Bright Future?

This is Andrei Kovalenko. He was a flawed NHL player but useful in a narrow view. Scored a huge goal for the Oilers in a G7 (against Dallas, tied it 3-3) and did some other things too. Kovalenko was listed as 5.10, 215 but there should have been an asterisk that added “plus a healthy appetite for things that don’t make you a better NHL player.”

The Oilers had some useful hands (Smyth, Weight, Marchant, others) and Kovalenko popped 32 goals in his best season in Edmonton.

Flawed? Yes in spades.

How did Ron Low do it? Well, he had some guys like Kovalenko (Czerkawski was another, Satan was on that team) who could score goals and some big men who could rattle and hum (DeBrusk, Buchberger, Hulbig played a little) and some guys who could check well (Grier, Moreau, Lindgren, Rem the Gem).

They also had Doug Weight, Ryan Smyth, Jason Arnott and the underrated Todd Marchant and Dean McAmmond who could do a few things.

That’s a lot of talent, and really very few of these men were in the heart of their careers during the time Kovalenko played for the team. So when we as Oilers fans talk about being patient and waiting for some wonderful future day when wins are plentiful, maybe we should ask ourselves what exactly makes us think the current group of kids is better than the bunch who played here a decade ago?

From this vantage point, it looks like this generation of Oilers are a little shy in all areas. The Oilers have some fine young forwards (Gagner, Cogliano) who may or may not develop but the “wide range of skills” offered by men like Weight and Smyth seems to be lacking (or at the very least late in appearing with regard to Cogs).

If this is a rebuild (and with the team looking at missing the playoffs for the fourth season in a row what else could it be?) then we need to hope that MPS, Riley Nash, Hartikainen and others are all the real deal. History tells us we’re dreaming.

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42 Responses to "Bright Future?"

  1. Smarmy Boss says:

    I think the current list of youth is much better then it was in those days. The one downside is there is no Weight calibre center.

    Those teams 10 years ago lacked the top end talent but had far more balance and defined roles.

  2. John says:

    LT

    That is the problem. We have a promising roster of young players. At one point in time the best young outfield in the National League was Dawson, Valentine and Cromartie and Dawson is the only one to have an above average career. So potential is worth something when it develops. By definition not all talent develops.

    At this point who fits that criteria for the Oil? Gagner who last year was worse than 2 years ago. Cogliano who may have actually achieved his level of performance. That is, what he is doing now he may do for 10+ more years. Nilsson inconsistency is where we started and it is not getting any better. Smid….this year faced with injuries, illness etc has stepped up….the Glimmer twins…not so much. I may be in the minority but I like the effort Brule puts forth

    Now Eberle, Rajala, Omark are all undersized skilled forwards who fit that definition. Will one of them develop. Likely ….but 7 or 8 of them. Nope.

    So, another question why dear god do we have 15 prospects that are skilled smurfs?

    One of our big problems is that we draft anywhere from 8th to 20th and then almost seemed amazed that we rarely draft a star. Maybe, just maybe the goal of the year should not be if all things break just right to see if we can nab 7th ot 8th place in the west and draft 15th overall

  3. Lowetide says:

    Riley Nash with an assist in tonight's game for Cornell. 2gp, 0-3-3 so far with about half of g2 to play.

  4. logical thinking says:

    If only the Oilers would of kept Ray Whitney and Kirk Maltby with that group.

  5. bookie says:

    If only the Oilers would of kept Ray Whitney and Kirk Maltby with that group.

    Ron Low, in his 'wisdom' decided that Whitney was not worth playing. Ron Low is a perfect example of a guy getting a job that he was not even close to being qualified for.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Nash with another assist, now 2gp, 0-4-4.

  7. Oilman says:

    pfft….that Nash kid can't finish:o)

  8. HBomb says:

    Whitney wasn't even Ron Low's biggest mistake.

    Miroslav Satan.

  9. Gerta Rauss says:

    Quinn off day

    Hemsky day to day(shoulder)

  10. Asiaoil says:

    It's interesting to talk about the players now and back in the day – but as long as this team continues to arguably be the worst managed team in the NHL – nothing will change.

    I said it last year and it still holds today – we are the Wirtz-era Blackhawks – and nothing will change until the stink coming out of the administrative offices is removed.

  11. dave says:

    If'n LUVVED Kovelenko during the SEGA years.

  12. Black Dog says:

    Naw Asia, the Wirtz Oilers were worse. At least Katz spends his dough.

    But now its new ownership and a new coach and mostly new players. The one constant? Kevin Lowe.

    Fire his ass.

  13. Woodguy says:

    Hemsky day to day(shoulder)

    Yet last game he still skated hard through all his checks and went hard to the net.

    The more I watch him this year the more I realize a lot of us don't truly understand how good of a hockey player this guy is.

    He's not Foresburg, but if he played on the Avs from 94'-04' people would probably speak in hushed tones about him.

