Opening Night 07-08: Programs, Get Your Programs!

As it stands now, the prospect junkies among Oiler nation are about to receive a watershed: baby, they’re all going to play!

In goal, Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon represent the most experienced tandem in forever for the Oildrop. One imagines Kevin Lowe being able to deal Roloson at the deadline, insert Garon as the starter and introduce one of the kids (likely Dubnyk, suspect he’ll pass JDD like a house on the side of the road) to the show. The Oilers don’t have the future covered in net for certain, but the present looks pretty good.

On Defense, the Oilers have turned over quite a bit of the roster this summer. From opening night last season, Jason Smith, Marc Andre Bergeron and Daniel Tjarnqvist are gone, with Steve Staios, Ladislav Smid and Matt Greene returning. Also gone is Jan Hejda.

The Oilers have added some nice pieces on the blueline, including Joni Pitkanen, Dick Tarnstrom and Denis Grebeshkov. Mathieu Roy and Tom Gilbert are also listed on the major league roster, giving (at a guess) a depth chart of:

  1. Joni Pitkanen
  2. Steve Staios
  3. Dick Tarnstrom
  4. Matt Greene
  5. Ladislav Smid
  6. Denis Grebeshkov
  7. Tom Gilbert
  8. Mathieu Roy

Among the defensemen who could surprise and find their way onto the big league roster are Danny Syvret, Bryan Young and Theo Peckham. That’s way too many to list, but that’s what we thought last year.

Pitkanen could end up being a 30 minute a night guy out there, with impressive powerplay credentials addressing exactly what this club has been looking for since the Pronger deal. One imagines Pitkanen and Jarret Stoll on the first PP, and perhaps Dick Tarnstrom as a second pairing option (please no Staios, Mr. Simpson).

At EV, I’d say they’ll pair Pitkanen and Staios as the top pairing, have Smid and Greene learn on the job together on the second pairing and have Tarnstrom play with either Grebeshkov or Gilbert on the third pairing. We could see Tarnstrom team with Greene, but I don’t know that it’s an improvement. If Grebeshkov shows well, he may be an option in the top 4D. The defense could have used Aaron Miller, and would certainly improve with a signed Danny Markov.

Center is the strongest position on the club. Shawn Horcoff is an underrated player entering what should be the prime of his career. He has a nice range of skills and remains a quality powerplay option with Ryan Smyth now departed from the scene. Horcoff should have a larger role this season. Jarret Stoll is apparently recovered from the concussion problems and will be relied on in multiple rolls (PP point shot, 2nd line scoring) and I think Marty Reasoner may end up as the pivot on the 3line. He had a poor season and seems to have spent much of the last two years playing hurt, so a full recovery is very important. My pick for 4th line option is Rob Schremp, a player the Oilers will need to work into the lineup in an effort to produce goals. A season spent playing 10 minutes a night is probably a good place to start for the skill forward.

  1. Shawn Horcoff
  2. Jarret Stoll
  3. Marty Reasoner
  4. Rob Schremp
  5. Kyle Brodziak

I think Brodziak definitely makes this team, as a possible replacement for both Reasoner and Schremp on the depth chart. If the Oilers do nothing from here through opening night to improve their roster, he may end up getting more at-bats than any of these young players. If I were in a deep baseball-style roto hockey league, Kyle Brodziak would be a nice late round option. A few shifts from an ineffective Reasoner or a youthful Schremp may have MacT running for a better option.

Left Wing is a mess, so I’ve moved Fernando Pisani here. He’s a helluva player folks, and since Smyth is gone and there is no obvious, immediate or satisfactory replacement available I suggest they just go ahead and play their best overall option here. Pisani on a line with Horcoff and Hemsky may not be sexy and they won’t score like 10-94-83 but that’s still the best option available at this time. Raffi Torres should continue to improve and deliver results on Stoll’s line and Ethan Moreau has been a veteran option on that 3line for almost a decade now. Robert Nilsson starting off on the 4line is a better situation imo, and if he can show enough perhaps he’ll be able to take Raffi’s slot and Pisani can move to RW.

