Center H’Ice

This is Ralph Backstrom. When I was a kid he was the 3rd line center for Montreal, behind HOFers Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard. The Habs were deep down the middle, and by the mid-70s they had turned over the names but remained strong at C (Jacques Lemaire, Peter Mahovlich, Doug Risebrough by 1974) forever.

Edmonton’s Oilers have a quality NHL center in Shawn Horcoff and then several candidates who have one or more issues in terms of 08-09.

Jarrett Stoll has a wayward noggin, Andrew Cogliano is a little shy on experience and size, Sam Gagner is also undersized but an enormous talent, Kyle Brodziak appears to be the new Rem Murray, Marty Reasoner is a UFA and left his good knee somewhere along the boards awhile back, Marc Pouliot can’t seem to find fourth gear, Rob Schremp apparently doesn’t have one and on it goes.

I think the key players at center are Horcoff, Cogliano and Brodziak. If Horcoff can do the heavy lifting, then Stoll becomes expendable. If Cogliano can post good numbers as the center on the soft parade line then Stoll becomes expendable. If Brodziak can center the checking line and pop a few while staying in the black in the plus minus then Stoll becomes expendable. Gagner may play center or the wing, but his role and Stoll’s are not really related. Pouliot and Schremp have yet to establish themselves and Reasoner hasn’t been invited into the conversation at this time.

A lot of Oilers fans are saying that Jarret Stoll’s health is a big question mark for next season. It seems to me that Stoll’s EV/60 number (.76, same as Souray) erases the question mark.

Despite the issues facing all behind Horcoff, they are better options for 08-09 than Jarret Stoll. He may find his career and once again establish himself as an NHL regular, but the price required for the Edmonton Oilers to retain his services is too dear. Better to endure the inexperience of Brodziak and Pouliot, better to wait for the development of Cogliano and Gagner, better to sign Reasoner and hope he can hang on for another year, better to rely on Shawn Horcoff.

The Edmonton Oilers can’t afford to sign Jarret Stoll and be wrong.

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8 Responses to "Center H’Ice"

  1. Black Dog says:

    Lots of ways for the Oilers to go when it comes to centres LT. I’m guessing that Stoll does come back though. I can’t see them giving up on him for nothing and that is all they would get for him at this point.

    If he bombs again then you know he’s done. Cut him loose early and give the minutes between Pisani and Torres or Moreau to Pouliot or Brodziak.

    If he plays like he did before he got dinged then you can keep him or you can trade him for value.

    I’d say he’s not part of the future of this club but I think they’re not done with him yet.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Count me among those who hope Stoll comes back another season- because I’m really not ready to see Kyle Brodziak tossed into the #3 centre role just yet.

    From Desjardins:
    GFON/60: 2.76
    GAON/60: 3.44

    However strong Brodziak’s play was toward the tail end of the season, he needs another year.

  3. DeBakey says:

    Oddly enough
    I disagree with the Black Dog on this one

    I think Stoll does have value;
    There are always teams looking for face-off Aces.
    Toss in his PP & PK work
    and his potential – I can see teams giving up something useful for him.

  4. Asiaoil says:

    Complicating it all (or not) is the fact that Stoll is UFA in just over 12 months unless he signs a multi-year deal which would be an insane thing for the Oilers to do. Even if he plays better we would have to choose between Stoll and Horcoff anyway and we all know how that turns out.

    No the Oilers tried to pump Stoll as much as possible this past year to little effect – he had the most PP minutes on the entire team. Unfortunately Stoll decided to go all JFJ at ES and wrecked the dump part of the plan.

    He’s gone sooner or later and the team should just get on with the more important business of resigning Horcoff and developing the young centers instead of wasting more time on Stoll. If we want a vet 3rd line center – then let’s go get a real one because that has never been Stoll strength in any case – it just hasn’t.

  5. Dennis says:

    I’m one of the guys who doesn’t think 16′s done but like AO said, we’re sorta backed into a corner by his FA clock.

    I’m not sure I’d sign him to a two year deal but I might be swayed if we’re getting a super-good deal.

    Of course I wouldn’t bring him back at the expense of Horc so let’s see what they plan to do with 10 and that will lead to everything else down the middle.

  6. GSC says:

    Haven’t the Oilers come out and said they want to give Stoll another year? According to the brass, he was much better at the end of the year and that was cause to maybe lock him up for another year at a reduced rate and see what happens.

    Knowing how often MacTavish will use Reasoner in roles that he’s completely not suited for (extra attacker, power play), I’d rather have Stoll but not at a $2+ MIL salary. Again, as LT pointed out in his Lowe assessment post, Lowe’s ridiculous signings of Souray and Penner has the club in real cap trouble with the likes of Horcoff set to become a UFA.

    Stoll and Torres need to be sent packing, as does Roloson. Cap room MUST be made.

  7. Sean says:

    Ya the Oilers are in a difficult position with Stoll. I used to be in the “dont sell low” crowd but I think developing other options may be a better move. Sourray will take Stolls PP time and we dont really need to pay a guy 2 million to kill penalties. Bring back 19 for half the price and let Pouliot and Schremp battle for remaining icetime.

    I really want to see 14-51-34 but maybe thats just me wishing 51 was 37. That line was a beauty.

    LT, looking forward to your LW analysis :) I guess there isnt many decisions if GX doesnt sign.

  8. Dennis says:

    Sean: Yeah, I feel ya on the 14-34 winger combo. I’d like to see if those guys could get it going again and it would be nice to put 51 there though with the chem he had with 20, you’d think they’ll have to play together again next year.

    Fuck, maybe MacT rolls with a 20-51-34 tough min line and has a 4th line of 18-78-19 and that means the 14-16 combo are out the door as salary dumps in return for picks OR just as salary dumps and then we sign a Dman on the free market.

    There are a lot of ways this team could roll and the only hint towards 16 Not being back is that Lowe came out swinging early with new pacts for 12-37-77 and last we heard from Matheson there had been no contract talks with 16′s agent.

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