You Bettor, You Bet

This is Todd Marchant, maybe age 20. Do you remember him when he arrived with the Oilers? He had the blazing speed AND played on a skill line and popped some goals. 27 points in half a season.

Todd Marchant was among a plethora of young forwards the Edmonton Oilers took a look at from 1993-1996. This group had considerable sustain, making the playoffs each season 1997-2001 and Ryan Smyth hung around long enough for the thrilling SCF by that beauty team in the spring of 2006.

I think now might be a good time to revisit this time in Oilers history, since “prolonged audition” is likely what is straight ahead for this organization.

1992-1993 was the nadir (for me, anyway) of this organization. Multiple players, multiple losses and the following season multiple coaches. That 1992-93 team lost 50 games, incredible considering how only 3 years earlier the Oilers were on top of the hockey world.

Sound familiar?

The 1993-94 team had a lot more promise than the previous year, with Doug Weight and Jason Arnott giving a clue about a bright, wonderful future. They weren’t the only ones. Steve Rice, Zdeno Ciger, Dean McAmmond, Kirk Maltby, Todd Marchant and others were on that team, and more came in 1994 and 1995 and 1996.

Would you like the entire list from 93-94? Okay, here’s the list of forwards who were not established NHLers when they arrived in Edmonton and in bold the ones who made it as NHLers:

  • Jason Arnott, Zdeno Ciger, Steve Rice, Dean McAmmond, Kirk Maltby, Vladimir Vujtek, Brent Grieve, Scott Thornton, Louie DeBrusk, Peter White, Shjon Podein, Roman Oksiuta, Todd Marchant, Josef Cierny, Brad Zavisha, Alexander Kerch, Tyler Wright.

Some of the guys in bold you could argue over (Tyler Wright), and Ciger had a couple of nice years but he had only 2 seasons above 55 NHL games and despite terrific skills couldn’t establish himself for long despite 352 NHL games. Why? Contract disputes, indifference and general idiocy associated with the very young and the very stupid. That’s what you never know about kids, who has their head on straight and who is an assclown. Those who remember Ciger will know I’m not lying when stating that Zdeno Ciger had enough natural talent to rank in the top 2 on that list (Arnott) and that Maltby, Thornton, Podein and Tyler Wright passed more talented fellows on that list on their way to solid NHL careers as useful players.

Now, let’s list off all the players on the current roster who are not yet established as NHL players, along with a few from the AHL we may see before the end of the season:

  • Jonas Almtorp, Troy Bodie, Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Stephane Goulet, JF Jacques, Fredrik Johansson, Colin McDonald, Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra, Marc Pouliot, Liam Reddox, Rob Schremp, Patrick Thoresen, Slava Trukhno, Zack Stortini.

I’ve bolded Cogliano and Gagner because, well, duh! but for the rest on this list I have a few questions.

  1. Which two of these players (excluding Cogliano and Gagner) do you believe will get the most in terms of their NHL career out of this season, and why?
  2. If there were an expansion draft tomorrow and you (as GM of the Las Vegas Harlots) could choose only one player (once again, excluding Cogliano and Gagner), which one would you choose, and why?
  3. Which of these players is the modern Zdeno Ciger?
  4. Which of these players is the modfern Tyler Wright?
  5. If you could choose between the 1993 version of Weight/Arnott or the 2007 version of Cogliano/Gagner, which would you choose and why?

Thanks in advance.

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17 Responses to "You Bettor, You Bet"

  1. sir john a. says:

    LT:

    First time poster, long-time reader.

    This has nothing to do with your post, but I thought I’d post it here so you’d read it.

    I am generally impressed with your reasoning and analysis, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why you’re so impressed with Ales Hemsky.

    To my eye, the kid is absolutely lost and doesn’t appear keen to find his way. Yes, he’s got talent, but cripes he’s got the hockey sense of a ham sandwich.

  2. Lowetide says:

    sir john a: Great handle, one of the most interesting characters in CDN history (along with Riel, Trudeau and Diefenbaker).

