I learned so much about team building from Whitey Herzog. He was the procurement guy for the New York Mets when they won in 1969 and he was the manager of those wonderful St. Louis Cardinals teams in the 1980’s. Whitey’s greatest gift was in knowing talent was more plentiful than most allowed. Whitey was a counter trey procurement guy. His pitchers didn’t have great fastballs, because everyone was chasing the Juggs gun. His pitchers could paint the corner, never walked anyone and worked fast. His fielders were all stunning glove men, Ozzie Smith would do the impossible routinely at shortstop, Tommy Herr was a fabulous second baseman and Willie McGee covered three quarters of the earth in centerfield. Everyone was chasing the home run, so Whitey loaded up on jackrabbits who could hit for average and drive pitchers crazy on the bases.
In doing all of these things, Whitey turned the talent pool into an ocean, and won the NL pennant three times in the 1980’s. There is more talent than any of us imagines, but a team has to be willing to work with players who lack one or more dimensions and to look in every nook and cranny.
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- New Lowetide: Drake Caggiula might be hearing footsteps as the Oilers look for offence to replace injured Ty Rattie.
- New Lowetide: Kirill Maksimov is tearing up the OHL, three Condors fly high.
- Lowetide: Peter Chiarelli’s race against time.
- Daniel Nugent-Hopkins: Asking McDavid to take on Bergeron line at home shows what Oilers are missing.
- New Daniel Nugent-Hopkins: Remembering Ron Chipperfield’s brief and hellish time as captain of the Edmonton Oilers.
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Q&A: Grant Fuhr talks about his journey, drug use and the state of goaltending.
- Lowetide: Math offers a surprising option for Leon Draisaitl’s struggling No. 2 line
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Patience preached as Jesse Puljujarvi attempts to carve out his spot in the Oilers lineup.
- Lowetide: Panic storm on the horizon as Oilers remain a one-man show
Edmonton’s farm team has provided the club with solid recall options over the years, but in recent times defensemen (Oscar Klefbom, Jeff Petry) and goalies (Devan Dubnyk) have been a higher calibre than the forwards. That may be about to change. So far this year, Kevin Gravel and (yesterday) Cooper Marody made the flight from Bakersfield and each man identifies the two unique elements of a farm recall. Gravel is a defenseman with NHL experience who can plug in and (hopefully) contribute right away. Marody is a young player getting his first NHL cup of coffee, it’s unlikely he’ll play a huge role for the Oilers this season—but his outer marker impact is greater and he may have a longer career with the team than Gravel. Here’s a one season snapshot from a dozen years ago, which gives us examples of Gravel-types and Marody comps:
The 2005-06 recalls
- October 15, recalled C Kyle Brodziak (10 games no points)
- November 4, recalled D Danny Syvret (10 games no points)
- November 4, recalled D Dan Smith (7 games, no points)
- November 5, recalled G Ty Conklin (18, 2.80, .880 spring Armageddon)
- December 7, recalled Matt Greene (27 games, two points, plus 18 playoff games)
- December 20, recalled L Brad Winchester (12, 0-1-1, big playoff goal)
- January 31, recalled J-F Jacques (7 games, and no points)
- February 11, recalled Mathieu Roy (1 game, no points)
- February 28, recalled Yan Stastny (3 games, no points)
- March 13, recalled Marc Pouliot (8 games, a goal, mono)
- May 21, recalled Toby Petersen (2 games, one goal, in playoffs)
This is a really good season to review, because it’s so painful to look back I can barely breathe. If a group of names from 12 years ago is able to make a grown man feel like there’s a refrigerator on his chest, this list does it. Ty Conklin? Come on! Anyway, the “veteran option who can help” group are Petersen, Conklin and Dan Smith. The prospect options are pretty much everyone else. Brodziak and Greene had the best careers but it wasn’t obvious at the time.
The Oilers acquired Cooper Marody from the Philadelphia Flyers at the deadline. Edmonton had Patrick Maroon to trade, the New Jersey Devils wanted him but Peter Chiarelli wanted a prospect over a pick. The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t or wouldn’t sign college man Cooper Marody, who had emerged with a strong offensive season as a junior at Michigan.
We don’t know if Marody is going to be an NHL player (he is 8gp, 3-6-9 in Bakersfield this season and a portion of last year) but at 21 he’s going to get a chance. I’ve seen him enough to suggest he is highly skilled but speed may be an issue. I’m hopeful they plug him in.
MONEYBALL AND RUSSIA
It’s evident the CHL and USHL are over scouted for the draft, the only way to get a steal is something unpredictable (a player grows a foot after being drafted, etc). College is also well covered and I do think Sweden, Finland and most other Euro countries get covered well.
Russia. That’s the location of great value on later picks, and we know the reason (KHL). The Oilers spent a lot of valuable draft picks on Russian players earlier in the decade (Nail Yakupov obviously the most notable) but have morphed into a team that drafts Russians who come over to play in the CHL. I think that’s a fine compromise, but it’s also true players like Maxim Mamin and Ondrej Kase (technically Czech) are available for an astute judge of talent.
I’m convinced the Oilers are drafting well each summer, but am uncertain about Europe now, today. The passing of Vaclav Burda last summer left the team in shock and (one imagines) without a replacement. I do notice that Matti Virmanen is now listed as an amateur scout and (along with Pelle Eklund) perhaps that’s the workaround. Edmonton needs to be aggressive in Europe, with Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and other countries representing strong hockey pools.
OILERS ROSTER MAKEUP
A cool story by Sam McCaig in The Hockey News today, breaking down percentages of rosters during the first week of the season by draft round. Here are his numbers with Edmonton’s totals in brackets:
- First round: 40.5 (50)
- Second round: 16.6 (18.1)
- Third round: 8.4 (9.1)
- Fourth round: 6.8 (4.5)
- Fifth round: 6.5 (0.0)
- Sixth round: 5.6 (4.5)
- Seventh round: 2.6 (4.5)
Oilers also have a few undrafted (Cam Talbot, Drake Caggiula, Jason Garrison) players, but the overall numbers are a reasonable match for the average. Edmonton has almost 70 percent of its roster made up of first and second rounders, whereas the average is edging toward 60 percent. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, although you’d like to see more from the later rounds. Ironically, two players drafted by Edmonton (Tobias Rieder and Kyle Brodziak) are back on the roster and fill two of the spots after the third round.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we kickstart a big week of sports. Scheduled to appear:
- Andy McNamara, TSN4Downs. We’ll chat NFL weekend, and heartbreak for both of us!
- Ryan Holt, Bakersfield Condors PBP. Marody recall, Bear injury, plenty to discuss about the Condors.
- Jason Gregor, TSN1260. Eskimos are under the gun, Oilers off to a good start.
10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!