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Building a contender ... a practical approach

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06-04-2004, 01:29 PM
  #1
igor*
 
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Building a contender ... a practical approach

Just my best uneducated guess here, but I thought I'd throw up some ideas for discussion. Talking about trying to build a team that is a credible threat for the cup over a period of several years. A team that racks up 100+ points a year.

We talk a lot about the Oilers future potential. And inevitably comparisons are drawn to other teams. Usually that seems kin of dodgy to me. Every team has different personnel and financial situations.

The bottom line IMO: The best measure of the quality of a team is its ability to outscore the opposition over the course of a season.

And every extra 3 goals you score more than you surrender ... that works out to one extra point in the standings on average. So: With the OT bonus points now available ... 87 points a year is now average ... and a team would have to score about 40 more points than it allowed if it expected to be consistently in the 100 point range every year.

First 5on5:
THE FORWARDS: Some players score, but don't outscore. They cheat for offense. They might put bums in seats ... but they don't really help you win that much at 5on5, and they usually come at a high price as well. Bure, Nedved, Kariya, Turgeon, Lang etc. are all pretty good examples of this sort of guy IMHO. On the other hand ... players like Smyth, Dvorak, Laraque, York, Reasoner, Pisani, Horcoff are good 5on5 guys. Not in the range of the leagues best 5on5 guys (Forsberg, Lindros, Federov, Palffy, Richards, Iginla, Heatley (soon to be new 5on5 king ), Langkow etc) ... but still pretty darn good value IMO. Good hockey players all (results-wise).

THE DEFENSE: Outside of the really high-end guys ... defensemen don't have anywhere near as much impact on results as forwards. Results vary really widely depending on the forwards on the ice ... but with the defense, much less so. And esp young defensemen get paid way too much for the measureable difference that they make on the ice (relative to other guys). Personally, if I were coach or GM on a tight budget ... I'd want a bunch of big, solid, tough 30something veteran defenseman. 1 thru 6 ... so that I didn't have to do too many line matchups. Guys like Carney or Boughner or McCrimmon or Daneyko or Smith or etc etc types. One guy who can help on the powerplay maybe but the rest in that mould.

GOALTENDING: In terms of even-strength Save% [EVsave%] every .002 difference roughly equals 1 point in the standings. Just tremendously important. Obviously this becomes magnified at playoff-time too. If every skater were a boat ... the goaltender would be the tide

ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

PK: Goaltending has a huge effect on the PK obviously, it is often said that the goalie is the best PKer, and I think it is hard to argue with that. Coaching and skaters make a difference too.

PP: It is hard to argue that the PP is a talent driven thing. Even on teams with great overall PP numbers ... their second-unit PP is usually as crap as everyone elses. Some players and coaches like set plays, and like to coach and practice the PP, some don't. But since before most of us were born many great coaches have had terrific PPs without practicing them at all. Freddy Shero won two cups with PHI in the mid-seventies and never practiced the powerplay even once in that timeframe. Bottom line ... aside from picking the right players ... coaching doesn't seem to have a heckuva lot of impact on PP results over the long run.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Looking at the Oilers:

5on5 --- any way you slice it, this is a very good 5on5 hockey team. And the players that are getting these good 5on5 results all have solid histories of doing the same in the past. There is no reason to doubt that they will be amongst the leagues better 5on5 teams again this year. EV +/- of +28 as a team last year ... and the vast majority of the players that accomplished this are still getting better.

PK --- very streaky last year. A stretch of being awful and a stretch of being tremendous. If the Oilers get decent goaltending they should be average or better on the PK next year.

PP --- just terrible, and no real reasons to believe that it will change. Too predictable, too many set plays ... in this era of video analysis by the opponents PK ... its a recipe for disaster. And it was. Some highly unusual personnel decisions on the PP too ... at least compared to other teams. Hemsky and Bergeron offer a glimmer of hope, but not much IMO. The goal should be for the Oilers PP to be average, and that's a lofty goal.

---

In a nutshell ... the Oilers are a good solid team. No need for major changes IMO.

They need a centre who can either really help the PP or be a solid guy to centre Smyth and face the other team's top players. Personally ... I'd choose the latter.

At some point in the near future they'll need to find a very good goalie too, because they aren't going to be so good as to be able to compensate for weak netminding. hopefully JDD is that guy.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >

What I hope Lowe does:

1. Trade Brewer for the best centreman he can get for him. He's a good player ... but like the other D of his age and quality ... the market price is too high for the impact on results. Now is the time as well ... before Lowe signs any UFAs (Can't really rattle the poverty pail as an excuse if you've done that ). Also, Brewer had a good WHC tournament again, the big ice really suits his game. Now is the time IMHO.

There is no guarantee that Reasoner will be able to find his form quickly either ... history tells us that he could be in for a rough year, so the centre position just HAS to be addressed this off-season IMO.

2. Walk away from Nedved. But not publicly until after the season ticket selling period is over.

3. Sign 2 or 3 solid veteran defensemen. Preferably Smith as one of them. Let the kids earn their stripes, nay become dominant, in the AHL while the older guys help the Oilers win games.

