TC Comments- Team A Forwards

I spent part of today at Oilers training camp with my friend Louise; it’s become a tradition, I don’t know if it’s mostly Oilers or mostly Louise but it has become a very worthwhile morning that signals the beginning of the Oilers season.

Louise is a smart cookie (and she brought me coffee and homemade muffins–both were outstanding) and we talked about what has been a difficult personal year for both of us and then discussed the Oilers.

We think Sam Gagner is going to be really good but he’s not yet a man. Gagner will likely take some playing time from Shawn Horcoff (powerplay) at some point this season but #10 is still “the man in the middle” for the 2009-10 season.

Here are some observations from today, if I missed someone you can ask and if there’s something worth posting I’ll do it.

  • Shawn Horcoff: Well, he’s ready. Quality on the dot, ripped a couple and schooled someone (Cogs?) on a faceoff and gave a nifty pass to Hemmer for a hummer. A man for all era’s.
  • Ales Hemsky: I think he’s going to have a big season, but say that every year. Hemsky is definitely the “one of these things doesn’t belong” in Pat Quinn’s structured breakout program. He’ll get it at some point but this fall will surely be a period of transition.
  • Patrick O’Sullivan: Third wheel on the Horc-Hemsky line but chemistry takes some time. Nice wheels and he’ll battle along the boards. A nice player, bet he scores in bunches.
  • Fernando Pisani: Crazy good today, he looked mid-season. Scored a goal and skated with confidence and authority.
  • Andrew Cogliano: Speed demon had some good moments and skated miles. Nice setup on his line’s goal, they had him at center.
  • Ethan Moreau: Big wingers get noticed and the ones with major league experience shine. Solid player, his line was matched up against the Horcoff line so spent extended periods chasing the puck.
  • Mike Comrie: Played on a depth line so there wasn’t a lot to work with, but I did notice his willingness to battle in those tough areas (specifically behind the net).
  • Rob Schremp: Holy crap can he do things with the puck. Every TC he does things that make you sit up and take notice, and today was no different. I was especially impressed with a long distance backdoor pass to Motin that almost cashed. It looks like he’ll go down playing his game and maybe someone will pick him up.
  • Liam Reddox: I think he’s a “Four-A” player at this point, not quite the confidence and ability of the NHL players but too cool for the minors. Battled, made plays, spent much of the day in the right spot.
  • Ryan Stone: Each team has a dividing line between the NHLers and AHL men and this is it. Stone has good size but (as KP mentioned) speed is a concern and he didn’t make anything happen (that I saw) on this day.
  • Ryan Potulny: A skilled player, maybe smaller than I’d imagined. Great hands, he could make this club and certainly is a candidate for callup.
  • Jamie Bates: Showed a plus shot and crashed some, he’s likely looking good for a move up to the AHL even this early.
  • Ryan MacMurchy: Scored a nice goal on a nice quick release.
  • Kip Brennan: A couple of big hits, he’s a large fellow.
  • Charles Linglet: He wasn’t as noticable as the other RW’s on the morning session (there were 6) but he did some nice things in the offensive zone when given the opportunity.
  • Geoff Paukovich: He’s a big man. I thought he skated pretty well but there’s not a lot of offense.
  • Colton Fretter: Didn’t notice him too much.
  • Miroslav Lazo: I kept trying to notice him but didn’t get a feel for what he’s about.

Team A defenders and goalies in a little while.

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31 Responses to "TC Comments- Team A Forwards"

  1. Gord says:

    Was there with my wife today – basically agree with your evaluation to the Schremp name (I did not even notice the ones listed lower – except for MacMurchy).

    But you forgot to mention that Schremp (as Comrie) also played on a depth line. Yet Schremp was creating tons of scoring opportunities while Comrie did not…

    That part impressed me about Schremp…

  2. Ender says:

    OT, but, for what it's worth, TSN is ranking Edmonton above Calgary this year. That actually ranks Calgary out of the playoffs.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?id=11926

  3. Lowetide says:

    Gord: Well in fairness Schremp's linemates were AHL teammates Stone and Linglet, while Comrie was playing with knuckle dragger Kip Brennan and Victor Lazlo.

  4. kanadienkyle says:

    Was at Wild camp today. Not much to report with this scrimmage, as it was more of a friendly. Cuma was skating with Burns (who looks very good). Bouchard has mid-season form and was taking some of the depth defenders to school. Andy Hilbert of all people stood out, playing on a line with Brodziak.

  5. Schitzo says:

    Stone really disappointed me, for a guy who might have actually had a shot.

  6. flamingpavelbure says:

    Ahhh Robbie Schremp, he kinda reminds me of me in Training Camps, doing amazing things with the puck, but getting cut for not caring to battle for the puck or just not backchecking. Anyways, if he can do the 2 up there, and make the team, even its to play only on the point on PP (I assume someone on the blue line gets injured at some point, or just traded) It's a good thing.

