Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Smoke Em If You've Got Em

The biggest problem for the Oilers? Up front.

What a disaster.

The goaltending is a mess but it could be fixed by Khabibulin staying healthy or the Oilers getting out from under his cap hit using the obscure loophole or by simply signing a co-number one, if they can find one.

The D, while struggling this season, is a nice mix of kids and vets and if it were status quo next season I think they'd be okay if they could stay healthy. Weird to say based on the shitshow last night when the Yotes blew them out with all hands but Souray on deck but I don't mind the D all that much. And there's quality on the farm and guys with different skillsets amongst those prospects.

But the forwards?

My God.

They are too small. Too inexperienced. Too one dimensional. Too inconsistent. Too soft. Too shitty.

Out of the whole lot of them there are only a handful worth a damn.

And even the good news isn't really that good. The Oilers have some interesting guys on the way, some possible quality. Paarjavi-Svensson, Eberle, Lander, Nash, Vande Velde, the Finn, Omark, Cornet. Plus they will have a top pick this summer, likely either Hall or Seguin.

The Swedes and the Finn have all played against men already so that's a plus. Lander and Nash and Van De Velde bring a wider range of skills than the others. (Hell they bring a wider range of skills than most of the guys with the big club right now.)

Here's the problem. The last few years the Oilers have been guilty of throwing out kid after kid into positions where they certainly cannot succeed. And now they have a whack of guys on the way and a whack of guys at the big league level who should be flushed and I'm envisioning Eberle playing with Moreau and Stone and MPS in the pressbox and another line of kids getting eaten alive.

The Oilers barely have any NHL players as it is and now they have a bunch of choices to make.

But first they have to answer these questions.

Will the younger Euros come over? Should they?

Does it make sense for MPS and Lander and the Finn to make their way over? I would guess the latter two would be in Oklahoma City and that's probably fine but does MPS go to the minors? Despite Maguire's bleatings he's not an elite NHLer now nor is he the Oilers' best forward RIGHT NOW but he's probably better than, say Jacques, or Cogliano. He's playing in a pretty good league, against men, and his numbers show that he is holding his own as does word of mouth. But he's another kid.

Is there a spot for Omark?

The Youtube shit aside, we know that Omark has put up pretty good numbers for two years in real leagues. We don't know much else though. We certainly don't know what he can do in the NHL. His equivalencies are good though. Does he deserve a shot or is he a throwin on a deal? If they bring him over there's another spot for an untested smaller youngster.

How about Eberle?

The Oilers are going to be selling hope and Eberle is famous. To me this is the easiest choice of all. Despite his pedigree he is still behind MPS, I would think, and he's still a smaller skill guy. He's a guy who starts in the minors. Same as Getzlaf and Perry and a whole bunch of others have.

What about Seguin or Hall?

Based on the WJC Hall is quality but he's not as good as Eberle. So then he or Seguin should go back to junior, right?

When's the last time a top two pick from junior didn't make the big club? And in a case where a kid dominates junior and has no other option is it helpful to his game to go back to play against kids?

I have no idea and of course it depends on the player but rightly or wrongly this kid is going to probably be breaking camp with the big club.

Now Do You See The Problem?

Of course you do. The Oilers are going to move Moreau and Pisani and Comrie if anyone will have them although strangely enough I have enjoyed the second comring of Comrie. If this club had some fucking size I'd seriously consider keeping him.

And so you have Penner, Hemsky, Gagner and Horcoff as four of your top nine.

And you can cobble together a fourth line from Stortini, Pouliot, Potulny, Stone and Reddox. Maybe even big Vande Velde earns a spot there.

I'd cut Jacques loose although I'll bet management does not. Anyways for the sake of argument lets do it. Other than hitting he doesn't do a damn thing.

So we need to fit five spots in the top nine. And we have Cogliano, Brule, O'Sullivan and Nilsson.

Have I missed anybody? Does anybody care?

Plus the kids I just mentioned.

Now we still have a big mess if that's what we run with.

Now so far my wishlist is a veteran 5/6 Dman, a shutdown type guy for the top four and a goalie (Scott convinced me).

