MacT Comments before the Calgary Game

Some things are coming into view for this year’s edition of the Edmonton Oilers. Coach MacT said today that “we’ve said from the start we have no interest in the status quo” and that is beginning to come into view in a lot of areas.

In his interview with the media this morning, MacTavish began by singing the praises of Andrew Cogliano: “He’s productive offensively, really like the speed he brings, solid 4×4. We want to give him lots of time to get indoctrinated into the NHL pace. Once the checking closes in we’ll see if he’s as productive as he has been (so far).”

More Cogs: “He’s scoring and looks to be dependable defensively. He’s a good positional player.”

Jacques: “I think he’s playing better. I’ve noticed he has more composure with the puck, the play doesn’t die with him as much as it has in the past. He’s getting his hits in.”

Matt Greene: “He’s not at the level he needs to be for the start of the season. We’re counting heavily on him, we need him to be at the level he was at last year. Anything short of that is going to put us in a very vulnerable position defensively. He and Laddy have both struggled together.”

Horcoff: “Maybe 5 on 5 it’s more important for his role to be on a 2nd or 3rd line 5 on 5. The minutes will be there, maybe at times he’ll be playing 1st line minutes. Maybe his name won’t be with Penner and Hemsky immediately. We need a dynamic scorer, and Horc for all his strengths is not a 100 point scorer in our mind. You need a guy who can be a 90 point or point per game player in that position, so we’re going to entertain looking at someone else there 5 on 5.” NOTE: He is speaking about having one of Cogliano, Gagner and Schremp as the 1line center and Horcoff’s role.

Interesting stuff. At a guess, it sound like he’s thinking:

Gagner-Penner-Hemsky
Stoll-Torres-Nilsson
Horcoff-Moreau-Brodziak
Reasoner-Sanderson-Stortini
Jacques, Thoresen

Pitkanen-Staios
Souray-Greene
Smid-Tarnstrom
Grebeshkov

Roloson
Garon

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38 Responses to "MacT Comments before the Calgary Game"

  1. Chris! says:

    Wow, what a relevatory quote about Horcoff. Is that the first time MacT’s come right out and said that Horc may be our best all-around centre, but he’s not our No. 1?

    I agree with his logic, but I wish we had a better option for an offence-first centre to play with Hemsky than Gagner, Cogs or Schremp. They’re all talented in different ways, but none of them are even close to ready for top-line minutes.

    MacT’s quote on Cogliano indicates that he’s perhaps destined for a defensive role, and Schremp has done nothing to suggest he’ll even make the team out of camp. I guess that leaves Gagner.

    He’s a special talent, but oh lord this is not the way I pictured this team starting out the season.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Chris!: I think MacT has implied that the 1line C job was more open to the kids. Louise mentioned something to me today about that very thing, seems to me he did have a recent quote about suffling Horcoff up and back based on how well the kid was playing (kid being Gagner, that’s me assuming it’s him).

    It’s not really a huge leap to what he said today, and does in fact make sense in other areas (Pouliot being moved to RW).

    The Oilers are going to lose more games with this setup than going hard match withbest players because it runs counter to the coach’s strengths.

    However, with Pisani gone the options are fewer and farther between.

    Expect a trade.

  3. oilerdiehard says:

    Wow highly interesting and revealing little media scrum. A lot of people have been calling for a soft minute Hemsky line, sounds like MacT wants to take that idea for a test drive.

    Tell me that was not awkward having MacT say he has not spoken to Horcoff about it. Then Horc is interviewed and said he was told he would play with Penner and Hemsky and then all the sudden that changed without a single word from the coach. He handled it well but sounded a little choked to me.

  4. Mustafa Hirji says:

    Personally, I think Horc can be a point-per-game player given good linemates. We saw that during the playoff run (and, I note, that Horc scored significantly more than either Smyth or Hemsky, at least until the finals). He’s not a 100+ point player probably. If he’s relegated to third line, that better be a third line we’re willing to roll like a 2a or even a 1c line. Otherwise, what’s he doing as our third highest paid forward?

