Opening Night Rosters (Projecting 09-10)

I would normally begin a long series of “reasonable expectations” and “comparables” posts at this time of year. We’d project next season and find out that very few Swedish forwards have been top 10 picks and that finding a comp for MPS will be difficult.

However, there’s so much up in the air with regard to the NHL and AHL roster at this point I’m going to delay the reasonable expectations posts with the exception of this review.

Over the last several seasons I’ve mentioned the ridiculous lack of balance on the Oiler roster on each opening night. We have seen some progress (the blue has some nice experience now) but there are still challenges. Here’s a look book and ahead.

Opening Night Fall 2005
  • L1: Horcoff-Smyth-Dvorak
  • L2: Peca-Torres-Hemsky
  • L3: Stoll-Moreau-Pisani
  • L4: Reasoner-Harvey-Laraque
  • D1: Pronger-Staios
  • D2: Ulanov-Smith
  • D3: Cross-Bergeron

Important things to note here are just how many two-way veterans are in the lineup up front. Dvorak might not look sexy in the top 6 but he did some nice things. It’s also interesting to note that Mike Peca is out there again and the current group of forwards could use a hand like Peca.

The combined NHL games played of this D group opening night was 3333. Pronger (722), J. Smith (710), Ulanov (702), Cross (603), Staios (537) and Bergeron (59). That’s a lot of NHL experience and I think this roster represents MacT’s comfort zone: Some gifted young players coming along in defined roles, with veterans surrounding them both F and D. I think we could reasonably name this roster “ideal for Oilers” and be close to top dead center.

A beauty team.

Opening Night Fall 2006

  • L1: Horcoff-Smyth-Lupul
  • L2: Sykora-Torres-Hemsky
  • L3: Stoll-Moreau-Pisani
  • L4: Reasoner-Thoresen-Winchester
  • D1: Tjarnqvist-Smith
  • D2: Smid-Staios
  • D3: Bergeron-Greene

Important notes here include Smid’s role on the team despite being 20 years old and having no NHL experience, the hugely significant change on the 1line and the fact that Stoll-Moreau-Pisani was together two opening nights in a row.

The combined NHL games played total for those 6 defensemen entering opening night was 1871: J. Smith (786), Staios (619), Tjarnqvist (278), Bergeron (134), Matt Greene (27) and Ladislav Smid (0). The Oilers began the season with two rookies and another player with less than 2 NHL seasons under his belt, and gave up over 1450 games of NHL experience to the previous club (that had a very strong chance at the Stanley). Kevin Lowe traded Chris Pronger without a plan and that is reflected on this blue.

Opening Night Fall 2007

  • L1: Horcoff-Penner-Hemsky
  • L2: Stoll-Torres-Nilsson
  • L3: Reasoner-Sanderson-Brodziak
  • L4: Cogliano-Jacques-Gagner
  • D1: Pitkanen-Staios
  • D2: Souray-Greene
  • D3: Tarnstrom-Gilbert

Important notes here include the promise of that 2line, how much Brodziak had impressed during TC to earn that elevated role, the fact that Jacques is so unique he keeps getting chances. For those who STILL complain about Horcoff in the 1line role: give your head a shake. You don’t keep a job for three NHL seasons if the results aren’t there.

The combined NHL games played this time? 1558. Staios 677, Souray 506, Tarnstrom 258, Pitkanen 206, Greene 105 and Gilbert 12. Only one rookie this time, who would eventually pass Greene during the season (he passed Smid in TC). ANOTHER 313 games lost in terms of NHL experience when compared to the Stanley team.

I also come back to that 2line. It started with promise, faded, resulted in Stortini being placed on that line (with some incredible on-ice reaction from Stoll and Torres) and may or may not have contributed to Stoll and Torres leaving town.

Opening Night 2008
  • L1: Horcoff-Cole-Hemsky
  • L2: Gagner-Cogliano-Nilsson
  • L3: Pisani-Moreau-Penner
  • L4: Brodziak-Pouliot-Stortini
  • D1: Visnovsky-Souray
  • D2: Grebeskhov-Gilbert
  • D3: Strudwick-Staios
  • Garon started and that was news.

