Port Side

This is Bobby Hull with hair and a Stanley, so we know it’s 1961. The Edmonton Oilers have had more than their share of truly exceptional hockey players since 1979 but LW collective has been less impressive than the other two forward slots.

Esa Tikkanen, Ryan Smyth, Craig Simpson. Anyone else? And you can’t really count the time Messier spent at LW because it was trumped by those years at center.

Left Wing on the current roster is pretty strong save for injury (Moreau), attitude/confidence (Torres) and conditioing (Penner). There’s also Jean-Francois Jacques and Sam Gagner who played there (and effectively) late in the year.

First things first: I don’t think they can count on Ethan Moreau next season. He’ll be 33 in December and despite three more years on his contract ($2M cap hit each season) there’s no reason to believe he’s going to play more than 50 games. If healthy, he can bring a physical element to the game, supply quality penalty killing while chipping in 15 goals and of course he’s the captain. On the downside he takes a few bad penalties every season and of course it’s 2M large spent on someone you can’t count on.

So, let’s organize them in some kind of rational order:

  1. Penner
  2. Gagner
  3. Torres
  4. Moreau
  5. Glencross
  6. Jacques

I think the Oilers need to have an NHL calibre left winger for the 4line aside from Moreau for 08-09. That means keeping both Torres (2.25M cap hit) and Glencross (I’ve pegged his price tag as 1.8M, others believe he’ll get less than one million) unless they truly believe Jacques can step up and play a role.

On the subject of the Glencross contract, I wanted to post an item from Robin Brownlee in his “Around the Rink” blog: Curtis Glencross was a nice fit on the fourth line after coming from Columbus, but if he wants close to $2 million a season, and I’m told he does, he’s over-pricing himself by $600,000 to $700,000.

I don’t think there’s any doubt Glencross could get a better UFA deal than some of the numbers being tossed around by Oiler fans. If Kevin Lowe can get him to sign a contract anywhere near 1M he’s Sam Pollock. If the Oilers keep Glencross (and deal Stoll as was discussed when we dealt with center) things might look like this:

  1. Horcoff-Penner
  2. Cogliano-Gagner
  3. Brodziak-Torres
  4. Pouliot-Glencross
  5. Moreau as an extra

Is that a better lineup than booting Glencross and keeping Stoll? That lineup might look like this:

  1. Horcoff-Penner
  2. Cogliano-Gagner
  3. Stoll-Torres
  4. Brodziak-Moreau
  5. Pouliot

I think it comes down to Glencross V. Stoll and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

NEXT UP: RIGHT WING

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28 Responses to "Port Side"

  1. Jonathan says:

    I think it comes down to Glencross V. Stoll and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

    I’ve been in favour of letting GlenX walk if the number goes higher than 1.5-1.6, but at the same time I’ve advocated hanging on to Stoll at 2.2.

    I think we’re a stronger lineup with Stoll than with Glencross; we’re younger up the middle than on LW, and I think Stoll’s ceiling is a little higher.

    But, looking at it in a Stoll vs. Glencross light, maybe they’re better off trading Stoll for picks and resigning Glencross, because if Glencross walks we get absolutely nothing in return.

    Still, if Glencross seriously wants 2 million a season, you ship him off. He couldn’t get minutes in Columbus prior to coming here, and aside from this stretch run he’s never showed abilities above the 4th line level. It would be the same mistake that Lowe made with Pisani and Moreau, and as much as I love what he brings to the table, the odds are really good he never lives up to the contract.

  2. Bruce says:

    you can’t really count the time Messier spent at LW because it was trumped by those years at center.

    Messier was a LW for nearly five full seasons, before being converted to the middle fairly late in the 1983-84 season and going on to win the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe in his new position. Including that 1983-84 season he made the end-of-season All-Star team three times as a LW compared to “just” twice as a centre, where the competition was admittedly a lot tougher.

    Based on those three All-Star selections, which is three more than any other Oiler LW, I would consider Messier the best LW in team history.

    BTW, Messier is the only player in NHL history who has been named to the First All-Star Team at more than one position.

    One other guy who I would consider for the short list of great Oiler LW is Glenn Anderson, who played both wings on and off for years. IIRC, one year he finished third in All-Star voting at RW and fifth at LW, and had more than enough accumulated votes to make the team if he hadn’t got shafted by the distinction between the two positions. Like Messier, he is now mainly identified for his time at another position (RW in his case). But also like the Moose, Andy lined up on the port side quite a bit in his early years, and he was a dandy wherever he played.