What I'm also looking for is a couple of young guys who can play in the top nine, a couple of guys with size, a couple of guys who can do the little things. I'd like them to be ready to step into the lineup so they should have some experience, a couple of guys who haven't been able to crack a deeper lineup somewhere.

Ideally of course we'd be picking up a couple of vets of this ilk, Dvorak types lets call them, guys you can fit in throughout the lineup.

But here again your mileage may vary. Vets would be better, I think, and they would be available, but if the Oilers are trying to build then you may as well go with kids. See if you can find a young Kesler type somewhere.

I move Nilsson, the dogfucker, and I move O'Sullivan too. I know he only has one more year on his deal but for the scratch he's making he does not bring enough to the table.

And I probably move Cogliano although I'm not sold on that. Thing is either he or Brule have some value and with MPS and Hall/Seguin and Eberle rising how long are these two guys going to be around anyways?

But ... I think there's more there for both of them. Cogliano has been brutal but I'd like to see him with a couple of guys with skill and Brule is just starting as a pro really. And even though he's smaller he's got some toughness and he's a bit of a dirty little fucker and this club could use that.

Again, Your Mileage May Vary

There are those who will argue that O'Sullivan and Nilsson are better players right now than any of the leftover kids and they'd probably be right but both guys need to go I think.

There are those who would say get rid of Cogliano and Brule. How many kids can you have? Replace them with MPS and Hall/Seguin and bring in three veteran forwards and sprinkle them through the lineup.

There are those who would say forget the veterans, its a rebuild, bring in a couple of kids who can grind and throw them into the mix.

There are those who would say run out the new kids and keep the old kids too. Let them take their lumps and get another high pick.

There are those who would say hell, keep the status quo, lottery picks two years in a row won't hurt.

Remember though, looming over all of this are the pending contract expirations of Hemsky and Penner. Are they going to want to hang around through much more of this?

And to those who say lets burn it to the ground and pull a Pittsburgh or Chicago remember a couple of things - with four years of shit behind us how much more can you put up with? And what if it doesn't work out? The rebuild I mean. Because sometimes they don't.

What Would I Do?

I'm not sure, to be honest. The Hemsky/Penner thing looms large in my mind. Moving Cogliano and Brule makes some sense to me with the kids coming if they can get some value but I don't know about that. If either takes another step then you have a guy who can outperform his contract and God knows the Oilers could use one or two of those.

Some guys with some size who can play this game would be nice. I guess they should be kids based on where this club is but really would bringing in some vets to help out the kids hurt at all? Would Radek Dvorak and Blair Betts mean a club fighting for tenth instead of a club in thirteenth? Not likely. But with only three veterans plus Gagner to go around aren't you just throwing the kids to the wolves? Look at Cogliano. His confidence is shattered and he can't do a damn thing right. How would his development have been different if he had played with Torres and Stoll or Smyth and Horcoff? Can you give up on a guy whose career has been a mess because of how he has been handled when he could go elsewhere and do well?

Not sure, not sure. The problem remains the same as it has been for years now. Too many kids.

Its a goddamned mess is all I know.


Alice said...

We were owned in Denver by a bunch of kids, they're just better bloody kids. And how long do we call our Nilssons kids anyhow. Sure, they started as kids, but when they're 31 or so and making rookie mistakes, well it ain't their age that's the problem.
Funny enough though, the guy who's rounding into form as a 'real NHLer' might be Poo. Right after LT cut him loose!

Do I have a point here? I guess when it's said and done you cut bait with the Coglianos, esp if there's not a fit. Burke threw off some good guys to Calgary, we think every damn asset needs to be held until it's worth zero. We're far too attached to the people to treat them as the trading chips we might need them to be. What if Cogs turns into a 50 point man? Okay, So What if Cogs turns into a 50 point man? If he's a square peg in a round hole here, then make the square hole or make the trade, you don't frigging hoard him. It ain't Marty St Louis, whatever it is. Oilers are unwilling to part with anything that might someday turn out to be useful. Do we think Burke cringes every time Stajan scores a goal in Cgy? No. He's got Phaneuf, and he gets it, just like any grown-up would.

[Great set of posts, btw, nice job.]

misfit said...

