Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hey Lowe, Get Those Kids Out Of My Jello Tree!

One of my biggest beefs with the Oilers over the past few seasons is their failure to have rookies make any sort of impact whatsoever. There are many reasons for this. MacT, like most coaches who like to win games, prefers veterans to greenhorns. In the same vein he likes to bring them along slowly. Play without the puck is important to MacT - not a surprise for the reason just mentioned as well as the fact that Oiler teams of recent vintage are usually in the thick of trying to make the playoffs. Breaking in some kid who may score 45 points but who ends up a minus twenty isn't going to win you many games. And finally there haven't been a lot of rookies worthy of the icetime. So while the Oilers have drafted well this decade (and just prior) most of the rookies have started their careers slowly and built to something - Horcoff, Stoll, Hemsky, Pisani, hopefully Pouliot will someday be included in this list.
Then you look at San Jose - Bernier, Michalek, Vlasic, Clowe, Pavelski - the list goes on and on. San Jose's drafting is to be envied. Look around the league and you see Stastny, Zajac and so on. In Edmonton not much doing.
Until now. Gagner is likely here to stay I would say and Cogliano has been terrific. Gilbert has been decent if not a big impact guy and Brodziak had a nice start too. With Trukhno and Chorney on the horizon and a bunch of other guys who may spit out a player or two - Dubnyk? O'Marra? Schremp or Nilsson? Plante? Nash? it looks like the worm may finally have turned.
It may be against soft opposition. That's fine with me. If Cogliano scores forty points or Gagner does the same it may be time to say that things have changed for the better when it comes to player procurement. I remember when the Oilers picked Cogliano Bob MacKenzie exclaimed that they had picked a gem. Looks like he may have been right.
Lets hope so.


kanadienkyle said...

I am no scout nor am I an expert on prospects, but I would like to throw Vande Velde's name into the mix of players who might make a difference in the next few years.

He very well might turn out to be Winchester Part Deux, but he is a big center that can skate and competes every shift.

Big T said...

Cogliano and Gagner are not guys anyone, including me, wants to bet against no doubt. I wonder, what kind os role do you see each filling over the next few years?

I see both as guys who could excel in a soft minute role, though I'm not sure I want them both in that role in the same line. Perhaps alternating between soft minute and 4th line EV minutes is the way to go.

Both of these guys could capitalize on those cherry minutes in a way that I don't believe Stoll and Torres are right now. Those two make a good low-event line that should fair well against tougher EV opposition.


Black Dog said...

kyle - it will be interesting to see what happens with Vande Velde; he certainly has had a nice run over the last ten games

T - I think Cogliano is getting thrown into a lot of different roles already; it appears that as long as he is competing and producing that MacT will give him plenty of icetime and some pretty good linemates. Gagner is in line for more of the soft minutes which makes sense considering his youth - 4th line, some PP time, the odd move up - this looks like his lot.

Hard to project a few years down the road but imo they keep Horcoff to play the tough minutes, Cogliano takes the next lot and Gagner will be the guy to feast (hopefully) on the soft stuff. Stoll will be the odd man out unless they move Gagner to the wing. I think if its a choice between him and Horcoff that Horcoff is the guy you go with - he just gives you a lot more.