  5. fever4flames says:

    sounds like Horc is either going to be traded or will ask for a trade.

  6. Lowetide says:

    I think MacT will use Horcoff as the “most important” center, this is a divorce from his most recent m.o. as a coach.

    We’re going back to the Marchant-Moreau-Grier checking line days, with the hope that Hemsky can be Doug Weight and Dustin Penner + Sam Gagner can rack up the points. Can that line score 90 goals?

  7. godot10 says:

    The #1 centre will be situationally dependent.

    When you want Hemsky power on power, you play Horc with him. Reasoner slips in with Moreau, and the rookie plays on the 4th line.

    When you want Hemsky for soft minutes, you play the rookie with him. Horc shifts down with Moreau, and Reasoner takes the 4th line.

    Moreau-Horcoff-Pisani would be a coaches dream line. Get healthy Fernando.

    With the young defense, Hemsky soft minutes, and Horc on a shutdown #3 line makes sense.

    The Oilers want to win games with their special teams.

  8. Rod says:

    I agree with the reasoning re: Horcoff (valuable player, all-round solid centre, but not necessarily #1 for scoring). This team would be really strong with Horcoff on a #2/#3 line (hard minutes, with some pop)…provided they find that #1. Developing one could prove difficult, but it’s possible if MacT can shield the kid enough (as he discussed the other day). Then again, Forsberg is still out there… Not all that likely I suppose, but intriguing. At least to me.

    In any case, these next games will be pivotal as they sort out whether any of the young guys can fit in that slot. A lot more meaning than usual in these pre-season games. With that in mind, is today’s game available on NHLCI-Online?

  9. Dennis says:

    Greene at the level he was at last year? They damn well need him to be much better than that.

    As far as the first smack at the lineup goes, if we’re keeping Sanderson and farming Pouliot, it had better not be for fucking long. Sanderson was a salary dump on the Flyers behalf and the Oilers should’ve took note.

    As far as Horc taking the tough mine with Moreau-Brodz, that puts Nilsson in a top six tough min role and he’d better hope that 14-16 can pick up his slack.

    The bottom line is that with two of our absolute best EV players no longer with us, ie 34 and 94, there really aren’t a whole lot of options for MacT to work with.

    I would suggest, though, that the Oilers make some decisions on which kid forwards they do like and they try and trade some of the others for defensemen who CAN play, ie not Matt greene

  10. IceDragoon says:

    There were a lot of qualifiers/maybes in MacT’s comments. Still four games before the points count.

  11. IceDragoon says:

    Oops… meant to add…

    MacT said that Horcoff will play with Hemsky and Penner in Phoenix.

  12. HBomb says:

    “3rd” line minutes is a waste of Horcoff, IMO. If Gagner makes this team and plays in a 10th regular season game, that puts the clock on Horcoff, IMO.

    Would Horcoff, Schremp, Greene and a pick land us Marian Hossa?

    Penner Gagner Hemsky
    Torres Stoll Hossa
    Moreau Reasoner Brodziak
    Sanderson Pouliot Nilsson
    EXT: Thoresen, Stortini

    Next year, Sanderson and Reasoner disappear as UFA’s, Pisani hopefully returns and Brodziak moves to the 3C spot, and the 4th line perhaps becomes a 2nd soft offensive minutes line of Nilsson-Cogliano-Pouliot.

    Just throwing it out there. Many possibilities and permutations, but two things are certain to me:

    1) If Gagner sticks, we’re going to see a significant deal
    2) fever4falmes is a mouth-breathing retard

    And with that, Horcoff pots one (SH from Nilsson) and it’s 4-3 Oilers. For the record, if they could pull it off, I’d rather deal Stoll and end up with a power-vs-power trio of Torres-Horcoff-Hossa, but I don’t know if those dollars would work.

