Being an Oiler fan this summer is kind of like spying on Raymond Burr in the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window.” People are acting strange, there’s desperation everywhere, all the major events seem to be happening just outside the rear window and if you listen closely there are whispers about all kinds of terrifying things.
I am in no way associated with the Edmonton Oilers or anyone in their employ. Although I do have strong media contacts none of them have offered me any information about this summer (save for the items I’m about to quote). And yet, Edmonton is a series of small towns in a big city and people talk about things. So, even though it’s nothing at all and will never happen, I’ve heard from three different sources that the “Heatley to Oilers” deal is still on and will be completed soon. Crazy, huh? Maybe Eklund should move to Leduc.
I’ve quoted Jason Gregor interviews and posts a few times over the years, specifically here and here. I know Jason, have for years and although we’re not buddies or anything if we saw each other in a bar we’d have a beer and share a few stories for sure. You should know he owes me nothing nor I he, and that there are no outside forces causing me to write this down.
I think Gregor is an extremely credible source on all things Edmonton Oilers. I don’t know where he gets his information and don’t care, but when he posts specific things about line combinations and thought process it’s best to pay attention. His latest is here. Please click through because I’m going to quote him heavily and it’s only fair his site gets some hits in exchange for my theft.
- It sounds more and more like Andrew Cogliano will get a look at LW when camp opens. Makes sense and this isn’t earth-shattering. We’ve talked at length about that through the summer, his inability in the FO circle and slow progress with positioning made him an obvious candidate to move from C.
- Don’t be surprised if Dustin Penner takes a few shifts on the RW as well. I think Penner has been effective on LW but whatever floats the boat of the new coach.
- Pat Quinn will implement a much more up-tempo style, and that should benefit guys like Nilsson, O’Sullivan and Cogliano. Bottom line is that you better haul ass back with as much effort as you do downhill or the coach is going to be pissed. I’d think this would be a little better for a more experienced hand (O’Sullivan) but we’ll see if the other two have developed over time. Lord knows MacT should get some credit if the light goes on, can we agree on that?
- Right now it seems the 3rd and 4th line winger slots are much clearer than the top two lines. Moreau and Pisani are 3rd liners while Jacques and Stortini occupy the 4th line. Which is about what we’re thinking (this mirrors the “reasonable expectations” series I’m doing and seems to make sense based on the organization’s stated goals this summer) and perhaps gives us some insight into how much that 4line will be used early in the season.
- Right now only Hemsky and Gagner are locks in the top six. Hemsky will be the 1st line right winger, while Gagner will be one of the top two centres. I don’t believe that to be true, we can name the entire top 6 right now (Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky and then Gagner, O’Sullivan plus Nilsson or Cogliano) by using only 7 names. Gregor’s comments are interesting in that isolating names like that gives us a chance to mull the idea of Gagner and Hemsky on the 1line together. Unlikely, but possible.
- Horcoff might find himself on the 3rd line, although I think that’s a long shot. They don’t have the depth and quality to put Horcoff on a 3line and frankly the last time the Oilers had someone of #10′s quality rolling on the 3line Stanley was in town. I’ve suggested in the reasonable expectations series that Horcoff will be relied on for more of a defensive role this season and it seems reasonable Gagner will pass him in total points (but not total value). Shawn Horcoff is the de facto #1 center on this team and despite the complete blind spot many have about him, I believe many NHL teams have inferior men skating at 1line center on their clubs. Horcoff isn’t the problem folks, and he’s more effective on the top opposition line than the 3line.
- Nilsson, Penner, O’Sullivan, Cogliano will battle for the other slots, but it seems clear that Quinn wants to evaluate these guys on how they play HIS system, not what they’ve done, or not done, in the previous few years. If Gregor’s correct in saying Hemsky and Gagner are the kingpins of the top 2lines, then we can safely add Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and Patrick O’Sullivan to the group. The choice becomes Robert Nilsson on the 2line wing or Cogliano moving to wing on 1line or 2line, that’s how I see it. Should Cogliano stay at center it seems to me we’re looking at him in a possible 4line role (he’s unlikely to get the gig between Pisani and Moreau which is a spring between Pouliot and Brule unless there’s a trade).
Credit where due: on an August afternoon with very little news he delivered quite a few items of interest. Good on him. I continue to believe the Edmonton Oilers will make a trade in the next few weeks, and there’s always those crazy Heatley rumors.