Exit Ramp 2: Nilsson

Part of me is hestitant to put him on this list. Look, he’s screwed on this roster for two reasons: one, the management team wants more grit up front and two there are just so many forwards ahead of him with a somewhat similar skill set.

O’Sullivan, Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson. That’s probably the order without a trade and Roberto is likely left out in the cold.

He has talent.

By The Numbers
  • 07-08 5×5 per 60m: 2.37
  • 08-09 5×5 per 60m: 1.22
  • 07-08 5×4 per 60m: 2.66
  • 08-09 5×4 per 60m: 4.59

Robert Nilsson spent 810 minutes on the ice at even-strength in 08-09 and delivered 5-13-18. In 07-08, Nilsson spent 820 minutes on the ice at even-strength and delivered 7-26-33. We can place some blame on puck luck, the breakup of the kid line and anything else you want to throw into the discussion but the bottom line is that it probably cost him his career with this organization.

Nilsson’s cap hit is 2M for the next two years (actual dollars 2M and then 2.5M) and he’ll be an RFA in the summer of 2012. In terms of trade value I’g guess a 3rd round pick based on the fact that the team that is trading for him is getting a 2M forward with an uneven resume.

I think someone will take a chance on him. A team looking for forwards who might be undervalued, a team perhaps looking to get to the salary floor without giving up too much in assets. Nilsson is a guy who could make the Oilers look silly if he gets into a good situation with another club. He’s averaged just under 40 points per 82 NHL games and he’s played in 192 NHL games (he’s 24).

The Houston Astros of the early 1970′s taught us that when an organization has a lot of players who have similar skills, other teams have a really good chance of plucking one of them for a low, low price. Robert Nilsson probably isn’t John Mayberry or Cliff Johnson, but he might be Mike Easler and he had a career too.

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47 Responses to "Exit Ramp 2: Nilsson"

  1. uni says:

    I still think Nilsson is a player. One day that light is going to come back on and stay lit.

    At the very least he's a 60 point man. I know it's unlikely he stays, but ideally he regains form and puts up 60+ points over the course of a season and gets packaged up in a nice trade. Just hate having to sell low on the guy.

  2. NBOilerFan says:

    This is a tough one for me as well. I have always liked Nilsson and was a supporter when most were saying he wasn't a NHLer a couple years ago.

    I think he has a world of talent and potential and just hasn't been played enough to his strengths.

    His downside at this point (like many players) is his contract is a bit top-heavy for his production to date. I would like to keep him another year and give him some quality minutes on ES and the PP, but I agree that he has to be on teh outs based on Tamb's end of season presser. Nilsson has many good traits, but grit and toughness are certainly not on the list.

    I think he could do well on a team and I think it is in the books that he is a goner. I believe you have listed the 4 small guys correctly as to their "value" at this point for this Managment group.

    What I am surprised at is that he was not dealt at the draft. Was Tambs over-valuing him, or where other teams just not interested?

    These are the questions that make it very hard for us arm-chair GM's to truly predict our "trade" propositions. We do not have the first hand knowledge of what these players are trully worth by other GM's.

    I'm just shocked he is still an Oiler at this point. What does that mean? Would tjhey look to keep him if the HEatley deal goes through and Cogs is moved? I can't see it it, but maybe. Or do they disagree with MacT on Nilsson?

  3. Matt N says:

    Nilssons value is at a low right now.

    If we keep him……

    Scenario #1- Nilsson gets traction under the new coach and makes himself a more valuable asset.

    Scenario #2- Nilsson doesn't impress Quinn and gets buried in the minors. He either lights it up and increases his value or sulks and plays poorly, his value remains the same as it is now.

    If we move him…..

    Scenario #1- He finds a fit with a team and makes the Oilers look bad (again).

    Scenario #2- He continues to circle the drain.

    Moving him puts all the risk on the home squad. I am for letting him have a year under Quinn/Renney before making a decision.

  4. Daron says:

    Hey LT, loved logging on and seeing none other than my favorite Astro as a youngun, Cliff Johnson his ownself, mentioned in this morning's post. Terrible catcher, not much more of a 1st sacker, but born hitter. I was only 8 or 9 in his brief "heydey" here, but loved whoever the Astros catcher was, and he was my first. Watching all the Heatley drama from down here in Houston. Sure seems more like a deathwatch than an exciting trade possibility, at least to this outsider. Keep up the good work. You are appreciated.

  5. Phil says:

    Not only are there three good hobbits in front of him, but a pretty good one in Eberle right behind, plus Omark as a wild card (is he as good as youtube thinks, and will he play over here?). You know that this organization is going to want to find a spot for their flashy WJC star sooner rather than later, so there's that.

