SAMWISE THE CAPTAIN?

The first autumn Sam Gagner spent in Edmonton, my friend Louise and I had a difference of opinion. I thought he was a fine offensive prospect, but Louise kept arguing for him as an overall player, a deep thinker and captain material. Seriously. First training camp, I’m mulling over the possibility of his making the team, Louise is talking about cognitive and the brain digging new trenches (my words, not hers).

I couldn’t see it, she saw it from the opening of training camp. Gagner is now a young veteran at 24, and based on the latest news the 14th captain in Oilers history. I think it’s a grand choice, a young veteran who has the respect of everyone in the organization–young enough to guide the kids without ‘old manning’ them, and veteran enough to have his words carry weight with the elders who’ve been to  war with him. MacT clearly thinks highly of him, and if it happens it might be an opportunity for Gagner’s critics to reevaluate their views.

 WHERE WOULD YOU PARK OMARK IN THE LINEUP?

lock

I’ve never really cared for the question, because for me–as a fan–the more interesting question is where will the Oilers slot Omark? It’s nice to give opinions, that’s what Oilers fans do, is give their opinions; however, it’s also important to factor in franchise bias and that means there are going to be one dimensional types on the roster. If we’re talking Oilers, it’s more likely we see a Toby Petersen (Will Acton) or a Zack Stortini (Ryan Hamilton) than a pure offensive player (Omark). A team with such a ghastly 5×5 history isn’t likely to employ Omark (who is the better 5×5 choice, by the way), but rather take a more traditional stance and have an enforcer and a lightweight enforcer on the roster.

Meaning? It’s far more likely we see a Jesse Boulerice on the opening night roster than Linus Omark.  I sincerely hope this is incorrect but in MacT’s final days coaching the Oilers, Edmonton boasted two guys well over 100pims (Stortini, Moreau) and employed Steve MacIntyre and Jesse Boulerice for periods during the year.

I believe Linus Omark’s chances of making the team are less than 50%. Hope I’m wrong.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

Badlands (1973) Blu-ray Screenshot

 Today on the show, hockey and baseball (Jays now trail Expos. Incredible). Scheduled to appear:

  • Jeff Chapman from Copper and Blue. Omark, training camp battles and 89 as captain. 
  • Rob Vollman from ESPN and Hockey Prospectus. We’ll talk Olympics, the value of Omark in the NHL, and shot quality.
  • James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail. Olympics, Leafs, Oilers.
  • Jeff Krushell from Krush Performance. Blue Jays, training camps and coming back too soon from injury.

10-1260 via text and @Lowetide_ on the twitter box. Hope you can tune in!

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41 Responses to "SAMWISE THE CAPTAIN?"

  1. Racki says:

    Good to see the team goon get the captaincy.

  2. regwald says:

    I would have thought that a decision on the Captain would all be part of the training camp and getting to know players phase by Eakins. Do you really think this decision has been made by MacT – assuming Eakins barely knows the players. Based on Eakins twitter and interview comments he certainly has reached out to the core of the team introducing himself, getting to know players, setting expectations, etc.

    Not sure I believe this decision to be made already. I know it is just a rumour, but the author feels it is strong enough to put out there.

  3. SlowTalker says:

    These rumour’s must be irking DSF to no end

    (Captain Happy, Dead Cat Bounce or whatever other log-ins DSF uses around here)

  4. theres oil in virginia says:

    Racki:
    Good to see the team goon get the captaincy.

    No kidding! Every year I turn around, that guys fighting again. Always picking on a guy bigger than himself too. What a punk.

  5. Bushed says:

    No doubt Sam is a nice guy in the room, well-spoken, etc. Also shows some “try” on the ice from time to time, although consistency and judgment are not always there.

    No, he won’t “old man” other players in the room. But Moreau could at least walk the talk and lead by example when the message was be tough on the forecheck, or commit to better D zone play.

    Is the C going to distract everyone from Sam’s lack of D? Doesn’t the captain have to be an on-ice leader by example (see Toews, for example)?

    Geez, Louise…

  6. regwald says:

    Bushed,

    I guess you remember a diferent Moreau. I remember Moreau the captain taking bad penalties in the offensive zone, spouting off to the media with asinine comments. Moreau, pre-captain yes. But Moreau’s captaincy was only exceeded in futility by Corson’s.

  7. Woodguy says:

    Sam getting the C would fit perfectly with my prediction that he’s the fan’s next whipping boy.

    Also,

    Seamus O’Mark can skate.

    If he commits to the system and a strong back check he can play anywhere.

  8. theres oil in virginia says:

    Woodguy,

    Isn’t Sam already the whipping boy?

    Agreed on Seamus. I’ve seen him attempt the backcheck, but he just didn’t execute it well. I think he’s committed to making the effort. Maybe somebody can teach him how to improve it.

