Oilers Gone Wild

The Edmonton Oilers have signed D Cody Wild to a professional contract. He is rated as the 8th best prospect in the system by Guy Flaming in his recent Oilers top 20 at HF and his Desjardins’ NHLE for this season (82gp, 3-16-19) is ahead of the more heralded Jeff Petry (82gp, 2-14-16) and Taylor Chorney (82gp, 1-14-15).

I rated Wild as the #14 prospect on the Oilers list in December and would slot him at about #9 with all the graduations (I’d have Petry about #7 and Chorney #2).

Wild could easily end up being the best offensive defender of the three. Let’s look at each of their season stats for this year (this is “age 20″ for each of them):

  1. Taylor Chorney 38gp, 2-19-21, 18pims
  2. Jeff Petry 40gp, 3-20-23, 26pims
  3. Cody Wild 32gp, 4-18-22, 28pims

Guy Flaming has described him in the past like this: “Wild is a very smart defenseman who is blessed with natural offensive ability. He is an excellent skater with speed and is very active. One of Wild’s greatest attributes is his decision-making capability. While he is sound defensively and is willing to play the body, they are areas that Wild will need to continue to strengthen to succeed at the next level.”

So we have what is a fairly typical area to work on for young defensemen. It’s my opinion (based on the math) that Wild is the one defender of the group who is clearly more offense than defense and is closer to the Tom Poti tree than the Tom Gilbert tree. We’ll see.

Here’s a fun little exercise that might give some insight into an area of trouble for the 07-08 Edmonton Oilers. Here is a list of defensemen on the Oilers and Falcons roster who were born in 1983 or later:

  1. Tom Gilbert
  2. Denis Grebeshkov
  3. Matt Greene
  4. Joni Pitkanen
  5. Mathieu Roy
  6. Ladislav Smid
  7. Bryan Young
  8. Sebastien Bisallion
  9. Theo Peckham
  10. Cody Wild

As a comparison, here is a list of all the Calgary Flames and the AHL Flames born in 1983 or later:

  1. Dion Phaneuf
  2. Adam Pardy
  3. Tim Ramholt
  4. Brad Cole
  5. Tim Hambly
  6. Brett Palin
  7. Gord Baldwin
  8. Matt Pelech

NHL roster players for each team are in bold.

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29 Responses to "Oilers Gone Wild"

  1. Eetu says:

    I think there would be a much more positive tone to your exercise if you drew comparisons to the 2003-04 Flames D…

  2. Lowetide says:

    You mean the team that boasted Leopold, Lydman and Regehr?

  3. jon k says:

    Still not quite sure why Sutter dissembled that 2003-2004 D core. Still seems better than the current one, and it’s not like Lydman and Leopold ended up getting big raises either.

    Wild is a bit of wild card in my opinion (ugh). His offensive numbers fluctuated greatly with the goal totals of his club and given the notes of defensive liability that always accompany a review of his play, there’s reason to be wary.

    Then again, I could be way off. I think Petry is the best of the three and that it isn’t even close.

  4. uni says:

    Commodore and Lydman both became very solid cogs on defenses when they left Calgary for basically nothing. Commodore so much so that the Senators would rather have had him than Corvo on D, though a Stillman for secondary scoring in exchange for a young one time 20 goal scorer rounded out the trade.

    Good riddance to Gauthier; and he’s not done much since the lockout anyway except get top coin for extended periods of time in the AHL.

    Leopold got traded for Tanguay, so that one we’ll call a a win, especially since Leopold has mostly been injured for the Avs and hasn’t really done a whole heck of lot for them yet.

  5. Gord says:

    Why do you consider the age of our defensemen to be a problem???

    My philosophy is that once a player has two full seasons (160 games) under their belt, they are ready to take the next step… Our kids will have the following “games of experience” to start next season:

    271 Pitkanen
    151 Greene
    149 Smid
    100 Grebeshkov
    94 Gilbert

    By the trade deadline next season, we can add another 60 games to each of them – then make a decision whether we need to trade one for an upgrade…

    Nobody (including myself) believes we will win the Stanley Cup next year – getting playoff experience is the key…

    Two years from now is when we go for the brass ring – by then we will have a core of young, highly experienced defensemen as our core….

    One more time, where is the problem???

  6. DBO says:

    I may be worng but i don’t think LT is saying it’s a bad thing with all our youth. i believe the point of the post was to talk about how good our future looks with the kids we have, especially since we have 3 top end d prospects in college. Gives us options for acquiring a top end offensive winger.

