Friday, 23 January 2009

One Night

Every now and then I still drop by Hockeysfuture. I don't lurk like I used to but then, one doesn't see my call hanging out at Oilfans very much either. I tend not to sign in anymore. Gets a bit noisy out there. Thoughts get addled I think.

Still, early memories are fond and so it is I keep the links (sidebar).

That said, it was interesting to find out that my identity, and even my geographical location, has been reassigned.

That's okay though dsf, I do this more on a 'for me' rather than an 'about me' basis so being only somewhat known/remembered is totally okay. Besides, Rage has my back. I think...


I do have to say that I did kind of mind having to sift through the chaff on this thread. It made me sad to have to wait until post #11 before someone pointed out that Staios' contract was the real problem (yes, I know, it did contradict the premise of the thread), it made me sadder yet when someone listed the incomparable Brad Stuart as a 'good defenseman' and when I read this:

"....Kronwall and Stuart are both better options at present than either of Grebeshkov and Gilbert."

I became so inconsolable I just had to start drinking.

On the bright side, I am happily drinking some 18yr Gibson's now so all I can really say is: Thanks Hockeysfuture!

P.s. this is partly why I wasn't blown away by the Garon trade (though I did think it was okay), my wish was that it had been a bigger trade - one that had brought Letang here. The Oilers are woefully short on effective depth on defense. Strudwick isn't a real answer.


Of course, if one thinks about how the Moreau contract (an overpay against rule of thumb standard, my thumbs admittedly, of some 250k) and the Staios contract (overpay, same thumb, of some 300k) were about character and making up for service rendered and veteran leadership and how loyalty to the team can mean so much...

...and then happens to remember that the Smyth contract didn't close because of a spread of a 100k then... hrmmmm... ahhhh, f*#k me... I think I need more alcohol.

Oh look! More. Good.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Lombardi to H8

I don't know how smart Deam Lombardi is. Unlike Paul Holmgren, from whom I have seen few misteps, DL has his fair share of 'wtf' moments. My favorite is probably from the 2007 draft when a drop down on picks would have probably let him snag Hickey regardless. Easy money on the table and he left it there.

That said, the guy knows how to cripple a team to set up a draft. More importantly, he knows how to do it consistently. Trading for, and then extending Cloutier's contract was brilliant. Dumping off Labarbera is just more of the same.

To Tank

Wanna tank your team? Best bets are bad goaltending (first choice of the smart GM) and/or bad coaching (first choice of a lot of well meaning GM's).

There are a few things that can derail a good tank job (another post) and for a while there I think Lombardi was looking at just that. Luckily, for him, the trends he had put in place re-asserted themselves and trading Lababera will:

a. help guard against an upswing and
b. increase the risk factors that would seal the tank job

A Trade Deadline Look-Over

The next moment of interest, with Lombardi and his Kings is this:

What will his trade deadline look like?

He has most of the elements needed for a classic tank job trade deadline in place:

1. One respected veteran on expiring contract (O'Donnell);
2. Two depth veterans on expiring contracts (Armstrong & Gauthier); and
3. One mid-range secondary scorer on expiring contract (Calder);

He also has two players who, while they are not performing to expectations, are halfway through their contracts (Preissing and Handzus).

NONE of the players involved have any cachet in the team's marketplace (so no uproar if traded) and two of the players listed are playing, deceptively, important roles for the team.

Royale With Cheese

If Lombardi thinks his draft position is in jeopardy then look for O'Donnell to be traded. Handzus if he can find a taker.

That is what makes it interesting. How comfortable is he that he will get a pick he can live with?

Trading Gauthier and Armstrong would only make the team stronger (and generate very little return regardless) so they should be in LA full season.

That leaves Preissing and Calder. Of the two Calder will be the easiest one to trade and, I suspect, he is gone regardless.

So I will look for those signals at the deadline.

Calder is a goner, sure, but the rest of the deadline deals - if any - will tell the tale of Lombardi's intentions for the 2009 draft.

King Me

That brings me to the final moment of interest in regards to Dean Lombardi. His 2009-10 NHL roster. Once I see that I will know a great deal more about just how smart Lombardi is.

You see, after the 2009 draft his rebuild will have run its course.