You've basically echoed every worry I have about next year's Oilers. We aren't going to bring in the players we need because we won't have room for them after handing out roster spots to the players joe fan (and Pierre McGuire) wants.

We'll still have the league's worst PK, we'll still lead the league in giveaways, and we'll still be bad in the faceoff circle and give up more goals than the other 29 teams. But when we miss the playoffs again, it'll be the coach's fault. Or injuries. Or a lack of leadership. Or because nobody wants to play in Edmonton, and if only Patrick Marleau would've taken that 10 year, $90M deal we offered him...

Black Dog said...

Thanks Alice.

You're right of course. I think first of all that guys like Nilsson and O'Sullivan have to be sent out, no doubt about that, guys like them, Pouliot, Jacques, they're no longer babies for sure.

I think that what the Oilers need is better players (well duh!) and we all get caught up in who these guys are, who our favourites are and so on.

Trade Cogliano for Mueller? Don't know about that, Mueller is no hell either. Cogliano in a package that brings in a youngster who can play. Sure, go for it.

And what you and misfit allude to as well is the fact that this club won't move prospects or youngsters for that very reason (player may turn out down the road).

kanadienkyle said...

My plan would be to trade out everyone over the age of 25, including Penner and Hemsky. The return should be pretty good for both players, and the reality is that by the time the team is any good, they will be long gone anyways.

I don't want the new crop of kids learning 83's practice habits or 27's on-ice pouty faces.

As an aside, if you go to islanders.nhl.com you will see none other than Rob Schremp featured front and center. Not a good fit here but I am glad he is getting a chance.

Krazy Rick said...

Hey Dog....

I've said it before and I'll say it again... start at the top!! Lowe and Tambellini OUT, then send Quinn upstairs. Renney behind the bench.
We all know what the two Bozos have done and will do...NOTHING!!! Lowe sent lots of people packing in trades and got nothing in return. He let people walk and forgot to replace them. Tambellini just doesn't seem able to pull the trigger on anything. What's he waiting for!!??? This team sucks...make it better!!
We all know as well,that Pat Quinn is not afraid of change. During his GM days, he made lots of big changes. We may not have agreed with all of them but at least there was the effort.
This team is full of overpaid, underachieving talent and that falls in the laps of two people....THE BOZOS!!!!


Mr DeBakey said...

I don't want the new crop of kids learning 83's practice habits or 27's on-ice pouty faces.

That idiot Jason Gregor has been pushing the Blame Hemsky line since early in the season, I suggest you consider the source.

As for Hemsky, and Penner, the question is can this get pointed in the right direction next year?
If not, both should be gone by Draft Day.

Some ideas from the guy who said the Oil should get Matt Moulson when he was King’s property:
- Grebeshkov & Omark to Buf for Stafford & a Pick
- Penner & Chorney to Fla for Olesz & a Pick
- O’Sullivan to Bos for Ryder, or to Omsk
- Brule, Cogliano, Jacques, Deslauriers to Mtl for Price & a Pick
- Nilsson to Omsk
- Moreau to Oklahoma
- Staios too

All picks 1st or 2nd, re-sign Comrie, Pisani to Detroit, sign “Seidenberg” and “Stempniak”

doritogrande said...

I tend to look at it a slightly different way than you Pat. In my head, we're already in year 3 or 4 of the re-build prospect wise, so it's reasonable to suggest that this can get turned around pretty quickly based on all the prospects bubbling under.

Pittsburgh didn't have anything in their system until the Crosby! draft. Yeah they continued to suck (and subsequently draft monster centermen) but their re-build took the better part of 4 seasons, even after Crosby.

Am I comparing our Sam Gagner to Crosby? Well...it sort of seems so, but I don't mean to do this. Point is Gagner is the beginning of our re-build to me.

We've acquired some damn good talen in recent drafts, and Hall could push us over the top in terms of what we need up front to be competitive. Hall (and MPS) both have good size, something you mention we lack. Stick them in the bottom-6 and bring them along to provide energy while potting the occasional goal. Eberle like you said is famous and management has to promote that. He's never had much to work with in Regina in terms of a playmaking C, so I can only wonder what he could do riding shotgun to Gagner. A 20-25 goal rookie season and he could be the talk of the town.

