Hodge Podge

Pierre Lebrun had some interesting news today about the Oilers and possible lines to begin the year.

ALL posts regarding Craig MacTavish and line combinations should come with a giant WARNING! sign attached since the man likes to juggle like Scotty Bowman many nights each season. Credit to him, he finds the guy whose feet are moving and gets him more minutes and identifies the party-goers early on too.

Fun stuff.

Anyway, Lebrun suggests that MacTavish is thinking along these lines:

  1. Horcoff-Cole-Hemsky
  2. Gagner-Cogliano-Nilsson
  3. Penner-Moreau-Pisani

There’s enough quality left over for a nice 4line, with Brodziak and Stortini likely written in ink and Pouliot, Schremp, Potulny, Brule, Reddox and Lerg all possibilities. Plus maybe Strudwick some nights.

The big question mark is Penner at center. Can he handle the workload? Playing wing on a MacT team is pretty simple, cover the defensive area from high slot to the D on your side of the ice and make damn good and sure you can muscle the puck out if Staios rings it around (I know this sounds ridiculous bothering to write it down but Joffrey Lupul spent an entire season NOT doing it so it’s a requirement).

For MacT centers, there’s the FO circle, there’s the extra footwork in your own zone and then it’s often required that you are the first forward out of the offensive zone on turnovers. Can Penner get back in time?

CAN he?

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40 Responses to "Hodge Podge"

  1. nick says:

    …you’ve got Penner slotted on the left side yet spend half your post wonder if he can handle being a MacT centre?

  2. DMFB says:

    This just seems like a bad idea. Even with the blender in effect, shouldn’t we just see if Brodziak or whoever can handle it before we start converting wingers?

    Also, Nick, LT’s convention is C-LW-RW.

  3. LittleFury says:

    I think Penner played centre in the AHL? FWIW, He’s definitely listed as a centre in NHL 07…

  4. Jonathan says:

    you’ve got Penner slotted on the left side yet spend half your post wonder if he can handle being a MacT centre?

    LT lists the centres first. Just to confuse you.

  5. Bank Shot says:

    There were a few newspaper articles last season about Penner’s debut at the center position. From what I can scrape together from boxscores, that debut lasted 2 games.

    The Oilers played Nashville and Dallas and Penner went -2 in both games. He started at center against Colorado in the next game, but his line was scored on about 20seconds in, and they were split up by the second. Moreau went back on the injured reserve at the game’s end, and I don’t think Penner saw any more time at center after that.

    So, it looks like Penner is not currently capable of playing a shutdown center role, and I doubt Mactavish is patient enough to develop Penner in that role.

  6. doritogrande says:

    I read this post…and all I think of is…

    CANDY! Glorious Candy!!!

  7. The Rage says:

    The two biggest problems on this team are the lack of shut-down d-man who can play against the other team’s top line, and the lack of a decent third line centre who can allow the kids line to be sheltered. If Penner can fill the latter role, then this team might just go places.

  8. boopronger says:

    Penner seems okay in the FO department though going over %50 last year.

  9. doritogrande says:

    As an aside, the rookies game tonight is being streamed on the Oilers site for anyone interested.

    Glove tap to the boys at CinO for the notice.

  10. Doogie2K says:

    Penner had a 55% FO percentage, but took fewer than 200 draws all year, or less than 2.5 draws per game. Not exactly much to judge on.

  11. mike w says:

    LT’s convention is C-LW-RW.

    Why, LT, why?!

    For a second there I thought MacTavish drew up the lines while having an ice cream headache.

  12. Traktor says:

    2 of the best shooters on the team with Moreau to set them up?

    2 of the hardest working players on the team with Penner slowing them down?

    Only MacT…

  13. Ribs says:

    I think we’re overthinking this one. I wouldn’t be suprised if Penner was put at center to start off just to make sure he is in some kind of shape come the season opener. It might also help identify which of the many young centers can move to the wing with some effectiveness.

    It’s early. Real early. beware the grains of salt. They are mighty.

  14. Ducey says:

    I would prefer Horc, Gagner, and Cogs as the first 3 centers with Penner on the second line with Nilsson and Gagne.

    Penner could set up in front of the net in the offensive zone and Nilsson and Gagne would set him up all night long. Those two need a shooter. Cogs could use his speed in a shutdown role on the third line.

  15. Quain says:

    Talking about preliminary MacT lines is like trying to measure an ice cube in hell.

    Let’s talk about stats versus guts!!!

  16. Doogie2K says:

    My gut can totally beat up your gut. I should know, mine blocked a point-blank shot in my soccer league last night.