    As for Hemsky, I think the problem right now is that he’s got a LW with the hockey sense of a ham sandwich. Hemsky’s hockey IQ is off the map imo, but it’s a question of context.

    I’ll make this statement and have zero fear about it: IF Ales Hemsky had Horcoff and a quality LW (say Ryan Smyth) and played against soft opposition he’d finish in the top 10 in league scoring.

    Before you disagree, consider this: in 05-06, when Hemsky played with quality, he finished the season SIXTH in powerplay assists and tied for 15th (with Sedin, Pronger, Naslund and Cheechoo) in powerplay points.

    He’s easily the best player the Oilers have, and is not able to lift this bunch above the fray every night. His numbers are not strong so far this year but the effort is there and the results will come.

    What needs to happen? Luck needs to turn and he needs someone aside from Dustin Penner on LW. I’d bet money on Hemsky any day.

  3. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    1 – Pouliot – because coach needs him to. ;-D He looked to be outplayed in TC, (heck, MacT hung anchors on him) and yet, he wasn’t cut.

    2 – Pouliot – smart, versatile centre in the mould of a Horcoff.

    3 & 4 – ???

    5 – Cogliano & Gagner – IQ

  4. Lowetide says:

    While I’m here, might as well answer the questions.

    1. Which two of these players (excluding Cogliano and Gagner) do you believe will get the most in terms of their NHL career out of this season, and why?

    ANSWER: I’ll say Pouliot. Don’t know the disconnect between coach and player but the absence of alternatives clears the mind. Marc Pouliot belongs on the top 9 on this team, so either Lowe deals for someone, Pouliot plays or something is very very wrong with this organization.

    2. If there were an expansion draft tomorrow and you (as GM of the Las Vegas Harlots) could choose only one player (once again, excluding Cogliano and Gagner), which one would you choose, and why?

    ANSWER: Pouliot. If I was more secure in Pouliot’s NHL offense his name would be in bold, but he’s coming up on 82gp now and hasn’t delivered enough offense (career totals: 58gp, 5-7-12) to satisfy a top 2line role. Having said that I don’t have much doubt he can play.

    3. Which of these players is the modern Zdeno Ciger? Robert Nilsson. He’s had two meatball pitches down the pipe and swing through both. A whole SEASON with the Islanders and he was handed a job on the 2line and didn’t get it done. I expect he gets one more chance with MacT this season but this is a damn shame. Ciger had a sputtering start to his NHL career too btw, but did put up points.

    4. Which of these players is the modern Tyler Wright?

    ANSWER: Wright made himself into an extremely useful player, smart without the puck and energy every shift. I’ll say Liam Reddox is the best candidate among the current crop, although Wright was a first rounder.

    5. If you could choose between the 1993 version of Weight/Arnott or the 2007 version of Cogliano/Gagner, which would you choose and why?

    ANSWER: It’s a very tough choice. Weight was an absolute beauty player and Arnott had a stunning rookie year. Gagner is already establishing himself at almost a year younger than Arnott was in 1993 and Cogliano looks like a strong Calder candidate although it’s early.

    I’ll go with the current group because they’ve transitioned (so far) without injury or attitude.

  5. Lowetide says:

    Louise: lol. Geez you’re smart.

  6. MikeP says:

    1 – Pouliot. Smart player, smart enough to get PK time on one of the best in the league last year. Doesn’t bowl you over with anything but has a bit of everything and seems to have some try.

    2 – Pouliot, same reasons, although I don’t think any team with him in the top 6 is going to go very far, unfortunately.

    3 – Schremp.

    4 – Pouliot, right down to the round selected.

    5 – Weight and Arnott. I hope that I have to eat those words in 5 years, but fear that I won’t.

  7. IceDragoon says:

    Dustin Penner is a lot smarter than you think, Lain. Plus… he hasn’t been on Hemsky’s LW since early against the Wild.

    83′s first three games with 27 – 3 points…
    last three games without 27 – 0 points.

