Reasonable Expectations for 08-09 (Staios)

The 4 pillars of this MacT team are likely to be Horcoff, Pisani, Staios and the veteran tandem in net. If these men can perform their jobs and finish > while climbing Everest then the Oilers should make the second season.

I’ve always had a theory that the Lowe-MacT Oilers went into a season with the idea that there were three veteran blue they could count on to overcome the flood and then a bunch of kids and retreads they hoped would turn in a solid season.

This year the kids (Grebeshkov, Gilbert, Smid) will appear in more prominent roles and the other veterans (Visnovsky, Souray, Strudwick) come with issues. Some are too small, some are too slow, and then there’s Staios whose experience and skills make him extremely valuable.

In fact, the Oilers could use another.

If we make a list of his positives needed from the veterans (leader, gritty, durable, versatile, capable, willing, can pass the puck) who have more than a couple of kids in the everyday lineup Staios is the last man standing when you get to the end of the list. Visnovsky is a wonderful offensive player who can do some things defensively but he lacks size and can be beaten down low by bigger men (and there are plenty of NHL wingers who are bigger). Souray can be beaten exterior and interior, lacks foot speed and isn’t what we might call a strong passer. Strudwick is a limited role player who can perform some of the things on the list above (and I believe will be rewarded with much more playing time than expected because of it) but one suspects Staios will get the call for many of the toughest assignments this season.

In each season since his arrival, Steve Staios has finished top 4 in overall D minutes. In fact he’s finished second each season but the year he missed the final 15 games of the year due to knee injury (06-07). We know his numbers suffer when he plays too many minutes and especially too many tough minutes.

Ergo, his numbers suffer in 08-09. If this thing goes sideways, he might end up -14 again.

Prediction for 08-09: 82gp, 2-14-16 (.195 per game).

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34 Responses to "Reasonable Expectations for 08-09 (Staios)"

  1. Scott says:

    I can’t stand all the hate for Staios that is out there.

    Look no further than the World Hockey Championships this year to see the kind of impact Steve can have if you just keep him at or under 20 minutes (even if they are a tough 20 minutes).

    And as far as needing another one, isn’t that tree of players Kevin Lowe’s specialty?

  2. Schitzo says:

    Honestly, I was a little disappointed the oilers missed the Sauer option this year. Even if they had to offer an extra 500,000 per year, he’d be worth it as an extra veteran presence.

    I’d love to know if the oilers management thinks poorly of Sauer, or if they were too busy with Hossa, or if they honestly felt we didn’t need more vets.

  3. Jonathan says:

    I’d love to know if the oilers management thinks poorly of Sauer, or if they were too busy with Hossa, or if they honestly felt we didn’t need more vets.

    Well, at least they didnt confuse Sauer with Finger and start bidding high, like Cliff Fletcher evidently did.

  4. James says:

    Steve is a workhorse. He is as durable as any player we have. With all the injuries on D in the last few seasons he has been playing more minutes than he should. It’s not really Mac-T’s fault. Who was he going to play during those periods Rourke or Young.

    Mac will always go with the hot hand in any position….eventually. Just as Roli. Steve will be given ++++ minutes early in the season, and when he bleeds from 25min games, and Mac becomes more comfortable with Smid/Grebs then Steve’s minutes will decrease.

    If MacT is anything, he is predictable. Staios will play 20+ for 4-6 weeks, then slowly decrease to 15, where he belongs.

  5. therealdeal says:

    I think Steady Steve may just be my favourite Oiler.

  6. Oiler Mag says:

    Nail struck squarely on the head LT. If we are above 10th in the West come February; Roli plus prospect for Aaron Ward would be sweet.

  7. Sean says:

    If we are above 10th in the West come February; Roli plus prospect for Aaron Ward would be sweet.

    Roli is a playoff gamer. After paying him 6 million over 2 years to be a backup, I wouldn’t want to trade him if we are a contending playoff team.

  8. dawgbone says:

    James, Staois is far better than a 15 minute per night defenceman.

    On an ideal team (like say, the 05-06 Oilers), he plays 2nd pairing with another vet to give you quality minutes. You can also put him with a kid for a long time (in a 3rd pairing ES role) and watch the kid develop while Staios plays lots of PK minutes and jumps in during certain key defensive situations.