  17. PDO says:

    Traktor piling on MacT because of speculation from a writer about the preseason lineup?


  18. Paper Designer says:

    I’m still not convinced that Cole is this miracle worker who’s going to get thirty plus goals on the top line. He’s had one season where he produced at an elite level, and that was the year after the lock-out when coaches were still trying to figure out how to choke offense out of the game, and since then, he’s produced like a first/second line tweener. He also, unlike Penner, does not have his traditional peak years ahead of him, and that has to be a concern for a physical player.

    People talk about Hemsky’s contract being favorable, but at this point, when a player like Ryder gets four million, Penner’s contract may actually be a good value as of 2008-2009. As odd as it sounds, the value of the contract of dollars versus production, may actually be something that makes the “trade” look favorable. Four more years of him, same number of years as Hemsky. I think you find a way to turn him into, offensively, at least as good a player as Cole. Because if you want to keep Cole, you’re probably going to have to pay him at least a million more than Penner, and not for the traditional peak years either.

  19. Showerhead says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned it yet – Penner might be there for faceoffs and faceoffs alone. 7/9 faceoff dots on the ice are in places that would allow DP to take the draw and roll off to wing if necessary before any damage is done. Either of Pisani or Moreau could cover down low during fluid play and Pisani especially is smart enough to play the role of 1F back on the rush.

    Things get hairy during own zone draws, however, and one would have to wonder if this configuration is designed more with PvP in mind than line 3 as a checking line. I mean, they wouldn’t be awful starting from the back but Penner’s one-on-one D is probably not something that can be banked on. As for being the 1st man back, forget about it.

  20. Lord Bob says:

    The trouble with having Penner there to take the draw and then slide over is that you have Ethan Moreau defending centre ice. For all the objections we have to Penner playing third-line centre, they apply twice over to Moreau: he’s a smart player but he’s not that quick anymore, he’s only going to play twenty games this season anyway, and the man probably hasn’t skated through that red circle at centre ice once in his life.

    The only way Penner as a faceoff-only centre could work is if we put him with Brodziak or (preferably) Pouliot on his wing. Admittedly, if Moreau gets hurt, this might come up. On the other hand, as has been pointed out, MacTavish’s line combinations are determined by throwing darts at a board anyway so this whole conversation is quite irrelevant.

  21. Bruce says:

    re: Penner on the draw. That 55% looks pretty good at face value, but it’s hard to say exactly what it means. As I recall he took a disproportionate number of PP draws. What I don’t know is what is the league-wide percentage of PP faceoffs? I would guess higher than 50% due to the increased odds of the PP team winning a scrambled draw, but I’ve never seen this quantified.

    Does anybody know of a site that gives raw faceoff splits on a league wide basis? e.g. home team vs. visitor, PP vs. PK, offensive vs. defensive zone, RH vs. LH, combinations thereof. It would be interesting to know, and might add context to certain players who take a preponderance of draws in a certain situation. Maybe they’re all just random scatter close to 50%, but it would be cool to see some actual data.

  22. Lowetide says:

    MacT needs a right for the FO circle. They must believe on of Brodziak or Pouliot can fill Stoll’s role in this regard.

  23. Lord Bob says:

    Stoll was one of the best dotmen in the business. You’re just not going to replace that. Look at the film sometime: even when he lost a draw, he was second-to-few at tying up the other guy’s stick and buying his wingers time to go in and make a play.

    That said, personally I’d rather see Brodziak taking the big defensive draws than Stoll. I think handedness out of a faceoff is overrated: if you win it to the defenseman in front of your own goal you’ve still won it and unless the defenseman in question is Janne Niinimaa you can still get that puck out. Second, Brodziak was a plus player on the faceoff circle and is young enough to be getting better. Third, Brodziak is (and the fact that I have to say this is a sad indication about our playoff chances) probably our second-best defensive centre behind Horcoff, and until MacTavish figures out how to play him sixty minutes a night without killing him, we’re going to need Brodziak in a big way.

  24. Lord Bob says:

    Actually, I have to add: not being a numbers man myself, I’d be interested to see how faceoff percentage improves in centres with age. Does anybody know if such numbers are available?

    On one hand, my brain tells me that as centres become wiser to the tricks of various players around the years, they’ll win more draws. On the other hand, the essential factor in winning a faceoff is reflex, and that doesn’t really improve with age.

  25. Doogie2K says:

    Traktor piling on MacT because of speculation from a writer about the preseason lineup?


    Well, to be fair, they are MacT’s lines; he told them to LeBrun. That doesn’t mean they last, or are even accurate, but they’re from the horse’s mouth.

