Break It Down! – Forwards (2010/11 Edition)

By , August 26, 2010 1:42 pm

Is it a bird? A plane? NO...its the savior of Oilers hockey!

Well considering that it looks as though the GM has finished making his moves for the year, and that training camp will be starting sooner than later I figured that I should get on this and take a look at the team in the coming year.

Again, much like I did last year, I am going to do a series of posts discussing the team and how I think they will do in the coming year. Reading musts is Lowetide and his breakdown of each player, and big props to Behind the Net and Capgeek for all of my stats/salary info.

Oh, and I might as well brag now…I called them to score 190 – 210 goals last year…and they scored 206. Pretty bang on.

Last year I called the team young and mentioned that will cost us mucho lost games…and while they were young, the single biggest reason for lost games would be injuries. Man did we get hammered on the injures. But the big reason I bring this up again is the fact that we seem to be getting younger. Which as I see it will mean lots of lost games again.

Anyways, here are the forwards:
L/C/R
Penner/Horcoff/Hemsky
Hall/Gagner/MPS
Eberle/Brule/Cogliano
Jones/Fraser/Stortini
Omark/JFJ/MacIntyre

I tried to do lines as I saw them on opening night, but really when looking at that I have 0 idea what Renney will do for the forward lines. There is no checking line per se (although the 4th line might be able to handle it…don’t see it with Jones or Stortini however as both players are agitators and not necessarily defensive stalwarts). There are two lines that need cherry minutes (all the kids), plus Omark who from what I hear may be the most ready of the entire bunch. JFJ serves a role I assume, however I can’t see it. And SmackIntyre is at the end of the bench to fight other teams heavyweights.

Only line that is NHL ready is the top line, and they will see the toughest competition again. Power vs power. Maybe if you drop Gagner down with Brule and Cogliano you might have another line that won’t get overwhelmed often, but they would still need to be protected from tough competition.

Jesus.

Strengths

Hemsky. I figure people probably get sick of me harping on how awesome Hemsky is, but really he is the best player that the Oilers have. And on a damn good contract.

Ummm…we have lots of forwards. Looking at the lineup like that, I’m really stretching to find many other strengths. Penner “should” have another good year, Horcoff will bounce back I’m sure and hopefully last years kids will take a step forward. We can’t (and shouldn’t) put any of our hopes into Hall, Eberle or MPS. They will all be great players, but they will all be rookies and at most we can expect one of them to hit 40 points.

Weaknesses

We are a young team. There will be blown assignments, lots of time spent in our own zone and lots of goals scored against us. Lots. And those rookie slumps are going to hurt us harder than most teams.

We have too many small players. They will be losing battles in the corners and they will be pushed around (hopefully they got over the injury bug).

We do not have a checking line. Anywhere.

Lots and lots of forwards. Too many. There will be some good players in OKC. And I didn’t include all of the signings lately that could possibly be call ups. Like that kid who scores a ton in the A.

Could Use

Well this is pretty obvious. As said since the inception (INCEPTION!) of this blog…we need a good 3rd line checker/pker/faceoff expert. Come on management…its not that difficult. Hell, we could use 2 or 3 of the bastards, and there are lots out there. Cheap.

Oh, and size. That would be nice.

Finally

Well, this year could be ugly. I’ve been thinking all summer that this team can’t be as bad as last years team, but looking at the forward roster I’m not so sure now. Lots of mistakes will be made. Lots of goals scored against us. Lots of games lost (and I haven’t even started talking about the goalies!).

Ha, and I just read my last years summary, and I quote “That said, we are an injury or slump away from missing the second season.”. Did we ever miss it.

This year I’m betting we miss the playoffs unless a couple players decide that they will have spectacular years and singlehandedly pull the team into the playoffs.

32 Responses to “Break It Down! – Forwards (2010/11 Edition)”

  1. Racki says:

    Well I guess there are two good draft picks (at least) in this year’s draft… :P

    Seriously though, I wish Tambi would pick up another PKer so we can assemble a checking line. Outside of that, this year is a big crap shoot.. anything can happen. Colorado is proof of that.

  2. gr8one says:

    yeah, like you say almost impossible to make any sort of prediction, just too many question marks.

    I think right now though that if it were me doing the lines I’d put Gagner on the first line with Penner and Hemsky. The more I think about it, the more I believe the kid might be ready, and having two vet wingers and Penner to help protect him(in more ways than one) I really think that line could be dangerous.