  7. R O says:

    OT, but, for what it's worth, TSN is ranking Edmonton above Calgary this year. That actually ranks Calgary out of the playoffs.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?id=11926

    There wasn't much in the way of useful analysis in that article. Vague hand-waving about Cammalleri and Jokinen, insinuations about the Brent Sutter hiring that have nothing to do with winning hockey games, and a whole lot of shit regarding playoff performance for a team they predict will miss the playoffs.

    I know TSN has to appeal to the lowest common denominator but you think they'd do their research and then build a narrative around it. I have long suspected that TSN has stopped operating in reality when it comes to hockey analysis.

  8. flamingpavelbure says:

    TSN = Stupid
    Hiring Mike Milbury to talk about moves of the GM and critize them = TSN

    Also in theyr Atlanta rant, they forgot to mention the existence of Brian Little.

  9. kris says:

    Yeah, I know we're getting off track here, but ranking the Flames 17th and out of the playoffs is just plain dumb.

    That's really closer to the worst possible outcome for the Flames than a reasonable expectation for how they might finish. Great D, lots of veteran forwards and a enough fire-power to muddle through.

    At the very least you put them at 14th, ahead of Florida, St. Louis, and Edmonton. Florida for God's sake!

    I think the Flames are also better than a Gaborik-less Wild, and an inexperienced Columbus team, but that's at least debatable.

    IMO,they're on par with a Pronger-Less Anaheim and that quirky, hard-to-rate Carolina club.

  10. Jonathan Willis says:

    KanadienKyle:

    Andy Hilbert's a good player. He's going to make that team.

  11. Ender says:

    @RO

    I agree, it was a crappy article. Just thought it was interesting to have TSN say that.

    @Kris

    It wouldn't surprise me if Calgary got a better spot than Edmonton, but to my eye every team other than Colorado has a decent chance at spots 3-8 in the West. I think just about everybody took a step back this offseason, and given how badly Edmonton underperformed last year it really wouldn't surprise me if they take the div this year because of it.

  12. R O says:

    given how badly Edmonton underperformed last year

    The notion that the Oilers underperformed last year is a source of consternation for me. Their underliers were horrible (shots +/-, corsi +/-, shift end +/-), but both save% and shot% at evens was above average. Expectations last year were based on a 20-game stretch with similar shooting% streak.

    If anything the Oilers overperformed last year.

  13. Ender says:

    The notion that the Oilers underperformed last year is a source of consternation for me.

    I see your argument, but I honestly don't get it. It doesn't matter what the underlying numbers were – it matters how far the underlying numbers diverged from the norm.

    Maybe they exceeded their underlying numbers, but since their underlying numbers were so far from the norm isn't it reasonable to say that they should *at worst* have similar numbers to last year?

    Or is there a reason why you're ignoring the norm that I'm missing? (for example, people argue all the time on here about unsustainable shooting percentages and whatnot – how is this different?)

  14. R O says:

    I see your argument, but I honestly don't get it. It doesn't matter what the underlying numbers were – it matters how far the underlying numbers diverged from the norm.

    Maybe they exceeded their underlying numbers, but since their underlying numbers were so far from the norm isn't it reasonable to say that they should *at worst* have similar numbers to last year?

    Or is there a reason why you're ignoring the norm that I'm missing? (for example, people argue all the time on here about unsustainable shooting percentages and whatnot – how is this different?)

    The reason the underliers are important is that they have been demonstrated to be fairly repeatable over half-season segments. Much more so than goal differential, which absorbs the unsustainability of the SH and SV percentages.

    By corsi and shot differential the Oilers were horrible in both 07/08 and 08/09.

  15. kanadienkyle says:

    JW:

    Agreed on Hilbert. I just mentioned it because I was surprised to see him there and surprised at how feisty he was. Certainly not demeaning his talent.

  16. Ender says:

    By corsi and shot differential the Oilers were horrible in both 07/08 and 08/09.

    Ok, this is where we diverge I guess. Me, I'm not a big fan of Corsi. Not that it doesn't tell you anything (because it does) but just that it skews certain teams' play.

    For example, if you look back at the season, you'll see that Roloson played much better in games that he got a lot of shots. Lots of shots aren't necessarily a bad thing.

    And Corsi doesn't have something built-in (as far as I know to differentiate shots, so it counts initial shots and rebounds equally. Many more goals are scored on rebounds than single shots, and it's easy to imagine a situation where one team/goalie is just really good at not giving up rebounds.

    There's also playing to the score – Edmonton had a nasty habit over the last 2 years of completely stopping shooting when they were up, which artificially inflated the Corsi of the team they were playing.

    And then there's the really old argument that I'm not sure if anyone has actually backed it up – Edmonton has almost always done better if their being outshot. If they're outshooting, they're likely losing. IIRC, it's been that way since the 80s.

    So yea, it's not that I think that Corsi or shot differential are insignificant, just that there are a lot of mitigating factors that the Oilers seem to perpetually be in the margin.

  17. Bryanbryoil says:

    LT-Schremp didn't play much with either player last season. They were mostly Potulny's linemates at least until Eberle had his stretch down there. I didn't get a chance to watch any of those games. Schremp has a knack for creating for his linemates, whether or not they finish is on them.

