Saturday, March 08, 2008
I like this picture of Horcoff a lot.
Sitting here drinking some good beer, watching a little HNIC. Listening to Bob Cole saying Oduya over and over again. Sounds like he's saying "I'll do ya". Creepy shit.
And by the way, its snowing. SNOW in Toronto.
Mirtle has a good post looking at man games lost to injury. He doesn't include guys like Mathieu Roy, only players he calls "core guys". He also breaks it down further by weighing the contributions of those hurt - so for example the loss of Joe Sakic carries more weight then that of Raffi Torres.
Its a neat exercise. Interesting to note how some teams, Colorado, Boston and San Jose notably, are in playoff spots despite injury problems. Chicago and Washington likely could point to their injury issues as a legitimate beef if they fall short of the playoffs. Both teams have been hit hard. Meanwhile the Leafs, who popular wisdom says have fallen on hard times because of injury problems, actually did pretty well by either of James' metrics.
I really can barely fathom how much I am enjoying the embarassment the Leafs are experiencing. My hatred for them is becoming almost pathological. A few months ago Shoalts had a nice article on the Leafs and the Habs and how a few years back they were basically in the same position. The Habs hired Gainey while the Leafs hired Ferguson. Now the Habs are in first place in the East, loaded with young cheap talent while the Leafs are hobbled by huge longterm contracts to ridiculous veterans, looking at their third straight year out of the playoffs.
Whenever I am sad about the Oilers I just think about the Leafs and I feel much better. Not boner better but better.
On both of Mirtle's lists the Oilers are near the top and one wonders - is Lowe right when he blames injuries for this season's failure? I really have so little faith in the guy now I really can give him very little credit for anything. Story in the Journal today which finally clears up what happened with Hejda, who just happens to be the top Dman on the BJs, all for less then a fifth of what Souray makes. Apparently Hejda wanted to come back to Edmonton and the Oilers wanted him. And they could have had him for a year at just over a million bucks. The perfect contract. A veteran for one year at reasonable cost. Same type of contract Sykora and Tjarnqvist had. And Lowe dropped the ball. Asked him to wait a couple of weeks while he sorted shit out. And Howson swept in.
Fuck me. Lowe is a dummy.
Anyways, Lowe has said all along that he likes this team and that they have been done in by injuries. Nine points out right now. I wonder if his point is valid. No Pisani in the first half. No Torres for the second. Horcoff out for a month now. Pitkanen in and out of the lineup. Souray and Moreau basically out for the year. Are all of those games lost worth three more wins? That would put them three points out of the playoffs and in tenth. Four wins would mean a point out and a game in hand. Of course investing money in a guy like Souray who has a long history injury means Lowe has nobody but himself to blame in at least one case.
Anyhow, next year. Considering that Lowe "likes" this team, the fact that pretty well everyone is under contract or should be signed relatively easily and that it looks like there will be very little bubbling up from Springfield, what can we expect?
1/ With three fair size contracts - Souray, Penner and Hemsky, three guys who might garner big raises in 2009 - Horcoff, Garon and Pitkanen, and the core young guys all needing to get paid in a few years, I don't see the Oilers dipping into the UFA pool for a big name or making a move like the one Dallas did for Richards. Unless they can move Penner or Souray, as well as Stoll and Torres, there is only so much money to go around. So no big splash this summer.
2/ Extend Horcoff this summer. He is the Oilers' best player. Locking him up would send the proper message to the fans and his teammates. Plus did I mention he's their best player? Having him, Gagner and Cogliano up the middle for the next few years looks pretty good to me. If Nash proves to be a player and also makes a career as a centre Horc can move to the wing. If he drops on the depth chart he can play the role of a shutdown guy who can generate offence. It has become apparent that Stoll is not an option. Based on MacT's relationship with Horcoff I would say that this deal gets done before next season starts. It has to.
