McKeen’s Yearbook

McKeen’s 2007-08 Hockey Pool Yearbook was at my 7-11 tonight on the way home, so I decided to buy it (and picked up Slurpee’s for the kids. Best Dad ever!) instead of waiting for the HN edition and deciding which was better.

I’ll buy the HN version, but I’m down to one reason (they list the entire draft, with csb #’s, in a couple of pages at the back. Exceptional reference item, especially for someone who has thousands and thousands of hockey magazines/books/programs collected over a 30+ year period and needs to add maybe 5 pieces a year until death which is going to come soon if his wife sees too many additions in a short period of time).

McKeen’s is the class of the field for a few very specific reasons. First, their projections are handy and rational. They project Hemsky to score 20-49-69 in 75gp, a .92 clip. This is a very good bet, because although Hemsky is likely to have a breakthrough year he’s also going to be playing with some challenges (addled PP contstruction, loss of Ryan Smyth, etc). If we were sitting around BSing and I said “Hemsky should score 70 points this season, a nice recovery but not quite the season he had when Pronger was here” I think most Oiler fans would think me reasonable.

They also predict on the low end for the unproven guys (JFJ: 58gp, 5-5-10) but see some improvement for those who have enjoyed more than a cup of coffee (Pouliot: 11-27-38, Thoresen: 9-14-23).

They do see Nilsson hanging onto the regular job (buy the magazine for that, it’s worth the price) but this is before Penner came over so I’d be interested in where those at-bats would come from (my guess is Kenta’s kid). They see Nilsson and Stortini winning the extra jobs among the top 12 (pre: Penner), and like Grebeshkov to grab the #7D job over Roy and Gilbert (and they like him to play quite a bit).

One of my favorite spots on the internet is Mirtle’s site, I won’t lie. Guy knows his stuff and is an excellent writer (in the history of the game, there are probably fewer than 40 “excellent writers” who reached a wide audience). Anyway, I don’t owe him a thing but the team he’s on (McKeen’s) put out a beauty yearbook and if you love hockey as much as I do it is well worth the coin. Their description of Pouliot alone is worth the cost of the magazine.

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29 Responses to "McKeen’s Yearbook"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Who is this “Mirtle” of whom you speak? Never heard of him! :)

    OK, I’m sold.

    Where do they see the Oil finishing overall?

  2. Black Dog says:

    And have you watched any of the “Super Series”, LT? I guess not or there would have been a Gagner post. Only seen bits and pieces but he set up two guys, one for a sure thing tap in, that I saw, today. Only thing is they forgot to score.

    He looks pretty damn good, from what little I have seen.

  3. Lowetide says:

    BDHS: They have the Oilers 5th in the NW, 13th in the conference. Seems reasonable to me.

    As for the hockey, everything is conspiring. Meeting early Monday, golf tournament today. I caught maybe two minutes while getting a coffee today, and what I saw reminded me of the Bernie Parent goal against the Sabres spring 1975 (fog).

  4. Lowetide says:

    Oh, Gagner. He’s a one dimensional player, but his skill level should allow him to pass all the other kids like him in the system pdq. I love his skills, he can take and make a pass in the middle of a firestorm.

  5. Black Dog says:

    Great skill and he made at least one notable play coming back, breaking up a two on one I believe.

    Only up 2 to 0 but they might win all eight. Damn, Sutter has them playing good hockey. Helluva coach. Turris looks great.

    Have been sneaking peeks at work when I can.

    13th. Well, I figure they’re up on the BJs and the Gretzkys for sure and I think Chicago as well. Plus there’s always a team or two that run into bad luck and fall apart – I always figure Wild on Jack Lemaire but Kelly will be Walz redux and pot 15 to boot I’m sure.

    Damn Jack Lemaire.

  6. digger says:

    One dimensional player?

    I’ve watched both games, and in those games he’s broken up at least half a dozen scoring chances on the backcheck, leading to Russian turnovers. He doesn’t seem to have any problem coming back into his own zone one bit. He’s no Carbonneau, but to pass him off as one dimensional isn’t quite right to my eyes IMO.

    In today’s game, he was especially good defensively, which was a plus because offensively you could really tell that his groin injury is hampering his speed, notably in the first half of a game. Later on, it seems to loosen up and he gets a bit of jump back.