  14. trader says:

    Hey LT, did you hear anything about MAP being put on the LTIR? CapGeek shows him there.

  15. Lowetide says:

    trader: No. It may have happened very recently but there hasn't been a media report.

  16. Woodguy says:

    Why wasn't Souray put on the LTIR retroactively back to Oct 9?

    According to cap geek he's only been on for 8 days?

    Why wouldn't you put him on retro-actively to get the extra cap space and give you flexibility when to bring him back?

    Curious.

  17. jonathanjoyce says:

    reminds me a bit of the 96-97 team that ended a 4 year absense from the playoffs. The keys to that team were a super star in Doug Weight, solid two way play in Marchant and outstanding goaltending in Cujo.

    Time will tell if some leaders emerge out of this year's team, but it certainly is tough sledding at the moment.

  18. Schitzo says:

    Why wouldn't you put him on retro-actively to get the extra cap space and give you flexibility when to bring him back?

    You can't "bank" the LTIR room, it's either use it or lose it. Since they haven't used it, there's no benefit to retroactively LTIRing him

  19. doritogrande says:

    Alex Plante with his first professional tally tonight. First assist on Liam Reddox's powerplay goal as part of a 5-2 Falcons win tonight.

    He was even on the night. Johan Motin, on the other hand, went +2.

  20. FlamingPavelBure says:

    What about… stop panicking and wait untill your main pieces get healthy?

    I mean, before all the crap went on for the Oil, everything seemed to be fine.

    How about wait until our guys get healthy before we trade half of the team away?

  21. Woodguy says:

    Thanks Schitzo.

    DG: is Motin on the PP or PK or both?

  22. hunter1909 says:

    Asiaoil: You just said in a single post my raving for the past ten seasons.

  23. hunter1909 says:

    Lowetide, It's not so much The Lost Weekend, but Attack, when Jack Palance gets it from the tank.

  24. hunter1909 says:

    Kevin Lowe plays Eddie Albert.

  25. hunter1909 says:

    Pat Quinn can be Lee Marvin.

  26. doritogrande says:

    Woodguy:

    He was on for a PK goal against tonight with Dean Arsene. It was over a minute and a half into the PP though, so I'm assuming that's the second unit. He was paired with Chris Armstrong at EVs, or so the scoresheet is saying.

    Not too sure on the powerplay. I can imagine they have better options in Plante, Armstrong, Peckham and…what the hell? They were icing 7 defensemen tonight? Maybe the likes of Nickerson or Arsene got PP time over Motin?

    In either case, that's really a question for J. Willis.

  27. Smarmy Boss says:

    I like how the Oilers have piles of injuries and illness and people start raging and screaming about trading and firing people because of it.

    Just can't take the HF out of most of you.

  28. pboy says:

    What about… stop panicking and wait untill your main pieces get healthy?

    I mean, before all the crap went on for the Oil, everything seemed to be fine.

    How about wait until our guys get healthy before we trade half of the team away?

    FPB: The problem is that when the Oilers got off to their hot start, their numbers weren't sustainable to keep on winning. They were getting outshot by wide margins every game but the Oil were scoring in bunches on a high shooting percentage and they weren't going to be able to keep that up, regardless of the injuries and the flu.

    I do agree thought that Tambo should wait to see what he has (a relatively healthy team for 15+ games) before he hits the panic button. But some of the holes on this team have been there before TC and they still need to be addressed regardless of who is or isn't on the IR.

  29. pboy says:

    I still think that a package of Grebs + Cogs/POS should be able to bring in a player who will be able to help this team and going forward.

  30. St George says:

    I like how the Oilers have piles of injuries and illness and people start raging and screaming about trading and firing people because of it.

    I think it is a little more than that. Like, say, spending to the cap for 4 years in a row and being playoff-free. Or icing teams that have obvious holes and a that don't play with any urgency. Or that seem perpetually caught between rebuilding and trying to make a run for 8th place.

    You have to be pretty easily satisfied to be happy with what the Oilers have been serving up the last 4 years.

    BTW, LT, outstanding post.

  31. YKOil says:

    Be interesting to see where we are at when 'healthy' kicks in.

    Think about that for a second longer.

    20 game mark for everyone to be back?

    24 game mark before they all know what they are doing again and start developing chemistry?

    What kind of record will they need if they are 10 pts out?

    Can't wait to see a shitty game at the shiny new palace!

  32. bookie says:

    I think it is a little more than that. Like, say, spending to the cap for 4 years in a row and being playoff-free.

    Are you counting this season or are you forgetting about the playoffs of 2006, because I seem to remember the team making the playoffs in 05/06.

  33. PDO says:

    I think the current list of youth is much better then it was in those days. The one downside is there is no Weight calibre center.

    His name is Sam Gagner.

    And they are damn well similar players.