4. Either sign Isbister to a 3 year, 1-millionish-per type of deal or trade him.

5. Remove all powerplay decisions from the domain of Craig MacTavish (a la Muckler with Martin and Clarke with Hitchcock).

6. Let Rita walk or trade him if possible.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

End of ramble! Thoughts?

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06-04-2004, 02:00 PM
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The power play with Nedved and Bergeron looked quite good... and clicked at 17.4% which would have put the Oilers in 10th spot overall in the league.

I said it everytime you brought the power play up... it's the personel. They had no serious threats on the ice because guys like Dvorak and York were much better at creating chances on the fly than through a cycle, and the only 2 guys who could get shots consistantly on net were Cross and Ulanov.

Suddenly Bergeron figures out the game at the NHL level, and Petr adds a new dimension to the power play that didn't exist (consistant threat), and suddenly the power play comes to life going from a 12% efficiency to over 17%.

Add to that it wasn't an overnight change. Just before Nedved arrived, when Bergeron first started his streak of incredible play, the Oilers PP was clicking around 22% for an 8 game stretch. All in all, the last 24 games saw the Oilers score 17 power play goals in 90 chances (18.8%).

Even the last half of the season, 41 games, the power play clicked at almost 16%.

The power play, like the Pk, got hammered early on in the year, and couldn't recover... but that being said there was light at the end of the tunnel for both aspects of the special teams.

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06-04-2004, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgbone
The power play with Nedved and Bergeron looked quite good... and clicked at 17.4% which would have put the Oilers in 10th spot overall in the league.

I said it everytime you brought the power play up... it's the personel. They had no serious threats on the ice because guys like Dvorak and York were much better at creating chances on the fly than through a cycle, and the only 2 guys who could get shots consistantly on net were Cross and Ulanov.

Suddenly Bergeron figures out the game at the NHL level, and Petr adds a new dimension to the power play that didn't exist (consistant threat), and suddenly the power play comes to life going from a 12% efficiency to over 17%.

Add to that it wasn't an overnight change. Just before Nedved arrived, when Bergeron first started his streak of incredible play, the Oilers PP was clicking around 22% for an 8 game stretch. All in all, the last 24 games saw the Oilers score 17 power play goals in 90 chances (18.8%).

Even the last half of the season, 41 games, the power play clicked at almost 16%.

The power play, like the Pk, got hammered early on in the year, and couldn't recover... but that being said there was light at the end of the tunnel for both aspects of the special teams.
Good stuff. Maybe I'm being too pessimistic.

Even when the Oilers PP was getting decent results though ... it just never looked to be a serious threat. To my eye a few 'whoops' goals helped the numbers near the end, but compared to most NHL PPs the Oilers just didn't seem to have the possession or create many quality scoring chances.

I really hope I'm wrong though. Your stats certainly point the unit improving near the end of the year. I hope that there is something to it.


Last edited by igor*: 06-04-2004 at 02:10 PM. Reason: Spelling
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06-04-2004, 02:17 PM
  #4
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True, maybe it was lady luck near the end trying to make up for the 300 times I hear Rod Phillips say "And it just trickles by the post wide". And I can't blame you for looking past the late season surge, because for the first 50 or so games the P.P. was absolutely horrifying.

Yeesh...

I think if Bergeron can play to a level similar to what he ended with, and the Oilers have a legit threat in the zone (i.e. a guy like Nedved who's reputation preceeds him in terms of his wrist shot), it opens up the offensive end. I think the Oilers missed that the most out of anything... I mean guys like Weight and Comrie could create a heck of a lot because they could routinely beat a guy one on one under pressure. The team we saw for a lot of last year couldn't do that so the oppositions p.k. simply attacked and the Oilers continuously gave away the puck because of it.

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06-04-2004, 02:43 PM
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In all honesty, if we had Conklin/Markkanen all season last year, we would have finished in a playoff position, likely ahead of St.Louis and Nashville. Salo probably cost us at least 6 points last year. I think we should see if the team that finished the year can continue going (not at the same ridiculous pace) with some minor tweaks.

I'm of the opinion that our coaching isn't good enough to get to the promised land. There's just not enough passion from MacT et al. I would love to see us get someone that has at least been to the finals as a coach, Robinson or Maurice for example.

We definately could use some veterans on this team. I'd say that defense is not the problem. Smith, Ulanov, Cross and Staios are all experienced guys. Brewer should improve and Bergeron and Semenov have bright futures. Looking around at some of the prospective free agents out there and three guys from the Devils come to mind: Marshall, Brylin and Madden. All have won cups. Brylin and Marshall would be upgrades from Chimera and Pisani and would not be big money signings at all. Madden would be a great 3rd line guy, but would be too costly. I'm just looking at the way the flames have built and you cannot ignore the impact of past cup winners like Nieminen, Simon and Gelinas. Attempts by Lowe to bring in veterans have been hit (Ulanov, Nedved, Cross and Staios) and miss (Oates and Dopita).

I hope we can sign Nedved and avoid dealing away our 27-30 year olds and let the kids (Torres, Semenov, Bergeron, Brewer, Hemsky) develop.

