RE 09-10: Denis Grebeshkov

One of the underrated moves by Steve Tambellini this summer was the one-year deal for Denis Grebeshkov. He took a big step forward and the former GM would probably have paid in full at that time. Tambellini no doubt sees a need to offload someone this year before signing the Russian to a longer term deal at big money. It gives the organization a chance to have another year of viewing and to clear space at a less rapid pace (like they have any choice).

Grebeshkov had a very good season and if he does it again he’s going to get paid. The number one reason Sheldon Souray or Lubomir Visnovsky will be traded in the next 12 months is #37. He’s 25, has a wide range of skills and looks for all the world to have arrived as an NHL player. He may have monkeywrenched the 00′s, but it was one of Kevin Lowe’s better deals.

  • Boxcars: 72gp, 7-32-39 38pims
  • Shots: 62
  • Plus Minus: +12 (best on team)
  • Corsi: +2.6 (2nd best behind Lubo)
  • 5×5/60: 1.23 (close 2nd to Gilbert)
  • 5×4/60: 3.75 (close 2nd to Gilbert)
  • GF/GA ON: 61-45 (best diff. on team)
  • Quality of competition: 5th toughest among D
  • Quality of pairing: best available
  • Cap hit (capgeek): 3.15M
  1. What do these numbers tell us? Like Gilbert, Grebeshkov’s numbers in this single season are better than the veterans (Lubo, Souray) and if he can do it for another 150 games then we’ll be talking about an exceptional player. Specifically his numbers at even strength (5-21-26) are really good and combined with his wide range of ability (he appears to be better suited to the defensive side of the game and the lapses he had earlier are becoming less of an issue) the sky’s the limit at this point.
  2. How could these numbers be better? I don’t really have an answer. The things that come to mind with this player are “can he do it again?” and “how come there aren’t more good Russian defensemen?” but he can play a physical game and can move the puck and he can play big minutes. Not a lot to bitch about here.
  3. What about injury? An ankle injury cost him 7 games and a concussion cost him 3. It’s something that comes with the position: defensemen get hurt, they just do. I don’t think it’s a huge concern aside from “occupational hazard” that impacts all blue. They miss games, they have shorter careers, it’s always been thus.
  4. What about a trade? After dealing Matt Greene I think the Oilers will hang on to the young ones like Gilbert, Grebeshkov and Peckham. If they do trade the guy then a very good talent would need to come back in return. The only thing holding his value back is that NHL teams would want to see him duplicate the season past so the Oilers might as well keep him.
  5. Will Quinn play him against tough competition? MacT didn’t and Grebs flourished. One of the things we need to agree on is that his plus minus (team best) and quality numbers came in calmer waters. Grebeshkov can probably face tougher competition but Quinn has plenty of established options. Then again, I think he’ll love Grebeshkov. The Russian likes to hit, he can move the puck, his coverage is much better and his spaz number went way down. He’s good.
  6. How important is Grebeshkov to this team? That’s what this season (and the short contract) are about to tell us. If he flourishes again and repeats the season past, then the Oilers would probably look at a Gilbert-style deal to lock him up for a time. If he gets injured or struggles then we’re back to do (doe).
  7. Oh, those Russians Why don’t they have more quality defenders? It’s silly. The Russians produce sublime offensive players and plenty of goalies, but the number of really good D is quite poor (unless I’ve missed a bunch). Anyway, Grebs is likely good enough for their Olympic team.

Predictions past 2008-09

  • Predicted: 75gp, 2-22-24 (.320 per game)
  • Actual: 72gp, 7-32-39 (.542 per game)

Prediction for 2009-10: 71gp, 6-26-32 (.451 per game)

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26 Responses to "RE 09-10: Denis Grebeshkov"

  1. bookie says:

    First, Grebs is great and I think he is another Oiler who will have a solid year, but let's start with a tangent… In the last post LT brought up 'Half bubble off level'.

