Center Born Aug 22 1991 -- Saskatoon, SASK Height 6.00 -- Weight 196 -- Shoots L
70 Games Played 32-56-88 82 PIM
It seems to me if one Schenn brother happens to be a world class talent bruising defenseman, that it is only fitting if the other Schenn brother is a world class talent bruising power forward. Gifted with what seems to be natural talent for net crashing offense, many have suggested that if the Leafs can't move up to pick Hedman or Tavares, that they will try to move up and secure Brayden Schenn.
Chances are that in a draft that has been speculated to only have sure-fire NHL prospects from the top 10 picks, without some significant movement from Kane, Ekman-Larsson, Kadri, or Kulikov, Schenn will not be an Oiler. Brayden Schenn would fit nicely into the moult of the team that Tambellini would like to build, however.
Defense Born July 17 1991 -- Karlskrona, SWE Height 6.02 -- Weight 176 -- Shoots L
39 Games Played 3-14-17 32 PIM
According to McKeen's: "He brings a nice combo of offense and defense to the table. He's a smooth skater who makes good, quick decisions in the defensive zone and makes a good first pass. He has the skill to rush the puck and run a PP, but lacks experience and confidence in those area's right now. Always makes the right decision on both sides of the puck."
Some scouts, and some zealous Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs fans, have compared Ekman-Larsson to Nicklas Lidström - very high praise. He's risen quickly from obscurity, perhaps thanks to all the attention the Swedish hockey programme has been getting as of late with Victor Hedman and Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi in the top 5 rankings-wise.
Ekman-Larsson only weights 176 lbs, which is what I weigh, and I don't even go to the gym that often. If Ekman-Larsson is going to play his offensive style unintimidated in the NHL he will need to bulk up - and by a lot. Whatever the case may be, it would seem Ekman-Larsson's potential is a puck-moving defense who at worst could be a solid Grebeshkov-type player at the best could be a Norris-type defender. Of course, we'd like to reserve judgement lest we end up with Alexandre Daigle or Jason Bonsignore. Considering Robert Nilsson and Patrick Thoresen have been compared to Peter Forsberg, I think setting the bar at "potential NHL puck-moving D-man 1-4 pairing" is not too lofty an expectation for Ekman-Larsson at this point.
I've decided that instead of doing monster blog posts about upcoming draft eligibles, considering I don't have any insider information, I'm going to post short summaries about each player that I have on my own personal shortlist. The first in this line of players is Zach Kassian. ----------------------------------------------------------------- Zach Kassian
Right Wing Born Jan 24 1991 -- LaSalle, ONT Height 6.03 -- Weight 205 -- Shoots R
61 Games Played 24-39-63 136 PIM
Kassian has a bruising style of play and this season his offensive upside finally started to show through. He's not afraid to drop the gloves and this hybrid style of play has him compared favorably to Milan Lucic. He was recently added to U-18 Team Canada Roster in the World Under-18 Hockey Championships April 9-19 in Fargo, North Dakota.
He certainly fits the bill for the kind of team Tambellini wants to build, even if he might not be ready to play for a couple of seasons. Who knows, he might make the kind of transition Sam Gagner made to the NHL but that kind of smooth crossover is usually rare.
I think we need to find a checking centerman for the third line who fits into the age gap that Bruce identified. This would ease the distance between the young skilled forwards and the aged veteran defensive minds. Mike Peca no longer fits into this role but if we could find a similar speedy, strong, faceoff specialist type of guy to fill this role - Tambellini, it would be much appreciated.
As you all know, MacTavish was fired today. Here is a quote from Steve Tambellini's Live Press Conference on the New Direction:
"I have in my mind the type of coach that I'm looking for. We're going to be... people are going to ask: 'When do you think we're gonna have a coach in place?' and I'm going to say, 'When we get the right guy.' Unfortunately we have a few months to watch of hockey here - to think about potential people and people who will become available [...] we want an aggressive type of play... we want an emotional team... we want a team that is not standing on their heels."
we have a few months to watch of hockey
people who will become available
aggressive type of play
an emotional team
The last two points sound like the Oilers up until (1) the Stanley Cup playoffs of 05-06 and (2) the trade of Ryan Smyth. Afterwards, guys like Jason Smith followed, and much of what made the Oilers the Oilers was gone. I think Tambellini is trying to go back to those days of Oiler pride without sacrificing the kind of skill team Lowe has built.
Although I'm a big fan of Pat Quinn myself, extrapolating from what I think are big clues from Tambellini's press conference makes me think of two specific head coach candidates:
Ted Nolan has a reputation for coaching emotional, aggressive teams that have accountability and intensity. Tambellini has made it clear that he wants to build a stronger, grittier team and who better than Ted Nolan to craft such a squad? The flipside is that he has also been rumoured to alienated individual players and himself from the GMs and ownership group. With such few coaching stints in the last decade, its hard to evaluate him since the Islanders, his last stop, was also such a flawed NHL franchise - flawed like anything that has to do with Garth Snow.
Pat Quinn is also capable of coaching intense, aggressive teams in an "old school" kind of fashion. But is he a long term solution? I don't think so. His age and coaching style might be at odds with some of the players on this team.
As for Paul MacLean, he has been rumoured a few times as a potential candidate for the Oilers. The current Detroit Red Wings assistant coach is a free agent this summer and has a lot of experience with special teams. When Tambellini spoke of waiting a few months and waiting for certain guys to become available, I think that points to MacLean being on his shortlist.
Also of consideration is Brent Sutter, who has been rumoured extensively and is currently coaching the New Jersey Devils in the playoffs. He's another guy for whom the Oilers would have to wait to become available.
Potential Coach Shortlist (extrapolated from Tambellini)
I don't support the rumour of Mark Messier becoming head coach based purely on lack of NHL coaching experience. Sure, Kevin Lowe did it. Craig MacTavish did it. But the Oilers and Tambellini are setting the bar high this time and I think Mark Messier would be most useful in an assistant coach position at this point in time.