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06-04-2004, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by igor
1. Trade Brewer for the best centreman he can get for him. He's a good player ... but like the other D of his age and quality ... the market price is too high for the impact on results. Now is the time as well ... before Lowe signs any UFAs (Can't really rattle the poverty pail as an excuse if you've done that ). Also, Brewer had a good WHC tournament again, the big ice really suits his game. Now is the time IMHO.

There is no guarantee that Reasoner will be able to find his form quickly either ... history tells us that he could be in for a rough year, so the centre position just HAS to be addressed this off-season IMO.

2. Walk away from Nedved. But not publicly until after the season ticket selling period is over.

3. Sign 2 or 3 solid veteran defensemen. Preferably Smith as one of them. Let the kids earn their stripes, nay become dominant, in the AHL while the older guys help the Oilers win games.

4. Either sign Isbister to a 3 year, 1-millionish-per type of deal or trade him.

5. Remove all powerplay decisions from the domain of Craig MacTavish (a la Muckler with Martin and Clarke with Hitchcock).

6. Let Rita walk or trade him if possible.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

End of ramble! Thoughts?
Wow I was with you up until your moves. Brewer can't be moved, we need a guy who can come close to 25 mion and no one else on out roster can. Plus I think given the end of his season and world championships and named to the world cup team make him too valuable for us right now. I would only ask to move him if he demands more money then Smyth.

Given how reasoner played during the first 2 games after he was back I think he will be fine next year. He was flying out there and looked amazing. I am not worried about him at all.

Nedved is a priority for us. We started playing so much better when we had an actual PP specialist that teams had to respect and watch. Before then they would just pressure us until we messed up. After Nedved who can walk in off the wing and wire a shot for a goal teams had to start backing up a bit making more room for Smyth and Bergeron and Dvorak. Nedved is a must sign.


I think our D is fine for next year, we have 5 vets and 2 kids. That seems like a good ration to me. Brew, Smith, Staois, Cross, Ulanov vs Bergeron and Semenov. Man with that list moving Brewer makes even less sense.

I agree to signing Issy to a cheap contract or letting him walk. I would say 1.2-1.6 over 3 years should be fine. If he wants more then that then we have open space for Chimera and Rita to fight it out for a roster spot

Agreed . MacT doesn't know how to run a PP, Hopefully Simmer can tell these guys that the best PPs keep moving and not just passing it around the outside. By skating you force the box to keep shifting and eventually someone will make a mistake and open the door for a scoring chance.

One of Rita, Chimmer, or Isbister has to be moved. Of the 3 I would choose Chimmer. As much as I like him and think he will be a good player. Somebody has to be moved

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06-04-2004, 02:58 PM
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Marshall isn't an upgrade on Pisani in any sense.

I'd lose it if the Oilers brought in Marshall and played him over Pisani... it would be a huge downgrade.

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06-04-2004, 03:01 PM
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Great post Igor. I agree with most of it, not so much on the Nedved front.

To be an elite 100+ point team I believe this team needs 2 solid centremen and a decent right winger. I'm not sure if your suggestions for KLowe were the ones to create a 100-point team, but with only 1 centre coming back from a Brewer trade I think we're just too soft down the middle. I agree with the idea to trade Brewer however.

Here's my wish list:

1. Re-sign Nedved. He gelled with this team immediately and would be a perfect #1 line centre. Fingers crossed.
2. Deal Brewer in a package for a good #2 centre, such as Weiss. Maybe I've been watching Tampa Bay too much but a #2 C like Richards makes a world of difference.
3. Sign and deal both Izzy and Rita for a RW like Parrish, substituting Horcoff or Reasoner if needed. Note - not all these players are needed for the RW, they're trade fodder.

I like our D and Goaltending for years to come, although with the loss of Brewer we'd really need to get Smith back. This all looks good on paper, I dunno if the Oilers can handle whatever payroll this would call for.

Back to reality... mackdogs.

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06-04-2004, 03:11 PM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackdogs
Great post Igor. I agree with most of it, not so much on the Nedved front.

To be an elite 100+ point team I believe this team needs 2 solid centremen and a decent right winger. I'm not sure if your suggestions for KLowe were the ones to create a 100-point team, but with only 1 centre coming back from a Brewer trade I think we're just too soft down the middle. I agree with the idea to trade Brewer however.

Here's my wish list:

1. Re-sign Nedved. He gelled with this team immediately and would be a perfect #1 line centre. Fingers crossed.
2. Deal Brewer in a package for a good #2 centre, such as Weiss. Maybe I've been watching Tampa Bay too much but a #2 C like Richards makes a world of difference.
3. Sign and deal both Izzy and Rita for a RW like Parrish, substituting Horcoff or Reasoner if needed. Note - not all these players are needed for the RW, they're trade fodder.

I like our D and Goaltending for years to come, although with the loss of Brewer we'd really need to get Smith back. This all looks good on paper, I dunno if the Oilers can handle whatever payroll this would call for.

