Craig MacTavish has his 49 players and he’s going to have to find enough talent there to win hockey games. An article in today’s Edmonton Sun details the Oilers situation in regard to a talented young Russian who is at rookie camp (Vitaly Karamnov) and the fact that the Oilers can’t sign them because there are too many Allan Rourke’s and Tim Sestito’s.
It is another example of how the Edmonton Oilers have mis-read the summer. With Mike Johnson still available, and Fernando Pisani gone for what looks like it might be a lifetime, MacTavish will have to elevate yet another young player to the major league roster.
Last spring we saw what could happen when too many young players played too many tough minutes, and the Oilers look ill-prepared for this season at the starting pole. You may recall the chaos that was the goaltending situation in fall ’05 (which was straightened out with the Roloson trade), the lack of NHL veteran defensemen in fall ’06 (they sent away Pronger, Spacek, you know the list) and now there is a distinct lack of NHL forwards.
And even then there are question marks. Let’s look at the list of NHL veteran forwards on the Oilers roster:
- Geoff Sanderson- Veteran player suddenly very important (1063 NHL games)
- Ethan Moreau- He needs to stay healthy (685 NHL games)
- Shawn Horcoff- Healthy, as fit as anyone in the league (427 NHL games)
- Marty Reasoner- Health and effectiveness an issue (383 NHL games)
- Ales Hemsky- It’s his team now (275 NHL games)
- Raffi Torres- It’s vital he steps us this season (275 NHL games)
- Jarret Stoll- He better be healthy (205 NHL games)
- Dustin Penner- As famous as anyone on the roster (101 NHL games)
- Patrick Thoresen- He’ll play a bigger role this year (68 NHL games)
- Robert Nilsson- Barely more than a rookie himself (57 NHL games)
- Marc Pouliot- He’ll be taking on some big responsibility (54 NHL games)
- Jean Francois Jacques- He may not make the club (44 NHL games)
- Zack Stortini- May be 4line RW (29 NHL games)
- Rob Schremp- Healthy and has a shot (1 NHL game)
Let’s put these guys in categories:
- 1 player (Sanderson) beyond his prime by a few seasons.
- 2 players (Moreau, Reasoner) who could perhaps be entering a time in their career where injuries eat away a few games each season.
- 1 player (Horcoff) in his prime.
- 4 players (Hemsky, Torres, Stoll, Penner) progressing nicely and looking like a very nice cluster (with Stoll, perhaps Hemsky having some injury concerns in this group).
- 3 players (Thoresen, Nilsson, Pouliot) with about 1 NHL season’s experience trying to get more traction.
- 3 players (Jacques, Stortini, Schremp) who are trying to get the foothold Thoresen, Nilsson and Pouliot already have.
After that is #7, which is everybody else. The list would include Cogliano, Gagner and Trukno at the top, and then sift down to the college kids like Colin McDonald and David Rohlfs.
The fact that Allan Rourke’s on the 49-man list and that may keep this team from adding Mike Johnson is incredible. The fact that the Oilers are offering this up as a reason for not signing Mike Johnson is even more incredible.
Doesn’t anyone want to win hockey games?