Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Summer of Steve Part 2

I hate to be cheezy and steal a line from Jason Gregor, but it truly is The Summer of Steve. After the abysmal off season in which only Nik Khabibulin and Mike Comrie, and injuries and illness ravaged the team in what was an epic fail of a season, the bright hope of getting the privalege of drafting Taylor Hall starts a new beginning of the Oilers.

On this particular blog here, I am going to grade, move by move, the off-season of the Edmonton Oilers. I will keep it updated and heavily edited as moves transpire.

C+ Coaching changes - Considering I'm not sure what is coming in yet so this grade can change. I wasn't a fan of moving out Rob Daum. I think he is an excellant hockey and a creator of excellant systems, much like Tom Renney of the big club. I guess we'll have to wait and see who the replacement will be, but I think it will be awfully difficult to improve on Rob Daum. I'm hearing Don Hay as a potential replacement, I'm kinda meh on this decision, but Don Hay as a nice resume, however most of it at the junior ranks. Pat Quinn getting ousted really stunk. I bet he really wanted to sink his mitts into Taylor Hall, but alas won't get the oppurtunity. Its too bad, because I thought the combo of Quinn/Renney had the chance to be something special, but it wasn't going to work if Quinn didn't trust Renney's ideas, which ultimately led to the undoing of the tandem. We'll have to see who's coming in to see how it affects the grade. I'll leave it as a C for now, I'm not a big fan of the moves, but I understand why they did them. For the record, I like Renney as a head coach, but they are going to have to bring in someone to be the heavy.

B- The draft - When you draft Taylor Hall, you had yourself a good draft. And the Oilers filled a lot of holes in their prospect system. But I felt they left a lot on the table. It was as if they were testing the scouts as they drafted players from all corners of the world. The Oilers had a good draft, that had the potential to be a great draft. You can see how I felt it shook down on my draft round page on this blog.

B Qualifying RFAs - Qualifying the likes of Gagner, Cogliano, Brule, et al right down to the likes of JF Jacques, Liam Reddox and the two goaltenders. These were no brainer moves, the organization is slowly building prospect depth, but its not there yet, so qualifying O'Marra and Reddox will help the AHL team and build depth. The ballsy moves came when they decided not to qualify Ryan Potulny and Marc Pouliot. This move comes with the good and the bad, on one hand you have Potulny coming off a year of 15 goals and looking to cash in. I'm with the Oilers on this as in, I don't piss around with this because players like this are a dime a dozen. Same goes for Pouliot, the Oilers need a more gritty bottom six, and both of these players don't have a penchant for that. But on the other hand, I had these players slotted as my extra forwards for this upcoming season and the reason being is that if injuries inevitably occur, they can slot in anywhere in the lineup for the short term until the reinforcemants come. I still think the Oilers will need 2 players like this and two players who understand their roles as pressbox bunnies. So, as you can tell, I'm still torn on this decision, we'll see what Tambellini has up his sleeve.

A+ Buyouts - Robert Nilsson got officially bought out. Thank you. This was a long time coming, and watching Robert Nilsson play hockey infuriates me to no end. Skilled one minute, doesn't give a damn the next. I curse out Ales Hemsky for this kind of play but he has twice the skill of Robert Nilsson, so good bye to bad rubbish. Columbus did Oiler nation a humongous favor by claiming Ethan Moreau on waivers meaning the Oilers don't have to pay him a nickel for next year. Thank you for being a soldier for many years, but your time has come and time for the Oilers to move in a new and better direction.