Important notes include Cole on 1line LW and Pisani at center. The kid line started the season together and the 4line once again featured Pouliot out of position. The D pairings looked more experienced and less ragged and Strudwick knocked Smid upstairs to begin the season.

The combined D games in the NHL? 2628, which is a massive improvement. Steve Staios 759, Sheldon Souray 532, Lubomir Visnovsky 499, Jason Strudwick 488, Ladislav Smid 142, Denis Grebeshkov 104 and Tom Gilbert 94. It’s not perfect but this was a nice improvement for the club.

I should also mention the ill-fated goalie platoon and that MacT went off the rails (Pisani at center, etc) a little this season. It was a trying year for the organization.

Opening Night 2009 (Projected)

  • L1: Horcoff-Penner-Hemsky
  • L2: Gagner-O’Sullivan-Nilsson
  • L3: Cogliano-Moreau-Pisani
  • L4: Pouliot-Jacques-Stortini
  • D1: Souray-Visnovsky
  • D2: Grebeshkov-Gilbert
  • D3: Smid-Staios

I like the top line. Horcoff is a splendid player and the most complete forward available on this roster. Hemsky is touched by God and although there is chaos he is the offensive driver on this roster. Penner has holes in his game but can help in the offensive zone and on the powerplay.

The 2line is small and skilled, destined to buzz at home and fizzle on the road. A huge leap forward from Gagner (and Cogliano) is both historically possible and terribly necessary. The 3line has two old hands with injury concerns and the belief they are on the back 9, along with a young and inconsistent center who bleeds opportunities. I cannot believe Pat Quinn will coach a single game with this line as posted. The 4line is a crash and bang line and makes sense based on Pat Quinn’s established preference for his bottom six forwards.

The combined D games in the NHL? 3114, which is a wonderful number. Steve Staios 839, Sheldon Souray 613, Jason Strudwick 559, Lubomir Visnovsky 549, Ladislav Smid 202, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeskhov 176 each. I think you can make a strong case that this blue is good enough to make the second season and has enough depth and sustain to be successful in the playoffs. Another veteran would help, though.

It’s early. However, the Heatley trade looks dead in the water and the prospects of unloading some of these salaries seems a distant bell. The Oilers will make changes to improve center and will shop for help in terms of size and scoring up front.

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60 Responses to "Opening Night Rosters (Projecting 09-10)"

  1. Black Dog says:

    looks like a reasonable club on the back end

    a sexy LW would be fun but to me Cogliano on the wing w/ Ganger/O'Sullivan, a guy like Betts in the 4 hole at centre and then a veteran guy to play between Moreau and Pisani would make this team a whole lot better.

    Just two or three more vets, doesn't have to be sexy.

    Man I loved that 05/06 club. What a team.

  2. Rick says:

    Hm. I wonder if Gagner or O'Sullivan can turn the corner enough this fall to make the jump to the first line?

    Penner as the #1 LW, still isn't very appetizing, even if he rebounds under Quinn.

    I'd also like to see the Oilers (post MacT) get a little more creative on the 4th line and not just start a bunch of grinders every night. Heck, maybe MPS can make the jump over the pond…

  3. Peter says:

    ______-Horcoff-Hemsky
    O'Sullivan-Cogliano-Gagner
    Moreau-Pouliot-Pisani
    Jacques-Brule-Stortini
    trade: Nilsson and/or Penner

    Visnovsky-Souray
    Gilbert-Grebeshkov
    Staios-Peckham
    Strudwick
    trade: Smid

    I have a hard time believing Penner and Nilsson will both be around. They have both underachieved bigtime. I think Nilsson has lots of talent, and I'd like to see him stay, but based on what they've said about lacking size up front, I think he's gone. If we could get an asset for Penner, (like in the incredible Heatley deal), he'd be gone. I think he'll stick around, but if he doesn't perform, he'll be gone next year for a bag of pucks. I think Smid will also be dealt, but that depends on the Grebeshkov arbitration situation. Grebeshkov might also be dealt if we can make a significant acquisition for him.

  4. Mr DeBakey says:

    Having been right once,
    I'm going to say
    there is no way Cogliano starts at Center opening night.

