CENTER 12-13

The Edmonton Oilers rebuild doesn’t exactly subscribe to the “strength up the middle” template. However, they have a young impact teenager, an early 20s 2liner and two veterans at the position. Is it good enough?

EVEN STRENGTH TOI/GM AND 5X5/60

  1. Sam Gagner 14:40/1.96
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 14:33/1.98
  3. Shawn Horcoff 14:03/1.04
  4. Eric Belanger 11:11/0.64
  5. Anton Lander 8:53/0.62

Gagner and the Nuge delivered solid numbers, owing to softer opposition and a zone start push respectively. Horcoff faced the toughs and ZS hell, delivering the 297th best 5×5/60 for NHL players who dressed for 40 games or more. Belanger and Lander were at 344 and 347 respectively (there were 368 players who qualified).

SH TOI GAME

  1. Shawn Horcoff 2:39
  2. Eric Belanger 2:28
  3. Anton Lander 1:36

About what we might have expected, gives us some insight into the role EDM expects Lander will play in the future.

PP TOI GAME AND 5X4/60

  1. Ryan Nugent Hopkins 3:00/7.34
  2. Shawn Horcoff 2:52/3.20
  3. Sam Gagner 2:27/3.66
  4. Eric Belanger 1:04/4.32

The Nuge on the PP is like Eric Clapton on guitar: it is on another level. Lots of verbal about Belanger on the PP but the Horcoff minutes are the mystery from here. You know I’m a fan of the filthy Russian, but he’s a veteran with major minutes in all three disciplines and this is the area Edmonton should be able to afford to rest him. Strange.

WOWY

  • Gagner’s graph in 5×5/close Corsi shows he’s successful with several players, notably Hall and Hemsky. He may not push the river, but he helps it flow.
  • The Nuge shows that he and Eberle should play together no matter what, have a look at the numbers each perform without compared to together. Wow.
  • Horcoff’s graph is encouraging and suggests he could play with Smyth-Hemsky or mentor a youngster like Paajarvi. He needs help but there’s still some blacktop left.
  • Belanger’s WOWY isn’t pretty but there was some chem with Jones and he appears to have saved Eager too.
  • Anton Lander wasn’t ready. Plastic knife to a gun fight.

 

CORSI QUAL COMP

My sincere thanks to Woodguy for the WOWY help and drawing my attention to Corsi QC. This gives a wider (and I think more accurate) view about what is happening on the ice 5×5. Notice the strong number Horcoff delivers when you account for comp and it once again confirms that Taylor Hall is already a beast.

SUMMARY

Tom Renney did a couple of strange things last season–keeping Lander and playing Horcoff on the PP. I also think he got run over by Belanger’s awful year and Gagner was inconsistent too.

Still, I like the depth at the position. The Nuge is a freak on the PP but rolled out some nice numbers at evens too; Gagner posted some good numbers, you’d like him to play against tougher competition but that Corsi QOC number is solid.

The Horcoff had a splendid number in that discipline, so imo this comes down to zone starts  and qual comp. Coach Krueger is going to need a stronger, better Belanger, an improving Gagner, an emerging Nuge and get Horcoff into a more manageable slot.

I also wonder if they’ll put Hall in the middle. Seems to be an idea they’ll at least try at some point in the future, this might be the time. Strength up the middle could get a boost this summer after all.

And even if it doesn’t, the maturation of the two youths should bring more order to the position. Perfect symmetry? No. However, there’s promise at the position, and enormous potential.

 

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96 Responses to "CENTER 12-13"

  1. hunter1909 says:

    Hard to imagine Freddie(Kreuger) pandering to the Horcoff/Smyth Axis of entitlement for more than a few minutes, so expect to see Horc drop down to the third and occasionally 4th line should Belanger outperform him early on.

    Or you hope it works out like that.

    Can’t wait to see RNH when he’s physically able to handle the NHL. There’s something very wrong with this.

    RE 4th Line: Watching the final period of the 1990 Cup Finals on Youtube the other day; you can’t help but notice rookie Adam Grave’s line out there. Run a Kid line, develop players in the NHL that way and determine their strengths and weaknesses before promoting them to a higher line.

    Oh right. Oilers kid line is the first line.

    RE That 1990 game: You really notice how tough the old timey Oilers were, after seeing Cam Neely of all people getting shoved around by a vicious Kevin Lowe. It makes me understand why they’re so nice to Kevin at Rexall Place.

  2. Destroyko says:

    Here’s where I run into trouble when putting together lines for next year. Hall-Gagner-Hemsky strikes me as a reasonable 1Line, and the math confirms the chemistry. Smyth-Horcoff-Paajarvi sounds great as a defensively responsible 3Line with nonzero offensive chops. But that leaves a 2Line of Yakupov-Nuge-Eberle, with a combined height of Andy Sutton and the defensive maturity of a young Cam Barker. Can Krueger get them >90% OZone starts against middling competition? If so, great. If not…I don’t think they have enough puck possession and skill to stay healthy and outscore on that line.

  3. Smarmy says:

    I hope the Nuge doesn’t follow the Clapton career path by being lights out a few years and then resting on his laurels the next 15. ;)

  4. Bar_Qu says:

    Willis has a complimentary article up at the Cult of Hockey looking at Gagner’s value to the Oilers. It helps cool some of my fears around the centre position for the team next year. And if the Oil try Hall out at centre then I think there is actually a lot of depth at the position overall. Especially since I think Belanger will come back to historical averages in his play next year.

    Destroyko’s lines in that case, would be a good mix of the players available to create a balanced forward corps.

  5. rich says:

    Destroyko’s lines make a lot of sense. You then are choosing among Hordichuk, Eager (if he’s still here), Harski, Jones and Petrell for the 4th line (Belanger at center).

    Allow Lander more time to develop in the AHL this season along w/Pitlick, who should see better linemates and pick up his scoring this season.

    Thing is, if they really are serious about picking up a top 4 d-man, someone is going to have to go. Your best trade value is going to come from Gagner (hope he doesn’t go) or Paajarvi, plus a package of prospects.

  6. Cactus says:

    LT,

    That Horcoff PP time had two purposes:
    1) Winning faceoffs to get possession.
    2) Serving as the Smyth-light role in front of the net.

    Obviously, if Gagner or RNH could step forward on faceoffs a bit, that would solve the first problem. As for the second, a lot will depend on how they structure the PP setup. Krueger seems to know what he’s doing there.

  7. hags9k says:

    Random ramblings….

    I like the idea of Horcoff MPS and Yak…Nah forget it that might lead to 3 scoring lines…Can’t have that.

