Reasonable Expectations for Oilers’ C 07-08

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

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16 Responses to "Reasonable Expectations for Oilers’ C 07-08"

  1. rickibear says:

    65 pts makes Horcoff and Stoll strong defensive 2A and 2B centers.
    Lowe said Cogliano will only make the team if he can take a #2 center spot or better. That would mean: 2A, 2B, and 2C centers.

    Oh Well. No 1 center for Hemsky this year unless it is Yashin (he has nice Desjardins #’s) Heck his RTSS Blocks #’s would be equal to Torres and Stoll’s

    Pouliot only fits in at #3 if there are no other moves at center.

    Alot of what ifs even with our strength.

  2. Devin says:

    Pouliot’s GA/60 number is key — he played enough against good enough opposition (and w/ JFJ, Zoolander, and other EV luminaries!!) for me to believe that’s realistic talent showing through. If Pouliot can keep up his low GA/60 along with Thoresen, I’d say add Moreau on the LW and you have yourself a nice defensive line that can take the pressure off of one of Stoll or Horcoff. So if his offense doesn’t show this year it might not necessarily be a bad thing.

    Reasoner I think was used on the LW very late in the season (from memory he was on the wing while 28 took C duties). I don’t think that’s a bad bet for a 4th line either – say 19, 28, and one of the kids. I’d put money on 19, if healthy, being this season’s Toby (he was the Toby option in 05-06).

    As for Horc- he deserves a vast amount more PP minutes, and if this team wants to score any goals at all he’d better be front and center (ha) on every PP. It’s funny — here’s a team that we look at and think “how are they going to keep the puck out of their net” — and then you realize they have few options for putting in at the other end… One hopes that we score a lot of shootout goals this yr. :|

  3. namflashback says:

    LT,

    Not sure that MP won’t get some PP time. I can barely come up with 6 proven PP forwards for this team . . .

    Hemsky, Horcoff, Stoll . . .

    Sanderson?

    We all love Torres and Pisani, but they aren’t strong PP performers either.

  4. rickibear says:

    I would hope any thought of moving Horcoff would be to trade from a position of strength to fill in a position of need. If you move him does the center position then become a position of need.

    How about a first line of
    Hemsky, Horcoff, and Stoll our 70 pt potential guys.

    Fill our #2 and #3 centers with youth. (Pouliot, Nilsson, or Cogliano.)

    Oh God there had better be a couple of trades. If not back to the 90′s cheering for a young developing team with a descent veteran core.

  5. jon says:

    With the current roster I think Pouliot gets 10 more assists. If we get two more veteran forwards the number for him will likely be around your predicted sum, while Stoll and Horcoff could potentially score slightly higher due to the increased quality of linemates.

    On a somewhat related topic, I’m really not certain about our 2nd PP this year. On the one hand we have the young personnel to place there, but if MacT is interested in not getting scored on in the ensuing ES time he could very well elect to stick to the old style “play it safe” 2nd unit.

  6. Steve says:

    If not back to the 90′s cheering for a young developing team with a descent veteran core.

    Oh, Freudian slips…

  7. rickibear says:

    Karl Jung implies: Hockey (trophy) wives are twenty or older and your age difference can never exceed there age.

    Steve: Your observations are incoincident.

  8. Big T says:

    What best suits the development of Pouliot??? Put him on an offensive 4th line with Nilsson and maybe Sanderson, Schremp or even Jacques that could stifle his defensive game? Or do you put him in a checking role with Moreau and Thoreson that could stifle his offensive game?

    What’s the answer? How does doing one or the other effect the development of Nilsson? Jacques? Do these guys need to be with quality to improve or should they be made to earn there minutes??

    Lots of interesting questions this year for sure.

    T

  9. IceDragoon says:

    big t.

    I want him earning his keep carrying the heaviest load he can handle. … with some soft minute rewards as MacT sees fit. Keep his counting #s reasonable then sign him 3(+) years.

    What I saw in him in the disaster that was… tells me he has the #1C spot in his future – if the stars align ;-). I see a potential of Horcoff (same smarts) with better hands and vision.

    fyi – I read nuances/intangibles, so others may see him differently. It’s all good.

    L8r
    Louise

  10. Dennis says:

    Give his low GA total, I think MP projects as a top two centre when it comes to playing the soft min. If the offense comes then this guy looks to be possibly be an ES gem.

    As for depth down the middle, I think we’d get by with Brodziak as the 4th pivot and if MP’s the player I think he is, then I think it’s clear by Xmas that we are super deep down the middle and maybe we can start looking to trade now. If I thought 16 could take on 10′s role, then I might deal off 10 right now in there was a scoring winger coming back in return. Then again, I doubt that Stoll can do Horc’s job so it’s best to see what we’ve really got in MP before we make the jump.