    Also, Nilsson will be soaring in Springfield

  5. Asciutto says:

    "I think Smid will also be dealt"

    The Oilers would be stupid enough to spend two years developing Smid,
    then ship him out so they can start over with Peckham

  6. Gord says:

    Ladislav Smid 202, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeskhov 176…

    The number of games played by these three defensemen guarantees an automatic improvement from the back end.

    It also allows us to move Souray / Visnovsky / Staios if the opportunity arises. (Yes I know the NTC is in effect for two of those players.)

    Just pointing out that there was no need to panic (i.e. Heatley) since O'Sullivan / Nilsson / Cogliano / Gagner have also got to the point of becoming truly HNL experienced.

  7. Gord says:

    meant NHL experienced…

  8. Sean says:

    They need to dispose of one of Penner or Nilsson. They don't show up nearly enough to both occupy top 6 positions. Other than that, add a vet and its not a horrible starting point. This team has assets to address need during the season.

    Also, if the backup for Heatley is to bank on Gags/Cogs stepping up, its not a bad option.

  9. MattM says:

    Rick:

    I think you're actually less likely to see that kind of thing. We've seen MacT bring up kids for that 4th line role pretty consistently (even if they aren't necessarily the kind of kids some may have wanted), but if you look at Quinn's 4th lines in Toronto they were full of guys like Belak, Domi, even someone like Clark Wilm. Veteran men of violence, not skilled youngsters. Those guys, when available, were brought in with something more like the Gagner treatment. AHL (or lower) to second line.

    Cogliano staying in that 3rd line center role is terrifying to me. A vet please. Failing that, Pouliot. I wonder what would happen if both Gagner and Cogliano played at center with one of Nilsson and O'Sullivan each, filling in the other winger with whoever earns it on each line. Each night one has to play against real opponents and one gets to kill bottom of the roster players. Doubleshift Hemsky and Pisani through them based on situation. I suspect this wouldn't work, but I feel that way about every set of lines I can think of, so that's probably not the best indicator.

  10. Sean says:

    there is no way Cogliano starts at Center opening night

    Wait till the pre-season articles about how Cogliano worked on the draw all season ;)

    They left him there at the deadline last year. Its not ridiculous to suggest they might leave him there 20 games later.

  11. Peter says:

    If we do keep guys like Penner and Nilsson, they're on a very short leash. I think the only untouchables are Hemsky and Gagner, while Gilbert, Cogliano, and Visnovsky, and Grebeshkov are key pieces that will only be dealt with value coming back the other way.

    I'd love to part with Souray if we could get a decent power forward, and I think Staios needs to be shipped out sooner rather than later. He's a great guy, but I think he's a lot more use to a team that needs a veteran, #5 d-man for a playoff run than to a rebuilding team like ourselves. He's not capable of playing in our top 4 anymore, and I'd almost rather see Smid and Peckham out there together learning on the fly.

    With the west as strong as it is (it seems to get better every year), you're kidding yourself if you think this team is making the playoffs. I believe we'll be quite competitive, but here's how it breaks down:

    Potential division winners: Detroit, Chicago, Anaheim, SJ, Calgary

    Playoff teams: St. Louis, Vancouver

    Competing for 8th: Columbus, Dallas, LA

    11th & 12: Edmonton & Nashville

    13-15: Minneosta, Colorado, Phoenix

    I think the best we could possibly hope for is 8th, but with Dallas getting Morrow back, LA adding Smyth and Scuderi to a great young core, and Columbus with their new Vezina calibre goalie in Mason, I can't see us ahead of them. St. Louis will be last year's Chicago with their young talent, and Vancouver has Luongo and a decent team. Clearly we're not close to the top 5. If we finish ahead of Nashville, who always overachives, that will be an accomplishment.

  12. Peter says:

    Asciutto:

    I don't dislike Smid, I just feel like he won't be around due to his inclusion in the failed Heatley deal. The only guy the Oilers were loathe to give up was Cogliano.

    My ideal defence, based on what we have now is:

    Visnovsky-Gilbert
    Grebeshkov-Smid
    Staios-Peckham
    Strudwick

    Parting with Souray would be awesome if we could get an asset. I think Smid can and should play in our top 4. Souray is a 3rd pairing d-man who is exceptional on the PP and good on the PK cuz he's big and strong. He's not smart enough or a good enough skater to play against good players at even strength.

