Wheels Are Turning

When Craig MacTavish spoke to the media on August 9th he gave SO much information that some of it got passed over by many fans.

One that I read the morning of the 10th and just remembered today was “I think now we need either one more forward or we need one of our younger guys to develop, whether it’s (Andrew) Cogliano, whether it’s Robert Nilsson, whether it’s Robbie Schremp. It’s too early to put (Sam) Gagner in that list.”

It reminded me of a similar quote from October 2004: “We need, as an organization, an offensive player to step forward and become a star. We’re really hoping we have a number of players who have that capability. It’s still early yet for Ales Hemsky. It could be Raffi Torres. Defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron has some pretty dynamic offensive skills. Defenseman Eric Brewer is a guy we need to step forward defensively to be an Adam Foote or Scott Stevens type of player. Those are lofty goals but you have to have that type of presence.”

Fall 2004 Hemsky had 130 NHL games under his belt, Raffi 111, Bergeron 59 but he was 24 that year. All played during the lockout year, with Hemsky especially having a big season in the Czech Republic (he had a huge playoff for Pardubice with Milan Hejduk, Petr Sykora and Jiri Dopita).

MacT mentioned Nilsson, Cogliano and Schremp as options. Schremp has been injured (both spring and summer) plus has 1 game NHL experience. This will be Cogliano’s first camp and he’d have to be considered something of a long shot to make it.

That leaves Nilsson. He has 57 games NHL experience and would have to be considered the odds on favorite to win that job (be it 2line or 4line). Positives include lots of minor league experience and having played a full NHL season. Negatives? He does not have the reputation of being a responsible player after the puck turns over.

A few days ago it seemed obvious to me that Nilsson would make this team no matter what else happened in camp. However, if that were so, why did MacT include the names of Schremp and Cogliano? I think maybe 100% was a little optimistic.

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41 Responses to "Wheels Are Turning"

  1. IceDragoon says:

    Good evening, Lain.

    Exactly. That’s why I tried to download the interviews earlier today. ;-D

    MacT finally saw Cogs in June, so now has his initial opinion to draw on. He’s only 20 tho, and coming from the NCAA, I would think some acclimatization in the ‘A’ is in order.

    I can’t see Schremp being physically ready to make the leap.

    That leaves Nilsson. Altho, if he comes to camp unprepared, MacT will have none of it, and he may end up packing for someplace not named Springfield.

    fwiw – I think MacT was saying that it’s too early to put Gagner on the ‘need to develop now’ list.

  2. Lowetide says:

    If I had to make a bet they’re going to do a 3-for-1 deal here right away. Pouliot plus a defender and a prospect, or God forbid Horcoff but maybe Stoll’s concussion keeps them from doing that kind of deal.

  3. IceDragoon says:

    Lain, I don’t want to argue the logic against your “God forbid” move, except to say…

    Who is out there that MacT wants more than him? Keep in mind all the risk money that’s tied up in Souray & Penner.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Louise: I don’t know. Hossa?

  5. IceDragoon says:

    Helluva player… RW… 1 assist and -6 in a 4 game sweep by the Rangers last play-offs… $7MM this year…

    The cap is going to rise, Lain…

    But enough to cover Hossa’s (ufa) raise, Stoll’s raise, Pitkanen’s raise, etc…? And, who the freak would his centre be? or Hemsky’s, for that matter.

    Does this move sound like MacT logic to you?

  6. Lowetide says:

    Louise: I couldn’t begin to guess what they’ll do after this offseason. I can’t see the Oilers getting better value than Horcoff at center, though. I think he’s a brilliant player and at 3.6M that’s a helluva deal.

    Are you thinking of a specific player?

  7. RiversQ says:

    If I had to deal a centre I would just deal Stoll. JMO, but I think the Oilers need another centre that can play with Hemsky and look after himself. Stoll’s a good player, especially when he plays as aggressively as he did towards the end of last year, but I can’t see him skating with Hemsky. Obviously, the young guys don’t fit the bill, although Pouliot could be interesting.

    However, the Oilers won’t be dealing Pouliot AND Horcoff/Stoll. Who the heck plays centre if they do that? Not unless they’re getting two centres back.

