Saw Him Good

I saw Kevin Lowe on television a few times today, he didn’t look like he was having fun. Too bad really, when you consider it’s extremely unlikely he’ll be back next season at the helm of the Oilers.

The day began with the usual spin about big deals ahead (“Oilers close on a couple of fronts”) but sputtered for obvious reasons (the Oilers CAN trade Staios, but they need to trade for someone better in return. No one wants to do that, since there are free agents straight ahead one week into the future).

The draft started well. With Voracek and Gagner on the board, Edmonton chose well with Sam Gagner:

5-11, 190, August 1989 (late birthday is good), ISS: Extremely smart hockey player, plays both ends of the rink and has tremendous vision.

I like him because he can take and make a pass at high speed and makes good decisions with the puck. I could tell you how MUCH I like him if you would give me his ATOI totals. No matter, I like the pick.

At 15, the Oilers went back to two old chestnuts: SAW HIM GOOD and DRAFT FOR NEED. You just KNEW they’d take a defenseman with the second pick even if Christ Almighty was available up front.

I talked to Guy Flaming earlier today and he mentioned Alex Plante at 15 (he really did, I’m not making this up). Guy mentioned a nice size, decent speed package with skill and that he didn’t get beaten much one on one. I think Plante is a classic example of “draft for need”, an Edmonton Oilers tradition that dates back several years. The Oilers passed on Alexei Cherepanov and Angelo Esposito by taking Plante and THAT imo will end up being the most often quoted “mistake” from Kevin Prendergast this draft. Best Player Available wasn’t served with this pick.

The draft up to this point was somewhat controversial but you could defend the decisions. However, by paying a supreme price (30+36) and trading up for a future role player in Riley Nash I believe the Oilers wasted assets that should cost someone their job.

All we’ve heard about this draft is that the picks from 15-50 are interchangeable and it seems to me that if you’re going to trade up it should be for a Mikael Backlund or David Perron. Losing two early picks in a draft that resembles 2002 made zero sense. Buffalo got Jochen Hecht for the 31 and 36 picks in 2002, Edmonton gave up 30 and 36 for the chance at a guy who should have been available at 36.

No matter. Tomorrow morning Jim Matheson will have an article about Kevin Lowe “blocking Calgary” from getting the guy they wanted in Riley Nash. You can choose to believe them or not. Frankly, after seeing this kind of thing over and over again, I could care less.

Gagner I like, Plante you can defend, but the rest of the draft looks like it was aided by seed capsules of the opium poppy

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20 Responses to "Saw Him Good"

  1. momentai says:

    I think the major damning thing is not who the Oilers selected with their 3 first round picks… It is that they still had 3 first rounders considering the holes on their roster.

  2. Mamettt says:

    I don’t get it. You talk for months about needing to get more elite skill throughout the organization. You talk about getting a winger to play with Hemsky. The single most skilled player is still available to you at 15, after you’ve made your safe pick at 6. And who do you take? A defensmen whose upside will be Andy Sutton or (at best) Steven Staois.

    I’m not a draft nut like some guys, and I know its a crapshoot. But based upon draft position and ranking alone, you can say that this first round was mismanaged.

    It just seems like Lowe and Co. had some myopic plan to begin with, and no matter who was available, they were going to follow through with it. Cherepanov available? Who cares, we need another non-elite d-man with little puck posession skills! Yeah, right.

    Look, Cherapanov could become the next busted prospect, and Plante and Nash might be huge forces in our lineup. But Choosing them when they were chosen- and not maxmizing the value of your draft poistion- is what hurts.

    Can Lowe complain that elite players aren’t available in the draft at the places where the oilers draft to season ticket holders who ask him why we don’t have a crosby or ovechkin? That’s his standard answer when asked that question, and I don’t think he can do that anymore. We gave up on one elite talent today. That won’t wash with most of his fanbase after today.

    And where the hell were the trades? Where were they? I doubt Lowe’s going to magically turn around tomorrow and pick up Redden or Pitkanen. Here’s hoping he will. But LT, you were right: Lowe did nothing, because I doubt anything was out there.

    Which means were are rebuilding. A rebuild that didn’t have to happen, if Lowe hadn’t fucked the Smyth and Pronger deals so badly. So so badly.

    It’s going to be a tough couple of years for oil fans who like to see winning hockey.

    What happened to “competing after the cba”? We were told to just wait until the CBA and we would be a have and not a have-not, a team who had turned the corner and who was a legitimate contender. What the fuck? I feel lied to. I feel betrayed. I feel like if Lowe really wanted to win he would have gotten better value out of the Pronger deal, or made him sit on his ass until he started playing again. And I sure as hell feel like Lowe would have signed Smyth.