    On the other hand, I sort of hate to see Yak with Horcoff, that doesn’t seem fair considering the way Nuge and Hall were slotted coming in as rookies.

    But, also hate to see Hemmer and that new contract slotted with Horcoff. Something has to give, somebody has to play with him. (all wingers in the room look at floor or ceiling) Maybe we will see Yak move to LW. Maybe we will see Hall move to C.
    Then where does that leave Belanger and all the talk from the coach about getting him back on track? Doubt we move Belanger to wing for the 4th line, that’s the spot for the token knuckedraggers.
    No matter which way you slice it though Horcoff will have quality wingers and will need to keep up.

    Door number 3. Maybe we will see a trade. As is this set of forwards still seems out of kilter.
    Hemsky for Clowe?
    Will any of Eager or MPS/Harti get a push into the top 6? What has Smytty done to get bumped out of L2? Will MPS even play in the NHL this year? Does Lander even think he has a chance to make the team this fall? Where the hell does Petrell fit?
    So many questions…Can’t wait for the season and the answers.

  8. Traktor says:

    Edmonton has a few serviceable centers after RNH but by the time Edmonton is challenging for cup Horcoff and Belanger will have nothing left in the tank and Gagner could be UFA.

    Factor in that Edmonton doesn’t have much in terms of center prospects and it should be obvious that finding a center should be priority for the club.

    Someone like O’Reilly or Duchene would be nice.

    Gags + Hemmer + MPS + Musil + 2nd for either player. 5 assets!

    If that is an overpayment then it just shows that we have enough assets to acquire a legit #2 center.

    Why wait??

  9. striatic says:

    we tend to forget, i think, that Hall is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and may not be fully recovered by season’s start, especially on the face off dot.

    sign Gagner, keep Gagner, keep Hall at LW.

    what the team needs is a solid veteran LW who can play second line minutes. this, instead of rushing Hartikainen into a full time role.

    the WOWY speaks for itself and gives the following lineup ..

    Hall – Gagner – Hemsky [wingers with rubber band shoulders playing tough minutes line]
    *Vet LW* – RNH – Eberle [soft minutes killers]
    Smyth – Horcoff – Yakupov [tough minutes mentor the sniper]
    Eager – Belanger – Jones [these guys can move the puck up ice, right?]

    hopefully the Vet LW would allow RNH and Eberle to play some tougher minutes in a greater variety of situations.

    i think the idea right now is for Smyth and Harti to share the minutes but i don’t like that plan.

    LT’s Winnik signing makes lots of sense when you look at it this way.

  10. SK Oiler Fan says:

    Coach Krueger is going to need a 200% better Belanger, Gagner to be way more consistent, gain 4 in and 25 lb, Nuge to time warp to when he’s 23, Horcoff to time warp back to 2006, and Lander to magiacally become Kris Draper when injuries hit.

    I’d say one could expect a moderate jump from Nuge, small improvement from Belanger, about the same from Horc, and who knows with Gagner game to game. Ita ll adds up to not nearly enough. Bottom 5 in the league at the C position

    Can’t believe ST is betting on this depth chart at C again. Maddening. Another wasted year.

    If Kruger gets them to the playoffs with C so unbalanced like this he should get the Adams for the next 5 years.

  11. Clay says:

    I’m going to preface this by saying I’m a Gagner fan, and I think this team could conceivably make the playoffs with him at 2C, but I have a hard time seeing him as a legit 2C on a cup contender.

    He’s young and I hope like hell he proves me wrong. I really hope he reaches another level in his development.

    I also like the theory of Hall at centre, but it’s a lot to ask of someone so young to change positions without struggling mightily. Also, you can tell Hall thrives on the wing – taking that outlet and exploding up wing is a big part of what makes him so electric. I’d hate to see that reigned in.

  12. LMHF#1 says:

    DOAN! DOAN! DOAN! DOAN! DOAN!

    (I was there at the draft, figured I’d continue the effort)

  13. justDOit says:

    Isn’t Gagner the exact same size as Doug Weight? But he needs to grow 4″?

    Try telling Mike Richards that he is too small to play center on a playoff team. I’ll save you the trouble of getting Richard’s stats: 5’11″, 199 lbs.

    I’m not comparing Gagner to Richards, but it’s pretty obvious that you don’t need to suffer from gigantism to play in the NHL.

  14. Moosemess says:

    I don’t know if it’s been talked about much before, but what about Hemsky at center?

    While I like the possibilities of Hall at C, our LW depth is not nearly what our RW depth is at the moment.

    Further, there are a number of factors that could make a position move compelling for Ales.

    1) He’s often been decried as a pass distributor instead of a shooter. Could this not be a strength for him in the pivot?

    2) Glass shoulders are likely reducing his propensity and effectiveness along the boards. A definitive detriment for a winger. A devil’s advocate could argue however that the bad shoulders will prevent him from ever excelling in the FOC.

    3) Moving Hemsky to C frees up Gagner as trade bait. Gagner likely has more trade value than Hemmer at the moment and might fetch a Top 4 D in trade.

    4) After many years of MacT drilling it into him, Hemsky is quite responsible defensively, probably much more so than Hall at this point in their respective developments.

    As long as I can remember, linemates other than Horcoff have had difficulty getting in sync with Hemsky. Sure, some of those problems are the player, but maybe the position itself has not been the optimal fit for a player who skews more naturally as a passer/playmaker? $5mil per is a big luxury for your 3 RW. It’s good value for your 2C however.

    Consider the possibilities:

    LW – C – RW
    Hall – RNH – Eberle
    MPS – Hemsky – Yakupov
    Smyth – Horcoff – Jones
    Hartikainen – Belanger – Eager/Hordichuk

    Petry / Smid
    Top 4 D / Schultz
    Whitney / Schultz

    Or you keep Gagner, and push the other C down the depth chart which is a lineup I really like if Whitney is healthy enough to handle the minutes. Gagner and Hemsky are essentially 2A and 2B in this scenario depending on who’s hot, size of the opposing lineup down the middle, etc.

    LW – C – RW
    Hall – RNH – Eberle
    MPS – Hemsky – Yakupov
    Smyth -Gagner – Jones
    Hartikainen – Horcoff/Belanger – Eager/Hordichuk

    Petry / Smid
    Whitney / Schultz
    Potter / Schultz

    Hey Tambi’s already given him the big money. Maybe the best way to get solid ROI on that contract is moving him to the middle?

  15. Professor Q says:

    Traktor,

    Then where would the Oilers be with all those subtractions?

