All Aboard the Crazy Train

The fascinating possibilities of one Jean Francois Jacques were on display last night in Anaheim. Jacques played a paltry 2:42 and took a 4-minute high sticking penalty that could have hurt the team in a big way. He also answered the call of street fighting man George Parros a couple of minutes into the game, and his aggressive forechecking contributed to Kyle Brodziak’s goal. 8 shifts, +1.

I’ve always been a fan, mostly because his size and speed are not easily found in any era. Of all of the “Coke Machines” this organization drafted in the early part of the decade, Jacques’ progress through junior and into pro showed the most growth and promise (even more than Zack Stortini, who has had a much better career).

I suggested Jacques would make the team during the summer (found here) but he was injured and his season took a completely different route.

When Jacques finally completed his rehab and emerged healthy again, the Oilers brought him up and he’s played in 4 games. Scored a goal. Made some big hits, has a shooting percentage of 1.000 and despite retaining most of what got him the nickname Crazy Train he seems to be a little more mature in terms of positioning and doing the little things on the ice that get you another shift from the coach (call them the Reddox points).

The Oilers need big men up front. The new, smaller NHL is slowly giving way to something resembling the older style league and a guy like Jacques is extremely useful as an enforcer who can actually play.

Look at the Oilers roster: lots of 5.10′s and 5.11′s and 7 men under 200 pounds. Many of their bigger man (Penner, Brodziak) are not physical forces and still others (MacIntyre, Stortini) have too few dimensions to their game.

Jacques could be a different story. His AHL scoring rates were “in the range” with Nilsson and Pouliot, and while that is well shy of impact scorer, it indicates exceptional possibilities when added to the other things JF Jacques brings to the rink. He is signed to a beauty $700,000 contract for next season, and if he can combine size, speed, grit and enforcer roles to making the right plays away from the puck (the Reddox points) you might be looking at an extremely valuable young hockey player.

JF Jacques, like Marc Pouliot, has had injury troubles that have had an impact on progress. Like Pouliot, the organization clearly has a role he can play on the big club. If he’s healthy, Jacques could be on the team in the fall of 2009.

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47 Responses to "All Aboard the Crazy Train"

  1. Schitzo says:

    I hope it all clicks, because man could we use a guy like that. My son approves of the picture.

    Horc with 24 minutes last night. Lord. Maybe they can clear up this bottom-6 logjam and move a Reddox and a Nilsson for some help next year.

  2. reijo29 says:

    I think that JFJ should be the obvious replacement for Moreau next year. Obviously we would have to have someone else take his PK minutes & there will be growing pains (that's sports in a cap world).

    If Mac T is back next year we need to find room for Reddox on the 4th line, whether we like it or not.
    19-10-83
    27-89-XXa
    22-XXb-34
    85-51-46
    XXa – Colby Armstrong
    XXb – Sammy Pahlsson
    Trade Bait – Nilsson, Cogliano, Pouliot

    Teams that properly manage the salary cap in pro sports always have young guys waiting in the wings when the Vets start showing glimpses of their age. Our Vets (Moreau, Pisani & Staios) have all shown a lot more then glimpses. I still like Pisani as long as he's 3rd line RW & on PK1.

    Need to have JFJ replace 18 & Pecks replace 24 next year for cap & growth reasons.

  3. Jonathan Willis says:

    Reigo: Personally, I don’t think Jacques has shown near enough to replace Moreau on the third line at this point.

    It would have been like showing Nilsson the door for Schremp 3 games into his NHL debut (minutes played are about the same). While the player being rpelaced is a problem, it’s far from certain that the replacement will be any better.

    I’d like to see Jacques play 4th line LW next year. It’s taken a long time, but that draft class from 2003 might finally be ready to play.

  4. Ribs says:

    Reddox Points. I like it.

    I’m not a fan of the coke machines because they rarely turn into anything, but I’ve got some patience for guys who can skate in any position. Jacques can do that. It’s the other things he can’t do that put him on some thin ice. Like scoring some gaddamn NHL points with the amount of ice time he’s had. It’d also be nice if he could win more of his fights.

