Riesen to Believe 2 (Defense)

Charlie Huddy has been saying nice things about the defense. I know it’s ridiculous to put too much faith in that (what is he going to say? “The front office sure bought a lemon this time!”) but fact is Huddy, MacT, Lowe and the rest really have established their ability to prop up defensemen with middling resume’s since 2000.

I think there are things to like about every NHL defenseman on this roster but the team lacks “all-around” talents who can be used in multiple situations. To use baseball as an example, the Oilers have plenty of LF-1b’s but not very many 2b’s-3b’s-1b’s.

However, when Charlie Huddy and the Oilers start that smooth talking it’s hard to resist it. Anyone who saw Igor Ulanov’s turnaround, or the development of Steve Staios, or the quality Jan Hejda displayed when here tells us these people know a thing or two about playing NHL defense. The math nuts like myself sometimes have to put the slide rule aside, back away from the bunsen burner and let things play themselves out in due time. Here’s the blue based on Huddy’s projected pairings.

  1. Sheldon Souray, 32: To the naked eye Souray looked a little better than we thought, and MacT mentioned something along the way to the same effect. The Desjardins’ math says he played with the worst possible combination of linemates and against the toughest possible opposition. If he can stay healthy long enough, we may warm up to the man. 26gp, 3-7-10, 36pims -7. Chances of Making the Oilers: 100%.
  2. Steve Staios, 35: 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). He has a wide range of skills and that one thing makes him extremely valuable to this club. 82gp, 7-19-26, 121pims -14. Chances of making the Oilers: 100%.
  3. Lubomir Visnovsky, 32: Pure delight in many aspects of the game, his weaknesses are all in his end and a team readying themselves for a Stanley run would partner him with a tough, durable defensive defenseman. He’s a very valuable commodity no matter the pairing and the Oilers did well to acquire him. 82gp, 8-33-41, 34pims -18. Chances of making the Oilers: 100%.
  4. Tom Gilbert, 25: Gilbert belongs to the family of puck movers but can also be effective without the puck. He’s an intelligent player who seems perfectly suited to the current NHL style, with his trademark play being a stealth skate in from the blueline to the crease for a tap-in. If he is paired with Lubo, Gilbert is going to need to borrow some sandpaper and he’s going to expend a lot of energy battling down low on that pairing. I don’t know if that’s the best use of his skills and Staios might be better served on the Lubo pairing. 82gp, 13-20-33, 20pims -6. Chances of making the Oilers: 100%.
  5. Denis Grebeshkov, 25 in October: My pick for the guy who will step into the top 4 when injury/ineffectiveness arise. In fact I can see him joining Gilbert on the second pairing by the end of training camp. Very smart player and I think a guy who might be ready for an increased role on this team from the get-go. 71gp, 3-15-18, 22pims +2. Chances of making the Oilers: 100%.
  6. Ladislav Smid, 22: Man he’s still so young. A fine article in the EJ by Jim Matheson today lays everything out there and the quotes are golden. Huddy: “It’s a lot of positioning, not running around in your end and getting caught. To play in the top 4 you need to be consistent, night in, night out.” I’m combining two quotes there but the general idea is that Smid has a great set of tools and you want to wait as long as you can for the light to turn on. Amen. 65gp, 0-4-4, 58pims -15. Chances of making the Oilers: 90% (he could be traded).
  7. Jason Strudwick, 33: I think Strudwick will probably play a bigger role than 7D/5L and in fact is a nice option should two of the youngsters struggle (Smid, Jacques) at those positions. He is the latest in a long line of guys who come in looking like an also-ran and end up looking like an all-star. Let’s hope the Ulanov, Staios, Hedja magic works with him too. 52gp, 1-1-2, 40pims E. Chances of making the Oilers: 90% (you never know what’s going to happen in camp and he’s at the tail-end of the roster).
  8. Mathieu Roy, 25: Roy would appear to be #8 on an NHL depth chart and that means he’s likely to be a bubble player with the added anchor the Oilers have risked waivers on him before and he’s passed right through. Concussion worries and ability suggest he can pass through again. Chances of Making the Oilers: 10%.
  9. Theo Peckham, 20: With the trade of Matt Greene and his exceptional rise through the depth chart one year ago, his chances of making the team keep getting better. Throw in Roy’s concussion worries and a few other injury concerns and he’s on the radar before they start taping the sticks. Chances of Making the Oilers: 8%.
