Break It Down! – Forwards (2012/13 Edition)

By , January 14, 2013 8:51 pm

Big year coming?

Big year coming?


Well shit…I suppose I should get this done and out there.

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.

As is becoming a trend in this series, it looks as though the Oilers are going to be a young team. However, outside of Yakupov I don’t see us playing another rookie up from and that means only good things. I’m pretty happy with our top 9, and so long as the 4th line can give us 5 min a night of non-shitty hockey I think this group can make stuff happen.

I worry slightly about depth (i.e. injuries) but I think we have some capable kids in OKC (although I imagine they are currently getting killed during the training camp).

Anyways, here are the forwards:

L/C/R

Hall/The Nuge/Eberle

Yakupov/Gagner/Hemsky (I heard on the tweeter that the wingers have been switching off so I don’t know who’s going where)

Smyth/Horcoff/Hartikainen

Eager/Belanger/Petrell

Hordichuk/VandeVelde/Paajarvi

I’m not 100% sold that the kid line can go power vs. power just yet, but I think that they can kill and eat up pretty much most other lines (I only worry about the PvP based on I’m not sure they can stop another teams top line…I assume Kreuger will attempt to run out our 3rd line against other teams top lines).

I think that even should other teams try to match a checking line against them, they’ll still come out on top. Only way I see them being shut down is by keeping the puck in our zone (hence the power vs. power).

Second line looks pretty sweet by my eyes. I’ve heard good things about Yakupov’s shot/one-timer so Hemsky setting him up should look pretty good, and Gagner has consistently been getting better (I honestly think he’s pretty close to being a legit 2nd line center). Plus we all know he’s not afraid to throw down should someone start running around.

That third line should be able to handle a shutdown role. Ideally all I’d want from that line is the ability to break even against other teams top two lines, but we all know they’ll end up in the minus. So long as it’s only around -10 for the year I think it’ll be a win.

Belanger can’t suck as bad offensively as he did last year (can he?), so I just see a PK specialist/faceoff taker who will lend some talent to the 4th line (allow them to be less of a liability) who can move up to the 3rd line should Horcoff come down with a case of the suck. Eager…meh. More talented than Hordichuk but didn’t see that killer instinct which made him rather unliked by the Canucks. And I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that I’m not a Petrell fan. Well, I like the guy but he’s not NHL talent.

That 4th line is about where I’d put Hordichuk (only plays if we need “heavyweight” scrapper) and VandeVelde (emergency C call up). Paajarvi…I just don’t know. I kinda think he’s getting the bum rush by the Oilers (as did Omark, but we won’t go there). I think, unless there is an injury he’ll stay in OKC but I’d like to see him traded for D help, and to let him get a chance to contribute for another team. Realistically he ain’t making the top 6 here.

Strengths

Youth – It should help tremendously with this compacted schedule.

Firepower – I think the forward group is set for the next 5 years. Bottom 6 can be signed as FA or picked up off of waivers, and the top 6 is all young and awesome.

Experience – I know this kinda goes against the youth comment above, but if you look at the fact that Hall and Eberle are on year 3 now, and outside of Yakupov we are not running out any rookies I think we should be in the beginning of the Edmonton Oilers “window”. Basically, the team needs to start pushing for the playoffs and success in there starting now.

Weaknesses

Bottom 3 – The bottom 3 would still be considered a concern to me, but for the most part I think our forwards are looking good.

Depth – I think this has got to be a concern. Any injury to our top 6, and outside of Paajarvi I don’t see anyone we can immediately slot in there that will provide any offense. Pitlick and Hamilton are maybe’s but they’ve struggled from what I understand.

Could Use

For the most part I am pretty happy with this forward group.

Finally

I think this year we make the playoffs. Partially because the short schedule is an advantage to us, but I also think that this forward group can drag the rest of the team into an 8 spot.

16 Responses to “Break It Down! – Forwards (2012/13 Edition)”

  1. Racki says:

    Thanks Steve-O..

    I’m actually interested in what some of these guys do under a new coach. I really liked Tom Renney, but you can’t help but be inspired by what Kreuger has been saying lately. I think every player on this team is a new player. I give Ben Eager a clean slate, even.

    He had a rough start last year with the concussion from his own player (Kirill Tulupov – what the heck is he doing now, anyways?). I’m not sure if he was tentative because of that, or Renney just rode him out of the line up. But I know he can play a good hockey shift, and I’m pretty sure he can play tough.. he just really didn’t play tough last year.