  1. Fernando Pisani
  2. Raffi Torres
  3. Ethan Moreau
  4. Robert Nilsson

Right Wing features the team’s most exciting player, and Ales Hemsky is going to have to kick ass at EV and on the PP this winter. Mudcrutch mentioned he thought 83 was going to have a breakout season this year, and it’s about time for him. He’s still a charter member of the Rick Middleton family, but if he wants to threaten the upper echelon of that group (Middleton with Lafleur rising) he’ll need to make a bigger impact this season. With Pisani gone from the RW group, Geoff Sanderson plays on the 2line and gets to put up numbers with Stoll and Raffi. That’s a nice line imo. Pouliot gets 3line, he’s a good passer, responsible without the puck and there won’t be too much pressure offensively on this line. Patrick Thoresen is my nominee for the 4line, and although he’s slightly undersized and didn’t produce big offensive numbers he’s a smart player. Zach Stortini probably has to make this team because they’ll need an enforcer and he’s most certainly from the Scott Ferguson “listen to the coach” family.

  1. Ales Hemsky
  2. Geoff Sanderson
  3. Marc Pouliot
  4. Patrick Thoresen
  5. Zach Stortini

By my count that’s 5 rookies and at least 7 pretty inexperienced players on the roster to start the season.

Oh, the humanity.

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38 Responses to "Opening Night 07-08: Programs, Get Your Programs!"

  1. Oilman says:

    Where’s Marc Pouliot?

  2. Lowetide says:

    RW.

  3. Whippy says:

    I know how Lowe has tried and I think I give him more credit than most. But we can’t start the season with Pisani at 1LW. Fernando Pisani?

    Options?

    Sign Markov and Ekman, and find a team who needs some combination of Raffi Torres, a young defenseman and prospects.

  4. Scarlett says:

    I might be crazy, but I’m liking the youth. I would love someone else for Hemmer’s line (yeah Pisani is not sexy in every way possible) but the rest has possibility. It’s time for the kids to step up and I think they might.

  5. jerk clown says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s what I think happens:

    After Sather is done with Lundqvist, Avery and Shanahan, he has to move someone and he tosses KL a bone in the form of Martin Straka (1yr left at 3m) for a pick or prospect. He can play LW or C and still get you 25-30 goals.

    Lowe is happy to enter the season with that and deal for another forward or d-man once the season starts to shake out. We look something like this:

    Straka – Horc – Hemmer
    Torres – Stoll – Pisani
    Moreau – Pouliot – Sanderson
    Thoresen – Reasoner – Nilsson

    Extras: Jacques or Stortini and Brodziak or Almtorp.

    Coming off knee surgery I think Schremp starts in the minors again, and gets a recall.

    On D:

    Pitkanen – Staois
    Smid – Greene
    Tarnstrom – Grebeshkov

    Extra: Roy or Gilbert.

    Grebeshkov and Tarnstrom are both lefties, which mean someone would have to switch to their off side. I’m sure one of Roy or Gilbert makes the team out of the need for balance. I think Lowe is done on the back-end. I think this is the group we are going into the season with.

    Goal:

    Roloson
    Garon

    This is the best tandem we’ve had in a long time. I was thrilled when we signed Garon. The best UFA goalie out there. We should be solid…MacT was always saying how he wanted to use Jussi more, but something kept him from doing it. Maybe lingering fear from the Conkannen year. This year, I don’t see him having any such fears. Garon should get 20-25 games.

  6. Black Dog says:

    Goaltending looks very good.

    As for the rest of it, oh my dear dog in heaven.

    I actually like the idea of Pisani with Horc and Hemsky. Works for me. And your second line is alright too. I think poor Marty may be done and we may see Pouliot between Ethan and Thoresen.

    End result – three lines that probably can hold their own at ES but also don’t put a lot on the board, unless the planets all align etc etc.

    With that D that strength at ES is wasted and the PP, while improved (could it be any worse), likely cannot make up the difference.

    You think Schremp and Nilsson make it, LT? Perhaps in a Perry/Getzlaf type of scenario from 05/06 – protect them at ES and give them as much PP as you can?

  7. Lowetide says:

    I don’t think either of them make it with the Oilers, BD. They’ll get their ab’s this year though, and it’s an open question as to which one has the better year.

