Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Give Me Another One of Those Pisanis With a Tarnstrom, Hold the Lupul and The Greene

Last spring when the Oilers were trying to close out a game or a series you would see the following guys on the ice over the last couple of minutes:

Smyth Horcoff
Peca Pisani
Dvorak Moreau
Pronger Smith
Spacek Staios

Well the summer saw four of these fellows move on and then Moreau went down and now with Smyth gone, you can see that we have a bit of a problem, especially with the fact that it wasn't exactly Jack Lemaire, Joe Sakic, Willie Mitchell and Marcel Pronovost coming in to replace them.

Now, add to that that the top four puck moving Dmen on last season's team were:

Pronger Spacek
Tarnstrom Bergeron

Ok, so it does not take a genius to realize that the Oilers needed a Dman or two who could actually play defence in the NHL and headman the puck on top of that but these two lists are pretty telling.

Unless Lowe puts into effect a massive overhaul this summer (which he may) there are a couple of areas that need to be addressed.

This team needs guys who can play both ends of the rink against the other team's best. On D you have Smith and Staios and it looks like Hejda who can fill that role, although it would be better if he were in the 3-4 spot then the top pair. Guys who can win puck possession by separating the opposition from the puck, guys who have a clue in their own zone, guys who can get the puck deep into their opponents' end and retain possession down there. Right now up front there are Pisani, Moreau and Horcoff with Torres and Stoll showing some promise to maybe take that step. Maybe. As well you have Pouliot, Thoresen and Brodziak as guys coming up who may fit that role. With Hemsky, Nilsson, Lupul and Schremp representing your "other" type of player plus the youth of our maybes, Lowe has three options.

Move kids or picks or buy a guy(s) who are longterm solutions.

Move kids or picks or buy a guy (s) who can hold the fort for a year or two.

Leave it as is and let the kids develop into these types of players, if they can.

Now, this is all dependent on what Lowe's plan is for this summer. We won't know until then when he begins to move. Is he going to acquire and sign a guy like Redden longterm with an eye to 2009/2010 when hopefully the kids will be ready. In other words a plan that addresses the shortterm - getting back into the playoffs - while keeping an eye to the longterm - getting a guy who can contribute to a contender two, three, four years down the road.

Or is it plan B - acquire a guy or two with a year left on their deals to get this team back into the playoffs or close to it - similar to this year but with a little more gusto.

Or is it plan C - kids kids and more kids.

Lowetide has a post on who is available and its interesting stuff. My thought is that this team, with the right moves, can get back into the playoffs next year but that it is also a couple of years from being a true contender. With an eye to that if I were Lowe I would go A, B, C. If he can acquire a guy and sign him longterm then do it. If he cannot pick up a cornerstone guy then get a shortterm guy to see if you can get into the postseason while the kids grow. Failing that, then build the team with youth, not short time stupidity/patch jobs.

1/ Sign Hejda. That gives you three guys who can play top four and if a kid grows up quickly or you buy at the deadline then if he or Staios are on your bottom pair you're looking damn good.

2/ Trade Lupul. This won't happen and his value is nil but he's eating 2.3 in cap space. With Nilsson, Schremp and Hemsky plus all of the kids who actually have a clue there is no room for him on this roster.

3/ Make a decision on Torres. I waver about Raffi and my guess is he sticks around now with Smyth gone. If he can learn to play the tough minutes and he has made strides in doing so, then he has value, plus he brings that physical edge. Will he ever figure it out? Probably not. If he could though ...

4/ Make a decision on Reasoner. If Marty can't do much more then he has this year then have Brodziak or the Swede, Almtorp, if he is ready, take his job. I like Marty but he has done very little, imo. Too bad because he sure is a likeable guy.

5/ Keep the centres. Unless you can get a stud #1 then having Horc, Stoll and Pouliot 1-2-3 is pretty nice. Get the cap room you need by moving Lupul.

6/ If you're floating around 7th or 8th and there's a guy you want at 4th or 5th then move up and take him. I think this draft has some nice prospects. If you're drafting that high and there is a guy you like flip picks and move up.

7/ Acquire another young goalie in the draft or, better yet, pick up a 21 year old prospect. Or older. Ideally in goal I'd like to see someone backup Roli next season with an eye to taking his job the following year, or worse case, the year after. You cannot have enough young goalies and while Dubnyk looks pretty good I'd like another, please.