    Regardless, there are two missing elements from this offseason:

    1) “A player to skate and play catch with Hemsky.” (Paraphrased from MacT)

    That ain’t Penner.

    2) Some prospects dealt for a roster player. The elusive “quantity for quality” deal.

    It turns out Lowe is one of the few idiots out there willing to do that and he can’t deal with himself. Although that’s probably the only thing he hasn’t tried this offseason.

  8. RiversQ says:

    Oh, BTW, I’m a big fan of Patrice Bergeron. He’d be a nice fit with Hemsky and he has some impressive results while playing some very good competition at a young age.

    Chiarelli hasn’t stepped on a mine yet, but he is a Bruins GM so he’s probably due. I’m not sure if I’d like a Horcoff + Pouliot package there, but it’d be tempting.

  9. IceDragoon says:

    I can’t see the Oilers getting better value than Horcoff at center, though. I think he’s a brilliant player and at 3.6M that’s a helluva deal.

    Exactly.

    And I don’t think KLo is going to spend to the cap just because. As I said, the risk money has been spent on Souray and Penner.

    We need bang for buck to balance out and he brings that… with high intelligence, leadership, elite fitness levels, terrific instincts that mesh well with offensive talent… and on and on…

    MacT said adios to Smyth & Smith, and got Pitkanen and now Penner. The incoming player would have to be someone who he highly covets and brings more to the team, before he’d let another one of his most trusted players go.

    The return for Brewer made sense.
    The return for Smith makes sense.

    And you, sir, are a brat.
    I said I didn’t want to argue the logic… ;-D

    L8r
    Louise

  10. Lowetide says:

    Louise: :-).

  11. Lowetide says:

    RQ: It’s funny you mention no one else is doing a 3-for-1 because imo Lowe probably has snookered himself a little with all these prospects. It’s like loading up on power and then finding out everyone is after pitching.

    The trick now is to create value by playing some of these young kids at the NHL level. That’s why Schremp is an interesting prospect. Run him out there, have him score 20 and then deal him to Colum…..er, what team did McLean buy?

  12. jon says:

    In regards to MacT’s comments, I think it’s actually important to remember something you’ve commented on in the past LT: Impact players rarely spend much time in the minor leagues. If MacT has thrown Cogliano’s name in with two other players who are further along in age and experience, one could conclude that he believes Cogliano may make a bid in camp to be brought along early.

    A less exciting alternative would be that MacT has merely thrown Cogs in there so that two players with reputations for needing to be pushed feel that they have some immediate competition.

    Patrice Bergeron: I don’t think he has what it takes to ever be more than a Marc Savard type player. I watched quite a few Boston games last season and there’s a reason why Bergeron was a team worst -28 and also the target of tough opposition: The guy bleeds chances against and is far too easily pushed around. He is only 22 so obviously that accounts for a certain degree of those results, but I doubt that he’s the player we need now or in the immediate future. He’s a flashy offensive player signed to a Hemsky-type contract though so even then I don’t think he’ll ever be on the move.

  13. PunjabiOil says:

    I think we have to give Nilsson a shot on either lines 2 or 4. The guy is 4 years removed from his draft class – any more time in the AHL won’t do him good. The guy also cannot be the 13th or 14th forward – 1.013M to sit in the pressbox? No sir.

    Thorosen was OK last year, but he’s on a two-way contract. Take advantage of it, or use him as the 13th forward instead of a guy like Stortini/Jacques. If a Mike Johnson at 1.4M is willing to sign here, I don’t hesitate. Not one bit.

    IceDragoon, I must respectfully disagree on your take on Hossa. Any time a player consistently murders his opponents on ES, and puts up 100 points, has to be considered. A 6 game playoffs can be attributed to just plain dumb luck, and should not be take priority over the 82 previous games.

    $7M+ is high, but High-end talent is very difficult to obtain. When there is a chance to obtain one, you take it. In almost all the quality for quantity deals, quality wins, hands down. You can then afford to move one of Pisani/Moreau going the other way in a trade like this. A guy like Gelinas, Bonk, or Johnson can be easily acquired at decent prices on the free agent market – again, also emphasizing the importance of drafting for top 6 potential in the first two rounds of the NHL draft.

