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Handicapping the field

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Old
09-21-2003, 06:15 AM
  #1
Lowetide
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Handicapping the field

Based on Ireland's numbers, there are 29 players left in camp. I thought it might be worthwhile to get everyone's read on what player's chances of making th big club are at this (early) point. I excluded Dallas Anderson, and JF Dufort, who are on the Oilers list and injured, plus Comrie who is locked out.

Players I think will be sent out are in bold.


GOAL

1. Salo-He's in, looked good so far, they'll probably ride him till he drops which is what he likes, imo.
2. Conklin-Locked up the backup slot the day they traded Markkanen.
3. Valiquette didn't even see a game yet, which is probably an indication of his place in the pecking order.


DEFENSE

1. Eric Brewer-I loved that play he made on the Chimera goal, and if he can step up this season the Oilers will have a good chance at the playoffs. Alot riding on him.

2. Steve Staios-Rock solid, 25 minutes a night guy.Once guys have been underrated for a few years, sometimes they get their due. Seems Staios is just on the edge of recognition.

3. Jason Smith-Appears healthy, which is huge. The captain will need to play huge minutes.

4. Alexei Semenov-I put him here because even if he starts on the 3pair there's no way he stays there. Still has several steps forward he can make, but is in the NHL at 22, no small feat for a defenseman.

5. Cory Cross-A three year contract is a very good indicator of what they think of him. imo Cross being on this team has an effect on who else makes it because of his lack of speed.

6. Scott Ferguson-All indicators are that he's the #6 dman, but he's one of those guys who will always sweat training camp. From what we've read, the coaches feel he's made the club.

7. MA Bergeron-Not my choice, that's for damn sure. However, Bergeron has done what he's supposed to, which is help the powerplay, and although he's a maniac on the backline, the Oilers have plenty of guys with calm feet above him on the depth chart. What they DON'T have is a bunch of puck passers.

8. Mikko Luoma I think he's on the outside looking in right now. I read somewhere that he might return to Europe if he doesn't make the team, but both Pisa and Haakana spent time in the AHL getting used to the NA game. Seems to me they could send him out with the idea that he's the first injury callup.

9. Bobby Allen Concussion last night likely means more time in the AHL. Competition is so close that any setback is going to have a major impact.



FORWARDS


1. Ryan Smyth- He'll be on the top line, the only question is where. imo they'll end up playing Mike York on his lw so that they have another faceoff man out there at all times.

2. Mike York-The paper says his wrist is improving, he's hoping to get into 3 or 4 pre-season games. Easily among the 4 best forwards on this club.

3. Brad Isbister-Seems to have tied his carcass to Smyth, which either means he's a genius or the luckiest man alive. Not much doubt he'll start the season on one of the top lines.

4. Ales Hemsky-Was the talk of early camp with his dazzling style, didn't have the finishers playing with him last night and the kid needs to play with high end talent. Looks like he may be a pp point man, which will likely increase his assist total.

5. Radek Dvorak-If they don't play Hemsky on the top line, they'll have to use him on the 2line. Where that puts Dvorak I don't know. Either way, he's one of the Oilers best forwards and will get plenty of ice time.

6. Marty Reasoner-Has had a splendid camp, and could certainly be the 2line center when the season starts. Lost in the Comrie gone/Smyth at center hoopla is that this guy is the de facto faceoff specialist for the Oilers now, which means he's on the ice last minute of the period, game, etc. Big jump in minutes coming his way (13:30 last season).

7. Shawn Horcoff-Although he didn't have a huge game last night, it sounded like he had his chances, and he ended up with a point. Horcoff does things to make himself valuable and should be 2/3 line center.

8. Ethan Moreau-They seem to be using him with Hemsky this fall, which isn't a bad idea. It's likely he'll end up being the 3line LW, but if MacT ends up not having a checking line (not bloody likely) Moreau could see his ice time go up.

9. Jason Chimera-Has all the tools, and should get more minutes than he did last season. I wonder how he'd do on the powerplay.

