Thursday, July 28, 2011

Getting There, Drafting 2001-2007


Alright so we have looked at fourteen teams so far - now we are at 'the average' or at least the median line.

Not like this exercise needs a lot of explanation but here it is again. I'm listing the draft picks of all NHL clubs between 2001 and 2007 to see where Kevin Prendergast's work ranks. Lowetide opined that it was average or perhaps even a hair above average. My reaction to that was that if Kyle Brodziak was the fifth best player you drafted during that period then I couldn't see it.

I've excluded lottery picks because KP never had that luxury.

And this is a snapshot. A year from now if Cogliano and Gagner have scored 25 goals, if Petry or Peckham has established themselves as top four D or Dubnyk has clearly become a number one goalie or Omark has blossomed then they're going to move up. If all of these guys or the majority of them become players then KP will look much better. Remember though that all clubs still have kids on their way so they could potentially drop as well.

And of course these rankings are entirely subjective. I look at what I have done so far and I can see where teams may be moved around already. I'm pretty sure that nobody I have listed so far would rank beneath the Oilers though.

Here is the Oilers' list again:


2001 - Hemsky (13), Markannen (133), Pisa (272)
2002 - Deslauriers (31), Stoll (36), Greene (44)
2003 - Pouliot (22), Jacques (68), Stortini (94), Brodziak (214), Roy (215)
2004 - Dubnyk, Schremp (25), Reddox (112)
2005 - Cogliano (25), Chorney (36)
2006 - Petry (45), Peckham (75)
2007 - Gagner (6), Omark (97)

Now on to number 15. Its getting tighter now.

Colorado

2001 - Budaj (63), McCormack (144), Svatos (227)
2002 - Boychuk (61), Gilbert (129)
2003 - Richardson (163), D. Jones (286)
2004 - Wolski (21), Oreskovich (55), Yip (239)
2005 - Stastny (44), Hensick (88), Comiskey (222)
2006 - Stewart (18)
2007 - Shattenkirk (14), Galardi (55)

You might rank the Avs higher for sure. This is a club that always seems to have drafted well. Here you have Stastny who you might compare to Hemsky but while the Oilers drafted Greene, here you have two established NHL defencemen in Gilbert and Boychuk plus a slew of youngsters just establishing themselves and Svatos and Wolski plus emerging power forward Chris Stewart and David Jones who scored 27 goals last season and a slew of Brodziak types and agitators/foot soldiers. No contest.

St. Louis

2001 - McClement (57), Cajanek (253)
2002 - King (190)
2003 - Belle (30), Backes (62), Stempniak (148), Bolduc (127)
2004 - Polak (180)
2005 - Oshie (24), Bishop (85)
2006 - Berglund (25)
2007 - Eller (13), Perron (26)

Not a bad group, the Oilers are close to these guys and could surpass them but at this point St. Louis has the edge with guys like Backes and Perron as well as quality NHLers like Stempniak, McClement and Berglund. Still some possible upside here too with guys like Eller, Oshie and Bishop. Not an amazing group but solid.


Minnesota

2001 - Koivu (6), Wanvig (36), Veilleux (93), Boogard (202)
2002 - Bouchard (8), Harding (38)
2003 Burns (20), O'Sullivan (56)
2004 - Ryan Jones (111)
2005 -
2006 - Sheppard (9), Clutterbuck (72)
2007 -

This group could be a whole lot stronger if it were not for injury issues plus the headfuckery that is POS. It still ranks better than the Oilers although its a group they could pass. But you have two sublime players in Koivu and Burns and Clutterbuck, Sheppard and Bouchard all bring something to the table. And Harding could be a number one guy as well. Shallow but better than the KP group for now.

Pittsburgh

2001 - Armstrong (21)
2002 - Christensen (69), Talbot (234)
2003 - Stone (32), Carcilo (73), Bissonette (121), Moulson (263)
2004 - Goligoski (61), Kennedy (99)
2005 - Letang (62)
2006 -
2007 - Caputi (111), Jeffrey (171)

The Pens have a lot of famous players here because they are a famous team but also you have guys like Armstrong and Carcilo and Bissonette who are all well known for various reasons. This is a group that the Oilers' group may pass fairly easily. Some good players here who helped augment all of those lottery picks - Kennedy and Talbot come to mind - but this is a very close call. What tips it for me is that you have Letang who is just a fantastic talent, Moulson who is a late bloomer who can score a lot of goals and in Goligoski you have a guy who looks to be a legitimate power play QB. Throw in Armstrong and Kennedy and Talbot and this group edges out the Oilers' kids but not by much and I would bet that in a year or two the Oilers pass these guys by the side of the road.

