Thursday, July 31, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Terrific player. Does it all.
It appears that Shawn Horcoff is going to be the first player of note to have a chance to go wire to wire as an Oiler.
He can already claim to be the first prominent Oiler who will not leave town because the team refuses to pay him.
How sweet is that? Does anyone else feel like up is down and black is white? When it became clear that Katz was going to become this team's owner I posted that this meant that in my lifetime the Oilers would no longer be small market, no longer be in danger of moving. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
Your man Shawn Horcoff is not going to UFA next summer. Sweet.
Friday, July 11, 2008
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.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The Oilers have a far more balanced team going into camp then they have in either of the past two summers. Lowetide notes the games played on the back end as a sign of this. There are veterans sprinkled throughout the lineup and of course the kids all have another season under their belt. Lowe has done a fine job. He has upgraded the team and has left plenty of room to take care of free agents next summer - Horcoff, Cole, Garon and Grebeshkov, assuming he decides to sign some or all of them.
I like this team going forward - I think that a playoff spot should be expected. The Oilers have improved and in my estimation every team in the division has taken a step backwards. Lets take a quick look at the Oilers.
Goal - Garon and Roloson - Roloson is the man they would have traded if they had landed Hossa or Jagr, I think, but with the room to keep him now I think that they will do so. Ride Garon as hard as they can to see if he has the goods but keep Roli who can provide decent goaltending on most nights he's in there. Better choice then DesLauriers, at least if they figure to take a shot at the playoffs.
D - Visnovsky, Souray, Staios, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Roy - ideally they would bring a veteran, lets call him Jason Smith, because we all know that this group is going to lose at least one member for an extended period time and odds are someone else will go down as well. Having Smith as injury insurance makes sense. Having Smid as the seventh man does not. Kid needs to play and it looks like he will be in the third pair with a veteran, where he should have been all along. There is talk of waiving Roy but to me having Hrabel or Peckham sitting in the pressbox makes no sense at all. Give them twenty minutes a game plus in Springfield. This is Roy's ceiling and that is fine.
F - Cole, Horcoff, Hemsky, Gagner, Penner, Nilsson, Cogliano, Pisani, Moreau, Brodziak, Pouliot, Stortini, Potulny, Schremp - up front is where I could see a move. Ideally they would bring in Owen Nolan although I am not sure how they convince him to bide his time playing fourth line minutes while he waits for someone to get hurt. Maybe some of that Rexall money?? Anyways, Moreau insurance would not hurt. One more vet would be nice. Marty Gelinas is another guy I like.
I have Potulny on the list because he has to clear waivers, I believe. Shremp is on the bubble once again, mostly because if Cogliano or Penner or Cole is on the Pisani line its likely they get the bump up to a scoring line before Schremp would get the call. Unless MacT can somehow spot him on the fourth line. Maybe its possible?
So, after all of that here is the question of the day. As this team gets better we're going to see a lot more lineups like 2005 - that is, no surprises, no rookies out of the blue.
In 2006 we had Jan Hejda, although with that D it wasn't too much of a surprise that he would get his shot. Certainly nobody expected what he ended up bringing. Yeah, I'm still pissed off about that. I would label him as a surprise though (I remember a lot of folks figured him to be a longshot at best) although not as big as Patrick Thoresen. Kid came out of nowhere, well Norway, and put in a nice year and a half as a fourth line energy guy before he was claimed last season. Poor bugger has my hands.
Last season there were a lot of open spots and a number of surprises as Gilbert passed Smid by and Cogliano, Brodziak and Gagner all stuck. Seems funny now but going into camp it figured that Gagner was on his way back to London, Cogliano and Gilbert to Springfield for seasoning and Brodziak was a guy who had disappeared off the radar the year before.
So with a team that has more experience and plenty of spots already filled is there anyone who might come out of nowhere and grab a spot? I think the backend is pretty well set. Hrabel and Peckham might show better then Roy in camp but sitting them in the pressbox makes no sense.
Up front however there are possibilities. To me Pouliot and Stortini seem like the locks on the fourth line but based on Pouliot's past two camps and the fact that Stortini still strikes me as a marginal player at best (sorry Bruce) I wonder if we might see someone pop up there.
Lots of possibilities but I'm thinking Ryan O'Marra. Big body who can skate and who was humbled last season. I think he might come into camp ready and with a chip on his shoulder. If he catches MacT's attention early he might find himself a spot.
Best if he does because I think next spot there are not going to be a lot of job openings on this team.
Who do you like to surprise?