Back to reality... mackdogs.
Again I disagree. I think we have a fine 2nd line C in York

Lines of

Smyth - Nedved - Dvorak
Torres - York - Hemsky
Moreau- Reasoner - Pisani
Horcoff - Stoll - Isbister

That looks fine to me...

top line is capable of goals as I see
25-30, 25-35, 15-20 = 65 - 85
20-25, 20-25, 15-20 = 55 - 70
15-20, 15-20, 13-18 = 43 - 58
15-20, 10-15, 10-20?? = 35 - 55

= 198 - 268

Obviously these numbers are my opinion of what each is CAPABLE of, not what they actually would get. Injuries and slumps and such will affect these numbers.

But to me I think our team is pretty solid IF we keep Nedved, he is the key...

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06-04-2004, 03:48 PM
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I can see how Pisani could be seen as better than Marshall. My point is that we need some cup experience on this team. At least some. Also, if we sign Nedved where would Horcoff play? I think Horcoff is no worse than a third liner on any team.

Smyth- York- Hemsky
Torres- Nedved- Dvorak
Moreau- Reasoner/Horcoff- Pisani/Horcoff
Izzy/Chimera- Stoll/Reasoner/Horcoff- Laraque/Horcoff/Pisani

Safe to say Pisani and Chimera are the extras. Stoll HAS to play. Laraque is our only thug and thus he's in there 9 times out of 10. I just don't like the idea or Horcoff playing on the 4th line. You could say we have 3-3rd line centers right now (Horcoff, Reasoner and Stoll). It will be interesting to see what move Lowe makes there (if any) if Nedved is resigned.

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06-04-2004, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s7ark
Again I disagree. I think we have a fine 2nd line C in York

Lines of

Smyth - Nedved - Dvorak
Torres - York - Hemsky
Moreau- Reasoner - Pisani
Horcoff - Stoll - Isbister

That looks fine to me...

top line is capable of goals as I see
25-30, 25-35, 15-20 = 65 - 85
20-25, 20-25, 15-20 = 55 - 70
15-20, 15-20, 13-18 = 43 - 58
15-20, 10-15, 10-20?? = 35 - 55

= 198 - 268

Obviously these numbers are my opinion of what each is CAPABLE of, not what they actually would get. Injuries and slumps and such will affect these numbers.

But to me I think our team is pretty solid IF we keep Nedved, he is the key...
I agree that York is a good #2 centre, but I don't see this lineup getting us in the 100+ point range. I'm one of those 'York is a better winger guy' so I see us becoming an elite-type club with him sniping from the wing. If we had the depth to put York on the wing, the team must be pretty solid.
In honesty I see York starting as our #2 C due to monitary issues. I stand behind my post based on the 100+ point topic Igor mentioned.

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06-04-2004, 04:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mackdogs
I agree that York is a good #2 centre, but I don't see this lineup getting us in the 100+ point range. I'm one of those 'York is a better winger guy' so I see us becoming an elite-type club with him sniping from the wing. If we had the depth to put York on the wing, the team must be pretty solid.
In honesty I see York starting as our #2 C due to monitary issues. I stand behind my post based on the 100+ point topic Igor mentioned.
Really? I do. Last year we had failed experiments offensively with Smyth at C and Oates plus suspect goaltending from Salo and No number 1 C until the deadline.

I think that with Conkkanen and Nedved we could definately make 100 points

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06-04-2004, 04:57 PM
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I like this team and I think it is better today then it was in January if for no other reason than we saw what a first line center can do for it and the change in goal was a case of addition by substraction.

But the biggest reason I see for optimism with this group is the simple fact that they are another year older.

6 years ago the Oilers were perenially the youngest team in the league but in the scope of the team, alot of the talent was older and the youngest were the role players.

Now the team is still one of the youngest but what would be considered the talent of the team is mostly part of the young core. That results in the maturing process having a greater affect on the teams performance.

I see this team sort of like Vancouver (only with a higher upside) of '98 or even Tampa of the last couple years. They all showed struggles leading up to their breakout seasons but ultimately when they broke out, they did so with the same group that struggled earlier. They simply matured as players and as teams.

If I had a say, I would at this point make few adjustments.

From the net out;

I would leave the goaltending the way it is.
Maarkanen is very capable for 30 games and I am optimistic that Conklin has another level. I would like to give these guys a chance and unlike the Salo situation if they faulter, they can be replaced easily because they are so cheap.

Defence

It sounds like Fergy is gone which is ok although I still think is the perfect #7.
I would like to see Cross moved. I see him as simply taking up a youngsters spot and it's time to get some of these guys playing.

Forward

As was proven at the end of the season a top line center of some kind is required. At this point I would be comfortable with Nedved BUT only with a single year contract as I am unconvinced that he would stay motivated with long term security.

As far as any trades go, I would have to say my leading candidate would be Isbister and I say that while actually liking the guy. It's just that his price doesn't fit at the role he slots in at.

That would give a line up of;

Conklin
Maarkanen

Smith Brewer
Lynch Staios
Ulanov Bergeron Woywitka

Smyth Nedved Hemsky
Torres York Dvorak
Moreau Reasoner Horcoff
Chimera Stoll Laraque
Pisani

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06-04-2004, 05:24 PM
  #14
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Building a contender are we? Well, the Oilers have some good peices in place. However, I must say I disagreed with much of your analysis.