Toronto

2001 - Colaiacovo (17), Pilar (39), Wellwood (134), Bell (65), Harrison (82)
2002 - Steen (24), Stajan (57), White (191), Kronwall (285)
2003 - Mitchell (158)
2004 -
2005 - Rask (21), Stralman (216)
2006 - Kulemin (44), Reimer (161)
2007 - Gunnarson (194)

This is a group that many will likely disagree with, first of all because they are the Leafs (!) and secondly because its pretty damn close and I will concede that you could argue for the Oilers over this list. Like Edmonton you have a lot of guys who have had careers on the fringes and there is no Hemsky here but ... but you have Kulemin who imo is one of the underrated guys in the league (how that happens in Toronto is beyond me), a quality starter in Rask (sure he lost his job to Thomas but he can play) and pretty good players in Steen, Colaiacovo and White. Not too mention Stajan was decent before he went off the rails.

Arguable? Sure it is and this is a group the Edmonton kids could pass easily although in the two goalies and Gunnarson there is some potential as well. But at this point I take Rask, Reimer, White, Gunnarson, Colaiacovo, Steen and Kulemin over the Oilers' lot. Probably not for long but right now, deep breath, yes.

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So that's 19 and I'm sure some folks will disagree with the Leafs and Pens. I believe in the Oiler kids and think they pass a few of these teams but right now this is where I have them. Twenty. Second division, right at the bottom of the middle third.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Drafts 2001-2007 Post #2


So, the Prendergast era. Good, bad, how does it compare to how other clubs drafted in the same time period if we put them on equal footing, that is we don't include lottery picks.

As mentioned previously the Oilers are still on the clock with this one and if any number of their kids develop then they might jump up the list. Of course other clubs are in the same situation.

Alright so here's the next grouping. Nine clubs, all quite clear of the Oilers, any way that you look at it, imo.

Nashville

2001 - Hamhuis (12), Tootoo (98)
2002 - Upshall (6)
2003 - Suter (7), Klein (37), Weber (49), Sulzer (92)
2004 - Radulov (15), Rinne (258)
2005 - Franson (79), O'Reilly (150), Hornqvist (230)
2006 - Geoffrion
2007 - Blum (23), Spaling (58)

Nashville would die if it could not draft well and look at this list. Three top pairing Dmen, a fantastic goaltender and a couple of snipers as well as some quality depth and a couple of kids who may really turn into something.

Buffalo

2001 - Novotny (22), Roy (32), Pominville (55)
2002 - Ballard (11), Paille (20), Wideman (241)
2003 - MacArthur (74), Hejda (106)
2004 - Stafford (13), Sekera (71), Kaleta (176)
2005 - Gragnani (87), Butler (96), Gerbe (142)
2006 - Enroth (46), Weber (57)
2007 -

Another club known for its drafting. You might argue for a few others over Les Sabres but we're looking at a whole lot of quality NHL players in this list with more likely to come, one would bet. Not the top end quality of a few teams I have ranked below them but some very good players here.

Washington

2001 - Paetsch (58), Oduya (221)
2002 - Eminger (12), Semin (13), Gordon (17)
2003 - Fehr (18)
2004 - Schultz (27), Green (29), Lepisto (66)
2005 - Tim Kennedy
2006 - Varlamov (23), Neuvirth (34), Perreault (177)
2007 -

Really we're in an area where you could move teams around and I probably would not argue too much. With the Caps you have Semin and Green on this list plus a couple of goalies who look to be starters.

