CENTER ICE

Sometimes my days have themes. Seriously. I don’t know why, they just do. Today, my conversations were about center ice for the Edmonton Oilers and how the team might look in the fall. Of course, as with most conversations this time of year we’ve already talked about this and now we’re coming around again. But I think with good reason.

In the 2006 playoffs, coach Craig MacTavish used 5 players on his roster to take faceoffs. Each of these players had more than 90 sorties in the circle:

  • Shawn Horcoff 518 (53.9%)
  • Jarret Stoll 398 (50.7%)
  • Mike Peca 366 (50.8%)
  • Rem Murray 136 (43.4%)
  • Ryan Smyth 92 (46.7%)

He also had Fernando Pisani take faceoffs during that run, and Moreau and Hemsky and on it went. MacT liked to have players with a wide range of skills, players who could fill in up the depth chart in various roles.

Which makes the current roster stand out as an anti-MacT group. I think we’re going to see more ‘mentor’ types like Pisani ( a current example is Horcoff) and as part of that I believe we might see some centermen enter the system over the summer.

In a big way.

Sure, Viktor Stalberg (or someone from that family) will play LW on the 2line, but my guess is we’re going to see the Golden Nugge line up with various wingers and that sometimes Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and others will play in the middle. I also think we might see some additions (either through free agency or trade) who can play both center and wing.

I think we’re going to see a Stoll-Brodziak style addition behind Nuge-Gagner-Horcoff, but I don’t think the Oilers will stop there. This is 2007-08, a year in which the Oilers had 7 guys taking faceoffs consistently.

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66 Responses to "CENTER ICE"

  1. 106 and 106 says:

    Hey LT,

    Centre Ice = Puck Possession (or not). Good place to base a theme.

    Makes sense to have wider-range skill guys from a coaching stand-point. But Mac-T MADE those guys get better at face-offs. Some of those guys – Hemsky, for example, didn’t take any draws last season, despite taking them before (06 Playoffs).

    Do you think RK would be willing to be more static in his line-up ?

    it seemed like a HUGE deal last year that anyone would even consider moving Hall (understandable, with the responsibilities in the D-zone, especially in Ralph’s system).

  2. Lowetide says:

    106 and 106:
    Hey LT,

    Centre Ice = Puck Possession (or not). Good place to base a theme.

    Makes sense to have wider-range skill guys from a coaching stand-point. But Mac-T MADEthose guys get better at face-offs. Some of those guys – Hemsky, for example, didn’t take any draws last season, despite taking them before (06 Playoffs).

    Do you think RK would be willing to be more static in his line-up ?

    it seemed like a HUGE deal last year that anyone would even consider moving Hall (understandable, with the responsibilities in the D-zone, especially in Ralph’s system).

    I think that was one of the things MacT had ‘concerns’ about in the post-season media conference. He wants to know:

    1. why the 4line is out against the other team’s 1line at home?
    2. why you bother to acquire Fistric and then not play him?
    3. why the support for puck retrieval became such an issue no one was going to the net?
    4. why they never did go back to the 1PP?

    there’s a list. We should make a list.

  3. fifthcartel says:

    Wish I could listen in on the MacT phone conference. Wonder if anything note-worthy gets said.

  4. BlacqueJacque says:

    Lowetide,

    Does MacT want to know that? When did he use any specifics?

  5. jfry says:

    i wonder how much division RK and Tambo had on players. RK didn’t seem to care about rank and file or how a player was acquired when he set the line up.

  6. murphy says:

    I am on the call… Any good questions that someone wants brought forward?

  7. Lowetide says:

    murphy:
    I am on the call… Any good questions that someone wants brought forward?

    Ask if he’d like to have forwards who can fill more than one role. Centers who can also play wing, etc. Wide range of skill.

  8. fifthcartel says:

    Colin Priestner ‏@colinpriestner 2m

    Likes his 1-2 centreman but says he wants to land a big centre this summer if he can. Says he can’t comment on Iginla but wants that type.

    Iginla signing here would be hilarious. Highly doubtful though.

  9. murphy says:

    Ok i am in line.