  14. PunjabiOil says:

    It’s interesting with guys like Cogliano, Schremp, Nilsson, O’Marra, Chorney, etc.

    If you’re not bringing them up early on, you’re losing years of service until they become UFA’s at 27. If you bring them up too early, they may end up hurting the team.

    So what do you do?

    I wouldn’t want Cogliano more than a year in the AHL. With the injuries set back, Schremp is either on the team next September, or he should be used in a trade package.

    Just one question for the entry level contract? Does a guy like Schremp have 2 years remaining on his contract, or a full 3 since he hasn’t played more than 10 NHL games?

  15. Lowetide says:

    Punjabioil: I believe Schremp signed a 3-year entry deal last summer, so he’d have two years left. The only exceptions I know of to 3-year entry are college men who are of a certain age get only 2-years (Colin McDonald is a recent example).

    The lesson for the Oilers in regard to all these prospects is that now you CAN have too many of them if they’re the same age and you’re not using them at the big league level.

    The cost of getting a cheap end of the roster Euro or AHL player is $450k and unless the prospect is going to give a return quickly then the difference between that contract and Nilsson’s 1.013M as an example is too much to take on.

    Thoresen made low dollars a year ago, did he perform at a level below Pouliot (who would made 350k more over a whole season?)

  16. speeds says:

    LT, what do you make of that quote with regard to Gagner?

  17. Devin says:

    PJoil, Icedragoon: re: Hossa. It wasn’t widely reported but I believe he was hurt in the playoffs (knee?). Add matching up against a healthy and motivated Jagr and that ridiculous Henrik Lunqvist guy, I would say his bad showing was an aberration. He had several reasonable playoff showings while in OTT.

    Oh, and to add to the 100pt, ES tough-minute + outscoring resume, the guy’s centers this year were those shining stars Glen Metropolit and Eric Belanger. The guy is a top-3 RW in the NHL – maybe even the best one. I’d take him at 8mil without blinking, and trade almost anyone for him.

  18. kiwi-oiler-fan says:

    I have read a few of the blogs and I can’t help but wonder why thoresen gets overlooked so much. he had a pretty good year for a first year north american pro. i definately noticed him more often than a lot of players (including torres).
    Played tough minutes on the pk as well, not bad for a player scouted as an offensive talent

  19. Ozzieoiler says:

    How does a guy like Joe Pavelski get a shot on the top line with big Joe?

    It seems like the Oilers never allow a rookie into the top 6. I know they need to earn there stripes but how about for once we give a guy like Nilson at shot.

  20. Lowetide says:

    speeds: It’s an interesting quote, isn’t it? The fact that he even mentioned him is kind of a tell (the Oilers really do need an inexpensive top 6 offensive option and pdq) but MacT usually says what’s on his mind and the quote itself says two things imo:

    1. MacT isn’t expecting him to make the jump.

    2. MacT wanted to take all of the pressure off an 18-year old who may well be a better offensive player than some of the 20+ prospects even now.

    We’ll find out soon enough. If he plays more than 2 pre-season games they’re looking at him imo.

    But I don’t think he’ll make the club.

  21. namflashback says:

    Ozzie,

    A couple of examples.

    - regular season Joe Thornton + Michalek is a puck possession monster pair. Its easy to be a rookie with big Joe as your center.

    - it may look like a trio like -Wolski-Stastny-Svatos is the Colorado 2nd line, but they’re really 3rd ESTOI line.

    Only reason he might do it this year is to let one of those rookies set up for a pump and dump. Schremp or Nillson — you can really only keep one of this type of player.

  22. Vic Ferrari says:

    LT:

    Agreed that Hossa is a terrific player. He played mostly with Slava Kozlov as his centre though. Granted, that’s why Kozlov had such good numbers and showed up in the highlight reels so much I think.