    Probably Nilsson, but Schremp may show something on the PP.

  8. majeau13 says:

    Hey man, long time reader, first time poster. But, I stopped reading this post, and had to comment when I read this;

    “I’ve moved Fernando Pisani here. He’s a helluva player folks”

    Really?

    Ferny’s been with the Oilers regularly for the past 3 seasons (only played 35 Games in 02/03), and has NEVER cracked 40 points.

    His +/- isn’t that impressive, but it’s decent, I’ll give you that.

    I really think that Pisani is 3rd line, at best (maybe 2nd with Torres and Stoll). He’s not going to shoot the lights out.

    How can you call Pisani a “helluva player” when his best point total in a season is 37, and his best +/- is +14?

  9. RiversQ says:

    Whew, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with Reasoner getting 3rd line minutes. He really hasn’t shown anything since the big knee injury. I don’t think that makes him a good candidate for a rebound either.

    Furthermore, I think they’ll have to ride three lines pretty hard at ES in order to keep that Nilsson, Schremp line off the ice except in opportune situations. Based on last year’s performance, Pouliot is the best bet for that job IMO.

    It would be really nice if they could get one more winger somewhere. Either wing would be fine thanks to Pisani’s ability to move around. How good does Mike Johnson sound right now?

    BTW, I like the Nilsson plus Schremp move if they can take a job in camp and earn their keep with PP work. The Oilers are dying for PP forwards, so they really, really need these two guys on the PP.

  10. RiversQ says:

    majeau13: Pisani does not get outscored at ES. That has major value IMO. He generally does this with some fabulously low GA numbers at 5V5, but he has decent ESP/hr rates as well. He’s done all this while playing decent opposition too.

    It’s no coincidence that Torres and Stoll pissed away the first 20 games of the year at ES until Pisani got on that line and they went on a tear.

    As far as his counting numbers go… 3rd line minutes and very little PP time makes it pretty hard to put up big totals. He’s not a classical 1st line choice, but if the Oilers want to line Hemsky and Horcoff against top lines, then he’s probably the best option available.

  11. Black Dog says:

    majeau13 – Pisani generally plays the toughest opposition the Oilers face, worse case, second best. So say they play the Wings he’s either out there against Zetterberg and Lidstrom or Datsyuk and Schneider (talking about last year). Or say the Cup run – he, Peca and Torres were facing Staal or Brindamour in the final or Thornton or Moreau against SJ or again tough opposition against the Wings.

    You’re right – Pisani doesn’t have the fancy numbers – but he plays against the other teams best players and generally holds his own. Add to that his ability on the PK and he is a very valuable player.

    Riv – agreed on Marty and Mike Johnson; do you think Nilsson and / or Schremp really have a future even playing soft minutes? You don’t think so LT?

  12. Black Dog says:

    Sorry meant to say Marleau v. SJ

  13. Asiaoil says:

    LT – why do you want to trade Roloson so bad? He’s a solid vet, wants to be here, probably on his last contract which is at a more than reasonable price point. Plus we have nobody totally ready to replace him – although Garon is a possibility next year I guess but that’s no cinch. Makes zero sense to trade Roloson – the return would be modest and the risk substantial.

    Other than that – the whole lineup still needs a defensively responsible 2nd line RW (hello Mike Johnson, an elite LW (who hell knows) and another dman who is a top pair guy (best) or top 4 (minimum). Kubina continues to intrigue me as we could use another RH shot with Smith gone.

    We should be able to get the journeyman RW thing sorted out through UFA – and trade for another dman using one of our young dmen and/or other prospects as bait.

    But the LW thing will have to wait likely. Doesnt mean that we dont want the guy now – just that we are going to have to be patient and sit on that branch like a buzzard waiting for a cap victim or idiot to drop dead at our feet. Good news is that it WILL happen and we better be ready with chequebook and cap space in hand.

    The new 5 bullets (to use your phrase LT) is all about Hemsky’s contract. we can rebuild for one or maybe two more years – but we better be ready to kick ass in years 3-5. oh yeah and sign Pitkanen to a 5 year deal as well ASAP.