One thing is clear though ... our next head coach better not be Kelly Buchberger.
This guy reminds me of a cross between Tommy Salo and Wade Flaherty. He's not a stand up goalie, he's not really a butterfly goalie, and he's not really a flopper either, but he's super flexible. Seems Jonas never gives up on a play and has his head on where the puck is at all times. He has the ability to carry a team and with the right set-up could be a very successful NHL goalie.
He also just rose to the top of my wish list for this summer's UFA hopefuls. Combined with one of Roloson or DesLauriers, this could be a pretty decent acquisition.
Goaltending depth players with good technical skills
Forward depth (size and skill)
Names of interest for the upcoming draft:
Victor Hedman/Jonathan Tavares/Matt Duchene/Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi (forget about these four, it aint gonna happen)
Evander Kane/Braydon Schenn/Jared Cowan/Nazem Kadri (chances are slim)
MORE ON THESE GUYS AFTER OILERS FARM ASSESSMENT
OILERS FARM ASSESSMENT
Because some of these guys have surpassed the age where one would normally be considered a "Prospect," I've decided to call them "Top Young Players" instead.
* = has played NHL games
Oilers' Top Young Forward Players
1. Riley Nash 2. Jordan Eberle 3. Linus Omark 4. Chris Vandevelde 5. Rob Schremp*
Jordan Eberle has played a few games in Springfield already. I doubt he will make the team next year even though he is the golden boy from the WJC. I think it would be better for him to be a top player in Springfield than a press box player in Edmonton.
This is the make-or-break off-season for Rob Schremp. Rumour is that he is fed up and headed to Europe. My hope is that a coaching change will see him get some NHL minutes because it's a shame to waste his talents. But if he has to wait until July 1 to sign his new KHL contract, I would suggest moving him for a low draft pick to avoid losing him for nothing. What a waste.
Chris Vandevelde has spoken about not feeling "ready" for the NHL due to lack of progress in the NCAA and has opted for one more year of collegiate hockey. Some have suggested he is doing this to prolong his Oilers' signing rights and waiting it out until he can sign as a UFA (for the rookie max) somewhere else, like Blake Wheeler. I hope this isn't the case.
Linus Omark has already signed elsewhere in Europe so he won't be in the Oilers' plans for another couple of seasons. If he ends up being a UFA at the end of all of this, I think we're starting to see a pattern about how the organization is perceived by players and player agents ...
This is also a make-or-break off-season for JF Jacques, Marc Pouliot, and Ryan O'Marra. Depending on the level of commitment the Oilers make towards the RFA's Gilbert Brule, Ryan Potulny, and Liam Reddox, one or all of those 3 guys could be moved. I know Jacques and Pouliot have one more year remaining but thus far in their careers they have been consistently bottom-dwellers of the Oilers depth chart. I could see the Oilers hanging onto Jacques but not Pouliot. Consider also that in one more year the Oilers will have to resign or move one of Gagner/Cogliano. With the second line depth being pretty full and these guys not filling any of those checking roles, it's hard to say that guys like Pouliot, Potulny and O'Marra will be back in Oiler uniforms. If the Oilers do resign Brule, he will start the year in Springfield. It is also beyond question that the Oilers will resign Kyle Brodziak.
In summary, the Oilers have a lot of good young players and prospects in the forward department. If an phenomenal talent were available I'd suggest drafting a forward but as it stands right now the needs are deeper for D and G in the Oilers farm system.
Oilers' Top Young Defense Players
1. Theo Peckham* 2. Jeff Petry 3. Taylor Chorney* 4. Sebastien Bisaillon* T5. Alex Plante T5. Joseph Hrabal T5. Cody Wild
I have made it clear many times that Theo Peckham is ready for the NHL. Whether the Oilers agree is another thing but I think he's ready to make the jump for full-time work. His potential partners next season could be anyone of Staios, Strudwick, or Smid, depending on who gets moved and who gets resigned. If it was up to me, all of those 3 would find new homes this summer but in hindsight it would be wise to keep Smid because at his age he can still reach that upside he shows flashes of. Too bad Smid requested a trade, though.
The Oilers have high hopes for Chorney and Petry. Chorney has been worked on extensively by the Oilers in hope that he can be the next great puck-moving D-man. I think at worst he could be a Danny Syvret type of player and at best he'd be a John-Michael Liles (without the big slapshot). Unless his skating and defensive game improves by leaps and bounds, I don't see him coming through on what everyone expects him to be, some sort of puck-moving messiah. As for Petry, I'm still undecided.
I believe Bisaillon's comparison to Marc-Andre Bergeron is a fair comparison except I think Bisaillon has shown that he has a lot more to his game than Bergeron. I go to the Golden Bears vs Oilers Prospects game every year and it seems to me Bisaillon has more spunk and better passing. Sure, Bergeron has that nasty hipcheck. But that's quite the limited résumé. I think Bisaillon could be utilized as an older, more experienced alternative to Taylor Chorney in future call-ups.
The reason I've included Wild/Hrabal/Plante together is because of the uncertainty around them due to their season. Hrabal and Wild were both injured and also had to suffer trips to the ECHL and there was talk about a rift between the Springfield former coach and these two players. Before I can assess their usefulness to the organization, it will remain to be seen what they can do for Springfield under a new coach in the brand new season. I think Wild has the most upside. There are rumours of the Oilers not qualifying Plante, who they drafted for his size and offensive upside. How high is his offensive upside? I'm not very optimistic about resigning him and I'd be okay with letting him go.
Besides Bisaillon, Wild and Hrabal, we also have a lot of other guys who have dinstinct skills that are being under-utilized: Bryan Young*, Mathieu Roy*, and Jordan Bendfeld. I believe the days for Roy in the Oilers system are obviously numbered but I think Bryan Young is a cheap alternative to resigning Staios, and should allow the Oilers to keep either Smid or Strudwick.