    Another reason I like Gagner on the first line is I like the idea of Horcoff being the glue and safety net for two kids. I also believe that he will have a bounce back year offensively as well…yes he’ll still whiff on some goals, but all of the intangibles he would bring centering two kids outweighs his lack of high end skill, plus being the best guy we have on the dot, just having them start out with possession 50+% of the time could go a long way in helping the younger players.

    For line 3 I’d go with MPS/Brule/Cogliano…which would be super fast, decently physical(albeit rather small) and have some really good offensive upside as well…I really think the Oilers try and sell Cogs on being a Marchant type player this year and try him out as that PK guy we all know we need, and it just might turn out, even though I still think he has more offensive upside than Marchant did, but with MP and Brule that could still very well come out.

    and well, we all know what the fourth line will be any combination of JFJ/Jones/Fraser/Stortini and Smack, with Fraser/Stortini being the more regular of the bunch.

    So,

    Penner/Gagner/Hemsky
    Hall/Horcoff/Eberle
    MP/Brule/Cogliano
    JFJ/Fraser/Stortini

    Let me say though I have a REALLY hard time not including Omark and Giroux in that bunch…to the point that I might just as soon have MP/Eberle start in OKC to see what we have in them…

    I’m especially intrigued by Giroux…he’s big, and scoring 55+ goals in the AHL in consecutive seasons is nothing to scoff at…yeah yeah, I know that often doesn’t translate to the NHL, but I think giving Giroux some real time in the lineup with some cherry minutes and PP time to let him get some confidence up here has potential to pay off huge.

    Penner/Gagner/Hemsky
    Hall/Brule/Giroux
    Omark/Horcoff/Cogliano

    ????

  3. Racki says:

    Actually, MPS (I still want to call him MPS), Brule and Cogliano together is one line combo I thought about yesterday too. They’d complement each other well.

    As for Giroux, I shouldn’t write a player off, but he’s 29, and had try outs for the Rangers (albeit barely) and the Caps. I kind of wonder if there is an NHL player there at all. I pretty much figure at this stage of the game, he’s an AHLer. But you never know.

    Anyways, my random line thoughts for opening night:

    Hall Horcoff Hemsky
    Penner Gagner Eberle
    MPS Brule Cogliano
    Stortini Fraser Jones

    Omark is exchangeable with some of the wingers in there.

    Anyways, my thoughts:

    It’s probably too soon to ride Hall, but let’s start it out that way and see what he’s got. He’s got some good defensive ability (at least in junior), and of course so does Horcoff. So they would probably be alright power vs. power.

    As far as line 2, I really think Penner Gagner and Cogliano all work great together. I split up Gagner and Cogs though. But I think having Penner on with Eberle will help shelter him defensively.

    As for line 3, well, you already said it gr8one.

    Line 4.. well. uh… not much to say there. It’s an energy line, really. I think that one could stand to have an upgrade in place of Jones. I like the guy, but I’d rather see that checking winger we need to get take his spot. Then that line could be a decent checking line.

    Another crazy random idea:

    Penner Gagner Hemsky
    Omark Brule Cogliano
    MPS Hall Eberle (Cherry minutes)
    Fraser Horcoff Stortini (Fraser and Horcoff could rotate center)

    3 scoring lines, 1 checking line.. and a whole lot of goals scored in our net. lol

  4. gr8one says:

    lol @ “3 scoring lines, 1 checking line.. and a whole lot of goals scored in our net.”

    but yeah, the possibilities at this point are endless, we could probably put together about 30 different combinations with compelling arguments both for and against, won’t really know unto we see how TC shakes things out.

    As for Giroux, I totally agree with you…I just think in a year of complete overhaul with a bazillion youngins’ we will need to be very careful with why not give a guy like that a really good shot? what do we have to lose?

    besides, I think the hockey gods owe us a few good things after the past few years…oh wait, maybe we used up all of our good hockey Karma in the 80′s…o_O

  5. Racki says:

    Yah, you’re right about Giroux. It would be silly to not at least give him a try out up here.

    And yes, there are some good combinations available for scoring lines. I really like our scoring line possibilities. The depth lines (i.e. a checking line).. well that part worries me. But maybe they’ll get a checker in a trade before the season starts or something.