  9. Магия¹º says:

    “I believe Linus Omark’s chances of making the team are less than 50%. Hope I’m wrong”

    Can’t ever get enough Opposite Day when it comes to slotting Omark.

  10. Bushed says:

    regwald,

    So Moreau wasn’t a perfect captain–OK.

    It still doesn’t change the point of being able to walk the talk.

    If the thought process is to hand the leadership of the team to the kids, why not go with 3 A’s, or even rotate them among the future stars?

    Sam being the spokesman for commitment to D or winning puck battles on the forecheck doesn’t strike me as terribly convincing.

  11. FastOil says:

    They’ll make Gagner captain as he’s going to get traded in year 3 because he stays under 50 on the dot and in scoring, and really blows D coverage regularly. He also decides to mix it up to contribute something and gets whooped. MacT finally can’t take it and Penners him to Matheson, then trades him to NYR for Boyes.

    I thought the players decided or at least had input for captain? Maybe they set up a chat room.

  12. regwald says:

    Bushed,

    The one part about leadership that we do not see is what happens in the room, what happens with team on the road and who steps up and takes ownership for everything from picking where to go for dinner on the road, how to engage teammates for social activities and how to rally them in the room after a bad period.

    There is a lot of leadership that the average fan doesn’t get to see.

    You have a valid point about showing things on the ice or exhibiting in during a game. But that is one of many aspects.

  13. Hammers says:

    Could be a good fit and make Sam lead by example . Face it in Oct his our #1 center & maybe just maybe he gets Hall & Yak then when RNH is back give him Ebs & Perron for a month . As for Omark I hope Eakins picks HIS players whomever they are . I think McT will let him have his roster not players that are imposed due to money / experience etc .

  14. striatic says:

    “It’s nice to give opinions, that’s what Oilers fans do, is give their opinions; however, it’s also important to factor in franchise bias and that means there are going to be one dimensional types on the roster.”

    i agree that there will probably be one dimensional types on the roster, but the difference this year is that we’ve had MacT specifically say that the bottom 6 has to be a threat to score and that it hasn’t been such a threat in the past. so either he’s talking bullshit, or the philosophy regarding depth will be different this year.

    it isn’t just what MacT has been saying either, but how he’s been building the roster. he’s been building the roster to give Eakins *choices*. i think that giving Eakins choices is why we will still be seeing Brown on the roster, but also why we will be seeing Omark.

    with Omark in the lineup, Eakins can “dial-a-third-line” by changing out the LW. checking line? Smyth in. third scoring line? Omark in. depending on whether Eakins wants goals or wants to prevent them, MacT is giving Eakins ingredients to put in the EakinsBlender.

    yes, Brown will be on the Roster, but i think he’s going to be a PB player most of the time. we forget that MacT has already added a bunch of toughness in the off-season between Joensuu and Belov. maybe people aren’t seeing them that way because they are european, but if you search YouTube for either of these guys, you’ll see their fights come up right at the top. plus both these guys are huge and play huge.

    so is MacT still in the old Oilers mode where he’s looking at you Clarksons and Cliffords and Lucics? absolutely. the difference is that this year every single “enforcer” we’ve heard about has also had a large skill component in their game, and we’ve had the verbal from MacTavish that the bottom 6 must be a scoring threat.

  15. Lowetide says:

    Striatic: And that’s the hope. I’m saying we shouldn’t count on it. Brown will be on the roster, and they may add a big man during TC. The invite list will be interesting.

  16. striatic says:

    so, to divine MacT’s intentions?

    this season, it’s all about options for Eakins. Omark gives Eakins an option on the third line that no other player can provide. that’s why we will see Omark on the roster.

  17. FastOil says:

    Lowetide,

    LT do you know if Eakins uses goons? Maybe we’ll get another surprise and find he considers guys like R Hamilton “the beef”.

  18. striatic says:

    Lowetide,

    there is still room on the 23 player roster for another big man, plus Brown, plus a spare defenseman.

    with RNH out, presumably on LTIR, they can dress Brown *and* Omark to start the season, assuming they move Hall to C instead of playing Arcobello.

    i think that RNH being out more than anything else gives Omark a greater than 50% chance of making the team. if there is room for both Omark and Brown, why not give Eakins the options on the bench?

  19. Lowetide says:

    striatic:

    Lowetide,

    there is still room on the 23 player roster for another big man, plus Brown, plus a spare defenseman.

    with RNH out, presumably on LTIR, they can dress Brown *and* Omark to start the season, assuming they move Hall to C instead of playing Arcobello.

    i think that RNH being out more than anything else gives Omark a greater than 50% chance of making the team. if there is room for both Omark and Brown, why not give Eakins the options on the bench?