  3. twain says:

    Bruce, that “dandy” comment was brilliant, even if unintentional.

  4. Ducey says:

    “I don’t think they can count on Ethan Moreau next season”

    Okay, I know that he has missed good chunks of the last two seasons but I think you need to look at why. He had surgery on one shoulder. He other one was fixed years ago and he has not had a problem with it since. It would appear the shoulders are no longer an issue.

    Then he takes a puck off the foot and comes back too early. Assuming the foot has healed by September, (generally 6 months is more than enough for the bones to heal) that would be resolved.

    I just don’t see that you can say based on these two distinct injuries that he is any more likely than others to get winged again. Its not like he is Pitkanen. :-)

    In fact, Torres is a higher risk coming back from a knee. Stoll just needs to get his bell rung again and he is likely to be on the shelf for a while/ forever.

    And another thing,
    why does eveyone care how much Glen X gets. I see people saying if he gets $1.5 Million or less great, if he gets more Lowe is a dope. All this over $500 K? Its not your money! Its not like there are dozens of free agents banging at the door to get in. If it takes a bit more to sign a guy – who cares? I know there is a salary cap but does it really matter if the Oilers budget is 1% higher?

  5. Alice says:

    I like the first package, because you can ride Moreau lightly during the season, and he’ll have something left in April, when his skill set is in greater demand. I also think MP responds better to regular minutes than platooning in and out of the lineup.

  6. Bruce says:

    Twain: ha ha. I meant as a player, but I see your point. I’m laughing too, simply because it was unintentional. (It certainly wasn’t brilliant.)

    Alice: Two problems with your scenario. One is that Oilers somehow won’t need to ride Moreau during the season … when was the last time we easily qualified for the playoffs? 1992? Second is the virtual impossibility of getting Moreau to buy into any program that involves his easing off at any time. I do tend to agree that MP needs a long stretch of playing every night.

  7. PDO says:

    If we sign GlenX to a one year deal, is he a UFA or an RFA next year?

    Speeds?

  8. Lowetide says:

    PDO: He’s effectively a UFA now. If he signs a one year deal, then he’s UFA again next year. I think there are two reasons people think my number is wonky:

    1. It is and
    2. They don’t realize he is a de fact free agent. Free as a bird.

    Let me ask you a question: who do you think will have a better season in 08-09: Glencross or Fabian Brunnstrom?

    There are very few free agents this summer of any real note, but there’s plenty of money out there.

  9. William says:

    There’s a lot to like about GlenX in my opinion:

    - unofficially the fastest skater the league has ever clocked

    - forechecks hard and likes to hit (something sorely missing on this latest version of Oilers)

    - energizes and transforms the 4th line into an outscoring line – mind you against weak opposition and with an unsustainable shooting %, but generating any kind of offense/scoring chances with the quality of teammates he has (no offense to Storts – he does his job) is impressive

    - he’s relatively young, local, likes it here

    I’d certainly like to see what kind of numbers he could put up if he had the chance to play with some better linemates. I have no idea if $2M is overpay, but I’d be fine with spending a little extra to keep him around. There could be worse experiments than moving him up the depth chart.

    And I agree that Moreau will never live up to his contract (big-time loyalty raise) and Pisani may not either (local playoff hero raise), but I don’t regret the Pisani deal. He makes every line he plays on better, is strong at ES and PK, has a helluva shot with opportunistic offense. His comeback was slow, but by the end of the season he was playing well – who knows how he could have performed if the rest of the team hadn’t tanked in 06/07 and he hadn’t been sick?

  10. doritogrande says:

    Just throwing it out there…If we want a crash n banger for the 4th line to replace an (in my opinion) overpriced GlenX, make another swap with Howson.

    Gilbert Brule for Rob Schremp.

    The kid’s a fucking animal on skates, he was a huge part in dismantling my Manitoba Moose in the first round of the Calder Playoffs.

  11. Dennis says:

    1: I don’t really think there are a lot of fans who think 20′s gonna get less than one mill. In fact, I think there are Fewer Oiler fans that think that then there are that think Lowe’s done a fine job as GM.

    2: I agree with you that 18 isn’t to be counted on but I don’t think Lowe thinks like that for a second.

  12. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: I know you know this, but there are TONS of Oilers fans who believe Kevin Lowe has done a fine job. I run into them everyday. Had a guy I know who reads my blog give me a solid rip today over the Lowe evaluation. Felt it bordered on hatred.