    When Slava wasn’t playing with Hossa his results went back to being pedestrian (not the shit show that is Nylander-without-Jagr over the past couple of seasons (Lowe dodged a bullet there) but still unimpressive. On this tangent … it was freaking obvious to the naked eye as well, did they even scout Nylander? If so, which scout? Damn.) Back to point … Hossa’s results remained nearly identically good when he had other centres. He’s a wonderful player and he just keeps driving results year in and year out. He’s always had the benefit of playing on a team that had a RW that was even better than him though, so there is a danger of overvaluing a smidge maybe.

    Kovalchuk is a better player, and a good person as well. I would think he is untouchable, but with ATL’s dodgy ownership situation anything could happen I suppose. It was Kovalchuk that played mostly with Rucchin (who was either injured a lot or is done) and Metropolit as his pivot.

    In any case I can’t see Hossa in the cards as a one year rental. He’s already stated that he wants to play for a contending team next, and he would clearly have more value to a team that he was willing to sign a long term contract with.

  23. Doogie says:

    PunjabiOil: Dunno if you were talking about those guys specifically, or just using them as examples, but Gelinas (Florida) and Bonk (Nashville) are already spoken for.

  24. MetroGnome says:

    Gelinas went to Nashville too, I believe.

    incredibly, Ryan Johnson is still available.

  25. speeds says:

    LT:

    In your “Riesen to Believe” thread, I commented that I didn’t know exactly what chance Gagner has at making the club, but it’s higher than zero, and the way I interpret that quote means that Gaganer has at least some slim chance.

    He’s got a good chance to be game ready with the CAN/RUS thing, so if he’s healthy through that it wouldn’t shock me if he looks pretty good to start the camp.

    Maybe MacT is wondering about the scenario where he sees 2 or 3 preseasaon games, and looks pretty good, and decides to try Gagner out for 9 games and see where he’s at? If it’s clear Gagner can’t cut it, that’s fine, send him back to junior and he’ll know first hand what he’s got to work on.

    But then, I wonder what might happen if you get through the 9 games and he’s got 6 points, not at all looking out of place, contributing. The team is 6-3. Then what?

  26. mc79hockey says:

    Send him down. This isn’t rocket science – the 26 and 27 years are more valuable than the 18 and 19 years. Even assuming now that there are going to be frequent predatory RFA raids, 20-22 are better years to have him on his entry level deal than 18-21.

    No brainer, IMO.

  27. PunjabiOil says:

    PunjabiOil: Dunno if you were talking about those guys specifically, or just using them as examples, but Gelinas (Florida) and Bonk (Nashville) are already spoken for.

    ________

    I was just referring to these guys as examples of 3rd liners who can be acquired for cheap. For some reason, strong 3rd liners are undervalued on the market.

  28. Devin says:

    Vic- Kozlov is Hossa’s LW. Kovalchuk is also a LW, and he played mostly with Mellanby centering him. Rucchin was hurt for about half the year. I’m sure rivers can verify all this.

  29. IceDragoon says:

    punjabioil,

    When talking a man off a ledge it is unwise to give him reasons to leap.
    ;-D

    I concur that Hossa is an elite RW and he would look awesome in an Oil drop. But, altho these players may not be available often, you can’t tear your team apart to acquire them. What good are 2 #1RWs if you don’t have a #1C & a #1LW? Will we get more wins? We would obviously have to make more drastic moves to fill the holes. How many more holes do we create?

    Now… if Hossa was a C or LW, then “God forbid…” could work.

    fwiw – We should be on the verge of the lion’s share of $$$ going to high-end players in their primes. And, thanx to the cap, teams reach saturation points and are unable to absorb without wringing out. I think high-end talents will be more readily available than ever in the past and would rather MacT see a fit before making a move.

    I also think that the UFA age will become less relevant. High-end players can/will sign offer sheets before they are UFA. Those who play for the game and their team can/will choose to sign home town deals. And, most high-end contracts will include UFA years.

    So, imho… barring an amazing talent shaking loose, that fits, I think we need a little patience. Let’s see what Pitkanen is made of. If he’s going to reach his lofty potential, I’d bet on him doing so with Huddy. And, I’m sure I won’t be the only one who would be thrilled if he is the elite level player we added in ’07.