    Mact said he has had meaningful discussions on moving the 7th in both directions. His wishlist is to get a high end centermen or defensemen from the draft. He counts there being three high level c’s in this draft and it sounds like he wants one of them, the three and he mentioned them by name are mackinnon, monahan and barkov. He sounds like hes trying to move up in the draft hard, said there are some teams with a better draft pick who want a dman and wouldn’t mind moving back so there are discussions there. Sorry to bable on, seemed like great information. He kind of gushed over barkov but tried to be careful about it.

  10. striatic says:

    “MacT says Sam Gagner could be youngest player in history to be UFA but his goal is for that not to happen. Wants to sign him long term.”

    “He says from July 1 to July 5 there is a recruitment window for pending UFA’s. Also says his priority is A centre with 7 overall pick.”

    re-signing Gagner *AND* taking a C with 1st OV?

    aiming for actual depth at a position .. this is new ..

  11. striatic says:

    “He counts there being three high level c’s in this draft and it sounds like he wants one of them, the three and he mentioned them by name are mackinnon, monahan and barkov.”

    could be playing coy on Lindholm but i’m guessing the org really does have Monahan significantly ahead of the swede based on prior verbals.

    i don’t think the Oilers have a shot at picking the three named guys unless they move up. Calgary will pick Monahan for sure.

  12. murphy says:

    striatic,

    I’m guessing he is talking to Carolina and Tampa. Good to hear because you are right, to get what they want they need to jump ahead of the flames and if it’s barkov then nashville as well.

  13. Lowetide says:

    Striatic: That’s so interesting he’d say it just that way. I wonder if this is the counter trey–they’ve NEVER talked about Lindholm! NEVER!

  14. fifthcartel says:

    This trading up talk is making me all warm and fuzzy inside.

  15. striatic says:

    murphy,

    Oilers unfortunately don’t have anything either of those teams need. Tampa Bay needs Defense YESTERDAY [3rd in Goals per game this year], and i could see them trading their pick for an established Dman but Edmonton doesn’t doesn’t have what they need.

    Carolina is in a similar situation having average scoring but nightmare defense and goaltending but the Edmonton cupboard is bare in those areas.

  16. murphy says:

    They are going to be very active in finding a couple goalies (guessing one at the minor league). Talks up khabby but no chance he is resigned. Mact says the verdict still out on dubnyk, trending upwards but not quite a #1. He has identified goaltending as a weak spot in the organization.

  17. Lowetide says:

    He’s saying wonderful things. Just wonderful.

  18. murphy says:

    striatic,

    The edmonton cupboard is bare in the scoring department? I think they have a lot to offer the canes including a guy the canes “saw good” in hemsky for a trade of the picks. I am not endorsing this trade because i want to keep hemsky and trade eberle for a top pairing d man but i don’t think that is an unlikely trade if the canes want to pick a d man in the draft. Or the oil offer up nick schultz plus 7 for a higher pick.

  19. striatic says:

    talk of moving up makes me wonder if Smid is in play ..

    he’s the kind of guy that TB and CAR probably want, signed a long term deal with lots of UFA years included. cap friendly. pure defense and PK which TB and CAR could certainly use.

    that would be the “leap of faith” move at the draft, where you look at the development system, see more defense coming than forwards, and gut your defense in exchange for forwards and trust that your development system brings in the defensive strength it is promising.

    hell of a gamble though.

  20. murphy says:

    Has fielded several questions on bigger bodies, he agrees they need to get bigger and they will. But he keeps coming back to mobility from the back end, that’s one of the most important parts of making this team better. He wants to play a passing style that opens team up, i would assume we add at least two more puck moving defensemen. Grebs here we come!!

  21. striatic says:

    murphy: The edmonton cupboard is bare in the scoring department?

    no it isn’t, but i don’t think scoring is the most important need for the canes right now. they need defense and goaltending more.

  22. striatic says:

    murphy: But he keeps coming back to mobility from the back end, that’s one of the most important parts of making this team better.

    Smid doesn’t fit that mould at all, for all he brings.

    there are quite a few guys in the development system that fit the puck moving mould and Smid might be the most tradable asset on D other than Schultz.

    i wonder is MacT might do something really unexpected like moving Smid after Tambi signed him long term, moving a D when the team needs D, just because a close look at the development system and organizational needs makes room for an unexpected deal.