Los Angeles

2001 - Steckel (30), Cammalleri (49), Huet (214)
2002 - Grebeskov (18), Rome (104)
2003 - Brown (13), Boyle (26), Tambellini (27)
2004 -
2005 - Kopitar (11), Quick (72)
2006 - Bernier (11), Lewis (17)
2007 - Moller (52), Simmonds (61)

If Quick or Bernier or both develop then the Kings will rise. Three top notch forwards here plus a goalie who had a number of good years in Huet. Plus some useful guys in Simmonds and Steckel. Quite good.

New York Rangers

2001 - Blackburn (10), Tyutin (40), Murray (79), Zidlicky (176), Hollweg (238)
2002 - Prucha (240)
2003 - Dawes (149)
2004 - Korpikoski (19), Dubinsky (60), Callahan (127)
2005 - Staal (12), Sauer (40), Pyatt (107)
2006 - Anisimov (54)
2007 -

The Rangers have the rap of being lousy at drafting but this is a nice looking list and down the road it may look even better. Staal, Dubinsky and Callahan are three guys I would trade pretty well anybody on the Oilers for, Anisimov may be a player and there is other quality here as well.

That's ten clubs. No doubt that all are better than the Oilers. Other than Hemsky I don't think an Oiler would even rank in the top five of any of these clubs. Maybe Stoll might sneak in on one or two of them.

Boston

2001 - Morrison (19), Alberts (179), Jurcina (241)
2002 - Toivenen
2003 - Stuart (21), Bergeron (45), Thompson (183)
2004 - Krejci (63), Versteeg (134), Hunwick (224)
2005 - Lashoff, Sobotka
2006 - Lucic (50), Marchand (71)
2007 -

Boston with a lot of guys who have established themselves as NHLers albeit bottom pairing or fourth line guys. Also Versteeg, a nice complimentary player on Chicago's run, one of the best two way centres in the game in Bergeron, a top notch offensvie centre in Krejci and two youngsters in Lucic and Marchand who were big parts of Boston's success this past season, especially the latter who may have been Boston's best player in the final.

A lot of folks said Boston's win proved you don't have to draft well to win. Well there's some big pieces of the puzzle here folks.

Detroit

2001 -
2002 - Hudler (58), Fleischman (63), Filppula (95), Meech (229), Ericsson (291)
2003 - Howard (64), Quincey (132)
2004 - Franzen (97)
2005 - Abdelkader (42), Helm (132)
2006 -
2007 -

The Wings have built their team through the draft and for two decades now they have been finding quality in the lower rounds. They have to, seeing as they have been a Cup contender for twenty years, with four Cups and two more trips to the Finals under their belt in that time period. They are not what they once were and when Lidstrom goes one thinks maybe they will fall off - there are three years here where not a player has arrived. Five NHLers from 2002 and five more from the following three though? And Franzen at number 97? I'd take it.

Dallas

2001 - Smith (161), Jokinen (192)
2002 - Stephan (34), Daley (43)
2003 - Eriksson (33), Crombeen (54)
2004 - Fistric (28), Sawada (52), Grossman (56)
2005 - Niskanen (28), Neal (33)
2006 -
2007 - Benn (129)

Down the road this one may rise a bit, especially if Neal and Benn turn out as expected. A lot of good solid NHLers.

Anaheim

2001 - Gerber (232)
2002 - Lupul (7), Brent (37)
2003 - Getzlaf (19), Perry (28), D. Miller (186), O'Brien (250)
2004 - Smid (9)

Really top heavy and nothing after 2004 so far but Getzlaf and Perry alone blow away the Oilers. Good thing really because there's little after that but that's all you really need, they can build the team around these two for a decade.

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That's fourteen clubs down and no Oilers yet. Getting closer though.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Drafting 2001-2007


God bless LT who has been posting like a madman, as always, right through the dog days of summer. Meanwhile I am posting barely once a week. Oh well what can I say? Slacker. ;)

LT had a post up today about Kevin Pendergrast and his drafting record. What interested me was LT's assertion that Pendergrast's record was average or a hair above average.

This struck me as generous. LT's top five from this time period included Kyle Brodziak, a player I like, but if he is number five then I think you have a problem. And of course the Oilers do. They are shitty and have been for years. Some of this is because management puts together poor clubs and part of this is because of poor development but a lot of it has to do with poor drafting.

