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:
Yakupov/Gagner/Hemsky (I heard on the tweeter that the wingers have been switching off so I don’t know who’s going where)
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.
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.
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.
For the most part I am pretty happy with this forward group.
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.