Look at his roster. That team has too much quality for it to sit still for another year past this one.

Frolov, Kopitar, Brown and O'Sullivan represent the kind of high-end forward talent other teams, who have better records, would die for and every Oiler fan knows how good Stoll can be if he is restricted to the roles he excels at.

Doughty, Johnson, Hickey and Quincey represent a solid core of under 22's who all have incredible upside. The core d-pairings for this team are set well into the future. I like Harrold as a player and Greene is... playing really well?

The only thing missing on this team is goaltending and with players like Fernandez coming available Lombardi will have little excuse for sitting still. Both with fans and with the players themselves.

2009-10: Tells the Tale

By 2009-10 we will see just what Lombardi brings to the table as a GM. If he picks up an established #1 goaltender and the equivalent of Kurt Sauer this off-season then we know he knows his stuff.

(Trading O'Donnell at the deadline, letting him know he will be bringing him back in the off-season, would just be... smart.)

If he stands pat and brings in Bernier then we know that Lombardi isn't serious about the next year. Even if Bernier blows the doors down it doesn't change my analysis here, just means Lombardi got lucky.

Some very important players get to, or very close to, their free agency years after 2009-10 and the Kings, as an organization, need to both:

- give them the cash they'll want, and
- give them a reason to stay

i.e. Frolov can get $5.5+ million anywhere - why stay with a team that doesn't seem to care?


There is a time, in every rebuild, where it is time to get serious about winning. The Kings will be in 2009-10.

Signing Hossa would be a nice touch but it isn't that important. A true #1 goalie, a veteran d-man in the 27-30 year range and a couple of proven bottom sixers and the Kings are for real.

And if Lombardi is any good it really should happen just-like-that.


Time for supper. Have a great evening everyone.

Almost forgot - Anderson deserves it. Good for him.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Like a Stone

Not a bad trade imo.

The Good

- Stone is a quality tweener and Springfield gets better immediately;
- Sabourin is a quality tweener and Springfield gets better immediately;
- a 4th, even three years from now, is still a 4th and that is good;
- roster spot opens up on the big team (finally);
- the return was excellent given the value on par-goalies now-a-days;
- should free up a few 100k in Cap space (always good); and
- Garon and JDD were getting jerked around and that should, now, stop

The Bad

- Garon and JDD should never have been getting jerked around in the first place so it isn't like we can confidently say team management gets 'it'
- more tweeners... yay
- Letang was the guy to go after in Pittsburgh and we didn't get him (this should have been a bigger trade)

Overall I am happy with it.

The next three players that should be gone: Nilsson, Moreau and Staios.

The next three players that will probably go (of four): Nilsson, Pouliot, Smid and Grebeshkov.

This will be the last year (barring a renaissance next year) that Moreau and Staios will probably have any trade premium placed on their 'veteran' and 'battlers on the ice' reputation so we can expect that we will keep them around well past the due date. As I said, it isn't like we can confidently say the team gets 'it'.

Finally though. A trade.

Question: Lowe or Tambellini?

I say Tambellini because of the Sabourin factor.


Have a great evening everyone.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Gloom - Not Just a Card Game

[My bad folks, Gloom is a card game that I actually play (and enjoy). For me to reference the game but not include a picture of it, especially one so apropos, was just plain wrong. Hence the correction.]

Lowetide has a nice GDT (Oilers vs. St. Louis) and in it he talks about the unhappy season progressing to date, to be more precise I will simply quote:

"Tonight marks the halfway point in the season for the Edmonton Oilers. This has not been a happy season so far, it has in fact been same old, same old and that my friends is causing some commotion in the fanbase."

BDHS also has a post up today and while the resonance is deliberate BDHS tries to look for the origin, or source, of the joyless Oil we have today. Again, to quote:

"There is a lot of grumbling about the Oilers these days and even the terminally cheerful, like LT, are starting to tire of a franchise that has, with one exception, wallowed in mediocrity for the last fifteen years or so. I think the club is where many of us thought it would be, in the mix for the playoffs, but the journey has been an unsatisfying one this season. Points have been thrown away with poor efforts and odd coaching decisions. [quick - go to link to read more]"

Much like BDHS I will try, in this post, to wonder where the problem lies. I do think I know where it is.