8/ Move Matt Greene. I think he has an upside and yes, he's a kid but the fact that Gilbert and Roy both showed well in their short stints and that their skill sets are, imo, better suited for what the Oilers need, then Greene has to go. Having Gilbert or Roy on the farm for another year while this guy tries to figure it out is a waste and I'd rather have them, especially Tommy, then Greene, in any case.

9/ Don't blow your wad to appease the fans. Considering they didn't sign Smyth I cannot see this happening but if Lowe spends big money and term on a guy who cannot be a cornerstone guy then I will shoot myself.

That's all I've got for now. They absolutely need a Dman to play top four minutes if they are going to be competitive at all next year. They need to move Lupul to free up cap space that can be better used on a two way forward, ideally a left winger who can play the tough minutes and score 30 to 40 goals a year.

Wait a second!


Jassper said...

Torres. I just don't see anything there except eyes flashing VACANCY... VACANCY. The tools, but no furnace in the kid. Perhaps the loss of a mentor like Moreau also cost us Torres' season, but jeez, can't a guy have his ass kicked in the pros anymore?

Anonymous said...

Nice blog Black Dog. I really like Hejda, I'd be upset if they didn't re-sign him.

I'm mixed on Lupul. He can really frustrate me, but I'd hate to give up on him after one sub-par season. The whole team's been pretty sub-par this year, for whatever reason. If he doesn't turn it around by next X-mas, ship him off for something.

I think Torres will stay, and I'm giving him a do-over cause Torres-Stoll-Pisani were playing great before Stolly went down.

I think Marty will be here next year too, he's relatively cheap (900K I think), and he's the kind of guy that can sit in the press-box and not have it stunt his development.

I agree with point 5, if we could land a #1 center, then move Lupul.

With 3 first rounders, they should definately move up if they have their eye on someone (who do you think would be the best fit?) Just checked out the top 10 at TSN and I don't really know much about the prospects, but Alzner dropped from 2nd (?) to 6th, Esposito went from 10th to 11th, Gagner is 8th, Turris is 3rd. I like Van Riemsdyk (4th), he's LW and 6'3. Anyone?

And about point 7, what about JDD? His AHL numbers this year are better than Dubnyk. Can't say I know enough about either of them though...

And I agree with points 8 & 9. Really like how Roy can get his shots on net. That one Minny game (Feb. 25th I think), he had at least 4 SOG.


Mr DeBakey said...

1/ Sign Hejda. Awesome idea. Though I’d be satisfied with a healthy Tjarnqvist , or better yet, both. Here’s a couple of other possibilities:

The offensive-minded Lukas Zib has been a big addition to the Liberec blue line this season. The player, who was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the third round of the 1995 NHL Entry Draft but never played in North America, has found a home in Liberec after bouncing around…before returning to the Czech Republic this year.

Zib has compiled 13 goals -- second best on the club. While coach Palecek hasn’t been happy with some of the penalties Zib has taken this year (he has 106 penalty minutes), the player’s offensive contributions… Height 6.01 -- Weight 209 -- Shoots R


Alexander Titov can have absolutely no complaints about not getting drafted. Heck, he had a hard time becoming a mainstay on an RSL team until the age of 25. Even then he remained an average, unspectacular RSL defenseman. However, last season saw a transfer to a very young CSKA Moscow team and the new responsibility of captaincy. Titov took on the role well, and saw his stats skyrocket as he emerged as one of the best offensive defensemen in the RSL. In fact, he finished 2nd in league scoring amongst defenseman to Karel Rachunek (now a New York Ranger), by a single point. Unlike most other offensive defensemen of this mould (sic), Titov is not a defensive liability. The epitome of a late bloomer, Titov could use yet another challenge to truly see how good he can be… Height 6.00, Weight 209 Shoots L

2/ Trade Lupul. Awesome idea, won’t happen
3/ Make a decision on Torres. Probably staying
4/ Make a decision on Reasoner. Probably staying; babysits Jacques, Storini, Nillson et al
5/ Keep the centres. Awesome idea
6/ If you're floating around 7th or 8th…
7/ Acquire another young goalie in the draft. Don’t they have someone about to finish University?
8/ Move Matt Greene. Awesome idea, Smid, Grebby, Gilbert & Roy are plenty of young’uns
9/ Don't blow your wad to appease the fans. Hmmm, they’ve got $5.5 burning a hole in their pocketses my preshuss
10/ Sign Dvorak and Hartnell

Black Dog said...

Thanks ChrissyT.