    And going forward it certainly wouldn’t be a hinderence to be stacked down the middle in ’08 with 10-16-78. You might want to get Stoll extended before then though because if my hunch is correct and 10-78 are taking on the tough, then 16 could have a field day feasting on the soft min plus PP time.

    It seems like the Oilers are set down the middle for years though. They’ll keep at least two of 10-16-78 plus Cogs for all the world seems like at least a top niner. Eventually though, someone’s gonna have to be dealt for a scoring winger unless one of Schremp, Nilsson or perhaps even Trukno slips into that role. In summary, the Oilers look great at pivot, have promise on D, are depending on Garon plus Dubnyk at goaltender but on the wings are thinner than Lowe’s hair. It’s basically 83-14-34 that can score and nothing else looks like a slam dunk

  11. speeds says:

    Dennis: If the C’s are looking that good, why is there a need to trade Horcoff at all? Why not just shift him to LW – he’s played there before.

  12. namflashback says:

    I would guess that they hope that MP and one of the depth C’s force the issue for them this year. Stoll is RFA at the end of the year, and will be due a raise/extension.

    They can’t make the decision NOW without knowing how Stoll handles full contact.

    Assuming Stoll is ok and proves that the postive stretch he had last season with Torres and Pisani can be replicated consistently, MP takes a positive step, then during the year or in the next off season — one of Horcoff or Stoll would likely need to move on.

    as a postscript . . .
    If Lowe had gotten both Nylander AND Kariya as UFA, did the same deal for Pitkanen — it seems to me that Horcoff’s salary would have to have been leaving too.

  13. Big T says:

    Completly agree Speeds, though perhaps he’s more valuable at pivot and it is someone else that should be shifter over to the wing???

    I think we’re on the same page Louise. No sense in MAP cheating for offense this early in his career and picking up bad habits.

    As for what you saw in the lad during the last 20 games, I think that’s what Lowe and the scouts were so impressed by when MAP was on that horrible team the season thay tanked to get Crosby. Apparently, he never gave up and worked his butt off despite being out of the playoffs in November. Hope that same effort comes forward his entire career. It’s a hell of a quality to have.

    T

  14. Big T says:

    Back to Speeds thougts regarding Horcoff to the wing;

    I wonder if perhaps Reasoner might extend his career slightly by moving over to either side of the dot???

    I guess the question is, do we need another guy who would be reasonably sound defensivly while not providing much offense. The price is certianly right. Perhaps this expleins Lowe’s absense in signing Mike Johnson – if he even wants to sign here.

    I’d have to think that a line of Moreau – Pouliot – Reasoner be an effective one. Maybe Sanderson-Brodziak-Thoreson would be an effective 4th line.

    T

  15. Bank Shot says:

    God willing Stoll and Horcoff have good seasons this year. Centers are the backbone of the forward core and if they can perform up to expectations the Oilers could actually win some games.

    I think they’ll be the defacto one and two choices this season when Mactavish is looking for someone to go over the boards in any and every situation.

    I’m not sure what to make of Pouliot. He doesn’t seem to have any standout qualities which could really put a low ceiling on his upside. That’s not to say he won’t be useful, but his icetime and role could end up being marginalized.

    It really wouldn’t be that surprising to me to see him surpassed by a guy like Cogliano or O’Marra in the immediate future.

    Reasoner will probably see his icetime dwindle as the season goes on, and someone from Springfield will probably have his job locked up by season’s end.

  16. Dennis says:

    NFB, there’s no question that 10 was out the door if both Nylander and Kariya were signed but I have a hard job believing that the Oilers ever intended to sign both of them in the first place, ie them in and Horc out still pumps up the payroll a great deal. Then again, that probably would’ve meant that Souray wasn’t signed so maybe they would’ve and could’ve signed both. But if you’d signed both those guys you’d have a Kariya-Nylander-Hemsky soft min line with Stoll and MP taking on the tough min.

    As for Horc moving to the wing, I’d rather move Stoll to the wing and give him the greenlight to shoot. As much as I like 10, he’s limited the areas from which he can score while maybe if you turned 16 loose and gave him a pivot to set him up, you might get 30 goals from him. Plus, Horc’s the guy you want facing Zetterburg.

    As for Cogs and ROM passing MP, maybe the former will do it but I don’t know about the latter. Also, I have my early morning doubts about just how much Pouliot will score at the pro level but right now less than 80 GP into his career he’s already developed one skill: he’s a hard MOFO to score on. So as much as I like reading about Cogs and as much as some people like ROM, so far we don’t know if there’s Anything at all they’re good at when it comes to the pro level.

    But that’s not something you can say about Pouliot.

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