    He’s a 20 minute per night defenceman, he just isn’t Chris Pronger.

  9. devin says:

    I thought Vic thoroughly debunked the whole “Staios flounders when he plays too much” thing last year. I can’t seem to find it on the Google…

  10. James says:

    dawgbone, I agree Steve can be a 20min d-man, but this season he probably shouldn’t. You have to play Vishnovsky and Souray 20+ because they make big $$$ and they are better players IMO. If they don’t play those 2 guys a lot everyone will be pissed at Lowe for having 12 min d-men making 5 mil. And if Steve plays 20 it cuts into Grebs/Gilbert/Smid mins BIG TIME.

    I like Staios a lot, but playing him on PK#1 and 3 pairing is best for the young guys development, which is a huge priority this season IMO.

  11. Bruce says:

    Staios has averaged between 21 and 23 minutes a game in each of the past 5 seasons and it’s hard to imagine that will change by much. Gator was the exact same, 21 (hard) minutes per game year after year, but when we needed to play either of them 26 or 28 minutes it meant we were in trouble. Not even necessarily that those guys played bad in the extra TOI, but that the coach obviously was running out of options on such nights and the defensive depth wasn’t there. I classify both guys as consummate team players, with the expectation that they should thrive with about 1/6 of the ice time = 20:00. Second pairing at evens, first unit PK, last unit PP. I’ve got all day, all season, and all decade for guys like that.

  12. Scott says:


    You pretty much nailed it there, although I wouldn’t mind bringing it down to an even 20 (from 21-23) and let him battle with the hard minutes (your Smith example).

    He’ll be fine, we just have to acknowledge that the guy isn’t a horse (ala Pronger), but he’s a solid defender who always battles hard.

  13. Lowetide says:

    That’s the point about Staios, though. Using him on a PP is silly based on his talents.

  14. Scott says:

    Agreed, but what I meant about a horse was a player that you can run 30 minutes when you need to without really degrading his performance.

    I was thinking of Pronger specifically in my head, it wasn’t just PP that drove him up to 30/night.

    Steve should be able to handle about 80% of the other teams top line minutes (at ES) and then be our #1/2 PK defender at a maximum assuming he’s not babysitting (which isn’t bad).

    I’m guessing Souray will have very similar looking TOI totals with added PP.

  15. Sean says:

    If Staois and Sourray cant do 24 min a night and we’d only want Smid at about 16, that means Gilbert and Lubo are gonna be relied on for 24. Grebeshkov, as mentioned previously, is a wild card. When a player goes down, Strudwick is gonna get too many minutes.

  16. Traktor says:

    “Using him on a PP is silly based on his talents.”

    And then we wonder why Smid hasn’t developed any offensive game when he’s bascially been paired with Staios his whole career.

    I’m not a huge Staios fan. He works hard and will block a shot and all that good stuff but he has as much hockey sense as Marc Bergeron. He amount of giveaways and times he turns over the puck isn’t excusable for the type of game he plays. I think he’s still an asset but I certainly don’t want him playing the most EV minutes on the team. Sure Staois averaged 20+ the last few years but this team has only made the playoffs once in the last 4 times. I’m not sure if that stat is good or bad for Staios. He’s been a key cog on a defense that has been horrible the past couple years.

  17. Scott says:


    When was Smid ever that offensive?
    He looks smooth out there sure, but show me some numbers. Not many defensemen ‘find’ offense at the NHL level when they couldn’t find it in the lower ranks. I know he had one decent year on a loaded and high-scoring AHL team, but what else?

    Also, Souray should get plenty of minutes by way of special teams, so I’d expect he hits close to 24/night if he’s paired with Staios at evens (with Staios coming close to 20/night).

  18. Traktor says:


    He’s been playing against men since he was 16. You can’t really expect him to put up numbers in the elite league at that age. His first year in NA he put up 28 in 71 as a 19 year old in the super AHL. That isn’t bad.

    I never thought that Smid was going to put up huge numbers myself, my post was directed at those who feel he has to be Pronger to justify the trade and then are pissed off when he shows zero offensive upside. My point was how do you expect to develop Smid’s offensive game when his mentor is “steady” Steve.