    Another phrase that is unfortunately disappearing is 'Throw/threw a monkeywrench into it'. Example, John really threw a monkeywrench into our plans by twisting his ankle just before our skiing trip

    There is no modern equivalent other than 'F#@ked things/it up'

    I propose we resurrect the phrase by making it shorter and easier "Monekywrenched" As in, Pronger really monkeywrenched Lowe's rebuilding plans when he requested a trade!

    Its just too good of a phrase to lose.

    By the way a monkeywrench is a pipe wrench or a crescent wrench (depending upon where you are from).

  2. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Half bubble off "plumb" just sounds a little better than level, especially when referring to an upright individual.

    But, then again, I may just be prongered.

  3. hunter1909 says:

    People will never use a phrase that makes no sense to them. That's about as old fashioned an expression as I've heard in a long while.

    Leave it to the history and trivia pages.

    That said, it's a superior expression than "fucked up", and parallels what Orwell wrote when he predicted the time when English speaking people would become so debased in their communication habits that their fundamental freedoms could then be easily taken away from the predicted blithering tools by those richer more powerful(and anti democratic) forces which are traditionally at loggerheads with them).

  4. Lowetide says:

    I think they're all fine. People morph language and it makes things interesting. The problem is intellectuals feel a need to make some sense of it and then it all gets ruined.

    Intellectuals and like nutritionists: they spend their days worrying someone, somewhere is having a good time.

  5. Bar Qu says:

    People will never use a phrase that makes no sense to them. That's about as old fashioned an expression as I've heard in a long while.

    That's a particularly foolish statement, even for you hunter. As you well know, people use language all the time that they don't understand – they are called metaphors (or metaphorical language). Anyone who has listened to an excruciating interview with an athlete knows this is true.

    English is exceptionally prone to this, due to its history of being colonised and a coloniser and stealing words from both.

    BTW, what is a Wed and why do we name a day of the week after it? (an anglicisation of the Norse god Wiw, adopted after they overran the English in early middle ages) Why do we eat beef from a cow? Or mutton from a sheep? (French words for the same animal – boeuf and mouton – used to make our language sound more refined)

    I would think of other more relevant recent examples but I was up all night with sick kids and wife and the brain is not working at full capacity.

    And I think Grebeshkov is good – but second in good compared to Gilbert in terms of potential.

  6. Bar Qu says:

    I told you I was tired – Wednesday comes from Wodin or Odin, chief Norse god. Tuesday comes from Tiu, Norse god of war. Don't know how I got them mixed up.

  7. ian says:

    As a former mechanic in the UK. started out with a different word, I went to Wiki to check the spelling and found
    an even better nugget to the wordplay
    In countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, the previously common term "Stillson's" or "set of Stillson's" is being progressively replaced in everyday speech by the colloquial term monkey wrenches. This usage is not technically correct, as the term "monkey wrench" refers to a now uncommon type of adjustable wrench that was designed for use with nuts rather than with round pipes.

    In South Africa, the terms "bobbejaan spanner" and "baboon spanner" are commonly used, especially for large pipe wrenches. "Bobbejaan" is the Afrikaans term for a baboon.

  8. Baroque says:

    What's so strange about "half bubble off plumb?" My dad and both grandfathers used it all the time – as do I, but I remember on rainy days inventing games with my sister involving dangling dad's plumb bob off the side of the basement stairs (before he ruined our fun by enclosing the stairs and then later finishing the basement). It's hardly something that uses unknown or unfamiliar technology.

    A lot of people not in the military don't really know what SNAFU and FUBAR and REMF mean precisely, but still use the terms.

  9. Red Deer Rebel says:

    Anyway, Grebs is likely good enough for their Olympic team.

    I agree that he is a top 6 D in Russia. The problem is that he plays in the NHL, and the Russians will not take 6 D from the NHL. That would be tantamount to admitting the KHL is bush league, since it can't produce a single Dman for the Russian Olympic team. I predict only 4 NHLers will make it, and 2 KHLers will round out the blueline.

