Edmonton Oilers 12-13 Preview: Improvement is Inevitable. Right?

Jonathan Willis
August 27 2012 11:08AM

Oilers select first overall at the 2011 Draft (Bri Weldon/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

The model was clear enough when the Oilers first decided they were going to make the best of a bad situation midway through 2009-10: having found themselves rather good at losing, the team would keep right on doing it, earning a bunch of top draft picks. With that nucleus of young talent, some patience, and some shrewd rebuilding, the Oilers core would be good enough when the team finally rebounded that they could contend for years.

2011-12 – judging by the statements of Oilers executives, the shift in tactics by (and end of season departure of) head coach Tom Renney – was supposed to be the start of the return to respectability. Instead, the Oilers picked first overall again. Is 2012-13 the year the team starts putting some distance between themselves and the NHL basement?

For readers at Oilers Nation: this preview is part of a continuing series looking at all 30 teams at NHL Numbers.

The Forwards

Nail Yakupov (Resolute/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Oilers enter 2012-13 with mostly the same group up front from 2011-12, albeit with the young guns one year more experienced. First overall selection Nail Yakupov is the most significant addition, and other young players – Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen in particular – undoubtedly hope to play more significant roles.

With a new head coach, lines are uncertain, but we do have some information and so I’m going to put forward my best guess about the lineup. Earlier in the summer Ralph Krueger told CBC’s Elliotte Friedman that he prefers to run with forward pairs and a rotating winger, and he named two of those pairs – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins/Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky/Sam Gagner. Krueger also suggested that left-shooting right wing Nail Yakupov would likely start the year on the port side.

As it stands, that likely means that Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Hall will be the team’s top line the majority of the time. It’s a unit that played together often last year, and that played against decent opposition and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. All of those things should continue, with the caveat that now that Nugent-Hopkins isn’t a rookie defensive zone work and the other team’s top forward lines should be more common sights for the group.

The likely second group is Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Nail Yakupov. With the top line taking on more defensive responsibility and a third line (more on them in a moment) dedicated to defence, this line should get offensive minutes. Yakupov, a willing and able shooter, would seem to be a natural partner for Hemsky and Gagner, and could offer Hemsky the best puck-carrying compatriot he’s had since playing with Sergei Samsonov in 2005-06. If they end up spending a lot of time together, both the easier minutes and the fact that there’s another player who carries the puck a ton should give Hemsky the opportunity to have a great season.

That leaves Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and likely Ryan Jones as the third group. Last year Renney often used the trio as a shutdown unit; I’d expect to see that again with a reduction in minutes as the top line takes on some of that work (in particular – offensive zone starts against top competition and defensive zone starts against capable competition).

The rest of the forwards – veteran centre Eric Belanger, rugged wingers Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk and Lennart Petrell, as well as young forwards Hartikainen and Paajarvi will fight for fourth line work with my expectation being that the veterans win the day but end up getting leap-frogged by the kids in event of injury.

There are a myriad of other possibilities, but that’s my best guess at opening night given what we know right now. Naturally, there’s going to be shifts in the lineup given that Krueger highlighted “flexibility” to Friedman, so we might expect to see things like Yakupov on the top line for a post-penalty kill offensive zone shift, or Hall shifting down with Gagner and Hemsky and that line getting tough minutes for a night, or Eager shifting up during a game when he’s on to add some beef to the top six.

One interesting idea that Friedman mentioned was playing Horcoff on the wing at times. There are a number of possibilities there – my guess would be that for critical offensive faceoffs he might get time on Nugent-Hopkins’ line, for one – but the one that stands out to me is the possibility of Eric Belanger moving into a third line role and Horcoff taking to the wing in that situation. That sort of thing might (theoretically) happen to bolster the third unit’s shutdown capabilities, and also to free Horcoff to cover for Nugent-Hopkins in the faceoff circle at times. The reason I bring this up is because Krueger has spoken positively about Belanger and getting him back on track, and Belanger has had success with top-nine work in the past.

The Defence

It’s the same story as up front here: much the same group of players returning, with one young addition in Justin Schultz and one underachieving subtraction in Cam Barker. If everything goes right, it should be a capable group, though if things go wrong the overall picture could go sideways in a hurry.

Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry were an effective top pairing last season, and should start 2012-13 together as well. Petry boasts superb physical tools and proved last season that he could do just about everything at the NHL level – offence is still questionable, but there’s enough there for a “two-way” label and he does tremendous work both rushing and passing the puck. Smid’s big, tough and defensively capable, and has underrated puck skills when called upon in that capacity.

Right now, the second pairing is anyone’s guess. Ryan Whitney could be the team’s best defenceman if he’s healthy; right now the off-season comments are all positive but he certainly struggled with reduced mobility last season so it would be foolish to assume recovery until we actually see it. Nick Schultz is a solid veteran who struggled at times in Minnesota but looked great after being dealt to the Oilers; he’s a smart, safe defensive defender. Justin Schultz is the third candidate – he plays a complete game at the college level but it’s probably a bit much to expect him to hit the ground running in the NHL (though he should contribute offensively in the early going).

I’d suggest that Whitney/N. Schultz (assuming good health) would offer the Oilers’ two very strong pairings, and that Justin Schultz’s game makes him a good fit for work on the third unit with veteran Andy Sutton. Theo Peckham and Corey Potter are also in the mix.