  16. Moosemess says:

    Actually, to ease Hemsky’s transition to center, it’s probably better to partner him with Eberle and watch the sparks fly when you mix the touch passer (RNH) with the one shot sniper (Yakupov) on a soft minutes line.

    One of the absolutely great things about Eberle is how smart he his. You can plug and play him with virtually any linemate and he finds a way to compliment AND get his chances. One of the reasons he’s been so good in international competition IMHO is his ability to quickly find chemistry and gel with new linemates.

  17. bookje says:

    Can’t believe ST is betting on this depth chart at C again. Maddening. Another wasted year.

    Wait, what? When did the season start? I thought it was still months away.

  18. Moosemess says:

    LW – C – RW
    Hall – Hemsky – Eberle
    MPS – RNH – Yakupov
    Smyth – Gagner – Jones
    Hartikainen – Horcoff/Belanger – Eager/Hordichuk

  19. Traktor says:

    Professor Q:
    Traktor,

    Then where would the Oilers be with all those subtractions?

    They would be in a good spot imo. 1 star center, 3 star wingers, 1 legit 2nd line C

    Hall RNH Eberle
    Harty Duchene Yakupov
    Smyth Horcoff Jones
    Winnik Belanger Petrell

    It would open up a roster spot Winnik if they wanted a defensive bottom 6 forward.

  20. DSF says:

    The issue with Gagnaer is not his size, although that doesn’t help, it’s his inability to win puck battles and stay on his skates.

    And of course he stills needs sheltering to perform.

    Hardly an ideal candidate for a second line centre in the WC.

  21. Traktor says:

    I think if Edmonton can add 1 more high end player like Duchene or Kulikov they might be able to land the top UFA’s like Weber. We are just a few pieces away from being 1 piece away.

    I wouldn’t worry about overpaying in assets to get the right player. Edmonton is well positioned to acquire top players for free via free agency.

  22. russ99 says:

    Other than the kids, I’m not a fan of the current forward group. Looks to me like we have skill players who can’t produce at an expected level anymore and too many 4th liners, and we’re going to cobble a 3rd and 4th line together out of them. Not the best way to launch out of the lottery…

    Right now, the best case is if Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky find some of the old magic and make the third line a good secondary scoring line vs some toughs.

    I’d prefer the Oilers to move Hall to center then deal Gagner and a few wingers, then bring in 2-3 experienced quality third line players (who can lock down on defense and contribute on offense) that all playoff teams need to have.

  23. Moosemess says:

    russ99:
    Other than the kids, I’m not a fan of the current forward group. Looks to me like we have skill players who can’t produce at an expected level anymore and too many 4th liners, and we’re going to cobble a 3rd and 4th line together out of them. Not the best way to launch out of the lottery…

    I agree wholeheartedly. One of the common traits of losing teams is misguided loyalty and holding onto players far past their best by date. Smyth IS done. It will be diminishing returns for him from here on out. Horcoff was done two years ago.

    The team in professional sports that is writing the textbook on player personnel management at the moment is the New England Patriots. Belichik simply refuses to hold onto his old warriors too long and as a result the team turns over a good chunk of the roster each and every year and the team stays a perennial playoff contender. Of course, having Tom Brady helps considerably as well.

    Athletes exhibit a demonstrable performance curve over the tenure of their career and far too many orgs hold onto fading performers in the mistaken belief that the athlete can arrest that curve with a late spike in performance. Wishful thinking.

  24. WeridAl says:

    IMO this is the year you try to dump Horcoff, before his modified NTC kicks in next year. There could be a couple of teams like Columbus, Phoenix, and NYI that need to add salary to reach the cap minimum that could use him.

  25. nathan says:

    WeridAl,

    Actually according to Capgeek he currently is NMC. The mod for next year is he has to provide list of 10 teams. Year after that he is tradeable to any team.

  26. Kris11 says:

    I was talking to my friend the Incedible Hulk and he said this:

    FORWARDS GOOD. DEFENSE BAD. GOALTENDING NO SURE. ADD TO DEFENSE AND MAKE PLAYOFFS.

    LAST YEAR FORWARDS GOOD BUT BAD D MAKE UNDERLYING NUMBERS LOOK TERRIBLE. FORWARDS LIKE HORCOFF AND BELANGER WITH HISTORY OF GOOD PLAY START IN OWN ZONE TO COVER KID LINE WHILE PLAYING WITH DUDS LIKE BARKER AND BROKEN-WHITNEY. GET KILLED. EVEN JONES AND EAGER HAVE SHOWN ABILITY TO PLAY ON 4TH AND NOT GET KILLED.

    ADD IN LANDER AND PETRELL WHO NOT READY PLAY MAN HOCKEY AND DRAG DOWN CORSI NUMBERS ON 4TH LINE. TERRIBLE SHAME.

    WORST D IN LEAGUE LAST YEAR AFTER GILBERT GO. BARKER WORST IN NHL. PETRY TALENTED BUT MAKE LOTS OF MISTAKES. SCHULTZ IS DECLINING. WHITNEY LOOK LIKE GOT SMASHED BY HULK. SMID OKAY BUT NOT A TRUE TOP PAIRING GUY. ADD CROSBY TO TEAM WITH THAT D NO MAKE PLAYOFFS.

    BOTTOM 6 WILL HAVE SOME BEST GRADUATING PLAYERS FROM AHL IN HARTIKAIANSISNS (HULK NO SAY FINISH NAMES) AND PAAJAHSHS.

    FIX D OR HULK GET ANGRY. AND YOU NO LIKE HULK WHEN HE GET ANGRY. WHEN GET ANGRY, HULK WRITE DISAPPOINTED LETTER TO EDITOR OF LOCAL PAPER.

  27. Kris11 says:

    I totally agree with the Hulk, BTW. (Great guy.)

    Horcoff-Belanger is an awesome combo for the bottom two C slots. They kill penalties well. There are some excellent options for the wing in the bottom 6, too. Really, with all of Eberle, Yakupov, and Hemsky, one of those guys p,ays bottom 6. I am worried about Gagner and RNH giving away too much in their own zone, but Gagner is okay in that regard and RNH is on the path to dominance.

    The Oilers have some prove tough minute forwards and some highly touted young soft-minute killers. If you need to add to this group or chane it, free agency should do the trick easily.

    The problem is D, which is amongst the worst in the league again, unless Whitney regrows his feet and/or Scultz is awesome at ES to start his career.

    I would be okay with trading F for D, but Tambloweetavish will probably mess it up.

