Yesterday (in the post Playoff Team?) I posted “Denis Grebeshkov is going to be very important to this defense. With Sheldon Souray and Ladislav Smid playing LD, Grebeshkov is likely to be the top option at EVs and will be paired with either Staios, Viznovsky or Gilbert. Another D should be on the shopping list.”
Now that Marian Hossa is in Detroit (and this is still Hemsky’s team), it’s time to take a long look at this team moving forward and ask a question:
Which column will keep this team from the second season: GF or GA.
I think it’s goals against. The Oilers have some nice things offensively and have two more weapons (Visnovsky and Cole) to use with the man advantage. If we make a quick depth chart by forward position, like this:
- C: Horcoff, Gagner, Brodziak, Pouliot
- L: Cole, Penner, Cogliano, Moreau
- R: Hemsky, Nilsson, Pisani, Stortini
There are some concerns but they’re not on the wings anymore. My main issue was health on LW, but Cole addresses that and Moreau will last until he gets hurt and the Oilers will have to make to with a 3line of Brodziak-Cogliano-Pisani or move Cole to the 3line (which is what I’m hoping for in the fall). Center lacks experience but my guess is Marty Reasoner gets signed when the Oildrop, so up front they look pretty damn good idling in the driveway. Fair?
The blue is the spot that needs the green. The depth chart has two nice younger regulars (Grebeshkov, Gilbert) along with two veterans (Souray, Staios) who can play minutes outside the powerplay. The new PP monster (Visnovsky) will play a lot at EVs but I don’t see a history of toughline minutes. Smid is a guy who is working his way up the depth chart by sundial but I like his future.
Craig MacTavish was talking to Jason Gregor today and (among other things) said that he was fairly set in his D pairings. Here are the LD-RD estimates:
- Grebeshkov, Souray, Smid
- Staios, Gilbert, Visnovsky
My own feeling is that the Grebeshkov-Gilbert pairing will end up being the de facto #1 group against heavy lifting, but there’s no replacement for NHL experience and Souray and Staios are the longest serving NHLers. Visnovsky is likely to play plenty of PP minutes obviously get plenty of time at EVs.
The Oilers puck movers (Grebeshkov, Gilbert, Visnovsky) now equal the tough nuts (Souray, Staios, Smid) and I think we can agree that the defenders with the widest variety of skills (Grebeshkov, Gilbert) are at a nice age and will be the leaders of this blueline in a very few years (should they stay).
Anyway, I think they need help on defense. In a way, not signing Hossa may have been dodging a bullet. Among the UFA’s, Desjardins suggests we look at Marek Malik at Jaroslav Modry and Jason Smith would be a popular choice, but it’s probably best to pursue some help via the trade route.