Nilsson Schmilsson

In the fall of 2000, Michel Riesen was at the peak of his pro hockey career (so far). No one could have known, as the former 1st rounder looked like he was about to grab a roster spot and thrive for years to come.

In fact, many of us felt he was dragging his linemates on the Bulldog line (Brian Swanson, Daniel Cleary) along with him.

Michel Riesen’s 2000 pre-season numbers (7gp, 4-2-6) and effective play got him a big league job. It lasted 12 games, which these 7 years later remain his only NHL games. He has played for Davos (Swiss League) since 2001 and you can usually see him around Christmastime in the Spengler Cup. After scoring at almost a point-per-game clip in pre-season 2000, Riesen managed 1 assist in those 12 regular season games.

What happened? Well, he lost his job. Daniel Cleary was the only guy on that line who would turn the opportunity into a big league career and the Oilers brought along better players (Horcoff, Comrie) as the year rolled along. On October 31, 2000, Riesen’s NHL career ended as he was sent to the minors along with Brad Norton.

Robert Nilsson was 4gp, 1-2-3 this pre-season, and he looked ready to roll. +4, effective on a line with two young NHL veterans in Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres. So far this season, in 4 games, he is 0-1-1, -1.

His icetime by game:

  1. 17:01
  2. 12:35
  3. 15:31
  4. 11:52

His PP icetime:

  1. 3:53
  2. 0:32
  3. 3:35
  4. 2:15

His EV icetime

  1. 12:33
  2. 12:03
  3. 10:46
  4. 9:37

Robert Nilsson has a much stronger hold right now on an NHL job than Michel Riesen had in fall 2000. He earned the 2line job for the Oilers and he’s going to get his at-bats. Still, the coach is starting to juggle lines and Pouliot seemed to have some chemistry late with a couple of top 6 types and that could impact Nilsson.

If ever there was a time to pop 2 goals, that time would be now for Robert Nilsson.

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35 Responses to "Nilsson Schmilsson"

  1. Pat says:

    “He earned the 2line job for the Oilers and he’s going to get his at-bats.”

    Obviously he had a pretty decent preseason, but I think that he was penciled in for that 2nd line pretty much from the moment he arrived. It was his to lose.

    He’s got some really nice abilities that pop out here and there, but I still wonder about him…will he take the road of Riesen? And did we acquire him because we see something special in him, or did we acquire him because his dad, who works for us, sees (and will understandably always see) something special in him?

  2. Dennis says:

    Chemistry is a weird thing and sometimes guys that should be able to make beautiful music together can’t even agree on on a note. Meanwhile, put together a bunch of pluggers like the Ducks Pahlsson line and they’re knocking out hit singles like Milli Vanilli.

    Pouliot, long before Nilsson ever showed up, is a guy we can point to as a fellow who’s still looking for some suitable partners. Him and JFJ seem to have some decent chem, Riv mentioned this too so I wasn’t the only one who saw this but who else remembers the backdoor pass that MP tried to saucer to Jacquest last night? I thought Pouliot had some nice shifts with the 19-34 duo last year and I remember one great HNIC game that I keep talking about where him and Jacques worked really well with Pisani. If there was ever one game where you thought the lighbulb had gone on for Jacques, it would be that one. I also just remembered a game early last year, a blowout vs the Avs, where 78 teamed with 16 and produced a goal and now they’ve played together for a full game and a couple of shifts and it looks like they have a little thing going. And if Pouliot has anything going for him, it’s while MacT would certainly like to be able to shelter him, it’s not something that’s on his main list to do so that allows Pouliot more options: ie he can play with guys on soft min lines and guys on tough min lines.

    I don’t believe MacT has the same confidence in Nilsson so he’s basically either gonna play with the kids and/or scrubs on the line that gets the least amount of TOI OR he’s gonna get one of the catbird seats on the soft line, which is where he started, but that role comes with high visibility and if you don’t produce, the demotion comes swiftly.

    And I think this is where Nilsson finds himself right now. He’s not producing with the soft min and he’s a guy that can only produce offense in a particular situation.