In Net

There’s a trend here… the Oilers’ top-three goalies from last season will all be back, and all in basically the same role they were in to start 2011-12.

Devan Dubnyk, who has been a league-average starter when he’s played over the last two seasons, has a new contract and looks more solidly entrenched as starter than he was a year ago, when he lost the job to Nikolai Khabibulin in the early going. The Oilers have financially committed to Dubnyk, which suggests they’re sold on him as their number one for the time being.

Khabibulin, who crashed and burned after a hot start last year, has put in sub-NHL performances for most of his time in Edmonton. The hope is that with a lighter workload that he can put in better showings when called upon. Given that Khabibulin has been significantly better at the start of seasons the last two years, that’s a possibility, though at this point average-ish goaltending is all that can be expected.

Yann Danis was the AHL’s goalie of the year last season; he’ll be back as the team’s third-string option and in the event of injury or spectacular flameout he should be able to handle NHL work without too much difficulty.

Numbers

At even-strength, the Oilers improved from minus-42 in 2010-11 to minus-18 in 2011-12. That’s a big jump, and one the team should be able to improve upon to some degree. They didn’t get much help from either a ridiculous shooting percentage or save percentage last season, and the club’s shots-for and shots-against totals should continue to move in the right direction as the young players continue to mature. I wouldn’t expect a big jump at this point, but even an improvement half as big as last year’s would put the Oilers close to the break-even point.

The power play was much better but only improved its goal differential by five thanks to a) fewer opportunities and b) more shorthanded goals against. Given that the unit rode a high shooting percentage and that this is historically unsustainable, a slight drop makes sense – though this may be offset in part if the league’s latest enforcement initiative halts the decline in penalties called.

The penalty kill was worlds better one season ago than it has been in the past – the Oilers went from minus-68 in 2010-11 to minus-47 in 2011-12. There’s room to be better still if Krueger can succeed in implementing the disciplined game he wants to see: the Oilers were the fifth most-penalized team in hockey last year. Even a reduction by 10% in the number of penalties taken would save the Oilers an additional five goals against.

One other thing to keep in mind: the Oilers posted a minus-27 goal differential last season. Calgary, in ninth, was minus-24. Despite finishing 14th in the West, the gap between the bottom and the playoff bubble isn’t as wide as point totals alone make it seem.

Outlook

The Oilers are one of the most difficult teams in the league to project simply because there are so many question marks. Will Devan Dubnyk provide capable goaltending? Will Ryan Whitney be in peak condition? Will any members of the young core take a big step forward? Will Schultz and Yakupov hit the ground running?

If the answer to these questions is ‘no’ then the Oilers are going to be in for a long year. If it’s ‘yes’ across the board, the playoffs are legitimately possibility. The most likely scenario is a mixed answer to those questions – and if that’s the case, then an improved team but not a vastly improved team is the probable outcome. My guess: the Oilers finish without a top-five pick for the first time since the summer of 2009.

Previously by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 David S
August 27 2012, 11:29AM
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Nope. Sorry. Not today.

Also, fair comments Jonathan. Unfortunately we won't get to test your hypothesis until sometime in November. *Softly sobs into Oilers logo handerkerchief*

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#2 BigBurgers
August 27 2012, 11:33AM
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Secondary FIST?!

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#3 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 27 2012, 11:50AM
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It's almost hockey season, can't wait. Enough of this Presidents Choice brand of football crap.

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#4 The Soup Fascist
August 27 2012, 11:50AM
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Here is an interesting experiment:

It seems to me when Taylor Hall has been healthy he has been able to improve the game of his linemates. Granted this is somewhat anecdotal, but it just seems to me that players playing with him "up their games". (Cue DSF feverishly putting together stats to refute my, admittedly subjective statement)

On the flip side the effects of the "Black Hole of Belanger" are more pronounced. Belanger was the hockey equivalent of a "cooler" in a Las Vegas casino, who was planted by concerned pit bosses, in the hopes that their aura of bad luck, rubbed off on a particularly hot patron at a craps table.

So, as an experiment play these two entities together and see whether Belanger suddenly returns to his historic average of scoring or Hall suddenly can't get to the net and is unable to hit water from a boat. Which is the dominant "force of hockey nature" - Hall's drive and competitiveness or Belanger's ability to kill any sniff of offensive opportunity?

Sadly, I know where all three of my dollars would be wagered.

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#5 Walter Sobchak
August 27 2012, 12:03PM
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Good read JW.

I'm going with the to many unknowns at this point, hopefully by December I will have changed my mind but I doubt it.

If the Oilers come crashing around December, does the Managment allow it this time?

I hope all the kids have a great year despite all the unknowns.

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#6 Sanaa Montana
August 27 2012, 12:14PM
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I don't believe that Hall, RNH and Eberle will be a line. I believe Harti will be the LW with RNH and Eberle. Hall and Hemsky will play on Yakupovs wings or Yakupov and Hemksy will be Halls wings.

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#7 russ99
August 27 2012, 12:15PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Good read JW.

I'm going with the to many unknowns at this point, hopefully by December I will have changed my mind but I doubt it.

If the Oilers come crashing around December, does the Managment allow it this time?

I hope all the kids have a great year despite all the unknowns.

Good question. A better one would be:

If the Oilers come crashing down in December or January, would the GM "braintrust" make moves to improve the bottom six, defense or goaltending that they're been loath to do so far this offseason?