    Well, we’re splitting hairs. We might read the vague items in this equation differently, but seem to agree on the overall thrust of uncertainty.

  20. Lowetide says:

    FastOil:

    Lowetide,

    LT do you know if Eakins uses goons? Maybe we’ll get another surprise and find he considers guys like R Hamilton “the beef”.

    Well, I come at this from the pov that the Leafs under Burke used goons so even if Eakins didn’t want to, they were part of the furniture.We’ll begin to know when the TC list hits.

  21. Henry says:

    The Oilers have so many options on their top nine it’s sort of ridiculous. One they might try at home with the addition of Omark to the roster is a tough minutes, tough ZS line with scoring punch in

    Gordon/Perron/Hemsky

    Omark can then slot with Yakupov and Gagner against soft comp. Yak will score a lot with this combo and I bet Omark can handle his bullet passes.

    RNH/Hall/Eberle, jeez, play them against anybody but put them in the O zone for faceoffs.

    If RNH isn’t ready early, Ganger slots with Hall and Arco with Omark and Yak.

  22. Bar_Qu says:

    I think if we want to guess the roster we need to not worry about lines, but look at the “locks”, “likely to make it” and “bubble guys”.

    Locks – (F) Hall, Eberle, RNH, Gagner, Perron, Yakupov, Gordon
    (D) – J. Schultz, Ference, Smid, Petry
    Likely – (F) Smyth, Jones, Brown, Joensuu, Hemsky,
    (D) – Grebeshkov, Belov, Potter,
    Bubble – (F) – Omark, Hamilton, Acton, Eager, Arcobello, Lander
    (D) – N. Schultz, Larsen, Fedun, Klefbom

    That makes 19 likely with another 10 bubble guys if I go with the premise of Brown on the roster.

    Point A – there is great competition for roster spots for the Oil for the first time in forever.

    Point 2 – I only see 5 actual NHL players (guys who’ve played the NHL for any appreciable time) in the list when I include Eager (who imo is not going to make the team). There then could be room for Omark on this team, especially if RNH is not ready to go.

    Obviously this doesn’t count the “MacT just signed/traded someone out of the blue” factor or training camp invites, but there is the possibility of Eakins seeing Omark as a puckhound, especially if he can dig it out of his own zone.

  23. Colonel Obvious says:

    I love Omark as much as anyone. However, barring injury, he isn’t going to make this team out of training camp. For him to make the team he has to beat out Ryan Jones and the Oilers are not going to take Omark over Jones on the basis of a couple of games and a few practices.

    Best case scenario is that Jones is bad to mediocre for the first half of the season while Omark plays well in the AHL. At that point they may flush Jones and call him up.

    All of that said, this sure made training camp more interesting if only to watch the local media bait Omark.

    The interesting thing about the move is that this organization has a long history of turning their backs on guys they perceive to have bad character. They wouldn’t do this move just because it looks good on paper. This means some kind of conversation happened behind the scenes between MacT and Omark and the result of that conversation was mutually amicable. That surprises me a lot and it bodes well.

  24. fifthcartel says:

    If Omark gets sent down I don’t see how he doesn’t get claimed. At his cheap contract I would be surprised at least one team doesn’t put a claim in for him. I could see Florida, Nashville, Phoenix, NYI, all putting a claim in.

  25. speeds says:

    fifthcartel,

    I would also be surprised if he clears waivers. Cheap contract, one year, and the two way deal makes it a low risk claim for a money conscious team – if he doesn’t fit with their NHL team, they can put him back on waivers and either someone else claims him, or he can play in the minors for 100K.

  26. spoiler says:

    speeds: fifthcartel, I would also be surprised if he clears waivers. Cheap contract, one year, and the two way deal makes it a low risk claim for a money conscious team – if he doesn’t fit with their NHL team, they can put him back on waivers and either someone else claims him, or he can play in the minors for 100K.

    I’d bet that’s exactly how his agent and MacT got him to sign this contract… sign for cheap Linus, coz if we have to waive you, then you are far more likely to get picked up by another team.

  27. delooper says:

    spoiler: I’d bet that’s exactly how his agent and MacT got him to sign this contract…sign for cheap Linus, coz if we have to waive you, then you are far more likely to get picked up by another team.

    One way or another he’ll play in the NHL.

  28. LMHF#1 says:

    After Omark hands Jones his lunch in TC, we’ll get one of many chances to see if Eakins is ready to be a real coach and MacTavish is ready to be a real GM or not.

    The old ways saw the Jean Francois Jacques of the world stay up, or the Teemu Hartikainen’s of the world sent down despite easily being better than those who made the team.

    If we’re having a “pegs” discussion again, we’re still under water.