    Given the politics, Grebs would have to be top 4 to make it to the Olympics, and he is in tough:

    Volchenkov – Markov
    Tyutin – Gonchar

    He will have to bump Tyutin to make it.

  10. Gord says:

    How can you predict only six goals for Grebeshkov?

    Grebs scored 3 goals in the final 10 games last season plus had lots of times he was in the open slot or in the opponents crease.

    The assists on those 3 goals were Gagner, O'Sullivan, Hemsky, Gilbert & Penner. A mixed bag of teammates.

    Here is the official description of those three goals.

    1) "Gagner's wide shot bounced off the boards to Grebeshkov and he was able to hook the puck in while lying on his back after being knocked down in front of the net."

    2) "Grebeshkov pinched deep and sent a rebound through Hiller's legs"

    3) "Ales Hemsky sent a pass back to Grebeshkov at the point, and his knuckler got past Ty Conklin."

    Two of those goals were because Grebeshkov went on pure offense mode. And unless he went brain dead over the summer, my money is on 12 goals.

    And with Grebeshkov on a one year contract while he looks for the big payday, I suspect the possibility of 15 goals this season.

  11. Gord says:

    My response last August on Grebeshkov's reasonable expectation was:

    "You have posted that Grebeshkov will get 2 goals & 22 assists. Unless injuries derail him, I would say there is a 90% chance Grebs will beat that projection.

    My gut feeling is that 5 goals & 30 assists is the 50/50 "reasonable line in the sand"."

    Considering he ended up with 7 goals & 32 assists…. ;-)

  12. Bruce says:

    Red Deer Rebel: The Russians typically go with 12 forwards and 8 defensemen. Grebs has been one of the 8 at each of the last two WCs, and has a pair of gold medals to prove it. I'd be very surprised if he didn't make the Olympic squad.

    Gord: I too am optimistic for Grebs' output, anticipating something on the order of 10-35-45 depending on PP time of course. It is worth noting that last year Gilbert-Grebeshkov finished 3-4 in the entire NHL in ESP/60.

  13. Promethian says:

    This year Grebs will prove that Vishnovsky is expendable.

    Denis lacks the shot that Lubo has, but is he really more deficient in any other area than that? I'd argue that he's as good as if not better in several categories:

    - size
    - grit
    - physicality
    - PKs better
    - breakout pass? Debatable one for sure.
    - age (younger)
    - cost (cheaper)

    Personally, I was impressed with the Grebs-Lubo pairing last season and would love to see them play a full season or more together. With Souray-Gilbert taking on most of the tough assignments next year, 37-71 could potentially kill at evens, possibly matched with the Hemsky line for the fast-break approach if Quinn is so inclined.

    However, if someone in the top 4 is to go, I would feel very comfortable with Grebs taking Lubo's minutes.

    I remember being pissed off that Lowe traded a cheap #5-6 PP d-man in Bergeron PLUS a 3rd rounder for some player I thought would never even come over from Russia. I love being wrong. Denis is quickly becoming one of my favourite Oilers.

    BTW LT, your Reasonable Expectations for the F gives me an inferiority complex but reading your D gets the old mojo up.

  14. Lowetide says:

    Gord: The idea of reasonable expectations is not to say what I believe will happen but to establish a "line in the sand" of reasonable numbers for said player.

    I talked about this just the other day.

  15. BBZC says:

    kinda OT but I haven't seen it mentioned here. I was listening to Gregor about a week or so ago and he had Prendergast on. KP mentioned that Rennny would have a control of the blue this year, and Quinn would control the forwards. Based on this information I would expect Smid, Strudwick and Staios to be protected while Souray plays the Toughs again.

  16. Gord says:

    I talked about this just the other day.

    Grebeshkov went from high offensive potential (& high potential bloopers) at the beginning of 2007 / 2008 to high offensive potential (& low potential bloopers) at the end of that season.

    After his outstanding World Cup results (which you stated had no proven relevance), I predicted a high offensive season and a high +/- of +15.

    I did not expect the Oilers to crash & burn as bad as they did; yet Grebeshkov still managed the team's highest +12 result.

