June’s Top 20? How are they Doing? (1-10)

By the time I get around to updating my Oilers top 20 list in December most of the really good players are going to be ready to graduate. My “line in the sand” for prospects is that they’ve played in enough games to establish themselves as NHL players. It can vary from player to player (Cogliano will be pretty established by Christmas, no? Is there any real use calling him a prospect after that?) and I can be wrong like any fan but enjoy making bets on players. Pouliot is no longer on my list of prospects despite not having established himself yet. I’m not putting him back on, though. He’s now a “fringe major leaguer” trying to make the grade in my books. He’s Candy Maldonado as a Dodger.

Here’s a quick look at the top 10 from the June 20:

  1. Sam Gagner: There were visitors to this site who felt the Oilers might keep him and Gagner might indeed make the grade. Speeds was one of them, and there was someone else too but I can’t remember. He’s been exceptional in all areas, and as late as the MacT presser before the game in Calgary he basically said the team is “beyond the point of no return” in regard to sending him to junior. For an organization that plays pretty much by the book, this is a watershed moment. His goal in the CAL game last night appears to be further proof he’s not going to get sent back to London. STATUS: Last Train to London unlikely to include Dave’s son. He’ll make the December list but that’ll be the last one.
  2. Slava Trukhno: Showed well in camp, started his AHL career playing well but hasn’t done much in the last few games. He’s 6gp, 2-0-2 currently and hasn’t scored in 3 games now. He needs to make something happen, as most of the other forwards are ripping line drives every at-bat. STATUS: He’ll be among the top 5 on my list for December.
  3. Andrew Cogliano. Textbook training camp. Arrive, impress, take nothing for granted. Ridiculous wheels, a high degree of intelligence and offensive ability are a nice touch too. Passed a parade of players this fall like they were nothing. Nothing. STATUS: Like Gagner, he’ll be on the December list (at #2) but we pretty much know he’s no longer a prospect and has moved into the “NHL regular” category. You know who called this pretty much all along? Asiaoil.
  4. Tom Gilbert. He’s a really nice player. Gilbert is a guy who does at least one thing to make you notice a game, and he’s a rookie and 23. A solid future, he’s the third of four on this list ready to graduate from prospect status. If he were breaking into an everyday lineup on a team with the normal amount of kids we’d be talking about his composure and puck skills. As it is, imo he has been one of two Oiler defenders who’ve been consistent in a good way so far this season. STATUS: He’d be an NHL defenseman on a lot of bluelines, he’s certainly one for the Oilers. Like Gagner and Cogliano I’ll include him in December but only so I can rave about him.
  5. Rob Schremp. He apparently was pretty upset after being sent out this week. I can’t blame him for that, hopefully he takes it out on opposition. If he treats the demotion like a kick in the ass and reaches new heights one suspects he’ll get another call soon. It seems as though the Oilers have unlimited free tickets to Springfield. Schremp did play a wonderful game from all reports last night. STATUS: He’s exactly where John Mayberry and Cliff Johnson were in about 1972 or 1973: You’re doing some things to get noticed and then the organization falls in love with Bob Watson, trades for Lee May and then Cesar Cedeno comes along and is better than you and everyone else since Willie Mays and next thing you’re in Okla City and they’re teaching you to be a catcher. He’ll be on the December list.
  6. Taylor Chorney. I watched him a little on the internet Friday. He looks stronger than I remember from last season’s WJC’s and that’s a good sign. Three assists in three games, if he has a good college year he might be number one on the summer 2008 list. He’s a good hockey player. STATUS: Probably makes the December top 5.
  7. Devan Dubnyk. He isn’t playing much but has been effective when he’s in there. His .923SP ranks just outside the top 10 in the AHL and is 3rd among rookies (this is among G’s with more than 100 minutes played). Looks like the clear backup to Deslauriers but the Oilers have to be happy with his performance so far this season. STATUS: No reason to move him down the list.
  8. Ryan O’Marra. His injury troubles are real, and they are spectacular. O’Marra has played just 3 AHL games so far this season. He looked very good in the day of scrimmages I saw at TC but didn’t show much in pre-season and now has injury troubles. STATUS: He needs to work his way into the lineup but his stock is probably falling.
  9. Alex Plante. Injuries kept him out of training camp (the EDM portion) and he has just now returned to action with his junior team. He’s got an assist in 2 games. STATUS: Not much has changed, he’s a pretty raw player who will need to build on the impressive improvement reflected in his flight up the ISS ratings pre-draft.
  10. Jozef Hrabel. He’s once again putting up points in the RSL. Has apparently put on some weight (he was listed at 6-0, 165 on draft day but is now listed on eurohockey.net as 6-0, 178. NOTE: Bill Buckner is now at shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. That’s Buckner, SS). I’m very curious about this player. STATUS: I don’t really even know if he is still Oiler property. There was some confusion about whether or not the Oilers needed to sign him and as far as I can tell there has been no confirmation. If he’s still Oiler property, he’ll be in my December top 20.

