Saturday, 19 January 2008
Oilers 2007-08 Season Preview
The team is a mess. The forward group will be overmatched most night and the defense is a mish-mash of ill-fitting parts. Goaltending will have to carry the team but as good as the tandem of Roloson/Garon is they don't make for a Luongo and to be honest it would take a goaltender THAT good to make this team finish in the play-offs.
Projected Finish: somewhere between 22nd to 26th overall.
Scariest Stat from 2006-07: Roloson's PP sv% of .894 was 8th best
This group is a mess. At best this team can put together two decent lines and after that it will be overmatched vets babysitting rookies.
Hemsky & Horcoff
Expect these two to carry the load. I don't know if Horcoff can raise his game another notch but he will have to now that Smyth is gone. Hemsky remains in the tweener zone (star or superstar?) but his skills are unmatched on this team.
Penner, Stoll & Torres
Three guys who may or may not be positive contributors. Can Penner be a team leading, 1st line LW? Can Stoll overcome his concussion? Will Torres finally become a consistent performer (in a good way)? Too many question marks for players who should be sure bets.
Moreau & Pisani
Two of the teams better players and both are out to start the season. A full roster of veterans to start the season and MAYBE this team isn't bottom-6 but that doesn't matter now. Both players are out and Lowe didn't pick up any veterans to carry the slack. wheeeee!
Reasoner, Sanderson & Thoreson
Thoreson is just starting out, Reasoner is settling in and Sanderson is almost done. As 4th line guys they should be fine. Anything beyond that is debateable. I expect/hope Sanderson to be deadline fodder and I protest Thoreson's start in the minors.
Nilsson, Pouliot & JF Jaques
Three of the rookies who have substantial playing time at either the AHL or NHL level (substantial for rookies anyways). Left side is weak so expect them to get their time there. Two of the three should pan out as NHLers and you know I am a Pouliot fan...
Brodziak, Cogliano & Gagner
All rookies. Gagner still has that 'new-baby' smell but the other three have lots of college or AHL experience so that may make the difference. This should be Brodziak's best chance to make the club and I expect Gagner to get 10 games in. Cogliano is loved by the team so he will make the team in some capacity.
Another mess. More skill than last year but the player mix is a mish-mash of specialty skills and rookie mistakes waiting to happen. Few natural pairings means trouble.
Souray & Staios
These two will have to be the stalwarts on this this club. Both will probably have to take on a babysitters role and depending on baby it is hard to say how well they will do. Problem: both players are more suited to playing the role of a #4 or even #5 guy. Funny thing, Staios backing Souray makes for a decent defensive pair... but we don't have the depth for that.
Pitkanen & Tarnstrom
Which Pitkanen and which Tarnstrom will show up? Both have shown that they can be star point producers but in this case neither one will be running the show where it counts (the PP). Pitkanen will have to steady his game and balance point scoring with strong defensive play while Tarnstrom will have to be a steadier defender than most think he can be.
Grebeshkov, Greene & Smid
All of these guys have some 'at-bats' but that doesn't mean they are anywhere near the top of the order. Grebs is a total wildcard - did a year in Russia help or hurt? Greene is a lean, mean penalty taking machine built for the old NHL more than the new while Smid continues to hope the game slows down for him. Problem is, the team can't wait on baby steps.
Gilbert, Rourke & Roy
Interesting cases here. While all are, technically, rookies, they are all older than their NHL games played would indicate. Roy and Rourke should be the least risky #7 guys this team has ever fielded while Gilbert, despite a good training camp, will probably need his year in the minors. Look for all three to get some games in. Lots of games would probably be a bad thing.
Roloson & Garon
Best goaltending rotation this team has had in years. I don't even need to get specific. Roloson and Garon are both good goalie's capable of above average play. Garon had injury issues last year but he should still make for a capable back-up. Roloson is getting older but hopefully that doesn't cross the line into too old this year.
How Will They Do?
My projected finish (just based on gut feeling) is somewhere between 22nd to 26th overall. Believe it or not. Some teams are worse right out of the gate while others are just a player injury away from total collapse. Some made up percentages:
00% - finish 01 - 14 (don't even think it)
01% - finish 15 - 16 (perchance to dream)
09% - finish 17 - 19 (if it ALL works out)
20% - finish 20 - 22 (a real possibility)
50% - finish 23 - 25 (most probable imo)
15% - finish 26 - 27 (shouldn't be this bad)
05% - finish 28 - 30 (PHX, CBJ, CHI)
Have a great evening everyone.