  6. MetalOil says:

    Good and reasonable analysis !
    This year is really tough to project and I have only one expectation for the team this year and that is to be exciting. That is all I want from this young group but hey I would happily take more (like a playoff spot but I am not expecting one)

    As for the coaches I want them to gradually move Gagner up to a first line center role at some point this season (so long as he earns a promotion). Early to mid season I would settle to just see him fill in on the top line for Horc’s from time to time when he is going good. But at the mid to late season point I would like to see him as a permanent fixture on the 1st line (again provided that he earns it).

  7. chucker says:

    None of these lines factor in Smack, Struds, Peckham, Chorney, Reddox, JFJ, Belle, or even a darkhorse like Vande Velde.

    Tambellini’s interview was very accurate in that there will be lots of guys pushing for jobs and that we already have too many players under contract. Somebody’s gonna get moved sooner or later.

    Having said that, we really don’t have a huge problem in terms of guys clearing waivers if need be.

    Oh, there’s studdly wonderbomb out there too….

  8. Racki says:

    Yes there definitely are some guys that can fill roles. I actually completely forgot about Reddox and VV… those are two guys I actually wouldn’t mind seeing up here. VV might be better off adjusting in the AHL a bit though. I never really like guys going from College->NHL, but for some it definitely works though. But it’s probably best to let VV develop in the AHL a bit though. I have high hopes for him too.

  9. Racki says:

    Reddox Fraser Stortini as our “shutdown line”? Hmm.. I hope this Fraser kid is good.. :P

  10. neufab says:

    I like that the Oilers are expected to suck. They may not make the playoffs but they should be better than last year (it won’t take much)if they can stay off of the IR. As for possible line combinations, they should try to build on the few things that actually worked last year. Penner & Brule seemed to click, Cogliano played well at the end of the year, and Horcoff was much better on the 3rd line. The Hemsky factor changes a LOT because this team is automatically better with him on the ice. X-factor is that Hall is being sold as a natural center and time will tell where he fits.

    Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
    Penner-Brule-Eberle
    Paajarvi/Fraser-Horcoff-Cogliano
    Paajarvi/JFJ-Fraser-Stortini/MacIntyre

    I’m not sold on Omark yet – might be another Nilsson just smaller.

  11. chucker says:

    neufab: I like that the Oilers are expected to suck. ………I’m not sold on Omark yet – might be another Nilsson just smaller.

    Yeah, expectations are low. Tenth or so should be considered successful. On O’Mark, I really think this kid can come in and be like Samsonov was. (yes, I have my Oiler goggles on). If not, at least we will see if he’s got game for the NHL.

  12. Racki says:

    MPS might be another Nilsson, but bigger :P

    I kid…

    Really I think each of the kids will have to earn their way on the roster. The TC should help figure out things a bit. But I suspect there will be some demotions/call-ups throughout the year. I am not expecting Omark, MPS, or Eberle to stick here the entire season.

  13. gr8one says:

    lol, I’m all over the board with Omark…sometimes my Oiler goggles and imagination have me dreaming of him aspiring to be another Marty St.Louis and then other times my other pessimist Oiler goggles have me chalking him up as being another Schremp…but smaller.

    hehe…Chucker, did “O’Mark” recently apply for Irish citizenship? :-P

  14. neufab says:

    Racki – “we need a good 3rd line checker/pker/faceoff expert”
    Chucker – “we already have too many players under contract.”

    Lets hope that “too many” assets results in a deal for that 3rd liner the Oilers neeeeeeeeeed!

    Who do the Oilers have in the system to become that guy if they don’t acquire him? Most of the hopefuls seem to be offensive.

  15. Racki says:

    I think Omark will surprise. Just I wonder if the Oilers will give him enough opportunity to do so.

  16. Racki says:

    neufab: Racki – “we need a good 3rd line checker/pker/faceoff expert”
    Chucker – “we already have too many players under contract.”Lets hope that “too many” assets results in a deal for that 3rd liner the Oilers neeeeeeeeeed!Who do the Oilers have in the system to become that guy if they don’t acquire him?Most of the hopefuls seem to be offensive.

    Reddox.. Vande Velde.. MacDonald.. I think they’d be the front runners “in the system”

  17. gr8one says:

    neufab:

    Who do the Oilers have in the system to become that guy if they don’t acquire him?

    Now there’s a question that I’ve been asking myself a lot lately…Now, don’t laugh, but it seems the Oilers still have some hopes for him since they didn’t cut him loose with Poo and Potulny.

    I’ll start with his Talent analysis and “Future” that Hockey’s future has written about him…

    Talent Analysis:
    He is a skilled center with a good set of wheels. He handles the puck well and has a very good shot. He can score from many areas of the ice and doesn’t shy away from playing in traffic. Exceptional in the faceoff circle, he could be a player that is counted on to take defensive zone draws on a regular basis.