10. Fernando Pisani-Has been playing on the Smyth line this fall, but seems likely to fall back into a 3rd line checking role by the time the season starts. MacT has mentioned several times they feel he has offensive upside, so you never know.

11. Georges Laraque-Along with Isbister, appears to be the designated mountain in front of the net on the powerplay. This should work.

12. Raffi Torres-One way contract says he'll stay despite not lighting it up so far; big time energy guy and the coaches gush about him whenever they get a chance.

13. Jarret Stoll-I think Stoll wins this job for two reasons: he's the same type of players as his coach, and the uncertainty of his position.

14. Jamie Wright-Biggest camp surprise catches on as an energy winger in the Pittis/Swanson role.

15.Jani Rita I keep hearing that he's improved, but MacT said early on that he needs to learn about playing without the puck and imo he doesn't make this team. I hope I'm wrong.

16. Tony Salmelainen It sounds crazy, but Salmelainen may leap frog Rita at some point this season. Blazing speed.

17. Peter Sarno I think he'll fight it out with Wright for the 14th spot on the team, and if Rita beats out Stoll then Sarno could beat out Wright. They did have him as pp point guy, so if Sarno makes the team he could be more than a 14th man up front.

That's 29. Agree on all of this? Didn't think so.

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Old
09-21-2003, 07:32 AM
  #2
Mizral
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Good call on Wright. Looks like he'll be the first guy called up when an injury happens.

I also think Bergeron may find a spot ahead of Ferguson, despite the recent Guy Flaming interview that stated he was well liked in the organization & that he should win the #6 spot.

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09-21-2003, 08:22 AM
  #3
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all things considered I don't think it makes much sense to keep Bergeron over Luoma if they are close, if Luoma is on a make-it-or-back-to-europe contract.

1. Luoma moves the puck well too, from what I've read.

2. Luoma is bigger, does he use it effectively I don't know, but bigger never hurts on D.

3. Depth. If you keep Luoma, and someone ahead of him on the depth chart goes down to injury (as will almost certainly happen at some point in the season), you can always recall Bergeron. If you keep Bergeron and send Luoma back to Europe, all of a sudden you are calling up the Allen's and Lynch's, though it looks like Luoma is CLEARLY ahead of those guys right now.

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09-21-2003, 08:26 AM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speeds
all things considered I don't think it makes much sense to keep Bergeron over Luoma if they are close, if Luoma is on a make-it-or-back-to-europe contract.

1. Luoma moves the puck well too, from what I've read.

2. Luoma is bigger, does he use it effectively I don't know, but bigger never hurts on D.

3. Depth. If you keep Luoma, and someone ahead of him on the depth chart goes down to injury (as will almost certainly happen at some point in the season), you can always recall Bergeron. If you keep Bergeron and send Luoma back to Europe, all of a sudden you are calling up the Allen's and Lynch's, though it looks like Luoma is CLEARLY ahead of those guys right now.
Good points, but then you're keeping three slow defensemen (Cross, Ferguson, Luoma) and run the risk that two of them might actually be out there at the same time. Brewer can close a gap in a heartbeat, Staios is average as is Smith although both of them have the experience to cheat and get away with it. Cross cheats to the outside and STILL gets beaten sometimes, I saw him do it twice last year in a game against Nashville.

If Luoma is as slow as has been described, I'd take Bergeron no matter the circumstances.

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09-21-2003, 08:30 AM
  #5
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Luoma will edge out Bergeron because of his one way contract and Wright and Torres will be 13th and 14th forward. Rita will be in the starting line-up playing with Reasoner and Stoll will start the season in TO.

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Old
09-21-2003, 08:34 AM
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Good points, but then you're keeping three slow defensemen (Cross, Ferguson, Luoma) and run the risk that two of them might actually be out there at the same time. Brewer can close a gap in a heartbeat, Staios is average as is Smith although both of them have the experience to cheat and get away with it. Cross cheats to the outside and STILL gets beaten sometimes, I saw him do it twice last year in a game against Nashville.

