Thursday, December 27, 2007

Muddled

Watched the first two Canadian games at the WJCs as the Oilers prepare to begin their post Christmas schedule tonight against the Anaheims.

Stamkos with three assists yesterday and Doughty with an elite play in the third today, a spin away from his man at the redline, carrying the puck into the Slovak zone and then the saucer to Turris for the insurance goal.

Penner has looked quite good lately but things had better look up in the second half. Read the comment thread here - note what Gare Joyce says about Stamkos. And while many commenters have said that the Oilers are loaded with young D so who cares about those next picks after #1, I. for one, prefer not to wonder what might have been if the Oilers had Scott Niedermeyer for the next ten years.

Lowetide has ten questions about what is next for the Oilers. With good health and some breaks this team could edge into the top twenty but if Hemsky and Torres are out for any length of time we could be seeing Burke pick a franchise a player in June. Since June 19th of 2006 the franchise has been a bit of a mess and nothing that I can see convinces me that we're going to have much to cheer for in the next eighteen months or so.

Lowe has many problems, mostly of his own making. Too few veterans and too many kids. The good thing is that it appears that many of the kids will be frontline players but that day is still a ways away. He has a pile of money tied up in Souray who is not a frontliune player, despite the musings of Jim Matheson and Sun Media. They still have a whack of cash tied up in Roli, whose contract for next year makes him pretty hard to move. The guys who might have trade value are guys that they need - either kids for the future or the few veterans that they can rely on now. Here's a start for Lowe:

1/ Sign Pitkanen and Gilbert now. They are playing tough minutes and doing well with it. He cannot let two top four defencemen slip through his fingers, especially two guys who are just kids really. Sign them and you're getting to being set on the blueline for the long run.

2/ Come July get Horcoff signed longterm. They can't allow him to walk the following summer. For once lets see a quality guy (one of the top centres in the league imo) start and finish his career as an Oiler.

3/ Unless he's looking at a quantity for quality that brings in an Ovechkin, Bouwmeester or Hossa (signed longterm btw) don't move any of these kids - Gagner, Cogliano, Chorney, Nash, Petry, Plante, Peckham, Trukhno. Crazy long list? Yes. Herein are guys who have too much potential to give away for a stopgap veteran (the guys in college, junior, Trukhno and Peckham) and the highend guys already in the NHL (Gagner/Cogliano).

4/ Don't move Greene, Brodziak, Thoresen, Smid or either of the goalies unless you're bringing in an NHL player. The first four can all play some role in the NHL now and in an organization short on guys who can do even that, moving them does not make a lot of sense. As for the goalies, with Roli done by the end of next season at the latest Lowe had better have some insurance (no matter how iffy) in the wings.

5/Wait on Stoll. He's having an awful year but a concussion is a terrible thing to recover from. Being off of the PP is going to bring his numbers down anyways but on a team short of NHLers dumping him for a bag of pucks now makes no sense.

6/ Start moving on upgrading your bottom six somehow. Sanderson is done and it may be time for Marty to go too. Moving kids like Jacques or Pouliot, who look to be no longer part of the future, for solid NHLers who can play that bottom six role would help.

7/ Free up cap room for next year if possible in order to add a Dman to play in the top four or someone who can play in the top six forwards, a Huselius type (if not necessarily him), who can play with Gagner. Here the options are limited unless they can move Roli (unlikely), Souray (ideally but won't happen) or one of the vets (only if they can be replaced with an upgrade).

Its a mess. If the lottery were not in play then they could just let things fall as they may but with Stamkos hanging over Lowe's head I think he's a buyer this winter, which means things might get worse.

1 comment:

Pat H said...

If Lowe can buy without giving up the future, then I think I'll be more or less indifferent to his benign endeavor to not be bested by Burke. I fear, however, that you're right, and that 'things might get worse'.

Anyhow, good post. I especially agree with you on Stoll. I think it makes sense to pull a Torres, if possible - use the poor season as leverage for a decent contract. You just know that if we trade him, he'll net around 25 next year and we'll look like idiots.