    Along the lines of some of the other posters here, I think that last season should be a wash due to the MacMental breakdown, and would not be surprised to see Nilsson become a very serviceable player, either here or elsewhere.

  6. bookie says:

    I hope he stays, I would like to see him play in a new regime. The same goes for Penner.

  7. hunter1909 says:

    It's a crying shame Nilsson and Schremp weren't brought up together, after they tore it up together in the AHL.

    But that's just me.

  8. PunjabiOil says:

    The Oilers have offered Kotalik a contract. Ales is thinking over it (he mentiond it was lower than he expected), and he does have offers from other teams.

    Kotalik in, Nilsson out. Works for me.

  9. DanMan says:

    Nilsson has got to go. His upside is a below-average 2nd line winger. He is small and soft and does not have great playmaking abilty or a shot.

    We have too many soft/small forwards and one or both of nilsson and Cogliano should be traded.

  10. NBOilerFan says:

    PunjabiOil said…
    The Oilers have offered Kotalik a contract. Ales is thinking over it (he mentiond it was lower than he expected), and he does have offers from other teams.
    Kotalik in, Nilsson out. Works for me.

    That is great news in my opinion. I wanted him to stay and would be just fine giving Ales, Nilsson's $2mil.

    Source?

  11. bookie says:

    Nilsson has got to go. His upside is a below-average 2nd line winger. He is small and soft and does not have great playmaking abilty or a shot.

    I disagree, he is not lacking talent, but rather dedication. The reason he is still on the team is that he has a tendency to look brilliant at times. I think you have him confused with Reasoner or someone…

  12. Matt N says:

    The Oilers have offered Kotalik a contract

    How is he on faceoffs?

    A soft minutes winger/PP pointman is not really filling a team need with the remaining cap space.

    They can't go into next season with Horc, Gags, Cogs, MAP, Brule as their depth at center can they? CAN THEY?

    Malhotra, Peca, Betts etc would be a much better signing IMO.

  13. pboy says:

    TSN is reporting that there is a dispute between the Flyers and the NHL over Pronger's contract and whether or not it will count against the Flyer's cap if Pronger retires before the contract ends. CFP!!!

    Also, the BlackHawks have signed Versteeg to a 3 year deal worth upwards of 9 million plus. Seeing that Brian Campbell must be untradeable, I'm betting that a team could get Patrick Sharp from them. They are going to need cap relief badly for next season.

  14. Jonathan Willis says:

    I like Nilsson, but this isn't a personal thing, and LT points out correctly that this is a position of redundancy for the club.

    Of course, if Cogliano gets dealt, the waters muddy a little.

  15. rickibear says:

    At the very least he's a 60 point man. I know it's unlikely he stays, but ideally he regains form and puts up 60+ points

    60 point men do not get packaged up. They are the package.

    Taking Nilssons 07-08 EV numbers playing 2nd line minutes 12:30 TOI
    gets you 39 EV points.

    Taking Nilssons 08-09 PP numbers playing 2nd line minutes 2:30 TOI
    gets you 16 PP points.

    His goal rates say a 15G 40A best case so far.

    Though 40 Assists?
    I have allways liked first assists as an identifier. He was the tenth best set-up man in the league in 07-08. Right there with Malkin and Ribeiro.

    Nilsson, Penner, and Gagner were our best EV 1 assist guys this year.

  16. shanetrain says:

    To say R Nilsson has no playmaking ability is to akin to saying James Brown didnt have any soul. Is he soft? Of course!. You cannot deny his offensive skills though.

    Personally I wish we could find another scapegoat because this guy can pop 65 assists a year, nevermind points.

    People point out his age like his prospect/development has come and gone. Everybody comes into their own at different times.

    I had him in my draft last year and was sorely dissapointed. However I wouldnt toss him yet. I am hoping he can get some time with Sully because he likes to shoot all day and with Nilsson,I am sure he would like to playmake all day.

    Sorry for the rant. I just think its too early to let this guy go.

  17. NBOilerFan says:

    Thanks, PunjabiOil!

    I like that he said they are still talking… that is positive.

    How bout this lineup:

    Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
    O'Sullivan-Gagner-Cogliano
    Kotalik-Malhotra/Betts-Pisani
    Moreau-MAP-Stortini

    PS – That is the first time I have visited HFBoards in a long, long time.
    :D

  18. kris says:

    At this point, I'd give the kid one last chance, and see how he does at camp. If he absolutely dazzles, then you find a spot for him.