If Luoma is as slow as has been described, I'd take Bergeron no matter the circumstances.
I don't remember Bergeron being all that fast either (I really haven't seen much of him, I'm probably dead wrong ), but for what it's worth only 2 of those guys are playing in any one game, unless someone's injured. And if they are injured, there's no one better in TOR anyways.

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09-21-2003, 08:39 AM
  #7
Lowetide
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speeds
I don't remember Bergeron being all that fast either (I really haven't seen much of him, I'm probably dead wrong ), but for what it's worth only 2 of those guys are playing in any one game, unless someone's injured. And if they are injured, there's no one better in TOR anyways.
True, but let's say it's ten games in and Smith has an injury that'll keep him out of a game. The Oilers then send out Brewer and Staios, who are certainly more than adequate, Semenov, who I like alot but has played fewer than 100 NHL games, Cross, Ferguson and Luoma.

McKeens describes Bergeron as a swift skating puck mover, so I think he's okay in that department. Maybe Jim Harnock can confirm.

McKeens also say Luoma "moves well for his size" so maybe I'm overreacting.

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09-21-2003, 08:49 AM
  #8
speeds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
True, but let's say it's ten games in and Smith has an injury that'll keep him out of a game. The Oilers then send out Brewer and Staios, who are certainly more than adequate, Semenov, who I like alot but has played fewer than 100 NHL games, Cross, Ferguson and Luoma.

McKeens describes Bergeron as a swift skating puck mover, so I think he's okay in that department. Maybe Jim Harnock can confirm.

McKeens also say Luoma "moves well for his size" so maybe I'm overreacting.
if we are using McKeens, then it's no question that they have Luoma ahead of Bergeron.

their projections:

Bergeron: 27 GP 1-3 for 4 points

Luoma: 75 GP 3-24 for 27 points, 2nd highest of all Oilers D.


as for skating, I have to wonder how much stock EDM puts into it for their D, I mean, they signed Cory Cross to a 3 year deal. I get what you're saying, that no one wants too many of these guys. But Luoma's more polished, Bergeron likely won't be hurt by being the #1 in TOR for 20 games or so, I'm sure they'd like to see what Luoma can do at the NHL level.

There is also the possibility that they simply go 13 F and 8D for awhile, and send both Sarno and Wright down.

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09-21-2003, 09:01 AM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speeds
all things considered I don't think it makes much sense to keep Bergeron over Luoma if they are close, if Luoma is on a make-it-or-back-to-europe contract.

1. Luoma moves the puck well too, from what I've read.

2. Luoma is bigger, does he use it effectively I don't know, but bigger never hurts on D.

3. Depth. If you keep Luoma, and someone ahead of him on the depth chart goes down to injury (as will almost certainly happen at some point in the season), you can always recall Bergeron. If you keep Bergeron and send Luoma back to Europe, all of a sudden you are calling up the Allen's and Lynch's, though it looks like Luoma is CLEARLY ahead of those guys right now.
The only place that I have read the Luoma is on a return to Europe contract is on this board, does anyone have some confirmation on this?

I read in one of the dailies he is on a one-way but they didn't mention anything about him returning to Europe?

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09-21-2003, 09:04 AM
  #10
Lowetide
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speeds
if we are using McKeens, then it's no question that they have Luoma ahead of Bergeron.

their projections:

Bergeron: 27 GP 1-3 for 4 points

Luoma: 75 GP 3-24 for 27 points, 2nd highest of all Oilers D.


as for skating, I have to wonder how much stock EDM puts into it for their D, I mean, they signed Cory Cross to a 3 year deal. I get what you're saying, that no one wants too many of these guys. But Luoma's more polished, Bergeron likely won't be hurt by being the #1 in TOR for 20 games or so, I'm sure they'd like to see what Luoma can do at the NHL level.

There is also the possibility that they simply go 13 F and 8D for awhile, and send both Sarno and Wright down.
Yes. My personal preference is Luoma over Bergeron (and Rita to make the team) but I just get this feeling Rita's back down and they'll give Bergeron a big time shot at it.