  28. TheOtherJohn says:

    If Doan leaves PHX they will have no ability to score. They will have just lost their #1 and 3 scorers and will have to add some scoring. Gagner and Marincin for Hanzal and a D man. Do not think they will move move Yandle because they need his offense but maybe they give us Gormley if they get back a prospect like Marincin

  29. TheOtherJohn says:

    Another problem PHX has is they have to get to the Salary cap floor. It may be tough They might actually be a team that would consider taking Khabby or Horcoff in a trade

  30. "Steve Smith" says:

    Traktor: I wouldn’t worry about overpaying in assets to get the right player. Edmonton is well positioned to acquire top players for free via free agency.

    1. Edmonton is well-placed to acquire top players for free…
    2. …so we shouldn’t be afraid to overpay for them?

  31. "Steve Smith" says:

    Kris11:
    Horcoff-Belanger is an awesome combo for the bottom two C slots.

    I’m concerned about Belanger – I loved the signing (well, I loved the fact that we signed him), but his numbers last year were so rough that I don’t think that they can be wholly explained by his (admittedly hellish) zonestarts. I think it’s more likely than not that he rebounds somewhat this season, but there’s always the possibility that we cleverly signed a guy for three years at the exact moment his wheels fell off.

    …and/or Scultz is awesome at ES to start his career.

    I see what you did there.

  32. Gret99zky says:

    I’d like ST to add another NHL D and an NHL C to the line-up for injury insurance and mentoring.

    Doesn’t need to be too flashy, just servicable and affordable.

  33. bookje says:

    "Steve Smith": I’m concerned about Belanger – I loved the signing (well, I loved the fact that we signed him), but his numbers last year were so rough that I don’t think that they can be wholly explained by his (admittedly hellish) zonestarts.I think it’s more likely than not that he rebounds somewhat this season, but there’s always the possibility that we cleverly signed a guy for three years at the exact moment his wheels fell off.

    What are you talking about? Kruger is going to motivationally speak to Belanger and fix him. Come on man, its July, can’t you see how awesome the upcoming season is going to be!!

  34. Gret99zky says:

    TheOtherJohn:
    Another problem PHX has is they have to get to the Salary cap floor. It may be tough They might actuallybe a team that would consider taking Khabby or Horcoff in a trade

    This is like the Pope getting a lap-dance.

  35. "Steve Smith" says:

    Gret99zky: This is like the Pope getting a lap-dance.

    I’m not sure I follow, but I assume your meaning somehow involves withered erections.

  36. Cactus says:

    Moosemess: I agree wholeheartedly. One of the common traits of losing teams is misguided loyalty and holding onto players far past their best by date. Smyth IS done. It will be diminishing returns for him from here on out. Horcoff was done two years ago.

    The team in professional sports that is writing the textbook on player personnel management at the moment is the New England Patriots. Belichik simply refuses to hold onto his old warriors too long and as a result the team turns over a good chunk of the roster each and every year and the team stays a perennial playoff contender. Of course, having Tom Brady helps considerably as well.

    Athletes exhibit a demonstrable performance curve over the tenure of their career and far too many orgs hold onto fading performers in the mistaken belief that the athlete can arrest that curve with a late spike in performance. Wishful thinking.

    Smyth is done? Horcoff is done? That’s news to me… and to unbiased observers… and to statistics.

    Smyth and Horcoff faced some of the toughest competition last year (3rd and 4th hardest respectively) and while they didn’t come out ahead, they certainly weren’t killed. If that’s our third line going forward, I’m quite happy with that – it’ll do well against 2nd and 3rd line opponents.

    The fact of the matter is that until the kids are able to play the tough minutes and come out ahead, this team won’t be a true contender. Sure, another top 4 D and a season with fewer injuries might get the Oilers into the playoffs, but that’s not the true success that the rebuild promised.

  37. Kris11 says:

    "Steve Smith",

    I think Belanger will kill 4th line minutes and PK’ing. He has a history of scoring 30+ points playing tougher competition than 4th line minutes. He scored 40 the year before he came here, so it’s hard to suggest he’s been on a decline for any long period, just one year, He shot at an anemic 3.4 percentage, after a career average of 10.5. That suggests a good chunk of the drop in offense was just bad luck.

    He’s 34 which suggests he will drop off a bit, but he’s been a solid, above average 3rd line C for most of his career, and so 4th line minutes should be a breeze for a guy who has been that good. I’d be more worried if he were 36 because not a lot of guys can hang on past that age. He certainly can still PK and take faceoffs, which has a value.

    How many teams have better 4th line C’s than Belanger?

  38. Gret99zky says:

    It’s wonderful and unexpected if you’re the Pope but others think it likely won’t happen.

  39. Kris11 says:

    BTW,

    I am concerned that the lack of agreement on the meaning of terms like “3rd line” and “2nd line” is confusing the discussion.

    We all know what the 4th line is. The 4th gets the fewest minutes and is generally hidden from the other teams top line, when possible. (I would argue our 4th line, with Belanger, would get more use than some toher teams use their 4th.)

    Some people use the term “3rd line” to refer to a line that is used less than the 1st and second and maybe should be hidden from tough competition, i.e. what others would call “a soft minutes line.” Of course others use the term “3rd line” to denote the line that is to be used in a defensive role, often in their own zone and against the other teams toughest opponents.

    We should agree that Horcoff’s line will be the third line in that latter sense, i.e. it will take own-zone draws regulalrly and used against tough minutes. In terms of ice time and toughness of compefition, I would expect Horcoff’s line to be the sexond line, unless RNH starts the season ready to dropkick the NHL’s elite. (I suspect he’ll be more ready for soft minutes, but am open to the possibility that he starts next season as good as Toews.)

  40. Moosemess says:

    Cactus:

    Smyth and Horcoff faced some of the toughest competition last year (3rd and 4th hardest respectively) and while they didn’t come out ahead, they certainly weren’t killed.If that’s our third line going forward, I’m quite happy with that – it’ll do well against 2nd and 3rd line opponents.

    Yep, that’s the kind of wishful thinking I’m talking about. Btw, here’s the 3C’s on the last 3 Cup Winners.

    Jarret Stoll
    Chris Kelly
    Dave Bolland

    Do you honestly think Horcoff’s on par with any of these players at this stage in his career and with his injury history? Saying he’s lost a step is generous.

    Rather than being ‘quite happy’ when players can’t beat the opposition anymore in the role’s that’s required of them, I’d prefer the Oilers find players that can. Nice GMs finish last.

  41. DeadmanWaking says:

    I was searching for a frame of reference to describe the state of our defense last season, when I came across this shocking telegram:

    ARCHDUKE DISCOVERED ALIVE
    GREAT WAR FOUGHT IN VAIN

    Well, our season wasn’t that bad, at least not on home ice. Here’s my second effort.