The Oilers D-core is definitely in need of a few prospects.
Oilers' Top Young Goalie Players
1. Jeff DesLauriers* 2. Dany Sabourin* 3. Devan Dubnyk 4. Bryan Pitton 5. Andrew Perugini
Thickoil has suggsted the Oilers acquire Jaroslav Halak instead of playing Jeff DesLauriers. Though I think Halak is a good goalie in his own right, I'm a firm believer in organizations developing their own goalies. Of the top goalies in the league, only Luongo, Khabibulin, Vokoun, and Kiprusoff didn't come up through their current team's system. Historically too, most of the league's best goalies established themselves in their own farm system first.
Not to say DesLauriers has an inner "Patrick Roy" dying to get out, but I think he's earned his due in the Oilers system. I think the Oilers could probably start the season with the same goalie tandem as now and still be fine. But the point is, I think if the Oilers keep stocking the system with good technical goalies who play with consistency and superb athleticism, there's nothing Pete Peeters can't teach 'em.
However, this is not to say the conditions couldn't be improved. I'm sure Tambellini has already shown that he is willing to go out and make deals to fill holes - though the O'Sullivan acquistion was a bit puzzling considering he's battling Penner and Nilsson for ice time ... now the point is that the Oilers goaltending system is bare. DesLauriers is looking better but both he and Dubnyk have had question marks raised about their consistency. Wouldn't hurt to reinforce the system with some fresh blood. Such as is the case, it's time to cut Glenn Fisher loose, since he's taking up roster room in Stockton and Springfield.
In the upcoming draft, the Oilers need to draft a couple good goalie prospects.
SUGGESTIONS FOR OILERS WISHLIST
1-2 offensive defenseman: the Oilers have a lot of defensive, gritty d-men to choose from. Whether it is Staios, Smid, Strudwick, Peckham, or eventually Petry or even Young or Motin. There are some great offensive D-man prospects in this draft. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a Niklas Listrom comparable due to his calm decision making and slick passing; Dmitry Kulikov (seen getting hit by Patrice Cormer in above photo) has been described as an all-around defeseman with a mean streak. If that's not enough, remember that Ryan Ellis, a speedy and skilled puck-moving D-man from the Canadian WJC squad is still projected to be available past the top 10 picks. There's a lot of defensive skill available in this draft after Victor Hedman and the Oilers should not let it go to waste. Another thing is I believe that offensive D-men are a lot harder to find than defensive D-men. You can teach defense but you can't teach offense. The Oilers are best to look for defensive help via trade or UFA rather than drafting. The future offensive talent on any blueline should be developed long-term.
Good technical goalie(s): Local product Kieran Millan is the freshman phenom carrying powerhouse Boston University to a Frozen Four NCAA championship this year. Not only is he a good technical goalie, he has a mean streak too. When crashing of his crease has occured, he has not been shaken up but rather is not willing to back down to invading forwards, as demonstrated in the past. The Oilers missed out on a potential gold mine in local product Cam Ward. I'm not saying Millan is going to be the next Stanley Cup champion goalie, but his resume so far is among the best. Plus, the Oilers love college prospects.
Forward Depth: with the inevitable departure of Rob Schremp, Marc Pouliot, and Ryan O'Marra, it would be wise to fill it with some unheralded offensive talent from either the WHL, OHL, or QMJHL - leagues that have traditionally yielded good picks for the Oilers. It may end up being that neither Ekman-Larsson or Kulikov are still available by the time the Oilers pick. I think Jacob Josefsen and Zack Kassian are just the kind of players the Oilers need: strong wingers with size and skill. Josefsen is a highly-touted prospect from the Swedish hockey system and Zack Kassian has seen a marked improvement this past season playing in Peterborough. With Eberle's new contract it's guaranteed that he'll be playing pro somewhere next season, and coupled with Vandevelde committing another year to college - the time is ripe to add some forward depth into the system.
Stortini (A)-Did everything I wanted him to, got better at fighting.
Rolison (A)-Played like a backup all season. Amazing for stretches, mediocore for other stretches. Was overworked. I think he's best when he's being pushed by another competitive goalie. We would be picking a top-5 draft pick if it weren't for him.
Grebeshkov (A-)-Excellent season for Grebeshkov. One of the more genious moves by Klowe to pry this gem from the Islanders for Bergeron. Grebeshkov lead the team in +/-, including being 0 in the blowout against Buffalo and +1 in the whopping we recieved from Detroit. His giveaways are a flaw in his game, but he improved in that area this season.
Souray (A-)-Had a great season, he started off arguably in a Norris type form. However ended the season considerably weaker. His footspeed is already a problem and I hate to see what it's gonna be like in 2-3 years.
Hemsky (B+)-How long should we wait for him to bloom into a superstar. He hasn't gotten a PPG yet. He does have the ability to take over the game and control it. He did it in a stretch that led up to the Glen Anderson ceremony. Since that game he was mostly invisible for the most part. I think if someone offered the right package for Hemsky, I'd do it.
Reddox (B+)-I didn't really think he'd play at all for the Oilers this season. I thought he was effective in his 4th line role. When he was misused on the 1st line I was pretty livid, but thats a coaching error.
Peckham (B+)-I like this kid alot. I think he'll be a fan favorite assuming we don't trade him like we did to Matt Greene. I think he has top 4-potential.
Visnovsky (B+)-I'd say he was our best player this season. I gave him a lower rating because he was injured and at the end of the day, his presence in the rehab center did not help the Oilers in the last half of the season.
Gagner (B)-He started the season overconfident and was actual evidence of the "sophomore slump" during the first half of the season. After building minor chemistry with Cole in the latter half of the season, he ended the last 20 games with a PPG average. Although he didn't surpass his point production from last year, I'd say Gagner was overall better this year ending the season at -1 vs. the -21 he ended the season at last season.