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#8 Fish`
August 27 2012, 12:19PM
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Yak needs to play on the right wing. The reports are that his one timer is better than Stamkos at the same age. You play him on the left wing and take away a major. Either swap Hemmer to left, or employ this line up, which I prefer.

Hall - RNH - Ebs Smyth - Horc - Hemmer MPS - Gags - Yak Eager - Belanger - Jones

Smid - Petry Whitney - Schultz old Sutton - Schultz New

This line up a) lets Yak play his weaponized side, b) actually gives MPS a shot with skill players instead of flushing him, or dooming him to lunch pail minutes, c) gives us a tough minutes line in the vet 2nd line, d) shelters line three with enough weapons that they should be out scorers, e) automatically makes a better 4th line.

PP = Hall - RNH - Ebs - Yak + one blue liner (Schultz) = fireworks. They will get burned once in awhile for shorties, but they'll be lights out talent wise.

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#10 Golden Moment
August 27 2012, 12:35PM
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Jonathan:

A very good article. You have established a very high standard for your journalism.

With regards to Tom Renney, my understanding is that rather than his being 'fired' his contract was not renewed.

Looking forward to your contimued analyses of hockey issues and excellent writing.

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#13 billylikestodrinksoda
August 27 2012, 12:39PM
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Fish` wrote:

Yak needs to play on the right wing. The reports are that his one timer is better than Stamkos at the same age. You play him on the left wing and take away a major. Either swap Hemmer to left, or employ this line up, which I prefer.

Hall - RNH - Ebs Smyth - Horc - Hemmer MPS - Gags - Yak Eager - Belanger - Jones

Smid - Petry Whitney - Schultz old Sutton - Schultz New

This line up a) lets Yak play his weaponized side, b) actually gives MPS a shot with skill players instead of flushing him, or dooming him to lunch pail minutes, c) gives us a tough minutes line in the vet 2nd line, d) shelters line three with enough weapons that they should be out scorers, e) automatically makes a better 4th line.

PP = Hall - RNH - Ebs - Yak + one blue liner (Schultz) = fireworks. They will get burned once in awhile for shorties, but they'll be lights out talent wise.

I think krueger wants Yak to play on the same side that he shoots (left) for the defensive zone play. I can't find the quote but pretty sure it was something along the lines of that in his own zone he wants the wingers on their proper sides and that once they leave the zone, they can zig and zag and do whatever they want offensively.

Obviously that isn't a word for word quote, but I think Ralph is going to let Yakupov use his offensive instincts once he leaves the D-zone, which should mean some unreal one-timers this upcoming season

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#14 Sanaa Montana
August 27 2012, 01:20PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I don't think Hartikainen has the offensive chops for a top-line job, but in your scenario who ends up in the minors?

Now, if you move Yakupov/Hall to center, how are your centers deployed - presumably you have the converted guy, plus RNH, plus Gagner, plus Horcoff, plus Belanger?

The other thing I've gone for here is less my preferred lineup than what the coach might actually do - if he sees Hemsky/Gagner as a tandem and RNH/Eberle as a tandem, doesn't that throw your converted center system out of whack?

I do believe Hartikainen has what it takes to be a top-line LW. Who ever doesnt't make the Oilers roster, and is able to go to the minors, will be in the minors.

Gagner isn't much of a centre anyway, so moving him to Horcoffs wing shouldnt present it self as a problem. Trading him is the best case scenario.

I can't see Hemsky/Gagner as a tandem, I believe that ship has sailed. RNH and Eberle are a tandem, and will be for a long time. If they made Smyth look like he belonged, I'm sure they will turn Hartikainen into a top-line LW.

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#15 KleptoKlown
August 27 2012, 01:30PM
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Even if the Oilers finish 28th overall, that would be considered improvement over the last few years.

With the bar set so low, I tend to agree we will see a better Oilers team this year. However, if the Oil are in the draft lottery yet again after this season, everyone in the front office should be fired, then tarred and feathered.

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#17 The Soup Fascist
August 27 2012, 01:45PM
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@ Aidan Hodges

"Hall and Hemsky will play on Yakupovs wings or Yakupov and Hemksy will be Halls wings"

"Gagner isn't much of a centre anyway, so moving him to Horcoffs wing shouldnt present it self as a problem."

Just so I am clear, you think taking a rookie (Yakupov) and putting him at a position he has not played before, in the most challenging position up front, is an upgrade to Gagner as your 2nd line center?

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#18 Sanaa Montana
August 27 2012, 01:49PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Veterans getting waived wouldnt be a bad thing, would it? There is a long list of people in the projected bottom six that could be waived.

I dont follow OKC, so I cant comment on his role or numbers there. From what I saw in the NHL, the kid showed promise. I dont however agree that he played top 6 minutes the whole time with the Oilers. I believe he made his way up and down the line up, and his best games and his points came from playing with the Tandem.

Given a proper role and chance, I do project a massive increase in scoring for Hartikainen. In all honesty, I see him being a better NHLer than Paajarvi.

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#19 Sanaa Montana
August 27 2012, 01:51PM
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@The Soup Fascist

Ok, fine. I wont put Yak at centre, I'll put Hall. Thats an improvement over Gagner anyday everyday.

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#20 The Soup Fascist
August 27 2012, 02:00PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

Ok, fine. I wont put Yak at centre, I'll put Hall. Thats an improvement over Gagner anyday everyday.