  29. gcw_rocks says:

    I am not sure why they would name Gagner captain at this time. There is a new head coach and a new associate coach (or whatever Acton is) and neither of them know the room yet. They literally cannot have observed Gagner in a locker room or anywhere else with a full team. Why rush into this? Why not give out a bunch of “A”s and give Eakins a couple of months to observe the room and then name a captain?

    I guess the answer is obvious. Eakins, like those coaches that came before him, don’t get to pick their own assistants, don’t get to pick their own captains, and probably need a note from Lowe to go to the bathroom.

    Sigh.

  30. russ99 says:

    I don’t buy the Gagner captain rumor.

    Training camp hasn’t started yet, the new members of the coaching staff haven’t gotten to know the players yet.

    And MacT has been quoted that the coaching staff is making that decision. Hopefully he can stay out of that, so he’s not pushing the staff before they even get started.

  31. russ99 says:

    Bar_Qu,

    Jones and Joensuu are also on the bubble.

    Jones is getting another shot due to last year’s nasty eye injury. But if he shows in camp that he’s bringing to the team what he did last season, I have zero doubt that they will cut him.

    All goes back to that MacT quote of grit without skill and Jones is the sole survivor of that group, of course, excluding our lone enforcer/press box guy.

  32. justDOit says:

    russ99,

    The thing that Jones has going for him, is that he actually has scored with limited ice-time in the past. I think that mgmt will be averse to just flushing him if he doesn’t impress at TC. After all, MacT was very vocal that players who are ‘at best a non-factor’ won’t be on his team.

  33. crude says:

    LT, that picture of the jeep and billboard is from Badlands, no? What a great movie. One of my favourite lines is when Sheen observes “somebody dropped a bag on the ground.”

    Ps. I fully support Sam Gagner for captain.

  34. Bar_Qu says:

    russ99,

    That is a good point, but I really do think Jones’ games played and the fact he was re-signed at all means the Oil feel he can play and contribute. IMO, that makes him a likely guy, not bubble.

    Joensuu is also on a one-way, making him less likely to be sent down, especially since he is making nearly as much in the AHL as he would in the NHL. Beyond that, I don’t see his skill set replicated on the roster.

  35. Hammers says:

    Still comes down to Eakins and how he see’s that bottom 6 or is it a bottom 3. I’m not loosing sleep over that . All we know is Eakins tendencies with the Marlies . Plays those that are hot game to game if not period to period . Takes chances in the 3rd period if loosing by 2 or more . Looks for toughness on all lines not just bottom lines . Works with young players to help them grow . . Just hope McT lets him pick his final roster .

  36. Kris11 says:

    I think MacT and Eakins really do mean what they say about competition for jobs in the bottom half of the roster at D and F. (If they don’t mean it, we’ll see soon enough,)

    At camp, I’ll be pulling for Klefbama, O’mark, and Joensulu. Jones or Grebeshkov could out compete those guys though, for sure.

  37. spoiler says:

    crude: LT, that picture of the jeep and billboard is from Badlands, no? What a great movie. One of my favourite lines is when Sheen observes “somebody dropped a bag on the ground.”

    That pic is from Badlands.

    My favorite line is “…and spelled out entire sentences with my tongue on the roof of my mouth, where nobody could read them.”

    That line seems to encapsulate the essence of Malick… to me anyways.

  38. FastOil says:

    Omark’s signing puts a lot of pressure on Jones, Joensuu and Smyth. Would any of them led any league in scoring? Omark is a far superior player. Only size works against him and he’s not that small.

    I have/had issues with Rajala’s and Arco’s size, but there are plenty of plucky 180 pounders in the league these days. And Omark has a touch of crazy in him too. I don’t count him out of making the team. He’ll be more physical than Jones because he’ll actually contact the intended target if he throws a hit. I doubt Eakins will be fooled much by Jones play.

  39. crude says:

    spoiler,

    Amazing line, yes. It echoes around in my dome once in a while. The whole movie is a marvel of script and delivery. I love Kit’s monologue where he encourages listening to your teacher’s and so forth as “there’s still an outside chance you might learn something.”

  40. hags9k says:

    Wayne absolutely nailed it at ON with this imo…

    “With Gagner wearing the C it eliminates the gun fight between Hall, Eberle, Yakupov and The Nuge for ownership of the team. Whose team is it? Effectively this move makes it everyone’s team.”

    Now I can’t wait until we hear Bettman…

    “Sam Gagner, come get the Stanley Cup.”

    89 is a fantastic choice. GOILERS!

  41. Ribs says:

    Man, the pressure on this kid. Playing center on this team is tough enough for young Gagner. He does seem to be friend to all on the team, and his effort level is usually there, so I do think he’d be a good leader. I just worry that his personal game might suffer a bit with the extra weight on his shoulders. It’s the same feeling I got when Horcoff was about to be named captain. It’s a tough gig.

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