Who is ready for Top 6F

Let’s say that sometime in the next week or so Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish are having a cup of coffee. Let’s say they get around to talking about their top 2 lines.

Let’s say they roll off the usual suspects (Horcoff, Hemsky, Stoll, Torres) and they agree that with the poor options on both wings currently available Fernando Pisani will play on one of the top 2 lines.

It’s not a crazy thought. He’s being paid like a top 2line F in Edmonton, and he’s got some skills. Could Pisani move to LW and play with Horcoff and Hemsky? It isn’t Ryan Smyth but he’s a player.

Okay. Assuming Moreau is going to babysit Pouliot on the 3line (and let’s say they sign Mike Johnson for RW on that line), which of the young prospects is a likely candidate for the Stoll-Torres line?

Is it Robert Nilsson? Desjardins NHLE for 82gp is 10-27-37 (.451) and he had a .377ppg number in his full NHL season (53gp, 20 points). He seems to be the fan’s choice for the job, but I’m certain there are better options. Geoff Sanderson’s 06-07 (29 points in 58 games) is probably the outer marker for Nilsson this season.

Is it Rob Schremp? His Desjardins NHL for 82gp is 10-21-31 and his 20-year old AHL season saw him finish well below the Vic 1/1 number. His 2nd half was pretty good (29gp, 9-18-27) and it’s possible he went from overrated due to ATOI to underrated for the same reason. Still, I can’t see MacT handing him a job on the Stoll line.

Jean Francois Jacques, Slava Trukhno, Ryan O’Marra, Andrew Cogliano hell even Kyle Brodziak may get a look in training camp. However, history tells us that Pouliot and Thoresen will be better NHLers in 07-08 even if it’s only because they’ve been there before and have had some degree of success for this coach.

I don’t think there’s anyone in the system who stands out as an obvious choice for MacT in the top 6. Here is the list of young forwards who’ve entered the NHL under MacTavish (playing a significant amount) with their GP totals and ATOI:

  1. Mike Comrie 00-01 41gp, 11:23 (2:03PP)
  2. Shawn Horcoff 00-01 49gp, 9:13 (0:11PK)
  3. Dom Pittis 00-01 47gp, 10:46 (1:01PK)
  4. Ales Hemsky 02-03 59gp, 12:04 (2:36PP)
  5. Jason Chimera 02-03 66gp, 10:45 (0:37PP)
  6. Fernando Pisani 02-03 35gp, 10:43 (0:41PP)
  7. Raffi Torres 03-04 12:38 (1:37PP)
  8. Jarret Stoll 03-04 68gp, 13:54 (1:51PK)
  9. Patrick Thoresen 06-07 68gp, 11:25 (0:55PK)
  10. Marc Pouliot 06-07 46gp, 13:02 (1:10PP)
  11. Brad Winchester 06-07 59gp, 8:04 (0:21PP)
  12. JF Jacques 06-07 37gp, 7:54 (0:02PP)

I think that’s it, may have skipped a couple but it looks complete. Some points of interest: TWO kids played more than 2 minutes a game on the PP in their rookie year and they were Hemsky and Comrie. Do the Oilers have anyone of that offensive calibre in the system? Torres and Pouliot each got over a minute on the PP too as rookies. Stoll was used a little on the PK as a rookie, 1:51. With the exception of Dom Pittis (who was an old rookie), so far anyone who has been able to get 10 minutes a night from MacT as a rookie has had a career. Horcoff was over 9 so we’ll count him too.

You know what? That’s just a helluva list. Nilsson and Schremp are the skill guys with some pro experience, I’ll be very interested to see which one MacT warms up to in camp. My guess is they don’t see the light of day anytime soon and MacT rides Pisani and Sanderson on the top 2line if the GM gives him no other options. Can’t blame MacTavish. Geoff Sanderson isn’t Ryan Smyth, but he won’t make as many mistakes in a year as Rob Schremp will before November.

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16 Responses to "Who is ready for Top 6F"

  1. jon says:

    If we don’t acquire a top line winger I’d be willing to bet a few beers that Nilsson get’s a good look in the top6. He’s the right age and has pro experience and skill to go with a chip on his shoulder from how the Island treated him. In all honesty I could see him getting 40 assists if he gets significant PP and Hemsky time,which he could if we don’t sign the aforementioned top line winger.

  2. SweatyO says:

    I’ll bet my left testicle they make a trade for at least one top-six winger before September 15th rolls around.

    Or two top six wingers.

    Or one top six winger and some sort of center upgrade (if Horcoff plus something for Marleau could be considered an upgrade….)

  3. uni says:

    I actually really like Nilsson for some reason, almost as much as I like Pouliot.

    I really hope they don’t trade any of Pouliot, Gilbert, and Nilsson would round that group of kids out; quite curious to see how each of them pans out.

  4. momentai says:

    sweatyo: I know you’re not strongly advocating this but anyone wanting to trade Marleau for Horcoff is going to have to seriously come up with a valid argument that Marleau is worth the money and assets he’d require. To this point, all I’ve ever heard is that he’s a) offensive and b) skates fast. Yeah, color me unconvinced.

    Anyone looking at his stats can see how inflated his last 2 seasons have been playing with Thornton on the pp. We’re basically getting a 10 pt upgrade with massive downgrade on ES ability. Seriously, someone needs to come up with an argument for Marleau that I can agree with.

    What about Pouliot manning the LW position with Horcoff and Hemsky? We can talk about Nilsson and he’ll definitely get his shot somewhere (if at least on the pp) but we know that Pouliot can hold his own at ES. If we can nudge some offensive jam out of him, I think that line isn’t half bad if Hemsky also takes a step forward at ES as well.

