Howson Steals Hejda

For the life of me I don’t understand why Edmonton didn’t sign this guy. He was very dependable on the blueline when healthy this past season and was easily one of the top 4 defensemen on the roster.

According to Desjardins, Hejda played some of the toughest minutes in the NHL last season (he played the 15th toughest minues in the league among D) and he performed well in them.

He played an aggressive, physical style for Edmonton and had that valuable knack of being able to move bodies and impose his will on the opponent without taking a penalty.

Jan Hejda is a smart player. Scott Howson made a wise signing and I’ll be cheering for both of them this winter.

As for the Oilers, their LD has seen a lot of turnover and the depth chart as we talk today might be something like Pitkanen, Smid, Tarnstrom (I think they’ll play Smid with Matt Greene on the second pairing as things stand now). The other option (and a strong one) is Denis Grebeshkov who is pretty much a lock to make the big club this fall.

Jan Hejda is probably a better option for 07-08 than at least 2 of those guys (Smid, Grebeshkov although he may surprise) and is far more reliable in his own zone than Tarnstrom. The decision to let him go to Columbus could then be best described as curious.

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15 Responses to "Howson Steals Hejda"

  1. Scarlett says:

    How do you know the Oilers didn’t try to sign him and he refused??

  2. Jeff says:

    Hejda is better then Smid? I am convinced you don’t watch hockey, you should stick to baseball where no one cares what you say.

  3. Lowetide says:

    scarlett: Good point.

    jeff: I think maybe you’re confusing potential with reality. I’m on record as saying Smid will be a good one and he did improve as the season wore on, but if healthy Hejda’s a better bet by some to help his team win games next season.

    As for watching hockey, I’ve seen a little.

  4. rickibear says:

    He was the only ufa on our team I wanted us to sign. In the games I saw him in he hardly ever got beat and allways forced to the outside.
    He was on pace for 130 hits which would have left us with 2 d men in the top 40 in hits. (M Greene and Hedja) What stood out to me was ev goals against he had.
    I think an adjusted GA is a better reflection for d men in the tough minutes.
    To me he was a left sided Steve Staios our #3 defence man. 3g 25p stable defencively, hits , and blocks shots.

  5. momentai says:

    Jeff, I think LT is saying that Hejda is better than Smid RIGHT NOW. And that’s pretty hard to argue. In the future, Ladislav could be a good dman but he isn’t one right now. He’s a young buck that was in over his head last season.

  6. jon says:

    LT: Hejda was a decent defensemen for the reasons you mentioned (physicality, strength, ability to separate opponents from the puck), but I’m convinced that he only seemed to be a good defensemen due to the paucity of experience on our blueline last year. Add to this that Hejda’s main weaknesses (footspeed, inability to move the puck once acquired) seemed to be the hallmarks of our defense last year and Lowe and company seemed intent to let him leave for more speed and puckmoving ability from signing Tarnstrom, Grebeshkov, and swapping Smith for Pitkanen.

    Though I think the aggressiveness and physicality of our defense is weakened, it is obviously a much faster defense who may be able to pursue the puck in a much quicker fashion. The most frustrating thing for me last year was not so much the inability of the defense to make a decent pass instead of dumping it, but watching us get hemmed in our own zone because our defense got beat to the puck in the corners or on the wall every single time. It’s a good bet that won’t occur as much this year, though there will likely be more pucks put in our net.

  7. rickibear says:

    Jan Hedja was paired with J. Smith most of the year and forced to take on the primary roll of puck mover on that pair. Something he was not going to succeed at in that d pairing.

    The signing of Pitkanen and Tjarnstrom meant Gilbert drops down to the 5/6 puck moving Offensive d spot. Hedja a LD (is not going to get signed to play 5/6.

  8. Loxy says:

    Even if there was no space for him (which I think is a wrong judgement based on who we have), you’d think he’d be a good cheap signing, especially if we were trying to deal for another defencemen later and wanted to throw in a warm body, rather than another prospect.

  9. Black Dog says:

    Hard to say – maybe CBJ told him he would play and play a lot. Looking around last season, esp. the first half, I’m sure there were a few times he wondered why he was in the pressbox (and the minors) when he should have been playing.

    And with 4 LD signed and pretty well guaranteed spots, rightly or wrongly, the writing was on the wall.

    Sure liked the guy though. One of the few bright spots from last season.

  10. Dennis says:

    If by curious you mean stupid, then yeah, I can agree with that.

    Lowe started off with three good moves in a row but then he didn’t bring back Hejda and he traded down to pick up Allan Rourke.

    There’s no question the Oilers needed to change their personnel on the backend. They just had way too many guys who couldn’t make a first pass and now one of them’s in Philly and the Oilers brought in Dick and Grebs and all of a sudden Greene’s the only donkey left in the mix. I think the Oilers basically decided to keep Greene and that’s why they let Hejda go. I think they alloted one slot for a defend first D and they gave it to Greene and that’s not really a big surprise as they’ve been pushing and overrating him for a long time now.

    I think it’s a mistake though.

    Jan would need to play with a guy who can move the puck but him and Gator were out there hacking it to bits last year and they didn’t do too badly either. We don’t know what greene will round into but we do know that in ’07 Hejda played tough opp and did a decent job with it. For some reason the Oilers overlooked that but so did a lot of teams really. SJ’s got a couple of young puck movers but you’re telling me they could’ve have used Jan? And hey, what about the Flames? Wouldn’t it be better to sign Jan instead of Sarich and then used the saved monies for Kipper?

    Something seems off about all of this or maybe he’s just one of those guys who’s underrated.

  11. rickibear says:

    I think the o’rourke trade was for the chronological reasons i outlined in the comments section of CIO “holy Crap”

    “” 9. Edmonton needs there own 3rd pick from NYI to make offers in the 2.28M to 3.4M range.they orchestrate the o’rourke trade.”

    We would not trade a 2nd round pick for a 3rd round pick straight up so O’rourke was added in.

    The choice between Grebeshkov and hedja would be waited by whether Tough russian league minutes reflected better or hedjas nhl performance. The timing of the grebeshkov contract is also critical.

  12. mc79hockey says:

    Hejda is better then Smid? I am convinced you don’t watch hockey, you should stick to baseball where no one cares what you say.

    This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen on the internet. As for Hejda, I didn’t even think that he was such a bad puck mover. Certainly compared to Smith, he was Bobby Orr in that department.

  13. Devin says:

    I’ve said this before but all I can think of is:
    1- His shoulder injury was severe enough to cause concern about a full recovery.
    2- Jan just didn’t want to sign here to pointlessly sit in the pressbox watching Greene and Smid get shellacked for 30 games again.

    Great point Dennis – there are a pile of teams that could use this guy. Hell, at 1M/season he’s a guy you sign even if you have no spot for him. He’s incredible value for the money.

  14. RiversQ says:

    Smid and Greene as the second pairing? Wow, are the Oilers screwed or what? Greene got spanked playing anything but bottom pairing minutes last year and Smid leaned on Staios heavily. If that’s the second pairing, they’re finishing 25-30th at best.

  15. Black Dog says:

    rivers – yeah but what about Greene’s performance at the WC?

    God help us all.

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