The reason the Oilers future is compared to other teams, is because they will be directly competing with other teams. I agree about the quality of a team part though.

In terms of 5 on 5 play, I value chemistry and the right 'mix' of players more than just a conglomerate of two-way guys. For example, Jarome Iginla is not a very good player in his own zone, but Sutter smartly puts him with Craig Conroy and Martin Gelinas, two smart two-way players, to offset Iginla's defensive shortcomings. Idealy, you want at least one very good defensive player on every line on your roster.

The defense is where I disagree with you the most. A team full of Carney's, Boughner's, and Smith's aren't going to turn a team into a contender. Look at the top 4 contenders over the last 10 years. All of them had a mix of offensive-minded defensemen and defensive-minded defensemen. You cannot have a 1-dimensional blueline in this league anymore and expect to last long. Look at the two teams in the finals: Calgary has Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman (albiet not much), Andrew Ference, a bit of Steve Montador. Tampa Bay has Boyle, Sydor, Kubina. You have to have a mix of just about everything - defensive play, size, aggressiveness, offensive play, shots from the blueline, good 1st-passers.

The penalty kill is a very coachable thing. Virtually everything a team has goes into it's PK. The goaltender, the skaters on the ice, the coaching. I think your ideal PK unit has one crease clearer at least and two quick, smart forwards. You have to have guts on the PK to block shots too. Gutless players don't play on the PK.

The power play is a talent-driven thing, however I very much disagree with you that the coach doesn't matter. Shero was years and years ago. Today, the penalty kill and goaltenders are much more refined. I believe a good power play has to consist of good coaching, 1 big shot on the point, 1 other smart puck moving defenseman, 1 'power play quarterback' (this is usually your most talented player, either defenseman or forward), one physical presence in front of the crease, and one all-purpose offensive-forward. One or two of these things missing is not the end of the world, but 3 or 4 can really hurt.

As for goaltending, just being able to stop pucks in key moments and remain consistant for 60 minutes is the least of what you should ask from NHL netminders. Anything more than that is a bonus.

The Oilers:

Are they a good 5 on 5 team? They were last year, but does that mean they will be next year? I don't know - consider that a couple years ago MacTavish thought he had a top 10 defensive team in the league, and a year later the bottom 10. Being good 5 on 5 has a lot more to do with playing defense or offense too - it's about being SMART. Overall, however, the Oilers forwards have been good 5 on 5 for the last couple of years, so lets stick with the assumption they should be pretty good next year. On the power play, the addition of Nedved will help. They have the right ingredients up front for all situations. More top-end talent is a big need need if you want to compete with the big boys of either conference.

On the blueline, do they have that varried group? I don't think so. No power play quarterback outside of a rookie, small Marc-Andre Bergeron who for all we know just went on a late-season hot streak like Hemsky did in 2002-03. Outside of Bergeron, no Oilers blueliner has a shot worth speaking about. None of them are great playmakers (though Brewer does have a nice first pass). This hurts them not only on the power play, but 5 on 5. On the penalty kill, the Oilers defensemen can get lost positionally. Only Jason Smith and maybe Steve Staios are reliable fixtures on the penalty kill. Brewer is too inconsistant - some nights he can look like a great guy to have back there, but I've seen him give up the puck inside the blueline on the PK when he should have just fired the puck down the ice a little too often. Aside from maybe Jason Smith (who is getting older and older back there), the Oilers do not have a consistant guy who can be trusted every time he goes out on the PK.

In goal is a disaster area. Neither goaltender has 100 games to his credit in the NHL - in fact, combined they are only 112 NHL games experienced. Markkanen at 29 and Conklin at 28 should be in their primes, but do not look like #1 goaltenders in the NHL right now. Edmonton perhaps has the worst goaltending situation in the entire NHL. Can they do the job next year? That's maybe the biggest question entering the season. However, no contender has two inexperienced goaltenders like that. Every good contender generally has either one very very good goaltender (Brodeur, Roy, Belfour, Hasek), or one 'good' goaltender behind a very good team (Osgood). The Oilers would need to pull off an absolute coup in a trade or get very lucky to improve here.


What I hope Lowe does:

Resigns Brewer to a 3 year deal, $9 million dollars and hope he grows into it. If he doesn't take it, trade him. Trade Jason Smith for a young, not-yet-emerged goaltender such as Ari Ahonen and attempt to find the franchise goaltender every contender needs. Improve the blueline by adding some offensive defenseman who may be available - such as Tomas Kaberle or perhaps sign Jaroslav Modry if you're really desperate. Resign Nedved to a 3 year deal worth $3.5 million a year ($10.5 million). Let him QB the power play and give it a peremitre shot for once. Walk away from Rita.

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06-04-2004, 05:55 PM
  #15
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None of these lineups have a strong enough forward corps to win with the style of game we will play. We need THREE scoring lines, not two. This is how it is done in the now-stronger Eastern conference, and this is how we should do it.

Defensively, it's more of a question of types of defenceman for me. Add a puck-mover #2 or 3 at the expense of a guy like Smith+, and I think we're set. Unless you trade Brewer for a premier type forward.

In goal, watch the boys tear it up. NO ONE is giving these guys anywhere near enough credit for how good they are.