  5. reijo29 says:

    JW – I agree he hasn’t done enough but I think that those are the risks that need to be made with our bottom 6 due to the amount of $$$ we are spending on the back end, which could be even more if Bouwmeester actually wants to come home.

  6. Smytty777 says:

    I love Moreau and Pisani, but I agree with Reijo’s point that if you are going to cut costs I would rather we try and get away with it in our bottom 6. We need some guys in our bottom 6 to out play their contract and I don’t think Moreau or Pisani is going to accomplish that.

    We need one of them for sure and my pick would be Pis if we can replace Moreau’s physical play with a cheaper model.

  7. heed says:

    went to the game last night.

    can you believe you can drink pints of guinness and pacifico bombers while watching a live hockey game?

  8. shepso says:

    I’ve been a long standing jfj hater, but he impressed me a lot last night. Granted nobody impressed me more than Roli, but JFJ did make a few really smart plays, and the hit that led to 51′s goal was great. I still think 46 has more upside than 22, but I won’t complain if 22′s in the lineup on Sunday. The whole team played with passion and energy last night. Here’s hoping they can ride this wave for a the rest of the season!

  9. Smarmy Boss says:

    Since the bottom six is pretty awful and there seems to be a rotating cast of players. I agree with the sentiment that this cap challenged team should look to cut costs.

    Guys like Pisani, Moreau, Staios, etc.

    I’d also like Tambo to make his impression felt and stop this nonsense of trying to rebuild and make the playoffs at the same time and failing at both.

    Maybe stop with the half-assed trades and player movement.

    Come on Steve! Go hog wild!

  10. reijo29 says:

    Quick Question – Does Rollie resign in Edmonton if Detroit offers him similar money & term?

  11. oilerdago says:

    I’m not ready to completely jump on the JFJ bandwagon, but this year the kid has shown flashes and has earned another shot next year. He also has a value contract working in his favor – something that will be more important next season.

    He’d fit on the 4th line and that happens to be a spot that he’ll be competing with 18 for – barring a smart but unforseen off-season move (buying 18 out/trading).

    The Oilers would still need to bring in a forward who can kill penalties if they do these things over the summer (and take a face off) since they’ve seemingly given up on 78.

  12. rickibear says:

    JW: Agree Jacques has shown no ability to take untimely penalties and be the 12th worst penalty killer in the league.

  13. Bruce says:

    I dunno, RB, I’d call a four-minute high-sticking penalty with a one-goal lead in the last 10 minutes of a must-win game pretty untimely myself.

    Otherwise he played well, but that could have been disastrous.

  14. rickibear says:

    Yeah but JW was talking about consistently all season one game does not count right.

  15. Icecastles says:

    My problem with JFJ is that he’s kind of funny-looking. And whenever I see his initials out of context, I think JFK. Then I think about how awesome it would be if he were more of a sniper-type player. Then my head starts to hurt.

    I’m still all about Stortini. Ultimate fourth line guy. Disciplined, physical, hard-core work ethic and while he’s not a great hockey player, he can still make things happen.

  16. Lord Bob says:

    I’d rather have #22 than #85 on this team right now, let me put it that way.

  17. Coach pb9617 says:

    The whole team played with passion and energy last night. Here’s hoping they can ride this wave for a the rest of the season!

    Shep, they sucked last night. Sucked badly.

  18. Coach pb9617 says:

    LT, Diesel 10 isn’t crazy, he’s mean.

    So says the kid.

    In fact, Diesel 10 hates the young steamer engines.

    Diesel 10 is Moreau, not JFJ.

  19. Lowetide says:

    Coach: lol. A few years ago I would have known that. Now anytime I discuss pop culture with my kids it’s “hey Dad, did you check out fail blog today?”

  20. Scott says:

    I agree 22 hasn’t done enough but I think that those are the risks that need to be made with our bottom 6 due to the amount of $$$ we are spending on the back end

    I don’t think that this is necessarily true. It would certainly help if you could pay a guy 0.525M to play 10-12 minutes at EV but the Oilers could go out and replace Moreau at half the cost on the UFA market without a problem and you wouldn’t need to take the extra risk of putting 22 in a position where you’re unsure of his ability to succeed.