  23. murphy says:

    Yeah goaltending the oilers have nothing to offer unless it’s one of the second round picks the canes could use for a goalie. On defense the oil doesn’t have much to offer either unless it’s a musil or fedun which most likely wouldnt be enough.

  24. murphy says:

    striatic,
    You could be right, i hope not i like smid and think he’s a perfect 2nd pairing guy but he’s not untouchable.

  25. Woodguy says:

    Some guys I follow on twitter also live tweeting the MacT thing:

    mental_gas ‏@mental_gas 5m
    MacT once again says we are not a dump and chase team. We are a speed team under the Det, Chi mould. #MacTPresser

    MacT says that they want to add a couple goalies & that the verdict is still out on Dubnyk. He is trending up, but still needs another level

    mental_gas ‏@mental_gas 17m
    MacT aware they need toughness, but has to be a player that can play the game at 100% speed and contribute with the puck #MacTPresser

    MacT says he is unwilling to part with any of the young 6 he wants to build team around. (Who’s 6). Bold move meant draft choices

    *6* seem to be RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yak, Shultz and Gagner.

  26. Woodguy says:

    Reggie ‏@regwald 9m
    #mactpresser need to improve shot differential and push back for momentum changes. Giving up leads needs to improve.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 10m
    #mactpresser need to compete for playoffs. add players to make the team more competitive. biggest improvement will be internal for growth

    Reggie ‏@regwald 14m
    #mactpresser still looking for a #2 goalie. Still not sure of Yan Danis. Weakness in overall organization.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 19m
    #mactpresser full speed, top speed plays. 12 forwards need to be able to play the game. need to contribute with the puck.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 21m
    #mactpresser team toughness. what do you see ? need some toughness. not like the past enforcer. speed of the game has changed.

  27. Lowetide says:

    WG: This is ALL gold. I like Dubnyk better than MacT, but that’s fine I love the fact that he isn’t satisfied anywhere up the middle. Thrilled with the C stuff, the D stuff. Thrilled. And the UFA stuff is exactly what we’ve discussed all spring.

  28. murphy says:

    Wow that was a non descript answer on horcoff. Sounds like hes waiting to see what kind of cap he gains before the buyout period before making a decision. Almost sounded like horc asked out of edmonton by a comment about his spirits being down.

  29. Woodguy says:

    Reggie ‏@regwald 26s
    #mactpresser Krueger. Satisfied ? not a coaching problem. Job with Nail was exceptional. Positive message important in challenging times.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 1m
    #mactpresser Horcoff – future ? will be determined as summer goes on. respects him. long term desire to be on competitive team comment.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 3m
    #mactpresser dev plans online on the web for each player. log in to check on things for the players. No resources spared for improvement

    Reggie ‏@regwald 3m
    #mactpresser dev plans online on the web for each player. log in to check on things for the players. No resources spared for improvement

  30. Woodguy says:

    Lowetide:
    WG: This is ALL gold. I like Dubnyk better than MacT, but that’s fine I love the fact that he isn’t satisfied anywhere up the middle. Thrilled with the C stuff, the D stuff. Thrilled. And the UFA stuff is exactly what we’ve discussed all spring.

    Its like one of us is now running the team.

    Yay!

  31. Lowetide says:

    And he just gave Krueger another endorsement so that can be put to bed. I’ll write something tomorrow on the Gagner thing but for me Louise has had this spot on right down the line. The only sticking point is the money.

  32. Woodguy says:

    Reggie ‏@regwald 1m
    #mactpresser. 4th coach in last 5 yrs. need better tools to do a better job. learning experience for Ralph. bright guy. able to adapt.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 1m
    #mactpresser feels Ralph is the guy to go forward with.

    Reggie ‏@regwald 1m
    #mactpresser Back to Horc. Is that the long time losing here might wear on Horc and maybe desire to move on alluded.

  33. Lowetide says:

    Colin Priestner: 3m

    Horcoff’s future is with club: Mac “that will be determined over the summer”. Being here too long “has had negative effect on his spirit”.

  34. murphy says:

    Lowetide,

    I wouldn’t assume gagner is in his no trade list, he never said that. He said a group of six but didn’t name the six, i am sure it’s hall eberle yak schultz jr nuge, the sixth could be paajarvi, petry, klef, smid, etc.

    It could be gagner but he walked around his future pretty gingerly.