    Nuge jumps on the back check with jet skis only to arrive in the zone to find a different combination of Mr Magoo, Inspector Clouseau, Mr Bean, and Basil Fawlty holding down the fort on every third shift. Not even Ayumu on a Sapho chew could sort out that collection of movable clowns … in his rookie season.

    Even the Nuge will benefit from improved defensive consistency. I think he cuts down on his defensive mistakes by a large margin.

  42. Traktor says:

    “Steve Smith”: 1. Edmonton is well-placed to acquire top players for free…
    2. …so we shouldn’t be afraid to overpay for them?

    We shouldn’t be afraid to overpay for the right player via TRADE because Edmonton is starting to look attractive to UFA’s and I think we could fill the lesser holes that we would create.

    There isn’t anyone left on the UFA market that would make huge impact for us but if we can get a young established 2C or top4D via trade its nice to have that piece in place moving forward.

  43. Moosemess says:

    Cactus:

    The fact of the matter is that until the kids are able to play the tough minutes and come out ahead, this team won’t be a true contender.Sure, another top 4 D and a season with fewer injuries might get the Oilers into the playoffs, but that’s not the true success that the rebuild promised.

    Fully agree with the first part. Not sure where you arrived at the conclusion that this season was the final year of the rebuild?

  44. Traktor says:

    Cactus:

    Smyth and Horcoff faced some of the toughest competition last year (3rd and 4th hardest respectively) and while they didn’t come out ahead, they certainly weren’t killed.

    Smyth did alright.

    Horcoff got killed.

  45. hunter1909 says:

    TheOtherJohn:
    Another problem PHX has is they have to get to the Salary cap floor. It may be tough They might actuallybe a team that would consider taking Khabby or Horcoff in a trade

    Once he’s a Yote, Shawn Horcoff’s career and return to former glories replacing Shane Doan is assured..

    NOW EVERYONE START SPREADING THIS RUMOUR

  46. franksterra says:

    “Horcoff faced the toughs and ZS hell, delivering the 297th best 5×5/60 for NHL players who dressed for 40 games or more. Belanger and Lander were at 344 and 347 respectively (there were 368 players who qualified).”

    297th and 344th out of 368 centres at EVs. Gosh darn it Fran, I think we can better.

    And I am leary of the argument that says “so and so didn’t do well because they were on a line with so and so too much”. Admittedly i am not a super-stats guy, but by eye and gut I would like at least one or two more experienced players in the forward corp that do more than hold their own, that don’t need massaged and magical line combos to be effective. Belanger, Horcoff, Jones, Eager, Lennert, I’m looking at you (metaphorically, i’m not creepy)

  47. Cactus says:

    Moosemess: Yep, that’s the kind of wishful thinking I’m talking about. Btw, here’s the 3C’s on the last 3 Cup Winners.

    Jarret Stoll
    Chris Kelly
    Dave Bolland

    Do you honestly think Horcoff’s on par with any of these players at this stage in his career and with his injury history? Saying he’s lost a step is generous.

    Rather than being ‘quite happy’ when players can’t beat the opposition anymore in the role’s that’s required of them, I’d prefer the Oilers find players that can. Nice GMs finish last.

    So your response is to throw out the 3rd line centres from the last three Cup teams as evidence? Have you heard of an important little word called “context”?

    Here is some. Let’s look at your three players in their Cup years, matched up against Horcoff last year. I’ve got their offensive zone start %, Corsi Quality of Competition and Corsi Relative scores. All numbers are regular season only in order to be comparable:

    Jarett Stoll, LAK: 47.8% Zonestart, 9th most difficult Corsi QoC, -1.4 CorsiRel
    Chris Kell, BOS: 45.8% Zonestart, 11th most difficult Corsi QoC, -1.3 CorsiRel
    Dave Bolland, CHI: 54.5% Zonestart, 9th most difficult Corsi QoC, -12.8 CorsiRel
    Shawn Horcoff, EDM: 43.9% Zonestart, 3rd most difficult QoC, -1.0 CorsiRel

    This is striking. Shawn Horcoff played on the worst team (by miles), had the most difficult zone start and faced by far the most difficult competition and while he didn’t come out ahead, certainly he’s not far off here. BTW, the great Dave Bolland has a CorsiRel worse than Anton Lander – that should tell you something.

    Would I take Stoll over Horcoff right now? Sure, but only because of his contract (nothing we can do about that now) and the fact that he’s slightly younger. However, in terms of how they did their job last year, Horcoff had a much harder job than Stoll and held his own.

    This is what I meant about the kids needing to play the toughs. If you were simply making the argument that you don’t want Shawn Horcoff up against top line opponents all the time, i’d fully agree with you. Problem was, Renney was in a fix – top line players would kill the kids (except perhaps Hall), but his vets wouldn’t come up ahead. You give Horcoff the same QoC as Stoll, Kelly, etc. and he should do just fine.

    Traktor,

    It’s a fool’s errand to engage with you on this since I know your next post will be filled with meaningless plus/minus so I’ll only say this and then ignore the issue:

    Ryan Smyth PDO: 1011 (5th on team)
    Shawn Horcoff PDO: 978 (tied for 10th)

  48. Woodguy says:

    I am interested to see how both Smyth and Horcoff do 5v5 if you take away their 5v4 time.

    Should see an improvement for old bones.

    Hall shoulder surgery is the same one Horcoff (and Hemsky) had. It would preclude him from being tried at center I think. I really hurts the ability to take a draw.

    4-89-83 played well together, I think they should be kept as a line.

    As noted earlier, 93-14 are greater together than apart.

    I’m interested in seeing 14 move to LW and putting Yakupov on RW. Both wingers would have sticks int he middle on that line. Very eurostyle.

    14 plays the left side on the PP. the question is if the coach feels they can handle the D assignments ok on the off wing. Makes for a back handed break out pass too, which is a consideration.

  49. Traktor says:

    Cactus:
    Traktor,

    It’s a fool’s errand to engage with you on this since I know your next post will be filled with meaningless plus/minus so I’ll only say this and then ignore the issue:

    Ryan Smyth PDO: 1011 (5th on team)
    Shawn Horcoff PDO: 978 (tied for 10th)

    If Bob Stauffer and Dan Tencer played for the Oilers what do you think their PDO would look like?

    Would it be terrible because they are unlucky or because they aren’t NHLers?

  50. hags9k says:

    Traktor, I agree we should go after a top 4 D but not a 2C. The problem with the 2C you want is that their contract would take too much cap in future years. I think Gagner is going to have you eating crow stew for many years.

