Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Around the league

  • One of the teams I'm going to be following this season is the New York Rangers. They are off to the races with an great start but people are already predicting cap jail for the Rangers next season (although saying Dubinsky is better than Stasny is crazy talk). From the article,

    Boy, would that be a problem for the Rangers, who have $39.159 million committed to one goaltender, four defensemen, two centers and one winger - Henrik Lundqvist; Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal; Scott Gomez, Chris Drury; Markus Naslund - for next season, when the cap is more likely to decline somewhat rather than increase from the current $56.7M.

    The Rangers also have to resign Dubinsky, Zherdev and Callahan. With the cap at 56 million dollars and likely to decline due to the Canadian dollar, the Rangers look to be in cap trouble.

  • This year I joined a competitive keeper league. The entry fee is steep ($250) and with 25 picks and 10 guys in the draft the pickings are slim late in the draft. Another rule was that you had to have 4 rookies (or would be rookies). One of the picks I made was taking Luca Sbisa. My logic: Take the first rounder from 2008 from the team that I consider to have the best scouting staff. The Philedalphia Flyers. At the time I didnt even think Sbisa would play a game in the NHL. Last night, he played 5th most minutes on the Flyers and got 2 powerplay assists. As the 4th youngest player in the league, this pick is looking like a lucky one early. I'll be watching this guy on Sunday when the Oilers play Philly. For those of us hoping Ladi Smid turns it around, this guy is making it look easy thus far.
  • Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Its about the hockey

    We wait all summer for hockey, the Oilers start 4 and 0 and all we can talk about is this?

    If a guy gets a press pass and ****s up then its his loss. Were they harsh? Sure. But there are 250 other bloggers out there providing tons of info who would love a press pass. Shutting the door is a cop out but the Oilers dont understand the web and dont know how to address the ever growing Oilogosphere. Oilers, if you need someone I know a guy ;)

    The kids got conned into a deal, who cares. At the same time, I have a Gagner rookie jersey that I'd gladly pay $25 to get signed.

    Enough is enough. The Oilers are 4-0. Go Oil!

    Monday, October 13, 2008

    1 and 0 but causes for concern

    Finally a real NHL game last night! I was at the game and the Oilers somehow pulled it off - winning the game despite being outplayed. Here are some of my observations:

    Penner - I was only able to watch a couple of preseason games but Penner was playing in both. In both of those games as well as tonight he looked faster. In my season predictions post (that is still on my desktop so now lacks credibility) I made this prediction for Penner - "This is Penner's year. I've seen this guy play a couple times in preseason and he looked good. Scores 35 goals and 20 assists in his coming out year." Penner was likely the best Oilers player.

    Kid Line - Didn't do much but got a lot of respect due to their counter attack. I am concerned about their lack of size as a line and the number of turnovers they gave up. Away from Rexall it will be interesting to see if this line stays together. Surprising that they got 8 of the Oilers shots. They dont seem to take too many low percentage shots.

    Cole - Looked lost out there. I've read that he commented that he is learning a new system and that playing in Carolina was much more north/south. I've seen several players fail playing with Hemsky (Torres, Lupul to name a few). He isn't easy to play with and I the sooner they put Penner with 10-83 and put Cole with 34 and someone else better. Although the 18-34-27 line did generate the offense so that won't happen for a while.

    Horcoff - Played well but got dominated on the FO. Was he getting the "easy minutes on the dot" before?

    Hemsky - Lost. He is a slow starter every year and didn't look good last night.

    Souray - From what I saw, he was our best defender.

    Lubo - High risk but didn't scare me as much as he scared others.

    Grebs/Gilbert - Started off horribly but I thought had a good 3rd period. Grebs in particular looked like the early last season Grebeshkov but came on in the 3rd. Hopefully that trend continues.

    Strudwick - I liked him a lot. He and Souray were both physical and effective. With my lack of confidence in Staios/Smid and my comfort level with Staios/Strudwick, that to me says the gap between Smid and Strudwick is actually pretty high. I'm still a believer in Smid but winning hockey games is #1 and I don't see Smid getting many minutes barring injuries.

    Garon - played well but a little bit lucky perhaps. Colorado hit several posts.

    It's early and it's a win so I wont be overly critical but the shot clock was a concern. Moreau said in a post-game interview that "you don't win games on the shot clock" and that's true. I think the Oilers will be over 500 getting out-shot most games (because they can't win a draw). The kid line looked too creative. With the success of the Penner line, I wonder how long before we see
    Nilsson is one of the few Oilers who can skate and pass with Hemsky. The Euro brand of hockey is different from the North American game and Hemsky thinks a Euro game. His chemistry with Sykora is the best example I can think of. Is it worth a shot? Plus the kid line could also use some KISS influence Cole would bring. First game is a win so that's good. But there is work to do.

    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.