Prospect Update from Prendergast

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.

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33 Responses to "Prospect Update from Prendergast"

  1. Music Lovers says:

    nice

  2. DBO says:

    Wow. thanks for all the info from you LT, and for everyone who contributed. makes me want to check out the audio.

    Seems like they pretty much have the lines figured out. I’d like to see:
    Horcoff-Hemsky-Penner
    Kid line
    Brodziak-Pisani-Cole
    Pouliot-Moreau-Stortini
    jacques-Potulny

    we all happy with that lineup? With Strudwick able to step in on the fourth line for toughness or for Smid seems like we have decent balance through all 4 lines, with the 3rd and 4th able to outperform pretty much any other 3rd/4th line out there. No heavyweight, but solid wingers on every line (excluding the kid line who will get crazy easy minutes). Potulny can play anywhere on the bottom 6, and Jacques brings the hitting element we lost when we dealt/lost Torres and Glencross. Stortini better wake up since Strudwick is as good a fighter, and Jacques is sitting in the wings.

  3. spOILer says:

    Sweet summary, and thanks to all.

    Do the comments on JFJ indicate that the Oil expect Moreau to go down, since that 4LW banging role would normally be his. No?

    My only problem with dbo’s line up is that no one on the third line is a good playmaker, which was one of the problems when we had Stoll there too.

  4. DeBakey says:

    Not really addressing this post – rather the accumaltion of the last few days’ worth:

    The Islanders
    - don’t have a back-up goalie
    - have few skilled wingers
    - are below the Cap floor

    With Strudwick, Potulny, Pouliot;
    with Jacques, Brule & Lerg to come,
    I can’t see the Oilers breaking camp with 3 goalies, nor can I see Schremp in the top-23.

    Rollie & Schremp to Long Island

    *** Pouliot is a playmaker

  5. Doogie2K says:

    Do the comments on JFJ indicate that the Oil expect Moreau to go down, since that 4LW banging role would normally be his. No?

    I was going to say something about Strudwick then realized even if Strudwick’s on D, that still doesn’t work. What the hell?

  6. doritogrande says:

    As per Usual Suspect’s synopsis: Who the hell in the AHL is bigger than JFJ? I thought our guy was 6’4″.

    debakey:

    What do the NYI have that we would want, aside from a high draft pick?

  7. budorduke says:

    High draft pick would be really nice, but Schremp is what a high draft pick becomes. Why move sideways. I suppose his skill set is duplicated on our roster but as another poster pointed out a few days ago, hes damn good insurance.

  8. Alice says:

    El Duke,

    It’s not so much a move sideways as a shift in time. 2008′s Schremp becomes 2009′s pick becomes 2011/2′s Schremp. His window is now, as an asset, but his unlucky – bad? – timing puts him back in the depth chart of similar skills. So maybe he gets recycled for the next wave. I don’t expect a move on him before Xmas tho, more likely he gets some at bats and if he shows well it’s all to the good, whether we’re keeping him or not.

  9. doritogrande says:

    Threadjack:

    Radulov fucked over Nashville today and bolted back to Russia.

    http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=243143&lid=headline&lpos=secStory_main

    Really makes that pick of Devan Dubnyk look a lot better in my eyes.

    End Threadjack:

    Speaking of Dubnyk, any word on how the goalies were developing?

  10. Oilman says:

    Also makes not picking Cherapanov maybe a little smarter as well

  11. spOILer says:

    *** Pouliot is a playmaker

    Yup. That’s one of the only changes I would make to dbo’s line up — I’d move up Pouliot and drop Brodz back to the 4th, if only for Poul’s passing ability.

    I’d also be more likely to put Cole on the 1st and move Penner down to the 3rd, if we’re going to go P vs P, and use the third for the 2nd toughest assignments.

    With all these bottom 6 bodies, I’m with debakey in that it seems like there must be another move to come.

    They may want to see how JFJ’s back heals first, though. And work out something with Stortini.

    Does anyone else feel that Moreau is being squeezed off this team? I’m sure they’d like to keep his vet leadership, but where?