So here is what I did. I looked at every club between 2001 and 2007. I ignored all top five picks - Pendergrast had only one top ten pick, Gagner, who was number six in 2007.

This is a snapshot mind you. Pendergrast could look much better in a few years because there are still many players whose careers are just getting started. Of course this is true for every club so he may actually fall further down the list.

What I've done is listed guys who have spent some significant time in the NHL. A guy like Liam Reddox makes the list, Alex Plante does not. I'm sure I have missed some tweeners for some clubs. I'm not sure who the Panthers' equivalent of Liam Reddox is. Really though for this exercise its not very important.

I'm going to break this up over a number of posts just to make it easier to look at. I hope you find it interesting - unfortunately as an Oilers' fan its disheartening.

I'll start with the Oilers and then the top five clubs, imo.

Oilers

2001 - Hemsky (13), Markannen (133), Pisa (272)
2002 - Deslauriers (31), Stoll (36), Greene (44)
2003 - Pouliot (22), Jacques (68), Stortini (94), Brodziak (214), Roy (215)
2004 - Dubnyk, Schremp (25), Reddox (112)
2005 - Cogliano (25), Chorney (36)
2006 - Petry (45), Peckham (75)
2007 - Gagner (6), Omark (97)

The Oilers had a ton of quantity. Plante and Nash could still be players too. The quality, however, is seriously lacking. Its a long list of tweeners and a few of these guys are out of the NHL or on the bubble. Hemsky was a home run obviously and Stoll, Greene, Brodziak and Gagner are established NHL players. Pendergrast's legacy could change, a lot, if Gagner blossoms, if Cogliano becomes a player and if Dubnyk, Petry, Peckham and Omark all establish themselves as quality. But until then his work is clearly second division. Don't believe me? Read on. Here are my top five:

Chicago

2001 - Ruutu (9), Craig Anderson (73)
2002 - Babchuk (21), Keith (54), Wisniewski (156), Burish (282)
2003 - Seabrook (14), Crawford (52), Byfuglien (245)
2004 - Bolland (32), Bickell (41), Dowell (140)
2005 - Skille (7), Hjarlamasson (108)

Nobody out of 2006 or 2007 yet except those lottery picks so you might nick them for those but this list is fantastic in terms of quality and quanity. In five years the Hawks drafted two quality NHL starting goaltenders, three quarters of their top four D as well as another top four Dman and Babchuk and three top six forwards (I include Byfuglien as a forward here), a promising guy in Bickell and a few tweeners.

Philadelphia

2001 - Woyitka (27), Sharp (95), Seidenberg (172), Timonen (146)
2002 -
2003 - Carter (11), Richards (24), Fraser (69), Picard (85), Potulny (87)
2004 -
2005 - Downie (29), Bartulis (91)
2006 - Giroux (22), Nodl (39)
2007 -

Flyers are a funny team. Its either home runs or complete misses with very little in between. The top six here is probably the best out there - Carter, Richards, Sharp, Seidenberg, Downie, Giroux - plus there are some decent tweeners but no goaltending and a lot of zeroes on the board. You might rank them lower but the core they drafted here is fantastic.

Montreal

2001 - Komisarek (7), Plekanec (71)
2002 - Higgins (14)
2003 - Kostitsyn (10), LaPierre (61), O'Byrne (79), Halak (271)
2004 - Grabovski (150), Streit (262)
2005 - Latendresse (45), D'Agostini (190), Kostitsyn (200)
2006 - White (66)
2007 - Pacioretty (22), Subban (43), Weber (73)

Really terrific and could really be ranked higher even now. There is no Keith or Richards on the list is why I have them a little lower. A half dozen top nine forwards at least plus a starting goalie and some quality defencemen.

San Jose

2001 - Goc (20), Ehrhoff (106), Clowe (175)
2002 - Newbury (139)
2003 - Michalek (6), Bernier (16), Carle (47), Pavelski (205)
2004 - Greiss (94), Mitchell (126)
2005 - Setoguchi (8), Vlasic (35)
2006 - McGinn (36)
2007 - Couture (9)

This could be number one as well and may be when all is said and done. Helped out by the fact that there are three top tens of course but nine of these guys are second rounders or lower and Pavelski, Clowe, Mitchell and Ehrhoff are all triple digit draftees. Crazy.