  34. St George says:

    Bookie – I am counting this season. I see little evidence that there is any more reason to be hopeful this year than last.

    05/06 demonstrates another point that I believe – to be in contention for anything serious, you need some elite talent and a culture of winning. We had that in 05/06 with guys like Pronger (elite) and Smyth and Smith (winning). Unfortunately for us, Lowe dismantled that, and set this team back 5 years. And as much as we want to feel good about guys like Gagner, Cogs, and Hemsky, none of them have replaced what we lost.

    (Smyth, however, is on to LA, and both he and that team are much the better for it.)

  35. Shawn says:

    Man you gotta love fans. Team gets just hammered with the flu and injuries after a good start and everyone jumps off the bus.

  36. Steve says:

    I defy anybody to cite any evidence at all* that the healthy version of these Oilers are a playoff team. We've got one centre who can (or used to be able to) play the toughs, secondary scoring that only works against soft minutes (and lately not even against that), a decrepit checking corps composed of players who haven't really been effective since 2006, a backup goalie who the numbers tell us probably doesn't belong in the NHL (though he's looked pretty good in limited action so far this year), and a defensive lineup that, for the most part, can't really play defense.

    The Souray and Horcoff injuries and the flu make this a worse team. But it was pretty lousy already.

    *That cannot be easily refuted.

  37. kinger says:

    Man, this thread is full of a bunch of pansy bandwagoners.

    Get it together 'ladies'.

    *high fives the air*

    __________________________________

    On a more serious note, MOST of the people around these parts have been saying the same thing all year. It's NOT like this losing streak has somehow changed all our minds from "this team is going to be GREAT" to "this team sucks fire everyone". In fact, I don't think anyone is suggesting that we "fire everyone". I for one want just a couple small deals to help bring in some players that are hard on the puck. A few more Ryan Stones and a few less Robert Nilssons and I think our chances of making the second season go up a lot.

  38. SK Oiler Fan says:

    A healthy Oiler team has multiple issues.
    Name 8 teams in the western conference where a healthy Oiler team is a good bet to finish higher in the standings. And be honest.

    SJ
    Chi
    Cal
    Van
    Det
    LA
    Dal
    Ana

    CBJ
    Edm
    Pho
    Col
    Min
    StL
    Nash

    And we already have Col and Pho overachieving 16 games in.

    This team could really use a D Weight and T. Marchant about now. Even the current versions would help.

  39. danny says:

    PDO: I still don't see Weight/Gagner likenesses.

    39 was all about making plays in high traffic, and the guy was a block of cement on skates. He was a passer superior to todays 83.

    Gags, is no less a prospect, but different. His game is much more along the lines of a Zetterberg style. Will need to use his head to rise and can't rely on the physical side as much as Weight did.

  40. Lowetide says:

    danny: Gagner's game is as you describe but even at this age he can win some puck battles. He gets his ass in there and can do some things.

    Doug Weight was I believe 21 when he came to the Oilers, so we need to wait a little while (maybe this time next year) in order to see if he can improve his strength and became a bigger part of the battle.

  41. danny says:

    I think you suspect, (as well as I do) that Gagner wont be a soft perimeter guy. And in the coming years the puck battle wont be an issue.

    I think with Weight though, he was such a unique player that comparables are few and far between. Gagner is a superior stickhandler, and dangler than 39 was I think.

    39s ice vision/passing was Adam Oates level, and he was a 200lb guy on a 5'11 frame. Probably the only guy stockier than Kovalenko on the ice. To this day I have never seen a forward utilize his lateral skating like Weight did. The guy could go full speed north, facing due east with the puck on his stick.

    My best comp for Gagner is Marc Savard. When a 100pt player is being used as a ballpark expectation, the prospect is legit.

    A question we can ask at this stage, is, what separates Gagner from Zetterberg, and how close can we expect 89 to close the gap on Z by the time he reaches 25.

  42. Dennis says:

    John: I always love Oil/Expos parallels but I wonder how we'd view Warren Cromartie in today's game?

    I don't know if there's anywhere that would list his minor league stats but I seem to remember him having one 40 double season with the Expos and fuckall Hrs and he didn't walk much either.

    PDO, LT and Danny: It's hard to make the 39/89 comparison because 39 was a college player and had those extra years of maturation under his belt but I would be pleased as punch if 89 wound up being as productive as 39.

    Though, I have a feeling that he'll have to do it playing tough min and Weight always had Marchant to do that for him.

    Anyway, always nice to remember the '97 and '98 Oilers. I've mentioned this numerous times but those teams really feel like mine because I'd just moved back to the city and I would head to the sports bar for literally every game possible. These were before the days Sportsnet and the local affiliates so I basically watched all the games from the Fox Sports Net channels and even now I'll remember those times.

    Finally, Ty and I have argued about this before but the Oilers-with-Guerin for he second half of the '98 season is probably the second best all-around team this franchise has seen in the last ~20 years.

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