    So here’s hoping Lowe salvages this mess. But from the looks of it were rebuilding. And from the resignation on Lowe’s face, it looks as if he know he wont be around to see the end of this thing.

    Oh I forgot…the next in line just jumped ship to Columbus.

  3. Mr DeBakey says:

    I don’t want to get into “Shudda taken Petrecki instead of Plante” because I just don’t know.

    6th – Gagner is fine, except now the Oilers top 6 prospects are small. I don’t care how New the NHL is, that is bad.

    15th – Why take Plante with Esposito & Cherepanov available? There was a flock of d-men available at this point. It was 50/50 that Plante would be there at 30 [or 21]. If not, take Negrin, or Ross, or Brennan.

    21st – Why trade up to get Nash, he’s going to be a third liner. If he’s gone by 30, so what? Take someone else.

    That was frustrating.

  4. Lowetide says:

    mamett: Lowe not dealing was the best news of the day outside the pick of Gagner imo.

    Keeping Horcoff, Torres, Hemsky, Pisani, Moreau, Stoll, Smith, Staios and Roloson this summer and through the fall is central for the Oilers.

    When they fall out of the race they can deal Roloson and JSmith and then hire Lowe’s replacement with a top 5 pick and plenty of cap room.

  5. Jesse says:

    I’m going to be taking more of a zen approach to that first round than mamettt.

    I don’t know nearly enough about prospects to judge these picks, but that trade does seem a little strange. The only way it would make sense to me is if they knew someone else was targeting him (which we’ll never know, and I’m not going to take Matheson’s word on it). Even then, maybe not, though.

    As far as the 15 pick goes, I can see people already screaming that the Oilers didn’t take Esposito or Cheripanov. If one or both those players pan out, Plante will definately be the posterboy of Prendergast’s failures. The thing is, if only one of them pans out, everyone will remember that the Oilers passed over him (see Doan), but no one will talk about the bullet they dodged even though it meant they were criticized at the time. Only time will tell, and I’m not sure this scouting staff should get the benefit of the doubt or not (they’ve made some awful picks, but they’ve got some good ones too).

    As far as trades go, I’m not willing to condemn Lowe for not making a splash yet. I would way rather a 2 year rebuild (if that’s what it takes) than a trade for trade’s sake. In my opinion Lowe has a lot more good trades under his belt than bad, and I’m sure if the right move presents its self Lowe will take it.

  6. Ribs says:

    I agree with everything, LT. Two maybes are always better than one. If they felt the need to trade up they for sure could have picked someone less risky than Nash.

  7. Lowetide says:

    ribs: I don’t think Nash is risky, quite the contrary. ISS calls him a well rounded player and compares him to Patrick Eaves (also calling him a safe pick).

    The problem for me is that he (or another just like him) would have been available at 30 or even 36. When you have 4 bullets why make it 3 unless you can get a skill guy (like Backlund).

    I mean it’s kind of piling on, but is there a lot of difference between the upside of Gagner and the upside of Backlund?

    I don’t think there is.

    I don’t think any of the three picks by EDM is awful, but would have been thrilled with a Gagner, Cherepanov, Backlund first round and it was there.

    It was there

  8. Ribs says:

    Sorry LT, I meant risky in that players picked after Nash will outperform him in the future.

    Backlund would have been a much better pick in my eyes as well.

  9. Mamettt says:

    LT: So are you resigned to the fact that we are a rebuilding team? It seems like it. Which is okay, but I have 2 problems with it:

    1) It didn’t have to be this way. A rebuild now is because of two things. One- Lowe trading away our two best players (Smyth and Pronger) and getting nothing in return in terms of NHL quality players. Sure, the prospects might turn out, and Smid might develop into a decent top-4 guy, but Lupul has proven nothing and meanwhile Pronger has a cup and Smyth continues to be missed (see the 19 game black hole the oilers fell into after his departure). If Lowe had handled the Pronger and Smyth deals better, we would be talking about the playoffs today. That may seem like crying over spilled milk, but most reubuilds happen when teams are “forced” to undergo them for financial reasons, like the oilers of the mid 90′s or the predators of next year (teams who are willing to spend money, like TO, PHI, etc. never rebuild. For better or worse, they are in it to win bascially every year).

    So we are in a position entirely created by Lowe through his own ineptitude last year at managing this team. That is angering beyond belief. What is equally angering is his seeming reluctance to DO ANYTHING about the situation he is in. Which brings me to my 2nd problem

    2) If we are rebuilding, fucking tell us. Prepare us, so we can all get excited about the 2008 draft year and we can dial down the expectations. Instead, the LIE to us about a big move, they tell us its going to happen, they send messages to Matheson that they are involved in deal after deal (who do you think his “sources” are?), they tell us that WE WILL BE MAKING THE PLAYOFFS NEXT YEAR.