What I will agree with you on is that this team also needs to get that veteran presence somewhere in the lineup. I'd say we need a Top-3 winger (who plays the toughs, not necessarily Top-3 in terms of scoring) and two other top-9's. I'd like to see a lineup consisting of:


I think we'd have a competitve forward corps, kids in the proper areas and still maintain some sort of forward progression for prospects.

It all depends on management decisions. For the record, off the top of my head I'd try for;

X = Sharp (Cogliano +?; one season @4.2M)
Y = Eric Belanger (UFA; est. 1.5-1.75M)
Z = Taylor Pyatt (UFA; est. 600-700K)

Oh, and one last thing. You forgot about "the other finn" Rajala.

Mr DeBakey said...

Oh yeah, it looks like this:

Olesz – Horcoff - Hemsky
Comrie - Gagner - Stafford
“Stempniak” – Pouliot - Ryder
Pajaarvi – Potulny - Eberle
Stone, Stortini
Souray - Gilbert
Smid - Visnovsky
“Seidenberg” - “Arsene”
Khabibulin, Price

About $55.5 Million with a crusty pressbox.

Its not gonna happen, of course.

Black Dog said...

kyle - I'm not that patient plus I have no problems with either player to be honest

dg - anything is possible including a quick turnaround although I have seen nothing from management to show that its possible, hell we've been, like Mr D., throwing around possible lineups for years, not pie in the sky trade Moreau for Crosby stuff either

Nothing ever happens.

Now, with all that I would have to say that the new cluster coming up looks promising and having Hall and MPS and Eberle is, I think, a far cry from Nilsson and Schremp et al

But if they're not surrounded by the right crew then its going to be more of the same.

hunter1909 said...

So what if the rebuild fails? One way or another, the Oilers have been pathetic losers since 1991.

What will a few more years matter?

Or do we keep acting like granny at a poker game? Carefully hoarding our crap assets, perpetually going for 8th place, hoping for another crack like in 2006, while the Hawks, Caps, and Kings take the place of the Avs, Wings, and Stars? You know, real NHL playoff teams?

Vic Ferrari said...

I think that Hunter1909 embodies the thinking of Tambellini/Lowe exactly, as evidenced by their actions.

These guys are fools that shouldn't be running a hockey team. Watching them is like watching a friend lose money gambling ... you see the bad bets and you hope they'll get lucky, but you know how it will probably end.

The Oilers have become the NHL's low point drain for B-list prospects in general, and failed first rounders in particular. Like they're trying to build the NHL's most impressive practice squad.

It's time to cut bait, but they won't do it. They can't. Does Mahoney send Turris to the minors of it's his draft pick?

I'm with RiversQ. I can't cheer against them, but rooting for some sort of circumstance where management gets canned ... it's the only sensible option left IMO.

If a new guy takes over as GM, and Hunter/FlamingPavel/Traktor/HFboardsGuy99 ... whatever. If those guys are appalled by every move the new guy makes ... well then we'll know that the Oilers are on their way back to respectability, Pat.

I don't see that happening with the arena issue still in the air, though.

hunter1909 said...

WTF Vic Ferrari, you've gone from claiming you don't even read what I write to practically stalking me from blog to blog.

You really should go to my own blog, to find out for yourself whether or not you really are everything you say you are.

spOILer said...

Hall is a real problem as he's already played 3 years in Junior and has regressed slightly kinda like Tavares did.

I cannot see another furlough in Windsor helping at all, but he can't go to the A and I'd like to keep him out of the NHL for a bit.

How about sending Hall to Timra for a year to make sure MPS is in OK City in case we need him for injury depth?

Also, no way in my mind is MPS ahead of Eberle right now. I thought the last 2 WJCs proved that pretty effectively.

That's a monster post Pat, sorry I've only made it halfway so far. Stupid Olympics Hockey Pool is starting to take over my life.

Black Dog said...

spOILer - I think if its Hall or Seguin they're with the big club.

Do I agree with it? I don't know enough about player development to say, to be honest. But in the case of forwards - Stamkos, Tavares, Kane - it seems to have worked out ok. I don't know how much they would learn back in junior. Physically its a little scary but the top picks are there for a reason.