    I think his rope lasts just as long as the one that’s keeping Moreau out of the order. Let’s put it this way: if the Oilers seemingly weren’t afraid to “admit” their current fuck-up on the Pronger deal regarding the Smid demotion, I doubt they’ll keep Nilsson up just because they’re afraid of what all those meanines will say about the Smyth bounty

  3. Bling says:

    Riesen was just awful in those 12 games though, lowetide. Didn’t create much of anything at all if memory serves.

    He struck me as a guy who had an ability to shoot the puck and that’s about it. Poor man’s Lupul, but maybe even softer than Joff. Nilsson’s no brute, but he has more jam than Riesen ever did IMO.

    I think Nilsson deserves a fair shot based on his pedigree. PPG in the AHL since 20, 20 points in 50 odd NHL games as a 21 year old. Agreed that he needs to show more at the big league level, but we haven’t had an AHL prospect with that kind of history in ages.

    He meets that line in the sand, and while that line isn’t a gold paved path to greatness, it should give him the benefit of the doubt for longer than 4 games.

  4. Nelson88 says:

    So does that mean Torres and Stoll are done since they are producing even less…

  5. Lowetide says:

    Yes Nelson. Stoll and Torres are done.

  6. Asiaoil says:

    You know I think MacT needs to get away from the company line here ASAP with a couple of big pieces missing (Moreau and Pisani).

    I would take Riv’s advise and throw Torres on the Horcoff/Hemsky line as a tough minute line that can score. Torres is frustrating but he does know his way around his own end of the rink. Last season he was with Hemsky for a bit – but Sykora just sucked all the air out of any line that included him and Hemsky – so that does not count much in my books

    The 2nd scoring line would get softer minutes and I would match up Penner MAP and Nilsson – Penner should be able to create some room for the young guys and these are the kind of linemates and situation we have never given MAP. I think he would flourish and Nilsson is the only guy who is truly a liability defensively.

    The 3rd line is all out defense but with a counter-attack that can bite. Moreau Stoll and Brodziak should be able to do some heavy lifting – but damn I wish Pisani was on the RW.

    Finally the 4th line would be Sanderson Reasoner and Cogliano – lots of speed and not all that bad defensively. Reasoner and Sanderson should be able to protect Cogs (and Gagner needs to go back to London soon IMHO so I don’t consider him at all).

    That’s my take – we need some tough minute lines in place ASAP and need to stop the Gagner experiment or it will be a long season

  7. jon says:

    Heh. There’s one line on the team that’s not producing and it happens to be the one Nilsson is on. Judging from how he actually looks when he plays, he’s an NHLer in some capacity yet to be determined, which obviously never came to be true for Riesen.

    Put another way, I think if either Torres or Stoll were putting together a decent string of games offensively Robert Nilsson likely wouldn’t be getting any negative attention right now.

    I would say that we should be worried about Stoll’s game, especially considering his status as a player recovering from severe post-concussion syndrome. Then again, take away his 1st unit power play time and it’s hard to expect more than 35-40 points out of him.

    In general, this team is in for a lot more losses like last night’s if the Stoll-Torres-Whoever line doesn’t start putting some in the net.

    It’s worth noting that Stoll is also -4 already, lowest on the team.

  8. Bill Needle says:

    Yeah, put Torres with Hemsky, and watch the only consistent scorer the Oilers have go into a slump. Nilsson’s problem is that his linemate, Torres, is doing a Jacques imitation of not getting involved in the play, staying on the perimeter and never touching the puck. Torres was dreadful for much of last season, and so far this season, is worse.

  9. Vic Ferrari says:

    I agree with what Dennis said. In short: if the only thing you bring to the team is scoring, you’d better damn well be creating offense.

    You can see that Pouliot is gaining faith from MacTavish. I’d like to see him play with Penner and Stoll on a line that plays fewer minutes, but with better chances to score. Offensive zone draws against the other team’s depth players, that sort of thing. That’s the gig that Stoll and Penner have racked up their EV NHL points in the past, and now is no time to be trying to change the spots on guys.

