Avalanche at Oilers, G72 10-11

The Edmonton Oilers 10-11 will be remembered for two things: losing hockey games and rookies. The list is already amazing, with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Pääjärvi leading the way. The secondary group includes Devan Dubnyk, Linus Omark and Jeff Petry–that’s a helluva kicker and one day we may think of the “big 3″ as the four horsemen if Petry or Dubnyk can play at a high level over a long period.

The “cup of coffee” brigade includes Ryan O’Marra, Shawn Belle (since traded), Alex Plante and the two new hires: Teemu Hartikainen and Chris Vande Velde.
Teemu Hartikainen (top photo) enjoyed an incredible amount of ice time in his NHL debut: 7:44 at even strength and 7:35 on the powerplay. Seriously. Incredibly, he earned it, working hard in puck pursuit and looking like he belonged when Edmonton was applying pressure. Those AHL nights have done him some good and the Oilers would appear to have a strong LW candidate on the farm.
Chris Vande Velde matched Hartikainen at evens (7:19) but did not enjoy PP time. He did impress in limited exposure on the faceoff dot: 75% in 4 sorties. I know, it’s a small sample size but it is a strength for this player and perhaps gives him an edge in next fall’s training camp.
The long AHL season gave these two players the opportunity to refine their skills. I think players like JF Jacques and Colin Fraser may get passed like a house on the side of the road in the fall. Oklahoma City’s graduates appear to have learned their lessons well.
If the Oilers select Adam Larsson, I think we might see Taylor Hall at center in the fall. It makes all kinds of sense and his FO percentage (40%) trails Gagner, Cogliano and Fraser by mere percentage points. Placing Hall at center gives the team a more balanced look:
  • C: Hall, Gagner, Horcoff, Cogliano
  • L: Pääjärvi, Omark, Jones, Hartikainen
  • R: Hemsky, Eberle, Reddox, Brule
That race for 2line LW should be interesting in the fall, the organization might want to try Hartikainen on a skill line to see what happens. Hartikainen’s skill set is a rare item on this roster, so elevated status on the depth chart and PP time are certainly possible in 11-12. Maybe he’ll cure the Calder curse.
The Oilers are almost certain to buy out Sheldon Souray this summer, and I think some NHL contracts may spend the 11-12 season in the minors. Candidates include Colin Fraser and Nikolai Khabibulin. NK’s established level of ability has eroded so much that his .891 SP ranks 70th of 84 NHL goalies in 10-11. Devan Dubnyk ranks in a tie for 28th in SP among goalies who qualify (.913), he’s tied with Dwayne Roloson. Corey Crawford, he of the .915SP on a far superior team, is getting strong Calder consideration this season. 
The RFA list is an interesting one this summer. Last summer, this is how Steve Tambellini managed the restricted free agents:
  1. Sam Gagner: signed a 2-year deal at $2.275M per season.
  2. Gilbert Brule: signed a 2-year deal at $1.85M per season.
  3. Andrew Cogliano: signed a 1-year deal at $1M. 
  4. Jeff Deslauriers: signed a 1-year deal at $1,050,000 per season and spent the year in the minors. He is UFA this summer, so last year’s contract made the decision on this player.
  5. Devan Dubnyk: signed a 2-year deal at $800k per season.
  6. JF Jacqes: signed a 1-year deal at $615,000
  7. Theo Peckham: signed a 1-year deal at $550k.
  8. Marc Pouliot: set him free. 
  9. Ryan Potulny: set him free.

I have no real objections to these moves, although I remain firmly in Marc Pouliot’s camp it was probably time for him to find another organization.

Can he do the same kind of things this summer? RFA’s are Andrew Cogliano, JF Jacques, Liam Reddox, Ladislav Smid, and Theo Peckham at the NHL level. Ryan O’Marra, Taylor Chorney, Zack Stortini, Matt Marquardt, Kevin Montgomery, Bryan Pitton and Jordan Bendfeld are the minor league RFA’s.

Nation Radio goes today at Noon on Team 1260 radio. Guests scheduled are EJ McGuire from Central Scouting, Tom Awad from Hockey Prospectus, Todd Nelson from the OKC Barons, Jonathan Willis from Oilers Nation and Marty Williamson who is the coach and GM of the high flying Niagra Ice Dogs. The Ice Dogs have a ton of excellent draft eligibles, including Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton.

Please send questions and suggestions to nationradio@theteam1260.com

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