    If he looks like he's going to repeat last year's inconsistency, you try to trade him for something. If that doesn't work, you try to send him down. If nobody will pay for him, he might clear. (I seem to remember if a player is signed off waivers, his new team has to play him, and can't send him down. Is this right? If so, Nilson might clear

  19. hunter1909 says:

    My hope lies in Pat Quinn's abilities to take raw talent and fashion it into something resembling it's innate form, rather than the former "system" of hammering youngsters into the ill-conceived imaginings of his predecessor.

    Nilsson, Schremp even Pouliot – basically any player under 25 at training camp all can enter TC full of hope with the new sheriff in town.

  20. Traktor says:

    Should be interesting to see if Gagner can actually play hockey without Nilsson carrying him around.

  21. Traktor says:

    Saku Koivu to the Ducks for 1 year at 3.25 million.

    Bob Murray doing a great job in Anaheim.

  22. Smarmy Boss says:

    Roberto likely has to go. Unless Cogs has some sort of renaissance as a pivot he's likely a winger from here on in.

    I don't really care if he does well with another club. In fact, I'd be happy for him.

  23. Traktor says:

    Koivu since the lockout – 0.82 PPG
    Horcs since the lockout – 0.77 PPG

    Horc makes 2.25 million more than Koivu.

    Sigh.

  24. D says:

    It would be a mistake to give up on Nilsson. He looks ridiculously talented at times. My fear is that this turns into another Miro Satan for the Oilers.

  25. jon k says:

    Fantastic signing by Anaheim today. More than a little reason to be jealous.

  26. Big Dan says:

    Hi Lowetide. I have been a loyal reader to your blog for the last few years. Never commented until today.

    I don't understand why so many people are willing to throw Nilsson under the bus after one bad season. His cap hit is only $1.75M.

    He was humbled last year and young players like him often rebound and prove his critics wrong. Look at Stoll last year. Glenn Anderson got 16 goals one year.

    If the Heatley deal goes through, Nilsson can pot 40-50 points playing the soft minutes with Gagner and a $2.0M guy like Kotalik on the second line.

    Has anybody thought of O'Sullivan as the third line center, rather than overpaying for a defensive specialist? He got 50 points playing solid defense a couple years ago in LA. If Pisani can get over his health issues, that is a HELLUVA line that do the heavy lifting for almost 20 minutes/night and provide nice scoring depth.

    Lord knows the 4th line of Pouliot (or Brule/Potulny/Stone), Jacques (or MacIntyre/Reddox), and Stortini won't play much more than 5 minutes.

    Also, I am not an advocate of throwing Pisani or Staios under the bus.

    I have no issues with Horcoff's or Pisani's contracts. Nobody knew Pisani had a disorder when he signed his deal. When healthy, he is as good defensively as the Pahlsson's of the word except he can pot close to 40 points. I love the guy.

    Staios is overpaid but we've been chasing away guys who want to be in Edmonton for too long (Smyth, Reasoner, Glencross, Sykora, Laraque, Roloson, etc). I say suck it up and keep him for a couple more years on the third pairing. He's a good leader and we’re not so close to a Cup that is worth crapping on guys like him who’ve bled Oil for years.

    Putting him in the minors is just another reason of why players don't want to sign in Edmonton. No stability, no loyalty, treat their players like crap.

    I'd trade Visnovsky and get picks and a defensive D for around $2M to solve the cap crunch. He didn't seem happy to be coming here. With his injury history, his trade value is going to decline over time. We have Gilbert, Grebeshkov, and Souray to score the points back there.

    Just my two cents.

    Big Dan

  27. jon k says:

    Big Dan:

    I don't think anyone is throwing Nilsson under the bus. He's merely a redundant asset making a not insignificant amount of money (his cap hit is 2.0). It's logical to conclude he'll be on the way out in most scenarios such as Heatley or Kotalik coming in.

    As for O'Sullivan, he hasn't spent any time as a centre in the NHL. He's done fill-in duty but nothing more. I don't know if we'd like to try the experiment at centre again. Didn't exactly work out with Smyth.

    I don't think anyone is criticizing Pisani's contract for any reason other than it's a 2.5 cap hit and his effectiveness in all aspects of the game is dwindling.

  28. rickibear says:

    Big Dan: I read your comment and smiled.

    Your delivery of thought was not unlike ice Dragon's calmed flow against the swell.

    All that was missing was the words hi Lain:

  29. gogliano says:

    I've changed my mind on Nilsson.