  10. Josef Hrabel, 23: He’s been playing in the high Euro leagues for several years now (well over 100 games in Russia and Czech Republic combined). 6-1, 180 and can pass the puck. Oilers have suggested he could be a top pairing D in the AHL as soon as this season. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
  11. Bryan Young, 22: His strongest asset is that he’s played over 100 AHL games and has twice been called up to the NHL by the parent club. On the other hand, pretty much all of the other D prospects who are in pro (or about to turn pro) are players with a wider range of skills. Chances of Making the Oilers: 1%.
  12. Taylor Chorney, 21: Oilers are in a position to bring him along slowly, plus he did have that knee injury in his final college game. Based on the number of good D prospects knocking on the door, he’s likely to spend the entire season in the AHL. The one prospect I’m most looking forward to seeing this fall. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  13. Sebastien Bisaillon, 21: I think he’ll get sent out no matter what because of last season’s injuries. They’ll want to see him healthy for a time before he gets the call but he’s had a nice pro career so far and is ahead of a few pretty high draft picks already. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  14. Cody Wild, 21: One of the things we should probably start talking about is that “games played in the AHL” is probably going to be a good way to measure management’s feelings about these young pro defenders. There’s so damn many dressing for the game is going to be a competition. Has a few weeks pro experience, nice skill set and probably a rather large learning curve in the minors. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  15. Jake Taylor, 25: Taylor signed a two-year AHL contract with Springfield, and their GM Bruce Landon said “Jake is a big, strong, physical defenseman who has the reputation of being tough to play against.” I assume he’s an AHL only option but Taylor does have over 200 games of AHL experience at a fairly young age. 6-4, 225. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  16. Jordan Bendfeld, 20: A unique player on this list in that he can go back to junior if there’s no room, and that may be the case when all is said and done. Enforcer, can fight and the Oilers obviously like him. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  17. Robbie Bina, 25: Rather famous college career gets him a pro contract. Very small puck moving defender who should be a lot of fun to watch play. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  18. Mike Gabinet, 27: 4 year college player who also has pro experience in Finland, ECHL and 37 games in the AHL. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  19. Cleve Kinley, 24: Played in the NCAA and has some pro experience. Looks like an offensive defender based on numbers and is coming off a very nice ECHL post-season for the Texas Wildcatters. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  20. Jesse Dudas, 20: I don’t know much about him, he’s apparently a puck mover who can skate. He’s a big kid (6-1, 226) and with two WHL teams (age 19) last season Dudas went 52gp, 5-30-35. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  21. Milan Maslonka, 21: HUGE kid. 6-7, 245. Blocks out the sun. 289pims in the Central League. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  22. Alex Plante, 19: Outlaw defender is healthy and without a home. 6-4, 225 and turns 20 in May. More than anyone else, this fellow needs a productive season. He’s playing for a first round contract. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  23. Anthony Pisano, 19: 6-6, 230. I’m not certain the Oilers can sign him, since he would appear to be draft eligible for 2009. Anyway, he’s another monster. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  24. Daulton Prout, 18: 6-2, 201. Has some skills as a fighter, maybe they’re bringing him to camp to get a look at a guy they may draft next summer. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.
  25. Kalvin Sagert, 21: 6-2, 226. Played last season with Prince George (WHL) and I believe he has played some forward in junior. Sagert played in an incredible 339 WHL games during a 6-year stay in the dub. Chances of Making the Oilers: Zero.

written by

The author didn‘t add any Information to his profile yet.
Related Posts

10 Responses to "Riesen to Believe 2 (Defense)"

  1. Asiaoil says:

    Take a look at Phillips or especially Regehr’s numbers from their early years and remember their play if you can…..Regehr in particular is spooky similar to Smid if you ask me. Given Laddy’s bulking up and desire to be aggressive – I think he’s modeling himself on Regehr and has a chance to be just as good. Way too early to think about trading the kid as he’s only 22 – and as long as he’s on the 3rd pair to start the year – there is no reason to do anything but continue developing him.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Asia: How did the Flames do in the playoffs when Regehr was a kid?