  26. Sean says:

    A guy on Jonathan’s post at ON mentioned the possibility of

    Horcoff – Cole – Hemsky
    Gagner – Cogliano – Nilsson
    Pouliot – Penner – Pisani
    Brodziak – Morreau – Stortini

    The BIG if there is Pouliot. I’ve always had Brodziak as the 3rd line C but if Pouliot could be that guy
    – you can have Penner take draws
    – Pouliot fwit is a good passer and Pisani, Penner would appear to be good fits on his line
    – Brodziak/Morreau still play large PK minutes

    Again the big question there is Pouliot. I doubt Penner would succeed as a 3rd line C but is it worth a look see in pre-season? Sure.

  27. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    I think these line combinations exist purely for the role of camp and will be gone before the final pre-season games. My guess is that any one of Brodz, Poo, and Cogs are in the running and they have to fight their way onto it (except for Cogs who of course would only move over if the kid-line falters).

    Penner is just slated there because his final position depends little on his play and more on others’ (ie. if Cole fits on the top and kids line continues their run).

  28. Dennis says:

    This post IS called Hodge Podge so I’m wondering about Eberle.

    For those who’ve seen any of the rookie games, how’s he looked?

    Early returns dailies-wise seem promising and the kid’s a lock for an invite to the main came on Friday, no?

  29. Lord Bob says:

    Because of his pedigree, I think Eberle would be going to the main camp even if he’d only scored one goal in rookie camp and it was on his own net.

    But if he’s actually showing something, all the better!

  30. Schitzo says:

    Lets not forget, this is also the team that was so pissed off at Mike Peca that they ran Pisani at 3C for a couple of games.

    If we do see it happen, I’d expect it to be a message to Pouliot and Brodziak that neither one are written in ink for the 3C spot.

    Fuck, if it actually works then it’s a bonus.

  31. George B says:


    Having watched last night and from all accounts he had been quite solid. Personally I don’t see room on the squad for him.

    The Oilers are already looking like a team paying a guy $4 million to be on the third line with Pouliot and Pisani by some observers.

    If you decide to keep Eberle, that means no Schremp, Brule, Potulny, that are already fighting for ice.

    I say throw Eberle back to junior unless he knocks your socks off.

  32. Schitzo says:

    One other thought regarding Eberle – to give him an NHL tryout, he needs to sign the entry-level SPC.

    While I doubt he’d qualify for much in bonuses, the risk right now is that the CBA will be re-opened next year.

    Depending on which way the winds are blowing, are the oilers better off waiting a year and seeing if the terms of entry-level SPCs are favourably renegotiated?

    I haven’t heard anything one way or another, and everyone seems reasonably happy with how the SPCs sit at present… But it is a consideration.

  33. DBO says:

    So now that Schneider has cleared waivers, would he fit on our top 4 if we picked him up on re-entry waivers. $2.8125 is a good cost for a top 4 dman. Especially since burke would be paying half his salary. not sure if we could get him based on waiver priority, but picking him up and moving one of Grebeshkov/Smid puts us close to the cap and might be the veteran player LT has been pinning for.

  34. Schitzo says:


    I’d jump all over it, if we can find a proper 3C.

    It seems like a half-assed way to make a push if we’re still breaking in kids at centre.

    Smid for Maholtra?

  35. Dennis says:

    I can’t see how someone won’t pick him up at that price. At the very least he can do a number on soft opp and do a job on the PP.

    Though, a quick check at BTN reveals he didn’t rock it on the PP last year.

    Still, worth a gamble at that price.

  36. devin says:

    Schneider isn’t going to make it to EDM, not when LA has only 4 NHL d-men signed and is 5mil under the cap. Just seems like a no-brainer for them. Also, TB has only 5 real D-men and no vets worth their salt so they could and should take him, too.

    Btw- I have to love Burke’s predicament. Even with 2.8 worth of Schneider’s salary gone they are a sliver over the cap. To fit Selanne in they’d have to lowball him and deal another chunk of salary (Marchant). Even better would be if NO ONE picked up Schneider, which would put ANA over the cap — since he’s an Over-35 deal — with little recourse.

    Best GM in hockey, folks.

  37. HBomb says:

    A guy on Jonathan’s post at ON mentioned the possibility of

    Horcoff – Cole – Hemsky
    Gagner – Cogliano – Nilsson
    Pouliot – Penner – Pisani
    Brodziak – Morreau – Stortini

    The BIG if there is Pouliot. I’ve always had Brodziak as the 3rd line C but if Pouliot could be that guy
    - you can have Penner take draws
    - Pouliot fwit is a good passer and Pisani, Penner would appear to be good fits on his line
    - Brodziak/Morreau still play large PK minutes

    I think that’s a great lineup. So good, in fact, I think I posted in somewhere on here in July or August. :)

    I’m ahead of the curve that way….