Up next, 11-20 and the bonus 5 I listed in June.

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29 Responses to "June’s Top 20? How are they Doing? (1-10)"

  1. mc79hockey says:

    Bill Buckner is now at shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. That’s Buckner, SS).

    Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox, Craig Simpson is coaching third for the Tribe.

  2. Lowetide says:

    MC: LINE OF THE YEAR! THAT was funny.

  3. mc79hockey says:

    The first draft of my response was a lot more caustic and personal. Then the Sox turned the DP and it was all good.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Ah, the Red Sox. 1975 was incredible tension, 1986 was farce. The WS win a couple years back changes nothing because the ghosts run the house of horrors.

    Lovely example of pitcher covering first there. Textbook. The Red Sox fielding guide must have blood on every page.

  5. Dennis says:

    Travis Hafner can’t hit fastballs down the middle.

  6. Tyler says:

    Lovely example of pitcher covering first there. Textbook. The Red Sox fielding guide must have blood on every page.

    Nothing wrong with the play that Jacoby Ellsbury just made in the outfield. I can’t believe that the Sox are about to pull off a 3-1 comeback after pulling off a 3-0 comeback three years ago.

  7. Tyler says:

    Hafner’s sucking in this series is the only payback for the brutal way in which he buried the Pete Munro Doctrine this year.

  8. Lowetide says:

    Pete Munro? Isn’t he the guy who wrote that unreadable book? Or was that Pete Palmer.

    Either way, the Indians are this year’s Tigers. Too bad for them.

    I think I’ll cheer for the Red Sox. They’re sure to lose and they’re from the junior loop but what the hell.

  9. Tyler says:

    Pete Munro was a forgettable relief pitcher. The Monroe Doctrine was some sort of US doctrine keeping the Europeans out of the Americas. Combine them and you’ve got the uber referential name preferred by those in the twenties.

    As for the Sox…how can you not love them? I mean honestly. Rockies are going to be tough though…as bad as the NL is, they’re hotter than shit and in a short series, anything can happen.

  10. Lowetide says:

    I’m just teasing you guys. Francona has his rotation set up nicely and doesn’t have to wait forever to get rolling. The Rockies bats are as cold as the mountains in the morning by now.

    4 game sweep and the Florida Marlins, with NO fanbase, will be up by 2 on WS championships to a fanbase as rabid as any.

  11. speeds says:

    MC, what’s the story with Buckholtz? He’s done for the year, I believe I read? He’d be nice to have for 1 or 2 WS starts.

  12. speeds says:

    AS for Gagner, a couple thoughts:

    (1) I figured there was a chance EDM would keep Gagner for a 9 game look, even though I probably would have sent him back were I in charge. We’ll see what he looks like after 9 games, but I think I would send him back down.

    (2) I would have picked Voracek back at the draft instead of Gagner, but that isn’t to say I haven’t liked what I’ve seen from Gagner thus far.

    (3) Stat comparison:

    Gagner(NHL): 7GP 1-4-5, -1
    Voracek (Q): 8GP 3-19-22, +8

  13. Tyler says:

    speeds: They shut him down for the year. Too many innings.

    LT: I don’t know. The rotation still seems pretty sketchy to me. Beckett is money but Schilling is just running on fumes and Daisuke is forty five minute, six walk and five run inning waiting to happen. Wake is a crapshoot at this point his career too, although I’m kind of terrified to see what happens to him at Coors – he’s 0-2, with 9.2 IP, 17 HA, 10 ER, 7 BB and 4 K. He might give up the longest home run of all time. Plus, Colorado…it’s just such an unreal run.

  14. Lowetide says:

    I think it’s good the BoSox are at home to start. If they’re up 2-0 going to Denver then it might be tough for the Colorado team.

    I don’t follow this closely enough to be any kind of an expert. I will say that any team with Beckett has to be sleeping better than the other guy.