  18. Racki says:

    Lowetide: You're a lucky bugger for getting to go today. I tried to play hookey today at work, even just for scrimmage #2, but to no avail.

    But anyways, I love to hear that Horcoff played well today. He's been in a lot of people's doghouses from last year's performance and the contract stuff, so it's good to hear he's off to a good start.

    And Schremp, so far everyone is raving about him. Man it is sad that he likely won't make the team no matter how well he plays. I'd like to see them even just make a spot in the press box for him for now just to keep him off waivers. He would make a good specialist – PP/shootout guy. I still wonder about his 5 on 5 play. Did he look good in that area today?

  19. Lowetide says:

    Bryan: I didn't say they were linemates, but there would have been some familiarity there, right? I don't think it can be reasonably argued that Comrie and Schremp had the same quality of linemates today.

  20. Gord says:

    I do not know enough about the quality of line mates but I do know a few things.

    Johan Motin definitely never played on the same ice surface with Schremp. Schremp saw Motin moving in – then passed the puck through about five pairs of legs directly onto Motin's stick – which he dinged off the post.

    I admit I focused on both those players whenever they stepped on the ice. Comrie did not look bad but did not look great – and his skating was slower than I expected.

    Schremp made me go WOW four times with his passing – plus was completely open in front of the net once (his team mate could not get the puck from the corner past one defenseman).

    I am not saying Schremp is making the Oilers but if he gets traded (or waived) to the NYI's, I am definitely grabbing him in the final round of every hockey pool I am in. Seriously…

  21. Bryanbryoil says:

    LT-He would certainly have more familiarity with them than Comrie did his linemates. As for skill, I don't know who one of MC's linemates was, but one of them was a goon. Much less skilled than Linglet or Stone, however I've long heard when Schremp was saddled with the likes of Jonas Almtorp that if you're good you'll stand out. Not everyone has explosive speed to still be extremely dangerous even with pilons for linemates.

  22. Bryanbryoil says:

    Gord-That is what I've seen from Rob in Springfield, when he's on his game he makes a LOT of spectacular plays that would be potted by skilled players. The kid is a great passer, not good, not pretty good, great. If he has added some speed and just as importantly confidence, we could be kicking ourselves in the ass for waiving him and keeping Comrie for a single season.

  23. Gord says:

    Bryan,

    The Schremp I saw today reminded me of Gagner when the kid line almost dragged the Oilers into the playoffs a year & a half ago.

    Not very fast but not poor defensively. And when the puck touched his stick, it was a joy to behold.

    Ironically, the player almost everyone was raving about this pre-season was Nilsson. Yet he seemed to believe he was Magic Man with the puck today – he did not use his line mates well at all.

    That thought leads me to believe Schremp has improved enough to be a top 6 player on a weaker team (i.e. NYI) if there is no spot available on Edmonton this season.

  24. Bryanbryoil says:

    Gord-I've never given up on the kid for 2 reasons, because IMO he never had a fair shake to get some NHL games in and because I could see how great he could be at times. I've long maintained that he could be an effective NHLer if he could get an opportunity and keep improving his game. I just hope that it will be here.

  25. Ribs says:

    When it comes to Schremp, disregard anything and everything he does until the preseason games begin. It's the same story year after year.

  26. Bryanbryoil says:

    Ribs-IIRC he didn't do much positive last camp until he had a few preseason games and made a few nice passes but not much else.

  27. Andrew says:

    Going back to TSN, I agree their power rankings analysises are pretty weak, especially the Atlanta one as has been mentionned.

    But Calgary looks like they might end up in a similar situation to last year, where they look great all season until the big guys get hurt…a few injuries to their key defense and the wheels fall off.

  28. uni says:

    Andrew, you can say that for just about any team. Malkin and Crosby get hurt, Gonchar has an injury he doesn't recover from/can't play through the Penguins have their wheels fall off.

    Staal gets hurt, Pitkanen and some of their other D get hurt and Carolina has their wheels fall off.

    Rating a team based on what if scenarios centered around injury is just plain unfeasible. I can see where you'd make an argument for a team that relies heavily on its goaltender ala Roberto Luongo in Vancouver (although last season they were much deeper and this may not hold as true anymore) or the Quinn Leafs with Joseph/Belfour.

  29. Ribs says:

    Bryan – He wasn't lights out or anything last year, but he teased with some great playmaking just as he's done this year. The speed picks up and he gets left behind come the preseason games. I'd say you'd see what I mean tonight but it looks like the Flames are icing their B-squad, so he might have a chance of keeping up.

  30. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Lain, the coffee was my own blend, but I didn't bake the muffins.
    :-D

    I think people who are salivating about Schremp, and to some degree Nilsson (that would be you, Gregor) need to take a step back and apply some context to their impressions. These boys need time and space to weave their magic and there is oodles of time and space on training camp ice. Not so much in the games that count.

    Oh, it's fun to ooh and ahh at some flash and dash after such a long summer, but the real substance to glean from TC is the players' ability to follow instruction and to re/develop predictability with linemates.

    L8r
    Louise

  31. Ribs says:

    Well put, Louise.

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