  51. oilersfan says:

    i just wanted to chime in here about Horcoff and Belanger on the PP.

    Many people made fun of it but during the season Krueger, who was in charge of the PP, said he did that because posession gives you an extra 20 seconds for every faceoff that is taken , and he would keep both of them on the PP just for that.

    David Staples has written about Horcoff as a very important component to the success of the oilers’ pp. Not only winning the faceoff, thus getting posession, but he blocked the net, going to the dirty areas, earning several “unofficial assists” that Staples gives out for PP goals.

    So for those of you expecting Horcoff to come off the pp with Krueger as head coach, think again.

  52. rickithebear says:

    Moosemess: Yep, that’s the kind of wishful thinking I’m talking about. Btw, here’s the 3C’s on the last 3 Cup Winners.

    Jarret Stoll
    Chris Kelly
    Dave Bolland

    Do you honestly think Horcoff’s on par with any of these players at this stage in his career and with his injury history? Saying he’s lost a step is generous.
    Rather than being ‘quite happy’ when players can’t beat the opposition anymore in the role’s that’s required of them, I’d prefer the Oilers find players that can. Nice GMs finish last.

    Centers that faced first line comp in a 40% zone start and outscored the opposition:
    11-12: Boyle, Wyman
    10-11: Malhotra, bolland, Fiddler
    09-10: Slater, Betts
    08-09: Horcoff
    07-08: Kesler, M. Richards
    this is the list of players that have achieved what he achieved:

    Eric Belanger just missed doing it twice in 07-8 & 08-09. He killed the first line comp in 10-11 with 45% zone start.
    It was stated the oilers targeted, Halhotra, Fiddler in FA and signed Belanger who almost achieved the tough outscore and had a successful year before.

    Horcoff can play the toughs just play him @ 50% zone start.
    Give Belanger better linemates facing toughs @ 45% .

  53. Traktor says:

    hags9k:
    Traktor, I agree we should go after a top 4 D but not a 2C.The problem with the 2C you want is that their contract would take too much cap in future years.I think Gagner is going to have you eating crow stew for many years.

    I would rather pay my 2C than my 3C (Horcoff’s NMC clause expires after this season).

    I think Gagner could have me eating crow but he might need a new team to take the next step. Edmonton has a lot of good individual players but not the greatest mix.

  54. rickithebear says:

    oilersfan: So for those of you expecting Horcoff to come off the pp with Krueger as head coach, think again.

    How stupid do you have to be to want to pull apart the first unit of the 3rd best PP.

    And the Eskimos can find a better QB than Ricky Ray. LOL many times.

    Richie Hall! GO RIDERS!

  55. "Steve Smith" says:

    rickithebear,

    Isn’t this nice: Ricki and Traktor, on extreme opposite ends of the Horcoff debate, can at least find common ground in their complete disregard of PDO.

  56. SK Oiler Fan says:

    justDOit,

    FFS. Do you guys realize how far you’ve walked into the jungle with this size doesn’t matter debate? Surely you would agree that size / strength is a nice trait to have in a C?

  57. Bruce McCurdy says:

    The one area where Horcoff had most success last year was on the PP. Like Smyth and Penner before him he didn’t score a lot of points in the muck-it-up role, but his unit was successful.

    Of the 101 NHL forwards who played 30+ games and averaged 2.5 minutes PPTOI, Horcoff ranked 10th in GF ON/60 and 11th in +/60.

  58. "Steve Smith" says:

    Traktor: If Bob Stauffer and Dan Tencer played for the Oilers what do you think their PDO would look like?

    Would it be terrible because they are unlucky or because they aren’t NHLers?

    I do not necessarily dispute your suggestion that people who could not play hockey at a level anywhere near the NHL would negatively affect PDO. However, the empirical evidence shows that for players who are actually in the NHL, PDO regresses towards the mean – that is, it has no predictive value from one year to the next. The evidence is compelling that NHL players have very little impact on their own PDOs, and the evidence is not made less so because it strikes you as unintuitive.

  59. Bruce McCurdy says:

    Argh, buggered up the link. Doh!

  60. "Steve Smith" says:

    SK Oiler Fan,

    This is true. But the argument (eloquently stated by Captain Obvious) is that to the extent that size matters, it is reflected in results. That is, if a player gets results, it is not a valid criticism that he is small.

    Gagner does not (yet) get good results against tough comp. It is possible that size is one reason for this. But the focus should be on his results, not his size.

    (If people are wondering why I’m posting so much during the work day, it is that I have spent most of this work day on hold.)

  61. LoDog says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    The one area where Horcoff had most success last year was on the PP. Like Smyth and Penner before him he didn’t score a lot of points in the muck-it-up role, but his unit was successful.

    Of the 101 NHL forwards who played 30+ games and averaged 2.5 minutes PPTOI, Horcoff ranked 10th in GF ON/60 and 11th in +/60.

    Yes, if you can win a faceoff and stand in front of the net while the wonder kids do their thing you will look pretty good.

  62. justDOit says:

    SK Oiler Fan:
    justDOit,

    FFS. Do you guys realize how far you’ve walked into the jungle with this size doesn’t matter debate? Surely you would agree that size / strength is a nice trait to have in a C?

    Yes. I think that big centers are over-rated. They are too tall and clumsy to be effective NHL players. All you have to do to see this is look at all of them being offered in trade talks. Kopitar for Gagner and a 4th. Stall for Horcoff and a 2nd.

    No thanks.

  63. Woodguy says:

    Bruce McCurdy:
    The one area where Horcoff had most success last year was on the PP. Like Smyth and Penner before him he didn’t score a lot of points in the muck-it-up role, but his unit was successful.

    Of the 101 NHL forwards who played 30+ games and averaged 2.5 minutes PPTOI, Horcoff ranked 10th in GF ON/60 and 11th in +/60.

    Then take him off the PK.

    Either way 2 special teams assignments is too much.

  64. Kris11 says:

    Datsyuk, Giroux, Richards, Doug Weight, Gagner, etc., etc. all come in at around the same size and weight as Gagner within a range.

    Actually, Gagner, to me, looks like he might benefit from being lighter and quicker. And he fights on occasion, too. More than you can say for Eberle and Smyth.

    I could care less about grit, but Gagner has enough of it.

    Again, the problem is the D is shitty (unless Whitney and Scultz kick butt) and the G is a 7MM question mark.

  65. Kris11 says:

    Man, 1st PP unit time will be hard to decide.

    Scultz and Petry are both RH! so it make sense to not put then on the same unit. But then they compete. I imagine Scultz wins that battle.