  15. HBomb says:

    LT: For the record, I was the guy other than Speeds who called Gagner having a non-zero shot at the team and that a nine-game look to start the season was a distinct possibility.

    At this point, I think he’s here to stay. He really is a textbook case for how dumb that “no junior eligible players in the AHL” rule is, because this ideal, perfect-world scenario for the kid would be playing in the AHL this season and getting an NHL promotion at some point in 2008-09.

    Considering we’re in a rebuilding year (which I’d be a lot more comfy with if that arrogant fatass is the O.C. didn’t have our first rounder and we weren’t locked into a 2nd pairing PP specialist D-man for 27 over 5), I have no issues with him staying here.

    Gagner’s a special prospect out of the Hemsky tree.

    Speaking of Hemsky, I’ve seen almost as much shitting on him as I have seen regarding Horcoff or Torres in the last few days. Do people not realize that these three have probably been the best three “veteran” Oiler forwards.

    By comparison, Jarret Stoll should be getting MUCH more heat than he currently is.

    And I am currently considering the purchase of a Tom Gilbert jersey. No lie.

  16. mc79hockey says:

    speeds: This is a stupid move. He’s not so good that another season in junior would kill him and he could use the time to put on weight. All this is going to do is move the Ducks pick from 5th to 8th. It’s not worth it.

  17. Lowetide says:

    HBomb: I do remember you saying it.

    Anyone: Who is Buckholtz?

  18. mc79hockey says:

    He’s a super young pitcher who’s a great prospect. I went to his first start in the majors. He didn’t have best stuff but you could see that he was good. His second game he threw a no-hitter. They shut him down for the year because of his innings.

  19. Lowetide says:

    Oh yeah, I remember that guy. He was supposed to get sent out no matter what he did in his start and damned if he didn’t throw a no-no.

    It’s been a fine year for baseball.

  20. oilerdiehard says:

    Good stuff LT, thanks.

    Gilbert is not 23 though. He is 24 years old and turns 25 at the start of January. He is looking good though no doubt.

  21. Doogie says:

    Plante missed today’s game against Kamloops. Just so you know.

  22. Shawn says:

    How on earth can people be cheering for the Red Sox? They’re the new Yankees. Spend just as much on ridiculous stuff to the point where there get to make mistakes and not have it cost them.

    The Rockies pulled off a terrific run and have a good old Canadian boy as their Ace.

    Go Rocks.

  23. Asiaoil says:

    LT – thanks for the props – I remember seeing Cogs in his first WJC and thinking what a smart, responsible player he was – even at only 18. Add the wheels…..he’ll be a beauty. Now if only my other boys MAP and DD can get it together.

    Gagner I’m torn on. Sure he’s adequate right now – but as MC said – does it make any difference? Keeping him is fine but you have to dump Schremp and Nilsson – no way you can keep Cogs, Gagner and either of those guys on the same roster. This roster is a total developmental clusterf**k – just senseless :(

  24. Matt says:

    Yeah, Plante is out with back problems, IIRC… also got the impression from the radio that this might be a slightly different ailment than what kept him out of pro camp? (He definitely got back in the lineup, then went out again)

  25. Cam Fraser says:

    Q: Why is this my favorite site on the web?

    A: It’s always filled with interesting stories, analysis I’m not seeing anywhere else, it is constantly being updated, and it features lines from Seinfeld so unexpectedly hilarious that it makes me spill my drink all over my shirt.

    Also, I don’t follow the National League, so even though Shawn’s comments are spot on, I’m still pulling for the Sox. Tough to pull for a team you know nothing about.

  26. Bruce says:

    Also, I don’t follow the National League, so even though Shawn’s comments are spot on, I’m still pulling for the Sox. Tough to pull for a team you know nothing about.

    But it’s easy to root against a team you know all too well. For much the same reason I will root for an unknown like, say, Florida Panthers when they’re playing Toronto.

    Shawn is right, the Sox are now Yankees North, and and as the saying goes, “Cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for U.S. Steel.” Now that they’ve actually won one, we can stop feeling sorry for “RedSox Nation” and see their team for what it is: big money and glitz and hype. Screw ‘em.

    Besides, what’s not to like about the Rockies? What an incredible run, with a Canadian ace, an unknown MVP, a fabulous rookie shortstop, and an underappreciated vet (Helton) who will be the feel-good story of this year’s Series. Big Papi, Manny and (gag) Schilling have had their days in the sun already …

    Go Rockies! Finish the dream.