Vancouver

2001 - Umberger (16), Bieksa (151)
2002 -
2003 - Kesler (23)
2004 - Schneider (26), Edler (91), Hansen (287)
2005 - Bourdon (10), Raymond (51)
2006 - Grabner (14)
2007 -

Similar to Philly, its big fly or nothing. The quality here can't be ignored though. If Schneider is as good as he looks we're talking about eight quality NHLers plus poor Luc Bourdon.

That's for starters. More to come.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summertime


For northern people summers are special. As a boy I spent hot summer days by lakes in remote spruce and pine forests. As a young man my summers were spent in my hometown, days working outdoors, weekends and nights spent getting into mischief with a band of the finest brothers, drinking cold beer, chasing tail, riding the wave of being young and strong and perverted, as that beautiful woman once sang, accompanied by the roar of laughter. Then years wandering the streets of Toronto, dusty and poor, baking in the endless oppressive heat, stringing meager dollars together for the next night out with friends. And then a summer in PEI, a return to the glory days of my youth the year I turned thirty, a summer spent on the harbour and rivers and ocean, endless nights of drinking, the beach and Peake's Quay and a long legged girl with flashing green eyes and a tiny black puppy with white paws and a seven emblazoned on his narrow chest. The most glorious summer in a lifetime of them.

We lived in Florida where summer has no meaning and then we returned to the good country and set up shop here in Toronto. Our summers have been fine ones and since our return there has been a rhythm to them. The trip north, the trip east. Summer sports and weekends spent enjoying everything this town has to offer. Nights out on patios and a million festivals, ravines and islands and beaches. Cold bottles of beer sweating, bottles of wine, hot nights rolling in the sheets.

Last summer began with a death and what in many ways was a typically wonderful year for us had a pall over it. Old Ben passed the Friday before the May long weekend and my mom was ill with a mystery that began in the spring and progressively worsened until she was hospitalized in August. The fear hung over us even as we enjoyed what summer offered and when autumn brought three deaths in succession it punctuated a year of discontent.

Such is life as we age. It was two summers ago as we prepared for what would be a legendary night out that our discussions turned to this fact - our parents and their generation are getting older (as we all are) and so annually sad news arrives. Sometimes it strikes close to home, other times its a distant bell.

There is not a thing that can be done but to enjoy what we have and so this summer has begun and it has the makings of another legendary one. The cold wet spring has given way to endless days of sunshine. This week will mark our tenth anniversary and since our trip to the Dominican the year has had a festive feel. We have had the usual milestones (the boy can now ride a bike and last week went tubing for the first time). There is the preparation as Jenn works towards what will be her second half marathon. There was the U2 concert last week, which left us gasping for breath, and a trip to the Kawarthas and the usual trips to Gerrard for Indian and the beach for sunshine and just last Friday a wonderful night out on the back patio at the Cloak and Dagger, pints of Boneshaker IPA and into the warm night all boozy and buzzing and the rush home to sit on the back deck and then upstairs for some fun until the wee hours and here we are all of these years later and its probably never been better. And that is something to celebrate.

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Once the free agent rush ends my thoughts tend to turn from the Oilers for a while. Threads tend to turn ugly and repetitive. There are only so many lineups to post, So many trade rumours to discuss before folks tend to turn to begin to argue about the arena, team management, Sam Gagner, Tom Gilbert and so on. The only way out of the mess is if you get traded and that's not really true. Folks argued about Ryan Smyth from the day he was traded to the day he returned.

Fan isn't derived from fanatic for nothing.

As usual there are the usual management blue skiers who say that THIS IS THE YEAR and ANY NEGATIVISM WILL HURT THE TEAM and MANAGEMENT IS NOT AT FAULT FOR ANYTHING and btw GIVE KATZ EVERYTHING HE WANTS BEFORE THE OILERS LEAVE TOWN and I guess sooner or later these guys will be right and the Oilers will return to the playoffs but its not going to be this year unless the stars align. I'm one of the most positive guys you will ever meet (that is how Vic Ferrari introduced me to the huddled masses over five years ago) but I am a realist too. The club has been terrible for five seasons now and nobody but management deserves the blame for that. Is there hope for the future? Sure there is. There are some terrific young players with the big club now and a lot of nice prospects on the way but these past few summers we have seen Schremp and Cogliano and Pouliot and Deslauriers and Jacques and O'Sullivan all fail to meet expectations and get sent down the road and for many of these former bright lights the dance is almost over. Young players don't develop in straight lines and sometimes they never develop at all. And then you're Atlanta or Florida or the Islanders and you suck forever.