    I’d put Raffi with 10/83 as well, I’m not feeling the hate like most folks on the intarweb are. Though based on merit, Sanderson probably deserves that gig right now (damn, never thought I’d hear myself say that).

    The Oilers coaching staff looks just completely unsettled with the defense situation. The combinations, and their responsibilites, they are just changing like crazy. I think that sooner or later they are going to have to acknowledge that Souray just can’t do what they wish he could do. I really like Souray (just not the contract ;) ), but he’s horribly miscast as a top pairing Dman at evens.

    On the D; Armchair coaches will all get their wish in due time, methinks. Surely every combination of D, in every level of responsibility, will be tried eventually until the coaches really settle into a comfort zone with these new players.

    Has anyone else noticed that all the guys who worked their asses of in in the offseason, came to camp ripped and earned praise from the coaching staff … these guys are all struggling. I just can’t understand how this could be … I mean how could their hockey timing and speed be off when they’ve been land training like madmen in SoCal and learning 17 ways to kill a man from an acquaintance of Ethan Moreau’s brother? :D

  10. Lowetide says:

    Vic: Funny and good point on the training. If the game was “over hill, over dale” they’d be in first place.

  11. Mr DeBakey says:

    Its funny how all these scripts start building upon each other

    One reads like this:
    Everyone went to California + but Pouliot only stayed a week!= “Pouliot looked totally out of gas in the third period”

  12. Black Dog says:

    Good stuff Vic. Staios and Reasoner are doing ok though from that gang.

    I think M. Pouliot is what they call a slow starter. Hasn’t taken him long to get back up to speed though.

    Dennis – I did see that play from MP to Jacques – I think Jacques took some positive steps last game – the play dies with him a little and he still isn’t running over guys but I noted that one touch to Stoll as well that someone else noted elsewhere – he had a few decent moments out there

  13. Vic Ferrari says:

    BDHS: Yeah, I’m really pulling for Reasoner, so far nothing but good reviews for the guy.

  14. namflashback says:

    game day preview on oilers.com

    - MP practiced on a line with Torres and Stoll

    Which would make for a gaggle of rookies on soft-line:
    Gagner-Cogs-Nillson

  15. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Line-ups at practice yesterday…

    89 – 27 – 83
    16 – 14 – 78
    19 – 8 – 51
    13 – 22 – 12

    Horcoff has an ‘upper body’ (rib/shoulder?) that he played thru last game. Coach says he’ll be in and Gagner may play also.

    Asiaoil…

    Dennis, Vic… I concur with black dog.
    :-)

    Except for SJ, Huddy seems to be throwing 24-25 at #1s more than 44. A few days back Staios said something about ‘Pitkanen and he getting familiar with each other’. I think they are going to leave this duo intact and they’ll face the majority of the 5×5 heat.

    Souray was playing RD in Minni. That’s probably why he carried the puck more than he should… he didn’t trust his ‘advancing the play’ reads. Gilbert held his own switching sides and helped Greene look decent on the bottom pairing.

    sure…

    I go off looking to acknowledge namflashback for noting that many goals against have come right after the PP/PK, and he beats me to the line-up punch. ;-D

    L8r
    Louise

  16. IceDragoon says:

    Sorry, Asiaoil.

    I meant to address, “…need to stop the Gagner experiment or it will be a long season

    MacT is continuing to suggest that the NHL is the best place for Gagner to develop. Funny… ’cause as a player, MacT said… “the NHL is not a development league”.

  17. Vic Ferrari says:

    Mr DeBakey:

    You’re joking, no? On the off chance that you are not:

    Maybe he was looking tired because he was getting a lot of icetime. He played more 5v5 icetime in the 3rd period than most of the vets.

    One PP shift, which was the back half of the late powerplay.

    Seven EV shifts, four against Rolston’s line and two against Gaborik’s, just one vs the bottom six.