    You are breaking down results over a complete season to extrapolate your reasonable expectations which works for most players.

    However since Grebeshkov started on a different timeline (aka Garbagekov), I have been breaking down his improvement into two parts – the beginning of the year & the end of the year.

    So far Grebs is tracking my timeline as I expected (which is my definition of reasonable expectation)…

    I expect him to peak (point wise) this season & only take the next step when his PP time increases due to trades or injuries to the #1 PP defensemen…

    Time will tell…

  17. Lowetide says:

    Gord: Again, you're arguing with no one. This is my suggested "reasonabl expectation" which doesn't jive with your number.

    Which is cool. I expect that when I do this again next summer you'll write "told you so" again and miss the point completely again.

    What is it you want from me?

  18. Promethian says:

    Great picture too.

    I accidentally clicked on it to make the larger image and looked at it for a bit.

    Good shot of Grebs mixin' it up, with sweat/water stains on his pants and taking out one of the other team's top guns.


  19. Bruce says:

    Based on the pictures alone I now expect Grebeshkov to have a much better year than Gilbert.


  20. Bendelson says:


    I know you have discussed this (with Gord and others…)

    AND, I know your not attempting to predict this seasons totals per se, but alas, if its 'reasonable' to expect that our top 4 are going to struggle to put up last years numbers, is this based on the coaching/philosophical change or are you suggesting they likely won't repeat last seasons numbers due to group overachievement last year?

    Please clarify why your have choosen to reduce the offensive numbers from the backend this upcoming season – I would 'expect' they (as a group) will continue to be near the top of the league in points.

    Perhaps I am reading to much into your 'reasonable expectations'.

  21. Lowetide says:

    Bendelson: I've nicked the blue for several reasons. Some of them have injury histories and others haven't established themselves at this level yet and still others may not get the some PP time in the season coming.

    Reading back, I've been unfair to Gord in this thread (sorry, my bad) as he does explain this is his version and not specifically suggesting a change in mine (which is what I read, don't ask it has to do with old age).


    Either way, if Grebeshkov scores 15 this season Tambellini will be very sorry come contract time.

  22. Promethian says:

    "Based on the pictures alone I now expect Grebeshkov to have a much better year than Gilbert."

    Are you including off-ice radness in your criteria?

    You might want to reconsider your claim. :)

  23. spOILer says:

    How could these numbers be better?

    I'd like to see more rubber fired on net.

    I'd like to see the numbers repeated with a higher level of QUALCOMP. But these kinds of things don't necessarily go linear. LT, you seem to be thinking he might get saddled with a boatload of tough ES time, and you might be right. Adjustments take time, Phrankeneuf being a good example.

    And his numbers might get clipped a little if Lubo & Souray are healthy for 82 games. ;o) …one can dream, right?

    And of course we don't know how much luck there was in Grebs' numbers from last year. Shots especially were a small sample size. Nor can we know the amount of "bad" luck in next year's numbers.

    So, I'd like to see him take more shots. Have I mentioned that?

    Surely we'd all love to have him at the Olympics–what an experience, a confidence builder that could be for him. Zubov could probably be added to the above proposed list, if he's healthy, but that would still leave a couple of possible spots for Grebs.

    And that ought to be pretty good motivation for him this season too.

  24. Bruce says:

    Are you including off-ice radness in your criteria?

    Nope, just considering the new picture of Tom (GA) Gilbert.

  25. Gord says:

    I've been unfair to Gord in this thread (sorry, my bad)

    Lowetide; even when you consider yourself "unfair", you are always polite & use words that are acceptable around the family dinner table.

    Besides, apologies were not necessary…. ;-)

  26. BenJammin says:

    Posting late. Been out of town. Liked the discussion on the English language.

    Bar-Qu- Great points, but the real reason for the different words for beef/cow, pork/pig is that when England was conquered by the Normans the upper class were French and the lower class were English, so the food on the plate had a French name (which became Anglicized) and the word for the animal, which the servants slaughtered, was English.

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