Cogliano (B)-Another player misused in a 3rd line checking role. He had the 4th most goals on the team at 18. His speed is obviously his greatest asset. Honestly don't think he'll be an Oiler for long.
Gilbert (B)-45 points for a guy who for most of the season was overshadowed by Souray and Visnovsky. I'm not his largest fan as I don't like his defensive game. Personally I think he's our greatest trading asset.
MacIntyre (B)-He fulfilled my expectations. Was effectively early in the season at crushing Calgary with a massive hit. He had 2 goals in minimal ice time this season. Was pretty shaky defensively.
Kotalik (B-)-He came here and started off soft, but that's expected with a new team and new settings, but he managed to adapt to our system and ended the season on a high note. I hope the Oilers resign him for <3 million.
Horcoff (B-)-I'll probably get the most flack for this rating. Horcoff had a good season. Sure offensively I'd say he was about a C, but defensively he was a A. Due to pisspoor management Horcoff had to play the most minutes of any Oiler forward this season and take the most faceoffs ever as a Oiler. He took the majority of defensive zone faceoffs for this team. He supposedly was playing with a injury for the whole season.
Pisani (B-)-He was injured again for most of the season which really didn't help the team. When he came back our PK got considerably better.
Smid (C+)-I'd say this year was a lateral move for Smid. I found he wasn't as aggressive as last season. He still looks like he has the ability to play a solid 2 way game.
Deslauriers (C+)-This guy is a career backup, nothing else. He's okay in short short stretches. Our goaltending depth is scary moving forward.
O'Sullivan (C+)-Again, really didn't see enough of this guy to make a decent reading. He came here and his production dropped. Not a huge fan of his game, but to me he's just another asset that could be added to a trade.
Penner (C+)-I expected big things from him this season. Him and Nilsson were completely mismanaged all season long. His best numbers came when he played with Hemsky and Horcoff, and both Hemsky and Horcoff both had their best numbers when Penner was on their line.
Nilsson (C+)-Started off the season slow. After too many benchings to count, he came back after each one with a bit of fire. I personally liked his last quarter of the season, but somehow he still managed to get the short end of the stick when it came to icetime.
Staios (C)-Just a notch above Strudwick for defensive ability. I'd say his high of the season was the game against Washington where he managed to shut down Ovechkin. There was a period where he was being overworked and it showed. Personally it's time for Peckham to slowly translate into his role.
Strudwick (C-)-For a 7th defensemen, he was okay in short stretchs. Otherwise he was pretty terrible. For less then a million still a good guy to keep around the lockerroom.
Moreaus (D+)-I'd say this was his real "first" year at being captain. His job was to help to show on and off the ice the passion the guys needed for 82 games this season. I don't think I saw that passion for more than 1 or 2 games. Offensively he put up okay numbers. His bad timing for taking a penalty killed us in several games in the middle of the season because of our abysmal PK.
Brodziak (D)-Last year was 1 step forward with a great run at the end of the season. This year was 2 steps back. I feel bad for the guy because for the most part he was playing with offensively disabled players the whole season. He PK work was solid. I'd still consider him a project.
Pouliot (F)-Bad draft notwithstanding, I'm just done with this guy. Fringe prospects like Brule, Schremp, Jacques didn't play enough for me to rate them.
Boulerice (F-)-Most useless Oiler of all time.
Cole (B-)-Came here and dissapointed me. Goes back to Carolina and rips it up. I'd say he was misused.
Team Average (B-)- Assuming 8th place is a B or average, this team was below average and just missed the playoffs. Disappointing season.
Who has suffered through the most this season with lineup squabbles and the mismanagement of player resources?
Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers - this guy needs more games if he's going to be in your future plans
Dustin Penner - doesn't matter if he's one of the more effective players statistically - he looks lazy so let's just call him fat and all feel better about ourselves; he's played every position except goalie and defense
Steve Staios - he's babysitted everyone this season - poor Steady Steve
Ladislav Smid - the organization should either commit to him or move him
Robert Nilsson - suffers from not being given a defined role on the team with 4 other guys just like him
Andrew Cogliano - is not built like a checking center but is playing one
Rob Schremp - the organization should either commit to him or move him
Zach Stortini - guy on the team with the most consistent effort but not always given enough ice time
Who has gained the most from this season?
Sam Gagner - despite his gargantuan early season struggles has finally come around near the end of the season: way to go Samwise; if Hemsky doesn't wise up soon this team will soon be Gagner's
Dwayne Roloson - has shown all the naysayers that he still has some fuel left in the gas tank - ehough to re-sign ... who knows ...
Ales Hemsky - Hemsky has not been consistent enough this season with good and bad stretches and the team lives and dies with his successes and failures: it's time for him to man up because the organization has already made this his team
Liam Reddox - self-explanatory, and Reddox works as hard as Zach Stortini
Kyle Brodziak - needs to play with more fire - pretty unreliable for an energy line player
Steve MacIntyre - has become a cult hero
Sheldon Souray - with the puck always in the Oilers defensive end, has had to go back to being a bruising defenseman; can still be better but Montreal is missing out
Tom Gilbert - has proved to the Oilers fans that his contract extension was not a mistake
Denis Grebeshkov - when he was acquired was a big question mark but with his play has shown that he is either on par with or has surpassed many of the other defenseman on this team
Which player has neither improved or gotten worse?
Fernando Pisani - effective defensive forward whose presence makes the Oilers better
Shawn Horcoff - injuries are hard to recover from and who knows what that means for the Horcoff who sports the brand new contract ...