    I never bothered to check if he was out there for own zone draws and the like, but it is hard to imagine that he wasn’t, given those numbers.

    in terms of “v. Minny’s top six” icetime. In the third period this is how the rookies ranked:

    Pouliot 4.1
    Brodziak 2.6
    Cogliano 1.3
    Nilsson 0.9

    Think of this as grading by the coach, using the GPA scale. :)

  18. Vic Ferrari says:

    Louise:

    MacTavish has also said “the NHL is not a developmental league” as a coach as well. I like him, but he says a lot of things.

    That seems reasonable to me. I’d guess that Gagner sits and Horcoff will play, based on those lines. If Gagner does draw in it will be at the expense of Jacques or Nilsson, one would think.

    Sanderson and Brodziak with Reasoner on an unlikely tough minutes line I think. If they can handle the Sedins without bleeding too many scoring chances against it would be great. That would leave Horcoff’s line to take on Naslund, and he always gives up chances, or at least he did before Vigneault started grinding him down.

    We’ll see. Should be better than the Minny game anyways.

  19. Jonathan says:

    Regarding the NHL as a development league- although Vic’s right when he says MacT says a lot of things, Gagner is in a unique situation. Ideally, he’d be developing in the AHL, but if the choice is OHL or NHL, it seems clear to me he’ll develop far better in the NHL- at the expense of some points in the standings.
    I’m a little worried about the game tonight. The way Philly crushed Vancouver the other day they’ll be coming out with something to prove. (Much like Toronto the other night)

  20. Vic Ferrari says:

    jonathon:

    Point taken on the Gagner situation. I wish the national disgrace that is the CHL would just choose to dissolve, but since it won’t … I hope that some player would challenge the CHL’s right to prevent them from playing in the AHL.

    Also agreed on the VAN situation, it’s never a good thing to play against a team that’s coming off of a stomping.

  21. Dennis says:

    By the looks of that, I imagine 22 comes out for 89 and we go with a kids line for the soft min. In regards of the way this works with matchups, I have no idea how Vignault is running his bench though I can’t see him giving much time to his 4th line and I can’t see MacT not running the HorPensky trio out against the Sedins.

    This current look gives us three lines I’d semi trust at ES though. I think we have six forwards that can handle the tough sledding for sure and eventually I think that’s how things will shake out, especially at home. On the road it’s not that smart to jumble things like that becuase it leaves with two lines for raping and it means you’d have to go with a three line configuartion.

    In closing, I could also say that it took four scant games for our Pouliot to wind up on the 14-16 tandem like we thought he would after last year’s audition but I”ll hold off on that for now;_)

  22. Mr DeBakey says:

    You’re joking, no? On the off chance that you are not:

    Not Joking, quoting
    Quoting others
    I’m afraid I didn’t make myself perfectly clear.

    There’s the whole “Pouliot ain’t good enough” script
    - Bad pick [see Parise, Getzlaff]
    - out of shape, one week in California
    - passed by Cogs & Gags
    And so forth

    Last year there was Smith is old, slow & a bad leader…

  23. namflashback says:

    ice,

    thanks for the tire-pumping, sorry I stole your thunder on the lineups.

    Count me in the oilogosphere camp that think that Penner is alright on that 1-line gig. Sagarin (sample obviously very small) has the Oilers with a very tough schedule so far. Dustin didn’t shit himself in these four auditions (though I note that MacT ran Sanderson with Horcsky for a couple of shifts, I don’t think he was critical at all of Dustin’s play). He’s not as much of a offensive catalyst as I think Hemsky needs, but let’s give it some time.

    Tonight would be a great day to have 14-16 come to play. There’s no reason to let Vancouver’s back 6 forwards outplay the back 6 of Edmonton. The front 6 will have their hands full — so we need to win it down the roster.

  24. Master Lok says:

    Dennis,
    Instead of HorPensky, try PenCoffSky – rolls with the tongue a bit better.

  25. namflashback says:

    master lok,

    plus, that sounds all Russian. Grebeshov to Penkoffsky, score!

    to all,

    q&a with Pisani re: colitis on Oilers home page.