  7. IceDragoon says:

    Oh, Gagner. He’s a one dimensional player

    My aunt fanny!

    This kid has added so many dimensions since the last time I saw him. If you haven’t seen him in a while… buckle up. You are about to fall in love again… well… I have, anyway. ;-D

    I shake my head when I think about him being just days past his 18th birthday… AND… playing with a sore groin… limps when walking.

    Sutter gave Gagner an ‘A’ for a reason. He has been the consummate teammate… supports the puck and the play; keeps his head up and on a swivel; makes smart reads in all zones; and makes a quick transition, whether shifting to defense or offense. He plays the cycle very well, with enough shiftiness to create space for himself or draw pressure and feed the open man. He creates scoring opportunities on most shifts.

    In the D-zone there was one particular play he made (of many)… 18 year old centre?!?!? I was awestruck, so couldn’t tell you where the D went.

    He went into Gator’s corner with an attacker bearing down the boards on him; he started to reverse, but there was a forward coming around the net; he protected the puck on his stick, keeping their sticks away with his feet, and when they both took the body, sandwich style, advanced it up the wall to his open teammate. The two forwards were trapped deep. Beauty!

    And yes, that Turris kid is something special. These boys are all playing really well. There’s no erratic ‘Downey’ factor, just smart team play. I’m rather enjoying this, but then, I’ve always liked watching the kids.

    It could get chippy if the Russians don’t find some game. Admittedly, they are being out-coached and out-played.

    Lain, try to catch or tvo the evening replays. I don’t think you’ll regret it.


  8. choppystride says:

    Sorry for diverging from the original topic of the blog post…but since we’re talking a bit about the Super Series….I have a comment on that Cherepanov kid.

    I know that there was somewhat of an outcry in Oildom when the Oilers bypassed him in the draft. Personally, I never thought we were really missing much. He didn’t really impress me in the WJC. The kid was basically a PP specialist. If anyone could remember that final game against Canada, he was sheltered big time and got little ES time. And whenever their coach put him out during ES, he seemed to just float around aimlessly. Him being chosen as the WJC top forward has to be one of the most undeserved selections in recent memory methinks.

    Watching him here once again, he looks a Hemsky without the speed or the drive. And that’s not good. I really question if he’s actually got what it takes to be an impact NHLer.

    Oh the other hand, I think the Russian whom we might end up regret not taking is Mayorov. That kid looks like a player.

  9. Yanner39 says:

    Mckeen’s is the best magazine, atleast from what I have seen this year.

    As far as where they expect the Oilers to finish in the west, I don’t necessarily agree (I am currently wearing my rose-coloured glasses ;-) ) but I fully understand the reason behind it.

    I would like to comment on the Gagner thing. Like digger, I like Gagner’s defensive game so far. Yes, it’s only 2 games, but I was surprised how much he hussled back on a number of plays.

    I’m sure the writers at Mckeens have seen him more than me, but I still need some convincing.

  10. Lowetide says:

    Re: Gagner one dimensional. I don’t think Gagner’s an indifferent player away from the puck, several scouting reports I’ve read say things like he can play well away from the puck but will need to work on it.

    He’s not the two way player the Blue Jackets got one pick later, as an example. Doesn’t mean he’s worthless, or that he’s Rob Schremp, just that we didn’t draft a guy known early for his play in a defensive role.

    I like him plenty, think he’s our best prospect from the moment he was drafted. However, he’s got work to do and a game or two against the Russians where he’s looking like Jari Kurri on a few rushes is a nice indicator but not much else.


  11. jon says:

    LT, you should watch some of the games to get a good look at Gagner’s playing style, you might find it’s not what you expect. Both games are available online now from either sportsnet or tsn’s webpages. I’ve seen both games and these are my general notes:

    -In the first game he didn’t seem to be hampered too badly by his groin injury, as he was able to make some really slick plays to setup some goals and also while coming back to prevent a 2-on-1. Didn’t get a lot of icetime overall, possibly due to the injury or the fact that Canada was shorthanded much of the game.
    -The tempo of the second game was much faster and he actually seemed to be left behind by the speed of it. Either it’s the groin injury or the increase in the speed of the game might represent a problem for him. He had a few good plays on the PP and again a few excellent defensive plays, but still didn’t get much icetime overall.