Ethan Moreau - captain Moreau plays a simple game and gives it blood and vinegar every shift; he's not the best with the media though
Lubomir Visnovsky - injuries suck
Patrick O'Sullivan - we're still waiting
Ales Kotalik - we're still waiting
Theo Peckham - limited ice time means limited improvement, if at all
Mathieu Roy - who is this again? the organization should either commit to him or move him
Gilbert Brule - with Robert Nilsson, Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Rob Schremp ahead of him, and Potulny, Eberle, Omark, and Nash close behind, it's gonna be tough times ahead for one Gilbert Brule
Ryan Potulny - relatively cheap depth forward with huge offensive upside - too bad the Springfield Falcons suck some serious balls
Jason Strudwick - what do you expect, it's Jason Strudwick
JF Jacques - needs to stay healthy long enough to be evaluated, but from what I've seen is the poor man's Brad Winchester ... and that's not saying much
Marc Antoine Pouliot - what have you done for me lately?
TOI/60 is 9th on the team (but Visnovsky and Smid are injured, so he is now 7th)
In terms of QUALCOMP and QUALTEAM he is just a John Doe
GFON is 45 and GAON is 46 - practically a wash
Now, it's interesting to find Patrick O'Sullivan trailing Rob Schremp, JF Jacques, Ryan Potulny, and Zach Stortini in terms of PTS/60 - but then again, so is pretty much everyone else on the team. I'm guessing this is from a small sample size and not that accurate. But it does show one thing about Zach Stortini who's played quite a bit this season - he's pretty damn reliable.
The highest Corsi number on LA? Trevor Lewis at 20.1 and the pair of Tom Preissing and Anze Kopitar at 10.4 - but Lewis has spent most of his season in Manchester though.
What I seem to get from these stats is that Patrick O'Sullivan is not as great as I keep hearing that he's supposed to be - at least not yet. He has all the skills, but is he using them effectively? His points-per-game clip has dropped but I think some of that is attributable to coming to a new team. Is his frustration boiling over - or is it the new system? Who knows, but he has almost matched his entire season's output of PIM from when he was in LA in just 16 games here in Edmonton.
O'Sullivan and Nilsson seem to have chemistry and have reignited the fire under Sam Gagner's ass. I'm still worried about the size of that line should we make the playoffs or even next season. As for Penner on the 4th line - that's just a total mismanagement of human resources.
Jacques and Stortini usually hem the opposition in their own zone and Penner is a 1st-2nd line player who is not that useful in a 3rd-4th line kind of role. Out of Penner/Nilsson/O'Sullivan/Kotalik you can only play 3 of them and right now it's not smart to play Penner on the 4th line where he is not effective: I think they should just play him or scratch him, and put Jacques in.
The Oilers are within one of Anaheim with only a little bit of the third left to play but they fall short, and take a penalty for checking a Teemu Selanne stick that wasn't illegal - or was it? Whether or not it was is not central to the outcome of the season, since it already happened. But the question should be, does MacTavish deserve the bad rap for making this call? Is it really the straw that broke the camel's back as some MacTavish headhunters have been calling it?
Let's review the information and see what checks out:
Bobby Ryan thinks that Selanne's stick was indeed illegal - source
Referee Fraser disagrees (same source as above)
Selanne has been caught with illegal sticks before - source
Craig MacTavish and other intelligence provided to him showed that the stick was likely illegal - he risked the call to get a two man advantage
Suneil from Addicted-to-Oil was at the game, sitting behind the penalty box. According to Suneil, the measurement was right up against the edge and a few more rounds of tape and it would've been clearly illegal.
We've all been really hard on MacBlender all season long for what we deem to be "boneheaded decisions." Some of these include:
Smid on LW
Penner at RW
Cole at LW
Pisani at C
starting Roloson in ... straight games
publically deriding Penner and Nilsson
But even some of these can be fairly countered:
Smid showed board presence and injuries opened up a spot for him to play rather than sit in the PB
Cole was a big off-season acquisition - they wanted him on the 1st line
Pisani at C and playing Roloson to the point of exhaustion is completely due to a lack of depth - a problem attributable to the GM and not to the coach
Publically deriding his players may or may not have paid off, depending on who you ask
But given the grey area around some of his other decisions, I think it is crystal clear that he has taken a disproportionately bad rap for the stick call against Anaheim. Some bandwagon hoppers consider this the "smoking gun" of all evidences in favour of a "Fire MacTavish solves all" approach to fixing "what's wrong" with the Edmonton Oilers.
What a load of bull.
Why this is not a smoking gun:
The winning goal was not scored as a result of the stick penalty
There are varying accounts of whether or not Selanne's stick was illegal - some was even expressed by his own teammates!
Selanne has a history of playing with illegal sticks and visual confirmation from MacTavish and fans in attendance also cast doubt on Fraser's account
MacTavish admitted his mistake, publically
MacTavish took the fall for this play, he admitted it, and he did so in front of the media. Of all the people in the Oilers administration, MacTavish, at the very least, has the balls to be brutally honest. He admitted his mistake and showed a transparency (one that has been consistent in all his years in Edmonton) that is not a common trait of all NHL coaches.
Plus, why fire a guy with 3 games to go? Oil Country is schizophrenic right now, with people calling for Katz to rip up the team, calls for MacTavish's head, and some lonely hockey fans holding out hope for the playoffs. Yeah, even I expressed a desire for a better draft pick by losing games. But is that realistic? Is it more desirable than the post-season?
The team cannot make evryone happy, and the pragmatic hockey ideology is to keep playing hard until being mathematically eliminated. But then, not all Oilers fans are hockey fans - which explains a lot about the foolishness of a team actually throwing games to get good draft picks. The Oilers administration, at least, is more honest than the Pittsburgh Penguins, who threw games for a few seasons to get Crosby and Malkin and are still having trouble keeping the core of the organization together.
Oilers fans are naturally demanding due to the small market size but some people have taken it too far this time. Bloodthirsty, MacTavish's head no longer satisfies anyone - they want to take the whole team. The standoffishness of the Jen Sharpe's and the Joe Blow's who have gathered around a general negativity brewing in Oil Country have left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. If the players don't like what's being written on the internet, they shouldn't read it. It is inevitable that no matter what a team does well or poorly, their will still be criticism abound on the internet. Conversely, a blogger can voice all the negativity he wants on the internet - and it doesn't count for anything and it sure as hell won't provoke the Oilers to do anything to the team.