    He’s already dropped to 4LW, and with Jesus Schremp, JFJ, Potulny, & Brule all knockin on heaven’s door…

    Even if Schremp is moved to the future via a pick, it’s going to be tough for Moreau to hold off the other prospects.

    I suspect though that the Potulny & Brule moves also had something to do with the Oil’s commitment to keep Springfield competitive.

  12. Keegan says:

    So where do we rate agaisnt our division as it stands?
    In my opinion all the other teams have gotten worse with Minnesota being the closest to holding serve.
    Colorado must be really sweating the Sakic thing right now.
    and I am really excited to see the games against Vancouver this year.
    Maybe I am being too optimistic but I will be happy with any improvement of our record within the division.

  13. budorduke says:

    Good point Alice. Never thought in those terms. I suppose the key is to have continuous replenishment of elite talent at each position, and if temporary security comes at the cost of the next wave that’s got to be considered as well.

  14. Dennis says:

    JFJ’s size makes him the NHL equiv of a lefthanded pitcher: these guys will always get a chance and we could call them Honeycutts in honour of Rick Honeycutt who stuck around a long time as a LH reliever.

    Now, you take that size and combine it with the scattered patch of goal-scoring he’s shown and then add in his speed and you know he’s going to get another chance from the Oilers and that it’s unlikely he’d make it through waivers. Fuck, Isbister still has a job and we’re nearly a decade away from the time when it looked like he was going to score 25+ goals a year.

    So, a lot of things are starting to go against Stortini and it’s about time 46 took control in terms of what his agent’s asking for. You’ve got JFJ”s back responding to treatment and him responding to the Oilers goonery pleas, Schremp working his ass off at Camp Mendelbaum and 46′s agent trying to extract what the club perceives to be extra dollars and all of a sudden Zach can’t write his name in pen come ’09. For as well as he played down the stretch last year, you’d think he would have a job for sure; but, all that can change very quickly if his demands are deemed to be out of whack. Perhaps the Oilers are just looking at the success of the 20-51-46 line as a one-off and now that 20′s gone, 51 may have a job but 46 is back bobbing in the water again.

    The line I drew between KP not painting 51 as anything more than a 4th line pivot while praising 78 is more wishful thinking then perhaps even deductive reasoning. Still, I firmly believe that if you count the latter part of the ’07 season, Pouliot is the guy that should get that 3rd line pivot job with Pisani Plus. 78′s been decidely low event in terms of GAON/60 and that’s exactly what that job calls for.

  15. Dennis says:

    Keegan: I like where we stand in the NW division as well and the good news it that the league’s finally clawed back the matchups to just six a season so it’s not such a bad thing to be in the one of the league’s best divisions anymore.

  16. boopronger says:

    Ive never really been a fan of penner on the first line. I dont think he can keep up with horc and hemsky. I also dont buy into this stuff about him creating space because of his size. There was maybe a handful of games where i thought he used his sized very effectively.

    Cole on the other hand really excites me for that top line. I think he will create more space then penner just because of his toughness and drive to the net.

  17. doritogrande says:

    keegan:

    I too am looking forward to the Canucks games this year. Past Demitra and the Sedin sisters…uh do they have a second line? Pyatt-Kesler-Raymond? Yeah, good luck with that. There’s no help coming off the farm this year either, unless they’re smart and bring up Brad Moran this time. Two years at a point per game at the AHL, man deserves a shot at 2-line minutes.

    I can’t wait til San Roberto implodes on this team for their lack of goal scoring. Seems to me the only way they’re going to win games is if #1 shuts out the other team. We’ve lost the Canuck-killer in Torres, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

    Minne still scares me when Gaborik is healthy but the losses of Demitra and (more importantly) Rolston are going to hurt a lot up front. Brent Burns is the real deal however, and should be able to easily be the best defenseman in the Division. Backstrom and Harding are likely the best tandem in nets in the Northwest also.

    Calgary got slower and lost the second line, but can now kick the shit out of their divisional rivals which makes them formidable opponents on any given night. Jarmoe’s a generational talent and I’m not going to downplay any goalie from Finland’s ability to get hot and stay hot.

