Balance and a Good Start

This is Mike Krushelnyski. A big man with hands, a long reach good secondary skills (faceoffs, could check and use his size some) and although he had some seasons where Slats had to light a fire I don’t think many of us can look back on his Oiler career and say many nasty things about him.

Krushelnyski had good offensive ability, but on that Oiler team he was more useful in a defensive, 2-way role as the team with two of the most ridiculous scoring lines in history needed someone to keep the other side at bay.

I think the Oilers need someone like Mike Krushelnyski on the current squad.

Why? Balance. Under the Kevin Lowe regime, this team always has problems with balance on liftoff. One year it’s the goaltending, the next it’s the defense and then the following year it’s time to bring in 5 kids up front. Krushelnyski was a quality center and equally adept on left wing.

Coach MacT might enjoy having a set lineup from the start, and he might enjoy having a few guys who can play multiple roles. Whatever Kevin Lowe does today, it must make this team more balanced for opening night. Fighting for 8th digs too big a hole, the team gives too much away to the other NW teams (who are balanced) in October and November.

If you look at the Edmonton Oilers roster right now, there are some extreme strengths (that blueline should be able to move the puck) and some areas of weakness (left wing is a big concern). The Oilers have also identified the need for an offensive leader (currently named Marian Hossa but this fellow is a moving target) and have upgraded their blueline already.

In goal, they have Mathieu Garon, Dwayne Roloson and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. It’s a solid tandem with a rookie finally getting a chance to play in the show. I imagine Roloson will get traded at the deadline unless the Oilers are legit contenders to go deep in the playoffs. Balance is good.

On defense, this team can move the puck. Viznovsky, Pitkanen, Gilbert and Grebeshkov can all handle the biscuit and Staios is a savvy veteran in several areas. Sheldon Souray can blast it (as can Viznovsky) and Ladislav Smid continues his development into a useful player (for someone) while trying to keep his batting average above the Mendoza line. The corner work and physical aspect of the blue isn’t there in numbers and I’d suggest that when they do send away Pitkanen a veteran Mike Commodore type might be an idea. I’m also open to elevating Theo Peckham, who I think is going to be another fellow who passes Smid on the depth chart. Balance is excellent, but when Pitkanen goes some toughness should be inserted into the top 4.

At center, Shawn Horcoff is going to get double shifted. I’m kidding, but only a little. Sam Gagner is the future at this position and Andrew Cogliano is the second coming of Butch Goring so eventually that tandem will be (imo) at worst the 1-3C’s for the future. Kyle Brodziak is the new Jarret Stoll, his jam and toughness make him the favorite as the 3line C this season. Marc Pouliot remains an enigma, a man who should have won a job spring 2006 but was unable to overcome mono and Rem Murray in the same calendar year. Balance is solid for top 2lines, but there is a concern in terms of experience for the 3line. A solid two-way C option with size would be nice.

The Left Wing is the area closest to the hospital, and for good reason. After Dustin Penner comes Raffi Torres and Ethan Moreau, who between them played 57 (of a possible 164, or 35%) games last year. Both are apparently healthy and the club can move Cogliano over (actually it’s Nilsson but let’s keep it simple) from center when the whip comes down. Other possibles include Ryan Potulny, Rob Schremp, Liam Reddox, Bryan Lerg, JF Jacques (after Christmas), Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young plus Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds. Balance depends on health of veterans Torres and Moreau. They bring a lot of the toughness on this roster, and rolling 4 lines without them would be dangerous.

For Right Wing, Ales Hemsky is touched by God and Robert Nilsson had a nice season. Fernando Pisani is back to improve the collective IQ and Zack Stortini continues to run circles around the rest of the guys picked in the top 100 by Edmonton in 2003. Stortini’s role may certainly be increased this season because this team may not have a strong physical presence on 2 of the top 3 lines. Balance is excellent, in fact it’s kind of textbook.

So entering free agent madness today, the Oilers can be comfortable in goal and right wing, plus they can move a body on D (Pitkanen) and still have a nice group there. Center could use a veteran to make the Brodziak/Pouliot transition easier and left wing is a mess when the injuries hit.

How old IS Mike Krushelnyski, anyway?

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6 Responses to "Balance and a Good Start"

  1. Halfwise says:

    I think Emerson, Lake and Palmer are also available for LW.

  2. Knamely Lacked says:

    Funny enough when I was younger and still playing minor hockey Mike Krushelnyski was my favourite player.

    Yup, I got ragged on a fair bit for picking a guy who wasn’t named Gretzky, Kurri, Messier or Coffey, but I somehow took a liking to the guy and how he played.

    Geez, MacT would jump through hoops for a guy like Krushelnyski about now. No questions asked.

  3. Lowetide says:

    The thing about Krushelnyski is he could take a pass and was a stunning passer. Tape to tape on the fly.

    People used to say anyone could play with the skill guys on EDM, but this guy popped over 40 before they asked him to play a more defensive role.

  4. Jonathan says:

    Jason Williams is the guy- I’m pretty sure he can play all three forward positions.

  5. nameht says:

    Torres for Brule

    That sure didnt help out our LW

  6. Bruce says:

    Prescient call, LT, feauturing “a big man with hands, a long reach good secondary skills (faceoffs, could check and use his size some)” who happened to be a LW who wore #26 for the Oil. I suspect Erik Cole will fill out that sweater and that number rather well in the coming season(s).

    As for secondary skills Cole isn’t much in the circle (just 23.7% in 38 draws) but he uses his size some and then some, with a mouthwatering 186 hits (18th in the NHL) this past season.

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