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06-04-2004, 08:28 PM
  #16
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I found Igor's point incredibly interesting in relation to the defencemen. I've been thinking the same thing myself recently. In my mind, it's somewhat obvious. Consider two guys like Sakic and Blake, similar pay and all that, but one's a C and one's a D. How can Blake come anywhere near doing what a guy like Sakic does? At most, Blake gets what, 50 points? Meanwhile, Sakic gets his usual 80. In order to justify the vast disparity in production, Blake would have to somehow individually stop X number of goals compared to Sakic. Let's say it's just 10, although I suspect that's a bit low. Does anyone think Rob Blake is worth that much of a difference? I suspect that while he's valuable compared to the average defenceman, due to his increased offence, his defensive value doesn't equal the difference between he and Sakic.

One question, how do you assign a point value to points of sv%...seems a bit odd to me.

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06-04-2004, 09:18 PM
  #17
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mudcrutch:

There are about six of seven defensemen in this league than can absolutely dominate games if the spirit moves them (Blake, Pronger, Lidstrom come to mind). While I would agree that Sakic is a better player than Blake, I would still argue that Blake is pretty easily a top 5 defenseman in this league, and a top 20 player to boot. His value to the team is slightly behind Forsberg and Sakic - but not too far behind.

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06-04-2004, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
I found Igor's point incredibly interesting in relation to the defencemen. I've been thinking the same thing myself recently. In my mind, it's somewhat obvious. Consider two guys like Sakic and Blake, similar pay and all that, but one's a C and one's a D. How can Blake come anywhere near doing what a guy like Sakic does? At most, Blake gets what, 50 points? Meanwhile, Sakic gets his usual 80. In order to justify the vast disparity in production, Blake would have to somehow individually stop X number of goals compared to Sakic. Let's say it's just 10, although I suspect that's a bit low. Does anyone think Rob Blake is worth that much of a difference?
Hmmm. This is a good question. On the face of it, I don't think its obvious at all that forwards have more value than defenseman of similar salary and reputation. I can't offer any real proof, but the fact that a top flight defender plays more minutes, plays the most important minutes of the game with an impact at both ends, and can directly impact of the other team's top flight players ability to score seems to balance the scales.

At first blush the stats favor the forwards, but those tough minutes down low are very important and not reflected in the stats sheet in a real and measurable way (yet).

I think one could reasonably argue the NHL lacks a long list of top end defenders and that may obscure their contributions. But if we can agree that there are fewer of them, wouldn't that make them more valuable?

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06-04-2004, 10:07 PM
  #19
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Originally Posted by Jay Thompson
In goal is a disaster area. Neither goaltender has 100 games to his credit in the NHL - in fact, combined they are only 112 NHL games experienced. Markkanen at 29 and Conklin at 28 should be in their primes, but do not look like #1 goaltenders in the NHL right now. Edmonton perhaps has the worst goaltending situation in the entire NHL.
I would disagree with this statement. Both guys needed a chance. So far they have proven that they are at least worth being given a shot. I would even argue that I am happier with Edmonton's goaltending than I would be with Vancouver's.

Conklin reminds me alot of Marty Turco(played 4 full years in university, and then shone as a backup, so much so that the team was forced to trade their starter. Turco didn't become an NHL starter until 27 and he had just as many question marks going in that season. Goalies have to start somewhere and Conklin has done nothing to prove that he isn't capable of being a quality starter.)

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06-04-2004, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by lowetide
Hmmm. This is a good question. On the face of it, I don't think its obvious at all that forwards have more value than defenseman of similar salary and reputation. I can't offer any real proof, but the fact that a top flight defender plays more minutes, plays the most important minutes of the game with an impact at both ends, and can directly impact of the other team's top flight players ability to score seems to balance the scales.

At first blush the stats favor the forwards, but those tough minutes down low are very important and not reflected in the stats sheet in a real and measurable way (yet).

I think one could reasonably argue the NHL lacks a long list of top end defenders and that may obscure their contributions. But if we can agree that there are fewer of them, wouldn't that make them more valuable?
Where I'm not with you LT, is that the defencemen make a contribution at both ends. There are a very few of them who do, but think of it this way-when a forward is keeping the puck in the other team's zone, he is preventing the other team from scoring. What forwards do at one end of the ice is essentially defence as well as offence. By comparison, the role of defencemen is so limited offensively, their contributions are effectively limited to the defensive zone. Their job is essentially to get the puck out, and then move on. The limited nature of their role would seem to dictate to me that they can't be as valuable to a team as a forward.

IIRC, Igor also did some work showing that the vaunted PP QB is much overrated...is that right?

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06-04-2004, 11:31 PM
  #21
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Agree with most of what you say but you do need legitimate top pair talent on defense to excel in the NHL. It’s true that you do not need a squad full of Nik Lidstroms or Blakes being paid 9 million a year each – but I think you are over-estimating how far you can go with a team full of Cross’ and Ulanovs.

