Category Archives: Oilers

All Edmonton Oilers related talk

Now I got a problem

 

I almost stayed away for a full 2 weeks, but in the end I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut.  All the detached rentina’s, sickness, going away party’s (gonna miss Miller), Royal Rumble’s, and anti gay remarks couldn’t get me back at the keyboard.  But last night I finally snapped.  Logan Couture scores to make it 1-0 as San Jose takes on Edmonton….and let the hypocrisy begin.

What Couture did doesn’t bother me at all.  The NHL needs to get some freakin’ personality in the game.  Its the fact that nobody will say a word about it.  Couture is now in his 4th season, so apparently that makes “Kaepernicking” ok.  Couture and the Sharks will also hide behind it being Super Bowl week so that was just a way of saying “go Niners!” (and after writing this I came to find out that is almost exactly what he said)

Again, I got no problem with Couture doing that.  The problem I have is that nobody will say a word.  His “look at me” celebration is apparently ok, yet the Russian kid shows genuine excitement about tieing up a game with 4.7 seconds left against the defending champs and people like…..I won’t name names…..lets call him Donald S. Cherry….damn I messed that up, oh well.  Anyway, Don is literally searching for a reason to come down on the kid, he had damn well say something about Couture.

He tried to tell a story about how he said the same thing about Fleury’s goal in 91, but he didn’t.  Then he tried to claim that HNIC color anaylst Craig Simpson had told him a story about how the Oilers used THAT celebration as motivation for the 7th game of that series which the Oilers won (of course they did hey Flames fans…)  This is also false.  Simpson said in an interview this week that it wasn’t the O.T. goal in game 6 that motivated them, it was Fleury’s “look at me” slide in the Oilers zone and in front of Grant Fuhr after putting the Flames up 3-0 in game 7 that picked the Oilers up in that game.

He might say something about Couture tomorrow, but even if he does I’m guessing he will have all the excuses in the world ready to go for the Canadian kid.  I just don’t understand how people can be so hypocritcal?!  During the 96-97 season, Harry York scored an O.T. goal for the St.Louis Blues.  In celebration of the goal, York threw his gloves off and if I recall correctly jumped.  He was by himself when he did this.  Grapes goes on air and defends him (as he should!)  So I would love to know what the difference was?

Don’t get me wrong here though, I’m a big fan of Grapes and I’m well aware this isn’t the first time he said something extremely hypocritical.  And he wasn’t the only one spouting off about it, just that he was the most vocal about it.

Yakupov wasn’t showing anyone up, it wasn’t a “look at me” moment, he was sky high that he sniped to tie a game for his team.  There was absolutely NOTHING wrong with it.  The dinosaurs in hockey love to humilate themselves when it comes to things like this.  They were petrified when the redline got taken out after the last lockout.  We all had to suffer through years of garbage hockey in the late 90’s and early 2000’s because the standard set in the 40’s was that it wasn’t hooking unless the player being hooked fell to the ice.  Hockey is right on par with baseball with their lack of progression in the sport and trust me that is not something to be proud of.

I can’t wait to see if guys have a big issue with Couture’s celebration.  This is just like the lone goal Team Canada scored against the U.S. in the WJC semi final game.  It SHOULD have been a goal, but it really shouldn’t have been a goal.  Couture shouldn’t get flack for what he did, but he should because of the standard the dinosaurs decided to set after the Yakupov controversy.  Of course even if they do it will be nothing but excuse after excuse for the 4 year Canadian vet I’m sure.  I really hope I’m wrong.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Blessing in disguise

 

Not much has gone right for Oiler fans since 2006.  Don’t know if anyone knows this, but Chris Pronger asked for a trade.  I’m sure most Oiler fans forgot about that.  Then Ryan Smyth got traded, and I’m sure that has slipped their mind as well.  They haven’t made the playoffs since 06, they’ve finished 30th, 30th and 29th the last 3 seasons, the proposed arena deal is taking a ridiculous amount of time to get done, and now there is a lockout.  But that last little piece might not be so bad for the Oilers.

Most teams in the NHL have their players really spread out.  Lots are at home training but obviously not playing.  Some are over sea’s (over 100 I believe).  And then you have the kids that are in the AHL.  Well this is where the benefit for the Oilers comes into play.

No other team in the NHL has their 3 top players playing together right now, but once Taylor Hall gets cleared to play the Oilers will.  More beneficial than that for the Oilers, Justin Schultz gets to be eased into pro hockey.  My concern for this kid no matter where he was going to sign was that he would be rushed into the league.  Coming out of college, it’s a drastic change going straight to the NHL.  It’s good, especially for a d-man, to get in time in the AHL.  And the kid looks like the real deal thus far.  4 goals and 5 assists in 9 games for Schultz and was named AHL player of the week last week.

