Friday, November 21, 2008
I figured it would be good to have a Q1 ranking for the Oilers so I can track players over the year. These rankings are heavily based on expectations and the grouping of players is more important than the actual rankings. I grew up on percentages, I dont really even know the difference between a C and a D.
Sheldon Souray - Outstanding so far and healthy. Has been a physical presence and one of the best Oilers players so far this season. He is also healthy which will need to stay for Souray to keep his ranking. Often shoots into blocks on the PP but the Oilers don't have enough shoot first players and Sourray is earning his cheque so far this year.
Dwayne Roloson - I wrote Roli off before the year but Roli has proven to be competitive and capable. Has basically earned the starters job and given the Oilers solid goaltending night in and out.
Steve MacIntyre - For a guy playing 3-4 minutes per game, he's done his role well. Able to make game changing hits and willing to stick up for his team.
Ales Hemsky - At 21 points in 20 games playing hard minutes Ales should have an A. If not for 6 games to start the season, he'd definately get one.
Dennis Grebeshkov - Struggled with Gilbert early but as David Staples points out, he wasn't at fault for many of them. I am bullish on Grebeshkov and wishing he was locked in longer.
Ethan Moreau - Led the Oilers well on the road trip earning #1 line role. Has struggled on the top line and takes too many penalties but Moreau after not playing for 2 years deserves kudos for his first quarter.
JDD - Played excellent when called upon. If not for the logjam in goal he'd get more starts.
Lubomir Visnosky - Not many of us thought Lubo was capable of playing hard minutes but he is doing it and surviving. His PP chemistry isnt there yet but looking forward to seeing him play with 37.
Mark Pouliot - After another poor season he has emerged as an NHL player IMO. He also seems to have chemistry with most players and is smart (but needs more jam). I'd like to see him get an extended shot between 18 and 26.
Fernando Pisani - Hard to blame him for the injuries or for playing out of position every game. Still does a lot right and is a valuable player.
Ladislav Smid - I actually liked his game before he got hurt. Hasn't emerged as a player yet and while other young defenders are emerging, the game still looks like a challenge for Ladi.
Shawn Horcoff - Struggled for a good chunk of the first 20 games and if he wasn't playing with the man Ales Hemsky his point totals would be much lower. Playing the tough minutes isnt an excuse anymore when your making 5.5. At the same time, he is incredibly valuable to the Oilers. The C ranking is possibly a reflection of a unlucky shooting streak.
Tom Gilbert - Struggled bad early. Would be a D ranking but came on in the last half dozen games.
Robert Nilsson - Inconsistency is hurting his game because at times he looks brilliant. Needs to produce more and be careful. He is likely the most tradable Oiler.
Andrew Cogliano - Coming on nicely over the past while but part of the kids problems early.
Erik Cole - Didnt mesh with Hemsky but not many players do. Doesn't think the game well but can skate, hit and generate chances on his own. If he could duplicate his games vs Canucks and Flames I'd be really happy with his game.
Jason Strudwick - Proved very useful early but started making errors and giveaways of late. His expectations for me arent high and the C ranking I suppose doesnt really reflect that.
Mattieu Garon - .888 SP isnt good enough period. Was amazing early but didnt keep his job. Was given the starting job on a platter and couldnt keep it. Could easily be a D.
Dustin Penner - Such a frustrating player. If he could duplicate his efforts against CBJ then we'd all be thrilled with the OS. More PP and time is 10-83 should mask his inconsistency but like MacT, I'd like to see more return for a 12th overall pick and 4.25 million per.
Sam Gagner - Proving how hard the NHL actually is. Thinks the game well and has been given preferential treatment from the Oilers. I expect he'll recover during the season. He's just too smart.
Zach Stortini - Lost his job to MacIntrye and thats the #1 reason for the ranking. Has played the agitator role effectively at times however.
Kyle Brodziak - Perhaps playing between 46 and 33 softened his game but he hasnt brought much jam. He also only has 3 points and isn't doing much on the PK. There isn't much separating him from Reddox anymore but I think he'll bounce back.
Steve Staois - Steady Steve's game is starting to decline. He looked bad early last season but came on so I'm confident he'll recover. To many giveaways and inability to make a breakout pass is another weakness in his game.
Overall, the Oilers first quarter has been a struggle. Their record is probably flattering given the quality of game they deliver night in and night out. Personally I'm still optimistic that most of the players on the team will respond. There is a lot of skill on this team and its still early. Far too much of the offense is generated by Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray. The biggest room for improvement needs to come from the kids and the PK. The PK might require a mercenary.