Friday, January 05, 2007

Oilers Dig Big Hole, Take Wrong Turn in Own Zone

One of my favourite actors. Bugs Bunny. Incredible range.
And running with the BipOilers theme - the classic Hyde And Hare episode.
In their last eight games the Oilers scored two goals three times and lost each one. Scored three once and won. Scored four or more four times and picked up a whopping three points, including a five goal game (last night) where they were two seconds from losing in regulation and a six goal game where they also lost in regulation.
Uh, yeah, that's not so great.
With the arrival of Nedved rumours have begun to fly fast and furious. The usually reliable Duhatschek surmised earlier this week that the Oilers might move Horcoff or Stoll to the Sens for Tom Preissing.
He wasn't the only one to say that either Horcoff or Stoll might get moved.
Let's look at the Oilers shall we?
Centre - Horcoff, Stoll, Sykora/Nedved, Reasoner, Petersen, Pouliot, Brodziak, Schremp
That's the depth chart I think. Presently. Unless Lowe rips this thing apart, I mean, burns it to the ground, he is not moving those first two guys.
Horcoff has struggled mightily and I can't see anyone picking him up at that price anyway but there's no way the Oilers get rid of these guys. Common sense dictates it. If Lowe were to move Stoll, let's say, and then Sykora, who many feel is out of position anyway, moves on this summer, then their centre depth looks something like this:
Horcoff, Reasoner, Pouliot, Petersen etc etc
On a team that struggles defensively and has few guys who can play tough minutes, I don't think they're going to move many of the guys who can. And what the hell good does a puck moving Dman do for you when that's what you have up the middle? So scratch Horcoff and Stoll as tradebait unless its a blockbuster and there's a centre coming the other way.
Its the same with the LW.
Smyth, Sykora, Torres, Moreau, Jacques, Mikhnov etc
With Smyth and Sykora UFA this summer I can guarantee (kiss of death) that they're not moving Torres. He's a basket case but he's a plus nine, he is one of the few intimidating players on this team and he's going to likely end up ~ 20 goals (that ok, guys?). Plus his pricetag is reasonable. If Lowe was to move him and then Smytty and Sykora walk you're looking at a LW of ... well, its pointless, so we won't even bother.
Nah, the real tradebait is coming from one of four places:
1/Prospects up front - Pouliot, Schremp, Mikhnov, Winchester, Thoresen, Brodziak, Cogliano
Lowetide figures it will be Pouliot - man, I hope not. He's behind a couple of guys in development, namely Parise and Getzlaf, but there is something about this guy that makes me think he's in that Horcoff/Stoll tree - good two way centre is what I mean. I know you have to give something to get something but unless the return is a good young defenceman I wouldn't move this guy. Based on the Comrie deal I think that the price for rentals may not be all that high after all. Wishful thinking? Maybe.
Ideally I see Horcoff/Stoll/Pouliot/Reasoner up the middle next season with Pouliot getting the soft minutes but with quality linemates. Or maybe he moves to the wing and its Schremp in that spot. I know Schremp is tradebait as well but a guy with that skill set ... he's intriguing as a guy who can play those soft minutes.
2/ Picks - the Oil have plenty.
3/ A young Dman - Smid, Greene, Roy, Gilbert, Chorney - unless this team is going to dress even more rookies back there this year one or two of these guys gets moved. Put it this way - up front you have Smyth and Sykora who are UFA. One will be gone, maybe two. Petersen is a stopgap. Likely Winchester will be moved. Nedved - I can't see it. I think he's done. Anyhow - plenty of spots open up front to move young guys into. On the back end you have Smith, Staios, Smid, Greene, a veteran or two (Bergeron/??) and a spot for Roy or Gilbert. If you have two vets (please!) then you're moving one or two guys from this group. So whereas you have places for the youngsters up front to move up, you have a couple of D bumping against the ceiling, unless you clear that logjam. And if you're Boston and moving Brad Stuart wouldn't you rather have a young Dman then a young forward? Up front you have Bergeron, Boyes, Kessel and Savard plus if they keep Sturm or Murray ...
4/ Joffrey Lupul. I know the politics and all that but again, look at the depth. Hemsky is not going anywhere. Pisani is not going anywhere either - not for 2.5 for twenty goals despite the fact that this guy makes things happen (a plus ten on this team and facing tough minutes!)
So, if you're Kevin Lowe and you have to sign your forty or fifty goal scorer and cover the cash for your new young (2M??) Dman getting Lupul's 2.3 M contract and his indifference in his own end off the books is not a bad thing. Duhatschek says today (this makes a little more sense) that Pitkanen might be someone the Oilers could target and that he would cost them a Lupul type.
So to summarize:
Players who can play tough minutes up front are going nowhere.
Due to this fact and also due to possible depth issues at their positions Horcoff, Stoll and Torres are going nowhere.
Lupul is expendable - even though he's a man without a country he's still on pace for ~ 25 goals or so. I don't think anyone questions whether he is going to put up points in this league but to get something good you have to give something up.
If the Oilers lose tonight then they are six points behind the Canucks. A few more losses and suddenly they are in 12th or 13th and have to climb past a few teams. Not a position they want to be in.
So a couple of moves that might make sense??
Greene and a first rounder for Brad Stuart. The Bruins are still in the mix but by all accounts its a lot of smoke and mirrors and if anything goes wrong on any given night a game like yesterday's can happen. I like Greene but someone has to go and he likely brings more then Gilbert. You may not even have to throw in a first but what the hell do I know.
Winchester for Jason Cullimore or an equivalent.
Smyth/Horcoff/Lupul; Torres/Stoll/Pisani; Sykora/Nedved/Hemsky (or if Nedved doesn't work out slide Pouliot in there); Moreau/Reasoner/Thoresen
Or slide Moreau in with the Czechs and have Pouliot on the fourth line.
Stuart/Smith; Shaggy/Staios; Hejda/Cullimore
A start anyway.
Then move Lupul in the summer to pick up a Dman who will take over from Stuart when he gets 25 M from the Leafs.
There you go.
Added: This is Duhatschek's take on the season so far, including the speculation on Lupul/Pitkanen.
Here is the speculation on what Nedved's signing means, including the idea of moving Horcoff for Preissing.