  13. Black Dog says:

    Interesting stuff indeed LT. Well, they said it was going to be wide open and they are being true to their word, by the looks of it.

    I would not have believed Pouliot would not be on this team but it comes down to him being complacent, maybe, and getting outplayed and, well, what do you know.

    Glad to see Greene getting called out a bit. I can’t see how they can play him before Gilbert or Roy but what the hell do I know?

    The Horcoff stuff is interesting – man he is hard on Horc. Of course what he says is in many ways true – if Horc is your #2 man then you have a damn good team. But I don’t know if I buy a kid playing with Hemsky and Penner.

    I want to believe but I am not sure if I can.

  14. oilerdiehard says:

    Sounds like Grebs is having a very good night against Calgary. It is in the 3rd and he is a +3 and has an assist.

  15. Michael Adrian says:

    can we turn Thoresen into a dman?

  16. Rod says:

    hbomb:
    MacT clearly said that Horcoff would not be getting 3rd line minutes:
    “Horc and Stollie will be getting 20+ minutes per game.”

    So, he’s continuing to talk about moving the guys around based on situation, etc.

    The clip is on the preview page for tonight’s game.

    Nice result tonight, especially with the Falmes icing close to their opening day roster.

  17. Lowetide says:

    Cogliano with 2 goals tonight, three for the pre-season. At some point it becomes difficult to send a kid out, especially considering he can do other things.

    15:33 on the night, 21 shifts, 11:27 at Evs, a couple of minutes each on PK and PP.

    Who was the last forward to step into the Oilers lineup right out of college?

    Horcoff spent 24 games in the AHL at age 22 before getting the call.

    Jeebus.

  18. oilerdiehard says:

    LT – I am really happy for the kid. It was a joy watching him in college this year. I really hope he keeps it up and makes the team.

    They talked to Billy Moores about Cogs after the game. He talked about his speed and offense and then made sure to mention that he did some great defensive work down low in our zone tonight.

  19. Black Dog says:

    So to the head of the line he goes, huh?

    He can keep up or better.

    He knows what to do when he doesn’t have the puck, apparently.

    And he’s putting the puck in the net.

    I remember when the Oilers picked him, Bob MacKenzie said he was a steal – let’s hope he was right.

  20. Bank Shot says:

    I wonder when they try him between Penner and Hemsky?

  21. HBomb says:

    rod: Note the way in which I emphasized the “3rd”…I’m well aware that Horcoff and Stoll would both likely play a lot of minutes and that the 3rd line on the Oilers would be of great importance like the 3rd line in Anaheim and New Jersey.

    I’m just saying that I could see them perhaps making a deal if Gagner makes the team, possibly to bolster the RHS. Maybe it’s Horcoff that gets shopped….or perhaps they realize that Stoll might cost even more per-season than Horcoff after this season and they shop him instead and keep Horcoff to do 2nd line heavy lifting to protect a Gagner-Hemsky 1st line.

    Bottom line, it’s nice to see that we’ve got some kids that look to be something: Cogliano, Gagner, Nilsson, Brodziak and, despite as much heat as he’s been taking, I still have faith in Pouliot.

    However, I wouldn’t be house shopping in southwest E-town if I were Rob Schremp or JF Jacques….

  22. HBomb says:

    Ethan Moreau: ankle bruise.

    Oh shit, let’s hope that’s not a fracture, because with Pisani already out, we’d be Superbad. And by Superbad, I mean Superfucked….

  23. Lowetide says:

    HBomb: Yeah, I think it’s important to remember that a guy like Pouliot actually has gotten results in the NHL. He played well under difficult circumstances in the spring and that has to count for something.

    I can see this spreading out over the entire season, actually. Horcoff didn’t pass Comrie on the depth chart for ages, it might be similar with some of these guys (I don’t know if there are any Horcoff or Comrie comps in this pack, just making a general comment about how long it can take to suss things out).