C- Trade - Patrick O'Sullivan for Jim Vandermeer - Oiler nation seems to think we some how fleeced the Phoenix Coyotes on this deal, the fact is they pulled down our pants and spanked our asses. They turfed Vandermeer and in turn bought out Patrick O'Sullivan. Essentially they got rid of two players they didn't want at a less of a buyout cap hit. Instead of having to buyout a contract at 1.6 mil over two years, they bought out O'Sullivan at 1.3 mil, front loaded. The Oilers, instead of buying out Vandermeer, have decided he'll be a 2.3 mil cap hit, for a 5/6 Dman. So, the problem I have with this is, I have Peckham and Johnson pegged as the 5/6 on this team, so either Vandermeer will oust one of them out into the 7th D, or he will be the most expensive 7th Dman in the NHL next year. Either way, I'm not longing for a last pairing of Vandermeer/Peckham as both are long on toughness and try, but short on skill and hockey sense. So, unless they are playing other teams dregs and not get exposed, or injury doesn't arise where they have to play top 4 minutes. They should be fine, otherwise, they will get exposed like Jason Strudwick against the Chicago Black Hawks. I guess you can look at this deal two ways, You get Vandermeer and lose O'Sullivan, or you buyout O'Sullivan and resign Aaron Johnson. The price is likely to be negligible. I guess the kicker for me is, Johnson has some ability to play top 4 minutes for a few games at a time, Vandermeer doesn't have this ability at all.

B The signing of Kurtis Foster - Its a 50/50 in that the future can still alter the grade on this signing. Depending on viewpoint it can be a solid signing or a lack of foresight signing. If Foster is here to be a 5/6 Dman, its a solid signing at 2 yrs, 1.8 mil/yr. If he's here to be the #4, I think the defense depth is hurt by that, especially if the 5/6/7 are a hybrid of Vandermeer/Peckham/Strudwick. If the Oilers bring in a legit #4, then this is a solid move, if they don't, not much for depth.

A The signing of Colin Fraser - Good money, good term, good value for a 4th line C. 2yrs, 825K/yr.

B- The signing of Jason Strudwick - Strudwick has been a good soldier for the Oilers. As a 7th Dman, he'll be fine, but with the defense as a unit is held together like a stack of cards. It could very well be the case once again that Strudwick sees 70 games again this year. The defense got a lot of tougher, but a lot less skilled and a lot less effective against speed. Term is 1yr 725K.

C+ The signing of Steve MacIntyre - I understand the Oilers need for an enforcer type. I'm just not sure MacIntyre is that guy anymore. When someone breaks your face, you have to forgive the fact that its tough to get back in the ring after that. I guess McIntyre was the best option left after the likes of Boogaard, Ivanans and Scott were long gone. Laraque was also on the board at this point, but I guess at this point, its picking the lesser of two evils. MacIntyre is pretty much a scarecrow at this point, if anything he, along with Strudwick, will be good for the room. Term is 1yr 500K.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oilers draft 2010 edition

I'm very torn on how the entire draft played out this year. I'm finding the oilers drafted the right postion with the right picks, but I think they picked the wrong players in those slots. Which tells me that Steve Tambellini had a solid gameplan going into the draft, but his scouts let him down. On the other hand, we got Taylor Hall and that will make it ll worth it.

Pick #1 - #1 Taylor Hall LW - OHL - For me its been a no-brainer for the last 6 months. I'm happy the Oilers concurred, I had Taylor Hall going in this spot.

Pick #2 - #31 Tyler Pitlick C - NCAA - I had Alex Petrovic here, but to be honest, I think Pitlick is a better pick here. Cut of the Shawn Horcoff mold, I think he will be a very versatile piece of the Oilers going forward. I was also preaching Brad Ross moved up here, but can't argue with the Pitlick selection. Petrovic went at #36.

Pick #3 - #46 Martin Marincin D - Slovakia - Riley Nash's career as an Oiler came to an end here as the Oilers traded him for the 46th pick. Marincin is cut of the Ladialav Smid mold in that he has solid co-ordination for a bigger man and hopefully they can mold him into a solid Dman. I was secretly hoping for Troy Rutkowski in this spot.

Pick #4 - #48 Curtis Hamilton LW - WHL - Cut of the Ethan Moreau mold. Not sure how physical he will be since he has had troubles with injuries during his junior tenure. Solid character player, another bigger body, up and down type winger. I had Brad Ross here, but since he went at #44, makes him null and void.

