Last June, Kevin Lowe gave fans a roadmap of summer 2007:
1. Kevin Lowe: “You do want to be careful of changing over your whole team. There’s a risk with that. But we have needs at practically every position.”
2. Kevin Lowe: “We’re going to be very bold and aggressive. We’d like to think we can do what we need to do to get the team to the playoffs right away. We have the resources and that part is exciting.”
3. Kevin Lowe: “It’s the summer. We’re going to do something.”
4. Kevin Lowe: “We’re going to add someone to pick up Ryan Smyths goals, add another player on offence and another on defence.”
And add they did. Joni Pitkanen, Mathieu Garon, Dustin Penner, Sheldon Souray. This season, Kevin Lowe is once again giving us the roadmap.
1. Kevin Lowe “It’s a matter of me and the organization trying to do our best to manage the assets, improve the hockey team. If that means getting into a situation where we move a couple, maybe three or four assets for one or two coming back, a player and a draft pick or something, that might be a good thing.”
2. Kevin Lowe “If we can add to our team by upgrading our scoring and some of our toughness, we have the assets to do it. We don’t have to rely on free agency to do it. That doesn’t mean we won’t be listening or making calls on July 1st.”
3. Quoting Robin Brownlee on his blog: “With a glut of second- and third-line forwards and depth on defence, Lowe said his week he’d consider moving assets in a three-for-one or even four-for-one deal—a top-three forward is the target.”
The “second and third line” group would probably include Jarret Stoll, Raffi Torres, Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau, Kyle Brodziak, Marc Pouliot, Robert Nilsson. One would imagine that Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Sam Gagner would be safe at this point, although Shawn Horcoff’s status as a UFA-in-waiting makes him vulnerable in the same way Ryan Smyth was blowing in the wind last summer.
One of the things about the Edmonton Oilers in summer through the 00′s is that they seem to spend these months attempting to acquire top drawer talent without regard for balance. In the summer of 2005-06 they addressed all kinds of areas but left the goaltending somewhat unproven. The following summer they moved Chris Pronger and never really addressed the blueline in terms of veteran talent. Last summer they moved in assets but still lacked balance on liftoff (blueline once again lacked experience, lots of question marks up front).
The names being rumored (Jason Spezza, Erik Cole) are coming from some legit sources (Brownlee, Stauffer, Matheson) and would certainly improve this team up front for 08-09. However, the name most mentioned going the other way is Joni Pitkanen.
And that brings the balance question back into the picture. Although Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov moved past Ladislav Smid and Matt Greene and into the top 4 in 07-08, does that mean the Oilers can rely on them? Considering the other two defenders are Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios, does that give this team enough top 4D options? Wouldn’t the depth chart look much better with Pitkanen among the top 4 and perhaps Souray on the third pairing? The Edmonton Oilers appear convinced that a scoring forward for the top 2 lines is more important than having 5 legit defenders outside of the Smid-Greene tandem that is still trying to gain traction at the NHL level.
We have the roadmap. Are we going the wrong way?