  27. Dennis says:

    It’s hard to cheer for the Sox because in the aftermath of their ’04 win, you can see that you have to hear about their victories so fucking much.

    The Cards have a lot of baseball history, too, and sometimes it’s even hard to remember that they won the ’06 crown. Meanwhile, the Sox had Kevin Millar throwing out their first pitch last night and reading their lineup.

    I know some of the fans have suffered but it’s like that viginal buddy who finally gets laid, we have heard enough about it.

    and if he ever gets someone else to screw him, well then someone might have to kidnap Dan Shaughnassy and a whole legions of others.

  28. Rube Foster says:

    “He’s exactly where John Mayberry and Cliff Johnson were in about 1972 or 1973: You’re doing some things to get noticed and then the organization falls in love with Bob Watson, trades for Lee May and then Cesar Cedeno comes along and is better than you and everyone else since Willie Mays and next thing you’re in Okla City and they’re teaching you to be a catcher.”

    Is that any good!?

    Holy cow! Just the other day LT had me convinced that Schremp was the second coming of Bill McCreary Sr. and now he’s got with me with whole John Mayberry and Cliff Johnson angle. LT, you are the goods.

    I’m with you LT, Schremp will be a player in this league and he might have a couple of years where he hits 25-30 HR’s but due to Butch, Sam-wise and maybe even Son of Kenta passing him by on the Org depth chart it’s not going to be with the Oilers. Shall we start calling Schremp Heathcliff?

    I think that the Oilers need to have a serious reality check and understand that with the cards they’re holding things are going to be very, very tough for them at the very least and most optimistically till around Christmas. They need to take a hard look at the next 20 – 25 games and ask themselves what can we do with this time to make sure we’re in a better place for the last 40 games of the year? Lowe needs to acknowledge that they are in a rebuild and if they get really lucky the fruit of that rebuild might/could start to pay-off in the latter stages of this season.

    The fan in me thinks these are some of the things that NEED to happen for us to be a better team for the last half of the season.

    Capt./Dr. Moureau needs to get off his experimental Island of injured souls.

    Fernando needs the Pope to make a call for him.

    Gorman Souray needs NOT to rush back too early from the bad wing and when he comes back not be asked to things he’s not great at – puck moving, offensive catylist and be permitted to concentrate on the things he is great at – trigger on the PP and being an honest and gritty d-man. I would love to see him paired with Gilbert who seems well suited to playing MacIver to Gorman’s Manson.

    If you believe like the Oil do that Greene is the second coming of Gator, then learn from the Leafs mistake and don’t put Greene in situations that he can’t have success in. In defense of Greene’s defense, MAB and Gorman Souray just might be the worst partners they could have given him. That’s not a knock on Souray and MAB it just that Greene’s game is incompatible with theirs and it hurt all of them. No more chaos partners for Greene. Have him play 15 minutes a game, don’t ask him to do too much more than he’s capable of and give him a partner that’s going to look after his back. Give the guy half a chance to have some success and maybe when he does miraculously blossom he’ll still be wearing an Oilers jersey.

    Staois needs to stay healthy. Please rest him if he’s got a busted schnauze or if he’s not 100%. In the last two games I’ve lost count of how many times Staois had control of the puck in the defensive zone, skated into a corner and handed it over to the opposition. I’d rather see us utilize our depth on defense and develop guys like Schmid in the NHL than run Staois out there when he’s way less than 100 percent and place him time in a position of vulnerability that sees him risk getting really hurt. Let’s face it with his style of game and his age Staois is going to miss some time. Let’s do what we can to make it a dozen games on the shelf and not 25.
    Penner needs to get over the obvious “Staalian” Stanley Cup Hangover that is plaguing him like… well like a really bad hangover. He needs to be the Dustin Penner we saw in the 2006 playoffs.
    Stoll needs to shake off the post concussion thing and rediscover his inner Trottier.
    They need to try to NOT burn Roli out. The only reason we were competitive the last two games was that Roli was on fire. When the Flames scored the third goal Roli looked up to the ceiling of the Saddledome like he was trying to blink back tears, maybe he was. For the Oilers to have success he’s going to need to consistently play to the level he did against the Flames, but at his age asking for magic day in and day out isn’t realistic. Monsieur Garon we need you to step up.

    On the subject of French guys, The oil need to get over their apparent Francophobia and give MAP and JFJ another shot at proving they’re NHLer’s. As noted by some of LT’s sage posters, when they’ve played this year they’ve both looked pretty decent, JFJ even looks like he kind of gets it this year which is a dramatic improvement.