    Apparently he’s also going to be playing in the Oiler Rookies versus Golden Bears game. Got my tickets and really looking forward to seeing all the rookies firsthand.

  12. Devin says:

    jon – agreed re: the second game’s speed. It seemed like there were points where Gagner was slightly behind the play or a little slow to the puck, especially in his own zone. I have to think the groin has something to do with this, but his skating overall needs to improve. He’s also physically weaker than I expected.

    He is, however, ridiculously sneaky with the puck. Reminds me of a young Hemsky – just makes deft little passes through seams that no one else sees (including his teammates on a few occasions, d’oh!). Also very shifty down low despite clearly not being at his quickest. Just… sneaky – it’s the best word I can use to describe it. If he adds 20 pounds and works hard on his quickness and skating power he’ll be a major assist producer in the bigs.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Again, I’m not saying he’s a bad prospect or even that he won’t be a solid two way player down the line. ALL of the scouting reports I’ve read have him being an offense first forward who has some work to do defensively. I can’t imagine he’s improved so much over the summer that we can take a couple of exhibition games as a true indicator.

    He is what he is, an exceptional offensive talent (the best in this org since 83) who is a bit short but doesn’t appear to be whip thin. He’s not a speedster and isn’t a ruffian, but he’s out of this world with the puck and can take and make a pass at high speed and in tight.

    Am I wrong here?

  14. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the tip on McKeens… looked at the Hockey News and Score books and they seemed to lack, and add nothing to online discourse this summer. Anyway, picked it up and the scouting reports seem more comprehensive than the others, for sure. Again, thanks.

  15. Ribs says:

    From what I’ve seen from Sam Gagner, the prospect reports look to be dead on. He’s a great playmaker and he’s swift with the puck.
    His defensive play DOES need work and I’m am very unsure about his shooting abilities.

    Sutter is schooling the Russians with line changes and Gagner is reaping the results both offensively and defensively. While Gagners defensive play has looked stellar for the first two games of the super series, don’t forget to give credit to the man running the bench.

  16. digger says:

    Fair enough, Lain.

    You’re right, it is a small sample size and one shouldn’t draw too many hard conclusions from it. Perhaps in games 3 to 8 a more accurate picture will be painted.

    All I’m saying is, when you call him a one dimensional hockey player, it doesn’t jive at all with how he’s played so far. If nothing else, it’s a good sign that there is something there worth working with that could turn into a player that produce offense AND contribute to winning hockey games.

    Let’s just say in the limited viewings I’ve seen, Gagner’s shown more defensive acumen than I expected.

  17. IceDragoon says:

    a game or two against the Russians where he’s looking like Jari Kurri on a few rushes is a nice indicator but not much else.

    Where’s this from? Certainly not from anyone I know who’s watched these games. What I’ve seen and tried to describe is not about a few rushes. It’s about his head for the complete game, at this stage of his development.

    I’ve watched both games. Live, for love of the game. Then I watched the replays to key on Gagner.

    I expected to see some slick offense from this kid. I did not expect to see the defensive composure he’s shown. He’s dandy with the puck, but his play without the puck has been freakishly good when considering…

    - his age,

    - his injury,

    - his level of play in the ’07

    - his coach in the OHL.

    Rob Schremp stagnated because Hunter wasn’t interested in his development. ~40 minutes on ice conserving stamina for offensive play benefited no one but the London Knights. He has many hurdles to overcome, not being an uber-smart centre having to learn the defensive game at 20+, included. He may become serviceable against average NHLers, but I don’t think we’ll ever want to see him in the D-zone against the likes of Sakic and Iginla.

    Cogliano, a very smart young man, didn’t start embracing defensive play till Sutter pushed his buttons at 18 1/2 years old. His commitment to improving his overall game made him my favourite prospect.

    Samwize Gagner is highly intelligent. (Can’t recall if it was Bob McKenzie, or not, but during the draft a talking head commented on Turris and Gagner being two of the most intelligent players in the draft.)

    He’s just turned 18 and already grasps his role in his own zone. Some of the savvy he’s displayed is uncanny, imho. And, I don’t think Hunter is capable of coaching it out of him, so I’m cautiously thrilled.

    Sutter hasn’t used him on the PK. He’s 2nd unit PP; 3rd ESTOI behind Sutter(shut down) and Turris(duh); and gets relatively decent 4on4 time, including a shift with Turris late in game two.

