The strongest forward position for the Oilers moving forward is center. Along with a plethora of talent “bubbling under” they have two veterans who have topped 20 goals once (Shawn Horcoff and Jarret Stoll) and as a bonus both of them have an idea about how to play the game.
Young Marc Pouliot would appear to be the best available option after that, and Marty Reasoner should be able to help if he’s healthy.
A bunch of minor leaguers/prospects of varying talent and experience (Brodziak, Schremp, Cogliano, Almtorp) could probably step in and do a job on the 4line if required.
It’s the one position up front where I’d be surprised if the Oilers signed a free agent (Vasicek, Lindros and Yashin are still available along with Foppa) although the Nylander signing would have forced either a position shift or (more likely, I think) a trade.
I should mention here that there seems to be a growing concern among the blogosphere that Horcoff is going somewhere in that big Kevin Lowe trade we all know is coming. Call it a hunch, and if they do deal Horcoff in a deal for Marleau or Gionta or whomever, it has every chance to bite this team. Big time.
Shawn Horcoff: In his last three NHL seasons, Horcoff has scored at .5ppg, .924ppg and .638ppg which is a pretty wide range of offensive seasons from the same player. I don’t think he’ll hit .924 this season but he should recover some of the lost offense. Horcoff turns 29 in late September and should be on the Hemsky line AND should also get some extra powerplay duty this season based on his number in that role last season (and the roster makeup). His EV number will be hurt by the absence of Ryan Smyth on the top line.
- ES points-per-60mins: 1.52
- PP points-per-60mins: 4.87
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 126/676
- Prediction: 82gp, 20-44-64
Jarret Stoll: Anything we talk about with Stoll has to be tempered at least a little because of his injury last season. If healthy he should have a fine season unless they change up the PP and don’t use him as they did last season. Stoll’s still a pretty young player (25) and could set career highs in all categories. It would be interesting to see what Stoll and Torres could do at EVs in a full season with Pisani on RW. One more thing: I see a lot of posts about Stoll being superior to Horcoff and the Desjardins’ number favors Stoll but this is the right order.
- ES points-per-60mins: 2.2
- PP points-per-60mins: 4.20
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 76/676
- Prediction: 82gp, 24-39-63
Marc Pouliot: His offense wasn’t far off Jarret Stoll’s right through junior and their 20-year old AHL seasons, but Stoll was a better EV scorer as an NHL rookie (1.39/1.17). Stoll had to have played with better linemates. Still, the suspicion over Pouliot’s offense will grow if he can’t deliver better numbers this season. He’s extremely unlikely to get much PP time.
- ES points-per-60mins: 1.17
- PP points-per-60mins: 1.11
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 182/676
- Prediction: 82gp, 10-12-22
Marty Reasoner: Reasoner didn’t have a very good season last year, owing mostly to injury. He’s a question mark going into the fall and if he can’t deliver one of those kids will run right over him. If he’s healthy MacT will keep him for experience and penalty killing.
- ES points-per-60mins: 1.45
- PP points-per-60mins: 0
- Desjardins Quality of Opposition: 198/676
- Prediction: 82gp 5-13-18