Sure. The Boys on the Bus are pseudo-communist in their approach to the team, the MSM, and the fanbase. A lot of people have suggested that the Oilers are now becoming the "Poor Man's Leafs," accepting mediocrity year after year with the pretense that the fan base is unshakably loyal and that promotion within the organization is not due to merit.
But wait a second, what does this have to do with Craig MacTavish?
When teams pull their goalie they make the conscious decision to risk being scored on in order to tie the game. When MacTavish acted on information that the Selanne stick was illegal, he was doing exactly the same thing - taking a risk to maybe, just maybe, give his team a boost. Was the fact that it backfired the straw that broke the camel's back - or the timing? Teams don't usually take big gambles when they are leading in a game and that is exactly why it's always the losing team that does. To suggest that someone not gamble when they are trying to catch another team is just silly considering how often the goalie is pulled. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying to score that tying goal against Anaheim - and I'm glad that they pulled out all the stops to try to do it. I'm pissed that it took them 58 minutes to try and score, but better late than never, I guess.
The bottom line is, the winning goal was not scored on the play, and losing teams always take risks. Is firing MacTavish the solution to a bad Oilers team? Maybe. Is making a stick call that backfired the smoking gun that proves that he should be fired? Hardly.
I've taken part in "FMNF" chants in the past but sometimes you have to say "enough is enough," douchebags.
We've seen this throughout the years from Forsberg, Zhamnov, Jokinen, and Kopitar.
But I was always under the impression that this move originated from a familiar name: Kent Nilsson of Sweden, a former Calgary Flame and Edmonton Oiler.
If anyone knows whether or not Kent Nilsson is the father of the "jussi jokinen" deke, please let me know. I'm sure Robert Nilsson would know but I don't have access to him so that's that.
P.S. I was watching a lot of the shootout videos on YouTube since the Linus Omark clip and I noticed a lot of the compilations, the top-10's and top-15's are very Eastern Conference heavy with the exception of Pavel Datsyuk's move against Nashville that is infamous. I think it's time we included some of the crazy dangles from the West.
Oilers won a big game tonight in big fashion. Sam Gagner said after the game that they played the same tonight as every other night but I disagree: the desperation was crystal clear tonight and it should stay that way for the last 3 games. Sam Gagner had a big game and everyone else did too. I didn't watch the San Jose game but I heard they were pretty desperate in that game too. It was a playoff atmosphere out there and for once I was convinced that the Oilers were in the midst of a playoff race.
What is it about Vancouver that brings out the best in the Oilers? It just might be playing 6 games instead of 8 against divisional opponents that does the Oilers in this year (Vancouver, Colorado).
So what exactly are the Oilers' chances at making the playoffs? Jonathan Willis would probably cringe at these stats I'm about to use but I think they will give a good preview of what to expect. The LOSS % will not be a projection into the future, but is instead a number that represents the historical ratio. I wish I could tell the future, but I can't.
7 Anaheim 79 GP 41 W 32 L 6 OT 88 PTS 8 Nashville 79 GP 39 W 32 L 8 OT 86 PTS 9 St. Louis 79 GP 38 W 31 L 10 OT 86 PTS 10 Minnesota 78 GP 37 W 32 L 9 OT 83 PTS 11 Edmonton 79 GP 37 W 33 L 9 OT 83 PTS
Anaheim's Last 3 Games:
1) Sunday, April 5 - Sharks @ Ducks Season Series: 2-3-0 Edge: The Ducks pummeled the Sharks 5-2 today. The Ducks have outscored the Sharks 10-9. There is no edge to either the Sharks or the Ducks, but for the Oilers' sake, they will get their retribution Sunday. Losses: 60% - but no advantage to either team. The Sharks are the better team but the Ducks have something to play for. 2) Friday, April 10 - Stars @ Ducks Season Series: 2-2-1 Edge: The Stars have outscored the Ducks 16-13. Losses:60% - but like the Sharks/Ducks series there is no advantage to either team. The Stars play the spoiler role while the Ducks are fighting for a playoff spot. It is somewhat surprising that the Stars have outscored the Ducks but one look back sees a lot of the games went to OT and SO. Edmonton better hope that the Stars can win and in regulation because those extra points in OT losses by the Ducks will hurt the Oilers in the long run. 3) Saturday, April 11 - Ducks @ Coyotes Season Series: 4-1-0 Edge: Definitely Anaheim, who have outscored Phoenix 20-11. Losses: 20% - Phoenix has not been a very good spoiler team this year - except against Edmonton. Conclusion on Anaheim: With an average loss history of 46.7%, it is fair to say that the Oilers shouldn't count on getting any help from the teams that play the Ducks, especially if they keep racking up the extra points in OT sessions.
Nashville's Last 3 Games:
1) Tuesday, April 7 - Blackhawks @ Predators Season Series: 3-2-0 Edge: Neither. The Preds have outscored the Blackhawks 14-10. There is some major offense on both teams but the Preds have had the answer against the Hawks this season. Losses: 40% - with a slight advantage to the Preds. 2) Thursday, April 9 - Predators @ Red Wings Season Series: 3-2-0 Edge: Neither. The Preds have outscored the Wings 20-16, but mostly due to a lopsided 8-0 win back in February. Advantage Nashville. Losses:40% - but like the Sharks/Ducks series there is no advantage to either team. The mighty Wings have been embarassed all season by the Preds who seem to have the answer to their system. And this is likely to get more lopsided considering the Preds are trying to secure a playoff spot. 3) Friday, April 10 - Predators @ Wild Season Series: 2-1-0 Edge: Predators. The Wild have outscored the Preds 6-5 but have been shutout by them twice in a row, which reveals a deeper offensive problem. Losses: 33.3% - Nashville has been hungrier than Minnesota of late. Conclusion on Nashville: With an average loss history of 37.8%, it is fair to say that the Oilers shouldn't count on getting any help from the teams that play the Preds, especially since Nashville has been good offensively and defensively. The funny part is that their offensve has clicked against the offense-laden Red Wings and their defense has clicked by shutting out the defense-first Wild.