I think the Oilers will likely be in the lottery next year if they are done with their moves. Too many issues from the blueline on back. Now having said that nothing is a sure thing. Nobody saw the Devils in the lottery last summer and two years ago nobody saw the Avs in the playoffs. Teams will collapse and the Oilers may rise above those clubs and because its sport and luck plays a role you never ever know what can happen. But for the Oilers to be a competitive club this season, for them to make the leap they will need, well, everything to go right.

They will need Dubnyk to become a very good goaltender or for Khabibulin to turn back the clock.

They will need Sutton to turn the clock back two years and for two or more of Petry, Peckham and Smid to take a big leap forward. Gagner too.

They will need Whitney and Horcoff and Hemsky to stay healthy. And pretty well anyone else of value.

They will have to fix the special teams especially the PK because they will likely be in the box a lot.

They need Hall and Eberle and Omark and Paajarvi to improve on their nice starts to their careers. No going sideways. No backsliding. Improvement across the board.

They will need a couple of other kids to step up. Maybe Lander.

They will need some luck on top of all that.

Is it possible? Of course. Anything is. Its unlikely, very unlikely really, but its possible.

I actually like the summer Tambo had. Sure Smyth fell into his lap but who cares. He added two quality top nine forwards for very little. Eager is a huge upgrade on JFJ (of course even I would be a slight upgrade there) and he gives the team that dick factor as well. So do Sutton and Hordichuk. Will that make a big difference? Maybe not but I think this club could use a bit of viciousness to it. They haven't been tough to play against since 2006.

They subtracted some shit and that's no big deal, I'd feel better if they recognized that JFJ and Deslauriers couldn't hack it before but oh well.

So ... that's my thoughts. I think the team is better. I think they need two more top four D and a number one goaltender before they are going anywhere and maybe those pieces are just waiting to emerge. Overall though I think they are staying on course which does not surprise me. They are incrementally better and if they stay healthy they will probably win quite a few more games if the goaltending holds up. Another top ten pick next summer and then Tambo will be on the clock methinks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going, Going, Gone


I'm still here. still alive and kicking as it were. Summer has arrived in all of its glory and the result has been less time spent in front of the laptop and worrying about the Oilers (well, perhaps worry is too strong a word) and more time spent on the deck, at the cottage and doing things more suited for sunny days.

So I've been putting off posting what I think about the Oilers going into next summer (just a slight tease - I see their season ending up with something rhyming with 'boughtatree' or similar anyhow) but I will get to that in the next day or two. But first a few words about the suddenly departed Andrew Cogliano, traded to the Ducks for a second round pick. So he joins Jacques and Deslauriers and I wonder if Lubo is going to walk into the room this fall and say in his little Slovakian accent 'Trade me right fucking now!' when he sees that Bob Murray has collected three guys who barely have a clue between them.

I kid, slightly. While Jacques is a truly horrible player at the NHL level and Deslauriers is a poor goaltender, imo, (although to be fair to JDD the Oilers handled his development terribly - he could probably sue them for ruining his career), Cogliano is not absolutely worthless. He is a pretty good representative of what has gone wrong with the Edmonton Oilers over the past few years though.

Cogliano was picked late in the first round. He had a nice pedigree, Bob MacKenzie raved about him although he was biased (I think his kid played with Cogliano). The biggest thing about him was his speed. Todd Marchant with hands was the description bandied about. He played in the WJC and acquitted himself fairly well and was pretty good at Michigan.

God knows I've ranted enough about how the Oilers dumped good NHL players over the years, Cogliano, along with Gagner and Nilsson, arrived in the middle of that purge. In their Cup run the Oilers had the following forwards who could play the toughs or do some damage against the softs at evens or do damage on special teams: Smyth, Horcoff, Samsonov, Stoll, Hemsky, Torres, Peca, Pisani, Moreau, Dvorak.