Clearly the Oilers agree with your analysis because they have followed this strategy for several years now. Every time they trade a high-end expensive dman - the board cries that the sky is falling and that we will fall apart. But every time the hole is filled by a Cross or someone similar. However – and this is a big however – I don’t think you can get away with this approach on the top pair because these guys play the big minutes against elite forwards. You need guys like Smith and Brewer for this role because Staios, Cross, Ulanov etc cannot pull that load for a full year. Maybe for a short time – but not for a whole season and certainly not in the playoffs.

The type of dman who is totally over-valued is the PP QB. Forwards can do that job and we have a beauty of a player in Bergeron who has all of the skills we need for this role. The great thing about Bergy is his size – it’s not a real big deal if we keep him on the 3rd pair 5 on 5 and be careful with his matchups – but it just kills his bargaining power. He is a perfect small market player though – more than skilled enough to do the job on the PP but with a physical flaw that will keep him affordable for a long time. This is one case where the old boy scouts proved their lack of rationality - how this kid went undrafted is completely insane.

We need to keep Brew and Smith (or someone like him) for the top pair. Their salaries are not out of line and as long as the total budget for defensemen is 8 or 9 million dollars (about 25% of the total team budget) we are fine.

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06-05-2004, 12:06 AM
  #22
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On a different subject, Mizral what's with the name change. Trying to start out fresh again?

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06-05-2004, 12:27 AM
  #23
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Originally Posted by Asiaoil
Agree with most of what you say but you do need legitimate top pair talent on defense to excel in the NHL. It’s true that you do not need a squad full of Nik Lidstroms or Blakes being paid 9 million a year each – but I think you are over-estimating how far you can go with a team full of Cross’ and Ulanovs.
What if you have the depth in the defensive pairings to rely on each of them for 18-20 minutes a night? What if they are all of the quality of a Staios/Smith even on the third pairing. I wonder if this is what Igor is trying to get at. Nowadays, you have guys that you want to "hide" on the bottom pairing with limited minutes whether that be due to youth or exhaustion. (Similar to what Bergeron has been alluded to being especially this past season).

If you can theoretically have 6 dmen that can play 20 minutes a night... does the need for a top go-to pairing playing 25 minutes diminish?

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06-05-2004, 12:28 AM
  #24
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Originally Posted by elphy101
On a different subject, Mizral what's with the name change. Trying to start out fresh again?
Slats also had his username changed I believe. It's a probably because of the affiliation with HF.

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06-05-2004, 02:09 AM
  #25
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Building a contender are we? Well, the Oilers have some good peices in place. However, I must say I disagreed with much of your analysis.

The reason the Oilers future is compared to other teams, is because they will be directly competing with other teams. I agree about the quality of a team part though.

In terms of 5 on 5 play, I value chemistry and the right 'mix' of players more than just a conglomerate of two-way guys. For example, Jarome Iginla is not a very good player in his own zone, but Sutter smartly puts him with Craig Conroy and Martin Gelinas, two smart two-way players, to offset Iginla's defensive shortcomings. Idealy, you want at least one very good defensive player on every line on your roster.

The defense is where I disagree with you the most. A team full of Carney's, Boughner's, and Smith's aren't going to turn a team into a contender. Look at the top 4 contenders over the last 10 years. All of them had a mix of offensive-minded defensemen and defensive-minded defensemen. You cannot have a 1-dimensional blueline in this league anymore and expect to last long. Look at the two teams in the finals: Calgary has Jordan Leopold, Toni Lydman (albiet not much), Andrew Ference, a bit of Steve Montador. Tampa Bay has Boyle, Sydor, Kubina. You have to have a mix of just about everything - defensive play, size, aggressiveness, offensive play, shots from the blueline, good 1st-passers.

The penalty kill is a very coachable thing. Virtually everything a team has goes into it's PK. The goaltender, the skaters on the ice, the coaching. I think your ideal PK unit has one crease clearer at least and two quick, smart forwards. You have to have guts on the PK to block shots too. Gutless players don't play on the PK.

The power play is a talent-driven thing, however I very much disagree with you that the coach doesn't matter. Shero was years and years ago. Today, the penalty kill and goaltenders are much more refined. I believe a good power play has to consist of good coaching, 1 big shot on the point, 1 other smart puck moving defenseman, 1 'power play quarterback' (this is usually your most talented player, either defenseman or forward), one physical presence in front of the crease, and one all-purpose offensive-forward. One or two of these things missing is not the end of the world, but 3 or 4 can really hurt.

As for goaltending, just being able to stop pucks in key moments and remain consistant for 60 minutes is the least of what you should ask from NHL netminders. Anything more than that is a bonus.

The Oilers:

Are they a good 5 on 5 team? They were last year, but does that mean they will be next year? I don't know - consider that a couple years ago MacTavish thought he had a top 10 defensive team in the league, and a year later the bottom 10. Being good 5 on 5 has a lot more to do with playing defense or offense too - it's about being SMART. Overall, however, the Oilers forwards have been good 5 on 5 for the last couple of years, so lets stick with the assumption they should be pretty good next year. On the power play, the addition of Nedved will help. They have the right ingredients up front for all situations. More top-end talent is a big need need if you want to compete with the big boys of either conference.

