Friday, July 11, 2008

Answering Colin Hay's Question

With the signing of Jason Strudwick it appears that Lowe's work may be done. Colin Hay's question has been answered for Oiler fans.

And good work it has been for Lowe, who slowly is getting this team back on its feet. He avoided the ridiculous Souray type signings, upgraded by bringing in Visnovsky and Cole, filled a hole cheaply by bringing in Strudwick, brought in a couple of more kids to fight for those bottom six roles, eliminated a couple of overpays in the bottom six and left spots for kids to develop further.

Lowetide often talks about balance and this team has it everywhere.

In net Garon will get his shot as a starter but they still have a veteran fall back just in case.

On the back end for the first time in three years they have three pairs that have balance. There may not be a shutdown pair, per se, but there is not a pair that is going to get eaten alive by the bottom six on another team either. Gilbert and Grebeshkov will have their struggles against Iginla but if they have a nice trio up front with them in those matchups they should hold their own for the most part. Adding Strudwick as the seventh man is a perfect fit. Maybe Roy stays as the eighth, maybe not, but now there is no need to throw Peckham, Chorney or Hrabel to the wolves.

Up front there are some nice options and the makings of two lines that can take on tough minutes while the kids take the soft. LW, an area of concern since Smyth's departure, has been beefed up. It also looks like the third line centre spot will be up for grabs. A few candidates. Cogliano, Pouliot, Brodziak, maybe Brule as a longshot.

And it looks like a bunch of nice young players plus Moreau for the fourth line.

Not too bad. Certainly a far cry from what we were looking at the past two summers. Injuries can always scuttle a season and maybe the kids take a collective step back but even looking at this team objectively I would think that they can compete for the division title.

10 comments:

Oilman said...

Injuries can always scuttle a season and maybe the kids take a collective step back but even looking at this team objectively I would think that they can compete for the division title

You might be right. As much as the Oilers look like a team that can take a step forward, the Flames, Nucks, Avs, and Wild are all lining up to take a step back. We've also got some nice injury replacements on the farm this year that have the potential to play well in short relief type situations.

Black Dog said...

Yeah oilman, I agree. The Wild however are always there. They are like New Jersey and Nashville - always in the mix no matter the changes. I think it was two seasons ago almost their entire D left, replaced mostly by kids and nobodies.

And they just carried on.

Having said that I would say that every team in the division except the Oilers have stepped back. The Flames are hurting up front and on the back end, imo. The Canucks lack up front. And the Avs have lost some important guys. If Sakic retires they are really in deep.

Jonathan said...

And it looks like a bunch of nice young players plus Moreau for the fourth line.

Poor Ethan. No respect.

Black Dog said...

Ah, I like him a lot Jonathan but he can't be relied on to stay healthy and whose spot is he going to take - Cole? Cogliano? Penner?

Its the 4th line and lots of work on the PK. Bump him up the ladder when protecting a lead in the third.

mike w said...

Independently, I've been singing "Who can it be nowwww" all week at work.

Because I'm that guy at the office.

Three points out of the playoffs last year, although it should have been 10-15. Has this team improved enough to make the cut? I'm not sure yet. Horcoff, Garon, Souray and Penner are key hinge players for a good season.

Black Dog said...

I'm a glass half full guy Mike so I'm going to say yeah they have.

I miss the 80s and early 90s.

Where's my flannel shirt?

PDO said...

Definitely a playoff team. Depth everywhere, we know what to expect from a lot of guys... I mean, we've been entering seasons with questions like "Conklin?" (which was a fair bet imo), "Laddy Smid a #4? REALLY?" and "Penner and WHO on LW?" and now the biggest question we have is if either of Brodziak or Pouliot can step into a that 3 slot down the middle and hang on with quality wingers (Pisani and either Cole or Penner, in all likelihood).

What would be REALLY interesting... is if Hrabal comes over the pond and can play. If he's Jan Hejda 2.0, this team has a ridiculous amount of options moving forward.

Word out of Ottawa is that Vermette wants out. Does Laddy Smid and Marc Pouliot snag you Vermette? And how good would Vermette look on that 3rd line with Penner and Pisani?

Black Dog said...

pdo - agreed on Conklin/Markannen - I believe Jonathan has a nice post up about that

And for that matter the last two summers compared to right now. Smid/Staios were pair #2 two years ago - now they are #3, imo.

I think that Hrabel or Peckham gets their shot when the inevitable injuries happen and that Souray goes next summer if one or both can play.

I would say Smid plus Pouliot would definitely bring you Vermette and that he would be a beauty fit.

Funny story - when Pronger was on the block I suggested he and Torres or Moreau for Phillips, Fisher and Vermette and I remember one commenter (can't remember who now) saying how that was a terrible trade, could you imagine that package and the difference it would have made.

Oh well.

Jonathan said...

Funny story - when Pronger was on the block I suggested he and Torres or Moreau for Phillips, Fisher and Vermette and I remember one commenter (can't remember who now) saying how that was a terrible trade, could you imagine that package and the difference it would have made.

Yeah, I really felt that a player like Phillips or Kaberle had to be the return; the fact that Lowe never addressed the back-end in 2006-07 is really one of the biggest blackmarks on his record (although he went overboard the other way last summer).

On the other hand, we're past the rough patch and to the point where the primary assets from the Pronger trade (Smid, Lupul-Pitkanen-Cole) are useful and the big futures (Eberle and Nash) should be useful as (and if) this team transforms into a contender.

jd said...

I'm really looking forward to Grebby letting loose a little and laying some dudes out in the open ice as he did as a younger player. Ala Kronwall. Looked like throughout the beginning of the year he was making moves to hit guys but he lacked serious timing. MacT reeled him in and the rest is history I'm hoping that his timing has improved for this season and he makes contact.