Oh and let’s not forget about 1st overall pick Nail Yakupov.  While he isn’t getting time in the AHL, getting time in the KHL is the next best thing.  It’s so much easier for both these kids to enter pro hockey without the big expectations.  They can work on their games and don’t have to face any scrutiny.  And Yakupov is doing just fine as well with 6 goals in 10 games.  Neither guy is playing at a level that will hurt them, unlike Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Magnus Paajarvi, etc.  This team has a nasty recent history of rushing their young guys and this lockout has forced them to avoid doing that.

Add to this, and I know nobody wants to think about this being a possibility (nor do I believe it will happen), but SHOULD the season be cancelled the Oilers would have another great shot at landing the 1st overall pick.  The way it worked in 2005 with the lottery, it was based off teams performances over the previous 3 seasons.  You got balls for everyone of those seasons you had missed the playoffs.  So this would put the Oilers alongside the Leafs, Flames, Jets, Wild, Canes, Stars, and the Islanders as having the best chance of winning the lottery.  None of us want that, I know even Oiler fans wouldn’t want that trade off, but it could be a silver lining.  WHEN the season does start up, I would guess the Oilers will be closer to a playoff spot than the basement that they haven’t just rented, but were the landlords of the last 3 seasons.

It’s painful to have to listen to the NHLPA and the owners bicker back and forth when there is clearly a deal to be made here and all of us are fully aware that it’s more about ego then anything.  Add to that, Oiler fans have to listen to the same sort of thing from city council and the Katz group as they fight over getting a deal done for the downtown arena.  But if there is something to take out of this, its that this should help the Oilers out much more than any other organization.

 

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Time for the Oil to move

 

No, not to Houston or Quebec City or Seattle….good one EH?….but rather to start molding their team.  I’ve said this a lot of late but teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago needed to catch breaks during there rebuilds. Pittsburgh’s of course was winning the Crosby lottery as Brian Burke has reminded us of. Chicago people forget had the worst odds in 07 of moving into the number 1 spot and it happened.  BIG difference between Pat Kane and Karl Alzner or Sam Gagner (both fine players, not Pat Kane).

The Oilers winning this year’s lottery wasn’t as long of a shot but it still was long odds.  The problem is that the kid who will go 1st does not in any way fit their needs.

Yakupov is going to be electric.  I’ll say it right now, he will have multiple 50 goal seasons in the NHL.  But he is a 5’10-5’11 winger.  The Oilers have plenty of those guys already (heck, another one of those kids is Tobias Reider, a 5th round pick last year who is leading the OHL playoffs in scoring).  While the defense isn’t anywhere near as bad as a lot of analysts will have you believe, it still has holes.  Another BIG hole the Oil have is down the middle…at least IMO.

Sam Gagner is in no way a fit on this team as I have said numerous times.  They are small down the middle and small in the top 6, Gagner affects both.  He isn’t as big of a talent as some people believe and he is progressing at a snails pace in the face off circle, defensively and strength on the puck.

To play behind RNH the Oilers need a guy that will play a 200 foot game and while he doesn’t have to be huge, he can’t be small.  The good news with Gagner for the Oil however is that he is still young and teams will have interest in him.

Steve Tambellini has options.  He could deal the 1st pick to fill one of those holes and I have said to friends of late I personally would be willing to deal that top pick to the Penguins for Jordan Staal.  Staal and the Penguins 1st for the Oilers 1st and Eric Belanger would be a deal that makes a ton of sense for both teams (as long as Staal agreed to sign a  long term extension on July 1st).

Staal is an elite center stuck behind perhaps the 2 best centers in the world.  As much as a lot of Oiler fans hate reading this right now, Jordan Staal would make the Oilers better in 2013 than Nail Yakupov, and he would make them better every year there after than Yakupov would.  I cannot stress enough how great you have to be down the middle in this league now days.

But there is a chance they wouldn’t have to move that pick to get Staal.  You could get creative.  Deal Gagner elsewhere (unless Pittsburgh would want him) for pieces (I would guess a 1st round pick or a good prospect) Pittsburgh would want, then flip those pieces along with Magnus Paajarvi, Eric Belanger and another prospect of Pittsburgh’s chosing.

That’s a pretty great package for Pittsburgh as well.  Some people maybe have given up on Paajarvi at 20 years old as ludicrous as that is, but I highly doubt that any GM or pro scout that watched him this season has given up on him.  The kid has the tools to be great.  Put him with Sid and he would get 30 goals next season.  Paajarvi in a lot of ways was in a “Jordan Staal” situation of his own this season.  No room for him in the top 6 or on the top PP unit.  Skilled players offensive numbers get crushed in those scenarios.