I will disagree, but there are certainly those that share your view. Hall will have his hands full coming back from shoulder surgery. Depending on when the season starts, may be prudent to delay that experiment until next year, if at all.

The argument surrounding Gagner's effectiveness as a #2 center is long and storied. Very polarizing topic, no sense rehashing it again.

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#21 Matt
August 27 2012, 02:02PM
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Great article.

While I think you are right in choosing the lineup that you have, I'm not sure they will be able to sustain a winning record over a long season. A lockout shortened season would favor the Oilers...something about a the young guns faltering around new years time, when the grind of the season really kicks in.

Also, I'm not so sure we won't be a lottery team for at least one more year, however I simply cannot see this team developing into a juggernaut. The difference between this core and say 'cores' of Oilers past such as Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson for instance, is that Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Hopkins, Paarjvi, represent the top end talent of each of their respective countries. They are the best of their generation. Even Gagner, no one has scored more from his draft year than Patrick Kane, who I believe will go down as one of the best american born players of all time. This Oiler's core is too good to fail, and there are too many of them that even if one stumbles, it wouldn't be a big deal.

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#22 a lg dubl dubl
August 27 2012, 02:24PM
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Id like to see PRV on the line with Horcoff and Smyth with Jones on the 4th line to start. I still think PRV could turn into the next Smyth in terms of driving to the net and camping out in the goalies face, and if PRV doesnt work out on the 3rd line then insert Jones there for sure.

PRV needs a better chance to succeed than what Renney gave him.

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#23 Will
August 27 2012, 02:28PM
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Lots of question marks this season. Not sure if that's better or worse than previous years. On the one hand if the answers are yes, then we look pretty good. If the answers are no then it's going to be another long year.

An amended season could be just what our defense ordered. It would give Whitney time to fully rehab and strengthen, and it would give a bit more development time for our young forwards, and J. Schultz.

I like the pairing idea, but would love a fully fleshed line chemistry idea better. Plus these lines mean I won't get to see my Hall / Yak line rushing up the ice and pushing back the defenders. I hope Kruger looks extensively at all line combinations before deciding on 'pairings'. Although being the assistant coach from last year, he would know better than anyone I suppose.

Gad I wish this lockout didn't look so imminent as I was so excited for this season.

Well whatever, if I was going to make predictions it would be that this team will be unpredictable and no matter which way the questions are answered, something else will come up that will be more or less important to the success of the team. Something like a defender going down and Fedun stepping up and being incredible. Or perhaps Hemsky's injury checkered past comes back to bite him and Yak gets the chance to shine on the wing. Or conversely Hemsky has an insane return to form and our 'top line' is actually Hemmer, Yak, and either Horcoff or Gagner. Or maybe Yan Dannis comes up on an injury call and just plays lights out to never be sent back down. Something crazy and off the cuff like that.

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#24 Cody anderson
August 27 2012, 02:44PM
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Fish` wrote:

Yak needs to play on the right wing. The reports are that his one timer is better than Stamkos at the same age. You play him on the left wing and take away a major. Either swap Hemmer to left, or employ this line up, which I prefer.

Hall - RNH - Ebs Smyth - Horc - Hemmer MPS - Gags - Yak Eager - Belanger - Jones

Smid - Petry Whitney - Schultz old Sutton - Schultz New

This line up a) lets Yak play his weaponized side, b) actually gives MPS a shot with skill players instead of flushing him, or dooming him to lunch pail minutes, c) gives us a tough minutes line in the vet 2nd line, d) shelters line three with enough weapons that they should be out scorers, e) automatically makes a better 4th line.

PP = Hall - RNH - Ebs - Yak + one blue liner (Schultz) = fireworks. They will get burned once in awhile for shorties, but they'll be lights out talent wise.

This is very close to the lineup I have suggested. I agree 100% that Yakupov should be on the right side to take full advantage of his one timer.

My favorite lineup using our current players is

Paajarvi-Nuge-Eberle

Hall-Gagner-Yakupov

Smyth-Horcoff-Hemsky

Hartikainan-Belanger-Jones

then sub Eager or Hordichuck in for Harti or Jones on games where their skill sets are required.

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#25 gord962
August 27 2012, 03:14PM
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@Sanaa Montana

I was one of the Gagner disbelievers however he did finally seem to find his way by the end of last season. His FW% increased significantly and he seemed much more engaged. I am willing to give him another shot before I start with the "Gagner should be traded" threads.

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#26 gord962
August 27 2012, 03:16PM
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PRV needs to use his speed and drive to the net. That isn't something he is willing to do - he wants to take a weak shot and get back on the defensive. Simple solution - convert him into a 3rd line checking specialist. Teach him how to kill penalties. These are the natural tendencies in his game so let's use them to our advantage. We have some great guys for him to learn from so bring on the protege. The old guard won't be around forever and having one of the kids to replace them is just smart management.

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#27 gcw_rocks
August 27 2012, 04:01PM
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Nice read.

Not sure I agree with the lines though.

I could just as easily see Krueger giving Yak the left wing role with RNH and Eberle, at least at home.

I could also see Hall with Gagner and Hemsky as a second toughs line.

And if one of the other lines starts succeeding against tougher competition, I could see Yak with Smyth and Horcoff if they want to pump MPS' tires with RNH and Eberle.

As I write this,I think Krueger is right to thing in pairs. He can move wingers around and create new looks all the time that will drive opposing coaches nuts.