Anonymous said...

When Lowe said he won't mortgage the future, which future was he referring to? Two years from now (Stoll/Lupul) or five years from now (Schremp/Gilbert/picks).


SweatyO said...

Horcoff or Stoll for Tom freakin' Preissing?

Not a chance. I think "The Hat" is off on that one.

However, using Lupul to get Pitkanen?

That's the sort of talk I like to hear....

Black Dog, got a link to this Eric Duhatschek article by chance?

Black Dog said...

sweatyo - added them in the body of the post at the bottom

While I like the Pitkanen idea I'm not sure why Philadelphia would deal him, although he sure was struggling early this year in the games I saw - maybe a change of scenery?

SweatyO said...

Thanks, Duhatschek is usually "in the know", so I'm hoping he's right about this Pitkanen thing. That would be a coup d'etat if Lowe could pull it off. The absolute DREAM scenario, even if it meant giving up Lupul, Bergeron, and a 1st, say.

That's what I think it would take.

Mr DeBakey said...

Priessing for Horcoff??
These guys just throw stuff against the effin wall; the Oilers trading their toughest-minutes Center for a UFA?

Using the availability by subtraction method, I arrive at Lupul & Bergeron too.
Though, I think Phoenix and Boynton looks better.
Them Coyotes is playing well without him & might be willing to move him for Lupul & Bergeron.
Or, a more future-oriented trade with Schremp, Mikhnov, Anaheim's & Bergeron.

If Lupul, then Wincester & Roy/Syvret to St Louis for Guerin.

SweatyO said...

Mr. D:

If they're moving Lupul to Phoenix, they best be doing so only if the return includes either Ballard or Michalek.

And I'm a BIG fan of picking up a Guerin-type if Lupul is used to beef up the backend. Tucker would also be a good fit on RW for a playoff run.

Mr DeBakey said...

Guerin would be cheaper than someone from the Center of the Universe.
Hee Hee Hee

I'll tell ya, Lupul + Bergeron looks pretty damn good
if they're considering
Lupul + Torres for Pitkanen
Good God

Anonymous said...

I'd like to think that Eric D wouldn't just throw stuff out there for the fuck of it but seriously...Horcoff for Preissing?



Art Vandelay said...

Why would OTT need Horcoff now that it has Comrie? The Oilers picked up a guy who has demonstrably zero gas left in the tank while Ottawa picked up a two-time 30G scorer in exchange for a total bust that they would have given away for a bag of bent nails. Muck 1, Lowe nil.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Eric Duhatschek (in the article entitled Midseason Report anyway) does mention Pitkanen,not as a rumor but rather as speculation. He is noting that the Oilers aren't deep defensively and in addition, Smid is injured so ergo he speculates that a possible target "could be" Pitkanen.

As far as I've read online, Eklund (HockeyBuzz) is the only guy I've seen who's making it out to be a full blown rumor with sources and everything. Personally, I don't consider HockyBuzz, and Eklund in particular to be an especially credible source.

I like the prospect of getting Pitkanen but I'm not sure that he's going to help jumpstart this team this year. He's only 23 and has been savaged by the Philadelphia fans and media. I beleive, the combination of damaged confidence, new team/teammates plus the possible disruption of Oiler players going the other way means that this helps the Oiler next year and not so much for the current season.


Black Dog said...

art v. - Duhatschek actually came out with this before the Comrie trade

but everyone is right and its definitely an odd one coming from the Hat who isn't of the Bruce Garrioch school (throwing things out randomly, many of which make no sense)

the Lupul/Pitkanen thing makes sense or the idea of Lupul going to Chicago etc for a young Dman with a few years experience, his equivalent, in other words; I agree with Dano on two of his points though - its a fit so Eric D. is speculating on it but its not a full blown rumour that I have read anywhere - and - I think Lupul gets moved in the summer if he does get moved. I think Lowetide made this point originally and I agree with that