Samsonov Peca and Dvorak were gone come fall 2006, Petr Sykora and Joffrey Lupul were their replacements, the falloff was immense, the results predictable and a year later when Cogliano came to camp Ryan Smyth was gone as well as those two.

So for Cogliano, Gagner and Nilsson (as well as Stortini and Brodziak iirc, although not for poor Robbie Schremp) it was the perfect situation. There were only six quality NHLers remaining plus Dustin Penner and Patrick Thoresen so the holes in the lineup were many and in what has become the new Oilers' way instead of bringing in some veterans to hold the fort while the kids learned their trade elsewhere, the youngsters were thrown to the wolves.

They struggled as would be expected and Nilsson was benched a number of times until it looked like his career was over and then it appears he realized it and for a couple of months the three kids played together, caught some magic in a bottle and became the toast of the town.

That would be the high water mark for the kids. Oilers' management, addled as always, responded as if they were the second coming of Gretzky, Messier and Kurri. They shipped out Stoll and Torres and Greene (Thoresen was already gone), they brought in Cole and Visnovsky and they preceded to stink. Again.

It wasn't long before Nilsson was back in the pressbox and for two years he confounded the Oilers until they cut him loose along with Patrick O'Sullivan.

As for Cogliano, well a goodly part of the blame belongs with him. The kid had try and he could skate and he wasn't afraid to go to the crease to score those dirty goals but when it came to hockey he wasn't all that good. He couldn't win draws and he was always on the wrong side of his check and he had no idea how to use that blazing speed.

Is it all his fault? Of course not. The Oilers rushed him first of all and then, as LT remarked (paraphrasing), he had three rookie years in the league. They had him over his head, they had him as a checker, they had him here, they had him there. They botched his development and it wasn't until Renney came on board that there seemed to be a plan. The plan may never have worked but the fact that there was no plan in the first place is another black mark against an organization that has fallen down and still hasn't gotten up.

Will Cogliano become a player? Well its hard to say. He's getting a wakeup call and maybe another organization will teach him what he needs to know to become a player. When Belanger came in it was clear that the writing was on the wall and that he was fourth on the depth chart at centre now.

What's frightening? Here's a tell. Cogliano was on the bubble but it was after the rookie camp that he got moved because the Oilers, bless their hearts, see a new shiny object coming up the pipe. It may be Nugent Hopkins but more likely its Lander, imo, who turned heads and had people turning cartwheels.

A fan somewhere last week (may have been LT's) was going on and on about how Cogliano was no longer necessary because of Lander and a few cautionary voices popped up. Anton Lander is a nice prospect who has played exactly as many games in the NHL as I have. Dumping a guy who has four seasons under his belt for nothing is SOP for the Oilers and if Lander or Nugent Hopkins can't make the grade than the fourth line will be a sinkhole again and if Horcoff or Gagner goes down (I know I know hard to imagine) then suddenly O'Marra or VandeVelde is your number three centre.

I mean, seriously.

I have no idea if Cogliano carves out a career or if he's in Italy in a couple of years playing with Mario Chitaroni and Robbie Schremp but you'd think you might want to not just toss him away just yet, right?

Oilers love their picks though and they just got a second. So there you go.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Every Dog Has His Day


Jenn started a three day work weekend today so its Me and The Animals, a classic sitcom (cue the laughtrack as Daddy drinks while the kids run wild). We hit the beach for Canada Day, the kids built sand castles and splashed in the shallows while I looked at the girls and followed the happenings on Overpay Day on Twitter.

On the hike down we ran into a couple in the park walking a beautiful dog, its one of these newer 'breeds' called a Labradoodle, basically its a mutt although I'm sure it won't be long before they're a recognized breed, if they aren't already. I've heard of the Golden Doodle, one of our neighbours has one as does a buddy of mine, never heard of a Labradoodle though, which is weird becuase its BASICALLY THE SAME THING!

Fack me. Remember the other day when I said I knew nothing about music or a lot of other new shit? Well apparently you can add dogs to that as well and I'm a dog guy.