    I did like 22 on the fourth line though, mostly because I like that the fourth line last night had a definitive role that they understood and executed. This team has needed more of that this season.

  21. Dennis says:

    He might actually be the one that comes from the C-h-oke Machine era and helps us out – save for Ed Caron coming out of retirement – but if he does, a few things will have to happen.

    Guys like 22-51-46-85 all give the Oilers roster options that cost fuck all; the same goes for 78 in the top nine as well. But, let’s say 22 makes the club, let’s have a look at how it could all shake down.

    First off, will the Oil finally give up on 13 as a pivot and just move him to 89′s right wing? I think that’s what needs to be done.

    So, here we go.

    All of 27-10-83-13-89-19 are in your top six and 34′s in your top nine; I’d put 78 there as well. So, you need one more guy to round out your top nine and please God let it be a vet pivot who can win faceoffs and kill penalties.

    Then, you have 22-51-46 as your fourth line and 85′s your Bill Huard who sticks around and works his ass off and is a good teammate. Though, he’s certainly gonna rack up more GP than did Huard.

    Granted, where does Brule fit into this equation? Will he be willing to go out and bang around and be low event and start to make his Oilers hay in this regard?

    Anyway, go back to my original list and let’s see how it shakes out:

    27-10-83 – PVP
    19-89-13 – soft
    78-?-34 – secondary toughs
    22-51-46 – 4th line.

    Is that good enough?

    Granted, I didn’t get to the defense or netminding and it all needs to be looked at.

    But I look at that lineup and you’ll see the same thing that we’re looking at this year: the 13-89 combo really need to make hay with the soft min that’s provided them.

    the other thing is we need a new set of eyes/approach for the ST. We’re actually good enough at EV to make the playoffs but it’s the ST that’s fucking murdering us.

    So, unless the kids take the leap or we drastically change our ST approach, this team’s gonna be mired in mediocrity for next season as well.

    Jacques or new Jacques.

  22. Icecastles says:

    hey Dad, did you check out fail blog today?

    LT – as long as your kids aren’t referencing the Oilers blogs when they say that. :D

  23. hunter1909 says:

    Can someone please tell me when the Oilers developed this silly fetish about constantly chirping about “the captain” this, or “the captain” that?

    I remember they used to do it with Jason Smith because it always pissed me off ever so slightly to hear it.

    And I might have been kinda young at the time, but I sure as f*** don’t remember Messier or Gretzky getting this lame-assed pseudo veneration, all just for wearing a particular letter on their chests. Then again, I guess they didn’t need any introductions.

    No wonder Moreau has gone insane. All those verbal bj’s coming from the broadcast crew.

  24. Bruce says:

    19-89-13 – soft

    You can say that again.

  25. Bruce says:

    It pisses me off too, Hunter.

    It’s like Moreau had his name legally changed to Thecaptainethanmoreau.

    Nickname is Yourcaptainethanmoreau.

    It also comes with a special tone of voice, like all’s well with the world Oiler fans, Thecaptainethanmoreau has things under control. Never mind the Fact that most of the time, he actually doesn’t.

  26. shepso says:

    @ Coach. I disagree. I don’t think they sucked at all, but that is a subjective position to take. When was the last time you saw the Oilers hit people regularly, defend themselves against goons, and make the most of their opportunities. I don’t want to wax nostalgic about 06, but if I recall correctly, there was many a game where we were out shot and out chanced by wide margins and still came out on top. I thought the team played with more heart and grit then they had the entire year. They got lucky last night that Giguere had an off night, and I am certain Hiller will start for them on tuesday, but I don’t think they sucked at all. The PK looked a lot better, killing 8 of 9, the fat man got a bit of revenge against his old team, Fernando came to play like he used to, and it seems to me that they came together last night, playing more as a team than a collection of individuals divided by age and size. They were undisciplined, but they played with passion and fire, which is a welcome change in my book.

  27. Coach pb9617 says:

    Coach: lol. A few years ago I would have known that. Now anytime I discuss pop culture with my kids it’s “hey Dad, did you check out fail blog today?”