    I agree with your earlier post, I would give Staios top PK and third unit EV. Unless we are holding a 1 goal lead in the playoffs I see no reason to try and grind out low event games with Staios. This team isn’t built that way any more. It’s all about the transition now. I see Staios’ EV minutes going way down this year.

  19. Scott says:


    It just seems to me that the kid lacks offensive instincts that are hard to teach, even to those willing to learn.

    Back to Staios. I’d bet that Steve is top three on the team in ES minutes. And I’d also bet he takes a ton of own zone draws.

    Our offense will be all about transition, but MacT and Huddy are really good at getting the right players on the ice at the right time. So we can have our transition game and still give Souray/Staios sizable minutes in defensive situations (ie. probably not with the kids).

  20. Bruce says:

    MacT and Huddy generally tend to give pretty balanced ES TOI, with the extra time soaked up on special teams. At a guess the distribution would be something like this:

    Souray #2 PP, #1 SH
    Gilbert #3 PP, #4 SH
    Visnovsky #1 PP, #5 SH
    Staios #2 SH
    Smid #3 SH
    Grebeshkov #4 PP

    … assuming two regular units but listing an extra defenceman on the PK simply because one of the others is frequently the guy in the box. Strudwick would see some time on the SH unit as well, and Grebs would get a little. But I can’t imagine seeing Staios on the PP unless there’s three minutes left in a 7-2 game; an injury to one of the top four point men would likely be covered by a forward and/or a double shift.

  21. Scott says:


    Can’t argue with that, it looks pretty good.
    Although I will say that while most defenders wind up with similar ES TOI, they are very particular about when certain defenders are on the ice (see: Matt Greene) and that can limit minutes in close/important games.

  22. Bruce says:

    Right you are, Scott, which is why you see guys like Gator and the Macedonian on the sunny side of 20 minutes. They’ll be out there when the chips are down.

  23. Scott says:

    So, then, when the chips are down this year, can we assume it’s Souray-Staios? Or does Gilbert work his way in there at some point?

  24. JohnnyOil says:

    A gripe I’ve been wanting to vent:

    “Steady Steve” is a misnomer for the man who choked repeatedly during the ’06 SC finals. He was obviously nervous, which is natural enough, but he couldn’t overcome it, as players of stronger character do. That performance biased me somewhat against the player, whose true value to the Oilers, I think, is in his resilience to injury. And though his knee got badly torqued soon after his most recent re-signing, I still think LT’s 82 gp projection is reasonable. The man’s a workhorse.

    Is he a competent top-six defender? Yes. Worth his salary? I think so. Just not “steady” in the sense that I’d use the word.

  25. Lowetide says:

    Oh for Christ sakes people.

    1. The Oilers lost the Stanley in G1. If you want to piss on a D, Jason Smith was jailbreak with Ryan SMyth on the first Carolina goal. You have to know that it’s true.

    2. Staios can do 15/20 things you want a guy to do and people are still crying about the 5 things he isn’t good at. Step off. You’re wrong.

  26. JohnnyOil says:

    I resent (only a little) that you say I’m “pissing” on Staios, LT, since he didn’t give himself a bad nickname—his fans did. Gator also did 15/20 things I wanted him to do, but you won’t hear me complain about his nickname, since I think it actually reflects one of the 15 things he did well.

    In fact, I’m not “pissing” on anyone. Right or wrong, stepping off or stepping on, my peeve is semantic, and pissing on fans for a semantic foible is beneath me. Elucidation is always better.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Johnny Oil: When you speak about the SCF ’06 that’s pretty much the defining moment for most of these guys. So when you say “Staios choked repeatedly during the ’06 SC finals” then you need to give me examples.

    Be specific.

    If you’re going to bury a man in his defining moment then you better pack a lunch because it’s going to take you all day.

    There were mistakes on both sides of the D. Oilers lost in 7.

    “Choke” is not a word that comes to mind in regard to that series.