    I suppose they run the first unit through RNH, but who else plays there? Smyth is good in front of the net. Horcoff is okay there and takes draws. The obvious answer is to use Eberle and Hall, but Yakupov might be a better shooter, pure skill player than either of them.

    And who plays the LD on the first unit? Whitney? Or do they finally start using forwards, and no Belanger please, on the point? I imagine the second unit is in flux for a lot of the season with a lot of Hemsky.

  66. VOR says:

    I think the evidence (PDO) included, indicates that Horcoff played incredibly tough minutes again this year and nearly held his own. He also played quite well on the power play as Bruce has just shown. However, this is a bad role for him. The deterioration in his offence as the caliber of his opponents increases is striking. Belanger was meant to take some of this heavy lifting off Horcoff’s shoulders. Instead it got worse. That was a coaching choice.

  67. stevezie says:

    Wouldn’t Smyth be as good or better than Horcoff on the PP? Smyth can take draws, can’t he? And as good as Horcoff has been at mucking it up in front, hasn’t Smyth based his career on that skill?

  68. DBO says:

    Petry will be 2nd PP for sure

    1st PP:
    Nuge-Eberle-Hall-Whitney-Shultz

    2nd pp
    Gagner-Hemsky-Yak-Smyth-Petry (maybe Gagner on the point, Hemsky half wall, Yak circling and Smyth in front)

    So unless Horc plays with Nuge and you move Hall to the Gagner PP unit instead of Smyth.

  69. VOR says:

    I really don’t get the Gagner hate. He played second line minutes with second line team mates and while slightly sheltered produced above average 2C results. He is one of the top ten 2Cs in the NHlL. Why on Earth would you get rid of a player who performs their role in the top third of the NHL. Death wish? Care more about what a player looks like than what he does?

  70. hunter1909 says:

    How about if they run two powerplays next season:

    Powerplay 1 – The real one with RNH, Hall, Yakupov and Eberle..

    Powerplay 2 – Horcoff, Smyth, Jones, and other plugs provide old timey Oiler’s pp comedic futility.

  71. wuthering says:

    “Steve Smith”: (eloquently stated by Captain Obvious)

    I don’t think eloquently means what you think it means

  72. billymadison says:

    Kris11:
    Datsyuk, Giroux, Richards, Doug Weight, Gagner, etc., etc. all come in at around the same size and weight as Gagner within a range.

    Actually, Gagner, to me, looks like he might benefit from being lighter and quicker. And he fights on occasion, too. More than you can say for Eberle and Smyth.

    I could care less about grit, but Gagner has enough of it.

    Again, the problem is the D is shitty (unless Whitney and Scultz kick butt) and the G is a 7MM question mark.

    Yeah they come in at the same size but look at their results. Yeah obviously some smaller centres can be effective. If you play a strong game, skate well, and have high end hockey sense you can be below 6 feet and be successful in the NHL. Sam only has 1 of those things(hockey sense)

    Richards Datsyuk Weight Giroux – They were all small and similar size yes. But they also put up on average 65-80 points consistently. Sam is NOWHERE near their skill level. He might be there eventually, but at 45 points a year he isn’t right now; so to say small centres can be effective and then compare him to players who have posted double his career high in points some years is ridiculous.

    And just cause Sam fights guys his size 1-2 every year does not make him gritty and tough against the opposition. It just makes him a man and a competitor, which i LOVE in a hockey player, but Sam is a skilled average 2nd line centre at best.

    Lets call a spade a spade guys and stop selling him as something else

  73. VOR says:

    The Oilers have one of the most promising young 1Cs in the league, an above average 2C, a 3C who plays some of the hardest minutes in hockey while not getting killed and a veteran 4C who wins face offs and is one of the best penalty killers in the NHL and all people can talk about is how we need a big center. We also have two young players, Hall and MPS who might be able to play the position. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say there isn’t room for improvement most of the criticism of our centers seems to be driven by factors other than their on ice performance such as contract size, player size, expectations for the player, way the player was handled by the coach, etc.

  74. jonrmcleod says:

    DBO,

    Pardon my ignorance, but are we lacking a big shot from the point on the PP? I remember Potter filled that role at the beginning of last season. What kind of shot does Schultz possess?

  75. spoiler says:

    Jarret Stoll is dating Gretzky’s daughter, Paulina. When has Shaun Horcoff ever dated a Gretzky daughter?

    C’mon, we all know who the better 3rd line centre is.

  76. remlap says:

    jonrmcleod: DBO, Pardon my ignorance, but are we lacking a big shot from the point on the PP? I remember Potter filled that role at the beginning of last season. What kind of shot does Schultz possess?

    Is there anything more overrated than the “big shot from the point on the powerplay”?

    We all saw how well the Foster experiment worked out.

  77. Kris11 says:

    billymadison: )

    Richards Datsyuk Weight Giroux – They were all small and similar size yes. But they also put up on average 65-80 points consistently. Sam is NOWHERE near their skill level. He might be there eventually, but at 45 points a year he isn’t right now.

    Where did I write something that contradicts this?

  78. Kris11 says:

    Gagner is a very good young centerman who is still young enough to improve. (After 24 years old, the player is much more likely to continue to be what you see. Before that, a steep development is not that unlikely.)

    A lot of top notch forwards don’t really break out until 22, 23, or 24.

    Gagner turns 23 in August. This will be a huge year for him. If he can’t put up, say, 55-60 points (or at that pace, if he gets am injury), there will be serious worries about his future. Up until now, he’s been a kid that has been put in situations he shouldn’t have seen. He should’ve spend a year and a half killing the AHL, and then 4th line NHL duty. After that, he should’ve been eased in.

    Had that happened, Oiler fans would be ecstatic about how Gagner, the kid who scored monster numbers in junior and then the AHL was about to return to the NHL for his 3rd full season.

    As it is he’s been expected to produce like a veteran in situations he wasn’t ready for and fans want to move him.

    Look, I think Gagner will never be Giroux or Doug Weight. But the expectations have always been too high. This is the first season where we should start expecting better results.

    IMO.

  79. franksterra says:

    This is totally reductionist but as of right now Sam Gagner would need to have highly effective wingers with rather particular skill sets to be the 2nd line C on a team with 2nd, 3rd, final round playoff pretensions. I am assuming this is the goal for 2013-14, and Sam is now in arbitration for a new contract. I think we currently have Sam’s necessary winger on the right side.