    Kreuger seems to have a different philosophy on toughness. Darcy Hordichuk seemed pretty happy to have Kreuger coaching because it sounds like he feels that Kreuger will give him a long enough leash to actually do what he needs to. So I wonder if the same can be said of Eager. It’s hard to know for sure if a guy like Eager skated around like a Gandhi on ice because he wanted to or because of coach’s orders. I think it’s a little of both. But I think under Kreuger we’re going to see some more battle. We’ve got two guys that can throw down quite well, and Hordichuk already mentioned he’s not afraid to take a suspension. That’s music to my ears. The guy isn’t going to win any awards on the ice, but he can agitate. You’re either the guy that’s annoyed and trying to get even with the guy that is punishing your teammates, or you’re the guy out punishing the opposition’s teammates. He isn’t a versatile player, but if used in his role, I think he’s quite good at it. Even with super limited ice time.

    Also, Hordichuk mentioned that Kreuger pushed Tom Renney at times to allow him to be on the ice / fight… and that was why Hordichuk was happy re-signing.. because he thinks Kreuger will use his tough guys when needed.

    Anyways, I’m not delusional into thinking Hordi can play a regular shift, but I do think that he can be used right, and Tom Renney had no friggen clue how to use him. And while Ben Eager is a pretty good player for a tough guy and can skate quite quick, he’s got hands of stone and isn’t going to score much.. so those hands of stone have to be used in another way from time to time.

    The top six is on auto pilot.. I’m interested to see how Renney handles those tough guys!

  2. gr8one says:

    Stevo-O, did you intentionally leave out Jones because of his injury?

    When he gets back I think he makes that fourth line look a lot better, and is also versatile enough to move up the lineup if necessary, maybe interchange he and Harski on any given shift depending on need/effectiveness.

  3. Racki says:

    I don’t think Steve-O likes Jones. But I agree, our 4th line.. even 3rd line (not to say Harsky isn’t any good.. I just think Jones can play 3rd line too) .. is better with him. What the hell happened to him anyways? I missed that..

  4. gr8one says:

    It’s been out about a week now, I don’t know the details but what I do know is it is some kind of eye injury and it’s around 6 weeks until he should be back.

    I think Jones is one of the Colin Fraser type players in the sense that on a weak team like the Oilers where they might be expected to play beyond their capability they seem very exposed but put them on a good team and have them play roles to their strengths and they suddenly seem lie great players. So in that sense I really like him as an energy fourth liner that can PK and chip in a few goals, doesn’t get his lunch stolen constantly and can move up if need be.

  5. Steve-O says:

    Yeah. I forgot about Jones. I think I grabbed the roster from who’s at camp and that’d be how I missed him. Same with Sutton on the d post.

    But yeah, I’d take him over petrell. That’d be about it.

  6. Racki says:

    gr8one:
    It’s been out about a week now, I don’t know the details but what I do know is it is some kind of eye injury and it’s around 6 weeks until he should be back.

    I think Jones is one of the Colin Fraser type players in the sense that on a weak team like the Oilers where they might be expected to play beyond their capability they seem very exposed but put them on a good team and have them play roles to their strengths and they suddenly seem lie great players. So in that sense I really like him as an energy fourth liner that can PK and chip in a few goals, doesn’t get his lunch stolen constantly and can move up if need be.

    Jones is 10x the player here than Fraser ever was. Thats not saying much though. But Fraser wasn’t good here because he brought nothing to the table for us. Jones shows the drive.. Fraser never really did. I also think Colin Fraser’s impact in Los Angeles is overstated. In short, I don’t really like him at all, and wouldn’t want him back no matter how our team is built.. but Jones I like and think he can make a difference on just about any type of club.

    Steve-O: Sutton is out for the season anyways, and on the last year of his deal.. there is a good chance he’ll never play with the Oilers again (maybe in the NHL period), so no point including him anyways.

    As for your distaste for Jones.. I just don’t get that. Two years now where he’s had almost 20 goals for us, playing in the bottom six. Can’t complain about that.. that just seems silly. He’s basically our Glencross again. Oh if only we had Brodziak+Glencross and Jones rolling as a 3rd/4th line… Anyways, I don’t think of him as a top six guy, but he’s a plug that can actually score goals and play a regular shift quite well. He’s decent enough on the PK too. He brings enough to the team to be a good bottom six guy, so I never understood the hate for a guy who’s contributed well to the team. I sometimes think you just like to hate on the popular players here and love the less popular ones, you weirdo ;)

  7. NorwegianOiler says:

    Subban “far from” new deal: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=413662

    Lord, it breaks my balls when I read about players claiming negotiations are “out of their control”. What the fuck? It’s annoying to know that they just hand things over to some lawyer-agent that works the team for a deal. These middle-men shouldn’t be allowed, it sucks the life out of sports. Own up, ask for your salary personally. (Ovechkin that crazy Russian did…).