So to the comments:

1/Hejda is really a terrific find for Lowe and hopefully Grebeshkov will be another. I liked Shaggy but fragile, huh? I'd sure like another guy to play top four minutes - I'd say its a must.

2/ Lupul isn't going nowhere. My guess - he stinks next year, they move him and he scores 35 in his contract year.

3/ Raffi is a goof but his game has progressed away from the puck and they need guys who can do that.

4/Reasoner likely will stay, maybe as the 13th man.

5/There's some talk of moving Horc or Stoll - no way unless they bring in a big #1 as I said, then do it. Other then that they are decent up the middle.

6/Chrissy - check out Lowetide for prospect talk - he's the best. I don't know too much - Turris sounds intriguing. I think the Oilers will get a good prospect.

7/ Some kid - maybe Fisher - is the University guy. As for JDD I don't think he's the guy of the future. I'd say Dubnyk is the best they have but that's not based on much I'll admit.

As for the money - well, spend it but don't go trading for Pavel Kubina just to say "see we spent the money"

LittleFury said...

Pat I think there's a tendancy among Oilfans (and maybe all sports fans, but bear with me) to give the management some benefit of the doubt in terms of having a plan. Even people who hated the Smyth deal often did so because they didn't like what it said about the direction the franchise was taking. Now, I watched a chunk of last night's loss to Tampa and, upon seeing once again what great piles of human garabage on skates K-Lowe/Mac T faves Greene, Petersen and Lupul are, it struck me that mauybe K-Lowe and his minions just aren't very bright.

Okay, maybe that's not quite the right way to put it: better to say that they don't neccesarily make decisions based on what's best for the team or because of a plan. Given the franchise's history of cronyism, nepotism and favoritism, I think it's a reasonable theory. How does this relate to your post? Well, it throws a monkey wrench into any predictions we fans can make about where the team is going. Basically, if this is the type of franchise that will keep a non-contributing player because of his familial connections or because Craig Simpson or some othe ex-Boy on the Bus likes the cut of his jib, then we're fucked. Uh..yeah. That's all. Thanks for listening.

Black Dog said...

well, littlefury, I was thinking the same thing today while watching the boy fire chunks of banana at the dog

seeing matt greene getting turned inside out by Tim Taylor of all people made me wonder what the hell was going on, especially considering that Gilbert, Roy and Syvret have all looked better then Greene in their short stints with the big club

add to that the whole failure to use Hejda until they absolutely had to and one wonders what is going on

some is optics - they kept Smid with the big club to show that return for Pronger; also the reason that Lupul will not be moved this summer

some is practical - Lupul scored 28 goals last year - you would think he could contribute (oops)

but this summer will tell the tale - if matt greene remains a part of this club at the expense of Gilbert/Roy etc then you have to wonder about the acumen of the manager unless he needs to flip Gilbert as part of a bigger deal

LittleFury said...

A couple of thjings you mentioned would indicate a great reluctance on the part of management to make any sudden movements, even when it comes to the players on the roster. It's not like playing Greene instead of Hejda saved them any money. And Lupul has played every game despite looking for all the world like a guy who could benefit from taking a seat in the press box for a while. Peterson on the PP? The list goes on. So they are slow to make big changes (other teams seemed to have little problem finding d-men) and they make roster choices that are inexplicable from a production point of view. The handling of the Pronger and Smyths sagas are really just the icing on the stupid cake. So yeah, you're right: K-Lowe and Friends have a lot to prove before training camp even starts. I'm just worried they might not know that.

Shawn said...

Torres drives me nuts. He's got the strength and size to do the things Smyth did, but he doesn't have half the brain. He doesn't even really stand in front of the net when he gets PP time. STICK YOUR ASS IN FRONT! Damn Raffi, you could make a hell of a career if you had any sense.

I disagree with trading Lupul unless someone else is willing to pay (with players) for the Lupul we traded for as opposed to the Lupul we've seen this year. That guy exists, but how does Mac T bring him back? As it stands there's no way you get value.

And on Reasoner... he's had a fine season as a two-way forward as long as he's a 4th line guy. I'd be a little concerned with letting him go and having a centre ice with two rookies (Pouliot and say Brodziak). At least Reasoner has pro experience and can win a draw and kill a penalty at the NHL level. The others need to prove they can first.

Shawn said...

...on second tought if you can trade Lupul as part of a package for a puck mover and Smyth is willing to come back... yeah I'd do that even if Lupul's value is a bit lower than it should be.