Simply put, this team, THE TEAM, doesn't know sweet-f%*k-all about what is going on.

Playoffs... or Not?

I have written about this many times - the team has not been set up to be a team that is serious about making the play-offs. Even in my, late to be sure, season preview - where I am wrong about a lot of things - the one thing I am absolutely right about is this:

While this should be a team that finishes in the play-offs the risk factors are incredibly high.

A team that is serious about making the play-offs keeps two of Torres, Reasoner, Stoll and Glencross on the roster. It just does.

So while Lowe could hide behind the state of NHL economics up to 2005/06 and he had some cover (slim as it was) working in his favor 2006/07 (Pronger) and 2007/08 (Smyth) he doesn't have anything to hide behind this year.

Worse yet, the ills facing the team appear to be, more and more, symptomatic in nature.

All of the above is on Lowe. On MacT (in terms of dedicating the team to make the play-offs) - why isn't Horpensky playing together from day one, why isn't Smid paired with Staios and why is Gagner playing on the penalty kill units?

Development Season... or Not?

So if it isn't a Playoff team then maybe it is a team getting ready for a run next year? Maybe this year is about teaching the young guys a few things so that next year we can all play street hockey for the Cup next year!

So then why is Cole here, and why is Visnovsky here? And why are we putting in big time on guys who are just entering their 2nd or 3rd year in the NHL?

Gagner, the new team centerpiece, is only 18 years old, a team that is serious about a next year is using a current year to finish player development - not finding out if a guy can even play on the penalty kill units; let alone contribute positively.

So then it isn't really about this year. And it isn't really about next year. It is about years from now.

So if it about years from now then Gagner's development time makes sense. How about Smid's development time then? He has shown incremental improvement every year and on a 'years-from-now' he is one of the few defensemen who will be entering his prime when the window of opportunity opens.

All of the above is on Lowe - how can one say this year and next year when it is obvious that yfn is what you mean. On MacT (in terms of dedicating the team to player development) - why aren't Pouliot and Brodziak taking the 3rd and 4th line duties, why is Pisani playing at center and why isn't Smid paired with Staios (an interesting double appearance there)?


Now think about team identity for a second. All through the lean years the team had a semblance of one - mostly that of 'work-your-ass-off' and 'we-are-all-pluggers-here'. This wasn't true of all players but it was, at least I believe so, true of the leadership core of the team.

Given how he forced the trade to St. Louis I may never be a fan, again, of Doug Weight BUT as long as he was here you couldn't say he didn't ably lead the team.

Can we say that about this team's leadership core? Team captain Ethan Moreau:

- won't pass to a fellow team-mate on his line;
- kicks same team-mate out of the face-off circle just so that he promptly lose said face-off;
- takes ill-advised penalties, consistently; and
- refuses to play to his skill set (more 4th line and less 3rd line) and then has the gall to start calling out the younger guys

I have always enjoyed, and valued, Moreau's warrior spirit but true leadership takes humility.

Meanwhile two players, whose work ethic is a continual struggle, are signed to lucrative contracts (Penner and Nilsson of course). Neither of which would even be on the team if it hadn't been for misplayed management decisions.

So who exactly is establishing the identity of this team? Almost 20% of the teams payroll is tied up in the unfocused (Penner, Nilsson), undisciplined (Moreau) and less effective (Moreau and Staios).

And Then, Karma

So take all the above and mix. Don't let the top-line gell, don't let the soft-minute line play together, don't play proven tandems, don't play last years clear #1 goaltender, etc. Whatever you do - do not let the team gain any momentum.

Normally that would be a recipe for disaster, yet somehow the team stays healthy and manages to hang out at, or near, the play-off spot that makes it all make sense.

Amazing really.

But then Karma does what she does and just as the team is getting serious about line-ups and rosters and a long series of home games means its time to harvest, the main cog in the wheel gets injured.

When all your risk factors are through the roof, it is only a matter of time. And Karma.

Back to Point

Have you ever worked for a boss that makes stupid decision after stupid decision but never gets called on it by his bosses? Well, imagine you are one of the mid-range vets on this team. This has to be a maddening year for them.