    Seriously.

  13. Sean says:

    Ethan Moreau was a 4th line player in 2006 and has missed 2 years due to injuries. The Oilers really need his passion and his toughness but he also does take a lot of penalties. OK, before sounding like too much of a Moreau basher I still really like him as a player/Oiler but I’m worried about the amount of ice time his letter on his chest guarantees.

    I wish GX was RFA. He’d be the perfect offer sheet bait. Give him 1.25 for 1 year and let him earn the next one. Still think Torres is the best option as 3rd line LW.

  14. Slipper says:

    That’s crazy, LT. I read this blog post and considered it pretty fair and balanced;) I don’t agree with every singular point, but it’s a pretty genuine critique.

    Well researched and well thought out, as per usual.

    Things aren’t nearly as bad as they sometimes seem. There will always be a tonne of crow to eat, and conversely, there’s a fair ammount of “I told you so” to be passed around. I prefer not to embark on that train of thought. Afteral it’s the home team we’re discussing here:)

    Pronger is an easy one, right? Unless the return for such an incredible player is Hossa and a 1st, we were never going to achieve satisfaction. It’s like the Weight trade, in a way. Atleast in the sense that, at the time, OUR best player was sent packing, and the return wasn’t viscerally palatable because it didn’t come here “ready to assemble”.

    You know, if looked at realistically, that ’06 team was of the lightening in a bottle variety. The expectaion that a few lateral moves would induce a repeat performance was probably fool hardy. With or without CFP, that 06-07 team wasn’t a guaranteed contender by any measure.

    The poor sighted contractual obligations made since that ’06 run appear to hamstring this organization more than any hockey deals made in the same time frame.

    I’d love to have Luongo as much as the next mo, but can any even prove any offer was even available?

    It should be an entertainng campaign next year. I remain within the vein of thought that the team isn’t nearly complete, but could make the post season if a few critical conditions are met, in regards to individual performance.

    It is sick and redundant, but I must say: Lowe deserves atleast one more season to see his vision through.

    But only one more.

  15. Black Dog says:

    Article last week quoted Glencross’ agent as saying the deal was basically done, fwiw.

    ducey – people care because if you keep overpaying guys then at some point you’re going to run out of money and you will have to cut someone loose

    Pick a player whose contract is coming up in the next couple of years – Horcoff, Garon, Pitkanen, Grebeshkov, Gagner, Cogliano

    Now if we can’t keep one of those guys because we have 2M wrapped up in Moreau and 2M in Glencross and so on and so on then I think we have a problem. Not to mention Souray.

    Have to get value for the contracts.

  16. Lowetide says:

    Slipper: Thanks for the kind words re balance. It comes down to (I think) expectations and the fact that people believe the biggest reason for the pre-lockout struggles had to do with lack of salary balance from team to team.

    I’ve always felt it had more to do with procurement, and indeed the current sense of optimism has more to do with the draft than how close this team is to the cap.

    As an example, who do you think will impact the team in a positive way in the next 4 years?

    List A: Hemsky, Gagner, Cogliano.

    List B: Penner, Souray, Garon.

    Finding young talent and keeping them (even when you have to pay them) is a way better bet in terms of team building.

  17. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Only one problem, Lain.

    Gagner played all of three (disastrous) games at LW just after Torres went down. MacT has played him mainly at RW with a few candy shifts at C.

    Altho they would weave in and out of each others’ positions, it was Cogliano-C, Nilsson-LW, and Gagner-RW on the kid line down the stretch.

    L8r
    Louise

  18. Jonathan says:

    I’ve always felt it had more to do with procurement, and indeed the current sense of optimism has more to do with the draft than how close this team is to the cap.

    We all talk about the 05/06 trade deadline as Lowe’s highwater mark, but sending away Barry Fraser and retooling the scouting department surely has to be up there as well.

  19. Pat H says:

    Slipper:That’s crazy, LT. I read this blog post and considered it pretty fair and balanced;) I don’t agree with every singular point, but it’s a pretty genuine critique

    Without appearing too gushing, I just want to second Slipper’s sentiment here. I’ve seen some discussion of your Lowe post that categorized it as little more than a “bash” or “rip”. I find that extraordinarily small-minded, and just plainly mistaken. Clearly theres an automatic defense-mechanism that goes off with some as soon as anything this organization does is held to the microscope.