Wish they still has Pisa.

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09-21-2003, 09:04 AM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
McKeens describes Bergeron as a swift skating puck mover, so I think he's okay in that department. Maybe Jim Harnock can confirm.
More or less. He can get decent speed, but he's no faster than Staois or Semenov.

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09-21-2003, 09:08 AM
  #12
hockeyaddict101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
Yes. My personal preference is Luoma over Bergeron (and Rita to make the team) but I just get this feeling Rita's back down and they'll give Bergeron a big time shot at it.

Wish they still has Pisa.
The Rangers don't have Pisa either. He wanted a one-way deal and Sather wouldn't give it to him.

Obviously he probably wanted the same thing here and Lowe moved him, having that kind of info helps understand Lowe's decision.

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09-21-2003, 09:09 AM
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
McKeens describes Bergeron as a swift skating puck mover, so I think he's okay in that department. Maybe Jim Harnock can confirm.

McKeens also say Luoma "moves well for his size" so maybe I'm overreacting.
As you say it is still early times but the #6 & #7 d man position looks like this from what I have seen. Luoma has done everything that MacT likes in a #5 6 d-man and still brings some offensive upside. He actually thinks about scoring rather than just making the safe play. He is too good (#5 or 6 on this team) to cut if the option is him returning to Europe but will be sent to TO imo for 20-30 games if that is possible. Bergeron is certainly flashier and some of my concerns about him being able to handle himself physically in the d zone have lessened but he does make mental errors with the puck as is often the case with d men who are creative. He has the best foot speed of the 3 we are discussing but his overall speed is not so good because he has such short legs. I saw Cross pass him once when they were both going for the puck. Bergeron looked like he was flying because his feet were moving so fast but Cross (who looked like an ocean liner to Bergeron's speedboat) caught him and passed him. In shorter races in tight spaces I think Bergeron is quicker.

Ferguson is the known quantity. It is also known that if they cut him they will lose him for nothing. Absolutely no offensive upside he is reliable against 3rd and 4th liners in his own zone and a good guy in the dressing room. It's almost like it should be between Bergeron and Luoma for the 6th spot with Ferguson a lock for #7.

Conclusion - Bergeron to TO IF Luoma returns to Europe if he doesn't make the big team but if they can convince him to play 20-30 games in Toronto he will be sent there and if he plays as well as I think he can then Ferguson is gone because the brass will be sure that they have upgraded.

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09-21-2003, 09:32 AM
  #14
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From my interview with Prendergast for the "Round Table" piece:

..."We’ll keep the best one of the lot or the one that fits the chemistry to start the season but it might not be the one who’ll be the 7th guy over the course of the year." - K.P.

Reading between the lines this sounds to me like:

Bergeron is in to start the season and Luoma will play some time in AHL to get aclimated to N.A. better. Then IF Luoma plays as expected, they'll bring him up to Edmonton. But will that cost Ferguson or Bergeron their spot?

I could be wrong, still 5 preseason games to go.

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09-21-2003, 09:55 AM
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
13. Jarret Stoll-I think Stoll wins this job for two reasons: he's the same type of players as his coach, and the uncertainty of his position.

14. Jamie Wright-Biggest camp surprise catches on as an energy winger in the Pittis/Swanson role.

15.Jani Rita I keep hearing that he's improved, but MacT said early on that he needs to learn about playing without the puck and imo he doesn't make this team. I hope I'm wrong.

16. Tony Salmelainen It sounds crazy, but Salmelainen may leap frog Rita at some point this season. Blazing speed.

17. Peter Sarno I think he'll fight it out with Wright for the 14th spot on the team, and if Rita beats out Stoll then Sarno could beat out Wright. They did have him as pp point guy, so if Sarno makes the team he could be more than a 14th man up front.

That's 29. Agree on all of this? Didn't think so.
It's a little bit funny that the posts about who will win the final d spots are more based upon who will be the lesser of two evils while on offense I think there is more optimism.