  5. Mr DeBakey says:

    Good idea, except Pouliot doesn’t seem to shoot too well.

    That line up is a dog’s breakfast.
    That’s Dixie’s opinion anyways.

    Using the kids:
    First, sign Johnson

    4th line
    4 kids with Pouliot,
    the four take turns
    Nillson, Thoreson, Jacques, Schremp

    The other three lines will have to carry the freight on many nights
    C – Horcoff, Stoll, Reasoner
    R – Hemsky , Pisani, Johnson
    L – Sanderson, Moreau, Torres

    Plan B [well Plan 264 actually]
    Forget the kids
    I came up with this reading HF the last two days
    -Reasoner to Ottawa for Schaefer
    -Schremp to Phoenix for Reinprecht
    -sign Johnson
    - result
    C-Horcoff, Stoll, Reinprecht, Pouliot
    L – Torres, Sanderson, Moreau, Schaefer
    R – Hemsky, Pisani, Johnson, Thoreson

    Roll 4 lines – each a different shade of gray
    Fast, soft, offensive upside, defensively sound.
    Potentially the most frustrating team ever put on ice.
    But if it comes together….

  6. Nelson88 says:

    Torres/Stoll/Pisani was an excellent line last year until Stoll went down. I would like to see it back again.

    Failing that and a move to bring in a first line winger perhaps they should try Nilsson with Stoll and Pisani. The line wouldn’t be bad defensively and Nilsson the passer has two pretty decent shooters and puck retreival guys.

  7. Black Dog says:

    It will be Nilsson. They have to see what the kid can do. Time on the fourth line or back in the AHL isn’t going to do him much good.

    A bottom six of Moreau/Pouliot/Johnson (or facsimile)/Sanderson/Thoresen/ and Reasoner or Brodziak is probably going to hold its own. Its how you jig those top two lines – I think there may actually be three lines that can hold their own at ES – the problem is the fourth one (the one Nilsson is on) which will have him and Hemsky or Stoll. That’s the worrisome one.

  8. momentai says:

    debakey: He used to have a fine shot in Rimouski. I thought his wrister was one of his strengths. It’s not like he had a real good opportunity to use that shot here in Edmonton. He was always side saddled with one eyesore or another and always having to be first guy back in the zone. Hard to be an offensive juggernaut while being a rookie and becoming the defensive consciousness for his linemates.

  9. namflashback says:

    My guess is that MP, over the course of the season, likely suffered in the strength and conditioning department due to the Mono from prior.

    I’ve never had mono, but from everything I’ve heard, it can sap alot out of you.

    It would explain how MP would have good stretches then flat stretches.

    Hopefully he is in on the Chad Moreau boot camp.

  10. Black Dog says:

    I thought I had mono once but it turns out I was just bored.

  11. Barry says:

    I would think Sanderson will play with Hemsky. I don’t remember seeing Sanderson play in the last 10 years but a review of his stats shows that in many years he had more goals than assists. He had 25 goals 2 years ago in PHX. I am not sure who he was playing with. Back with Hartford, he had 46 G one year.

    The TSN website profile says he needs a setup man, is fast, plays decent defence, and is not very physical. Except for the last point, I can see MacT liking him and putting him on the #1 line with Hemsky and Horcoff.

    In fact, its likely he will lead the team in goals. (faint praise I know)

    How about bringing back Tobias Peterson as the utility man? He looked like he was the Oilers best player on a lot of nights last year. As long as he doesn’t play on the PP (maybe there can be a clause in his contract prohibiting it) he is a very useful player on the 3rd or 4th line.

  12. Dennis says:

    Sanderson used to be joined at the hip with Andrew Cassells. That didn’t happen for his 20 odd goal season in Phx but it happened in a couple of other cities.

    If no one else shows up, and I think someone else will but it could be a tough min guy like Johnson instead of a soft min/PP guy, I’ll throw out something like this:

    Pisani-Horc-Hemsky playing tough min because two of those guys have done it before and the other should soon be able to.

    Torres-Stoll-Sanderson playing the soft min.

    Moreau-Reasoner/Thor/Pouliot playing the second toughest min and whomever’s not on the line is the 10th forward. I think Reasoner might be done and I think the Oilers might want to use him on the 4th line and let 18 mentor the two kids

  13. ClaytonMagnet says:

    Stoll playing soft minutes? Wha?

  14. uni says:

    After that game where Stoll blocked 2 shots and crawled to the locker room he seemed to turn the corner. He was actually thriving on the tough minutes and doing much better than earlier in the season with his so so butter minutes.

    I’d say Stoll-Torres-Pisani would better serve the team in a tough minutes role.

  15. Black Dog says:

    Well, it seemed that whomever played with Torres and Pisani suddenly was able to handle some tougher minutes – Stoll, then Pouliot.

    Fucked if I know how its going to go though. You have a handful of guys who can handle tough minutes, a handful of kids and a couple of tweeners. What a dog’s breakfast.

  16. momentai says:

    uni: If you’re talking about this past season, Stoll really didn’t see the soft minutes here. He actually had the matchup ahead of Horcoff from time to time. His struggles this season early on stemmed from the fact that he wasn’t able to handle the assignments he was getting compared to the soft minutes last season.

    Really, Stoll only had a brief stretch of success where he was dynamite with Pisani/Torres until he got hurt. I’d be hesitant to assume he can pick up where he left off. But here’s to hoping anyway.

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