    Like Slipper, I don’t agree with every minute point in that post, but it’s blatantly evident to me that its’ very balanced. It’s unfortunate that you’ve been ripped for it, but I suppose that comes with the territory.

  20. HBomb says:

    Pick a player whose contract is coming up in the next couple of years – Horcoff, Garon, Pitkanen, Grebeshkov, Gagner, Cogliano

    Now if we can’t keep one of those guys because we have 2M wrapped up in Moreau and 2M in Glencross and so on and so on then I think we have a problem. Not to mention Souray.

    Have to get value for the contracts.

    I think the Oilers need to look at dumping Stoll and Moreau this summer to clear some room, hope that Souray has a bounce back year, and then dump the last three years of his contract at the first opportunity.

    Right there is damn near 10 million in cap space.

    As for Glencross, the line-in-the-sand number I have is 1.5 million. Offer that to him over a four year term (6 million total) and see if he bites.

    He may have only been a fourth-liner this year, but personally, I see top-nine-upside that may eventually make Torres also expendable (in addition to Stoll and Moreau already having been shipped out).

  21. GSC says:

    Glencross should make no more than $1.5 MIL. $500K in the Cap world is a lot of coin, every penny counts when you’re pressed up against the cap limit.

    There’s no rhyme nor reason for Curtis to make more than Robert Nilsson. I would hope the Oilers understand that, there’s no comparison between their upsides as obviously the Magic Kid brings more to the table.

    But that’s not to suggest that “Glen Curtis” isn’t valuable to this club, he’s a great skater, plays a good physical game and brings a lot of energy with Brodziak and Stortini out there. Look how vital Pittsburgh’s 4th line has been to their playoff run, it’s those kind of players that you need to give your club a kick in the pants.

    The biggest problem for the Oilers is their massive Penner and Souray contracts. Lowe will be in it deep when it comes to needing to re-up the likes of Pitkanen, Horcoff, and Garon, just to name a few.

    The Gilbert overpayment by about 500K is another example, as is Pisani receiving 500K too much. For a club that once knew all about a budget and “cost certainty,” Kevin’s gone off his rocker with the money he’s been dishing out since the new CBA came into play.

  22. Jonathan says:

    The biggest problem for the Oilers is their massive Penner and Souray contracts.

    The Souray contract is awful, granted. But the Penner contract doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me. If he scores 30 goals next season, will 4.25 million look bad?

    Of course, that’s dependent on him scoring 30 ;)

  23. GSC says:

    The Souray contract is awful, granted. But the Penner contract doesn’t seem that unreasonable to me. If he scores 30 goals next season, will 4.25 million look bad?

    Joanthan,

    In my eyes, nothing about his play this past season has suggested to me that he’ll be a 30-goal guy. I’m more willing to bet he’s a 25G-25A kind of guy, he just doesn’t have that mean streak and doesn’t use his physicality nearly enough. He’s a lot like Smyth when it comes to being not quite fleet of foot, but Smytty’s skillset in front of the net is better than Dustin’s…that’s how #94 managed to pot 30 a year.

    I hope I’m wrong about him. I hope he has a good offseason to get some of the endurance that is required of him to play 17-18 minutes a night and develops more of a mean streak. He needs to be more Bertuzzi-esque (save for the retarded actions). Those two factors need to be addressed if he’s to earn that $4.25 MIL salary and make his offer sheet compensation of picks in a deep draft given to a conference foe worth the while.

  24. Dennis says:

    The problem with Lowe’s moves is they’re always supposed to pay off later down the line. So you argue with dummies who say, “well we won’t know how this looks until this or that year.” And then you almost need to write down their names so you can call them on it later;)

    Or you could always point out how many times the Oilers have made the playoffs since;) or just look at the overall picture.

    For example, Lain’s a smart guy but he’d see the picture a lot clearer if this group were playing in say Nashville. Instead you’ve got him holding on to Smidian dreams:)

    Anyway, if the brass feels like 20-51 can be the genesis of a tough min line — and you deal off 14-16 for picks in the process — then you put that combo with 34 and you pay the man, ie GlenX.

    That leaves 18-19-78-46 making up the 4th line and leaves us thin at forward depth.

    One last thought here: I wonder if Brownlee was throwing out Jayb rumors just for the fuck of it? If he’s got no interest in signing with the Cats, why COULDN’T the Oilers get the ball rolling by offering Martin a list of 14-16-25 and Schremp and then asking him what he wants?

    Provided that JayB will sign longterm with the Oil, of course.