I think putting Horcoff and Belanger on a line is interesting. Who plays the right side? Smyth? MPS? Jones? Yak? Horcoff - Belanger - Smyth would be a killer shut down line. 55-60% d-zone starts, ala Vinneault. Two face off men, so no worries about someone getting thrown out for a draw. They would score no points, but could set up the other lines to run wild. Interesting.

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#28 EL PRESIDENTE
August 27 2012, 04:11PM
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Hey does anyone know whats up with the Team 1260 website? its been down all afternoon, did astral get there plug pulled?

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#29 krutov 2.0
August 27 2012, 04:12PM
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To many if in the lineup! Ebs isnt gonna repeat his shooting procent. Do hall stay healthy the whole season? Is RNh ready for tougher competition? 2 line looks like a big ? Hemskys injury issues, is yak ready for structured mens hockey? Gagner the weakest 2 c in the leauge, and worse as a winger. The 3 line looks like one of the best shutdown lines in the leauge and can also provide offence,only ? is if smyth running out of gas again after a stellar start.can be solved with the lockout.

Can whitney stay healthy? I strongly doubt that!Who provides some offence?Solid stay home types in smid and schultz. My hopes are in petry , that he takes 1more step in his deveopment.

We can sniffing at a playoff spot if every pieces goes our way andj. Shultz is playing over his expectations.But in the brutal reality we maybe have 3team behind us and thats the closest to the truth we comes. Ps. Cant see dd as a starter when we start to take a run after the cup in about 3 years from now.

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#30 WhattaMike
August 27 2012, 04:41PM
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Its a great and interesting read today JW, but there is a problem here.

TOO MANY PLAYERS for the lineup.

I have been reading alot lately of there going to be presumably eight defencemen on the team with Smid, Petry, Whitney (if healthy), J. Schultz, N. Schultz, Sutton, Peckham, Potter.

Now there is Hall, Ebs, Nuge as one line, Yakupov, Gagner, Hemsky as another, the tird would be Horcoff, Smyth, Jones, and this totals nine forwards.

Now the fourth concerns, Belanger, Eager, Hordy, Petrell, Hartikainen, and Paajarvi.

With both goalies (Dubnyk, Khabby), this totals 25 guys.

With no injuries as yet or foreseeable right now, how can the kids such as Hartikainen and Paajarvi get enough proper time to play on the Oilers as the roster then involves waivers for the elder and veterans becausethe limit is 23.

Now who goes down or gets waived/released? The only way to do this is to put both Harty and Paajartvi on the OKC team. What about the defencemen being down to 7 instead of eight, and then who goes here?

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#31 RexLibris
August 27 2012, 04:56PM
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Jonathan,

Horcoff and Belanger on the same line? Whose offense are we looking to shut down, ours or the opposition? ;-)

I know Lowetide loves Hartikainen, and he does look like a very intriguing prospect, at least for a team with the kinds of talent the Oilers now have. However, I would still like to see him spend another season in the AHL. I have read reports about him working on consistency and I think that is best developed at the minor level before rewarding him ahead of other players, specifically Paajarvi.

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#32 DieHard
August 27 2012, 06:53PM
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The experts are all wrong. We are playoff bound this year. There is no doubt in my mind.

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#33 RexLibris
August 27 2012, 06:57PM
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Here is an open question to Oiler fans: because the NHL and KHL do not have a transfer agreement in place (so far as I know), if a player goes and signs with that league, can the team suspend them and thus "freeze" that contract in place?

If so, how much might it benefit the Oilers if players like Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Hall and Yakupov all played in Nizhnekamsk (and yeah, I had to google it to spell it properly) for a lockout year? One free year of development?

Just wondering.

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#34 OilLeak
August 27 2012, 07:21PM
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WhattaMike wrote:

Its a great and interesting read today JW, but there is a problem here.

TOO MANY PLAYERS for the lineup.

I have been reading alot lately of there going to be presumably eight defencemen on the team with Smid, Petry, Whitney (if healthy), J. Schultz, N. Schultz, Sutton, Peckham, Potter.

Now there is Hall, Ebs, Nuge as one line, Yakupov, Gagner, Hemsky as another, the tird would be Horcoff, Smyth, Jones, and this totals nine forwards.

Now the fourth concerns, Belanger, Eager, Hordy, Petrell, Hartikainen, and Paajarvi.

With both goalies (Dubnyk, Khabby), this totals 25 guys.

With no injuries as yet or foreseeable right now, how can the kids such as Hartikainen and Paajarvi get enough proper time to play on the Oilers as the roster then involves waivers for the elder and veterans becausethe limit is 23.

Now who goes down or gets waived/released? The only way to do this is to put both Harty and Paajartvi on the OKC team. What about the defencemen being down to 7 instead of eight, and then who goes here?

I could definitely see the Oilers send Petrell down as the season starts and called up as injuries happen. Eager will be given a chance to play and accept his role as a 4th line forward who occasionally drops the gloves, if not he'll be gone. I expect hartikainen to start the season in the AHL and Paajarvi to Make the Oilers roster and stay up for the full season. Paajarvi needs time at NHL to develop his 2-way game not the AHL where Paajarvi would play a pure offensive role. My 4th line would consist of Eager-Belanger-jones most nights while Horidchuk is rotated in from time to time.