    And what do they do? Fuck all. I want some honesty. I would be okay if they traded Horcoff and Lupul for Redden and Vermette. Or if they gave up a huge chunk of the future for Gomez and signed him at 8 million. Why? Because they would be moral victories. They would be signs of a resurgent mentalility- that we are not going to take a 19 game losing streak lightly, that we are going to make changes, even if those changes are only incremental. It’s a statement about an effort to win. And where’ there is effort, there is usually results. I want to win. In the shortest time possible. It’s simple. And I wonder why Lowe doesn’t. I wouldn’t hold it against him if he didn’t have the money to compete, if we were still at 70 cents on the dollar, but he does have the money (nobody can convince me otherwise, look at the price of oil, the ticket prices, the alberta boom, etc,), but where is the action?

    This year has been a perpetual cycle of diasspointment, and so too has this offseason been so far, because we are all waiting for the big deal, the big splash that will bring us Peca and Pronger returned (or similar players of their ilk) and Lowe encourages that hope. He tells us that he will be making moves. Where are they?

    He may still deliver. I’m hoping. But if he doesnt, and he just bascially rebuilds, will no one in the edmonton media call him on his lies? He told us post CBA things would be different. We would spend money to keep players (RE: Smyth) and we would stop stockpiling picks/prospects for the perepetual rebuild. We would be a contender. And what has he given us? Even when Pronger and Smyth were traded, we heard about the big deals that were coming, that we would add a “big name” before the draft. And where was it?

    Lowe, be honest with us. We were supposed to be a playoff team post CBA and a have franchise. We are neither, and for that I feel slighted.

    If it’s a rebuild, fine. But tell us. And if its not, if they are truly ready to use Alberta’s booming economy and 95cent dollar to sign some players, to make some trades, to mortgage some of the future for the NOW In order to win, then fucking do it! Stop teasing us.

  10. Lowetide says:

    mamettt: I think Lowe has miscalculated all down the line since last summer.

    I mean, had he traded Pronger for the same return AND added two veteran defenders then maybe Smid (or Greene) spends time in the pressbox or in the A but they compete from the starting gate last fall. Remember Roloson isn’t Tommy Gun this is a player.

    But he sat around with his finger up his bum waiting for something to shake free and it never did (plus admittedly MacT was slow on the Hejda card).

    I think this weekend he miscalculated that someone would be interested in these kids. They’re not, and won’t be until well into the FA season or even training camp.

    At which time it will be too late and Lowe will be on the way out.

    C
    Horcoff
    Stoll

    L
    Moreau
    Torres

    R
    Hemsky
    Pisani
    Lupul

    D
    Smith
    Staios

    G
    Roloson

    THAT is the list of guys who are established NHLers (cue Lupul comments) with injured/ineffective Reasoner taken out of the mix.

    They’re paying full price for pretty much all those guys and the kids who might help are all going to confuse the issue because there are so damn MANY of them (I’ve always felt that any team with more than a couple of young options at each position is extremely likely to make the wrong choice).

  11. GorillazXL says:

    Share the same sentiments as the previous post. Yeah I like the Gagner pick, the Plante pick could be justified if the draft went as predicted by many mock drafts and scouting agency rankings but when one of teh most dynamic player is still on board and one of the team needs is a scoring potential, its a bit silly to pass up on the opportunity. but what really got me upset is teh trading of the 30th and 36th pick for a player that is off teh board. Sure he might of been drafted by a competing team (Calgary) but he’s just as risky as any other player avaiable at the time. Definately no riskier then Cherapanov.

    GXL

  12. craig says:

    I think you will see that Riley Nash is the “Dark Horse” in the first round. I saw this kid play at the BCHL All-Star Game and to be honest, he stood more then Kyle Turris in that game!

    The Edmonton Scouts noticed early on that Nash has some very similar skill attributes to that of a Turris, so it is no surprise they traded away two picks to get him. He’s a keeper!

  13. Slipper says:

    I’m on board with the philosophy that you shouldn’t draft defencemen at all. With the obvious exception being when a Pronger/Lidstrom phenom type comes along.

    With the lower free agency age it makes more sense, like others have stated before, to let other teams draft and develop defence.
    The “draft for need” excuse doesn’t wash with me either, because the last thing a team needs is another defender under the age of 25, let alone twenty.

    Draft the shit out of forwards and sign or acquire through trade mature and developed defencemen.

  14. mc79hockey says:

    The thing is, if only one of them pans out, everyone will remember that the Oilers passed over him (see Doan), but no one will talk about the bullet they dodged even though it meant they were criticized at the time.

