Saturday, October 4, 2008

Go time?

Since the end of last season I have been riding the Oilers roller coaster in terms of my opinion of the Oilers and good they will be this upcoming season. They are a team that showed a ton of promise with good skill and a couple question marks. Those being:

1) A lack of a true shutdown defender - This team needs a mean shutdown defender like Adam Foote or Robin Rhegher
2) Lack of a depth shutdown centre - I like Shawn Horcoff against almost anyone and the Oilers forward lineup is skilled but after Horcoff it is lacking down the middle defensively
3) Lack of an enforcer - Which could be crossed off the list with 45 games from MacIntyre
4) Goaltending - After watching JDD a couple times this pre-season I'd say the Oilers have 3 capable goalies. Unfortunately, the starter Garon is unproven and could be the 20th best in the league (in other words there is room for an upgrade).

On the other side, the Oilers have several young skilled players who should only get better this season (including but not limited to Gagner, Cogliano, Gilbert, Brodziak, Grebeshkov, Nilsson) and there are plenty of positives to focus on.

As a result of the debate with how good the team is comes the debate of what direction the Oilers will head this year. Will they be the Montreal Canadians, who added Tanguay, Lang and Laraque this offseason and seem primed for a cup run. Or will they follow the Chicago model, trading a player like Lang for a pick to allow young talent to develop. Looking at the Oilers lineup its tough to predict what direction the Oilers will go. If they add players and make a run at it, why not, injuries can happen so there may be no time like the present. 2005-2006 run was one of the best times I've had as a fan. Also, a decent run would accelerate the development of the kids. Like they had in 2005-2006 the Oilers have a couple players who are tradeable but might still have some cache around the league (IMO Salmelainen=Schremp) as well as a fairly deep organization. Trading a player or pick for Peca near the deadline would not only improve the Oilers but its also reasonable given Columbus' position and relations with the Oilers. If they dont make a push for it, it really makes me wonder whether or not its time to move Staois and Moreau. These guys are different from Robert Lang because they are excellent leaders and if anything else have a work ethic that should wear off on the kids. But at the same time, they are closer to Kelly Buchberger than they are Mark Messier. They arent players who can play hard minutes and shelter a younger players development. I also havent liked what I've seen from either player but I'm not overly concerned - its preseason. My concern is the Oilers could be 2 years away and are we taking away from the development of other players. An argument could be made that Oilers lost Glencross over Moreau. Which is ok, as long as your planning on building for the short term. A team serious about a run cannot get enough role players like Moreau or Staois. These players win championships. The additions of Cole and Visnovsky cause me to think the Oilers indeed think its time to make progress - time to trade prospects for players. After collecting picks and prospects for 3 years, the Oilers are IMO primed to make a couple such moves. With several teams still over the cap, the timing could be sooner than later.