    Penner may be raw, having just over one year and two playoffs of NHL experience, but he’s no dummy. And, when MacT had last change against against the Canucks, 10 – 27 – 89 were going over the boards when the Sedins stepped on the ice.

    Last night’s third Canuck goal – We’re in the O zone, Penner just makes it into the zone replacing Schremp when Pitkanem gives up the puck. Naslund bears down and Kesler and Morrison change out for H Sedin & Pyatt. Cogliano stays with Naslund while Hemsky goes for the change & you can just see Gagner (83′s replacement) streaking from the bench as Pyatt scores.

    Point is… even on the road MacT tried to get 10 – 27 – 89 out against the Sedins.

    Another thing that tends to be rough with a young team… line changes.

    Louise

  8. IceDragoon says:

    lol. Geez you’re smart.

    ummm… Takes one to know one?
    ;-D

  9. Lowetide says:

    Louise: I remember that play, it looked like lacrosse with the line changes on both sides lol. I’m not really down on Penner to the point of “ham sandwich” but my gift for hyperbole got the better of me.

    I do like Penner, and won’t pick on him so much once I know where Anaheim is picking next summer.

  10. IceDragoon says:

    I do like Penner, and won’t pick on him so much once I know where Anaheim is picking next summer.

    Dwelling on coulda/shoulda/wouldas is an exercise in futility.

    Life’s too short.
    :-)

  11. Bruce says:

    re: Penner, I had a couple of nice things to say about him last night based on half-watching the game (it was on in the background, with distractions). Since I was up real late, I watched the HNiC “replay”, (game action compressed into one hour) and focussed exclusively on Penner when he was out there. Which is to say, almost anytime in the chosen game action where the Oilers were doing anything positive. He had a *great* first period, not only the one-on-one play on Krajicek but one sequence where he absolutely blew off Daniel Sedin three times on one shift, overpowering him in the corner and bursting out for two good shots. He did a great job controlling the puck along the boards, using his feet and a quick stick as well as a strong sense of body position to protect the puck. He made a couple of real sharp passes, including a beauty to Gagner in the high slot for a bullet one-timer. And he battled his way to the front of the crease to provide heavy shade on Luongo, esp. on the PP. What he didn’t do was put the puck in the net, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. This guy is a mountain with soft hands, and if he plays consistently with the level of desire he showed last night Oiler fans will learn to like him a whole lot.

  12. Mustafa Hirji says:

    1992-1993 wasn’t just the nadir of a 3 year plummet: after our SC win in 1990, we made the final four in both 1991, and 1992. So in one season we went from being a final four team to 50 losses!

    That was the season where I never had any optimism in the team. In future years, there was hope that some players would become stars (Arnott, Weight, Marchant, etc.) and we would often play well against good teams.

    Second, Doug Weight played the end of the 1992-1993 season with us so you might want to include him on that list.

    On Penner: he can’t skate. He’s great along the boards, holding onto the puck (no one seems to be able to rock him!). But he’s like a tank rumbing along while Hemsky is miles ahead of him. I really wonder if Cogliano, or my preference, Sanderson would be a better fit. I want Sanderson because he probably has the hockey instincts to find open space and crash the net effectively and is a proven 30 goal scorer, and managed 25 just a couple of seasons ago (I’m willing to ignore last season because the Flyers were so bad, they probably pulled him down with them). Torres might also be a good fit for Hemsky and worth another try (I don’t think they’ve played together since early last season).

    I’m not sure where I’d put Penner though. Stoll’s pretty fast and I think he fits better with Torres.

  13. therealdeal says:

    2. If there were an expansion draft tomorrow and you (as GM of the Las Vegas Harlots) could choose only one player (once again, excluding Cogliano and Gagner), which one would you choose, and why?

    Brodziak – fairly big, good speed, pretty good decision making. Could fill a number of roles.

    3. Which of these players is the modern Zdeno Ciger?

    Schremp in my opinion, not willing to do what it takes to suceed. Maybe Schremp isn’t even good enough to be considered in this category though.