    ………

    Lain,

    Guy Flaming was on the radio this a.m. He says that Schremp’s quad is fine. There was no pull just a bump/bruise that was blown out of proportion. He’s spending more time working his quads because of his knee surgery downtime and thinks he’ll be ready for TC.

    Will that be high gloss? ;-D

    ………

    jon,

    Rules of thumb are not carved in stone. :-)

    imho – Spending some time in the ‘A’ will not harm any of our prospects this year, except perhaps Nilsson. But, if he’s not ready to make the jump now, he won’t be worth the effort, nor the space he takes away from others.

    Have a good one…
    Louise

  30. speeds says:

    MC:

    I also agree that he should be sent down, that’s what COL did with Wolski in his age 19 season even though he had 6 pts in his 9 games.

    I’m just saying that EDM may be tempted to keep him if he is CLEARLY the best option among the prospects.

  31. speeds says:

    The franchise may be better off long term by playing Gagner from 20-27 instead of 18-25, but if sure seems to me like the Oilers management are really trying to compete this year. If Gagner is the best option, I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest that EDM might keep him around, at least for a harmless 9 game look (WRT CBA and UFA implications) to see if he can truly make a difference in the club’s playoff chances for this year.

  32. Aaron Paquette says:

    As mc79 has pointed out, five-year-plans are almost impossible to carry out.

    Play whoever makes the team better now and in the next year or so. Injuries, cap movement, rfa raids…all of these things and more can throw specific long range plans out the window.

    I understand the argument about keeping the talent as long as possible before you have to deal (and using that talent at the statistically better age range), but why not simply compete as well as you can with what you’ve got every single year?

  33. RiversQ says:

    Guy Flaming was on the radio this a.m. He says that Schremp’s quad is fine. There was no pull just a bump/bruise that was blown out of proportion.

    If Guy Flaming knows anything it’s when shit is blown way out of proportion.

  34. RiversQ says:

    Devin said…
    Vic- Kozlov is Hossa’s LW. Kovalchuk is also a LW, and he played mostly with Mellanby centering him. Rucchin was hurt for about half the year. I’m sure rivers can verify all this.

    Yeah, Kozlov played on the wing with Hossa. Belanger centered that line when he arrived. Rucchin was there too.

    Tkachuk centered Kovy’s line after the deadline.

    Mellanby played with Holik.

    BTW, I’ve moved to Boston, so I’m pretty much done as the Oilogosphere’s correspondent in Atlanta.

  35. Lowetide says:

    RQ: Boston? You bugger! Fenway in the summer, Pats in the fall and you’re not a long way from NHL hockey (what’s closest, Philly, NYR or PHI)?

  36. RiversQ says:

    Lowetide said…
    RQ: Boston? You bugger! Fenway in the summer, Pats in the fall and you’re not a long way from NHL hockey (what’s closest, Philly, NYR or PHI)?

    It sounds good in theory with respect to sports, but it turns out scalpers make a pretty good living here.

    In Atlanta, they’re better off panhandling. At least that saves the effort of trying to stuff a ticket in a stranger’s pocket.

  37. PunjabiOil says:

    How was Atlanta? I’m looking into moving to the US perhaps, 4-5 years down the road.

  38. Lowetide says:

    Rumor today that Staios might go, that makes zero sense.

  39. IceDragoon says:

    ummm…

    source…—…?

    Sorry, you caught me agape.

    Good evening.

  40. Lowetide says:

    Louise: lol. When I read source I laughed. THAT was funny (an inside HF joke for those who don’t get it).

    I read it on HF, it was apparently in some Toronto paper. I don’t believe it.

  41. IceDragoon says:

    Lain,

    The devil made me do it. :-D

    heh, heh… I noticed a reminder for sponsorship in my e-mail, and popped in this a.m. around 6ish. There was a pm from Cerebral re: the library… I told him, “it’s all good”. Then I posted in the ‘help’ forum, ’cause… I was blue. 8-)

    I had time to check the library :-D , read the ‘Rob Daum’ & ‘MacT fires back’ threads + part of the Smytty poll. Didn’t see anything on Staios. Sounds like it originated in a proposal gone wrong, tho. LOL

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