Then again, the Pens might be stubborn and hang on to Staal for 1 more season and refuse to deal him.  But a Paajarvi and Gagner package could fetch you someone that fits the bill.  You won’t find a guy like Staal, but a guy that has some of the same qualities like a Travis Zajac (just an example, don’t know if Jersey would deal him and if so what he would cost).

Another option that I believe is out there is the one I said in the latest mock draft.  1, Gagner, and 32 to Columbus for 2, Johanson and L.A.’s 1st.  Edmonton moves back to get a D man, gets there big 2nd line center, and moves up about 14 spots with there 2nd pick. Columbus gets their superstar to help them fill the building again, gets a center who is further along than Johanson, and doesn’t lose on the asset end of the deal (being that it’s 3 for 3).

Now I haven’t touched on the blueline that much yet.  The biggest key to the Oilers offseason isn’t picking 1st, and it isn’t trading for a superstar.  The biggest key is signing Justin Schultz (assuming he becomes a UFA on July 1st).  This kid has nice size (6’2, 195), great wheels, great offensive ability, and has improved his defensive game a lot this season.

The one comparison I heard is Jake Gardiner with more offense.  Gardiner wasn’t supposed to have the offensive game he showcased this season.  If the Oilers land Schultz it would be huge to there rebuild.  Then all of a sudden moving forward they would have Klefbom and Schultz to go with Smid and Petry as a future top 4 that could be great.  Also Ryan Whitney being healthy and able to train this offseason is going to be huge.  If he can play 70 games next season, watch for a 40-50 point season.

As for Schultz, there is a rumor that he chose not to sign with Anaheim because it’s his desire to play in a Canadian market. Edmonton is close to his hometown (Kelowna), he would step right into there lineup, and they have the best young group of forwards in the league.  I admit I’m an Oilers fan but putting all biases aside I really can’t understand why if all that was the case he wouldn’t sign with the Oilers.

The rebuild should be done come October 1st.  I said pretty much since day 1 of the rebuild that they needed to have the cupboard loaded by the 2012 offseason.  There could be other opportunities out there as well.  I would guess a UFA like Ryan Suter could have interest in the so called worst market in hockey with all the talent they could have up front and a hole where a guy like him could step in and be an integral piece.  But from all that you hear, he will be going to one of Detroit, Chicago or Minnesota.  Also we will see what happens with Shea Weber.  If Suter leaves it will be interesting to see if Weber signs long term.  If he doesn’t there is a chance Poile would look to deal him.  Maybe Dan Boyle is dealt in San Jose.  Plenty of possibilites.

But no matter who is out there to be had, Tambellini needs to move now.  The Oiler fans have been patient, and it will be well worth it.  Time to turn this group of talent into a group of winners.  If he doesn’t, he could be out of a job soon.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups or the site @Soups_on_Sports

Oiler fans…I don’t wanna hear it

 

They’re ready to jump off a bridge.  It’s all ending.  Added to the misery of Canada losing at the World Jr’s in Edmonton is the fact that once again there beloved Oilers are near the bottom of the NHL standings.  “Fire Renney!  Fire Tambellini!”  That’s all you are hearing these days.  Whether it’s on message boards or call in shows, all the fans are losing there minds.  They have no right to, not yet anyway.

You see 2 years ago at this time this fan base was PLEADING for a proper rebuild.  Kevin Lowe in particular (as it was still pretty much the team he built at that time) kept trying to build through free agency and trades.  They had a garbage farm team in Springfield after years of not even having their own.  So every fan was on board for a rebuild and to not just rebuild but do it the right way.  Pick a lot at the top of the drat much the way the Penguins, Capitals, Blackhawks and Kings had done.  Get an actual AHL farm team and develop players properly, don’t rush them like they had done with Cogliano, Smid, and Gagner.

Now here we are 2 years later.  The 2nd year of the rebuild.  You read that right, the 2nd year.  And fans are losing it.  Why?  Did all of you not understand what you were asking for?  Clearly, you didn’t.  The Oilers are amassing an incredible group through the draft.  Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle are going to do very special things in Oiler silks.  Some fans are giving up on Magnus Paajarvi…he’s 20 years old.  Also have Tyler Pitlick, Curtis Hamilton, they will likely deal Sam Gagner at some point but if they don’t he is finally taking a step forward.