  7. Lowetide says:

    My point is you can’t have THAT MUCH youth and be doing anything much. D development is always a problem (unless you are the 70s Habs who sent out Larry freaking Robinson) and there are too many guys in the same area of the curve.

    I know Pitkanen has lots of GP but history tells us those chaos plays he makes will be replaced by better decisions in a couple of years.

    The Oilers have exactly two defenders who have been through hell and back and I think they need at least one more.

  8. Gord says:

    My point is you can’t have THAT MUCH youth and be doing anything much.

    You were saying that at the beginning of the year & throughout… Now that our seniors & supposed leaders – Souray, Moreau & Horcoff are out for the season, our kids are the ones leading the charge & doing it effectively…

    Could we win the Stanley Cup this year “with this young team”??? Not a hope in he**…

    But add on another 160 games experience & trade for a missing piece, I am extremely comfortable this young talent can carry us deep into the playoffs two years from now…

    Although to be perfectly honest, I’d rather have Hejda on defense rather than Souray… But that is just switching seniors….

  9. Steve says:

    Wait, did the Oilers dip down to below fifty contracts while I wasn’t paying attention?

  10. Lowetide says:

    gord: I think these kids would develop quicker if there were an Igor Ulanov or a Cory Cross back there to calm things down on the third pairing and maybe even bring Jason Smith back. Would it kill us to back up the development enough so that 4 of the 7D were shaving?

    steve: Oilers losing Thoresen put them at 49, I believe.

  11. therealdeal says:

    I think your comparison would draw a more convincing conclusion if you could somehow argue the Flames defensive group is that far above the Oilers. I’d argue the top end is higher (Phaneuf, Regehr), but after that there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of difference.

  12. Lowetide says:

    therealdeal: We don’t know what they are, we really don’t. Smid and Greene are still developing and Gilbert has looked all world and then maybe not so much. Pitkanen has been wildly inconsistent but I’d keep him if he never improved from this day forward.

    Grebeshkov has settled in very nicely this season, I think we can say the Islanders made a mistake.

  13. Devin says:

    I think you’re right, LT. This group will still be bleeding GA next year. I’d propose a move for Kubina, say Moreau or Stoll + Smid or Greene for Kubina and maybe a pick. You could run these pairings:

    25-31
    37-77
    44-24
    (5/2 + 36)

    The cost would be something like

    4+5
    1.5+2.5
    5.4+2.7
    (1)
    = ~22M in cap space
    Rich no doubt, but likely a dominant corps with NO holes. Moving 5/2 + 14/16 would cover 3.5 of Kubina’s 5M anyway. Even better would be to move Souray too, but that ain’t gonna happen.

    As for the #3C role – what do you think of Bobby Holik on a 1yr deal? Guy’s old but still tough as nails and gets the job done in the hard matchups. Get rid of Stoll, sign Holik, and you’re looking pretty good for 09, especially if you can dump Moreau’s salary in favour of Raffi on that 3rd line.

    27-10-83
    13-89-12
    14-Holik-34
    20-51-46
    (78)

    That’s about 27.5M with Holik at 3.5M, which would jam us right up to a 53M cap. I’d actually give Holik an over-35 contract laden with incentives, ideally.

    It’s possible if Roli finishes up the season with a few strong games we could move him at the draft for a pick as well. That would introduce the cap space to make all this easy enough.

  14. DBO says:

    So with all the youth, both up front and on the back will KLowe actually do the 3 for 1 deal many of us want? I agree that too much youth eventually catches up with you (see Chicago this year). Personally I think once you add Souray to the D, which pushes one of Smid, Greb or greene to #7, we are fine. Play Souray as a 3rd pair at EV, and play the heck out of him on the PP (takes Stoll’s spot).
    My issue, is there a top end player we could get by using our depth? And who do you move out of the top 6 for that player? i mean, with Horc between 27-83, do you break up the kids? A month ago i would have said yes, but now?

  15. DBO says:

    Crazy thought, but with Malkin an RFA soon and wanting Crosby/Ovechkin money is there any chance KLowe makes a pitch for him (speculation by Spector on his site that the Pens could shop him due to salary)? And what would it take? Do you give up: Cogs, Greb, Schremp, and 2 1st round picks? (Essentially 5 1st round picks like an offer sheet, but at least 2 NHL ready players). Or would they go: Horcoff, Pitkanen, Shremp and a 1st?