  25. Big T says:

    Dennis;

    Bouwmeester is a non-starter so long as Souray is still in the picture. There simply isn’t the cap room to sign the guy long term at the $6.50MM or so he will command without shedding that contract.

    T

  26. digger says:

    In my eyes, nothing about his play this past season has suggested to me that he’ll be a 30-goal guy.

    Not to state the obvious, but he did have 29 goals 2 years ago playing in a limited role, and 23 goals this year while missing his center for 29 games.

    I’ll agree that he needs to do more to justify the salary and compensation given, but I think we also haven’t seen the best he has to offer yet.

  27. Jonathan says:

    The problem with Lowe’s moves is they’re always supposed to pay off later down the line. So you argue with dummies who say, “well we won’t know how this looks until this or that year.”

    Of necessity, deals where Lowe is the seller require more time to evaluate since the payoff is usually in future assets. However, if we’re always selling, no analysis is necessary; a team that’s always selling is never winning, therefore it can’t be called successful.

    Bouwmeester is a non-starter so long as Souray is still in the picture. There simply isn’t the cap room to sign the guy long term at the $6.50MM or so he will command without shedding that contract.

    Moreau – 2mil, Torres – 2.25 mil, Stoll – 2.2mil, Pitkanen – 2.4 mil

    Send away Pitkanen/Stoll and whatever else (Schremp/picks) for Bouwmeester, and suddenly there’s enough cap room.

  28. Bruce says:

    However, if we’re always selling, no analysis is necessary; a team that’s always selling is never winning, therefore it can’t be called successful.

    Jonathan: Oilers were buying when it came to Souray and Penner, and ironically that’s where Lowe has come under the harshest criticism. Both were major gambles, and lots of people just see the downside. On the plus side (AFAIC), coughing up three future draft picks for a 25-year-old power winger is not my idea of waiting for the five year plan to gradually take shape; it’s proactive “win-soon-if-not-now” management.

    In my eyes, nothing about his play this past season has suggested to me that he’ll be a 30-goal guy. I’m more willing to bet he’s a 25G-25A kind of guy, he just doesn’t have that mean streak and doesn’t use his physicality nearly enough.

    GSC: Well that’s a reasonable description of Penner’s overall performance this past season, but do you not think he will continue to improve? This was his second full NHL season and first with his new team and new expectations.

    It’s instructive to break his season down into thirds, which can be labelled “Stanley Cup hangover”, “Horpensky”, and “Stolled”. :)

    Oct-Nov: 26 GP, 4-8-12, even, 10 PiM
    Dec-Jan: 27 GP, 11-9-20, +2, 14 PiM
    Feb-Apr: 29 GP, 8-7-15, -14, 21 PiM
    ————————————————–
    2007-08: 82 GP, 23-24-47, -12, 45 PiM

    First thing that jumps out at you is that -14 after the ASB. Hemsky had a very similar breakdown at -4, +6, and -11, so I’m tempted to put a lot of that on Stoll’s awful season at ES … or if you prefer, the absence of Horcoff who was the glue that bound Hemsky’s and Penner’s very different styles of play.

    But for the two months after Penner found his legs and before Horc went down, that was a helluva line. Penner scored at a 33-goal pace, and I certainly think he’s capable of that over a full season.

    There’s little doubt that Penner and Souray were brought in to improve a struggling Oilers PP, and Dustin delivered on his end of the bargain, leading the team with 13 PPG. That unit improved markedly over the course of the season, and Penner improved with it, as reflected in his PPG totals of 2, 6, and 5 during the three segments. He also became more effective as a huge presence in front of the net whose large shadow and soft hands posed a double threat for opposing goalies.

    Penner led the Oilers in shots on goal with 201 (Stoll 187, Hemsky 184, Gagner 135 …), firing an extremely consistent 66, 67 and 68 shots in the three segments. His Sh% fluctuated from 6.1% to 16.4% to 11.8%. That’s 14.1% after December 1; when Penner scored 29 in 2006-07, he took 204 shots for a Sh% of 14.2%. So certainly it appears that it’s the first two months in Edmonton that were the anomaly. He was pretty much a 5-goal-a-month guy after that, and has been throuhgout his short career:

    Goals by month:
    2006-07: 4-5-6-2-4-8 = 29
    2007-08: 2-2-6-5-3-5 = 23

    5 goals a month looks pretty sustainable to me, and that’s a 30-goal scorer. No good reason to expect less as he matures into the second year of his controversial contract. At for the far end of that contract, who knows?

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