  26. Dennis says:

    Sounds like he’s a long way from coming back. Thanks for the link though.

    As for people saying we have a tough sked, when you’re one of the worst teams in the Conf, or at least you should be, then yeah, you’re gonna have a tough sked.

  27. Asiaoil says:

    Vic – actually the CHL should just become a real minor pro development league for young pros (18 plus) that largely replaces the AHL. After you turn 18 – if you want to play hockey for a living then you would go to the CHL – if you want an education then you would go to college in the US or Canada.

    Of course this will not happen because the CHL owners are making too much money exploiting 16 year olds and young adults by paying them nothing and selling tickets to eager fans. Canadians get all moral about child labor in developing countries but somehow it’s OK when we do it at home in the hockey puppy mill that is the CHL. Anyway – ongoing peeve of mine.

    As for the lines and d combinations – MacT seems to like to prove the obvious – but maybe this is how he keeps the room. Guys by and large get their shot from him and there is little room for griping if you simply couldn’t get it done.

    The absence of Moreau and Pisani exposes our paper-thin veteran depth – and eventually Lowe has to turn some of his stack of 7s and 8s into a jack or queen. Can’t see him doing anything until the 40 game mark though given his history.

    About MAP – anyone else noticing how he is being developed EXACTLY like Horcoff was by MacT. Horcoff played a lot of wing and secondary roles for his first few seasons while he learned his craft. I’d be delighted if MAP turned out to be a Horcoff with a better scoring touch. Early expectations are higher for MAP as a first round pick in a good draft – but expectations don’t give you 200 games of NHL experience which is what he needs to excel at the kind of game he’s being groomed for.

    We still need trades to deal with the obvious holes in the lineup – checking line RW and 2nd pair dman. A UFA to be RW like Lapointe would be nice for the 3rd line so that Brodziak could learn his craft with less pressure on the 4th line this year. A stay at home dman with wheels to pair with Souray would also be good. We have kids in the system who will eventually fill these roles – but we need help THIS YEAR – and we have spare assets to deal for guys that would keep us in games while the kids learn.

  28. IceDragoon says:

    nam…

    It’s all good.
    At my age, I should avoid thunder.
    ;-D

    Vic…

    I thought MacTavish was a brilliant player, but he got even smarter as a coach. He learned that “development” doesn’t become an adjective unless you add “al”.
    ;-p
    *iow… my oops*

    Perhaps in the ‘new’ NHL, he now sees an advantage.

    He has a few quirks that miff me, but I like him too. A smart fan can get more substance out of his words than anyone else’s in the organization. One can’t sink their teeth into spin, it’s ephemeral and aimed at the lowest common denominator of the fan base.

  29. Rube Foster says:

    I’m a little late on this but there was some discussion about the need to get Torres going?

    It appears that the consensus when it comes to lighting a fire under Rafi is the same solution that Oil used last year when they needed to get Sykora going or Horcoff going or anyone going for that matter. Put the guy on a line with Hemsky.

    Horc had a tough start on the offensive side of the ledger last year; the solution to his woes was to put him back with Hemsky. The price paid was that Sykora’s game fell apart completely when he was made Hemsky-less. As aside, has there been a worse Oiler line than Lupol-Sykora- Peterson in recent memory?

    The Oilers problem is thus, there is but one Ales. I’m sure a guy like Vic can run the analysis but I’d be curious to know the ratio of even strength goals scored when Hemmer’s on the ice as compared to when he’s not. Stoll racked up a bunch of points last year but how much of that came on the power play?

    The Oilers need ES goals from a line other than 83’s. I’m not about to let the ulta-inconsistent Mr. Torres off the hook but I suspect the answer to getting Torres going lies in the Zen like answer/question – What will it take to get Stoll going?

    Or maybe we just need to get Rafi a full time spot on the Daily Show, that’s easily the best performance he’s had this season.