    To justify Sam at #2C over the next 1.5 seasons you need to either:

    1) believe his game will rapidly evolve to the point where this is no longer the case
    2) believe we have such wingers on our roster right now, and that Krueger sees this
    3) believe we will procure another LW with a two way game, a suitably physical style, and with enough finish to justify a top 6 role, or
    4) adopt a 3 scoring line-by-committee approach, where inadequacies in Sam’s line are compensated by having another effective line ‘behind’ his, with similar TOI.

    I think #2 and #4 are poor choices, for different reasons. The first because it means you think either Magnus or Teemu are above average 2nd line LWs by 2013, the second because there is little to no evidence to show this is an organizational philosophy. #1 is possible but a big dice-role. #3 seems like the most reasonable choice, but would require a significant trade by Fall 2013.

    MacT and Krueger as ‘new’ voices could change the terms here, but as of right now this is what I see.

  80. Woodguy says:

    jonrmcleod:
    DBO,

    Pardon my ignorance, but are we lacking a big shot from the point on the PP? I remember Potter filled that role at the beginning of last season. What kind of shot does Schultz possess?

    By all reports J.Shultz has a plus shot. Not just hard, but knows how to get it on net through traffic.

    He’ll be RD PP1.

    Eberle was LD PP 1 last year, and will be again next year.

  81. spoiler says:

    “Steve Smith”: (If people are wondering why I’m posting so much during the work day, it is that I have spent most of this work day on hold.)

    I apologize. If you’re wondering why you couldn’t get through today… I had a retired Polish engineer at my desk who brokenly stuttered the same question in different words for three hours before he was finally satisfied with my repeated responses.

    Twice my receptionist sent in a note: “do you want me to save you?” Now, if she had only told me it was you on hold…

  82. spoiler says:

    Woodguy: By all reports J.Shultz has a plus shot. Not just hard, but knows how to get it on net through traffic.He’ll be RD PP1.Eberle was LD PP 1 last year, and will be again next year.

    I’ve read the same on Schultz. Youtube video seems to confirm the same. He also likes to sneak down from the point… similar to the way Gilbert did when in his first couple of years.

    As for LD on PP, I suspect Whitney will get first crack at that cat. Eberle wasn’t there much after Whitney returned.

  83. jonrmcleod says:

    remlap,

    I don’t think a big shot hurts. A big, ACCURATE shot is better. Foster had the former but not the latter.

  84. "Steve Smith" says:

    wuthering,

    In this context, it means “with an uncharacteristic minimum of profanity”.

  85. VOR says:

    I think a reasonable expectation for Gagner would be top thirty in the league amongst regular centers in quality of competition and top thirty in EV points per 60. In other words for him to be putting up 1C numbers on offense while playing the sort of competition a good 3C on a balanced team would face. His even strength points total keeps increasing gradually and at 36 amongst regular centers this year next year top thirty doesn’t seem like a stretch. His quality of competition numbers are a bit harder to read. By some metrics he is top forty all ready. By others he is 100 plus. Still, the one thing we can say is he played tougher opponents this year than last so probably this coming year he will move into the top thirty centers in Corsi QofC. If he continues to deliver strong relative Corsi then I think we should all accept what Gagner is, a great 2C, and stop our bitching. As for the idea he needs some sort of mythical wingers to excel – all he needs is to play an entire season with a healthy Taylor Hall and a healthy Ales Hemsky.

  86. DSF says:

    Saying Horcoff just about kept his head above water is like saying the Italian army almost won the war.

    His ON +- was 421st in the NHL.

    He got murdered, the body was burned, then hung, then buried.

    If Sam wants to be a second line centre he needs to step it up against tough competition because the old man can’t do it any more.

  87. Lowetide says:

    DSF: Agreed. Horcoff needs help and Gagner should be the player to provide it .

  88. sliderule says:

    I thought Staples had stats that showed Horcoffs FO percentage was around 45 on the PP .

    If thats true where is the beef.

  89. stevezie says:

    sliderule,

    Horcoff has always been a touch overrated on the draw. He’s decent, but for years the rest of the team was an abyss so he was the only option.

  90. wuthering says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    wuthering,

    In this context, it means “with an uncharacteristic minimum of profanity”.

    Well then, how eloquently stated.

  91. Ryan says:

    Traktor:
    I think if Edmonton can add 1 more high end player like Duchene or Kulikov they might be able to land the top UFA’s like Weber. We are just a few pieces away from being 1 piece away.

    I wouldn’t worry about overpaying in assets to get the right player. Edmonton is well positioned to acquire top players for free via free agency.

    Agreed about Duchene. I would consider a trade like that.

    I was hoping the Oilers were going to grab kulikov then PRV fell in the draft.

  92. Ryan says:

    DSF:
    Saying Horcoff just about kept his head above water is like saying the Italian army almost won the war.

    His ON +- was 421st in the NHL.

    He got murdered, the body was burned, then hung, then buried.

    If Sam wants to be a second line centre he needs to step it up against tough competition because the old man can’t do it any more.

    Holy crap.

    I’m in agreement with DSF.

    The Oilers don’t need an upgrade or much improvement from Bellanger.

    The problem is Gagner / Horcoff. We either need a legit 2c as per Traktor which relieves the pressure off the albatross contract or we need an Amnesty clause and a better 3c.

    So we wait for an amnesty clause in the next cba or we package samwise for a more well rounded 2c. Ideally, we do both.

  93. Ryan says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    wuthering,

    In this context, it means “with an uncharacteristic minimum of profanity”.

    I always had a feeling that you were an Emily Bronte fan. :)

  94. Ryan says:

    Kris11,

    I don’t think his production is the problem, nor do I buy the argument that he would be a superior player today had he spent more time in an inferior league / playing 4rth line minutes.

    Sam’s been given a pretty good push by the org in terms of opportunity/ shelter. Nor does he seem to suffer from any lingering long-term injuries.

    Many people here seem to reiterate your position without providing a compelling argument.

    Sam’s deficiencies are partly inherent: small player without plus footspeed. He isn’t a plus defensive player nor does he PK. Unfortunately for Sam, he’s been made redundant or superfluous on the roster by RNH who is just flat out better.

    I like Sam as a player, but with Horcoff being finished as a tough minutes centre and our Smurf roster, I would prefer a more well-rounded 2c who can play in more situations (effectively) than Gagner.

  95. Ryan says:

    With the Oilers build, they would benefit substantially from a 2c in the Kessler, Staal tactics, Backes mold which are obviously hard if not impossible to acquire.

  96. DSF says:

    Ryan:
    With the Oilers build, they would benefit substantially from a 2c in the Kessler, Staal tactics, Backes mold which are obviously hard if not impossible to acquire.

    Wouldn’t Tyler Sguin look nice right about now? :)

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