    He now thinks you are the best sportswriter ever. More Thomas & Friends.

    @ Coach. I disagree. I don’t think they sucked at all, but that is a subjective position to take. When was the last time you saw the Oilers hit people regularly, defend themselves against goons, and make the most of their opportunities.

    They were outshot by infinity and outchanced by infinity + Pi. They sucked.

  28. Matt says:

    LT: Failblog.org is 10,000x of awesome.

  29. shepso says:

    @ coach…agree to disagree on this one? We can resume after next game day.

    And yes, failblog can be pretty sweet sometimes…ahh the things I do to waste time when I should be writing my thesis, or at the very least something new on my own neglected blog.

    Have a good weekend everyone

  30. reijo29 says:

    Dennis – Don't think you can possibly field a soft minutes line that averages 5'10" & 190lbs.

    You need an Eric Cole, Colby Armstrong type to play the wing with Gagner, I don't think Penner is the right guy b/c he's softer then the 3 little guys.

    I don't mind
    XX-89-13
    if the XX is a banger that can skate.

    I'm assuming your lines are subject to the resigning/reassigning of Mac T, cause I don't see 27-10-83 ever playing together under Mac T again, just a feeling. Pretty sure Mac T has shown that he doesn't give 2 shits what the stats say.

  31. reijo29 says:

    I really think JFJ will be a player if given 10-12 minutes a game with decent wingers.
    Furthermore, I love ZORG and was pissed when he got the shaft the past 4 games but JFJ's ceiling is way higher, his hockey sense might not be great but his skill set is top notch.
    All he needs is to stay healthy, be given a simplistic 3rd/4th line bang & crash role and get consistent minutes next year.

  32. rickibear says:

    I want a winger who can throw a good forearm and score 15-20. The league says there is no rule aginst it in a fight.

    My first broken cheek bone and jaw came from forearms.

    Captian mo Captain can you learn to throw them.

  33. Quinn says:

    The one virtue of a player like JFJ, seems to be his growth potential and cost. As has been pointed out here already, cap issues are a challenge for this team going forward. By loading up on guys who cost little and bring it every night, you can have a dynamic, contributing bottom six (witness the Flames 3rd and 4th line contributions). I don’t agree with sending Moreau away for his play this year, but his cap number does make him a tough guy to keep in this situation. It becomes a balancing act between keeping vet knowledge and experience (argue all you want, Moreau gives this team that!) and cost.

    I guess my opinion is buy Moreau out, but keep Staios (as a 6 D) and pass the C to Souray. That makes room for all those double digit numbers to fight for the bottom six spaces, and the team to try to stay 10% below cap (like Staples called for in his blog). If you have that 4-5 mill extra, trade deadline becomes a much more exciting day.

  34. Quinn says:

    And Diesel 10 is the one Thomas engine my boys have no interest in getting. He is the Sean Avery of the tank engine world.

  35. rickibear says:

    Seriosly
    Based on Acquisition and play our
    top six need

    Penner-Gagner-Hemsky
    Sullivan-Horcoff-????

    If penenr goes the move has to be a clear step up.
    If penner plays first line and PP the whole year do you dought 27-30 goals.

    Franzen is the only I can think of at the same dollars.

    With a bottom six of

    Cogliano 5’10″ 185
    Brodziak 6’2″ 210
    Pisani 6’1″ 205
    A third line with 50 goal potential.

    Jacques 6’4″ 220
    Stone 6’2″ 210
    Storts 6’3″ 230

    with
    Reddox
    potulny
    alternating.

    Eight players for 8M

    The wild card in the top 6 is Eberle getting a point a game in the AHL audition.

    Sullivan top 30 PK and Pisani Top 10 PK are skills we cannot lose.
    Brodziak is making the step Horcoff did.

    Can not remember who said he was showing signs of horcoff.

    We can go on with combination and permutations but decision have to move towards youth.

    If you spend dollars the change has to be a clear step up.