  13. Traktor says:

    If Horcoff is going to be used to "saw off" other teams' best then why waste our best offensive player in the process?

    Throw Horc + Pisani to the wolves and let Hemsky and the kids make up the difference tearing up the softies.

  14. bookie says:

    They need to dispose of one of Penner or Nilsson. They don't show up nearly enough to both occupy top 6 positions.

    I know they both have problems, but I think they showed up more often than the coach last year. I am interested in seeing what they do with the new coaching regime. I hope that they both show an improvement in dedication and consistency. If they do that, it could be a big + for the team.

  15. Steve says:

    I keep telling myself that a veteran 3C isn't a panacea, but the difference in how much I like that lineup and how much I like one that's the same but with the addition of Manny Malhotra is huge.

  16. kris says:

    Looks like another season of hoping that developing players outperform expectations.

    I guess the question becomes how we spread the vets through the lineup to cover the kids most effectively.

    I'd like to see something like this, in descending order of difficult minutes:

    L1: O'Sullivan-Horcoff-Hemsky
    L2: Penner-Gagner-Pisani
    L3: Cogliano-Pouliot-Nilson
    L4: Moreau-Brule-Stortini

    L1 gives POS a chance to score and Hemsky to pass. And POS's shown signs of good two way play.

    L2: The whole season really hinges on Gagner being able to out score and out play a lot of good players, so we might as well give him some solid wingers. It's a nice fit; all three guys are good at half-court offense, IMO.

    L3 might give up alot of goals, but they should score well too. Smooth skaters, good passers. All three guys are on the cusp. They can't all be great, but they need to be better than last year.

    L4 has Moreau. He should be fantastic there. I know people think the coaches won't demote the captain, but I think you can sell it as Moreau covering for Brule and mentoring Stortini.

  17. Traktor says:

    Instead of going PVP I'd like to see us go 3v1, 1v2, 2v3, 4v4.

    I think this gives us the best chance at winning.

    Moreau Horc Pisani vs 1st lines

    Cogliano Gagner Hemsky vs 2nd lines

    O'Sullivan Pouliot Penner vs 3rd lines

    4 line vs 4th line

    It pretty much comes down to how much Hemsky's line kills the soft minus how much Horc's line bleeds.

    If Moreau Horc Pisani can take 1st lines to a draw then we're going to win most games.

  18. kris says:

    Traktor:

    Interesting idea, but don't you think Moreau would get exploited there?

  19. Sean says:

    Bookie: I'd like to see it as well but, especially in Penner's case, coaches other than MacT have not been able to motivate him over a whole season. I think MacT's closing opinions have pull within management. Brodziak is gone I wouldn't be surprised to see Penner follow.

  20. R-Gib says:

    Here is a quick fix scenario:

    -Bury/trade Nilsson. That contract is bad news.
    -Trade Penner for a bag of pucks. That contract is worse news.
    -Resign Smid to 2yr 1.5M/yr contract.
    -Resign Grebeshkov to 3yr 3.5M/yr
    -Sign Tanguay for 1yr/4.5M
    -Sign Malholtra for 1yr/2.5M

    That's a playoff team. With ~1M of cap wiggle room

  21. Peter says:

    The reality I'm operating under is that the only purpose for this coming year is to seperate our core players from the disposable parts and develop all our young, whether it be NHL, AHL, or otherwise. To me our core consists of Hemsky, Gagner, Cogliano, Horcoff, Visnovsky, and Gilbert. Grebeshkov could be in this group, but not locking him up before arbitration might have changed that. O'Sullivan could also get in if he plays well, because we dearly need a sniper and that's what he is/should be.

    Out of all these players, the only ones over 26 are Horcoff (30) and Visnovsky (32), so if you accept this is the core, then it's clear that we're not built to contend this year.