    I think it was Dennis who nailed it when he said that MacLovinT must see some endearing “Buchbergerian” like qualities in Stortini that the rest of world can’t see. The Nolan/Stortini fight was comically bad and certainly one of the all-time low moments in the Battle of Alberta for those us who cheer for the team with more than one Stanley Cup Banner in the rafters. It made me long for the days when Dave Brown was dribbling Jim Kyte’s head on the ice like a helmeted basketball. I mean it looked like Stortellini was trying to whisper in Owen Nolan’s ear “Sir when you’re finished hammering blows upon my face might I please have an autograph?” The whole Nolan dust up was very discouraging. I know the Oilers want to forget the last twenty games of last year but Owen Nolan is the same guy who put Matty Roy out for the year with a nasty cross check to the face. There is no way of masking that an Owen Nolan who is running on fumes just mopped up the ice with the Oilers so called enforcer. Not a great message to send to the rest of league. It’s time for K-Lowe to acknowledge that the “team toughness concept” has been a bust and he needs to find a legitimate enforcer if he wants to compete in our division. I don’t see a big downside in giving the four to seven minutes a game that Storts gets to a legitimate and feared enforcer. I also believe that having said enforcer will help our finesse guys find some more room and let guys like Rafi, Moreau and even a JFJ play with a little more abandon to their game.

    Lastly and somewhat related, in the upcoming stretch to Christmas the Oilers absolutely have to find a way to get back to being that team that everyone else in the league didn’t like to play. We might have been scraping our way into the play-offs those years running up to the run of 2006 but we had a team that was very hard to play against. Right now I’d say outside of the Coyotes and Kings we just might be the easiest team in the conference to play.

    Sometimes you need to take a step backward to move two steps forward. I hope the Oilers can acknowledge this and use the time over the next few weeks to hone the assets they believe they have without turning the next few months into a repeat of the post-Smytty run of 2007.

    Please permit me to step off my high horse for a second and chip in that both the Red Sox and the Rockies have numerous endearing qualities and are deserved of their place in the fall classic. I personally am pulling for a seven game series and numerous games which appear to be televised from Edmonton: snow, toques, the constant blowing on fists, the steam of frozen breath rising from the field and a host of Latin American guys wondering what the hell is going one here! Just think how fun it would be to have a World Series game seven with snow on the field and a Canadian on the mound. It would at the very least provide The Tragically Hip material for a new album.

  29. Bruce says:

    Great post, Rube Foster, I like your style. You’re even more verbose than me, no mean feat.

    ALL that said, I can’t disagree with anything you wrote. I’m particularly on-side (unlike the Oilers powerplay) with your comment “the Oilers absolutely have to find a way to get back to being that team that everyone else in the league didn’t like to play”. So far I’m not seeing many positive signs in that respect. In Smith and Smyth we have given up our two most consistent in-your-face players who were themselves the Face of the Oilers (Third Millennium Edition), and with Moreau, Pisani and Souray on the shelf, I don’t know where that’s going to come from. Oilers seem to be real short of speedy grinders of the Grier/Marchant/Chimera/Peca type that we always seemed to have in abundance.

    As I mentioned on another thread, Oilers have been outhit 147-103 after 8 games, and that’s starting to seem statistically significant. Add to that the absolutelyfuckinbrutal powerplay that never makes the other guys pay for their indiscretions and it’s a recipe for disaster. If the skill guys — Hemsky, Horcoff, Cogliano, Gagner, Sanderson, Tarnstrom, Pitkanen — aren’t going to hit the opposition, then they better start hitting the net once in a while.

    Leading the Oiler hit parade to this point is (surprise!) Dustin Penner with 17. (Torres 14, Stoll 10, all others — including every defenceman on the team — single digits.) That Penner ranked 6th on the Ducks in that category last year suggests how far the Oil have to go to be tough enough. I can’t even remember the last time an Oiler won a fight and lived to tell about it. Stortellini :) doesn’t scare anybody, he’s a hugger not a fighter, and “team toughness” on this team is a pipe dream.

    Obviously there’s way more to the game than toughness, but it’s like goaltending: if you don’t have it, you’re screwed.

    BTW, Rube Foster the First was a giant of a man, 6’4 in his prime a century ago. According to blackbaseball.com, he was associated with five teams over his years as a pitcher, manager, and executive, all named the Giants.

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