  14. Dennis says:

    I hate to say it because I love the guy but I think Reasoner’s done, I really do. I just as soon give Thor the bump to the 3rd line and play him with Moreau and Pouliot and let Reasoner anchor down the 4th line and just keep him around for his experience. He isn’t making fuckall so there’s no real reason to deal him off or anything but I don’t think I’d give him more icetime than MP.

    Sanderson with the 14-16 tandem would give that line a lot of speed but I really wonder how much Geoff has left. We’re gonna suck anyway so why not just cut the guy loose and that might make sure that both Nilsson, Schremp and perhaps even JFJ can play everyday.

    As for the PP, I think we have enough guys to keep our ESGA rate respectable but I don’t know who’s gonna drive the PP and I wouldn’t be comfortable in saying that either of the Roberts are the ones to hand the keys too. I guess at some point that may be one of the few options, and Jason Allison is the only true PP guy that I know to be left on the market. I’d like to bring in one steady outscorer and another that could drive the PP and thus take one of Nilsson or Schremp plus Sanderson out of the top 12. That doesn’t seem likely at this point though and because Nilsson has the extra year of playing time AND because Schremp’s coming off a knee injury when his skating was a knock in the first place, I’d imagine Row-bert gets the first shot if need be.

    On the backend, it could very well be that years down the road Joni-Smid will be a fine 1-2 tandem but for now it’s quite scary, no?

  15. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: I think Schremp and Nilsson will have NHL careers, but doubt it’ll be with the Oilers.

    They don’t really strike me as the kind of players who will earn the dollars they’re going to require when they reach free agency age.

    More Anson/Comrie than Pisani/Horcoff. I think they’ll have NHL careers, though.

  16. Lowetide says:

    Asia: I don’t want to trade Roloson, but why a team like the Oilers wouldn’t shop him at any deadline in the next two seasons is beyond me.

    Roloson will have value at the deadline, and the Oilers aren’t going to win a damn thing before he retires.

  17. Mr DeBakey says:

    I don’t think we’ll see Schremp to start the year

    Pouliot’s gotta be ahead of Reasoner.

    Reasoner with Nillson, Thoreson, Jacques, Brodzizk – which 2 depends on Home/Away, Match ups, muscle…

    Available winger types, Pick one or two:
    Reinprecht, Steven
    Schaefer, Peter
    Hunter, Trent
    Ekman, Nils
    Johnson, Mike

  18. mc79hockey says:

    I agree on Roli. I like him a lot, have a ton of respect for him…but some contender is going to need a goalie between now and the end of his contract. I make that move in a heartbeat if the return is respectable and targeted towards when the Oilers are competitive.

  19. godot10 says:

    We need at least one more veteran forward to start the season, probably a left wing.

    My roster looks like:

    forward, Horcoff, Hemsky
    Torres, Stoll, Pisani
    Moreau, Pouliot, Thoreson
    Sanderson, Reasoner, Stortini
    Nilson, Brodziak

    A player like Peter Schaefer should clearly be available in a trade.

    I could see the Oilers also signing Jason Allison as a power play specialist.

    The defense:
    Pitkanen, Staios
    Grebeshkov, Greene
    Smid, Tarnstrom
    Gilbert, Roy

  20. Black Dog says:

    I’m with you on Roli, Ty. Fact is the guy, if healthy, has the chops and is a very attractive piece for some team – say, the Avs?

    Too many holes on this team – damn – every single comment – we need this, this, this, everyone to stay healthy and guys like Torres, Hemsky, Horcoff (basically everyone) to step it up. And that’s to be competive.

    I hope someone steps up or this is going to be a long and dull mess to watch.

  21. rickibear says:

    From my Vanek disco comments:

    However I will still renew my tickets to see this team.

    Mikhonov/Horcoff/Hemsky
    Torres/Stoll/Nilsson
    Sanderson/Pouliot/Pisani
    Moreau/Reasoner/Thoerson
    ???????/Storitini

    Pitkanen/Staios w/ good knees
    Tjarnstrom/Greene
    Grebeshkov/Gilbert
    Smid

    Roloson/Garon

    July 6, 2007 11:33 PM

    Black dog:

    I was taking my son to his doctor in Edmonton today when i tought about my comments in “bang the drum” and goaltending for two years. Realized the same thing. Couldn’t agree with you more.