  35. striatic says:

    murphy: It could be gagner but he walked around his future pretty gingerly.

    he said he wanted to sign him long term.

  36. regwald says:

    Woodguy, thanks for posting my tweets. tried to keep up best on could on twitter. Sometimes had to paraphrase.

    The call was great. I was recording it, but when I was dropped off the call, I had to try to alternate dial in number to get back in.

    Also, it will be posted on the Oilers site later.

  37. fifthcartel says:

    The Horcoff comment is pretty interesting. Either way, I don’t think Horcoff is captain next year with the negative effect on his spirit quote.

  38. leadfarmer says:

    Lowetide,

    In the last 6 years, being a fan of this team has had a negative effect on my spirit.

    He might be as hard to trade as Luongo.

  39. regwald says:

    fifthcartel:
    The Horcoff comment is pretty interesting. Either way, I don’t think Horcoff is captain next year with the negative effect on his spirit quote.

    Yes, my interpretation on the Horcoff question is they are seriously considering how he feels about staying, if a change in scenery is required. I think MacT believe the losing might have brought his enthusiasm down too.

  40. leadfarmer says:

    Woodguy,

    “Not sure of Danis being a #2.” WTF. He’s got a little Mr. Dithers in him. Next we will keep Peckham for just in case and bring back Deslaurier for further evaluation.

  41. Woodguy says:

    regwald:
    Woodguy, thanks for posting my tweets. tried to keep up best on could on twitter. Sometimes had to paraphrase.

    The call was great. I was recording it, but when I was dropped off the call, I had to try to alternate dial in number to get back in.

    Also, it will be posted on the Oilers site later.

    You’re tweets were great Reg.

    Felt like I didn’t miss a thing.

  42. tsg says:

    Twelve guys who can play at 100% speed. Hemmer can play at speed. Wonder if he ends up staying, with Horc being the one to move on.

  43. Rondo says:

    Watch my feet not my mouth.

    Need to get bigger need to get faster need better players need better goaltending need 12 players.

    Every team in the NHL could make that speech.
    I’m afraid Lowe got to him

  44. murphy says:

    striatic,

    When asked directly if gagner was one of the six he wouldn’t trade he said each person has their own six and wouldn’t confirm.

  45. Lowetide says:

    Colin Priestner ‏@colinpriestner 1h

    Says UFA market is to be approached “cautiously”. Says players are often in decline at UFA stage. Says Gagner is highest priority re-sign.
    Expand

  46. murphy says:

    striatic,

    I do hope they resign and keep him though, heck of a player and leader.

  47. regwald says:

    Woodguy: You’re tweets were great Reg.

    Felt like I didn’t miss a thing.

    You are welcome. The joys of being an IT guy … I am a great typer. lol

  48. regwald says:

    murphy:
    striatic,

    When asked directly if gagner was one of the six he wouldn’t trade he said each person has their own six and wouldn’t confirm.

    My interpretation was that maybe that was the list of 6 from Michaels was or was not accurate. Who knows. Maybe he likes Magnus better ? But the list of the 6th players is pretty short.

  49. murphy says:

    regwald,

    Yeah you could be right, guess i am always looking for the inside angle! I am a trained journalist so i come by it honestly. Did anyone else leave a message after? How does that get answered?

  50. regwald says:

    murphy:
    regwald,

    Yeah you could be right, guess i am always looking for the inside angle! I am a trained journalist so i come by it honestly. Did anyone else leave a message after? How does that get answered?

    I left my comments at the end. Said I liked the call and format. Hope they do it again and maybe a few times during the season.

  51. regwald says:

    I also liked how MacT bragged about the development website they have for their draft picks to check in on their pgms, etc. and how it is the best in the league and very valuable for keeping track of the kid’s programs. That was very cool

  52. jp says:

    leadfarmer:

    He might be as hard to trade as Luongo.

    Horcoff for Luongo?

  53. Captain Happy says:

    jp: Horcoff for Luongo?

    Horcoff’s cap hit is higher than Luongo’s.

    Won’t happen.