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#35 Stallions35
August 27 2012, 07:28PM
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I thing the 3rd line should be Smyth, Horcoff and Paajarvi....at least give this kid another shot before we delegate him to fourth line duties where talent goes to die...

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#36 Walter Sobchak
August 27 2012, 09:11PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Here is an open question to Oiler fans: because the NHL and KHL do not have a transfer agreement in place (so far as I know), if a player goes and signs with that league, can the team suspend them and thus "freeze" that contract in place?

If so, how much might it benefit the Oilers if players like Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Hall and Yakupov all played in Nizhnekamsk (and yeah, I had to google it to spell it properly) for a lockout year? One free year of development?

Just wondering.

During a lockout the player is free to sign with any team, as soon as the lockout ends he's obligated to return to his NHL team just like any other NHL player. (paraphrasing Bob MacKenzie) , However if he players strike they can't play anywhere.

I would assume that since Yakupov would go play there he might get some followers, I can't find any reason how it wouldn't benefit them all if they all played on the same team.

Plus, correct me if I'm wrong but I believe both RNH & Yakupov would be WJC bound as well.

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#37 NewAgeSys
August 27 2012, 09:19PM
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Mmmmm,I see our vets,Smytty,Horcoff,and Jones playing a rotateing 3rd and 4th line spot but staying together as a group.

I like the pairs with rotateing wingers,it provides a catalyst to the line I hope this is a four line tactic.

I see Smid-Petry,Whitney-Potter,Schultz-Schultz,Peckham-Sutton as the punisher line used to shut down games where we are blowing teams out and we need a tough steady presence to dump it out safely and protect our forwards from open-ice cheapshots when the blood is running high---I expect we will be blowing up a lot of systems this comeing year and think we need to keep our own yarddogs hungry and ready.

I think Gagner will push for the team points lead from the 2nd line,simply because with increased defensive workloads put on the first line,they will be slowed down a tad,if that is even imaginable,and because Sam has more experience he will be in a position to be more productive from the second line possibly than from the first,this is the 1-2 punch we need to bust teams up ,supported by a 3rd line like we can ice with Horcs-Smyth-Jones and suddenly if we stay healthy we look very dangerous as a team.

MPS is a sure bet to make the team out of camp--he is ready for a bigger role offensively and he might be a guy who works his way up from the 4th line very quickly based on performance,I think he gets a fair shot at quality minutes---no one is ever takeing his speed away and as a big body he will be working in the NHL for a long time.he needed to mature a little more because he plays a big mans game and he doesnt play it the sharp as nails way,he is more finesse and defensively aware looking to exploit weakness--this is what Ralph will change,he will teach through attrition MPS to be a shooter first,like he will Hemmer,just wait for it.

Ralphs system will decide many of these questions for us,as that is the key to the kingdom.Without it we are surely lost.Anyone have a clue what it might be??

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#38 @Oilanderp
August 28 2012, 03:18AM
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MPS and Harski go to OKC. Yak plays with Hemsky since Hemsky is all over the place anyway. I already can see Yak's Stamkosian down-on-one-knee one-timer twine-ticklers from patented Hemsky feeds after he dangles 3 guys. Everyone will nod their heads in agreement that "they too" knew all along that Gags would break out as a premier playmaker this year. Some will say they only had him pegged for 50 pts while others will scoff and try to keep a straight face as they suggest they KNEW he'd break 60....... assists.

(and then he woke up and the lockout still continued)

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#39 striker777
August 28 2012, 05:33AM
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I would let Yakupov play on RW, to allow a smoother transition into NHL. Move Hemsky to LW and have him feed pucks to Nail and Sam (rack up points). That would give Tambo more trading options come February.

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#40 pelhem grenville
August 28 2012, 06:53AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

It's almost hockey season, can't wait. Enough of this Presidents Choice brand of football crap.

...gawd Q our Eskimos are in a solid second place in the league...y'gotta enjoy it man ...by the third weekend of November we could be watching the Presidents Choice Grey Cup game without even sniffing an NHL game if the owners have their debaucherous way...

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#41 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
August 28 2012, 07:41AM
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@NewAgeSys

Anyone have a clue what it might be??

**raises eyebrows and clears throat**

gagner leading the oilers in points and hemmer turning into a shoot first player after almost 600 NHL games?

does your NewAgeSys come with a Delorean that has us in an alternate 2012?

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#42 dawgbone
August 28 2012, 07:54AM
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If the Oilers had any interest in winning, neither Eager or Hordichuk would see much ice time this year, especially over guys like Paajarvi and Hartikainen.

Unfortunately, someone in the Oilers organization thinks that Eager taking penalties and putting the Oilers shorthanded has some sort of value.

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#43 madjam
August 28 2012, 08:53AM
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Oilers will repeat as Bottom Feeders if they try and go with 50-50 split of lines , as most of you seem to be thinking in terms of here . In order to take advantage of Oiler personnel set up they are much better off going the 75% - 25% split with only the fourth line being a shut down line ! Two some examples might be Hemsky with Hall , Hopkins with Eberle , Paajarvi with Yakupov . Expect at least one newbie to crack center position . Mix them up as you might like , but remember the 75-25 split . Kreuger i believe is setting us up for that by some of his comments about the system he wants to run here . It'll be a lot more exciting than the old 50-50 split .