    Our scouting has done a great job the past 2 years, getting late picks like Rajala, Hartikainen, Kytnar, Omark, and Cornet. They all look like they'll be solid AHLers at the very least, but I think 2 or 3 of them will crack the lineup in 4-5 years. This would be a huge bonus, considering they were all drafted 4th round or later. I also still think Brule can be something, along with Pouliot and Jacques, and Eberle and Paajarvi look like solid pieces in our top 6 in 3-4 years. Throw in Nash somewhere as well. Gagner and Cogliano can take their games to another level as well. Hopefully the group of Chorney, Petry and Wild brings us a solid #4 or 5 d-man for the future, and Plante can be a top-4 in 3 years.

    I think the bigger goal for this comes as at the AHL level, where we need to provide the young players with some playoff experience and develop Plante, Chorney, Kytnar, Dubnyk, Wild, and Motin, along with Petry, Van de Velde, and Eberle who should arrive when their respective junior/college seasons are done.

  22. Traktor says:

    kris:

    Moreau's the weak link on the line for sure but I still think it's one of the best checking lines in the league and could saw off toughs most of the time.

  23. Peter says:

    Kris: That lineup looks awesome. I especially like the bottom 6. I think Nilsson-Cogliano-Pouliot can provide great offence and not be too much of a liability defensively, while Moreau-Brule-Stortini could be a sweet 4th line. Gagner's line is a little weak offensively, but at least you have variety, plus he'll get his points on the #1 pp unit. I definitely think O'Sullivan plays on the top line if we don't make any significant acquisitions. I put him on the second line because I'm assuming we pick someone up, but that may be a bad assumption.

  24. Black Gold says:

    I like it traktor, but if u think Moreau is taking bad penalties now, just wait til he's playing the other team's best skaters.

    If the Oil could pick someone up to play with Horc and Pisani against the best and put Moreau on the forth, I could really get behind your setup.

  25. striatic says:

    Penner seems like an awfully big question mark, as his performance last year was so distorted by the constant line changes and locker room melodrama.

    If Penner shows up and plays significantly better than last year, I think the first line becomes a lot more dangerous.

    Trading his is the safer bet, but with his cap hit are there any teams willing to take him without sending another overpaid question mark [or Danny Heatley] back in return?

  26. kris says:

    And Traktor:

    Is Cogs really the best LW for Hemsky? I see Hemsky as half-court offense, and Cogs as all run and gun, transition. Do you think they'd mesh? I kept wondering about this all last season, actually.

  27. Bruce says:

    Parting with Souray would be awesome if we could get an asset.

    Peter: You talking about an asset who could lead our team in goals, the way Souray did?

    Souray is a 3rd pairing d-man who is exceptional on the PP and good on the PK cuz he's big and strong. He's not smart enough or a good enough skater to play against good players at even strength.

    QualComp 2008-09 (Min 10 GP)

    +0.02 Souray
    -0.00 Gilbert
    -0.01 Visnovsky
    -0.02 Staios
    -0.03 Grebeshkov
    -0.05 Smid
    -0.09 Strudwick
    -0.23 Peckham

    That's the second year in a rown Sheldon led the team in QualComp btw. On the other hand, he was a distant fourth in QualTeam at +0.06 (Visnovsky, Gilbert and Grebeshkov were all between +0.16 and +0.18) yet kept his head above water 5v5 (2.50 GF ON/2.40 GA ON). Maybe he's smarter than you think.

  28. Steve says:

    If Penner shows up and plays significantly better than last year, I think the first line becomes a lot more dangerous.

    Penner played just fine last year (source: Coppernblue). The trouble is that he was often playing just fine on the third or fourth line, and was in the pressbox some of the rest of the time.

  29. Black Gold says:

    And Traktor:

    Is Cogs really the best LW for Hemsky? I see Hemsky as half-court offense, and Cogs as all run and gun, transition. Do you think they'd mesh? I kept wondering about this all last season, actually.

    Didn't Hemsky say he liked playing with Cogs last preseason? I vote for the two of them together in a big way.

  30. bookie says:

    I'd like to see it as well but, especially in Penner's case, coaches other than MacT have not been able to motivate him over a whole season. I think MacT's closing opinions have pull within management. Brodziak is gone I wouldn't be surprised to see Penner follow.

    I know both have 'histories', but three things make me think Penner will be here (unless a 'big fish' Heatley-like trade takes place).

    1.KLowe wants a second chance to take away the stain of the Penner signing (thinking that MacT may have been part of Penner's issues).