  30. namflashback says:

    Rube,

    Actually, all it took was to put Horc and Smyth back together. That was the C-W pair that stirred many drinks. They were together (can’t recall their winger — assume it was Pisani) during that decent winning streak in November. Hemsky wasn’t with them then — and wouldn’t be until after both he and Smyth came back from their injuries after Christmas.

    Ironically, and quite unexpectedly — ES GD (ENs out) + 3
    – PP/PK GD -3
    – SO +1
    – EN EV

    Not saying that trend will last, and taking the PHI game out of it makes it much less rosy. However, results be results.

  31. ClaytonMagnet says:

    God bless Pisani…30 pounds! When you have little body fat to start with, that’s pretty staggering. Hope he pulls through.

    If Torres is going to ever pop a few, it’s probably against the Nuks, so let’s hope…

    As we know, MacT told Smid, via an on-air radio interview, no less, that he wasn’t being sent down… so by publicly alluding to Gagner’s chances of staying up this year, is he just trying to keep the kid motivated?

  32. Bruce says:

    “I suspect the answer to getting Torres going lies in the Zen like answer/question – What will it take to get Stoll going?”

    What got Stoll going last season was a commitment to physical play. He played outstanding hockey for 4-6 weeks, and all he talked about was that he wanted to initiate things physically, and the rest of his (substantial) game came along for the ride. Alas, the physical activity led to a concussion, a too-quick comeback and a serious relapse.

    So that’s gotta be a psychological question for him now, perhaps even at the subconcious level. But he’s gonna need to address it.

    But when Stoll and Torres were both playing aggressive hockey for a stretch last season, they were Oilers best line. Their frequent linemate Pisani is unavailable, but I’m thinking that since 14-16 are both primarily shooters it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to try 83 on the right side with them for awhile.

  33. Dennis says:

    As much as I love Horc and keeping that MP gives me reasons to love him as well, I don’t see any comparisons beyond their size and that being said I think MP’s skinner than Horc.

    Pouliot has the higher draft pedigree but Horc was only selected as low as he was becuase of some kind of knee injury, right? And I seem to remember Horc creating way more offensive chances than Pouliot has. In fact, in ’01 Horc played on a very good fourth line with BG and Murray and I believe Shawn scored a couple of goals that playoff season as well.

    I had to laugh about reading that Souray needs a stay at home partner because I think that Souray is the guy that should learn to stay at home. He should be the guy to impede forward progress or strip the opp of the puck and then make a little headman pass and get back to defendeing. Just like Hejda was doing last year. Souray can make his paper on the PP and then he should learn to behave at ES and let his partner handle the puck and MacT’s job is to make sure he has someone that can do it.

    I’m just not feeling the Lapointe love, AO. Maybe Desjardins has some nice praise for him or maybe he’s just being weighed down by a bad team but I don’t see much to like about him anymore.

    Finally, good point about Stoll coming alive once he started hitting and how is offensive relies on PP numbers.

  34. Rube Foster says:

    Yeah Bruce,
    I agree with you on Stoll playing his best when he’s physical. That game against the Hurricane’s last year is exhibit A in your hypothesis. The Oilers have a video guy on staff, he should sit Stoll down and show him some video of that stretch last year when he looked like Bryan Trottier part deux.
    Unfortunately, the thing about concussions is that once you’ve had a bad one or two you inevitably begin to understand, even if it is on a subconscious level, that your next concussion may very well be the last one of your career. Just ask Hilary Duff’s boyfriend’s brother.
    After Nash scrambled Pecca’s noggin it took him pretty much till the playoffs to find his game again. If Rafi’s success is hinged upon Stoll finding his physical edge he may be waiting for a bus that is running way late. In the mean time maybe Rafi could host Saturday Night Live?

  35. uni says:

    Last season he was with Hemsky for a bit – but Sykora just sucked all the air out of any line that included him and Hemsky – so that does not count much in my books

    AsiaOil, If memory serves Torres got bumped from the Hemsky line cause he couldn’t convert on all those sweet Hemmer dishes to save his life.

    Also they’ve been flashes where Nisson has sent a sweet pass or two and Torres wasn’t able to convert or get enough clearence.

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