    Jerk clown:

    I had thought it would be Prukha we would try to trade for and move Horcoff to wing. Though i still hope for Mikhnov.

    Went with the torres/stoll/nilsson
    line. Torres is second line over sanderson. Stoll second line center because of the 1g/gm drop when hemmer and horc not togrther.
    When hemmer was hurt in March, I remember Nilsson playing RW well with torres and horc. Shift chart shows this.

    Pisani and pouliot had offensive chemistry at the end of the year.
    Slot Sanderson in the third line.

    Pisani, Thoerson were our best penalty killers. Last year and Moreau will do big pk minutes. reasoner stays up with his 1M one way contract.

  22. rickibear says:

    Mikhanov would have had a perfect opportunity to audition for first line LW in the early spring. But he went back to Yaroslav were he ended up being there #1 scoring option at the end of the year and playoffs. Im sure the oilers got reports from Igor uli about him and Grebs. The oilers did say they still retain his rights and hope he may come back.

    I did not see him in camp.

    Which one of you first posted the Mikhnov Utube Video in 2006.

  23. Kyle says:

    5 rookies, 7 inexperienced and one of the experienced guys is Geoff Sanderson.

    Having Geoff Sanderson ON your club is a bad sign, that he’s important is and even worse sign.

  24. mc79hockey says:

    I’m with you on Roli, Ty. Fact is the guy, if healthy, has the chops and is a very attractive piece for some team – say, the Avs?

    Avs might be an interesting option for him. Budaj, I’m still not sold on. If they’re into a Conkannen situation, Roloson might look attractive mid-season.

  25. mc79hockey says:

    There’s no fucking point playing Sanderson after about game 30, when they’re 10-17-3 and well out of the race. Hopefully, they throw minutes at Nilsson and Schremp on the PP at that point.

  26. rickibear says:

    MC79 if we dump sanderson do we get rid of reasoners contract as dennis says and go with youth in both slots.

  27. Asiaoil says:

    Guys we are in a rebuild – but there is little to be gained by allowing our young guys get hammered night after night. No more vets should be traded and we need a few more good ones to lead the kids.

  28. majeau13 says:

    To all the people who corrected me, you’re right. I never thought about his checking roles. I just really don’t think he is God’s Gift to Hockey.

  29. Bendelson says:

    When Hasek gets hurt, the Red Wings will be in desperate need to get a veteran goalie like Rollie.

    For the Wings ’08 1st round pick, it’ll be a no brainer.

    Then the Dubnyk era can begin.

  30. Black Dog says:

    If Dubnyk gets minutes behind these guys there will be no Dubnyk era. More like a blip and then straight to the bin with the Paris Hilton albums.

    Sanderson and Reasoner will be kept around. If things go south in a hurry then their minutes may decline but they’ll be kept around.

  31. Black Dog says:

    majeau13 – I think for the most part we’re all big fans of Pisani but our man Fernando is a third line winger who’ll pot 15 plus a year. The fact that he is a top six forward (and maybe first line winger) on this team, speaks to where this team is right now.

    I give the guy a lot of credit for the career he has made for himself and for the player he is but I don’t think anyone is kidding themselves. A team with Fernando Pisani on your first line’s left wing is likely not that good a team.

  32. Dennis says:

    Yeah, good point on keeping a couple of vets around but I’d much rather have a Mike Johnson in that role instead of a Sanderson. If you play all the young guys at the same time, you’ll get killed unless those kids are super-talented and the guys we’re looking for time for like Nilsson and RS, those guys aren’t sure-shots. Given that RS is behind the eight-ball right off the bat because of his injury and the fact that Nilsson’s one year ahead of him, Row-bert is the guy I’d give the first push too.

    Basically it’s those two plus JFJ that the Oilers really need to make decisions on and/or find out just how much they’re worth. Given his ESGA total, it’s clear that MP can play. It might not be clear how much offense he’ll give us but the kid’s defintely ahead of both RS and RN. Now, maybe you let JFJ tear up th A for the first 20 games and give him some confidence before you bring him up but I think that at the very least, Nilsson’s a guy that has to get the benefit of a doubt come the first week in October.