    I think if Cogs/Penner is out the door there is a chance Nilsson stays on as a "third" liner (third by ES icetime) to see what he can do under the new coach. They've unloaded Brodziak, and maybe Penner/Cogliano too, so adding grittier UFAs to fill those holes might be sufficient when it comes to addressing Tambo's concern about being hard to play against.

    Note that there was concern about Brodziak's ability to use his size, just as there is with Penner. Unloading those two plus the small Cogliano might be enough of a style turnover for Tambs. And if Katz is willing to bury him in the minors, I don't see the risk of bringing him to camp; riskier to let him go for peanuts.

  30. Master Lok says:

    Agreed, fantastic signing by Anaheim. I was secretly hoping that the Oilers would sign Koivu to take some pressure off of Horcoff.

    uni: I still think Nilsson is a player. One day that light is going to come back on and stay lit.

    I agree that Nilsson is talented. The problem is when will that light stay on? This season? Next Season? Five years from now in the Swedish Elite League? Possibly never?

    uni: At the very least he's a 60 point man.

    You mean his potential is a 60 pt guy, not the minimum. Considering in his two full seasons as an Oiler, he's only scored 41 and 29 pts? Unless you mean 60 pt as an Oiler career…

    bookie: I disagree, he is not lacking talent, but rather dedication.

    Agreed bookie. It's easy to like Rob, he's a free flowing, easy going kinda guy and when he's playing well, he can look great. It's the other 60 games per season that's the problem.

    If the Oilers didn't have such a logjam of skilled, smallish forwards it wouldn't be a problem. But right now, I would rather have Potulny or Kotalik playing than Nilsson next season.

  31. PDO says:

    And Kurtis Foster signs in Tampa.

  32. Scott says:

    Tampa… Reading Lowetide for ideas since Marek Malik.

  33. Masamax says:

    To me, I think Nilsson is mischaracterized as being "skilled but lazy". To me, it seems more like "skilled but boneheaded". I see his lack of a two-way game more as a result of a lack of hockey sense than anything else. Sure he can make a beauty pass once in a while, but if that same pass gets caught by one of the two defencement you are trying to thread it through, does that not count as boneheaded? I am not sure if this is a case of Nilsson over-estimating his own abilities (which is does have a great deal of) or underestimating the opponents (which seems more likely).

    The fact is that from what I saw of Nilsson last season, when he wasn't coming back into his own zone to assist it wasn't because he was lollygagging. It was because he was going forward on a rush and makes a boneheaded play and either tried a semi-impossible pass or just completely got stripped of the puck. By the time he realized that he had screwed the pooch he was 30 feet behind the play and he certainly doesn't have the skating skill to make up that distance.

    On the other hand, sometimes these crazy passes did work (and in fact, I'd say that risky plays like that were the hallmark of the "kid-line" from which he benefited) and he looked great. I sometimes think that colours people's view of him.

  34. bookie says:

    The fact is that from what I saw of Nilsson last season, when he wasn't coming back into his own zone to assist it wasn't because he was lollygagging. It was because he was going forward on a rush and makes a boneheaded play and either tried a semi-impossible pass or just completely got stripped of the puck.

    I saw much of the team doing that, though Nilsson was perhaps one of guiltiest. It almost looked like they were uncoached, but given the comments that have come out of the room, it seems as though they were so over-coached that many of them were simply lost out there. Those with great hockey sense could overcome it, but guys like Nilsson, they just did what they could.

    A big part of me wants to see minimal changes over the summer just to see if the coaching makes a significant difference.

  35. PDO says:

    Quick LT, suggest Dustin Penner for Ryan Malone and Tampa's 2010 1st!

  36. godot10 says:

    A lot of Oiler forwards have to learn to chip and chase some of the time.

    In particular…

    1) Hemsky, because he never does, and thus, everyone is ready for a one-on-one move. His one-on-one moves would be more successful, if he chipped and chased just some of the time to mix it up.

    2) Nilsson. Because he isn't Hemsky, and his wicked passing would be far more productive after the Oilers retrieved the puck on a chip-and-chase.

    3) Ditto, somewhat for Gagner.

    Babcock convinced the Red Wings to do a lot more chipping and chasing after the Oilers beat them in the playoffs. The Red Wings really haven't been upset in the playoffs since then. They lost close series to Anaheim in the Conference finals, won a Stanley Cup, and lost in the finals to Pittsburgh since then.

  37. godot10 says:

    I really would like to see Penner under Quinn.

    Ditto, Cogliano.

    Nilsson…okay, maybe him too, but I don't think the coach matters here. Nilsson's problem is in his own head.

    I really wish the Oilers would start thinking Patrick Sharp (and how to get him out of Chicago) and stop thinking Dany Heatley. We would have two tough minutes centres in Horcoff and Sharp, both of whom can also kill penalties.