    I’ll go on the record saying that I don’t have enough of a feeling on Espo to go one way or another but the Cherepanov thing is enraging.

  15. CrazyCoach says:

    I watched the draft and I was disappointed with the Oilers picks outside of Gagner. To not take Cherpanov or Baklund was ridiculous. Take the best player available, not another Staois or Pisani.

    I don’t see Nash or Plante developing into the players the Oilers need in the next 2-3 years. I’d say in 4-6 years maybe, but they could be the Kansas City Oilers by that time if this BS continues with the EIG.

    The hard part in marketing to fans is getting them on the involvement escalator and trying to get them from casual fan to heavy user. The Oilers have been fortunate that for so many years they had a quality product on the ice and they had a good group of heavy users (mid 90′s being the exception, but they survived where the Nords and Jets didn’t).

    My fear is that the heavy users now are getting older and may be off that escalator, and if the causal fans are only used to seeing the absolute shitshow that the Glory years old boys club are creating at Rexall, then what makes them want to become a heavy user? Edmonton is not Toronto, or Montreal, and I don’t think Oilers fans are going to sit still for mediocrity.

    It is a myopic view to think that if they win all is forgiven, and I think that is the mistake the EIG is making right now. They want to rest on their laurels of making it to the 2006 finals. Say what you will about Peter Pocklington, but the man did like to win and the product he put in front of even the most casual fan was better than what happens at Rexall now.

    The Oilers are slowly becoming the Kansas City Royals of the NHL, and if they don’t get their act together in Edmonton soon enough, they may be sharing sports fan dollars with the Royals in the same city.

  16. Bendelson says:

    You draft the best player available. This is COMMON knowledge.

    When your organization eliminates the most talented player available due to his hometown/country – you are deliberatly handicaping yourself (and your fans)… sure Cherapanov may be a risk, but hope and excitement are all we Oiler fans have these days and who the fuck is excited about Plante ‘developing’ over the next 4-5 years?

    In regards to Nash… I actually like the pick fine. He could be a player WAY down the line. HOWEVER! If the impetus for trading up for Nash was really to prevent Calgary from drafting him, then the level of stupidity in the Oilers front office is far greater than I once believed… is our game plan to build the best team possible or to prevent Calgary from drafting who they want?

    That can’t be true…
    It CAN’T be…

  17. doritogrande says:

    Bendelson, I’m the guy you should be talking about regarding Alex Plante I see.

    I was huge on this guy since I started reading into Karl Alzner. You can’t teach size, and this kid’s got it in spades. He’s in a great program in Calgary where he’s given the chance to be a big player. I mean, even in his rookie year he (and Alzner for that matter) made up the top pairing for the Hitmen, and i think he’s got the potential to be the best defenseman taken in this draft. That’s right, I said it. Better than Alzner, better than Ellerby, WAY better than that guy the Kings took, who the hell is he anyway and what were the Kings scouts drinking at their table? When Plante makes it to the NHL, he’s going to play at the size of Pronger, and that’s huge. He won’t have the offensive upside of Pronger, guys like that come only once a decade, but he’ll be top-pairing material easy. I think he’s going to look great with Smid in the future.

    I’m ok with passing on Cherepanov and Esposito because the Oilers need Alex Plante. We may regret it, but prospects are prospects, some won’t pan out. I can see Cherepanov having a sizeable hate for the NHL after he was forced to sit and wait for that long for his name to finally be called. Or he may wind up the next Zherdev, i’m not sure. Esposito’s character and desire for the game came into question a lot, and if you claim to follow the Edmonton Oilers, you should understand that Character and Heart are the headlines of the Oilers organization.

  18. Aaron Paquette says:

    Until they want to get paid, then they go to the Islanders.

  19. godot10 says:

    I like the Oilers’ first round.

    Gagner has an August birthdate, which means he is one of the youngest players in the draft. Player closest to being a sure thing in this draft.

    The Oilers have their offensive D prospects in Chorney and Petry (and Smid). They need big bodies for these guys to play with. Plante has the tools that need to be coached up. He goes into the defensive D prospect bin with Young and Peckham.

    As for Nash, they like him, and they knew somebody was going to take him before 30. When you have an excess of draft picks, you should use them to get the players you want.

    On Cheraponov:

    The Russian players are going to migrate to the Northeast or warm weather because there is a nouveau riche Russia emigre community in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Toronto. With early free agency, I think it is pointless for the Oilers to try to build their team around a Russian. They won’t stay.

  20. Master Lok says:

    What if the Oilers did think they picked the best player available – when they picked Plante over Cherepanov, and they moved up to pick Riley?

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