I don't think Wright gets to make this team off of his training camp because MacT has been burned on good training camps before that turned into nothing in the regular season. It is difficult to explain how a guy like Wright could have developed hands during the off season at this point in his career and if he did then he can bring them back up after showing them to me in TO for 20 games. Rita on the other hand has also shown some offense in training camp and chemistry with Reasoner. He may be 20-30 games away from being traded or relegated forever to minor league status but if I am MacT and company I want to see what he can do at this level now. Especially after seeing what Semenov did after coming here last year when he really wasn't doing anything in Hamilton. Salmelainen is there if Rita doesn't work out but NOW is the time to find out.

Lineups based upon what has happened so far is just an exercise but to date we have seen chemsitry between

Smyth - Isbister
Reasoner - Rita
Horcoff - Hemsky
and MacT has all but told us that Torres and Laraque will play together.

I expect to see more and more of these 2 player lines in the next few games as he tries to find the 3rd player for each of them. The only exception might be to see Hemsky with Smyth and Isbister while Horcoff plays with York and Dvorak but it sounds like we are a couple of games away from seeing York.

One thing I am fairly certain of is that we will not see Salmelainen playing in Edmonton as long as York and Comrie are both on the ice. For that reason alone I expect to see a lot of Salmelainen in the pre-season as the brass try to make up their minds what to do about Comrie.

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09-21-2003, 09:58 AM
  #16
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I have Rita in my opening day lineup.

Stoll in my opinion should be sent to Toronto for one more year of pro seasoning. He will make the Oilers next season but right now I think he should go to Toronto and put up 60 points in the AHL. I would make him the captain, the kid is born to lead and has always been a winner where ever he has played. 5 years from now he could be the captain of the Oilers.

I think Rita will start the year on one of the top 2 lines.

Rita-York-Dvorak ???

Has that been tried in pre-season yet??

Unbiased Canadian

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09-21-2003, 10:02 AM
  #17
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Bergeron is a fan favourite because of that big glorious open ice hit on Brenden Morrow in game 6 and for that reason only he should get the initial nod in my humble opinion.

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09-21-2003, 10:09 AM
  #18
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Great post LowTide. I agree with Speeds and The Oil on this. Luoma has the size, skills and experience to make this club. I can see him landing the #6 spot ahead of Ferguson.

Luomo's skating is not pretty. However it is serviceable and imo he will make up for it with intelligent play and positioning. Additionally, he provides some offensive upside so important to the Oiler blueline. All of these factors including size places him imo ahead of Bergeron.

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09-21-2003, 10:10 AM
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizral
Good call on Wright. Looks like he'll be the first guy called up when an injury happens.

I also think Bergeron may find a spot ahead of Ferguson, despite the recent Guy Flaming interview that stated he was well liked in the organization & that he should win the #6 spot.

In the trainging camp I was impressed with Wright and Bergeron. Bergeron maybe a bit of a defensive risk but they do need him on the power play

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09-21-2003, 10:24 AM
  #20
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More or less. He can get decent speed, but he's no faster than Staois or Semenov.
Since Semenov was the second-fastest Oiler in their skills competition last year (he was faster than the winner at the all-star game!), I'd say you're probably right.

And this is from a standstill - still amazes me how such a big guy can move so fast.

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09-21-2003, 10:37 AM
  #21
Yosemite Sam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speeds
if we are using McKeens, then it's no question that they have Luoma ahead of Bergeron.

their projections:

Bergeron: 27 GP 1-3 for 4 points

Luoma: 75 GP 3-24 for 27 points, 2nd highest of all Oilers D.


as for skating, I have to wonder how much stock EDM puts into it for their D, I mean, they signed Cory Cross to a 3 year deal. I get what you're saying, that no one wants too many of these guys. But Luoma's more polished, Bergeron likely won't be hurt by being the #1 in TOR for 20 games or so, I'm sure they'd like to see what Luoma can do at the NHL level.

