Monday, March 10, 2008
Just two days ago I posted about next year. My thought was that the Oilers would be looking at Penner/Torres/Moreau on the LW for the first three lines, unless they packaged Pitkanen for a top six winger and bumped Torres down a slot or moved him out entirely.
I am starting to wonder now if the answer might be at hand already.
I haven't really liked Penner's game for most of this year but we have to assume that he is going nowhere and that next fall he will be lining up with Horcoff and Hemsky once again.
Where my thinking has changed is the second line. The kids have taken charge since Horcoff went down. When 10 went down I figured we were in for a nightmare along the lines of last season's freefall. Instead the team is a ridiculous 11 and 4. Now some of those victories have been is large part to our old friends smoke and mirrors but then again there were plenty of games this fall where the Oilers outchanced and outplayed their opposition and every single mistake they made ended up in their net so fuck those guys.
Back to the kids and a couple of not so young guys. Going over the gamesheets of the past month Fernando Pisani's name is popping up all over the place and of course Glencross, Brodziak and Stortini deserve credit for their play. And while Hemsky has been saddled with either Stoll or Reasoner as his pivot he has produced at just under a PPG pace (5G, 7A), this with a bad wrist as well, remember. Since Horcoff went down here are some more nice numbers to look at:
Gagner 3G 13A
Cogliano 6G 7A
Nilsson 3G 8A
Gilbert 2G 7A
Grebeshkov 1G 6A
That's pretty damn good anyway you cut it. I think it was not more then a week ago I figured Gagner and Cogliano might break forty points, a number I would have been ecstatic with at the beginning of the season. Both are at thirty seven now. Nilsson is at thirty three.
So what I am thinking is this - for quite a while now the thought has been that Cogliano might be slotted in as the third line pivot. The Todd Marchant role, as it were, playing between Moreau and Pisani. Now I know the past month is just one month and its a small sample size but before Lowe goes trading Pitkanen for a top six forward or blowing a wad of cash on Michael Ryder or picking up another dumb contract like the injury prone Parrish, why not go with these kids next year as the second line. Why spend a big wad of cash on a guy like Ryder or Parrish who has his flaws anyhow? Why trade a guy like Pitkanen who may drive a lot of people crazy but still, it must be said, has tremendous upside? Why not give these kids a chance to run with it? Give them the easy minutes when you can, see if they can do what they are doing for longer then a month, see if you can squeeze some numbers out of these guys when they are young and cheap.
Cogliano is the key. 15 goals for a rookie is nothing to sneeze at, especially considering that there were a lot of times this year where he wasn't seeing a lot of the ice. If he can score twenty five or thirty then you had better give him the opportunity to do it.
You go this route and then bump Torres to the third line to play with Pisani and whomever you want to slot in as your pivot. I'd say move Stoll but maybe he is your guy. Maybe you throw in a kid like Pouliot and, no I am not kidding, I think he could succeed with those linemates and in that role. It won't happen though. Or maybe you pick up a guy like Conroy or better yet someone younger.
With Penner and Souray's contracts already weighing this club down they can't be throwing money at another maybe like Michael Ryder and they should be moving a guy who is woefully underperforming like Stoll. Let the kids have a whirl and build a beauty shutdown line with Pisani and Torres. Then you have a fourth line with Moreau, Brodziak, Glencross and Stortini, maybe Pouliot.
Yes? No? Take a nap?
Posted by Black Dog at 8:52 PM