Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Whither the D Next Season?

Interesting debate going over at Lowetide's site in a thread about his comments on Oilers' callup Tom Gilbert.
Signed or will be signed on the blueline for next season:
LD - Smid, Grebeshkov, Syvret, Chorney
RD - Smith, Staios, Greene, Gilbert, Roy
With the acquisitions of Smid and Grebeskov and the emergence of Gilbert, Roy and Chorney as bona fide prospects what looked to be a weakness (youthful defensive depth) is suddenly a strength.
So what does Lowe do?
Option #1 - Sign Hejda or Shaggy and go with a similar configuration as this year. Crazy? Well, I would bet Grebeshkov, Smid and one of the other kids are in the top seven again next season. So we could see Hejda/Smith, Smid/Staios, Grebeshkov/Greene plus Gilbert as your seventh.
Result - another wasted season as the kids get their atbats in preparation for 2009 and 2010. Chance of this happening - pretty slim but then again who thought this season would play out like it did. Let's say 20%.
Option #2 - Lowe trades Torres and Greene to Philly for Pitkanen. Both players are "Philly type players" and I don't think Lowe is going to give up on Lupul yet. Now I would trade him while he's one season removed from 28 goals but that's me. On top of that he resigns Hejda and Shaggy. So we get Pitkanen/Smith, Shaggy/Staios, Hejda/Smid plus Grebeshkov as your seventh.
Result - a veteran D with three guys who can move the puck (yes, I am including Smid in there) - happy days are here again. Jacques takes Torres' role over so while he is missed, JFJ and Moreau bring that edge that has been missing up front.
Chance of this happening - again slim, the reason being that I'm pretty sure that they want to get Grebeshkov and Gilbert some minutes (unless they move Gilbert); also while I like Shaggy the whole pubic bone thing is troublesome. Now I could tell you a lot about public boners, not so much about pubic bones, but any inflammation that knocks a guy out for months doesn't sound like a simple case to diagnose.
(How does one get an inflamed pubic bone anyway? Row, Raggy, that rurts!")
Option # 3
The Oilers pick up Pitkanen, hopefully moving Greene as part of the package. They also resign Hejda. Pitkanen/Smith, Smid/Staios, Hejda/Grebeshkov, Gilbert is your seventh. There you have your three stay at home vets and your three puck movers as well as Gilbert in the wings. I'd move Greene, I truly would. Gilbert's skill set fits the league better.
Result - Still some unhappy moments for Oiler fans and Roloson but if Smid cannot handle the top four then Hejda slides in and I'm thinking Gilbert or the Russian are an improvement on big Matt Greene. A little more mobile, a little more skilled and this D doesn't break the bank. (If Smyth and Sykora and Lupul or Torres go then who's going to score goals next year? It will be the forwards' turn to be the weak link if Lowe doesn't figure that out - but that's for another post)
Chance of this happening - pretty good, better then even, maybe even more then the 60% I've got left. Hejda is going to be a reasonably priced guy and I think they are going to move on Joni or someone similar. Having said that I think they're going to try to give the kids as many ABs as they can.


Mr DeBakey said...

PPV tonight.
I wonder how much the Oilers raked in? $112.82?

Nice Breakdown.

The thing I find distressing is that Option 1 probably rates out way better than 1 in 5.

Option 2 would torpedo that new feature starring Kevin Lowe - "Back to the Future Tense".
Playoffs without the Feb/Mar Soap Opera.

Option 3 looks very goodly – affordable, yet effective.

Rather than Philly,
I keep thinking of shoveling Greene off to Buffalo.
Lotsa puck movers there and they could use some muscle.

big t said...

Is it not possible that this actually was a hockey deal. IMO, Bryn, Brownlee et al seem to be painting this whichever way they feel makes the best story.

Lowe does himself no favours by actually going along with such leading questions, but that to me doesn't mean that they beleive MAB was the reason the Oil hasn't been successful thus far.

I'm of the opinion that you can't bring up the abundance of youth the organization is hoping to develop all the while having a veteran you have to shelter as well. Do that, and you get Smid on the 2nd pairing - Not a winning formula.

Snow gave Lowe a good prospect who hopefully will look close to what Hejda has looked like this season. He'll be 24 by the time he's over here.

For those interested, Russian Hockey Prospects has a pretty good write-up on Grebeshkov here;


They compare him favourably to Vishnevsky and include that he's a good shot blocker who works well along the boards and has a very good work ethic who soaks up knowledge like a sponge. Can't be a bad thing.

We'll see.


big t said...

Sorry, kind of went off on a tangent at the beginning there. I agree completely that the Oilers will spin something if it suits them, I just don't agree that this was the case in this particualar case and I took it out on your website. Whoops!!