On the blueline, do they have that varried group? I don't think so. No power play quarterback outside of a rookie, small Marc-Andre Bergeron who for all we know just went on a late-season hot streak like Hemsky did in 2002-03. Outside of Bergeron, no Oilers blueliner has a shot worth speaking about. None of them are great playmakers (though Brewer does have a nice first pass). This hurts them not only on the power play, but 5 on 5. On the penalty kill, the Oilers defensemen can get lost positionally. Only Jason Smith and maybe Steve Staios are reliable fixtures on the penalty kill. Brewer is too inconsistant - some nights he can look like a great guy to have back there, but I've seen him give up the puck inside the blueline on the PK when he should have just fired the puck down the ice a little too often. Aside from maybe Jason Smith (who is getting older and older back there), the Oilers do not have a consistant guy who can be trusted every time he goes out on the PK.

In goal is a disaster area. Neither goaltender has 100 games to his credit in the NHL - in fact, combined they are only 112 NHL games experienced. Markkanen at 29 and Conklin at 28 should be in their primes, but do not look like #1 goaltenders in the NHL right now. Edmonton perhaps has the worst goaltending situation in the entire NHL. Can they do the job next year? That's maybe the biggest question entering the season. However, no contender has two inexperienced goaltenders like that. Every good contender generally has either one very very good goaltender (Brodeur, Roy, Belfour, Hasek), or one 'good' goaltender behind a very good team (Osgood). The Oilers would need to pull off an absolute coup in a trade or get very lucky to improve here.


What I hope Lowe does:

Resigns Brewer to a 3 year deal, $9 million dollars and hope he grows into it. If he doesn't take it, trade him. Trade Jason Smith for a young, not-yet-emerged goaltender such as Ari Ahonen and attempt to find the franchise goaltender every contender needs. Improve the blueline by adding some offensive defenseman who may be available - such as Tomas Kaberle or perhaps sign Jaroslav Modry if you're really desperate. Resign Nedved to a 3 year deal worth $3.5 million a year ($10.5 million). Let him QB the power play and give it a peremitre shot for once. Walk away from Rita.
The Oilers were one of the best 5 on 5 teams in the NHL last year it was the only thing that kept them even close to a playoff spot and the Oilers were one of the best teams in the NHL after January. They have been good five on five for awhile now and as you admit that suddenly changing is remote.

Goaltending - Of course we all know that it was very subpar. That improved immensely. Yes it could be just terrible on the other hand one of the goaltenders could have have a season like that guy in Calgary that San Jose just gave away and how much NHL experience did he have when he got to Calgary. But sorry Mizral, I can't see it can be worse than what Salo offered up last year. Goaltending was a disastor most of the year and we still almost made the playoffs. Conklin and Markkanen is an improvement over what Salo offered. They already made the trade to improve at that posistion again evidenced by the improvement of our GAA after Salo left.

Defense - Yes players have slumps and Bergeron could falter, but then maybe Woywitka or Lynch may make the team. Defence is now an organizatioal strength. . Yep Brewer makes mistakes but he is just starting to hit his prime as a dman and is still improving and is already one of the best young dman in the NHL. Yes Bergeron is small but he doesn't play small at all and often was able to contain players that are bigger than him. His plus 13 rating in 54 games testifies that he can play defense as well. He will not be expected to play against the other teams best players and on the PP he is able to use his accurate shot and his passing ability. The Oilers also are very deep in the organzation at defence which may allow them to make trades to bolster other areas and I do believe that depth gives us that mix especially if Bergeron continues to develop. Yep he's small but is the same height as Phil Housley who played 23 seasons in this league. Not comparing Bergeron to Housley but just showing that small defenceman with talent can survive in this league. Its not like Lydman is a giant either.

Penalty killing - If it is such a coachable thing why did Edmonton make such a turnaround. They were just terrible early and then as mentioned suddenly improved a lot. It was very respectable in the second half. Did the coaching suddenly change in Edmonton? No but the personnel did. Ulanov arrived and our PK improved, goaltending change it improves more. Not saying coaching is not important but obviously and as shown last year in Edmonton player changes mean more.


Powerplay - Again our stats bely your claim about coaching. Our powerplay was a completely different animal after Bergeron blossomed and Nedved arrived. You can be a great coach but if you don't have the horses you are not going to be successful. Coaches are hired to be fired. Simpson didn''t suddenly become a genius when Nedved and Bergeron arrived just like he wasn't a complete moron before their arrival. As was mentioned in a previous post teams would concentrate on the Oilers weaknesses on the PP due to their lack on a PP quarterback and no one along the sideboards to spread the defense out. Bergeron and Nedved made those two weaknesses better and thus BINGO improved PP.

A lot of bad things happened to the Oilers last year. Salo going down the tube, Comrie holding out and Reasoner going down with an injury forcing us to play Smyth at centre. A lot of key injuries at the same time hurt, it wasn't so much the man games missed but the timing.

Still despite this once improvement was made in those two areas the Oilers as well as adding Ulanov we suddenly became on of the best teams in the NHL after January.

As I said goaltending can not get worse than Salo was last year. I believe he was 29th among starting goaltenders in GAA, If Nedved is signed that shores up our centre ice position and defence is getting stronger.

I believe the Oilers will be better "Next" year.

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