St. Louis' Last 3 Games:
1) Tuesday, April 7 - Blues @ Coyotes Season Series: 3-0-0 Edge: Blues - but only slightly. The Blues have outscored the Coyotes 9-5, but they have not completely dominated them as they won by 1 goal in 2 of them. Losses: 0% - but only a slight advantage to the Blues. 2) Friday, April 10 - Blue Jackets @ Blues Season Series: 4-1-0 Edge: Blues. The Blues have outscored the Blue Jackets 21-13. Losses:20% - the Blues have completed dominated the Blue Jackets this season but Columbus has points in 7 of their last 8 games, so they will definitely put up a fight. 3) Sunday, April 12 - Blues @ Avalanche Season Series: 2-1-0 Edge: Blues. The Blues have outscored the Avs 10-6 with two straight wins. Losses: 33.3% - the Avalanche are done like dinner. Conclusion on St. Louis: With an average loss history of 17.8%, it is fair to say that the Oilers shouldn't count on getting any help from the teams that play the Blues. Of all the teams the Oilers are chasing, St. Louis has the easiest schedule.
Minnesota's Last 4 Games:
1) Sunday, April 5 - Wild @ Red Wings Season Series: 1-1-1 Edge: Red Wings - but only slightly. Both teams have scored 9 goals apiece and one of the Red Wings' wins came in OT. The last meeting was a Wild 5-2 win. Losses: 66.7% - but don't count out Minnesota's ability to stifle the Red Wings' weapons. 2) Tuesday, April 7 - Stars @ Wild Season Series: 0-2-1 Edge: Stars. The Stars have outscored the Wild 11-7. Though most losses were close games and one loss was in OT, the Wild do not know what to do about the stars. Losses:100% - this is the last chance for the Wild to win against the Stars and I wouldn't count on it happening. 3) Friday, April 10 - Predators @ Wild Season Series: 2-1-0 Edge: Predators. The Wild have outscored the Preds 6-5 but have been shutout by them twice in a row, which reveals a deeper offensive problem. Losses: 33.3% - Nashville has been hungrier than Minnesota of late. 4) Saturday, April 11 - Wild @ Blue Jackets Season Series: 2-1-0 Edge: Neither. The Blue Jackets are good at getting those OT points and both teams have 7 goals in the season series. Losses: 33.3% - should be an interesting game to see if Blue Jackets can even the season series. Conclusion on Minnesota: With an average loss history of 58.3%, it is fair to say that the Oilers can count on the Wild continuing their losing ways against these 4 teams. It will still be close, though.
Edmonton's Last 3 Games:
1) Tuesday, April 7 - Kings @ Oilers Season Series: 2-1-0 Edge: Oilers - but only slightly. The Oilers have outscored the Kings 9-7, but they have not had any real edge as all games between the two have been won by 1 goal. Losses: 33.3% - the Kings are playing spoiler this time of year but their are a lot of ex-Oilers and ex-Kings on both sides and it could get intense. 2) Friday, April 10 - Flames @ Oilers 3) Saturday, April 11 - Oilers @ Flames Season Series: 2-1-1 Edge: Oilers - but only slightly. The Flames have outscored the Oilers 14-13 but one of those goals was awarded as the result of a SO win so it is actually a lot closer than it looks. Losses:50% - the Flames are still fighting for a division title and home-ice advantage; the Oilers are fighting for their playoff lives. Should be interesting but it can swing either way. Conclusion on Edmonton: With an average loss history of 41.6%, it is fair to say that the Oilers have a relatively easy schedule compared to Anaheim and Minnesota. Still, analyzing the teams that each of them are playing, it would seem that with the exception of Minnesota, there is no clear advantage for any team playing the teams that Edmonton is chasing. Frankly, even the teams that Edmonton is facing have not been easy wins for them this season. Simply put, the Oilers have their work cut out for them.
The Oilers' Circle of Friends for the Last 3 Games
Phoenix Coyotes play the Ducks and the Blues
Edmonton plays Calgary twice: the Flames need to lose
Columbus Blue Jackets play the Blues and the Wild
The Predators and the Wild both face the Detroit Red Wings
Cheer for Phoenix, Columbus and Detroit. Hope that Calgary loses.
Teams the Oilers are chasing that play each other at least once
Predators and Wild
Hope that their game on Friday, April 10 does not go into overtime.
Chances for the Oilers to make the Playoffs
Bad. Put still possible. The Oilers may not make it even if they do win their last 3 games. But it is mathematically possible if one if Anaheim, St. Louis, Minnesota, or Nashville loses 2 games or more, and without going into overtime, coupled with 3 straight Oiler wins.
If the Oilers miss the playoffs, they will think back on the 3-2 and 3-0 shutout losses to the Wild and Anaheim's most recent 5-3 win as games that should've been won - because these are the same teams the Oilers are chasing now.
I wrote back on Dec. 3 that Robbie Schremp was looking more like a real NHL player, and maybe even with shades of Ryan Smyth to him. He was interacting with fans, crashing the net, and finishing his checks. Hell, he was even backchecking.
The consensus was that when he was sent back down to Springfield that he pouted about it and this is why he never was really given a second chance with the club this year. I would be pretty peeved too if I had gotten 3 points in 3 games and was sent back down to Springfield.
Would I pout? Depends on what you define as pouting. But I think it would be silly to suggest Schremp went out of his way to show his discontent, unless it was really explicit. Schremp is not the only Falcon that has struggled this year.
Wild, Trukhno, along with Schremp and others, suffered until the coaching change happened. And afterwards too. I think unless the Oilers do a major overhaul and reconceptualization of how the farm team is run, it will be hard to get a streamlined supply of young guys to fill in for injured players on the big club.