    O’Marra is at his best when he is playing with a physical edge to his game. Banging bodies, creating turnovers and playing tough in the corners or in front of the net. He’s a natural center but has shown the ability and the comfort to play on the right wing as well as he did with Team Canada.

    FUTURE

    Projects to be a third-line center in the NHL who is able to shutdown the opposition, throw the body, take the key faceoffs and chip in offensively from time to time.

    Ryan O’marra FTW!!!

    via-> http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/ryan_o_marra

    Wow, does that not sound like exactly the type of player we need?? If only he could come in and live up to that!!!

    yea yea…those Oiler goggles again, but intriguing to at least think about.

    Now if he lived up to that, a third line of Lander/O’Marra/Hartikainen could be downright scary in a few years…elite shutdown potential with a little bit of offense.

    oh yeah, and Racki’s suggestion of Chris VV is another for sure.

  18. neufab says:

    The only thing that I don’t like about Reddox is his size. He would be perfect if he was 6’2″ – 225 lb. I like his energy and desire to hit and play with aggression. The other guys I just simply don’t know anything about. I guess I’m guilty of following primarily the higher profile prospects.

    If O’marra ends up being ‘that’ guy, then maybe I’ll eventually get over the Ryan Smyth trade… maybe. ;)

  19. Racki says:

    I actually was going to say O’Marra too, but I couldn’t remember if we cut him loose or not. For some reason I thought we did (I see he is signed with us for this year though).

    Also, I wasn’t so sure the Oil were keen on him. I am a bit confused with the players we saw briefly last year, but I do seem to recall that his short stint did look promising.

    Oh and jeez, Hartikainen is another possibility.. forgot about him too. His biggest enemy was his skating ability though. Not sure if he’s overcome that or not.

    Edit: Ohh, Riley Nash was the guy I was thinking of that we “dumped”. Riiight. Hmm, chalk me up as one that would like to see O’Marra step up and take a crack at a full time roster spot.

  20. Mr.Majestyk says:

    I’d like to see Reddox on the top line.

    Kidding of course. Some pretty decent line combos everyone’s putting out there. I personally like the idea of Horcoff dropping back and embracing the role of checking line center. No PP time, just checking line, PK. After his all-star season they had him wearing too many hats. Bring him back to basics.

  21. gr8one says:

    Agree about Horcoff Mr.M.

    Just for the hell of it I looked up Oiler face off stats from last year and was actually quite surprised.

    http://i125.photobucket.com/albums/p67/fraglez/Untitled-2.jpg

    First off, Hemsky is absolute money on the dot, he should change his name to Hem$ky and play C.(I kid, I kid!)

    But, it was a really nice surprise to see O’Marra right up there at the top, I know the sample size was small, but still promising for a guy that green coming in to the NHL and having immediate success on the dot, even if it wasn’t that many draws. It’s a start anyways.

    I didn’t realize that Brule was that decent on the draws last year either.

    So, let’s say Brule keeps it up, O’Marra makes the team and is +50%, Horcoff goes back to his usual faceoff success rate and Gagner takes another step forward in that area, we could actually go from being a terrible faceoff team to a pretty decent one, without any outside help.

    /edit

    oh, I forgot about Fraser, who last year with Chicago took 448 draws and won 48.8 %…which isn’t ideal, but not terrible either.

  22. Racki says:

    So down the center, we may have:

    Gagner, Brule, Horcoff, Fraser

    Hmm, both Gagner and Horcoff have to pick up the slack on the dot. Gagner has improved a fair bit over his 3 years (in chronological order: 41.8, 42, then 47.4). Hopefully he can keep along that path, as you said gr8one. But even 47.4 isn’t TOO bad, I suppose.

    But Horcoff.. last year wasn’t so good, for what he normally brings. Maybe it’s just that he’s taking far too many draws, I don’t know. He apparently had said the shoulder didn’t bother him on the dot, but maybe he was just covering it up or something.

    Anyways, if Horcoff returns to Horcules form, our faceoff prowess wouldn’t be too bad, as you said Gr8one.. and maybe O’Marra can keep his luck going and take a few draws here and there too.

    As excited as I am in seeing MPS, Eberle, Hall and Omark, I think we’ve pretty much decided that appearances by one or more of O’Marra, Vande Velde, Hartikainen, Reddox, and maybe MacDonald could be a big impact as well.