There is also the possibility that they simply go 13 F and 8D for awhile, and send both Sarno and Wright down.
I don't get how Luoma can really be seen as a better D-man than Bergeron, especially in the offence department, which is the current pressing need.

Luoma is 27 years old - here are his stats:
1998-99 JyP HT Jyvaskyla FNL 53 2 8 10
1999-00 JyP HT Jyvaskyla FNL 51 2 6 8
2000-01 Tappara Tampere FNL 56 10 11 21
2001-02 Tappara Tampere FNL 56 11 18 29
2002-03 Tappara Tampere FNL 55 4 13 17

Let's take a look at Bergeron (he's turning 23 next month):
1997-98 Baie-Comeau Drakkar QMJHL 40 6 14 20
1998-99 Baie-Comeau Drakkar QMJHL 46 8 14 22
1998-99 Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 24 6 7 13
1999-00 Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 70 24 50 74
2000-01 Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 69 42 59 101
2001-02 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 50 2 13 15
2002-03 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 66 8 31 39
2002-03 Edmonton Oilers NHL 5 1 1 2

At MA's current age, Luoma was putting up 8 points in 51 games in Finland. Not exactly something to write home about. ANd now at 27, he should be "peaking." Doesn't instill confidence here.

MA has steadily improved at every level of play (not to mention he won the award for best D in the CHL one year).

Also, people keep bringing up the size issue with MA. What size issue? He's over 200lbs! He may be a little short, but players will tell you that a player with low centre of gravity like that is even harder to push around than a guy of the same weight and taller.

I think MA will step in and make his mark. Bye bye Luoma.

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Old
09-21-2003, 10:39 AM
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unbiased Canadian
I have Rita in my opening day lineup.
So do I, but does MacT? It's now or never IMO.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unbiased Canadian

Stoll in my opinion should be sent to Toronto for one more year of pro seasoning. He will make the Oilers next season but right now I think he should go to Toronto and put up 60 points in the AHL. I would make him the captain, the kid is born to lead and has always been a winner where ever he has played. 5 years from now he could be the captain of the Oilers.
I think he'll be sent down as well, BUT Stoll will probably get called up in December or January and stick with the team. (ala Semenov last year and Horcoff a few years ago) It comes down to which players are on one-way deals and who has a two-way deal (Stoll). Once some of the forwards get moved, then a spot will open for Stoll.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unbiased Canadian

I think Rita will start the year on one of the top 2 lines.

Rita-York-Dvorak ???

Has that been tried in pre-season yet??

Unbiased Canadian
Interesting. Rita has been playing with Reasoner all pre-season it seems, but I'd like to see that line.

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Old
09-21-2003, 12:08 PM
  #23
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Originally Posted by Yosemite Sam
Also, people keep bringing up the size issue with MA.
They also keep bringing up the fact that he plays very shoddy defense. That's kind of important.

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09-21-2003, 12:35 PM
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Spearing47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim_Harnock
They also keep bringing up the fact that he plays very shoddy defense. That's kind of important.
They are aware of that and can live with that since they allow him to take some risks to spark the offense. That's what they told him. And he's gonna work on his defense and if we follow his evolution over the past 3 years he'll become a good overall D-men. He'll be paired with a stay home D to compensate.

We can't compare Bergy and Luoma. luoma has absolutely no offensive upside, has slow feet and he's way too soft. I don't like ferguson but he has experience and some toughness. Like other posters said earlier I would send Luoma to Toronto (if he wants to) and keep Bergy and Fergy. Later in the season we replace ferguson with Luoma and the D-corp will look great.

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09-21-2003, 01:17 PM
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Originally Posted by THEGOON63
We can't compare Bergy and Luoma. luoma has absolutely no offensive upside, has slow feet and he's way too soft.
Do we really know these things, though. Luoma's stats are very impressive for a Euro defenseman. I don't know if it's true of the SM Liga in Finland, but many Euro leagues don't give out 2nd assists.

Can someone confirm this?

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