“WE HAD TO DO SOMETHING”

As the attention of Oiler fans splits into two (Nuge/Nail/Frank’s boy at WJ’s, Barons of the AHL) through early January, OKC’s coach Todd Nelson is making changes in the lineup in an effort to stop the losing streak.

Hat tip to Jonathan Willis  (and to News OK) for the news: the Oilers south are changing up the lines:

  1. Anton Lander-Taylor Hall-Magnus Paajarvi
  2. Mark Arcobello-Curtis Hamilton-Jordan Eberle
  3. Josh Green-Teemu Hartikainen-Phil Cornet
  4. Chris VandeVelde-Dane Byers-Tyler Pitlick

Lets take these one at a time:

  • Lander and Paajarvi must feel as though they’ve died and gone to heaven. I’m not at all certain this line with show much but what the hell they can always bring out the MacT blender. 
  • Hamilton HAS to be thrilled with this push, and I also think the organization is showing a lot of faith in Arcobello (as Josh Green is available for this slot). Eberle plays the role of Taylor Hall on this line–gifted NHL player trying to infuse offense into a line with two also-rans.
  • I’m not sure that Harski deserves the 3line, but do like he and Green together. I’d pick Pitlick for that line, but Cornet cashed 24 last season–and has 8 in 14 ECHL games this season–and that’s something to remember.
  • Pitlick is down with Byers–who has scored at the AHL level over the years–and VandeVelde whose stats suggest he’d dump it into the corner on a breakaway. If I’m Pitlick, I’m pissed. This is seriously the short end of the straw.

Abney was sent down to Stockton, Martindale and House along with Kristians Pelss are guys we’ll see at some point too.

Maddeningly, the article didn’t mention the D pairings, but there isn’t much Nelson can do with the blue. This team needs a veteran defenseman badly, a guy who can settle things down and make plays at the AHL level. Corey Potter would be great if he was left handed. That kind of thing. Needed it since training camp.

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14 Responses to "“WE HAD TO DO SOMETHING”"

  1. Woodguy says:

    I really hope Pitlick gets his shit together.

    Many had him in the 1st.

    Hell, even Zona wanted the Oilers to take him there.

    Unlike Moroz, Pitlick was a choice many agreed on.

    He has the body, skating ability, and history says he has the tools (to some extent).

    Hope he puts it all together.

    Big year for him.

    Hamilton passing him on the depth chart might piss him off enough to get serious.

    Hopefully.

  2. Lowetide says:

    22 even strength goals in the WHL at 18. That’s a nice number. Even if he turns into a 2-way winger who can score 15 goals. Man he needs a break.

  3. Woodguy says:

    AHL can be a tough league.

  4. leadfarmer says:

    Not sure why Pitlick is doing so poorly, kid’s got size, is fast, is in the right place at the right time. Just cant finish.

    Hey LT can you do an update on how all the oilers players are doing around the globe?

  5. OilLeak says:

    Pitlick’s problem in my view is his hockey sense, he has no idea what to do with the puck in the offensive zone. In college and the WHL Pitlick’s raw skills were enough to overwhelm inferior competition, but the at the pro level tools will only take you so far.

    I’ll agree with everyone that Pitlick looks like a hockey player, but the guy scores less than Paajarvi and by comparison Paajarvi’s shot is a wet noodle.

  6. Lowetide says:

    Leadfarmer: Seachd always has it over at hf boards
    http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1257183

    Oilleak: Still, 22 EV goals in a WHL season implies he did something right. The longer we go the more we can discount luck, but he sure looks like a player (and he did have some nice things coming out of Medicine Hat).

  7. jp says:

    Lowetide:
    Leadfarmer: Seachd always has it over at hf boards
    http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=1257183

    Oy! Just browsing the list. I kinda knew, but it hadn’t really clicked. The offensively challenged defenseman Musil is outscoring both Moroz and Ewanyk (Zharkov too for that matter). That is not a good result/sign for those forwards…

    On Pitlick, I really think he’s going to figure out scoring at the AHL level at some point before too long. I think there’s a very good chance we see him in the Oilers bottom 6 in the next few years. Top 6 is all but out of the question though.

  8. godot10 says:

    It is really silly to rank these lines 1-2-3.

    Last year Green and Hartikainen played a lot together, and played really well, and were pretty much considered the 1st line. Arcobello and Keller played together, and were considered the 2nd line. Eberle is basically Keller squared. And with Hall on the other line. This is really line Xa, Xb, and Xc.

    Nelson likes 3 solid “equal” lines and a checking line. It is typically the way he has been lining them up the last two years.

    I don’t think the problem is with how he lines up the forwards. The problem is that the team is too inexperienced on defense. Plante going from AHL allstar to has been overnight has been pretty devastating.

  9. LMHF#1 says:

    Those lines are nonsensical. How has Teemu not been paired on an extended run with Eberle? That duo is a perfect combo of skills, work ethic and smarts. Why in hell do you pair Lander with Hall? And the Josh Green thing over and over again…yuck.