  16. doritogrande says:

    dbo: Nothing short of Ales freaking Hemsky would cause the Penguins to get off the crapper, and that’s just the start of the deal, which would probably include another 3 first rounders (or previous first round picks).

    steve: Don’t quote me on it, but I’m of the belief that Wild’s contract does not count against the 50 contract rule, as it is a Pro Tryout contract. He’s also exempt from Springfield’s Clear Day roster, allowing them to slot him in whenever they feel like it.

  17. Bruce says:

    Personally I think once you add Souray to the D, which pushes one of Smid, Greb or greene to #7, we are fine.

    I agree, DBO. The competition would be fierce among those guys, and it’s hard to single out who would wind up in the 7 hole if all hands were healthy. All appear to be NHL defencemen to me; the three guys you named plus Gilbert will enter next season with ~100-150 NHL games under their belt and should be ready to make that next step forward. There’s a nice mix of toughness and skill among the group. I’m not at all sure a lot of tinkering would be necessary, ASSUMING that Lowe can sign 25, 37, and 77, all of whom are RFA.

    Lowe might wish he had some of Souray’s coin to spend come the off-season. That said, I think a healthy (sic) Souray adds quite a bit to this group. If only …

  18. Dennis says:

    You honestly think Souray adds “quite a bit”, Bruce?

    Oilers PP has been humming without him, Souray’s at best a 4 when it comes to EV and he can kill penalties.

    “Quite a bit” is stretching it, don’t you think?

    On Kubina: I looked at his numbers awhile back and I don’t know why he gets so much hate. I don’t know what he used to do at real evens when he played for TB but I can’t quibble with what he’s done for TO desjardins wise.

    Also, there were supposedly two teams super interested in Kubina at the deadline: San Jose and Edmonton.

    BTW, I agree with Lain, here. If we’re serious about winning a playoff round in ’09, we need another seasoned D. It doesn’t have to be someone in their 30′s — fuck, Pitkanen isn’t an old-timer by any stretch and I’d love to have another Joni — and personally, I’d love to have Brad Stuart here. He’s not a beast but he can be physical and he’s a fine passer too. And that’s something that’s a bonus on any team but on an Oilers team that can skate and create, it’s really something you’d notice here.

  19. Bruce says:

    Dennis: “Quite a bit” meaning not commensurate with his salary, but “quite a bit” in terms of what he can contribute to a group of 7 guys. The salary is a mistake, but to a certain extent it’s beside the point; if Souray can contribute at the level of a $3 MM defenceman that’s gonna make a signifcant difference to the unit. And even in limited viewing this year, I saw a lot to like about his game. I think he’s got character and is the kind of player we wish was there in big games. Unfortunately, we never got that chance this year … I hope it changes soon The money’s already spent.

  20. uni says:

    Grebeshkov has settled in very nicely this season, I think we can say the Islanders made a mistake.

    I was worried quite a bit that Bergeron and a 3rd for a guy that couldn’t crack the lineup on the Island was a mistake; glad that I look to be wrong. That said that move for Bergeron worked out short term in that he was a PPG player for them and helped them to the playoffs and a quick exit. Personally I’d be a happier Isles fan if no Oilers had come to the Island and Nilsson, Grebeskov, a higher 1st round pick, and even O’Marra were still hanging around.

    I’d propose a move for Kubina, say Moreau or Stoll + Smid or Greene for Kubina and maybe a pick.

    That is interesting, although I think Kubina has a NTC and isn’t about to waive it, and especially not to come to Edmonton. McCabe is the only guy that would consider it, and rumour is that it’s only cause his wife wants to move back to the NY area.

  21. Devin says:

    Kubina’s NTC expires after the season, afaik.

  22. therealdeal says:

    therealdeal: We don’t know what they are, we really don’t. Smid and Greene are still developing and Gilbert has looked all world and then maybe not so much. Pitkanen has been wildly inconsistent but I’d keep him if he never improved from this day forward.

    Grebeshkov has settled in very nicely this season, I

    I agree with you wholehartedly, my point was simply that when you look at the overall results between the two defensive groups there isn’t very much difference between them.

  23. therealdeal says:

    personally, I’d love to have Brad Stuart here

    Not to be rude, but are you f’ing kidding me? Have you seen Stuart play? Have you seen his track record?