  54. RexLibris says:

    regwald:
    I also liked how MacT bragged about the development website they have for their draft picks to check in on their pgms, etc. and how it is the best in the league and very valuable for keeping track of the kid’s programs. That was very cool

    That might be the Habanero software. Not sure. When I was digging up some research on the integration between the Oilers and Oil Kings scouting I came across an article about it. This isn’t the same article but it contains much of the same information (just gloss over the part about the Oilers making the playoffs in 2011 – journalistic hyperbole) http://habaneroconsulting.com/en/about/news/Using-New-Technology-to-Build-a-Winning-Hockey-Team.aspx

  55. regwald says:

    RexLibris: That might be the Habanero software. Not sure. When I was digging up some research on the integration between the Oilers and Oil Kings scouting I came across an article about it. This isn’t the same article but it contains much of the same information (just gloss over the part about the Oilers making the playoffs in 2011 – journalistic hyperbole) http://habaneroconsulting.com/en/about/news/Using-New-Technology-to-Build-a-Winning-Hockey-Team.aspx

    I work in IT and based on what I heard and this article. It is a natural extension of Sharepoint. I suspect the layer they built for the scouts was extended for the players. Nice catch on the article.

  56. striatic says:

    Captain Happy,

    shorter term though.

    not saying the deal makes sense though.

  57. Gerta Rauss says:

    leadfarmer:

    He might be as hard to trade as Luongo.

    He won’t be as hard to buy out, if it comes to that. Maybe this greases the skids for a Horcoff buyout…player suggests it’s time to move on, GM unable to trade him in this market, buying him out is “in the players best interest”…Horcoff leaves with a little dignity in tact.

  58. Gerta Rauss says:

    I’m a little concerned about the Lindholm (non) comments.Maybe it is the ultimate counter-trey, but when there are 7 guys that the scouts really like and have separated from the pack, and you are slotted to pick 7th, and your list only has 6 names on it…

  59. Captain Happy says:

    Big rumour on the interwebs tonight that Carolina will trade Jeff Skinner to the Canucks for Alex Edler.

    Cap hits about the same…Vancouver gets younger, Carolina gets their defenseman and are free to take a forward to replace Skinner.

    Makes a lot of sense.

  60. RickDeckard says:

    Captain Happy,

    Carolina also dumps an injury prone player for a player that causes injuries. That’s a double win.

  61. russ99 says:

    If Edler is available, we need to get in on that ASAP….

  62. godot10 says:

    russ99:
    If Edler is available, we need to get in on that ASAP….

    Vancouver is NOT going to trade Edler to Edmonton. The teams are in the same division. And well, you are giving up one of the big 5 if you have to top Skinner, which is dumb.

    Edler really is not value for money. With that contract he is being fully paid. There is better value for money for defensemen in the RFA/offersheet market. They are younger. Their careers are still for the most part on an upward trajectory.

    The Oilers could offer sheet Alzner at the 1st and 3rd round comp level, and Tanev and the 2nd round level. And if that fails, Voynov and Gunnarsson.

    Or offer sheet Leddy to shake Hjalmarsson loose.

    The value in the market place this summer is in the RFA defense market. Teams have been spending to the cap, and with the cap coming down, offersheets should be the weapon of choice this summer.

  63. leadfarmer says:

    Gerta Rauss,

    With the ability to retain salary I dont know how much sense he is to buy out when you could keep a million of the salary a year and trade him to a cap floor team for a 7th saving Katz 5 mil of real money.

  64. Ca$h-Money! says:

    Captain Happy,

    I wonder if the GM asked Eric Staal what he thought of the idea.

    Seriously, no way the owner approves something like that. Edler nearly ruined carolina’s 8 million dollar man, their captain, their best player, one of the very best players in the league.

    I will be absolutely shocked if Carolina wants Edler right now. I believe Edler will be shopped (he’s got a good contract, I’d take him if I could get him) but I think Carolina is very unlikely.

  65. Hall Awaits says:

    Let’s say Horcoff is moved or bought out, who would be a suitable replacement? Boyd Gordon would be a great 4th liner but there’s just not enough offence there. Curious who we should target? We should try to land Burmistrov if the price isn’t ridiculous.

  66. Gerta Rauss says:

    leadfarmer:

    With the ability to retain salary I dont know how much sense he is to buy out when you could keep a million of the salary a year and trade him to a cap floor team for a 7th saving Katz 5 mil of real money.

    While I agree a trade of Horcoff is preferred, I’ll believe it when I see it.

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