    I agree with what Steve-O’s been alluding to (if I’m not mistaken) for a while now.. this team needs a shutdown forward line for line matching.

  23. victoriaoilerfan says:

    The talent analysis has been done by you guys so I won’t go there. I would like to give this a try:
    MPS Horcoff Hemsky
    Penner Cags Eberle
    Hall Brule Cogs
    Storts Fraser Jones.

    We are obviously VERY weak up the middle IMO. Our lack of size has to be carefully balanced which can be a real problem when you are trying to take advantage of the talent you have.
    Simply I think MPS is going to be a better player with Hemsky than HAll. There is no bases for me feeling that way other than I feel MPS may be more creative.
    I also think that throwing HAll out against teams first line every night is going to be alot for him to handle. Getting him away from that pressure may really give him a chance to open up. Saying that against the right teams switching HAll and MPS may be a good move.
    Heres a scarey thought? What happens if MPS isn’t ready or we end up moving Cogs? We have some real holes to fill then. And..still no 1st line center to boot.

  24. Racki says:

    Well, there is always Omark too, vic. And I like your lines, btw.

    Also, we could always sign Comrie or some similar player, if need be and he’s avail.

    I am not sure if you answered this already, but whats the deal with “Cags”?

  25. victoriaoilerfan says:

    Cogs =Cogliano not Gagner.

  26. Racki says:

    Yah I get that Cogs = Cogliano, but you always call Gagner “Cags” for some reason :P

  27. victoriaoilerfan says:

    I have a late comment/thought in this topic. I worry a little about veteran presence on this team. I know a verteran take ice time away from our young guys. But, on the other hand young guys learn a ton from good veterans. I think far more than most coaches can teach them frankly.
    Spector has a rumour that IF the Devils sign Kovie, they do have to move someone and that someone might be Langenbrunner. He makes 2.8 mill. per and is a UFA after next season. He is a R/W but I am wondering if for this really important year coming up if he isn’t worth a look. I know the thoughts against it, but he sure would add some valuable expierence.
    Who would sit in this case. I think Cogs is going to be traded, perhaps with Souray. So that might be the spot.
    Just thinking out loud here. but I have always liked the way this guy plays the game and if some of his traits rub off on our young guys I think it will help us down the road.
    Just one year!

  28. Racki says:

    Yah I’m definitely for adding some veteran presence. Sometimes I wonder if Tambo isn’t doing it because they are all for another tank year.

  29. victoriaoilerfan says:

    Racki: Yah I’m definitely for adding some veteran presence. Sometimes I wonder if Tambo isn’t doing it because they are all for another tank year.

    But I don’t think a Landgenbrunner is going to move us into playoff contention. What I do want is someone that can mentor the kids thru expierence and example. We don’t have that now IMO. Penner just isn’t that kind of personality and neither is Hemsky. Horcoff works hard but not sure he is the guy the kids can look up to. At least not if/till he gets his game together.
    I would take flyer on Lang. for 1 year. Whats the down side?

  30. Racki says:

    Penner might not necessarily be a mentoring presence, but his ability to create open ice and be defensively responsible is enough for me to want him paired with one of our younger players (whether that’s Gagner or even Cogs or the rookies, that is fine).

    But I don’t know. Langenbrunner is an alright player… maybe a bit inflated stats from playing on a good line. Not the most consistent when it comes to scoring, but he would be OK. And at least he’s got OK size too.

    I do think it would help to bring in a vet.

    And no, a vet wouldn’t necessarily push us over the edge to making the playoffs, but I think a vet or two could go a long ways in helping pull us out of the sewer, however… especially if they bring a PK game as part of their repertoire :P (which actually Langenbrunner does bring)

    I don’t think of things the way some others do. It’s not ones and zeros where we’re either competing for the playoffs or we’re competing for the top pick. Getting a couple of vets could help the kids learn long term, as you say, and I’d be all for that. It would also very likely raise our rank in the standings, which is what I meant with the Tambi comment. Wouldn’t necessarily put us 8 and above, but I don’t think we’d be in the basement.

  31. dawgtoy says:

    Listened to Doug Weight’s interview this afternoon and he states one of the reasons he is sticking around is to help with “John”. This of course is something that were definitely missing. Brilliant move on their part.

  32. Racki says:

    dawgtoy: Huh.. interesting.. yah we could definitely use that kind of mentorship and mentality here. I bet you Doug Weight is happy too to just be around a rising star like that.

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