3/ Sign Gilbert longterm. He has struggled a little lately, sure, but a guy who has kept afloat playing top pair as a rookie and who has added offence, mostly at ES, is a guy you have to lock up.
4/ I'd love to see Souray moved but it won't happen. I think next year's D is the same as this year's D. The next two guys coming up are Peckham and Chorney and neither will be ready next season. We'll see the same seven with Roy the first option from Springfield. See how it goes and then move one of Greene, Smid or Grebeshkov if Chorney or Peckham can make the move the next year. Pitkanen is the question mark of course. The enigma. No longterm deal this year I would say, based on what the the organization seems to be saying. And he may be the guy to get moved this summer, as part of a package for someone like Mike C. from L.A.
I'd prefer to keep him but I don't know if we'll see it.
5/ Sign Glencross. A fourth line with him, Brodziak and Stortini I like with Reddox in the mix as well. Some energy and jam and both Glencross and Brodziak can chip in some goals plus Brodziak can play the PK.
6/ I'd prefer a soft minutes line of Gagner, Nilsson and Penner but that means finding someone to play with Horcoff and Hemsky. Not sure if that is Torres. I'm not sure if they can move Raffi this summer. I respect what he brings but I think either he or Moreau is gone unless they stand pat with Pitkanen and in the UFA market. If they do then Raffi gets one last shot on one of the top two lines. Part of me prefers him over Moreau, for the obvious reason that Moreau has basically missed two whole seasons. A healthy Moreau just brings it every night though and Raffi is a passenger on too many nights. When he is making an impact he's a beauty. Paying a guy two and a quarter for such an uneven performance is a waste of money though. Can't see how they move him though, not coming off a knee injury.
7/ Stoll, on the other hand, is a goner. Unless Cogliano or Gagner plays the wing. Its possible but I cannot see how they can keep the guy. I know, I know, I've been saying they cannot move him until they sort Horcoff out but the guy has 2 goals and 8 total points at ES this season. 8 points. That's the same as Zach Stortini. By my count sixteen players on the Oilers have more ES goals then Stoll. For over two million bucks that is nowhere good enough. Trade him for a pick. Package him for someone. Cut him.
I think the timeline for this team is as follows. Next season they want to compete for a playoff spot. With a year under the kids' belts, health and luck, its a possibility. Then the following three years, the last three years of Hemsky, Penner and Souray's contracts, are the years they figure to make their move.
I think this summer Lowe doesn't do much and that this team, yes, this team, is going to look a lot like the team that takes to the ice in September. I think if he gets a guy who can play on the top two lines that we might see Pitkanen moved but otherwise I think the D is as follows:
Pitkanen/Gilbert, Smid/Staios, Souray/Greene Grebeshkov
The way Grebeshkov has developed you might swap him out with Smid. If Pitkanen gets moved then Roy is your seventh or maybe they go out and get a cheap vet. You know, like Jan Hejda.
Up front I think its also going to look the same.
Penner/Horcoff/Hemsky, Torres/Gagner/Nilsson, Moreau/Cogliano/Pisani, Glencross/Brodziak/Stortini, Reasoner, Reddox
I like Marty, think he should be gone, but he's a MacT favourite and a guy who can do a little of everything, include sit in the pressbox without bitching, so my guess he is back. Ideally to me they would pick up someone to play on that second line and they would move Torres or drop him to play with Cogliano and Pisani. That would mean Moreau on the fourth line or gone. Unlikely. A third line of Torres, Cogliano and Pisani would be a beauty I would say.
One last thing, and I know I have gone on forever, but hats off to Fernando Pisani. The guy comes back from a disease that could have ended his life, never mind his career, and he's on pace for just under twenty goals and has done his usual terrific job.
He's something. Here's hoping that under Daryl Katz he will be the first prominent Oiler to play his whole career in Edmonton. Followed by Horcoff and Hemsky. :)
Oh, if you are into pubs, its alive.
Posted by Black Dog at 6:48 PM