The older vets can't lead as they would like to, the mid-range vets are left to carry a load that holds little reward and the kids barely even know how to play. The goaltending has no long-term future, the new kids are all smurfs, the payroll is screwed for years to come and the holes in the roster are big enough to fly jumbo-jets through.

Who signed on for that? They all did actually. But that doesn't make it any easier. To their credit Horcoff, Souray, et al are still putting in workmanlike efforts.

My belief is this:

The team, as constituted, lacks vision (in the headoffice) and identity (on the ice) and in knowing that the players on the team are having a hard time of it buying in and it shows.

A team that believes in itself and what it is doing would be better than this. Maybe not in terms of points, but definitely in terms of 'try'.

As fans we would recognize that, and rejoice.


Have a great evening everyone. Enjoy the game tonight.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Penalties Kill

An amazing set of posts recently on the subject of the Edmonton Oiler's penalty kill problems. Some of them can be found using these links:

IOF - "That's killed us all year long. It killed us again tonight."

IOF - Corsi on the PK

IOF - Loaded Dice and NHL Penalty Killers - I wish Brownlee hadn’t written about PK faceoffs

And Just Because It Was Interesting

Oilers Nation (Jonathan Willis) - Penalty Differential

Collecting the Thoughts

Some point to a poor faceoff winning percentage and others point to a distinct lack in committment to the shotblocking principle. Others may also point to, what appears to be at least, a passive pk system that allows opposing teams to set their plays up at leisure. One might point to the youth on the team as an issue but to their credit the press guys do a pretty good job of debunking that myth.

The stats guys do a pretty good job of backing-up/crediting the players own observations that the number of players a team has on the ice heavily affects faceoff winning percentage and mudcrutch points out that the Oilers goalies have, seemingly, forgotten how to stop the puck in a penalty kill situation (collective save % has dropped through the floor compared to last year).

What I Think

Myself... I think it is all of the above.

With the new rule in place for this year we are seeing, to my eye anyways, an extra 10-20 seconds or so of powerplay time taking place in the defending teams zone. As a standard powerplay is only two minutes long this is an astounding increase in immediate pressure on the defending team.

Few seem to remember that the big effect here isn't actually the faceoff - it is possession time in the offensive zone for the team on the powerplay.

Given that faceoffs represent a stopped game moment in time to affect puck possession I have to to think that they play a role. But how much? Winning a face-off doesn't mean much if the rest of the unit isn't any good at clearing the puck or if the guy taking the face-off can't cover worth damn.

Few seem to remember that the big effect here isn't actually the faceoff - it is the ability of the entire PK unit to capitalize on a faceoff won.

Blocked shots has always, seems to me, been a matter of high-reward to risk taken. Not only is there the reward of blocking the shot, there is also the (much more likely) reward of breaking up the flow of the play in general and, with luck, deflecting the puck out of the zone.

Few seem to remember that the risk of not blocking the shot is that of a clean(er) shot on net - and even if 'saved' there are always guys like Smyth just hanging out.

What I Do Not Know

Not a quick listing of all I do not know (I would be typing forever) but a listing of the interesting questions that come to mind when I consider the difficulties the Oilers are facing while on the penalty kill:

Is there a specific skill set in play and is it measurable? **

It may be (read: it is probable) that there are players good at taking faceoffs but not at killing penalties. It may also be (also probable) that some faceoffs aces are better utilized on the powerplay and so it is impossible to measure if they are any good at killing penalties.

How important is it the way in which the face-off is won?

Maybe a guy can't kill penalties worth a damn, but what if he wins face-offs clean? Straight back clean. Perhaps, in that situation, it may be profitable to use the player on the penalty kill if the two backing defensemen are (very) good at clearing the puck from the zone.

Which teams are using shot location to change team results?

We know that the location from which a shot is taken is measurable and we know where the danger zone is. It can be broken down game by game, team by team and year by year. Using that data one could:

a. determine if the goalies are just having a bad year or not

Really. If the ratio of the danger-zone shots being faced has changed dramatically then how much of it is the goalie's fault?

b. determine the composition of powerplay units which will be trouble

Which teams generate large numbers of high-percentage chances against the penalty kill units and is there a trend to it?

c. determine who should be on the penalty kill units or not

If certain teams are jumping into the slot and getting a high-percentage shot whenever player A is on the ice then maybe...?