    Colorado’s the wildcard here. They’ve got great scoring lines when healthy, and assuming Sakic returns. Their goaltending is going to leave some questions, but it should be enough to pass off as a Conkannen until the trade deadline.

    Way things are shaping up now, Edmonton has a shot at 3rd in the division, but it’s probably only good enough for 9th considering the rising of the Pacific Division and the ever-present Detroit. Chicago looks good enough to make it in a shitty division to my eyes. I think it’ll be a scrap between Edmonton, Chicago and Phoenix for the final two spots come the stretch run.

  18. Traktor says:

    Stortini is still a lock on my team. After losing Glencross I don’t think there is any way you can afford to lose Stortini. We would just have to replace him anyways and I doubt we will find a better fighter/agitator that is as reliable as Stortini is for under a mill.

    I would pencil in O’marra as a guy who will fight for that 4th line LW job too.

    One thing is for sure, whoever gets the 4ht line LW and 3rd/4th line center job will have earned it. Tonnes of competition.

  19. Doogie2K says:

    I like where we stand in the NW division as well and the good news it that the league’s finally clawed back the matchups to just six a season so it’s not such a bad thing to be in the one of the league’s best divisions anymore.

    It’s definitely nice to not have as many NW games, because we’ve had such a brutal in-division record the last two years. I do have to wonder, though, is the NW really the top division anymore? We have EDM who look to be definitively better, CGY/MIN/VAN all looking like they’ve taken a step back, and COL who look like they’ve taken about four, and I’m not sure that’s really the case anymore. Certainly, that’ll be an interesting story this season, seeing where the overall quality of the division shakes out. There’s definitely going to be less of a gap over the Pacific and the Central than in years past, what with at least a couple of perennial League jokes (CHI, PHX, maybe CBJ) looking like they’ve finally come out to play.

    As for how the Oilers sit in the NW, well, at this point I think it’s up for grabs. I won’t say they’ll win the division, but it also wouldn’t surprise me. More likely, we’re looking at about the middle of the pack, maybe eking up to second depending on how Kiprusoff plays for CGY. MIN still looks like the team to beat, but not by much.

  20. misfit says:

    This entry was worth the read just to hear a John Riggins reference. Sorry, but when you make a comparison to a baseball player I’ve never heard of without explainging why, I rarely (never) have a clue about what you’re talking about. However, when you make reference to one of my beloved Redskins, (the Diesel, no less), well, my friend, then you’ve got my attention.

    A few things about the KP interview:

    - I can’t see how he has any idea what the lines are going to look like, nor do I believe he has any real say in the matter.

    - Stortini isn’t doing himself any favors with his contract demands, and it looks like it’s starting to rub some people the wrong way.

    - Paukovich is a player I’ve had interest in ever since his draft year, and I’m just glad to hear people talking about him.

    - Pouliot is one of my favorites, and always has been. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs knowing that the organization believes in him and that he’s definately in their plans. Those quotes from Louise made it seem like he had been unsure of that for a while.

  21. Schitzo says:

    Ugly scenerio time:

    Oilers clinging to a 3-2 lead with 90 seconds left to play. Our timeout is gone. Horc has already played 12 minutes in the third period alone.

    Who the fuck do you put on the ice in those situations? ESPECIALLY if you want to actually win the faceoff?

    I still have major concerns about throwing either one of the kids (Pouliot or Brodziak) to the wolves as the shutdown centre on that 3rd line. I’m not sure if Team Reasoner is the answer, but man, there must be someone still left out there. Yanic Perrault?

    It’s true that playing with Pisani covers up a lot of ugly, but fuck, there has to be somebody out there we could pick up. Maholtra?

  22. Dennis says:

    There’s no doubt there’s gonna be some nervous times but I have a feeling the Oilers would’ve made a couple of more moves to go a little bit more vet had they been able to bring in Hossa or Jagr. But, once that failed, I think they just set full steam ahead with the kids.

    Every Marty Reasoner-less day points towards it.

  23. spOILer says:

    schitzo: 3rd period penalties could be real trouble for this team. While I could see Penner taking some of those FOs, Pouliot has not been bad on the dot.

    Dennis: some really good posts today, thanks for the insights.