  38. Sean says:

    HBomb: Ok give credit when credit is due. I actually like your lineup too ;)

    Dennis: I posted a bit on the Bears vs Rookies game. I liked Eberle’s game. He got open in the slot 2-3 times and was unlucky to score. For a guy known as a shooter he was also able to cycle and keep the play moving. I dont like his chances but I want to see how he does with Gagner or Hemsky. Schremp deserves a shot at those minutes though.

  39. Showerhead says:

    Lord Bob:
    The trouble with having Penner there to take the draw and then slide over is that you have Ethan Moreau defending centre ice.

    Who says it has to be Ethan? All three skaters on this sepculative line are LH shots. Pies has the mental game to cover down low and to keep position on some very good players. Health may be a concern, but I think maybe you assumed Penner would have to slide left? The only difference of course, being that as a left handed player on the right boards you have to turn back towards your own corner to play the puck coming around the boards on your forehand. Other than offensive preference (back in the day, I played a lot of RW as an LH shot), can you think of any other difference? I can’t.

    Now of course, I realize you and many have made the most important point – these lines, if real, are bound to be fluid – but while it’s on the docket I still don’t see the issue with a Penner roll out.

  40. rickibear says:

    We have all been playing with the lineups since the end of the season.

    You can end up with any number of combinations and what we are all posting has been written down by most of us when reviewing the stats.

    To think we are going to have set lines from MacT is silly.

    What is noticeable is when we look at top 60 in the league ability on our team in different roles we are two or three deep.

    Even Strength:
    Above 10:00 TOI gets you on teams first 3 lines

    Horcoff 1.18 #24 FWD #6C
    Brodziak .97 #53 FWD #14C
    Plus two top 100FWD
    Cogliano .85 #89
    Pisani .82 #100
    The top 2 need to be on the top two lines. There are our first

    1st Asst/60:
    Hemsky 1.35 #4 FWD #1RW
    Nilsson 1.15 #11FWD #3LW
    Cole 1.08 #20FWD #5LW
    Gagner 1.05 #25FWD #8RW

    Goals + 1Asst/60:
    Hemsky 2.06 #22FWD
    Horcoff 1.89 #32FWD
    Brodziak 1.87 #34FWD
    Cole 1.80 #40FWD
    Nilsson 1.70 #60FWD
    Top 100fwd
    Gagner 1.59 #82 Fwd
    Cogliano 1.50 #90 Fwd
    These five have to have top 6 minutes.
    Nilsson LW/RW-Brodziak-???

    Left over:
    Pisani RW

    If Nillson plays RW then Gagner has to play 3rd line center.
    I know what I would do.

    GF/GA Differential:
    Cole +.89 #42FWD Comp.07 Team-.02
    Top 100FWD
    Nilsson +.69 #65FW Cmp -.01 Tm -.07
    Horcoff +.47 #93FW Cmp .02 Tm .05
    Close to Above water.
    Cogliano -.07 Comp -.03 team -.07
    Penner -.22 Comp .03 Team .01
    Hemsky -.23 Comp .08 Team .08
    Pisani-.37 Comp .02 Team -.14
    We are a weak team in this area.

    Penalty Kill: Min 1:45 TOI
    Souray 3.68 #8Dmen
    Staios 4.15 #12 Dmen
    Brodziak 4.82 #20FWD
    Gilbert 4.88 #33 Dmen
    Moreau 5.17 #30FWD
    Pisani 5.25 #34FWD
    Horcoff 5.79 #47FWD

    PK #1

    Depends on who plays that night between Smid And Strudwick.

    Cogliano got more PK opportunity near the end of the year. His 4.60 says we try him at PK. As the fifth forward.

    Power Play: Min 1:45 TOI
    Penner 2.44 #22 Fwd
    Pisani 2.35 #28 Fwd
    Cole 2.30 #29 Fwd

    1 Asst/60:
    Hemsky 2.63 #4 Fwd
    Gagner 1.94 #31 Fwd
    Horcoff 1.71 #49 Fwd

    Hemsky 4.17 #10 Fwd
    Horcoff 3.14 #64 Fwd
    Cole 3.14 #65 Fwd
    Gagner 3.05 #75 Fwd
    Penner 3.05 #77 Fwd
    Pisani 2.94 #84 Fwd

    PP is pretty Easy
    1st unit Cole-Horc-Hemsky
    2nd unit Gagner-Penner-pisani

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