When do we go MLB or NFL?

If we can figure out what type of powerplay a team uses then why aren't we seeing more situational staffing of the penalty kill units? Maybe a player is no good against a powerplay heavy on the point shot but what if that same player is superior against the powerplays that rely on puck control?

Just wondering.

There are a lot of good questions that arise but those are the early ones that jumped to mind when reading through the material.

** As I noted in a response on one of Showerhead's posts at IOF

Core Issue

From where I sit I do find it interesting that in all the talk of 'what is wrong with the Oilers penalty kill' that few seem to mention the core problem.

Taking penalties. If you can't kill 'em then don't take 'em.

Methinks it is time for the Oilers to commit themselves to taking fewer penalties. Perhaps the leadership of the team can set the example.


Have a great evening everyone.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Great Night For Hockey!

What a great night for hockey!

Threw on my Team Canada jersey and then, right after that game, threw on my Oilers Pouliot jersey.

Enjoyed watching the games, enjoyed a rye and coke and then a rye and ginger and, bye-the-bye, completed two long outstanding blog posts.

Even used the dvr to show my wife a few plays during the wjc game.

Great, great night for hockey.


A few thoughts for the record:

- If we are keeping Omark and Eberle I can't see where there is spot for Schremp (as there isn't really a space for him now);

- If Lowe and Snow are talking trade then who are they talking about (as the pieces we should be sending out are pieces Snow won't want);

- If Stortini and Strudwick continue to play this way then maybe we should extend Strudwick's contract (as I am coming around on Stortini);

- if Lowe wants to make an impact trade with anyone then he should be talking to a team that is desperate, like Pittsburgh (as I am a fan of Letang and Dupuis);

- if Lowe wants to make a trade then who is left for him to trade with (as Burke going to Toronto shuts that valve closed); and

- Oilers drafting has been real good for a long time now (just saying).


Great evening for hockey folks. I had one anyways.

Have a great evening everyone!

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.

Oilers - An Off-Season Review - 2008 Edition

I remain the ultimate fanboy of Kevin Lowe's career as GM of the Edmonton Oilers.

The Good

Visnovsky for Stoll and Greene is an excellent trade to make. Greene is still years away from developing the positional game he will need to be effective while Stoll needed powerplay time to be an effective scorer. Visnovsky is coming off a poor year, after playing second fiddle to Blake and being forced to play off-wing, but he is the most talented player in this deal by a fair bit and so Lowe won the trade handily.

The only issue is that of the salary cap, given the Visnovsky and Souray contracts total some $11 million in Cap dollars the risk impacts are high if performance isn't up to snuff.

Cole has long been a player I have coveted for the Oilers. Hemsky followed by Cole followed by Pisani makes for a team that has the potential to ice three outscoring lines. That is a rare, and good, thing to have.

Without getting into the 'was-it-a-good-trade?' specifics (I will do so later in the post) the only issue I have here is this one: who centers this guy? We have a lot of young, talented C's but right now the emphasis is on 'young'.

Greene was doing nothing here. Given that a defenseman came back in the trade we aren't really losing anything here. Greene may get it together in LA and if so, good for him, but for the Oilers this should be an addition by subtraction kind of deal. Really. His numbers were that bad.

The Meh

Brule is a good kid. Bunch of NHL games under his belt he was/is a highly touted draft pick who plays with fire in his belly. What's not to like? Maybe the fact that he has a LOT of NHL games under his belt and it looks more and more like his game will have to be rebuilt from the ground up? Yeah. Maybe that.

Stoll could play the PK, man the point on the powerplay and take face-offs. He also had a year, back in 2005-06 that was going to make him a rich, rich man. His on-ice production, in Edmonton, with Souray and Visnovsky getting the lionshare of the PP toi, would not have justified those dollars. I will say it again - good trade.

Strudwick looks to be able to fill the role of 4th line winger (read: fighter) and/or #7 defenseman. While his skills aren't up to snuff, getting a 2-for-1 deal makes this a likable pick-up.