Expecting last years supplimental core to be much better under Kreuger is unlikely to happen under a 50-50 split - wishfull thinking . Defensively and goaltending unlikely to be much better if more newbies do not make the squad . Dubnyk unlikely to be much better with defence still lacking in many areas . Now , what newbies might fit the more offensive philosophy the Oilers require to move the puck more efficiently , faster and be more a part of the offensive thrust . Not much of last seasons veterans beyond perhaps Whitney (if healthy finally) Petry , and Schultz show that sort of ability . Expect at least one more newbie to crack lineup beyond just the new Schultz .

Simply put , Oilers veterans are unlikely to have as a group a vast improvement . The vast improvement will be heralded by our youth and lets hope the veterans do not continue their downward spirals .

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#44 Cody anderson
August 28 2012, 09:00AM
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The Oilers should move Eager. Hordichuk drew more penalties then him and is a better enforcer. Eager is not as good a player as Hartikainan, Jones or Paajarvi and not all of them can play regularly.

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#45 DonDon
August 28 2012, 10:12AM
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dawgbone wrote:

If the Oilers had any interest in winning, neither Eager or Hordichuk would see much ice time this year, especially over guys like Paajarvi and Hartikainen.

Unfortunately, someone in the Oilers organization thinks that Eager taking penalties and putting the Oilers shorthanded has some sort of value.

Couldn't agree more. The brain trust has loaded their roster with sub-par NHLers, players that are not going to improve, will continue to drag the team down, and take up some of the valuable 50 slots.

Keeping both Sutton and Peckham doesn't make sense. One, yes. The situation with the forwards is far worse. Belanger, Eager, Hordichuk, Petrell are at best fringe players. The Oil can't afford to keep all four. I appreciate there are two more years left on Belanger's and Eager's contracts; is it possible to ship them down to OKC or Stockton and start cleaning the deck to bring up prospects to the big club.

This action or lack of action impedes the rebuild.

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#46 Jprime
August 28 2012, 10:34AM
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I don't have NHL13 yet to test out and prove that my line up predictions are better than everyone elses.

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#47 D-Man
August 28 2012, 12:48PM
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DonDon wrote:

Couldn't agree more. The brain trust has loaded their roster with sub-par NHLers, players that are not going to improve, will continue to drag the team down, and take up some of the valuable 50 slots.

Keeping both Sutton and Peckham doesn't make sense. One, yes. The situation with the forwards is far worse. Belanger, Eager, Hordichuk, Petrell are at best fringe players. The Oil can't afford to keep all four. I appreciate there are two more years left on Belanger's and Eager's contracts; is it possible to ship them down to OKC or Stockton and start cleaning the deck to bring up prospects to the big club.

This action or lack of action impedes the rebuild.

If the Oilers are interested in winning long-term - you'll see Eager/Hordichuk/Petrell on the fourth line ahead of MPS and Hartikainen...

Don't get me wrong - MPS and Hartikainen are definitely better options - but you forget that our fourth line will (or should) see the ice for 10 - 12 minutes a game... You're hurting their development by putting our youth on the fourth line...

Both MPS and Hartikainen are definite third line possibilities... We should be discussing when those guys replace the likes of Jones and Smytty rather than 4th line bangers like Eager and Hordichuk...

In regards to keeping Sutton and Peckham - you forget that these guys are going to be competing for the 6/7 spot... Would you rather have Klefbom or Teubert sitting in the pressbox fighting for 10 minutes of ice-time??

Many forget that a rebuild takes time... You're 100% right that this situation is very frustrating... I've also questioned the logic of Tambo (especially with replacing Renney) and his extension, but we're still at least a year away from reasonably expecting any sort of push to the playoffs... I do think we'll be outside of a top five pick at the end of the season - but not by much... We're finishing anywhere around 24th to 26th overall...

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#48 K_Mart
August 28 2012, 02:44PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I like the idea of being three-deep in scoring wingers on the right side, and I also like giving Paajarvi a chance.

It'll be interesting to see how close the coach sticks to what he was saying in June/July - after all, it's entirely possible he toys with ideas in the preseason and changes his approach.

I'd much prefer to see MPS earn his chance than have it given to him. Let's wait and see how he performs in camp before making any bold hopes for Ultra Magnus.

I feel like one more full season in OKC would give him the most touches with the puck.

When I heard that he was a defenceman until he was 15 and then Struds said that Pajaarvi could be a great penalty killer I immediately thought he'd be a great replacement for Smytty in the years to come. A third line, penalty killing specialist who can move up in the line up when needed.

I'd like to see him put up 35 pts a season as a role player, but I think one more year in OKC would be best. I also really hope Harti does will in camp and takes Petrell's job.

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#49 Old Retired Guy
August 29 2012, 01:53PM
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Sounds to me like JW has it as close to correct as anyone could possibly predict at this point in time. VERY balanced approach to the assessment. JW has found the reasonable middle-ground....neither overly optomistic or overly pesemistic.

While it is possible, reasonable, fun, to discuss the dozens of minor variations that might occur,

For discussion purposes, this should be referenced as the benchmark "go to" article for analyis of the Oilers current roster situation....clear and concise.

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#50 NewAgeSys
September 09 2012, 01:05PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

Anyone have a clue what it might be??

**raises eyebrows and clears throat**

gagner leading the oilers in points and hemmer turning into a shoot first player after almost 600 NHL games?

does your NewAgeSys come with a Delorean that has us in an alternate 2012?

