Monday, 5 January 2009

Oilers 2008-09 Season Preview

Executive Summary

The team has come a long way. The forward group is a little mish-mashed (deep on RW but woefully short on LW) but it should be able to hold its own. The defense is greatly improved and the goaltending has some depth. If all goes well the team will finish in the play-offs.

Projected Finish: somewhere between 12th and 17th overall.

Scariest Stat from 2007-08: Garon's shoot-out record followed by Cogliano's shooting percentage of 18.4%


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.

Penner, Horcoff & Hemsky

One of the great plusses to come out of last year is the fact that these three make a decent first line. They should be looked to to carry the load and they have to stay healthy as they will be matched against top lines from day one.

Nilsson, Gagner & Cogliano

Wow. What a finish to their year. Yes. I know. All easy minutes. Still, they did very well with what they got and they should do well as a scoring line for the team going forward. Be nice if they saw harder minutes.

Moreau, Brodziak & Pisani

With Stoll and Reasoner gone this becomes the spot that Brodziak seems to have been groomed for. Between the two veterans Brodziak should do okay. The issue here will be for Moreau to stay healthy as the depth on LW is shallow enough as it is.

Strudwick, Pouliot & Cole

I think Strudwick can play both wings. I hope so anyways. Neither Pouliot nor Cole are good fits for 4th line minutes so the hope will be that the team will go with more of a 1, 2a, 2b, 2c set-up. Cole could be moved up but then you are looking at line chemistry issues.

Something will have to be done in regards to Cole's minutes.


Did more than anyone ever though possible. Great energy pick-up and 13th guy.


Huge upgrade in skill here. Needs to stay healthy as depth is an issue but that said - a Visnovsky/Souray pairing on the powerplay is to drool for.

Souray and Visnovsky

This should be the #1 pairing. I know I have said Souray should only be playing #4 or #5 EV minutes but anyone who knows me also knows I will always trend towards puck-mover and babysitter d-man pairings. This looks to be one of those. Visnovsky will shore up Souray's maneuverability shortcomings while Souray will supply the toughness and defensive focus the pairing will need. On the PP they should be murder.

Souray has to stay healthy. He has to.

Grebeshkov and Gilbert

By the end of the year last year these guys were the top pairing (imo). Gilbert has a brand new contract and Grebeshkov wants one so I expect good things here. Another year of development for both of them but as they will be playing behind Visnovsky/Souray it should work out well for all concerned.

Smid and Staios

Smid continues to learn the game and, while paired with Staios, he seems to be learning it. Keeping these two together as the bottom pair is a no brainer. The minutes won't be too hard and Staios will continue to provide the steadiness that Smid needs.

Strudwick and Roy

Strudwick is a swingman so I expect to see him put in some time here. Calling someone up from the minors (Roy or Young) is a better call.


Roloson and Garon

A bit of cut and paste from last year: 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. Roloson is getting older but hopefully that doesn't cross the line into too old this year.


I guess they want him in the big leagues. Good for him in terms of paycheque but I have no clue where he will get his games in.

How Will They Do?

My projected finish (just based on gut feeling) is somewhere between 12th and 17th 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 - 06 (don't even think it)
05% - finish 07 - 09 (perchance)
10% - finish 10 - 12 (if it ALL works out)
45% - finish 13 - 16 (most probable)
25% - finish 17 - 20 (injuries)
10% - finish 21 - 25 (shouldn't be this bad)
05% - finish 26 - 30 (PHX, CBJ, CHI)


(Two weeks earlier than last year!) Have a great evening everyone.

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