They also have some very nice defensemen who are still a few years away but they’re coming.  Oscar Klefbom was awesome for Sweden at the WJC, David Musil, Martin Marincin, Martin Gernat, Colten Teubert, all these kids look like they could play in the league.  None of them look like they will be number 1 defensemen, but a lot of number 1 defensemen don’t look that way when they’re young.

They will likely get a 1st round pick once they deal Ales Hemsky.  A top 5 pick in this draft at this point looks like it will get them one of Ryan Murray or Matthew Dumba.  Both potential number 1 defensemen.  With that late 1st they could get for Hemsky they might be able to land there goaltender of the future in Malcom Subban.  And that’s assuming they don’t already got it.  They’ve picked 3 tendy’s in the last 2 years.  2 of them (Bunz and Tohimma) are having great seasons, and the book on Perhonen was that he would need a lot of seasoning but had the highest upside of any goaltender in last year’s draft.  A freak athletically.

So Oiler fans….stop freaking out.  I get it, the team started off amazing and you all thought that the rebuild was done.  Next time don’t be so stupid.  It was a hot streak.  You all asked for this, you were all on board for this, and you are in prime position to be an elite team in the next few years and stay there for a long time so shut up already.  If at this time next season the team is still hanging out near the bottom of the standings, then you have the right to start questioning the coach and the GM.  By next season they should start being a top 8 team, but not now.  I know it’s been terrible in Edmonton for 6 years now, but it’s only the 2nd year of the rebuild.  You’re time is coming soon I promise.

What Exactly was That?!

After coming back down to earth having lost 4 in a row and 5 of 6, the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL’s latest emerging talented darling completely dominated the team that used to own that moniker.  The West leading, 2010 Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.  An amazing night for both the Oilers and there fans.  But let’s get honest about it.

I’m not intentionally raining on Oilers fans parade (although I know I am), but you have to be honest.  The Hawks had been rolling till arriving in Western Canada this past week.  I didn’t see the game inVancouver but from what Kelly Hrudy was saying Saturday night, despite the Hawks apparent 5-1 Pauly D win (get it?  Pauly D win?  Blowout?  See what I did there?  But I digress…) they didn’t play that tight of a game.  Then in Calgary they didn’t seem into it.  Then in Edmonton they were without a doubt not into it!

What were the Hawks doing after the game?  Oh that’s right, Vegas for a little in season va-cay.  See where I’m going with this?  What happens on the last night of games before the All-Star break every year?  More often then not teams play terrible because most of the players are focused on getting away for a few days.  It is to the players as what Friday’s are to most of us.  “F the workout it’s Friday baby!!!”  Don’t tell me you haven’t said something along those lines before.  Or “I’m taking off early, it’s Friday bit**es!!!”  Right.  It’s human nature.

This is the biggest factor in what happened on Saturday night.  Don’t get me wrong, perfect storm happened to make it 9-2.  What made it 9-2 was a pissed off Oiler team who had just lost 5 of 6 looking to get back on track against a team that pretty much toyed with them 6 days earlier.  And they needed it.  It was Saturday night and a LOT of the crew was looking to slump bust!  Lucky for the Oil and there fans, a lot of them did, specifically of course a man named Taylor.  Yes, Chorney played terrific…

Aren’t I just FULL OF IT TONIGHT?!  But bad jokes aside, all I’m asking is to look at this domination rationally.  Oiler fans it was terrific and I’m glad you enjoyed every minute of it, these days have been a long time coming.  But as for going forward just keep it in perspective.  Stars and Preds back to back, this could be 7 of 9 by Wednesday morning.  And Hawks fans, they weren’t worried about the games in Calgary and especially Edmonton.

Kevin Weekes on the HNIC broadcast couldn’t understand why no push back from the Hawks?  Well it’s embarrassing, nobody wants to get hurt before going to VEGAS!

Trading Block: Sam Gagner

This is a drum I have a been beating for the better part of a year now.  I watch the Oilers very closely.  If you are unbias about it, you acknowledge that Gagner has hardly improved since his rookie season and now there is simply no fit for him with the Oilers.  Moving forward they need to add size in the top 6, and size down the middle.  Gagner provides neither.  He can still be a serviceable 2nd line centre in this league for some team, it just likely won’t be with the Oilers.  If Steve Tambellini is smart he will deal Gagner ASAP.

Lots of teams will have interest and the Oilers need help on defense despite how well there core has played so far this season.  I would package Gagner with a d-man and Linus Omark who falls into the same catagory that Sam does and see what that would fetch me.  Nashville to me is a perfect trade partner for the Oilers, especially if they can’t lock down at least one of Weber or Suter.  The Oilers have the assets the Preds need, the Preds have the number 1 horse the Oilers need.