  28. Bruce says:

    Scott: “When the chips are down” means top 4. That’s likely Visnovsky-Souray-Gilbert-Staios, who not only are the top 4 on my TOI list above but who are the top four paid defenders on the team. Grebs and Smid together make less money than the #4 guy on the list, Stable Steve, which is as good a metric as any to guess which pair will be first to sit. My hope is 5 and 37 improve to the point where that seat on the bench comes at about the 58-minute mark. Also, the special teams guys will tend to draw in depending on situation, e.g. PP guys when down a goal, SH guys when up by one. Since Gilbert is likely on second pairing on both units, he’ll get his ice time in all situations, have no fear.

    LT: Well said.

  29. JohnnyOil says:

    If you’re going to hold me at the mercy of my two-year-old memory of the series, which is perfectly fair, here are the two meagre remains:

    First, Steve’s nervous giveaway that led to the first goal in G1 (if I remember correctly), which was absolutely a “choke” in my books (never say “ever”). My perception of “Nervous” Steve would be reinforced throughout the remainder of the series, though I haven’t commited later gaffes to memory. Second, you’ll recall that at some point during the finals, MacT made an unusual comment to the press about “nerves” costing a game, of which Steve’s performance was exemplary, I thought. Might have even been G1.

    And that’s as far as my memory goes. We both agree that the SC finals provide a fine litmus test of a player’s “quality.” Since you saw a steadier Steve than I did, we’ll disagree until I can watch that final series again and take some notes. I think I’ve got four of those games on tape, so maybe I’ll relive the heartbreak this summer. Can’t wait :/

  30. PDO says:

    Goal one in G1 was a giveaway by Ryan Smyth getting too cute with Jason Smith pinching on a 3 on 1, while we were up 3-0.

    Clearly, you’re not bitter enough.

    As for “Steady Steve…..”

    Have you ever played hockey, with a defenseman named Steve?

    Doesn’t matter how bloody unsteady he is, his nickname is Steady Steve.

  31. JohnnyOil says:

    PDO: lol – no, I haven’t, though I figured “Steady Steve” stuck partly because it had a nice ring to it, hollow or not.

    I stand corrected re: Carolina’s first G1 goal. Just learned that I’ve got the first five games of that series recorded. I’ll screen them before the ’08-’09 season and either back up my claim or capitulate.

  32. Bruce says:

    Oilers had just scored to go up 3-0 (Moreau I believe, a couple minutes after CFP had scpred on a penalty shot) and a giddy Gator frolicked up the ice like a young colt without a care in the world while I screamed at my TV “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??!!”

    The beginning of the end …

  33. Dennis says:

    When you start talking about how the 120 min of D will be divided, you start to see that the backline has a lot of nice young pieces and one bonafide top four guy in Staios but you know that we’re likely at least one season away from really contending and that if it happens, it’s gonna have to be on a stopper-by-committee deal or someone’s gonna have to take a huge step to be a ~25 might a night guy who’s super dependable.

  34. PDO says:


    I was in drunken stupor by this time. 3-0, in G1? Everything was going right to the god damn plan. I was ready to strip down to underwear, pretend I was Stone Cold Steven Austin, and proceed to do a backflip while slamming two beers together for added effect.

    So I didn’t yell at Jason Smith for pinching.

    That is, of course, until there was the turnover. And then it was a blue streak that would have made a sailor blush. Followed by a goal that my sister could’ve stopped. Followed by a blue streak that could’ve made a rapper repent.

    That was supposed to be the first SC win I saw, live.

    I won’t be over it until I see one live…

    And I won’t forgive it until I see two.


    I think the Oilers are primed for reaching a point where they can be a first round coin flip. Ideally, they’ll win that coin flip, there’ll be a lot of excitement around the future of the team, guys like Grebs, Cole and Garon buy in long-term for decent rates, and we’re loaded up for ’09. I have absolutely no dreams of grandeur for this season… but it’s important to be in the dance and gain some experience for the next go round.

    And I’ll say it again, because it can’t be said enough:

    Pavel Datsyuk is a top 5 player in the league…

    …. and Sam Gagner, one day, is going to be a very, very, similar player. Cerebral. Dominant at both ends of the rink, able to score goals but primarily a play-maker. And quite possibly the best combination of sets of Hands, Eyes and Brains in the league.

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