The Bad

Glencross and Torres. Either one, by themself, no big deal. Both? With no incoming, position specific replacement (a la Greene)? This is really, really bad. In combination the moves shift undue risk onto the team. Rookies, sophomores (and maybe Cole?) will have to pick up the slack and there is no proof any will be able.

Also note: both guys were proven EV performers (albeit small sample size per Glencross). Maybe if both players were sheltered I could see the wisdom in this but that isn't the case here.

Finally, both Torres (conference) and Glencross (division) went to immediate rivals ; teams that just got harder to beat. With the trade of Torres, not signing Glencross - given the make-up of the current roster - looks like a big miss for Lowe.

Reasoner. Normally, not signing a player like Reasoner isn't that big a deal; 3rd line PK and face-off specialists should be a relatively easy pick-up and ofttimes a young prospect, with veteran support on the wings, can also fill the spot, but with Stoll also gone the probability that the Oilers will not be able to fill the hole rises dramatically.

Since we know that Lowe didn't pick a veteran up, via trade or signing, we know that it is up to the kids.

On Cole-Pitkanen

It really doesn't matter how poor Pitkanen may be in the dressing room. Unless he is a outright disruption (fighting with his teammates bad), trading a defenseman who:

- has two RFA years left;
- plays 25+ minutes a night;
- should be good for 40+ pts in a bad year;
- is a decent EV player even when his head isn't in the game; and
- already has 269 games in the NHL

for a guy who is an UFA at the end of the year, and unaffordable as a long-term signing regardless (anticipated salary, imo, is $4.75 million if he has a bad year and as much as $6 million on a good year), this was a horrible trade.

Sure, our forward depth is increased - but not where we need it. As much as I like Cole, and I love his game, this was a poor trade in terms of team assets. Unless Cole signs here for a salary roughly equal to current year then everything that was gained in the Lupul trade is lost here.

On Brule-Torres

As much as I like Brule, the problem is that we already have one of these - his name is O'Marra. How many reclamation projects does one team need? Forget reclamation - how many young forwards needing to find their game do we need? Heh - how many undersized forwards do we need?

With Gagner, Pouliot, Cogliano, Brodziak, et al all looking for sheltered time finding a spot for Brule won't happen any time soon.

Why did the pursuit of Hossa entail trading Torres before Hossa was signed? This is simple - a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - stuff. Even IF Hossa is signed and Lowe is forced to dump Torres just to make Cap space, it is a far better fate than that of having no one incoming on the left wing.

Finally, if you know you aren't bringing back Reasoner then why are you trading for Brule when a good 3rd line PK center is there? Even if you have to throw in a late round draft pick bringing a guy like Malhotra back makes it a much better trade.

As far as Hossa goes... 9 years at $9 million a year? I think the world of Hossa but thank-god we missed on that one.


Visnovsky and Cole are nice additions to the team. I may not like the asset management involved per the Cole trade (a conditional pick based on signing should have been included at the least) but there is no question the team added two players who bring a lot to the team.

Much like the miss on Hejda last off-season, the 'not' signing of Reasoner and Glencross makes little sense. Team depth, at those positions is weakened for no, imo, reason.

Unless, of course, you think that Lowe is, again, trying to have it both ways. Adding Visnovsky and Cole means a push for the playoffs while not signing Glencross and Reasoner means a development year.

Good luck with that.

There Is a Difference

I think Lowe may just pull it off (making the playoffs despite spending a year on development that is) but it is important to note that this review is about the moves made.

On that front this was not a good off-season. The risk factors are through the roof:

- Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, et al will all have to continue to improve at a warp-speed rate;
- annual LTIR candidates (Souray, Moreau, Pisani) will have to stay healthy for 70+ games;
- someone will have to pick-up the hard minutes Stoll and Reasoner took at center;
- someone else will have to slot in, sucessfully, at the LW spot;
- Garon will have to maintain his status as a top-20 starter and remain the gold standard for shoot-outs;


That is a lot to ask of a season.

To top it all off a significant asset was spent on what will be, at best, a 6th place finish. Yay.


Heh... a full 11 days earlier than last years post... wheee! Have a great evening everyone.