    2. We brought in a coach known for motivating players like Penner. Why not give him a chance.

    3. Horpenski was a pretty damn good line when you look at the statistics. Recognizing what Penner brings to a line is a bit like appreciating a fat wife who cooks, cleans, brings you beer, raises the kids, and earns more money than you – You have to stop obsessing on wanting her to be skinny and hot and appreciate what she brings. Too many people want Penner to be a power forward who pushes people around cause of his size, but in reality he is just a guy who scores a bunch of goals and creates loads of opportunity for his linemates.

  31. bookie says:

    Penner played just fine last year

    Yes, but even when he was on the first line you could see that he has the potential to do better and move up into the 30's/40's in goals scored.

  32. PDO says:

    Can't we just bury Nilsson, bump Cogliano into his spot, and bring in a real #3 C to play between Moreau and Pisani?

  33. kris says:

    Recognizing what Penner brings to a line is a bit like appreciating a fat wife who cooks, cleans, brings you beer, raises the kids, and earns more money than you – You have to stop obsessing on wanting her to be skinny and hot and appreciate what she brings.

    Bookie, make sure no current or future wife or girlfriend of yours ever reads this.

  34. ian says:

    So many things to fix well I will pick one.
    The coaching staff has to make sure that Sam Gagner is motivated and effective from game #1 on the schedule.
    He has had 2 seasons in a row where he came on like gang busters in the last 20-25 games.A full season of SG and everything else will fall into place.

  35. Jonathan Willis says:

    I like Traktor's scheme for the most part, but I think it would take some genius coaching to keep Hemsky, Gagner and Cogliano away from the danger lines.

    Anyways, here's my two cents:

    Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky
    O'Sullivan – Cogliano – Gagner
    Moreau – __________ – Pisani
    Jacques – Pouliot – Stortini

    Visnovsky – Souray
    Grebeshkov – Gilbert
    Smid – __________

    Staios gone, Nilsson as 13th forward or gone, Strudwick as 7th defenseman.

    Blank #1 would be Manny Malhotra or Radek Bonk or a suitable player acquired for Staios/Nilsson/prospects

    Blank #2 would be Daniel Tjarnqvist or other cheap, suitable UFA defenseman.

  36. HBomb says:

    Can't we just bury Nilsson, bump Cogliano into his spot, and bring in a real #3 C to play between Moreau and Pisani?

    Bingo. Give Malholtra Nilsson's 2 million, move Cogliano up with O'Sullivan and Gagner, and roll with that. Pisani and Malholtra should be able to compensate for Moreau's deficiencies.

    Which brings me to Traktor's idea of splitting the proven Horcoff/Hemsky combo (which I still think is, with Penner, our best bet tactically – the "checking" line is the dinosaur of NHL tactics). If you're going to do that, the solution on LW, internally, for Horcoff and Pisani is one Patrick O'Sullivan. That would likely mean a Penner-Gagner-Hemsky line. Interesting in theory, but then there's the question of how the bottom six shakes out.

  37. Jonathan Willis says:

    I lied. Blank #2 is, of course, Marek Malik.

  38. geowal says:

    LT:
    I don't mean to check up on your math, but you've posted and added 7D players for 2009, which inflates the relative experience. Looking at the other years I noticed I also can't get the same numbers based on the values you supplied for the players:

    I get:
    2005 – 3333 – agreed.
    2006 – 1844 vs. your 1871
    2007 – 1764 vs. your 1558
    2008 – 2618 vs. your 2628
    2009 – 2912 or 2555 vs your 3114depending whether you slot in strudwick or Smid at number 7.

    So conceivably we could have an apparent decrease in experience on opening night, based on Smid potentially leapfrogging Strudwick. I'm rooting for Smid.

    Your overall point remains valid though. And I might need more practice using my calculator maching :)

  39. Lowetide says:

    geowal: Quite right and I forgot to reduce it. As you mention though, it's a pretty nice problem (parking Strudwick's GP) to have.

  40. Coach pb9617 says:

    I think this roster represents MacT's comfort zone: Some gifted young players coming along in defined roles, with veterans surrounding them both F and D.

    You don't find something, hmmmmm, obvious about this statement?