Pick #5 - #61 Ryan Martindale C - OHL - This pick is the start of where I get perturbed and the draft goes sideways. Ryan Martindale is a big softy. he was +2 on a team that was heavily in the plus. Yes, he is a bigger body, but he doesn't play like it. I had Kevin Sundher in this spot and I think the can use Kevin Sundher's skills a lot more here. Kevin Sundher went at #75.

Pick #6 - #91 Jeremie Blain D - QMJHL - I'm gonna be honest, don't know a lot about this kid other than what his stats tell me. 4-34-38 -22 on a team that had some ugly +/- on the team. It just seemed like a very token pick, like they just had to pick someone out of the Q. I had Phillip Grubauer G in this spot, I know which one I would have rather have had. Grubauer went at #112.

Pick #7 - #121 Tyler Bunz G - WHL - Personally of the goaltenders available, I would have looked at Frederick Petersson-Wentzel. I'm not a fan of WHL goaltenders these days, and I'm not sure if its because the goal scoring is so prolific in this league or the goaltenders rolling through just aren't very good. The Oilers needed a goaltender, so I'm glad they took one, but there were better kicking around at this point. I had John Ramage here, but he went at pick #103 making him null and void.

Pick #8 - Brandon Davidson D - WHL - This was a good value pick here. He was +15 on a Regina Pats team that frankly wasn't very good and should have been better. I want to fight the temptation of saying he's another Bryan Young, but he definitely has that feel, I think his passing is a lot better, so I'm hoping that will be enough separation for him. I had Taylor Carnevale here, who ended up not going in the draft at all, which is too bad because I think he has some nice tools in his game, great skater, pretty good shot, good head for the game, I thought he would be a steal for someone looking for a player in this range. Todd Marchant type mold.

Pick #9 - Drew Czerwonka RW - WHL - The dub got a lot of love today from the Oilers. Don't really know much about this kid either, other than he is tough as nails. Very much a project of the Cameron Abney mold. I had Craig Cunningham here who went in the 4th round, pick #97, definitely making him null and void.

Pick #10 - Kristians Pelss F - Latvia - Know very little about this one, other than he is a 5'11 179 lbs forward. I'm not even certain the Oilers know what they are getting here. I had Peter Hrasko at this spot, cut of the Marc-Andre Bergeron mold, he went undrafted here.

Pick #11 - Kellen Jones F - BCHL - Undersized forward averaged a point per game for Vernon. Home run type pick at this late stage. For argument's sake I'll put Darren Archibald here since he went undrafted anyway. I had Archibald at the 162nd pick but it ended up being traded for Colin Fraser. I like the way Archibald plays the game, he agitates, maybe a bit of a poser, but isnt afraid to back it up. Will likely put up more offense than a player like Czerwonka would otherwise do.

So thats the list for this year. I thought there were a lot of reaches and a real focus on trying to draft bigger players, but in their hastiness to do so, I think they missed on some underlying grit players along the way. I guess we will have to look way into the future to see how this all plays out. But all arguments aside, the one player that matters is Taylor Hall, welcome aboard.

Rundown on my own personal draft:
#1 - Taylor Hall
#2 - Alex Petrovic
#3 - Troy Rutkowski
#4 - Curtis Hamilton
#5 - Kevin Sundher
#6 - Phillip Grubauer
#7 - Tyler Bunz
#8 - Taylor Carnevale
#9 - Drew Czerwonka
#10 - Peter Hrasko
#11 - Darren Archibald

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mock Draft 2010 1-31

I'll try my hand at a mock draft since it seems I've seen countless number of them. See how I fare against the pundants. My picks are based on a mix of what I think a team needs with the best player in that spot.

