Thursday, August 23, 2007
While commenter Uni referred to me as a wide eyed optimist earlier this week, I would tend to disagree with that estimation. I am a realist but I am a positive guy. When Vic Ferrari at IOF originally linked to me about eighteen months ago he referred to this site as a good place to visit after an Oilers' loss - I generally dwell on the good. Goodgamegoodgamegoodgame. That's the way I am. And last summer I felt that once Lowe added a veteran defenceman (or even two) that the Oilers would be, if not contenders, at least a playoff team that would likely win a round, if not two if things fell their way.
That veteran Dman never came and when Shaggy and Staios and Moreau went down the season went down the toilet. Smyth was traded and the worst year for the Oilers in a decade petered to a sad close.
I'm not a big fan of what Lowe has done this season. I like the Garon move and I liked the Tarnstrom move before they picked up Souray. Then it was, uh, why pick up three left handed Dmen to go with Smid??
I could live with the Pitkanen deal even though it cost us Jason Smith. The Vanek offer sheet was one I could get behind. Penner - well, we'll see. I tend to think it will be fine. I like his makeup. His development over the past two years makes me think the kid will be a player and considering the money getting thrown at kids like Stephen Weiss these days it could work out just great.
I'd like the Souray deal a lot more if Smyth was getting that money or if that five million plus was going to Tarnstrom and say Danny Markov on a two year deal. I think that ends up being a millstone. Conversations with Habs' fans (three so far) have not made me feel very good at all. Phrases like "worst defenceman in the NHL" and "good riddance" tend to make one a little concerned.
Now, having said all of that I think that this team may be greater then the sum of its parts, just like a lot of Oilers' teams in the past. Last summer was a short one. Players barely finished playing and then it was training camp again. After a long wonderful season guys were worn out. I think a lot of them played quite a bit of golf, drank a lot of beer, got laid a lot, made a pile of money and then turned around to see the calendar turn to August. They came to camp satisfied and out of shape.
Reports out of California since much earlier this summer have a whack of Oilers going through their paces under the watchful eye of Chad Moreau. I believe that we are going to see a lot of Oilers with a lean and hungry look come September. And I do believe that a lot of guys are going to make amends for disappointing seasons.
So, here's ten things I believe. Positive stuff and it won't all happen but I think a lot of it will.
1/ The addition of Penner, Souray, Pitkanen and Tarnstrom will make the power play better. It won't be the 27 Yankees but it will be good.
2/ The addition of Pitkanen and Tarnstrom, the continuing maturation of Laddy Smid and the appearance of Tom Gilbert will mean that the forwards will actually get the puck on their tape while they are skating at full speed. A better transition game will mean that this team will spend a lot more time in their opponents' end of the rink (helping hide some holes on the defensive end) and will probably score a lot more goals then last season's meagre output.
3/ Penner will score twenty five to thirty goals. He will be fine.
4/ Losing Smith will hurt but Penner's size, Moreau's health and the addition of Souray will make this team bigger and tougher. One remark that I read from a Hab's fan that made me happy - Souray is as strong as an ox and when he fights he kills guys. I am looking forward to the first time that a guy takes a run at Hemsky and Sheldon smashes his face with much malice. Remember buddy who took a run at Koivu?
5/ Hemsky will finally take that step. There were times last year when it looked like it was going to happen. LT predicted 90 points the other day.
6/ Horcoff will score twenty plus, no longer worried about that contract. Pisani will also. Pencil Stoll and Torres in for the same. Its no vaunt but I think we'll see six guys break twenty this season. Four more then last year.
7/Geoff Sanderson will be a nice addition. His best days are long gone but he can still skate and he can play. He will help.
8/ Two kids will emerge up front to be capable NHL players. I'll keep it simple and say it will be Pouliot and Thoresen.
9/ Another kid will do what Thoresen did last season. Hold his own. Not do a lot offensively but will do okay. It may be Jonas Almtorp. It may be a kid like Cogliano, O'Marra or Brodziak. I'd bet on Almtorp or Brodziak.
10/ Some kid will exceed expectations in a big way. It may be that Smid, Greene or Gilbert makes a leap. It may be Nilsson or Cogliano surprising everyone. It may even be Pouliot or Thoresen taking a bigger step then anyone could even imagine.
Bonus - the goaltending will be a beauty.
There you go - sunshine and Natalie Portman. All is wonderful. :)
Seventh to eleventh is what I'm saying - that's a big spread. A lot of shit is going to have to go right but I have a good feeling about this team.
Posted by Black Dog at 8:09 PM