As for MPS/Eberle I think MPS actually got misused by the coach if I understand it correctly. In any case the WJC is small sample. I really do like Eberle but he's smaller, slower and he's not played against men. I would say MPS is a step ahead of him right now and more ready to play in the bigs, jmo.

Black Dog said...

hunter - not a case of hoarding crap assets I think; the management team has to be smart.

Just saying we will suck for another four years and as a result we'll get to the promised land - well look at Atlanta - four top two picks in four years or the Islanders, they've been really bad for a lot longer than the Oilers.

The Oilers need to build a winning team. You don't have to be awful to do so. You need to be smart and you have to have some luck. Do I think Brule and Cogliano will amount to anything? I don't know.

But if management can bring in a player who is better than either guy and who will make the team better longterm then they should make a move.

Black Dog said...

Vic - yeah my hope is that, like Riv and Ty have been saying, Katz looks at the whole mess and says fuck it, I don't trust these guys, especially after all of my money that they've thrown away.

Somehow though I'm afraid that its not going to happen though. Makes no sense to me but NHL history is rife with GMs who were terrible who survived forever.

Me, if I had some fucking quack running a part of my business who burned it to the ground, I'd have his head on a stake. I wouldn't keep him around, that's for sure.

spOILer said...

MPS got benched for a couple of PPs but that was it. I'd respectfully disagree on that ranking.

Brains and will are almost as a big a part of the game as physical talent. MPS has all the physical tools, but Eberle kicks his ass in the other two areas, kind of like a 20 yr old Hemsky and present day Gagner. And he has a year of playing on him.

There's no doubt Gagner can't sharpen Hemmer's skates when it comes to skating and moves and hands. But his brains, & will/desire have him tracking ahead despite that fact.

NHLE bears this out, although its close.

As for the fucking forwards, I am dumping in order of importance: Moreau, POS, Nilsson, JFJ, Cogs, Brule, Comrie.

I'm OK with Mr. D's mves above, or a play for Poni or Bourque or anything not smurf really. Except Blair Betts. Colour me very unimpressed with that player. Scarcely an improvement over POu, if at all, and he's a leftie.

hunter1909 said...

I'm just apathetic about this team now.

I want them to be good, and have since 1991 when they started their absolute descent into suckitude, but this season reminds me of the time my slightly drunk friend managed to pull a double donut on the 401 during a snowstorm - everything slowed down like in a movie, I wasn't at all afraid - just curious what the result of it would be. Same with nearly going over the edge of the Trans Canada near Banff as a teenager.

Like everyone else, I have no idea where this management is really at. I'd hope Katz thinks like me, and fires them all at the end of the season. They really don't have any business running a NHL team. The proof? 8-9 seasons of mediocre to terrible hockey.

kanadienkyle said...


In regards to patience, my concern is that any type of a quick fix will result in more of the same. Specifically battling for 8th and settling for 10th.

In clearing out the 25 and overs, I would bring in some older players for stability. Ideally guys that are on short term deals and who are perhaps underutilized where they are now.

I just don't think this ship can be righted quickly.

Scott Reynolds said...

Good stuff BD. I think we'll have a lot more information after the deadline on what can be done with the forwards. To this point it's been largely speculation as to whether or not Moreau and Staios (and Nilsson and O'Sullivan) can be moved. If none of them go, we'll know that it wasn't because management didn't try. And if that's the case I think you need to game-plan for another year in the wilderness in which you simply do not start any ELC clocks early: Hall/Seguin back to junior, Svensson and Lander back to Sweden or to the AHL. Give a spot to Omark and see what you have there so you can make a decision on him before the start of the next season. Choose a couple guys who aren't in the plans and pump them to high heaven (this may require a different coach, I'm in favour of Hitch). Sign a couple free agents to one-year deals with the intent of moving them at the deadline.

If Moreau and Staios both go (and maybe even a couple others), then we can start talking about how to get the team to compete for next season. For me, the theme there is to add at the top. This team doesn't need veteran 4th liners. They need to get some good damn players to push some of these people down (or out of) the lineup.

Black Dog said...