The fact that DesLauriers was has not played that much this season with either club hurts the team as well, since this is the same situation as years past despite the organization's obvious commitment to this player. In the past, it was about DesLauriers sharing space on other NHL farm teams and thus not getting his fair share of net time. This year, even with the departure of Garon, the Oilers playoff push coupled with his waiver eligibility has effectively shut out DesLauriers chance of getting some playing time - again.
On top of that, pretty much all of the Oilers farm goalies have struggle this season. Though Dubnyk had some good stretches he too has struggled with consistency overall. It's true what they say though, it takes time to build chemistry and it has been a few turbulent years in the Oilers system both on the NHL team and on the farm team. I think it would be wise to make limited changes to the overall makeup.
Limited, but effective changes.
Summer Trade Bait
Robert Nilsson - gone Jason Strudwick - gone Denis Grebeskhov or Tom Gilbert - gone Marc Pouliot - gone Ladislav Smid - resign him long-term or trade him JF Jacques - resign him long-term or trade him Liam Reddox - back to Springfield Steve MacIntyre - back to Springfield PP/PK - hire new Special Teams strategists for the love of God Dwayne Roloson - resign (at discounted rate - it's a bad economy!)
Tom Gilbert is my favorite D-man besides Visnovsky, on this team. However, it is inevitable that the organization will either deal one of him or Grebs or else the team will have to cut some of the prospect D loose. The latter possibility is unlikely (or should be unlikely) to happen. Grebs has huge upside but Gilbert is pretty consistent and is signed long-term to a pretty good price. It could go either way. As for Smid, the time has come for the team to either commit to him or trade him.
For what we're paying Robert Nilsson, I'd rather keep Penner at a few million more because he contributes way more to this team than Bobby. Robert has flashes of brilliance but after his long stay here he still has not shown that he is a full-time hockey player because he disappears for long stretches of the season.
As for Pouliot and Jacques - it's time to ship them off to Montreal. We have what they need: grit and toughness. They have what we need: PP specialists. It will take more than these two throwaways to entice a deal but it's a start.
Rob Schremp - gone Mathieu Roy - gone Ryan O'Marra - gone Glenn Fisher - gone Bryan Young - call up Theo Peckham - permanent stay Dany Sabourin - resign (at discounted rate!)
Schremp and Roy deserve better, much in the same way as Smid. They have reached the point where playing limited minutes is not helping them more than it is hurting them. It is time to find out just how much they have to offer. If the Oilers feel what they offer is higher on the market than on the roster, then save them another year of roster confusion and send them to a team that needs that kind of depth. Schremp especially is the kind of guy that teams are looking for. He falls into the Nokelainen and Grabovski category of players that are good 2nd-3rd line players on rebuilding teams that have lots of offensive upside and an attitude to improve their defensive standing. Good on them. Plus, if Schremp has been edged out by the Brule's, Eberle's, Omark's, and Gagner's, the organization has already made an anti-commitment to these players. Roy has shown some offensive ability and lots of grit as D-man. Roy is a good D-man if he could keep his head up.
Bryan Young can't play LW, but not everyone that MacTavish played at that position this year was necessarily proficient at it. That goes without saying, I guess. I think Bryan Young can effectively fill that Strudwick role and maybe exceed him considering he's still relatively young. Peckham is ready for full time work and I think it's time to promote him to the big leagues.
Glenn Fisher isn't an Oiler prospect anymore and he's still eating up room for our other goalie prospects - Sabourin, Dubnyk, and Pitton. Time to cut him loose.
As for O'Marra and other guys like Geoff Paukovich and Colin McDonald - the time is now or never. At the upcoming prospects camp they need to make waves or else they will be passed by an onslaught of younger, skilled players on this team. Their niches are cheap, role-playing 3rd and 4th liners with "some offensive ability" considering McDonald has always had something of a good wristshot. Paukovich is a big man and he could maybe fill that 4th line center role allowing Brodziak to fill the middle permanently between Pisani and Moreau.
Where Kotalik and O'Sullivan fit in next year depends on what the team decides to do with Penner, and how they evaluate Omark and Eberle. Chances are that Eberle and Omark start the year in the AHL and tear up the league; most likely, Kotalik resigns in the Eastern conference.
I want to resign Dany Sabourin because at Roloson's current age, who knows how long before playing all these games every season does him in. He is 39 and not exactly a spring chicken anymore. He can still play well like Dominik Hasek did when he came back to the league - but the clock is ticking and having insurance doesn't hurt, especially if Dubnyk has shown that he's nowhere close to taking the next step.
Jay Bo Rumours
There are rumours of Jay Bo coming to town. There is speculation about whether or not he wants to play here. I will ignore that speculation.
Unless there is some sort of major movement on the blueline, I don't see why signing him would make sense. It's true that you always take the best player available and then work from there - but would signing Jay Bo make this team better? If it means the Oilers are perennially pushed up against the cap due to over-commitment to 4 D-men - I would say NO to the question of whether signing Jay Bo makes us a better team.
1. The Oilers are not in the middle of a playoff race. That was a week and a half ago. The St. Louis Blues passed the Oilers a long time ago. 2. Kevin Lowe, you were disappointed with how that one game went. The fans are disappointed with how the whole season has been: characterized by inconsistency.
Yes, there is a lot of negativity on the Oilogosphere. Some of it isn't warranted. A lot of it is.
Linus Omark with a sexy sexy shootout goal. Currently he's 3rd in the SEL in scoring with 55 points in 53 games (23G 32A). He could be the winger Hemsky needs. The current drawback to him is his size, he's 5'9'' and 168 atm. This would make him the smallest forward on the Oilers and also doesn't help when this team lacks physical aggression. Personally I believe this team would be well suited for any of the Eastern divisions. Anyways just though y'all should see this sexy goal.