Ha ha ha,very good,i am still holding the line if the NHS is used,if the adjusted hybrid we saw some of last year is used I cant say we will see any improvement,probably a reversal because we didnt really use the hybrid consistantly last year,it failed for us the most consistantly but we didnt use it all year ,we had three distinct phases last year,an "{unintentionally NHS}adjusted hybrid"that simply added a possesion/transition focus to the set play system---the we used a "traditional hybrid"a totally set play system---then we used an "{intentionally}NHS adjusted hybrid"as we experimented to finish the year---the exact system adjustments LA rode to the Cup.

This is funny but true,if I can sit in my chair at home and yell "get ready to shoot" two seconds before Hemmr gets yelled at by the rest of the room to "shoot"then we have a dynamic to review,why am I yelling get ready to shoot before anyone else has even clued in to the developing scoreing dynamic,they seem to catch up right at the SHOOT moment---but they dont see it comeing soon enough--like Hemmer must not see it comeing.hemmer needs ME upstairs watching the game or at home watching the game or practice on my computer so I CAN FIX HIS TIMEING AND VISION for him,it wont take long,Hemmer knows as well as we do when to shoot but he isnt able to keep up with the speed of his execution when visualiseing the offensive catalyst he is approaching,he is ultra-focused on the defensive scheme he is engaging at high speed so he just needsan "ear in the sky"to beep him when to shoot enough times for him to see the shortcuts instinctually to the shooting spots.

Hemmer needs to learn to see the game develop in 3D,ha ha ha,yes you heard it right,he needs some NHS coaching,and not much,maybe a week to change his entire game,the NHS will teach him a version of the Pimsleur method of learning one integrated into the NHS so as to apply to Hockey by ME and ME ALONE,ha ha ha ha.

And before anyone says anything "nutty" like,if it was so simple why hasnt anyone done it that way??You have no proof it works!!---i will cough up a hairball,no one has done it for that exact reason,they dont know how well this method of teaching works because NO ONE HAS USED IT AS A CORE VALUE WHEN CREATING A HOCKEY SYSTEM,individuals with high level communication skills like Ralph Krueger and others who are formally trained in effective communication skills and teaching techniques will use methods in some ways similar to the Pimsleur inspired/NHS methods----but I developed a way to teach entire lineups of Athletes to see the dynamics of the game in a completely new way at the exact same time,putting them in tune immediatly and most effectively.I applied many concepts to create a SPORTS FRIENDLY "Pimsleur inspired NewAge Hockey System"an absolutely simple and easy to learn and to execute system of playing ice-hockey,and in doing this I opened up an entirely new way of viewing the management of an NHL hockey team both on and off the ice.

For 200 yrs the Church suppressed the fact that the Sun DIDNT revolve around the earth,my expectations of acceptance of the NHS are realistic,thats why I had to be unconventional in my approach to getting the data out.My scorecard says the NHS has had a made a quantifiable and direct contribution to a Cup win in its second year of exposure,that is a pretty good record.I am not giveing anything new related to the NHS away just yet.The record already speaks for itself and why shouldnt I profit??I am in no hurry as I dont own a hockey team or run one that I want to win a Stanley Cup---get it ,I dont accept the suppression and attempted role reversal,I have put enough data out there and can prove teams achieved positive results using the NHS,so as I say a team can come to me now,besides this wasnt my career,I didnt spend my life playing hockey and dreaming of becomeing an instant Guru,not at all,I didnt even really like skateing,never mind playing hockey.ha ha ha ha,life is funny sometimes.

My net investment has been two years of spare time ,and a couple of layers of fingertip skin due to smoking keyboards,ha ha ha.

To be quite frank I am tired of going over this stuff so much,and just want to focus on a single team or group of players,my primary intent with all this internet posting was to build a concrete cyber-record of my ceaseless attempts to get the NHS to the Oilers and it became an entirely different monster,now the issue has evolved because the more I discuss the NHS and post about it the more it takes on a life of its own,because this is really just me finally writeing down and verbally explaining my cerebral visualisation of the NHS.But as it is being documented and then compared to any other system I can find it is becomeing stronger and more "real"so to speak,it is being materialised or manifested from concept to communication to initiation already at warp speed---LAs NHS integration proves this to be fact because they won a Cup with an NHS adjusted hybrid system.

So whats left for me to do,spend every day explaining the basics of the NHS to people on the internet???NOT!!!

I am not going to post the entire system database ANYWHERE,and I only released a very small amount of data to enable an adjustment of the hybrid system,I held back the bulk of the NHS data for the Oilers sole use,remember this was created for them??I have discussed many core values of the NHS online in different situations but without the entire program this means little,so the integrity of the NHS is rocksolid and the Oilers still have exclusive opportunity to take the entire NHS out of circulation until they see fit to release it ,if ever,but as things stand I am tireing of the runaround attatched to this entire issue of introduceing a new system of play to my favorite team,and when that shine wears off then the catalyst has disappeared and so does my desire or interest,but the NHS now has a cyber-life of its own so I am still here plugging away.The problem is that the NHS is like my team now and I NEED to win at all costs,so I cant say 100% that someday I might not just put the NHS before the Oilers and simply dump the data into cyberspace in a few select spots so it can produce the sucess it was designed to create.Till then I am just another "over the top"fan,who is liveing vicariously through his keyboard and his imagination,after all that doesnt sound half bad now does it??

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