Dallas Eakins continues to implement his (modified) plan and hold players accountable. Oiler fans are hopeful he can also figure out the powerplay and many are openly questioning the heart and effort of the team after Vancouver. In times like these, it’s important to observe the coach—what is he saying and what is the result?—and we have a good example right now with Sam Gagner.
THE GAGNER CASE (MOVING TO THE FOURTH LINE)
- Eakins: “We have to understand as a group that we have to keep pucks out of our net. It’s not just D-one coverage. It’s about keeping pucks alive and possession but when we do lose it, our responsibilities are very simple in our end. We never want to cheat on a play.”
- Gagner: “I’m trying to get better defensively. I think it’s a case of some misreads here and there and it’s fixable.”
- Eakins Vancouver post-game: “I actually thought Sam was one of the few guys we had who could make a play.”
All quotes are Matty’s from this article. I didn’t see Gagner good in Vancouver, but it sounds like Eakins liked some things so we’ll see how it rolls. Gagner did get a break in that the team lost and didn’t look good, two reasons a coach might shake up the roster. I don’t think there’s much doubt that based on performances so far this season that Arcobello should get the push tonight, but they do have a lot of money tied up in 89.
One thing that going 4line in a game does: it solves the riddle of Gagner’s saying one thing and doing another. There has been a lot of that this season on the Oilers,and if Dallas Eakins is going to control this very well paid group of youths he has to establish accountability. That’s the important item for the Gagner fourth line move. Other guys may look at that and think maybe I’m next, and maybe they are next! There are few items in a management arsenal more powerful than playing time, and those heavy duty items (trades, buyouts) are very drastic actions. One hopes we don’t get to that point, and it’s good the coach feels Gagner has improved but there must be more improvement from him and others.
I hope we see him good today.
Bruce Garrioch has the Oilers looking at goaltender Justin Peters, and since the Hurricanes have three capable goaltenders that does make a certain amount of sense. The Oilers would be buying high on Peters, his current SP (.929) trumps his NHL career number (.905) by miles and miles. I buy that the Oilers are looking, because there are so many Dubnyk trade rumors around and they’ll likely want an established backup and maybe a goalie good enough to audition for next season’s starting role. It also makes sense that Peters is a free agent at the end of the year, they can bring him in and have a look with an eye to signing him before free agency (they need to sign someone for next season).
Elliotte Friedman mentioned Linus Omark being the next man traded out of Edmonton (well, OKC) on HNIC last night and it makes a ton of sense. The guy is too good for the minor leagues and will be too old when the NHL expands (he’d be a splendid expansion player) so his time is now. If MacT sees any interest, it’s the right thing to move him and it does point out just how much quality and depth exists on the wings for Edmonton.
Jonathan Willis has an interesting item up about David Clarkson and the Oilers. Basic idea being with Toronto shocked by the suspensions and the performance, maybe Clarkson is available? It reminded me of free agency morning, I was preparing for the Lowdown and word came in that Clarkson was an Oiler (which is weird because they signed Gordon, Ference and LaBarbera by about 10:20 so it must have fallen apart very last minute) and I remember writing out my opinion of it. So, since Clarkson’s kind of in the Oilers news again I thought it would be interesting to post what I wrote that morning.
- The Oilers talked about adding size to the top lines and giving their skilled players some help, and they clearly felt Clarkson was the best option. We don’t know the dollars yet but I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Clarkson is the highest paid Oiler today and the term is probably going to be the longest contract on the books. Think Shawn Horcoff with a higher cap hit. The odds of this being a contract the Oilers regret signing is high, but they wanted the guy and they got him. Is this another Souray, another Khabibulin? We don’t know. David Clarkson is 29 years old and coming off a career season, and the Oilers bought high today.
So, I don’t really see anything that’s changed in regard to Clarkson. Why help Toronto with their problem? Clarkson is having a market correction season, it would be foolish to take on a Nonis mistake.
TONIGHT, TONIGHT, TONIGHT
I don’t think they win, but am hoping Anton Belov, Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz play well. I expect those three defenders will be around next season. I wonder how many of this year’s blue never see the NHL again after this season? The Edmonton Oilers 2006-14 have been the last stop for a lot of guys, I bet a few of them could have helped another team but NHL general managers don’t call the #5D from the 29th place team often.