Anyhow I think we've found the dog we're going to get if we ever get another dog. Three different sizes, smart, gentle and no shedding. As we walked to the beach I told the kids that when Mommy asked them about the beach they were to mention that their favourite part was the dog they saw and I told our youngest to repeat after me:

Mummy I want a puppy.

Once she nailed it with the sad eyes I told her to say that to my wife every second day until we had a dog. Can't lose. ;)

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OK so UFA day is absolutely ridiculous. Even with the cap going up up up and away paying insane amounts of money for mediocre players can destroy your team. We knew it would be goofy today with clubs NEEDING to add guys and the available player pool shrinking by the minute and parity in the league meaning that any season a good team might get lucky and go a long way.

As of tonight Richards remains unsigned and apparently this is going to be the mother of all contracts. Interesting too that Tomas Vokuon, a guy who could totally help a team, remains unsigned, and Simon Gagne is also out there although in his case I think he can pick his club pretty well.

But the number of ridiculous signings that boggle the mind? Oh my God.

And here's the thing. After the dust has settled, the clubs who have been the biggest movers for the most part are actually worse than they were before (Philadelphia or Phoenix) or still really bad (Florida). Mike Gillis was smart and Boston stood pat and I really liked what San Jose and Chicago did (Montador's deal was a bit long for my taste but overall the Hawks did quite well I think). Washington too. And Carolina. Notice that we're talking some pretty good clubs here. Of course they're dealing from a position of strength, no need to sign Sean Bergenheim to a four year deal when you've just won the Cup I guess.

Two other teams who did pretty well? The Leafs. Seriously. Sounds like there's some panic and some media memebers are ranting and raving already but what do the Leafs need? A number one centre. If they don't get Richards should they pay someone else ridiculous money? No. Could they use a goalie? I think so and maybe they can grab Vokoun at a nice deal but again what should they do otherwise? Be cool. Relax. Pick up a guy getting dumped to fill your holes for a year or two.

The Leafs are getting better and I would bet that they are not done this offseason but this idea that they NEED to add players, that they NEED to get into the pool, well that idea is a bad idea.

You know who else had a good day? The Edmonton Oilers. Seriously. I was joking with Dennis King earlier today that Tambellini was having his best day ever. This was before Belanger too. Low bar right? :)

But really look at the week he has had.

He has added two top nine forwards in Smyth and Belanger. Both are good players who can handle the toughs at evens and who can PK and who can do the little things that help win hockey games.

Before this week the top nine included Cogliano and Ryan Jones. Now its as follows:

Hall-Horcoff-Eberle Smyth-Gagner-Hemsky Paajarvi-Belanger-Omark

He's added two fourth liners. Ben Eager is an upgrade on Jacques and while he is a fourth liner (that is, not very good) he scored nine goals last year, he is fast and he's a fucker who will hit anyone. Hordichuk is shittier but he's an upgrade on MacIntyre who could barely get on the ice for a shift. We knew we were getting a goon. I prefer Hordichuk to the incumbent.

So the fourth line presently is Eager and Jones and Cogliano or Brule or either Vandevelde or O'Marra or another player not yet on the radar. Maybe Lander?

Its better than last year.

And Andy Sutton comes in for Kurtis Foster. Sutton is old and apparently he is no longer what he was but he's an upgrade on Foster imo.

And finally there is Cam Barker. One year. Its not our money folks. If he gets it together, a big if absolutely, then its a win for the Oilers, they get a young Dman and they have his rights. If he's terrible then they can release him or walk away in a year. Its a gamble and there is no risk. Is the money goofy? Sure it is. But if Barker gets it together and realizes his career is on the line and actually performs? Then its well spent.

Smyth. Belanger. Eager. Hordichuk. Barker. Sutton.

At the cost of Fraser and Foster and a seventh round pick.

Four of these guys are UFA in a year and the two longest contracts are three years and at money that can be dumped easily.

I cannot believe I am saying this but Steve Tambellini did a good job today. The Oilers still need help on the blue and I'd love to see an upgrade in net. This isn't a playoff team but a series of bets that are low risk and upgrade your club? That's good management.