  24. Dennis says:

    Yeah, I have seen his track record. Or at least I know he played great down the stretch for Cgy last season after a couple of initial rocky outings.

    Bruce: I’m still not buying it and I’m surprised you’re trying to sell it. I wouldn’t insult you to the point that I thought for a second you were suggesting Souray was worth the money; but I was pointing out things he’s good at and one of those is something we’ve gotten good at without him.

  25. doritogrande says:

    Wild got his first taste of professional action last night. 2PIM on the night, as per theahl.com

  26. Bruce says:

    Bruce: I’m still not buying it and I’m surprised you’re trying to sell it.

    Dennis: If I can agree that the guy isn’t worth the money, can you agree that he isn’t entirely useless? To some extent we have to separate the two and realize that the guy is going to be around anyway, so where does he fit in.

    As you put it:

    Oilers PP has been humming without him, Souray’s at best a 4 when it comes to EV and he can kill penalties.

    I went to BtN to review what he did for us in those 26 games and I find that at evens, Souray had the toughest QUALCOMP and the lowest QUALTEAM of any Oiler defenceman. On the powerplay he (still) has the best GF/60 and +/60 of any Oiler defenceman. And on the PK he has the fewest GA/60 of any Oiler defenceman, indeed of any Oiler penalty killer. There are other stats that say other things — e.g. Pitkanen is out best PK defenceman based on -/60, a bit of a surprise — but there’s enough positive things on Sheldon’s list to suggest he’s capable of playing middle pairing at evens and helping on both special teams. Come to think of it, those are exactly the things you said he could do; so why should I have to sell him to you?? :)

    Checking out TOI/60, which is skewed a little against Souray since he had a couple of very short nights to bring his averages down a little, I find he still leads the team in TOI/G, SH TOI/G, PP TOI/G, and ranks (drum roll) 4th among Oiler defencemen in ES TOI/G. Sounds like MacT is on your wavelength there, Dennis.

    Souray is in a virtual dead heat with team leaders Pitkanen and Gilbert around 0.4 PPG, but in his own zone he more resembles Staios or Greene as a guy who engages. That’s not a useless player in my view. Due to the nature of his injury I don’t think we saw the physical aspects of his game that he is capable of, but he may have to be smarter about that in future. When healthy he’s a real strong mofo capable of just shrugging an opponent off the puck and on his ass and walking out of the zone.

    I don’t want to make him something he’s not, he has weaknesses to his game besides the injury factor which was the most unacceptable consideration of the big contract in my view. Skating at walking speed being one of them; he’s not particularly agile, and can resemble as pylon at times. He gambles a bit too much for my liking, but sometimes it pays off; he’s a high-risk/high-reward kind of guy. (The highest reward of all being his salary.) But to equate a flat-out bad contract with a flat-out bad hockey player would be a mistake IMO, Dennis.

  27. dstaples says:

    Excellent post on Souray, Bruce. Glad to see that the numbers matched up with impression of the guy, that he played hard minutes and played them well, and that he was as strong as anyone on the Oilers powerplay.

    It’s important to separate the two issues: Souray’s contract and Souray’s play.

    One thing about his contract — if the guy is injured and can’t play, his contract comes of our books, and I think that’s as likely an outcome for Souray as anything.

    In this way, all teams who sign free agents at around age 30, such as Edmonton with Souray, and Colorado with Smyth, are somewhat protected.

  28. Oilman says:

    dstaples….I believe somewhat is the key word….I think the Oilers would be allowed to exceed the cap by Souray’s dollars, but Souray would still be on the payroll.

  29. Dennis says:

    Staples: the idea of Souray having to retire is something some of us cling to like an old security blanket but it’s not a likely enough of a scnario to inspire any real hope, either.

    Has Mike Ratjhe officially called it quits? I guess he was over 30 by the time that came around but he’s the only guy I can think off off-hand.

    Bruce: The Oilers PP has still been good without Souray so my point is we don’t need him in that realm and he won’t likely improve it by any measure. I must say I was pleased and shocked by how awful Souray wasn’t and going forward I hope MacT plays him based on his abilities rather than his contract, ie he should be given the lion’s share of time on ST but strictly used as a third pairing D.

    As an aside, though, I still don’t think he’d make “quite a bit” of difference but if we agree that 2 and 5 are our worst EV dmen, how much difference would Souray make if you put him in the place of the worst of those two?

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