    4. Which of these players is the modfern Tyler Wright?

    Thoresen or O’Marra – Thoresen showed he can play last season. O’Marra I believe has the ability to play an energy role (or perhaps better) but he’s more of a gamble especially since the accident.

    5. If you could choose between the 1993 version of Weight/Arnott or the 2007 version of Cogliano/Gagner, which would you choose and why?

    Tough choice. I already think Cogliano has been one of the best Oilers this year, and I’ve seen some slick stuff from Gagner. But the fact is that Weight has been a very good hockey player for a very long time, and Arnott has had brushes with greatness and has generally been very good. Most teams with that sort of a one two combo would be very successful. I think the smart man bets on Weight and Arnott.

    Plus, one in the hand…

  14. polsy says:

    Hemsky is verging on top ten scoring talent, but will not and could not even Smyth. Why? Every top ten scorer has a linemate who is in the top 20-25 in scoring. The very few exceptions will score 40+ goals, and we all know Hemsky will not. There are no other candidates on the oilers to get into the top 20. In two seasons Hemsky will be in the top ten in scoring. Gagner will become a legitimate first line center, and Penner will start earning his contract by flirting with a 40 goal season. Until then we’ll have to be satisfied with him going in 1 on 2 beating a defenceman too late and have no one crashing the net to pick up his garbage.

  15. Rube Foster says:

    “When I say I love you! You scream…”

    LT,
    You’re not letting the Vegas Harlots have a crack at the Russians?

    I think Grebs and Mihknov on talent alone belong at the top of that group. Both are presently being neglected by the organization for reason’s that may or may not be justifiable. I fell for Mihknov last year and would love to find out if he’s the second coming of Roman Oksuita or if he can be a real player in the NHL. Leading your team in points in the RSL is no small feat, could he possibly be the answer to the troublesome question of who can play wing with Ales?
    If Cogs and Gagne have careers on par with Weight and that guy who wasn’t really into it than we should all wash Pendergast’s feet. They don’t need to be better, almost as good would suffice.
    Lets not pull the plug on Penner just yet. His sustained excellence in the playoffs for the past two years shows us this guy is good. He’s no Lupie, relax let him find a groove and enjoy.
    Didn’t Ciger get home sick? Didn’t he leave Edmonton to go play back home in Slovakia? In that respect maybe he’s most similar to my guy Mihknov. Or maybe his wife prongered him into leaving Edmonton? Ciger had those beautiful hands and great offensive instincts but man, I think he played half a year without getting a penalty or something ridiculous like that. That doesn’t happen to a guy getting top six minutes if he’s battleing for the puck.
    All this reminiscing about the early 90′s Oilers makes me think back to that line of Pearson, Weight and Rice. Poor Doug Weight, he spent a whole year setting those guys up and got about fifty cents on the dollar in return. In his five game audition perhaps Son of Kenta was more 93/94 Weight than Ciger. I can’t help feeling that if Stoll and Torres had been more on their game, Nilsson may still be singing Me and My Arrow in Edmonton.

  16. Jonathan says:

    1. Pouliot – all the reasons that everyone’s already listed.
    2. Trukhno – high risk/high reward possibility here. Although, if there is a lack of established NHL’ers among the rest of my picks, Pouliot probably gets selected.
    3. Rob Schremp – If there’s one guy on the Oilers who just won’t get it despite talent, it will be Schremp.
    4. Thoreson – A useful player in many areas who doesn’t add a lot of scoring. We’ll see him in the NHL again, though maybe not with Edmonton.
    5. Cogliano/Gagner – If these guys turn out to be the equivalent of Arnott/Weight I’ll be pretty happy, but of the 4 I’d say Gagner has the highest ceiling and I expect Cogliano to be a better all-round player than Arnott (in good time of course)

  17. Dennis says:

    I’ll admit that it’s gonna take a lot to win me over to SOK’s side but even with 14-16 struggling, it’s not like I’ve seen Nilsson throwing out all kids of nice set-up pases and as I said before, once things break into a cycle and grind, it’s just as well for him to go to the bench.

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