    Seems like most of the time players don’t even know what’s going on in negotiations. They’re at the mercy of their agent. Blood and piss, I say. Another example of money over passion.

    And…by the way…the hilarity continues with the “express buy-out allowance”. After months of lockout, whining over dollars and rules and fairness: The first thing to happen is that a team asks one of their players just to stay home so they can shed his massive contract. Cleverly done.

    This extra-curricular shit drains me. It drains me.

    :D

  8. Racki says:

    Ryan Smyth’s dealings in Edmonton (before we picked him up again) are an exact case of what you’re saying.

    A deal so close, but a stubborn GM and a stubborn agent didn’t get it done. Who knows what he would have settled for earlier on. The agents definitely drive the price up. But that said, if I could have a guy represent me and go get me top dollar doing what I do, I’d definitely take that opportunity.

  9. NorwegianOiler says:

    I’d do it myself. Fuck it. Look the GM in the face and sign a deal. How hard can it be? :D

  10. hemmerlady says:

    Thanks for the post Steve-o. I’ve been thinking about the 3rd and 4th lines lots lately. I hope you’re right about them and the post-season.

    If you really do have a Jonesy hate-on, I’m not sure why…I think he’s been punching way above his weight. like Racki said, he’s contributed a lot. Plus if nothing else, his attitude and passion on and off the ice are contagious.

    NorOil, I don’t remember ever having seen you swear before the last few months…you a little fed up by all the lockout palaver? (just an observation…I swear like a sailor in GDTs if we’re losing) :)

  11. gr8one says:

    hemmerlady:
    Thanks for the post Steve-o. I’ve been thinking about the 3rd and 4th lines lots lately. I hope you’re right about them and the post-season.

    If you really do have a Jonesy hate-on, I’m not sure why…I think he’s been punching way above his weight. like Racki said, he’s contributed a lot. Plus if nothing else, his attitude and passion on and off the ice are contagious.

    NorOil, I don’t remember ever having seen you swear before the last few months…you a little fed up by all the lockout palaver? (just an observation…I swear like a sailor in GDTs if we’re losing)

    You swear like a sailor in a GDT when we’re winning too…

    :p

  12. NorwegianOiler says:

    hemmerlady:
    Thanks for the post Steve-o. I’ve been thinking about the 3rd and 4th lines lots lately. I hope you’re right about them and the post-season.

    If you really do have a Jonesy hate-on, I’m not sure why…I think he’s been punching way above his weight. like Racki said, he’s contributed a lot. Plus if nothing else, his attitude and passion on and off the ice are contagious.

    NorOil, I don’t remember ever having seen you swear before the last few months…you a little fed up by all the lockout palaver? (just an observation…I swear like a sailor in GDTs if we’re losing)

    I never swear, I swear. I’m all class ;)

    I’m from the north, the even more uncouth Norwegian equivalent of Newfies. (I am aware of the slight self-burn there) I have long repressed my barbarian side, but I cannot hold back when faced with such monstrous idiocy as has been displayed during the lockout. Or when players “are out of control” in their own contract talks. Moron is derived from the Greek for dull, and it is both moronic and dull when those things happen. And I swear to cope. :D

  13. Racki says:

    LOL @ the Newfies comment.

    I think you’re full of shit about being Norwegian! There is no way you know so much about hockey and Canada being way over there. :lol: :P

    You and Alan both amaze me with your distance to this country but vast knowledge of the game. Bonus points for culture knowledge. Good stuff.

  14. NorwegianOiler says:

    Hehehe. I pry into your Canadian business on every possible occasion, even took a University course on Canadian society once. From Giovanni Caboto to the Red River Rebellion to Jacques Parizeau. Most is unfortunately forgotten by now. Had a teacher from PEI, brilliant guy, incidentally told a lot of Newfie jokes =)

    I think it’s more eye-catching that Alan, from a country that hardly knows hockey exist, has such knowledge of the sport. Must get lonely for ‘im.

  15. Metal&Oil says:

    Taylor Hall on the latest “Ask an Oiler” pretty much quashed any talk of him playing center saying that he is best suited to be a winger. With the speed he possesses having him flying down the wings is defiantly not a bad thing.

  16. Racki says:

    I think as nice as it is to have a rugged option for center, I’d rather that players play to their strengths. This goes back to the whole round hole / square peg overused terms from the MacT days. Nuge and Gagner are both pretty capable anyways. I think we can manage.

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