This is Ken Linseman. The Rat. He was small but had a big impact in pretty much every game he ever played in. A real agitator and “holler guy” he could also impact the game offensively and knew a few tricks of the trade elsewhere too.
The Edmonton Oilers could use a veteran center about now, and I remain convinced Steve Tambellini will eventually need to pull the trigger. Centers come in various shapes and sizes, but for the Oilers too many of their centers are small, undersized and very young. Shawn Horcoff is spending another season devoting time to faceoffs and it is costing him offensively.
Isn’t there anyone in the NHL with an extra veteran center available? It seems to me that teams are making trades and addressing needs all the time, do you think the Oilers will make a move anytime soon? For reference, here’s a list of trades since the 1st of September:
- Ottawa trades L Dany Heatley to San Jose for L Milan Michalek and R Jonathan Cheechoo.
- Boston trades R Phil Kessel to Toronto for Taylor Hall, others
- Calgary trades D Anton Stralman to Columbus for a pick
- Calgary trades L Kyle Greentree to Chicago for D Aaron Johnson
- Boston trades R Chuck Kobasew to Minnesota for prospects and picks
- Buffalo trades F Dan Paille to Boston for picks.
There have been other trades and waiver moves, but these are deals that addressed specific need for NHL teams. Calgary waited about 5 minutes to address need on the blue, Columbus has a need and made a move that may plug the hole.
The Oilers remain a team without a really good second option for faceoffs. Here are the current faceoff numbers (player, number of faceoffs, winning percentage):
- Horcoff 176, 54.0%
- Gagner 70, 41.4%
- Brule 62, 48.4%
- Cogliano 52, 48.1%
- O’Sullivan 33, 42.4%
- Comrie 30, 50.0%
The men (aside from Horcoff) on this list are undersized, well under 50% as a group and many lack the kind of experience required to be effective against established NHL opposition at this time. Gilbert Brule has some elements of Ken Linseman to his game, but this club needs size and experience at the center position.
Riley Nash is in the pipeline, Chris Vande Velde may turn pro next fall and Teemu Hartikainen is big and has played some center. Tambellini needs to address the position at the major league level soon.