Black Dog said...

I guess we'll see - that's all I can say

Lowe had a great year last year - some of it was probably luck, sure - but he really had a terrific year allround

so, I can cut him some slack; I know a lot more people won't and that's totally understandable

even this year there have been a few bright lights - the move for hejda was great and I think the Grebeshov one is as well

while the Smyth situation was bungled he did get a good return I think

now, of course all of this is outweighed by everything else, but one wonders what might have happened if Staios and Shaggy had not both been out for that stretch - at that point they were in first place and then it all fell apart while those guys were out - if it had not or if they had stayed healthy then they are likely buyers at the deadline, Smyth may have been signed etc etc.

Of course the fact that the season turned on those injuries speaks to the need for a Dman or two from day one too.

Black Dog said...

shawn - I think Lupul stays anyhow but even if they move him they get little for him

I think he craps out again next year, they move him and then he scores 35 in his contract year - I really do. I have no time for him.

As for Torres - well the guys lacks confidence and sense but he's also out best left wing right now likely. Shoot me now!

And with the influx of kids Reasoner will hang around but his role will shrink I think. brodziak impressed last night - one game is nothing but he looked fine

I think he starts next year on Marty's wing and then takes his job

Andy Grabia said...

Great post, Pat, though I have to admit I didn't get further than two paragraphs in. It's all just so depressing, man. What are the stages of grief, again?

Black Dog said...

First three stages of grief are Lupul, Peterson and Greene.

When you reach Greene you take a bath in gravy and lower yourself into a pit of wolverines.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Petersen will be back, I think he's an UFA this summer. I thought he played decent when he got thrown on D last night, too bad he's not about 5 inches taller.

In my dreams, Lowe signs or trades for a D-man who can move the puck (Timonnen maybe?). So our D could look something like this:

Staios - #1 puckmover
Smith - Hejda
Grebeshkov - Smid/Gilbert/Roy

Smith - Hejda would be a solid 2nd pairing. From what I've seen of Gilbert and Roy, I'd take them over Greene in a heartbeat. Greene's played his way down the depth chart since MABs trade. Thought Syvret played well last night too.

And what about Tjarnqvist? I don't think there's room for him either, just give Hejda his money (4.8M over 3 years). That's probably too optomistic eh?


Black Dog said...

chrissyt - well, the latest rumours have Hejda coming in at around 2 per

Ideally the D would look like this:

new guy/Smith
Tjarnqvist/Gilbert (or your pick)
Roy (or whomever)

My guess is Tjarnqvist is a goner - they can't sign a guy for that amount of money and basically have him not play - although he was effective before he got hurt

Hejda/Staios would make a solid second pair.

Check out Lowetide's site - he has a post about two or three ago with Desjrdins numbers that show what Smith has done this year - very impressive. He and Timmomen or another true top four guy would be a fine top pair.

We'll see.

As for Peterson, never underestimate a coach's input - MacT loves this guy - he trusts him - and if you're going to have a utility guy then he is a fit. Issue is when he gets played on the PP and so on.

Anonymous said...

Blackdog, I saw Lowetide's blog, and I think Gator deserves a lot of props for what he's done this year. I'm glad all those rumors of him being traded turned out not to be true. Can you imagine the situation if Gator wasn't here? Ouch.

I've always liked Toby, he's a hard worker. He's not a good finisher (kinda reminds me of Dvorak), but he's good on the PK, and a decent forechecker for his size. I feel bad for him that he's been asked to QB the PP. He's not as bad at giving it away as MAB, makes good passes, but has no shot. He's over his head as QB, but he's not sinking thats for sure. He's versatile, but I'm not sure if there's room for him with all our prospects and young guys like Thor. Guess we'll see, it wouldn't bother me if we re-signed him, he's a solid 4th liner that has speed and good on the PK (which MacT loves).

I read an article today (Mar. 11)in the journal regarding the Oilers aquiring a D-man. They threw out Zidlicky's name, and considering that he's having an "off-year" as the article put it (29pts in 67GP, as opposed to 49pts in 67 total GP last year), he may be trade bait come summer. We have lots of prospects, and maybe Nashville will want to re-sign Timonnen, as Zidlicky's making over 3M per for the next 2 seasons (?, can't get onto the salary website I use). Suter and Weber look ready to fill his role, at a cheaper price too. Guess it depends on who Nashville wants to keep.

Sucks that the Oilers can't get any more call-ups, tonights game may be reminiscent of the Ducks game.