  24. HBomb says:

    LT: I’ve really liked the Horcoff/Poulit parallel for a long time. Still do.

    I’m not about to give up on that guy yet. Schremp and Jacques I think are the “vulnerable” prospects in terms of a trade right now.

    Let’s hope Kevin Lowe thinks the same way.

  25. matt says:

    I think that Schremp will make the team, get played a bit and then be traded with Greene for a bag of chips.

  26. godot10 says:

    Why does “everyone” want to trade Horcoff? It would be about the stupidest thing that Lowe and MacT would ever do.

    Gretzky and Messier
    Trottier and Goring
    Lemieux and Messier
    Modano and Nieuwendyk
    Yzermand and Federov
    Lecavalier and Richards
    somebody and Horcoff

    Horcoff is one of the most valuable players in the whole damn league. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t a 1st line centre. Mike Fisher just signed for $4.1 million. Chris Kunitz for $3,75 million. Horcoff is NOT overpaid

  27. Bendelson says:

    The Oilers might take Gagner for a 9 game trial but he is not going to stick this year – nor should he. The World Jrs will help him again this season. Long term, he’ll be a better player/leader.

    Cogliano on the other hand – should make the team. Assuming Brodziak, Cogs, and Nilsson are staying… Horcoff would have to remain the #1 centre – unless Stoll takes the job. You can’t ask Cogliano to fill that role. He’s your third line centre/wing.

    With several top end players registering well at camp (Gilbert, Cogliano, Brodziak) – and others falling off (Schremp, ???) I think I’ll agree with LT and wait for the coming trade.
    Let’s hope it’s another good move – and not Horcoff.

  28. garnet says:

    Keep Gagner for the nine-game tryout makes a lot more sense if Moreau’s going to be out.

  29. Lowetide says:

    godot10: I think it’s fair to say that no one in the blogosphere wants Horcoff traded, in fact he’s kind of “code” for how smart you are. I know tons of people who don’t think Horcoff is a very good player when he’s actually so damn good it is scary.

    He’s from the Darrell Evans family.

  30. Ribs says:

    I get more worried with every comment MacTavish makes.

    This team is in dire need of direction and so far MacT and company have said very little about what they plan to do about it. Who is the Oilers first line? Why do we not have an answer to that question by now? Is that expecting too much?

    I keep hearing this idea of soft minutes, but who’s going to play the rest of the game? What happens when Stoll goes down with injury?

    I don’t see an escape from the soft minutes plan with Penner pegged as a top line player. If he were to play first line last year for the Oilers he would have had to add 3-5 minutes of hard-nosed hockey to his game and I just can’t see him doing that effectively.

    That means someone else has to occupy the ice while the “#1″ Line waits for matchups. Logically, MacT would want Horcoff on the ice because for those big minutes he’s the safest player on the ice. That ruins the proposed #1 Line (Horcoff-Hemsky-Penner) at this point and makes things seem very fruitless. Is Stoll going to get the big minutes that would normally go to Horcoff? Does anyone feel good about that idea?

    Even if you do give Stoll the bigmins, who can play with him that won’t be a liability? Torres and Nilsson? Ha! The Pisani injury may be the worst thing that could have happened to the Oilers this season.

    So what is the gameplan here? Does anyone really believe Gagner is going to be playing on a line with Hemsky next month? Wouldn’t that push Stoll down the chart?

    I’d feel so much better if I had a single clue as to what MacT is thinking here. It seems like pre-season has been more of a try-out for the prospects than any kind of preparation for the season ahead.
    .
    .
    .
    Worried.

  31. Dennis says:

    Just read a Journal piece where MacT said that Horc and Stoll would get 20 min apiece and that he would still need his first line centre to rack up 90 points. That’s an odd comment and you’d need some kind of PP numbers to make that happen with 10-16 sucking up so many min.

