Now that the Oilers have done their summer shopping we can have some fun with projecting lines and roles each player will be asked to fill by MacT.
The lines are a moving target (and any MacT line setup should be written in pencil) but at the very lest it gives us an idea about the skill level, size, toughness and the number of actual veteran players who are after all the men who make the difference in the NHL.
Here are the starting lines and pairings for opening nights over the last few seasons:
- L1: Horcoff-Smyth-Dvorak
- L2: Peca-Torres-Hemsky
- L3: Stoll-Moreau-Pisani
- L4: Reasoner-Harvey-Laraque
- D1: Pronger-Staios
- D2: Ulanov-Smith
- D3: Cross-Bergeron
- Important things to note here are just how many two-way veterans are in the lineup up front. Dvorak might not look sexy in the top 6 but he did some nice things. It’s also interesting to note that Mike Peca is out there again and the current group of forwards could use a hand like Peca.
- The combined NHL games played of this D group opening night was 3333. Pronger (722), J. Smith (710), Ulanov (702), Cross (603), Staios (537) and Bergeron (59). That’s a lot of NHL experience and I think this roster represents MacT’s comfort zone: Some gifted young players coming along in defined roles, with veterans surrounding them both F and D.
- L1: Horcoff-Smyth-Lupul
- L2: Sykora-Torres-Hemsky
- L3: Stoll-Moreau-Pisani
- L4: Reasoner-Thoresen-Winchester
- D1: Tjarnqvist-Smith
- D2: Smid-Staios
- D2: Bergeron-Greene
- Important notes here include Smid’s role on the team despite being 20 years old and having no NHL experience, the hugely significant change on the 1line and the fact that Stoll-Moreau-Pisani was together two opening nights in a row.
- The combined NHL games played total for those 6 defensemen entering opening night was 1871: J. Smith (786), Staios (619), Tjarnqvist (278), Bergeron (134), Matt Greene (27) and Ladislav Smid (0). The Oilers began the season with two rookies and another player with less than 2 NHL seasons under his belt, and gave up over 1450 games of NHL experience to the previous club (that had a very strong chance at the Stanley).
Opening Night Fall 2007
- L1: Horcoff-Penner-Hemsky
- L2: Stoll-Torres-Nilsson
- L3: Reasoner-Sanderson-Brodziak
- L4: Cogliano-Jacques-Gagner
- D1: Pitkanen-Staios
- D2: Souray-Greene
- D3: Tarnstrom-Gilbert
- Important notes here include the promise of that 2line, how much Brodziak had impressed during TC to earn that elevated role, the fact that Jacques is so unique he keeps getting chances. For those who STILL complain about Horcoff in the 1line role: give your head a shake. You don’t keep a job for three NHL seasons if the results aren’t there.
- The combined NHL games played this time? 1558. Staios 677, Souray 506, Tarnstrom 258, Pitkanen 206, Greene 105 and Gilbert 12. Only one rookie this time, who would eventually pass Greene during the season (he passed Smid in TC). ANOTHER 313 games lost in terms of NHL experience when compared to the Stanley team.
Opening Night 2008 (Projected)
- L1: Horcoff-Nilsson-Hemsky
- L2: Gagner-Penner-Cole
- L3: Cogliano-Moreau-Pisani
- L4: Brodziak-Pouliot-Stortini
- D1: Souray-Visnovsky
- D2: Grebeshkov-Gilbert
- D3: Smid-Staios
- The forward lines were posted in the “peek at the depth chart” thread by Coach. I’m not saying it’s how MacT will break camp (and I’m still loving the idea of a Brodziak-Cole-Pisani line) but this makes all kinds of sense if the plan is to have two scoring lines. Two forwards on each of the top 2lines are veteran and the kids on each line are very talented. It’s a fine use of resources.
- The combined NHL games played for this top 6? 2128. Staios (759), Souray (532), Visnovsky (499), Smid (142), Grebeshkov (104) and Gilbert (94). It’s headed in the right direction (a 570 game improvement year over year) but there are THREE defensemen with less than two complete NHL seasons experience. I think the Oilers need to add a veteran defender MacT can count on when the chips are down. Injuries and slumps will give Smid plenty of chances to get into the lineup, but if Staios goes down we’re looking at Roy or Peckham and all of a sudden there’s a ton of pressure on a very young trio and two veterans not known for being complete players.
- I do like this team. I also like the fact that all over the Western Conference there are teams that seem to be running in place or falling behind. Curious choices in the division (Colorado, Vancouver) and a club going through an awkward looking youth movement (Calgary) leave Edmonton as a possible second choice in the division behind Minnesota. If they could add a veteran defenseman with a wide range of skills, the Oilers might be two things they haven’t been in several October’s: balanced and multidimensional.
- I understand what the Oilers are trying to do in terms of going cheap on the back end of the blueline. For me, it might be a better plan to deal off some of these young defenders (as they did with Greene) and ask Lowe/Huddy whomever to pick off a nicely priced veteran from the Staios-Hejda tree for fill a 5-6 role with a younger player. Imagine how impressive this lineup would be if they had one more veteran defender for the top 4.
- I believe the Oilers get that player before the fall and they move Roloson’s contract to make room. Just a hunch.