  24. doritogrande says:

    Schitzo:

    I don’t care if Horc has played 12 minutes in the 3rd, he’s going back out there. Gut check time, go earn your money.

    And Pouliot on the wing for back-up faceoff insurance. Erik Cole on the other wing to drive the pile and win a scramble-draw.

  25. namflashback says:

    Dennis said: once that failed, I think they just set full steam ahead with the kids.

    Every Marty Reasoner-less day points towards it.

    Very true. My guess is that they did were doing the equivalent of a blackjack split — one hand was a GO FOR IT with an elite talent — the other hand was “stay on target with the re-bload.”

    It will be nervewracking, but I think there is lots to like about Brodziak — he had a soft spot early in the year, (so did everyone else and the entire D) — but he was regularly getting/creating grade A chances, and was pretty steady defensively.

    And the Pouliot love is strong round the ‘sphere. If he comes through like LT and Louise think he can, we could be pretty happy.

  26. Black Dog says:

    I seem to remember Stoll losing a pile of important draws the game they were officially eliminated. Not to pile on him but I think this team will be ok moving forward and they will find a second option for the draws.

    Great post and great info from the contributors.

    The Oilers have more depth up front and on the backend then almost every team in the NW now and they have two reasonable goalies where other then the Wild the others have but one. They may not have the Iginla or Luongo out there but a lot of good solid players at every position.

    I think they could win the division. I also think they might be fighting the Hawks and Yotes for seventh and eighth.

    Interesting to see how the divisions suss out. Have to say the Pacific looks like the toughest now other then the Kings. They look terrible.

  27. godot10 says:

    The kids have to learn how to take draws sometime. Might as well be sooner than later.

    I don’t think there will be any problem with Deslauriers or Roy clearing waivers. Most teams always have too many players in October, and don’t have NHL spots open to claim guys.

  28. Coach pb9617 says:

    Horcoff-Hemsky-Penner
    Kid line
    Brodziak-Pisani-Cole
    Pouliot-Moreau-Stortini
    jacques-Potulny

    From KPs comments, it seems like it’s got a better chance of going:

    Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Kid line
    Cole – Pouliot – Pisani
    Bruleau – Brodziak – Stortini

    jacques-Potulny

  29. Coach pb9617 says:

    Ive never really been a fan of penner on the first line. I dont think he can keep up with horc and hemsky. I also dont buy into this stuff about him creating space because of his size.

    Dec/Jan disagree with you.

  30. rickibear says:

    Bang on coach:

    Penner 40G 75PT pace
    Horcoff 35G 90PT pace
    Hemsky 27G 107PT Pace

  31. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Oh… hey… I can copy and paste like a pro. ;-D

    Another poster on the blogosphere who should have her own blog

    You’d miss my drive-by tangents.
    ;-p

    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.

    There are a few teams who target high IQ in their players.

    I know where my smart money is going, but the dividends haven’t paid more than some development for us just yet. Except for Horcoff, the cluster of 99%(+) is very young.

    Is this another subject for the Moneypuck group?

    Don’t think so. The info needed is rather sensitive.

    The teams, their affiliates + CHL and schools would have access to IQs, of course. But, scouring the Al Gore ain’t gonna get it done, I’m afraid.

    What little nuggets I have, for the most part come from a long-time, dear friend who moved to Detroit in ’96. He happens to share a few of my passions, including high intelligence and hockey.

    Altho he’s never shared the specifics, he’s given me many of our boys’ percentiles (IQs of 130+ = %s 97, 98, 99, 99.9++). I’m sure I’ll miss his ‘alerts’ when he retires.
    ;-D

    L8r
    Louise

  32. Bill Needle says:

    Jacques’ “scattered patch of goal-scoring” is so well scattered, no one has ever seen it in the NHL.
    The Oilers were so down on him until Stortini’s agent started yapping, then all of a sudden, Jacques’ back and wrist have miraculously healed and everyone’s writing him into the lineup again.
    If the Oilers have The Pointless One in the starting lineup on opening night, are they really serious about getting off to a strong start?

  33. therealdeal says:

    I kind of think of Prendergast as a used car salesman who’s always selling you a Ferrari, even if it’s an AMC Gremlin.

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