  41. Coach pb9617 says:

    Penner as the #1 LW, still isn't very appetizing, even if he rebounds under Quinn.

    Seems like you like that narrative. Care to explain why?

  42. Traktor says:

    "the "checking" line is the dinosaur of NHL tactics"

    Works for Randy Carlyle.

    There are others.

  43. Yeti says:

    I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Strudwick ended up on the fourth line if Peckham has a good camp. Strudwick – Brule – Stortini seems like a Quinn type of thing.

  44. dawgbone says:

    Traktor… as much as Horcoff wastes our best player in the process of playing PvP, it's still the highest quality of minutes Hemsky produces.

    It would be one thing if playing with Horc in the PvP role was hurting Hemsky… it isn't. He produces better there than he does anywhere else in the lineup.

    The biggest problem is that none of Hemsky, Gagner or Cogliano have shown that they can get the puck going the other way on their own.

  45. bookie says:

    Recognizing what Penner brings to a line is a bit like appreciating a fat wife who cooks, cleans, brings you beer, raises the kids, and earns more money than you – You have to stop obsessing on wanting her to be skinny and hot and appreciate what she brings.

    Bookie, make sure no current or future wife or girlfriend of yours ever reads this.

    I thought I was being sweet here, appreciating someone for who they are is a good thing…maybe I need a little work on the romance talk…I have been married forever so I am a little rusty.

  46. HBomb says:

    Traktor: Did you see what Anaheim did in the playoffs (i.e. post Pahlsson/Moen) this year?

    Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry, power vs. power. Even Carlyle sees the winds of change are blowing.

    Having a reliable third line is a must to take some load off the top line, but the large majority of successful teams are going to run their top line head to head against the other team's best wherever possible (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Philly, San Jose, Vancouver, Calgary, Boston, Anaheim now….)

    IF the Oilers had Horpensky and a Moreau-Malholtra-Pisani trio going while giving O'Sullivan-Gagner-Cogliano sheltered minutes, I think that's a vast improvement from last year.

    It may sound absurd at first to simply think switching out Nilsson for Malholtra in the team's salary structure makes this a playoff team, but I do believe that. Maybe not a division title contender, but certainly a team that could slide into the 6-8th area and cause a division champion a ton of trouble in the first round.

  47. Schitzo says:

    I like Trak's idea for home games, at least. On the road maybe you play Horc with Hemsky if you're losing the line matches

  48. NBOilerFan says:

    Jonathan Willis said…
    "Staios gone, Nilsson as 13th forward or gone, Strudwick as 7th defenseman."

    If we can't get a quality LW in a deal, then this is my idea status quo. Move Staios and Nilsson for whatever you can (picks/prospects) and use that money toward Malhotra in and Malik in 1 year deals (if possible).

    If Malhotra wants more then 1 year, then try Betts or Bonk. Malik should be happy with a 1 year deal.

    …and get Smid and Grebs resigned.

    It's interesting that so many don't like Penner. I certainly do and look forward to his play this year.

  49. rickibear says:

    Throw Horc + Pisani

    Traktor: I dream of a:
    Tanguay-Horcoff-Pisani P v P line.

  50. DanMan says:

    Once again, brilliant stuff, LT.

    We must remember that 2005-2006 was not a very good regular season team. We barely squeaked in to the playoffs. And that was with the help of in-season acquisitions of Jaro Spacek, Sergei Samsonov, Dick Tarnstrom, and Dwayne Roloson. I cant remember how we got Todd Harvey.

    And Mike Peca.

    He was garbage (offensively and defensively) for the first 3/4 of the season. The only time he played as well as he did in Buffalo was in round 3 vs. Anaheim.

    Mike Peca never wanted to be an Oiler. There is zeero chance for a return here. He wont play anywhere out west. I dont like those kinda guys.

    4 goals last year. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

    I'll take 2009-10 over any of those teams.

    Remember: 7th place in the west is a better finish than the 2005-06 team.

  51. Coach pb9617 says:

    We must remember that 2005-2006 was not a very good regular season team. We barely squeaked in to the playoffs. And that was with the help of in-season acquisitions of Jaro Spacek, Sergei Samsonov, Dick Tarnstrom, and Dwayne Roloson. I cant remember how we got Todd Harvey.