1. Edmonton - Taylor Hall LW
2. Boston - Tyler Seguin C
3. Florida - Cam Fowler D
4. Columbus - Mikael Granlund C
5. Islanders - Brandon Gormley D
6. Tampa Bay - Brett Connolly LW
7. Carolina - Derek Forbert D
8. Atlanta - Jeff Skinner RW
9. Minnesota - Vladimir Tarasenko RW
10. Rangers - Ryan Johansen C
11. Dallas - Eric Gudbranson D
12. Anaheim - Jonathan Merill D
13. Phoenix - Nino Neiderreiter RW
14. St. Louis - Austin Watson LW
15. Boston - Dylan McIlrath D
16. Ottawa - Quentin Howden C
17. Colorado - Jarred Tinordi D
18. Nashville - Emerson Etem RW
19. Los Angelas - Nick Bjugstad C
20. Pittsburgh - Mark Pysyk D
21. Detroit - Alex Burmistrov C
22. Phoenix - Jack Campbell G
23. Buffalo - Tyler Pitlick C
24. Atlanta - Evgeny Kuznetsov LW
25. Vancouver - Brock Nelson C
26. Washington - Brad Ross LW
27. Montreal - Charlie Coyle RW
28. San Jose - Jaden Schwartz C
29. Anaheim - John McFarland LW
30. Chicago - Jason Zucker LW
31. Edmonton - Alex Petrovic D

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Born & Bred vs. Hired Gun

I find myself very on the fence when it comes to the future of Ales Hemsky. On one hand he undeniably the best hockey talent the Oilers have. On the other hand, you just wish his work ethic and his cerebral play would take another step. But here we are, heading into another season and now Ales Hemsky is going to have become a veteran leader, age and salary say its time.

The reason why I bring up Born & Bred vs Hired Gun is I'm a firm believer in draft and procurement. Ales Hemsky is Born and Bred Edmonton Oiler, its all that he knows and all that he's been over the last seven years. That in itself is a plus to have. But with the "new youth" rolling in and a need for more foot soldiers, where does that leave Hemsky? Will he be alright with taking a backseat role if one of the kids emerge? Its a tough question to answer right now, Hemsky has been the offensive catalyst for the last 3+ years. I guess common sense says he should get one more year to see how he fits.

The only thing for me is that there seems to be moons aligning right now. Nathan Horton, who I feel will be dealt this year by the Florida Panthers, could be the better fit with the kids, in the Hemsky spot in the roster. So now the quandry becomes, Born & Bred vs. Hired Gun, Power forward vs. Playmaking forward, Size vs Speed. Which of those will be important to the Oilers going forward. Contract length and value are essentially a wash, I would think it would just be a matter of whether Florida thinks hemsky fits well in their roster without Horton.

Just a thought that has been on my mind for awhile. If I was the Oilers and that deal was on the table today, knowing full well I'm taking Hall at the draft, I think I pull the trigger on this deal.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

PP and PK setup

If the lines are this:

Hall Cullen Hemsky
Penner Gagner Eberle
MPS Horcoff Pisani
Jones Brule Stortini
Potulny Pouliot

Whitney Gilbert
Smid Roszival
Peckham Johnson



Gilbert Whitney


Roszival Cullen

| |

Gilbert Whitney

Horcoff Paajarvi

| |

Johnson Smid

Pisani Brule

The Powerplay is an umbrella type setup with the ability to pass the puck from east to west and west to east. Gagner and Hemsky are the quarterbacks of their respective units. PP1 has more of a down low option with Eberle being able to be a pass/shoot option out of his post, while PP2 is more reliant on the blast from 3 options with Jones setting the tips and screens. Same setup with slighty different variations.

The penalty kill has more of a risk/reward feature to it. Horcoff and Pisani would be the reliable mainstays, while Brule and Paajarvi can utilize their speed to keep the other teams defense honest. The PK can definitely use a scoring threat that it hasn't had in a long while. The defense gets in lanes, clears the front of the net and uses busy sticks. Anticipation and positioning are the key to being a good PKer.