Kevin Prendergast is the most positive personality in the Edmonton Oilers management group. Not all of his players are Hall of Famers when he tells it, but there’s a few. I think that’s probably why I enjoy his interviews so much, it’s impossible to dislike a grown man who is completely convinced that everything is going so well.
A rare breed.
He was in conversation the other night with Jason Gregor on the Team 1260. I didn’t catch the interview, and between running around being Dad and dropping by the beer store haven’t been able to go online and catch it on archives.
However, three people did hear it and I’m going to post their comments here. Please understand these are not direct quotes, rather they are in summation form. The first bit of info comes from hfboards poster Usual Suspect, who is recovering from ACL reconstruction surgery and put his leisure time to very good use with the following detailed report:
- Pouliot: Earned an opportunity with his play last year. Confident in his game. Can now play wherever they want him to. Springfield gave him confidence that he could do what Mac T asked of him. Intelligence, listens, learns. Oil needed to have patience with him.
- Jacques: Hasn’t been able to bring his AHL play to NHL but in his defense they’ve asked him to play a different role in the NHL. With Glencross gone there’s an opportunity for Jacques.Jacques hurt his back wrestling for position against a taller guy. Jacques continue to do his rigorous raining regimen and feels that he is responding. They have not decided to have surgery yet. They may decide by the end of next week or even as late as training camp that Jacques needs surgery. If so, he will be out for 6 months.
- Stortini: Stortini blends well, physical player, will fight, knows his role. However, his agent wants a “ransom” that the Oilers won’t pay. There’s still time. Stortini wants to be back and they want him back. Normally these situations work out in the long run.Heavyweight needed for NHL team? Not that many top guys available. Our division – Cal is big, Van always has disturbers, you need something to offset that. Oil will be a lot more offensive. Young guys will have targets on their backs. Don’t need a super heavyweight but we need a deterrent: Zach, Jacques, Moreau. We’re always looking, at this point there’s no one out there that we feel can help us. Closer to TC if we feel it is a big problem we will look again.
- Heavyweights coming to TC that will try for the AHL team? More than a few: Sean McMorrow – 6’4″ 87 fights in 48 games last year!! Hans Benson (brother of Chicago Bear’s Cedric Benson and just signed with Springfield Falcons), Adam Huxley, Garret Hunt. If any were to make the Oil, McMorrow might be the leading candidate based on age/size.
- Brule: Brule will likely need time in the minors to get his game back. Lost a lot of his game. Confidence level has gone down. CBJ brought him out too early. Mgmt told Brule that its a strong possibility that he will be in AHL for the season. He will play 1st line, PP, PK. He has all of the tools to become a young Mike Peca. Need to have patience with Brule, they have time to wait for him, there are players ahead of him in our organization.
- Cole/Penner: Penner and Cole will both challenge for 1st line LW. The 2nd line is taken care of (I’m assuming he meant kid line). One will play the 1st line LW the other will play the 3rd line. Both will be on 1st and 2nd PP.
- Who will make an impact in Springfield/Has shot at big team? Chorney will challenge for a spot on the big team, blue chip prospect. probably will need seasoning in Springfield. Peckham could be a replacement for Greene, finished strong last year. Schremp big year this year for him, training extremely hard in Cali, Moreau says hes getting a lot bigger/stronger. Reddox played very well last year. Wild is a Great skater, puck mover, knows what to expect in Springfield now, all the ingredients to potentially be a good NHL player: Offense, size, skating. Mcdonald struggled at times. Good and bad games. 1 of best fwds at last years prospect camp. 12 pounds heavier, all muscle. Expect him to be a shooter/goal scorer more now.
- Paukovich: Stockton last year. Big, mean, physical. Needs to improve his skating, he’s working on it. Coming to work at Oiler hockey school in a couple weeks & will train with skating coaches.
A few things before we move on: First, that’s just a ton of information to jot down and is much appreciated by me and I’m sure all Oiler fans. Thanks to Usual Suspect. Second, I think it’s completely reasonable to suggest that they didn’t pursue a big forward this summer aggressively because they were getting good reports on Jacques. Finally, does anyone else have a sinking feeling about Rob Schremp doing the Mandelbaum? Here’s a kid who has bought in completely, is working like a dog, and the track record on this magic formula is somewhat mixed? Everyone does know that even if he’s John Riggins after the Mandelbaum’s are done with him there’s still a matter of desire to go into those traffic areas, right? I keep thinking people are expecting Tiger Williams when really this kid is about skill and show. We’ll see.
High on the list of people who should have blogs but don’t is our friend Dennis. In a post below he wrote this on the KP interview:
- Pouliot’s now ready for any kind of role the Oilers give him; Gregor was trying to get him to say 78 had to change his line of thinking and accept a checking position but KP said a lot of kids go through the thing where they have to accept the possibility of different roles and that, and now I’m paraphrasing, given that 78 played in all kinds of spots last year, he should be ready for anything they offer him.
- this wasn’t connected but once Gregor got to talking about this coming year’s team, he mentioned the possibility of Brule battling 51 for the 4th line pivot spot and KP didn’t interject to say 51 could rise higher; he just said Brule would most likely start the year in the A. Is this a hint that 78 Will get first crack at the third line?
- speaking of lines, KP said it’s between 26-27 for the first line LW spot and that with the second line being set — the kids — the loser of the first line battle would play on the third line but both would see PP time on different units.
- he mentioned JFJ’s back has been responding to treatment to the point where he might be ready to make a push for a spot and mentioned how LW looked beefy now with 26-12-27-18-JFJ on that side. He also said everyone — up to and including Lowe — had spoken to JFJ about the idea that his role on the big club will be as a 4th liner banger and that the kid seemed committed to the idea.
Looks like Jacques may have a job if he can have the kind of training camp Brad Winchester did a few years ago (Winchester won a job I swear with one tremendous full tilt hit behind the net in TC a few years ago). Interesting also about the lines (I think Cole should be on a shutdown line with Pisani and a quality center) and the Pouliot/Brodziak info is also extremely interesting.
Another poster on the blogosphere who should have her own blog is Louise. She dropped by with some stellar quotes from Pouliot himself and summed them up nicely:
- “I feel great that the Oilers still have interest in me,” Pouliot said. “I know I have a lot to prove this year, but I feel good and I feel even better knowing that they wanted me to sign for another two years.”
- “I think I showed at the end of last year that I can play in every role,” he said. “I think I improved a lot last year in comparison to the beginning of the year. I think that helped a lot getting a new contract.
- “I think they believe in me that I can get the job done.” “I want to make an impact this year,” he said. “I know I’m not going to start on the first line, but I want to prove that I can play some good minutes wherever they put me, whether it be the penalty-kill or the power play.
- “I want to be a go-to guy that they can trust in any situation.”
Louise ended the quotes with comments about Pouliot saying all the right things and that his IQ is high (but that all the Oiler centers are in the same range). This is something Louise has been telling me since we met and it certainly appears the Oilers draft talent and trade for talent with an eye towards intelligence. This isn’t new in sports (Connie Mack used to prefer college men to kids from school) but it’s somewhat new to hockey and it appears to be paying dividends.
Is this another subject for theMoneypuck group?
Thanks to all three who contributed to this post.