Black Dog said...

Big T - no worries although you kind of lost me - I think it was a good deal too - maybe I was unclear about that although I can't see where I said anything about it to be honest.

I think MAB has peaked or at best has very little upside. Maybe (this is a big maybe) Greene too.

Moving MAB for a guy who is younger and who sounds like a good prospect (and one who may be ready now rather then 5 years from now) was a good move.

Kyle said...

I would be pretty suprised if Shaggy resigns with the team. His health is worrisome and his play wasn't particularily inspiring.

I think your option #3 is most likely, although I'm not sure its time to give up on Greene yet. Although, I suppose trading Greene who will probably top out as a 2nd pairing guy for Pitkanen is still a pretty good deal.

namflashback said...

Yup, option 3 please. The UFA D options will be long-term and expensive, so trade route makes sense.

I'd add a third-pairing RD vet (Sean Hill, as per PDO's recommend) and keep 8 D on the roster. That would allow you to give Smid and Greb some PB learning time, and slide the RD vet in as a babysitter with Grebby. Put Hejda in as babysitter to Gilbert.

big t said...

Like I said BDHS, I'm sorry for picking on you there. Quite a few of the Oilogosphere seem to be calling out Lowe on trading MAB - most notably Tyler. I guess you got included in there whether you actually feel that way or not... my bad.

Some things to note about the trade and going forward. Grebeshkov, although he's described as a puck mover, has a completely different skill set that MAB. It's his positioning that requires work - something that hopefully Huddy will be able to teach him quite well.

Apparently there is a hand-shake deal already in place between him and the Oilers to come over next season. If true, this is a good thing.

We are still one quality defender short of a full compliment.

Smith - UFA (Pitkanen, Timmonen, Brewer???)
Staios - Grebeshkov/Hejda
Hejda/Grebeshkov - Smid

My thoughts are similar to Tyler's regarding this team though. This is not a good puck possession team. It relies too heavily on the cycle and turnovers. Is this by design or because of a lack of skilled personel??? I'm not certian, but it is the case. Watching a skilled team like the Sens last night really made that clear.

This team, as presently constituted, is built for '09/'10. The young D will have enough seasoning at that time, forwards like Hemsky, Stoll, Torres, Pouliot and - God willing - Lupul and Schremp will be at a point where they are making at least some kind of positive impact and veterans like Horcoff, Pisani, Moreau and Smyth (pretty please, Smyth) will be in their prime.

In the 'New" capped NHL, successful teams will compete in 3 year cycles with runs only every third year. If the Oilers can do that, I'm a happy fan.


Black Dog said...

The problem too though T is that while this team may rely on the cycle they are pretty easily pushed off of the puck.

In the Leafs's game I noted the skill of Pouliot and Thoresen - add them to Hemsky and some of the hold over vets and I think there is a decent mix of skill and sandpaper up front.

But on the back end - well, no discounting the try back there but as I said the Leafs ahd five Dmen who could move the puck better then any Oiler Dman.

Grebeshkov is defintiely intriguing - the thing that a lot of people did not note was that Wang decreed that after a certain point (maybe by camp) anyone who had not signed a contract was not playing for the Isles and I think he was one of them. Hopefully this is a deal (another one) the Isles end up regretting.

I don't see the Oilers dipping into the UFA pool - my guess is they trade for Pitkanen or a comparable player.

Andy Grabia said...

Is the next post gonna be called "Wither The D"?

Black Dog said...

How about this: "D gets greener if not Greener"?

Vic Ferrari said...

Well, by all accounts it was unlikely that Grebeshkov would make the Islanders roster next season. He should have a much better chance of making the Oilers. So it's a good trade for him.

The Oilers are building a promising young D corps. Reminiscent of the Flames teams of a decade or so ago. Perhaps Craig Button is consulting for the Oilers now, I dunno.

Black Dog said...

vic, vic - is that you?

reports of your demise were greatly exaggerated?

the worm has definitely turned for the Oil in terms of their young D - remember early last year Syvret getting the call and a cup of coffee - plenty of opportunities this season and he hasn't had a sniff although if Gilbert is out for a while he may be next

Smid, Greene, Gilbert, Roy, Grebeshkov, Chorney - not too bad - not all of them will turn out but looks like a few keepers there

namflashback said...

Syvret is a smaller guy (MAB size) and so is Chorney, where the other guys on the list have some size to them.

Syvret's future probably has alot to do with how fast Chorney progresses (and its been fast this year) and whether or not he goes pro next year. That's a pretty good list of guys who are ahead of him. Hejda, Smid, Greb, Chorney in that order.

BTW, Hi Vic!