  36. Backhand says:

    Re: Quinn

    I agree about finding cheap bottom six players, which is pretty much the opposite of what this team did after the cup run with guys like Moreau and Pisani. Yes Pisani brings things to this team that others don’t, but that value hasn’t reflected probably like it should on the market and the Oilers should have taken advantage of that.

    The philosphy for this team going forward should be finding and keeping guys who are likely to outperform their contracts. It was pretty much the complete make up of that ’06 team, Its hard to think of a player who was overpaid on that team.

    Guys like JFJ, Smid, possibly Grebs depending on what he signs for, have a great chance to outperform. This needs to be emphasized in the offseason.

  37. Backhand says:

    I just perused the 05-06 final roster to take guesses as to who might have been overpaid. You best argument is likely Peca at 4mill (though I disagree).

    Man he’d actually be a pretty amazing addition to this team now that I think about it…

    Also there were quite a few people in contract years, so there was a little more of stake for some :)

  38. boopronger says:

    Lot of Penner bashing going on this year and I am kinda of sitting on the fence with him, but FWIW it took Bertuzzi 8 seasons to get over 55points.

  39. godot10 says:

    In an ideal world, Jacques would be a good enough player to put on a soft minutes line with Gagner and O’Sullivan.

    22-89-19

    The Oilers need a power forward for Gagner’s line, a power forward capable of a fight or two, and who is a good forechecker.

  40. knighttown says:

    You know, a team that might be a good trading partner with us is Dallas. They’ve got what we’re looking for in spades. James Neal, Brendan Morrow and Steve Ott are all nasty SOB’s that can score anywhere from a little to a lot. We’ve got Denis Grebeshkov and Tom Gilbert in the young bracket and Souray and Vis a few years older if they’d like a puck mover to replace Zubov.

    Value for value, are we close with Grebs/Gilbert for Neal or Ott? Hemsky for Morrow is the type of trades that don’t get made but it might improve both teams.

  41. Coach pb9617 says:

    I don’t agree with sending Moreau away for his play this year, but his cap number does make him a tough guy to keep in this situation.

    Moreau deserves to be sent away for his play this year

  42. Coach pb9617 says:

    We’ve got Denis Grebeshkov and Tom Gilbert in the young bracket and Souray and Vis a few years older if they’d like a puck mover to replace Zubov.

    They have Niskanen, Fistric, Daley, Grossman and Vishnevski on the way.

  43. Dennis says:

    R29: I don’t disagree with you; I”m just making up a roster assuming we can’t bring in a scorer.

    RB: I’m loving your posts lately but I can’t get behind Stone over Pouliot. 78′s affordable and he’s top nine for sure and he’s done a good job killing penalties in the past.

    I’d have him-19-34-10-51 and someone else as our six PK guys.

    BTW, Eberle with another assist and +2 tonight.

    For the guy who said 22 seems to have more upside than 46, I really can’t get behind that just yet. Sure, I’m a guy who believes in the numbers but it seems like Zach’s got it way more figured than 22 at this point. Now, 46′s got more GP for sure but there’s just something a little off about 22 thus far.

  44. Quinn says:

    Coach, let me clarify my point. Moreau has played terrible this season. Terrible. Period.

    The reason, IMHO, is because he is a bottom six guy playing wayyyy too much. Consequently he has tried too much, over-committed too much and left himself continuously overexposed to his weaknesses.

    I believe Moreau would play far better in a more limited role (1/2 his minutes? only EV?).

    Still, with the end of season push Staios has shown, the continual strength of Souray and Horcoff being an all-round reliable player, the Oil have all the leadership they need. So, my vote is to send Ethan off the island. Reluctantly.

  45. Master Lok says:

    For everyone who suggests we should get rid of Pisani, Moreau and Staios, I think the last team this team needs is to get even younger. It’s one thing to outperform your contract, it’s another to actually be capable of contributing at the NHL level on a consistent level, and Peckham, Jacques, and Reddox isn’t there yet and they’re certainly not going to replace Pisani, Moreau or Staios next season.

  46. LMHF#1 says:

    Jacques doesn’t want the puck. Any player who doesn’t want the puck isn’t good enough to be on a half-way decent team.

    I’m really hoping that the plan is to have a half-way decent team next year.

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