  3. Addicted-to-oil says:

    Nice work on the D. I wasn’t very big on Grebby while I was here last year, but I missed the last half of the season, and apparently he did really well in the last half. I’m really interested to see how he does. I was also very interested to see that he was on the ice for more PPG per PP TOI than Gilbert was – but had far few points (I just did a post on this in my blog).
    However, on the flip side, even though he only averaged 1:09 on the PK, he was by far the worst player on the team in terms of PPGA in relation to ice time. He was on the ice for 12 PPGA in only 87 minutes. Gilbert an Brodziak were on the ice for 16 each in 201 and 207 minutes respectively.
    I should take a look and see how he improved over the season…

  4. spOILer says:

    I’m with HBomb, I think Grebs is just as likely as Smid to be traded.

    Looking at Vic’s and Gabby’s numbers, Grebs had a much easier path thru the season last year than Smid did. Given the Oil have more offensive NHL level Dmen than defensive, throw in the KHL worries, and I think you could tack 90% to Grebs’ name just as easily as Smid’s.

    Ladi’s numbers at 5 on 5 actually approach Steady Steve’s.

    Now what the Oil is looking for is obviously some consistent success at that level of difficulty to move to the next level. Being just a 21 yo on D and taking tougher ice time, especially the own zone draws, I think he did rather well (now let's see if he can turn the corner).

    Those numbers showing how much Charlie had Smid out for own zone draws speak far louder than any song & dance he does for the local media. Of course, if Souray had remained healthy, he likely would have been top 2 in OZDs.

    As far as pairings go, I'm leaning more towards having Vis and Souray paired up at evens. If they're going to be playing together on the PP, and if Vis needs a bit of rough by his side, then why not keep them together?

    That pairs Gilbert with Grebs which gives him a better chance of out-performing at EVs, I think, than Vis would.

    I wonder whether MacT might consider dropping 4LW and carrying Strudwick as a 7th Dman/4LW/fighter, especially for the tougher Western matchups.

    Having Strudwick seems to make the 3 goalie roster possible, but at the expense of one of the prospect forwards.

  5. spOILer says:

    I also notice that Matty failed to mention in his article that although Smid’s TOI was slimmed down for the last month of the season, he was playing at the time with meniscus damage.

  6. Mark-Ryan says:

    Spoiler: Yeah, but Steady Steve’s even strength numbers suck. So does Ladislav. Say what you want about the broad numbers, Grebeshkov was playing shutdown minutes in the stretch run and doing it better then the bottom-pairing minutes he played at the start.

    And I don’t buy the Phillips and Regehr argument. For every Regehr and Phillips there are several dozen failed prospects who play the seventh D.

    Although I’m a bit weird about that. I think there’s a very good chance Grebehshkov could be a clearly better all-around talent then Gilbert-Gilbert by the end of the season.

  7. Dennis says:

    I just think the Oilers are throwing good icetime after bad money with Souray and outside of optics, what other reason is there to give him primo assignments at EV?

    Yes, the guy was good there in a small segment last year but there are bigger and longer segments that show he shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

    Without taking into accounts the left’s and right’s of such moves –which is admittedly blind — I like Staios-Vishnovsky together, Grebs-Gilbert and Smid-Souray. I also like the potential of a Gilbert/Souray 2nd pairing where the latter just stands back and let’s the kid roam.

    Any way you shake it out, this team isn’t as appealing at D as they are at forward. Both Gilbert and Grebs have shown more two-way potential than Smid but there’s still a divide between experience and peak games left from the old guys and the rate of development left for the kids. Hell, even a guy like Lubbie has played on such bad teams for the last while now that we can’t even be sure if he’s on the decline or not.

    The Oilers have a lot of hitting right now and that’s good because there’s a big chance they’re gonna have to trade some of that for pitching.

  8. Schitzo says:

    Dennis: I have to take issue with saying that playing Souray is throwing away good ice time. Given Huddy’s record in turning anything on skates into an NHL defender, I think we need to at least see what Souray can do.

    Give Huddy 20 games to do it his way, and lets see where we end up.

  9. Ribs says:

    I also like the potential of a Gilbert/Souray 2nd pairing where the latter just stands back and let’s the kid roam.

    Now we’re talking about wasting money!

    I haven’t heard of half of these guys, yikes. The monster kids scare me the most. I hope the coaching staff doesn’t take a liking to them too much.

  10. Master Lok says:

    I’d prefer the following pairings

    Vishnovsky – Grebeshkov
    Gilbert – Souray
    Smid – Staios

    But then I have no clue about who can play LD and who can play RD.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

© Copyright - Lowetide.ca