  10. jp says:

    I’ve been thinking for a while about how the current group of young Oilers stack up against the Boys on the Bus. Difficult to compare boxcars since scoring was so much different back then, so I checked what these guys would look like assuming league scoring rates like those in the Dynasty days. NHL average goals per game in 1983-84, year of the first Oilers cup was 7,89 GPG. Last year it was 5.32 GPG. Quite a difference, almost 1.5X. First, some context from the actual Boys on the Bus (not sure if the Boys should be capitalized, but it feels right). This from a team that scored the most goals in a season in NHL history (446), finished first overall (15 points ahead of the next best team!), and of course won the big prize at the end.

    Wayne Gretzky 74 87 118 205
    Paul Coffey 80 40 86 126
    Jari Kurri 64 52 61 113
    Mark Messier 73 37 64 101
    Glenn Anderson 80 54 45 99
    Ken Linseman 72 18 49 67
    Pat Hughes 77 27 28 55

    The top 5 of those guys were 22 or 23 when the season started.

    Now the 29th place 2011-12 Oilers. I used the 1.48X conversion, and assumed the guys all played 80 games (massive assumption I know):

    Jordan Eberle 80 52 64 116
    Taylor Hall 80 53 51 103
    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 80 34 65 99
    Sam Gagner 80 28 46 74
    Ryan Smyth 80 27 39 67
    Ales Hemsky 80 17 45 62
    Shawn Horcoff 80 19 31 50
    Ryan Jones 80 26 24 50
    Ryan Whitney 80 7 40 47
    Jeff Petry 80 3 37 41
    Corey Potter 80 8 33 40
    Ben Eager 80 15 9 24
    Eric Belanger 80 6 18 24
    Ladislav Smid 80 8 15 23
    Andy Sutton 80 7 16 23
    Magnus Paajarvi 80 6 17 23
    Lennart Petrell 80 8 10 18
    Anton Lander 80 4 8 13
    Nick Schultz 80 1 9 10
    Darcy Hordichuk 80 3 6 8
    Theo Peckham 80 2 4 7

    Not too shabby hey? The kids are stars, and Gagner is a decent hockey player…

    Then I got carried away and did the 2010-11 version of the team too:

    Ales Hemsky 80 34 69 103
    Ryan Whitney 80 7 83 89
    Taylor Hall 80 39 36 75
    Jordan Eberle 80 30 42 72
    Sam Gagner 80 25 46 71
    Shawn Horcoff 80 22 44 66
    Linus Omark 80 11 50 61
    Magnus Paajarvi 80 22 27 49
    Andrew Cogliano 80 15 34 49
    Tom Gilbert 80 9 29 38
    Ryan Jones 80 26 10 36
    Kurtis Foster 80 12 22 34
    Jim Vandermeer 80 4 22 26
    Liam Reddox 80 3 24 26
    Gilbert Brule 80 20 6 25
    Theo Peckham 80 5 16 21
    Jeff Petry 80 3 13 17
    Ladislav Smid 80 0 15 15
    Zack Stortini 80 0 14 14
    Jean-Francois Jacques 80 9 2 11
    Colin Fraser 80 5 3 9

    Hemsky and Whitney are also stars, the young rookies are very Kurri-like (as a rookie), and Gagner is still a hockey player. For reference, Gagner is the oldest of the top scoring youngsters (22 last season).

    There’s certainly no Gretzky among the new generation, but the current group is in the ballpark with the rest, and with a couple of years of potential growth to catch up. Encouraging.

  11. jp says:

    Almost forgot. As you might imagine, the goalies don’t fare quite as well when taking into account era effects. Not as bad as you might think though:

    1983-83
    Andy Moog 3.77
    Grant Fuhr 3.91

    2011-12
    Devan Dubnyk 3.96
    Nikolai Khabibulin 3.93

  12. godot10 says:

    LMHF#1:
    Those lines are nonsensical. How has Teemu not been paired on an extended run with Eberle? That duo is a perfect combo of skills, work ethic and smarts. Why in hell do you pair Lander with Hall? And the Josh Green thing over and over again…yuck.

    Hall is great at getting the puck up the ice, which is Lander’s weakness. Lander is a solid defensively aware player. Hall not so much.

    The problem with Lander’s North American career so far is that he has mostly played with guys with the same weakness as his, getting the puck up the ice.

    As soon as he was played with better wingers, and one whose strength is getting the puck up the ice (Paajarvi), and with Hartikainen, Lander suddenly looks more like the Lander from the SEL.

    Paajarvi and Lander are both solid defensively. Hall will be free to roam and plunder and create misery on the opposition.

    So I will take the other side. I think that line has the potential to be a very good line.

  13. wheatnoil says:

    godot10: So I will take the other side.I think that line has the potential to be a very good line.

    Any line with Hall on it has the potential to be a very good line. The bigger question will be if Hamilton is the anchor that holds down Eberle and Arcobello or if he’s able to make something good happen offensively. This is a chance to really start turning things around. If you’re going to make the Show, you’ve got to capitalize on these opportunities.

  14. godot10 says:

    wheatnoil,

    Hamilton and Lander (until recently) have played mostly with pluggers.

    They weren’t anchors for skilled players in the CHL and SEL.

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