldn't be treated like one on 5 on 5 play.

I believe for the upcoming trade deadline, Tambolowe should find this guy some linemates. How come he hasn't had the special treatment Reddox has had either. He put up superior numbers in the AHL, wins faceoffs, and plays solid defensively. He is underutilized on this team. I would also like to see the possiblity of a Moreau-Brodziak-Pisani line in the future. That seems to be the most logical shutdown line this team could produce. Another option could be trying to acquire Chris Neil from Ottawa. He's not the most skilled guy, but he'll be a upgrade over Kyles current linemates. A trade along the lines of Stortini+4th for Chris Neil could be a good deal for both teams.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Now that's a Captain

I take it back, Ethan:
“We didn’t have the urgency to score goals we needed and it was obvious,” said Moreau. “It’s really frustrating. I thought we’d respond better, but we didn’t. It’s not everybody. There were guys who worked really hard, but we didn’t have enough. It wasn’t enough. I’m not going to make excuses. That wasn’t good enough. We need more through our line-up.”
You heard him Tambellini, make it happen.

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Intangibles in the NHL - Top 75 - Scott Cullen says Oilers are the worst

Scott Cullen just put up a blog article talking about intangibles and the kind of "unsung heroes" formula that TSN.ca uses to rank their players.

Here is the article:
Intangibles are always touted as part of the reason for a team's success, yet they are invariably awarded in hindsight, after a team has won something significant.

That doesn't stop countless people from e-mailing me to extoll the virtues of heart, chemistry and teamwork. While I'm not going to go so far as to say this is a way to find the players who play that heart-and-soul, body-sacrificing game.

As part of the TSN.ca player ranking formula, there is an attempt to quantify the intangible element by addressing statistical categories like hits, blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways and faceoffs.

At the very least, it helps to identify some of the unsung hero types who contribute in ways that don't typically show up on the scoresheet.

Shotblocking defencemen and grinding forwards, this one's for you!

Here are some of the results to this point in the season:

Here's the link - click.

First of all, a few observations:
  • Brooks Orpik is the most "unsung hero" in the NHL, according to the list
  • only 30 of the top 75 are Western Conference players
  • 5 of the top 10 are Western Conference players
  • the list includes no Oilers
  • the list includes no Flames (really? no Robyn Regehr?)
  • the list includes three Islanders - Trent Hunter, Brendan Witt, and Mark Streit
  • the list includes two Red Wings - Pavel Datsyuk and Brad Stuart
  • the list includes one Shark - Douglas Murray
  • former Oilers Matt Greene and Jason Smith are in the top 30
  • former Oiler Jarret Stoll is #52
  • Erik Cole and Steve Staios lead the Oilers in "intangible points" according to the list
  • the bottom 25 ranks 3 Oilers among the worst: Robert Nilsson, Ales Hemsky, and Sam Gagner - with Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner on the very bottom of the list, #2 and #1 respectively
  1. there is a clear Eastern Conference bias - seeing as how you need to add the total Sharks and Red Wings to match the number of Islanders on the list; there is a clear "big market" bias - as seen that there are no Albertan teams on this list, teams that are known for their defense-first style
  2. according to the list, the Oilers are on crack to have traded away Jarret Stoll, Jason Smith, and Matt Greene
  3. anybody who ranks Robert Nilsson on the bottom of an intangible list has not watched him play: this kid backchecks every time he's on the ice
  4. according to the list, Sam Gagner is indeed as bad as I've been saying he is
  5. Steve Staios being ranked higher than Denis Grebeshkov seems fishy
  6. according to the list, we should re-sign Erik Cole
  1. if Ales Hemsky is so bad when he's on the ice, what explains his Corsi number? Jonathan Willis wrote on this a while back
  2. if Ales Hemsky is so bad when he's on the ice, what explains the fact that entire team plays better when he's in the lineup than when he's not?
  3. how are there 4 NY Islanders ranked higher than Nilsson, Hemksy, and Gagner?
Further impressions:
  • someone needs to do a statistical analysis about these results, with Corsi numbers, QUALCOMP, and (+/-)
  • TSN.ca needs to talk about what formula they're using to determine these numbers because - (1) if the numbers are right, we can figure out what's wrong with the Oilers and (2) if the numbers are wrong, then the bias is as obvious as the results they give
  • yes, the Oilers are inconsistent and they are sometimes bad defensively - but not THAT BAD
  • Scott Cullen is on crack

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