Thanks Scott, yeah I agree with that look at it, of course it does depend first of all whether they can clear these guys out, if not then its all moot anyhow because they are going to be bad anyhow.

Kyle - I know that fear but they have to start somewhere right? if they are trending up then for a year or two they are going to be in that mix for 8/9, like the Yotes/Kings/Hawks have been before they made the leap.

Of course the whole idea is adding the pieces and developing the guys to make that leap. Before 2006 they hadn't the financial wherewithal or will to make the jump.

Now they do.

JF said...

Y'know, if it's size you're looking for you ought to look at Dustin Byfuglien. I mean Chicago is going to have to clear away a lot of Cap Space in the offseason so I imagine he could be had at a reasonable rate of return. Big strong forward who can play anywhere in the top 9. Sounds like he'd be a fit to me.

Bruce said...

Penner & Chorney to Fla for Olesz & a Pick

That better be a mighty high pick.

Penner: 320 GP, 96-86-182
Olesz : 285 GP, 50-62-112

Penner: 2 more years at $4.25 MM
Olesz: 4 more years at $3.125 MM

Olesz has never topped 15 goals or 30 points, and for that matter has only once made it to 60 GP. Penner OTOH has never missed a game due to injury.

So why are we throwing in Chorney?

Mr DeBakey said...

Florida's 1st

Because I'm always throwing Chorney in, that's why.

The basic theory:
- you know the Traintrust want Eberle & Friends here. So you have to build stonger other lines to support them.
Plus, these oft-discussed elements:
- move current shit for future hopefully not shit.
- Move duplicates
- Create Cap space

Black Dog said...

JF - not a bad idea but I'm thinking they move any number of guys before the big guy - Barker, Versteeg, Sharp

Bruce said...

Watching them is like watching a friend lose money gambling ... you see the bad bets and you hope they'll get lucky, but you know how it will probably end.

Vic: That's a brilliant analogy. I've been in that exact situation you describe, and this feels exactly the same.

Back in college days I had a friend who would get drunk while playing poker on our team's occasional road trips. Not being a gambling spirit myself but ever-interested in game theory, I watched over his shoulder a few times. Let's just say I maintained a more sober eye than my bud did. I knew just enough about poker to recognize a bad hand when I saw one. My friend OTOH was an expert at making a bad hand worse by overbetting it.

By the end of the night he'd be crying about the fall of the cards (and the loss of his ~$60, serious coin for students in those days), and he'd sound just like an Oilers fan blaming the referees and the posts. This hand or that, sure. This game or that, sure; I'm guilty of that myself. But over the course of a night's poker or a hockey season, no fucking way, and that -$60 or that out-of-the-playoffs-afuckinggain is no illusion.

The cards have fallen very poorly for Steve Tambellini who now has a very bad hand indeed. His early checks and raises have not inspired confidence, let's put it that way. After much deliberation, he has to get the next one(s) right, or it's a trip to the poor house.

It's OK if ultimately deflating for us fans to be overly-optimistic about this guy or that, but if you make a practice of that as an active participant among experts, you are doomed. For all of Tambellini's evaluating, I wonder if he is actually seeing things as they are or still as they wished they might be. Given the performance of his early high-profile acquisitions -- O'Sullivan, Khabibulin -- the delivery has been Much less than the promise.

The next round of trades, whatever they are, must be beneficial, whether that be measured in acquired players/prospects/picks, relief from salary cap, and/or "addition by subtraction" to change the culture and open up some roster space for better players.

Tambo is definitely down to his last strike already in my books.

Me, if I had some fucking quack running a part of my business who burned it to the ground, I'd have his head on a stake. I wouldn't keep him around, that's for sure.

Pat: You've got a way with words. Sounds like Tambo has already been fanned on three pitches in your book. Caught looking, of course.

Black Dog said...

Traktor, you're more than welcome to post here, actually I'm glad when you do, you have a lot of terrific points, but tone it down, after all I liked the Horcoff signing myself, eh?

Thanks, appreciate it.

Brad said...

If any regular BDHS readers are going to be in Vancouver for the Olympics and would like to meet up for a beer - leave a message here and maybe we can set something up!

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