  38. Bruce says:

    Moving him puts all the risk on the home squad. I am for letting him have a year under Quinn/Renney before making a decision.

    Matt N: true dat. I would say the exact same thing about all three of Penner, Cogliano, and Smid.

    He is small and soft and does not have great playmaking abilty or a shot.

    DanMan: I'll grant you 1, 2, and 4 but if you think Robert Nilsson can't make plays you haven't been paying attention.

    I like Nilsson, but this isn't a personal thing, and LT points out correctly that this is a position of redundancy for the club.

    JW: Agreed, although some of that redundancy was self-inflicted. The deadline trade of a big physical winger for O'Sullivan, another smallish softish skill guy with a pre-existing cap condition, further unbalanced the sqaud. Not saying we shouldn't have trade Cole for a signed asset, just that we already had an abundance of similar assets, and that too many of same is ultimately a libaility.

    Daron: Heathcliff was a beauty.

  39. doritogrande says:

    I can see Nilsson looking really good in blue and orange, just not ours.

    He seems like the ideal linemate for John Tavares on a soft minutes line in NY.

    How about we trade Nilsson, a failing prospect (I suggest O'Marra) and a first round draft pick for a servicable winger. Is Ryan Smyth available?

  40. DBO says:

    not sure if it's been mentioned, but Kurtis Foster just signed in tampa. No details yet.

  41. Oneday says:

    Scenario #1- Nilsson gets traction under the new coach and makes himself a more valuable asset.

    Scenario #2- Nilsson doesn't impress Quinn and gets buried in the minors. He either lights it up and increases his value or sulks and plays poorly, his value remains the same as it is now.

    If we move him…..

    Scenario #1- He finds a fit with a team and makes the Oilers look bad (again).

    Scenario #2- He continues to circle the drain.

    I have to agree with you 100%. I remember the talk when we got Nilsson, how there was excitement over him. But once again it was an Oiler transaction made without very much thought. Lowe definately overloaded on similar players.
    On one hand I can't see Nilsson having an amazing season. Numbers don't lie, and his caliper of play is not there. Nilsson will end up being a player easily forgotten.
    I do not see Nilsson being an Oiler for much longer. The only question remaining is do we take one more chance, or do we get rid of him now? It's time to get rid of the guy, there are too many similar players on the team. Maybe we will be proven wrong, and once again look stupid, but on the other hand why keep someone who is not needed.

  42. CM says:

    1yr 600k for foster…really makes that staois deal look bad…and the strudwick deal suspect aswell.

  43. Bank Shot says:

    1yr 600k for foster…really makes that staois deal look bad…and the strudwick deal suspect aswell.

    I'm not sure why the Oilers would want Kurtis Foster.

    He's big, but soft, and not much more then a mediocore powerplay specialist.

    I'm not sure he could beat out any of the Oilers top four for PP time, so why would they be interested?

  44. Dennis says:

    Mike Easler had a badass stance.

    His named reminded me of the early to mid 80's and waiting for Wed night and the Expos.

    Tony Pena swinging so hard that his helmet fell off and all kinds of stylish guys like Lee Lacy, Marvell Wynne, Johnny Ray and Sammy Khalafia.

    Plus, Bruce Tanner as the manager and Kent Tekulve's sunglasses.

    I still remember one day the Expos absolutely blew up Lee Tunnell.

  45. Schitzo says:

    I have to agree with you 100%. I remember the talk when we got Nilsson, how there was excitement over him. But once again it was an Oiler transaction made without very much thought. Lowe definately overloaded on similar players.

    Bwaaaa? Nilsson was here before Gagner, before POS, and before Cogs had left the college system.

  46. Big Dan says:

    Jon K,

    O'Sullivan is a little different from the Smyth and Pisani situations in that they were never centers ever.

    O'Sullivan was a center his whole life until LA, where there was a logjam at that position.

    Watching him, I think he is better suited at C. He's a good skater with good vision. Fighting along the boards- he's scrappy and all, but it's not his forte.

    I don't think Tambellini wants to add any more contracts since he talks about having too many already. I'm not holding my breath waiting for a Malholtra.

    Kotalik just signed with the Rangers for way too much ($3m, gimme a break). If Heatley doesn't come here, Quinn has to decide between POS and Cogliano who will be the 3C.

    Since Cogliano is terrible at faceoffs despite MacT's tutelege and POS is better defensively, I'd go with POS.

    He'll still get the points because he'll be the 4th forward on the 1st or 2nd PP unit.

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