    After the above 4on4 shift, Sutter sent him out just 2 minutes later with Boychuk and Perron. He didn’t get an assist on Perron’s goal, but contributed by knowingly becoming an obstacle to a Russian trying to get back. Gagner used his positioning to force the Russian to take a wide path around him.

    Pierre McGuire was marveling his smart defensive reads. Peter Loubardias joked about waiting to hear “monster”. I’m not just one of a few homers talking him up here.

    Granted, it’s easier to look good when your teammates are doing their jobs. But one can also look horrid if he’s the one out of sync. Small sample size acknowledged, but if he wasn’t capable, he’d be failing/benched.

    I saw him good, Lain.
    You should too.


  18. Devin says:

    Wow Louise. I didn’t see it the same way at all. Yes, over the 2 games he made some nice plays to get back and break up scoring opportunities. He also was found in no-man’s land a few times while opponents took shots from the slot. He was often late to the puck in a supporting role, but I’m hoping that’s a groin issue. I didn’t see this tremendous D-zone vision that you did. I saw some adequate defensive work, a few obvious mistakes (he certainly wasn’t the only one), and great offensive creativity. He has miles to go before he becomes an NHL player – Turris looks much better to my eye.

  19. dave says:

    while I don’t really have a problem with 13th in the west. If we finish 13th it means we are in the hunt with month to go and at that point it’s schedule and who’s hot, and who’s gonna choke. If we’re supposed to finish we should’nt feel the pressure. As wild let’s do it the hard way down to the wire oil fan. I’ll take that bet any day….go oil!

  20. IceDragoon says:


    Please note the words “at this stage of his development“, and the “considering…” points.

    I don’t expect perfection from the kids.
    I’m not comparing him to NHLers.

    I haven’t seen Gagner play since January. And, everything I’ve read about him didn’t prepare me for what I’ve seen so far.

    So… I’m amazed at his progress. I guess you’re not.

    We all see what we see.
    It’s all good.

  21. Devin says:

    Louise – disclaimer – I’d only seen bits and pieces of him before these two games. I’ll defer to your judgement in this case (and I agree with you when you compare to the WHJC where he was a non-factor).

    I guess I just saw him doing just as much wrong in the D-zone as he did right… perhaps the fact the he did some things right is a positive, I don’t know. He wasn’t often in the right place ahead of the play, but on the flipside he hustled to get into position well enough. He’s nowhere near as dumb as that Ellerby guy. ;-)

  22. Dennis says:

    I would rather have an outscorer coming through the pipe who can do it all but we’ve got a few Horc and Pouliot’s kicking around and maybe Hemsky will round into a PVP player as well.

    So, as much as Voracek sounded great, I won’t mind Gagner as long as he can murder the soft opp.

  23. IceDragoon says:

    Oh, and… Devin?

    heh heh…

    S’pose I should aftwarn you, since it’s too late for fore.

    When I “key” on a player, I’m trying to read his read. I pay close attention to everything he’s looking at… plus… any subtle body language that gives away intentions, indecisions, etc.; how (quickly) he reacts to good/bad bounces; how he adjusts as the game progresses; any nuances that appear to contribute to, or detract from his game.

    Gagner has terrific peripheral awareness, and his cerebral reaction/transition is really fast for his age. At his current physical stage of development, his body couldn’t keep up even if he didn’t have a groin pull. That said… his injury is definitely impeding him. I actually expected more lag time in his defensive reactions. His offensive reads are superior, obviously. He’s been using them longer.

    He’ll keep learning and he’s a fitness freak, so I expect he’ll be in sync about the time he starts into his prime. Funny how that happens.
    I do think that his intelligence will help him to be a useful teammate in the NHL within a couple of years, tho.


    No doubt… Kyle Turris is a helluva young player. I have very little invested in his development, tho.

    “Go Canada” about covers it. ;-D

  24. IceDragoon says:

    Since I’ve already trainwrecked a tangent. 8-D

    Cherepanov is out of the super series.

    Apparently, he’s in hospital with a concussion from the Sutter hit at 7:08 of the first period.

  25. Camp Artaban says:

    McKeens is good, but Fantasy Hockey Pool Stats .ca has all the stats, predictions and picks in an Excel spreadsheet.
    You can make your own forecasts and print your own NHL cheat sheet.

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