    Again, your memory fails you. But for goaltending, that team was a division winner.

    Conklin, Morrison, Markkanen combined for a 0.881 save percentage in the regular season.

  52. DanMan says:

    I don't understand how my memory failed me coach. We finished 8th. I don't have Alzheimers.

    But for Roli not getting hurt, that team was a STANLEY CUP WINNER!

    But for's get us nowhere.

    The team barely made it in. That happened.

    My point is that I'll take opening night 09 as it stands over opening night 05 anyday.

  53. blackadder says:

    Looking at that 2005-06 roster, it amazes me that the same GM that built that squad was the one making panic move after panic move beginning with the Pronger trade.

    I think Penner's going to have a bounce back year – Quinn will give him a longer leash and reap the benefits. Penner's never going to be Cam Neely, but he can bring a lot of good things. I'd put Cogliano on RW with Gagner and O'Sullivan. His speed on the off wing, coupled with O'Sullivan's shot and Gagner's playmaking has the potential to cause a lot of problems. If Khabibulan plays like he's in the last year of his contract instead of the first, this is a playoff team.

  54. hwy16 says:

    pk same as last year!!!! we can't improve in the standings…

  55. DanMan says:

    The player that Dustin Penner becomes at this point is really intriguing. When he gets mad, he can dominate. We saw that in games against DAL and ATL this year where he had the Gordie Howe hat trick. And when he does fight, he annihilates guys. I mean who slams guys down with one arm like he did to Exelby and Landon Wilson?

    What else is interesting about next year is O'Sullivan, Gagner, and Cogliano. The 3rd full year in the league is usually the breakout year for high draft picks. Cogliano wasn't a high pick, but being in the 40 -50 point range in the first 2 years of your career at such a young age, 50-65 points is very possible. Gagner is oozing offensive talent, and used properly, should have a good shot at 60-70 points this year. Patty-O should have more success here over a full season with a real, qualified NHL coach.

  56. dawgbone says:

    I don't understand how my memory failed me coach. We finished 8th. I don't have Alzheimers.

    But for Roli not getting hurt, that team was a STANLEY CUP WINNER!

    But for's get us nowhere.

    The team barely made it in. That happened.

    My point is that I'll take opening night 09 as it stands over opening night 05 anyday.

    I think you are ignoring how badly the Oilers goaltending hurt them during the 05-06 regular season.

    Statistically speaking, the Oilers had the worst goaltending in the entire NHL.

    Had the Oilers had even average NHL goaltending that year, they would have won the division. That season the NHL average was .900. The difference between .881 and .900 was 31 goals. That's worth approximately 10-12 points in the standings.

    The team was pretty good… they were just hammered by awful goaltending.

  57. Masamax says:

    blackadder said:

    I'd put Cogliano on RW with Gagner and O'Sullivan. His speed on the off wing, coupled with O'Sullivan's shot and Gagner's playmaking has the potential to cause a lot of problems.

    Doesn't POS have experience playing RW? I could see Cogs on the left of that with POS on the right and be a happy camper. Cogs on the third line was and always will be a waste.

  58. JB-"jiggyman" says:

    3C, Staios, Pouliot, and Jacques are the obvious holes in the line-up.

    We're still challenging for 6-8th in the conference with this roster. Expectations last season were the division, and this team is similar, but slightly better than last years version.

    A few fixes and this team is a playoff contender with potential at the deadline.

    Things look brighter heading into this season than last imo.

  59. Bruce says:

    The team was pretty good… they were just hammered by awful goaltending.

    Splitting hairs here, Dawgbone: the skaters were pretty good, but the team was mediocre because it had lousy goaltending. Last time I checked, the goaltenders are members of the actual team.

    It is, however, correct to say the team had an obvious weakness which needed to be fixed, but until that need was addressed the team wasn't all that great.

  60. ian says:

    Our penalty kill was very poor last year
    Our power play was poor but improved to be average.
    This ended up translating into a lot of goals scored and unscored.
    The team looked like they did not care in too many games last year especially at home.
    If we have the right coaching staff things could be a lot better
    yours sincerely
    Glass half fool?

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