    Ty, nice call on Roli and the Avs. I believe they still have 7 mill to spend and Budjai could very well be the fly in their ointment. Note, I just looked at his numbers and he’s still not 25 and he had a couple of good seasons in the A so he’s probably a safe bet. That being said, it would be nice for them to have some vet insurance and not to say you spend for the fuck of it, but Roli isn’t that expensive that you wouldn’t take a shot on him to help share the workload. Of course the other side of the coin is that there’s no real reason to deal Roli unless A: you have your own in-house goalie that needs NHL games and that doesn’t apply to us B: you’re gonna used the saved money to overpay for another player and that doesn’t seem possible now unless they go overboard on a Cammerelli offersheet and C: why do we care if the EIG’s saving money if they probably aren’t gonna save it anywhere? I mean sure you’d still deal him if the Avs gave you anything substanial but is that realistic?

  33. Doogie says:

    I don’t mind sending Roli to Colorado at the deadline. We’re probably sitting at about 25 wins at that point, so if we take on the last $1-1.5M of Theo’s albatross (plus a good pick/prospect — we need some reasonable incentive to take him), we can tank in fucking style through the homestretch. Maybe not 2-17-1 style, but probably enough to secure a nice lottery spot. Meanwhile, Colorado looks as good as any team in the NW by this point, so Roli, maybe in a platoon with Budaj, might just be enough to make a decent splash in the playoffs.

  34. Dano says:

    Cammalleri’s going to arbitration so he’s not an option (unless the Kings walk away from the arbitration award which isn’t likely)

    Fearless prediction: I think this team will score approximately the same number of goals as last year and finish in 8th to 10th spot (8th is a admittedly a longshot). I think this team is a borderline lottery pick team. Puck movement from the backend should be improved and this is the main reason I am moderately optimistic. With Pronger (and Spacek and Tarnstrom to a lesser extent) the forwards had a good season as a group. When these players didn’t return, disaster occurred. Of the forwards only Smyth had a good year. The combination of Smyth being in the final year of a contract and having a style of play that is less affected by these deficiencies are probably the reasons for this.

    Sanderson probably covers the loss(?) of Lupul which leaves 50+ goals to cover. The only way they live up to my bold prediction is if there is an improvement from all the forwards as a group. There isn’t likely to be any one player in the top 25 of scoring but if the group improves from last year then I think this is possible.

  35. jon says:

    I havn’t read all the comments fully, but I think godot’s lineup is pretty close to what we shall see for most of the season. Otherwise…

    Reasoner: I agree with most that he appears to be done doesn’t have the depth of experience or leadership to be even truly help out the young guys like Moreau does. Doesn’t get re-signed at season’s end.

    Roloson: I disagree with the notion of trading him away. This team is better than most people are giving it credit for right now as Lupul being gone assures us at least 10 more wins this season (half joking). Not to mention that it would be detrimental to the development of our young players to be on an absolute stinker of a team for more than one season. Roli will help with that.

    Nilsson: Keep him, he has a career with us as a PP specialist.

    Schremp: Keep him until his value appears to be rising then trade him to a team that overvalues his skillset, like NYI or St. Louis.

    Otherwise, this post and its thread have actually made me become a bit more interested and exciting in the coming season. We won’t be great, but I still think we’ll surprise.

  36. Doogie says:

    Fearless prediction: I think this team will score approximately the same number of goals as last year and finish in 8th to 10th spot (8th is a admittedly a longshot).

    So what you’re saying is that Dwayne Roloson will be possessed by the spirit of George Hainsworth sometime late this September? Last in the NHL in GF will not get you within a mile and a half of a playoff spot.

  37. SweatyO says:

    So what you’re saying is that Dwayne Roloson will be possessed by the spirit of George Hainsworth sometime late this September? Last in the NHL in GF will not get you within a mile and a half of a playoff spot.

    No, but 27th overall will get you a division title!

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/stats/byteam?cat=teamstats&cut_type=0&sort=404&conference=NHL&year=season_2005

  38. Doogie says:

    No, but 27th overall will get you a division title!

    And first in goals against. My point stands.

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