  32. rickibear says:

    Ribs: The whole summer has been spent discussing the support around our core.

    We all were wondering what was meant by “no intrest in the status Quo”

    The camp is giving us this answer.

    The tryout (emergence) of our prospects is “preparing for the season.”

    “Understanding MacT’s thoughts” he is a great situational coach. This year there will be no first, second, or third line. Just situational line matching game by game.
    Be assured our best PP guys will get lots of PP, PK for Pk, Strong EV the most heavy EV minutes.

    He is going to take his best options into battle.

    This camp is giving him more options. The clear emergence of Nilsson, Brodziak, Cogliano plus the step up of Trukhno and Gagner.

    Thank heavens for that.

  33. MikeP says:

    LT, sometimes I wonder why I bother posting at all, you say it well before I can. :) I think you need to put more emphasis on what he’s saying about Horcoff than what he’s saying about the kids though, if you want to point to a true sea change in the organisation.

  34. Lowetide says:

    I see the MacT quotes as meaning he’s going to use Horcoff the way Toronto used Dave Keon: Normie Ullman gets Paul Henderson and Ronnie Ellis, Norm Ullman gets 35 goals, Norm Ullman gets to be the first star on HNIC.

    But Davey Keon wins you hockey games.

  35. MikeP says:

    Still, that’s a radical departure from the past. MacT and Lowe have been criticized for not admitting to their mistakes; if telling the guy that was good enough to be a #1 on a Finals team that not only will he be seeing a radical change from the way he was used then, he’s not even really seen as a #1 centreman by the org isn’t such, I don’t know what is.

    The prospects stuff is all well and good and interesting, but it’s nothing at all different from what they (or anybody else) says every year. That *is* status quo.

    But changing Horc’s role? That’s a sea change.

  36. Black Dog says:

    mikep – I think Lowe and MacT are looking at Horc the same way they did Smyth

    Both are terrific players and this club almost won a Cup with them being the go-to guys up front. But Lowe and MacT played with teams and against teams stacked with offensive talent. Why did Lowe say Smyth is not an ‘elite’ player? Because he was fifth on the team in scoring in that Cup run, behind Pronger, Horcoff, Pisani and Hemsky, barely ahead of Samsonov and Spacek.
    I love Smyth, most people did, but when those playoffs ended I believe Lowe looked at him and compared him, rightly or wrongly, with the guys he won Cups with.

    I believe that Horcoff is, in their eyes, in a similar boat. He will win you a ton of hockey games but he’s not going to be a 100 point guy. They want Horcoff to help them win games but figure that he can do that without playing with Pensky. Someone else will fill that role.

  37. MikeP says:

    Black Dog – I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. (If you compare to the 80s teams, my initial thought was to compare him to Pat Hughes. Hughes even went to UMich – right state, anyway!)

  38. Ribs says:

    The tryout (emergence) of our prospects is “preparing for the season.”

    This camp is giving him more options. The clear emergence of Nilsson, Brodziak, Cogliano plus the step up of Trukhno and Gagner.

    I see what you’re saying rickibear, I just feel that we are falling into the trap of believing that “emerging” prospects are going to win us hockey games. I just don’t see it happening.

    I’d like to break the “status quo” this year and have some set lines that are going to work in the regular season. That was what I expected from that quote. Last seasons camp had Hemsky and Sykora romping through everyone and I’m still not quite sure why most thought that would work in regular season. The combo quickly fell apart as soon as they played against tougher teams like Calgary and Minnesota.

    I see all of this Gagner excitement and I know the result would be the same. He’s still a kid. A talented kid no doubt, but still, a kid. When the pressure comes he won’t be able to handle NHL checkers.

    This throwing-lines-at-the-wall approach to camp is stressing to watch is all. I’m tired of the crumbs they’re feeding us! Just give us one line! Please!

    hah.. damned Oilers.

    Let Plinko season begin.

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