The Kids (and their replacements)

"And I sat weary beyond espression, exulting like a conqueror, sleepless and entranced as if before a profound, a fateful enigma." - Joesph Conrad, Youth

This is the stunning Linus Omark. In all the hullabaloo about the holy trinity (In the name of Hall, Jorden Eberle, and Pääjärvi ghost) he is starting to get over looked. Is it that he is 'too' old, too small, or just not good enough. (Personally, I think he was just good and not excellent, like the other Oiler Swede, at the last international tournament).
I for one think that the Oilers should be giving him a long look at Training Camp, and maybe even give him more of a chance to make the big roster vis-a-vis of the lesser two divinities. For one, he played in the toughest league outside the NHL last year, and in hard leagues over his career with success. Those season where a lot shorter, which means he may tire past the 40 game mark. He is amazingly gifted as a pure skill forwards, but his size is an issue Most importantly there is the enigma of youth: how will he respond and will his game grow?
Horcoff- Hall - Hemsky
Ganger - Penner - Brule
Cogilano - Omark - NHL Veteran 1
Frazer - Jones - Zorg
Press Box: SMac - Minor leager Checker/Strudwick
injured Reserve: JFJ
Chris Vande Velde - Alexandre Giroux - Eberle
Brad Moran - Teemu Hartikainen - Pääjärvi
AHL Veteran 1 - Liam Reddox -Ben Ondrus
Ryan O'Marra -Gregory Stewart- Colin MacDonald
Press Box: Phillipe Cornet, Toni Rajala, Matt Marquardt, Milan Kytnar

Does this create problems or solve them? It does allow Eberle and Pääjärvi some time to adjust their game in the AHL, but I do not think either of them will go a whole season without seeing some NHL time. If Omark's, or even Brule's, performance stutter steps I could see one of them getting the call up, or if there is an injury on the top two lines (which there will be). But I would seriously suggest that only Hall and Omark stay up at the end of training camp because I want to see veterans playing on the Oilers and young players put into positions that they can succeed in.
Which is why Kytnar, Cornet, and Rajala are sitting in the press box: I see a season in which one or two of these players tries real hard to get into the AHL line up, and once injuries allows them to establish themselves it hopefully will be hard to get take them out. In any case, expecting a regular shift every night is not reasonable based on their last junior seasons, and they all will see time in the ECHL.
So speaking of the kids replacements: The Oilers still need a NHL veteran to play centre or the wing (depending on Cogilano), and I am suggesting Richard Park. No this is nothing new, but I have been suggesting this for a while now in a pseudo-compulsive manner. But there are other veteran problems as well: who the hell is going to play two way centre with offensive upside in the AHL? The depth chart of Centres is weak through out the line up, and the AHL grouping of Vande Velde, Brad Moran, Ryan O'Marra, and Milan Kytnar is not going to cut it. The last one should be in the Press Box to start the year, but we need another Martindale type (big with offensive upside) on that roster. Vande Velde is one of those type of players, and I think he will do a fine job, which is why he is on my first freaking line.
But once injuries start hitting both line ups there will be major player movement on the AHL line up. Now that the goaltending issues are solved at the AHL level (maybe), Bill Scott's first job should be signing a AHL veteran centre with the last remaining veteran player position that the Barons can ice. He does want a winning team in the premier season of the new team, right? I am hoping Strudwick retires, and becomes the assistant to the team of Mike Sillinger and Billy Moores. But that leaves open one of the Press Box positions (hopefully for a checker, but knowing Lowe/Tambo it will be a offensive kid, most likely Omark with Team Canada junior's messiah in his spot on the ice). The dark horses in this race are Reddox and Giroux as they are good players, hard workers, could play some special teams minutes, and desperate to make the NHL. Oh and who doesn't think that the French Ox-like injury machine will start the season on the IR?
Gilbert- Whitney
NHL Veteran 2 - Smid
Foster - Vandermeer
Press Box: Peckham
Shawn Belle - Richard Petoit
Jeff Petry - Alex Plante
Jake Taylor - Taylor Chorney
Press Box: Johan Motin, Jordan Bendfeld

Most regular readers (all five of you) will know that I love the big rough defensive-minded rearguard, but I do not dislike the puckmover (as I had the privilege of playing with a few in farm league pee-wee in Stony Plain). As a result I love defensemen, but this really is not about the kids at all. I just never feel like I can write an article without talking about the defensive blueline: cause I am scared about this. Without Souray, this team desperately needs a NHL calbre defenseman. If we can't mend fences, and i do not think that is possible, we need to find a player for the big league roster. Might I suggest Andreas Lilja, he is only looking for a 1.5 million dollar, one year contract in Detroit, so I am guessing 1.75 to 2 million might be able to get it done in Edmonton.
But what does it do to the prospects on the Barons (I am only including Motin, Plante, Chorney, and Petry), if Souray has to report to the AHL? Oddly enough, is the way I would deal with the Souray situation if I was on the Oilers' Brass (Shown to the right in their natural environment). I think Souray would be a less of a cancer in the AHL, because who would take his bitching seriously if they knew it cost him a job in the NHL.
I would be a crowded blue line with four veterans- Souray, Belle, Petiot, & Taylor- and the prospects would be fighting each other for ice time. This would be the major problem trying to get Petry time on both special teams or having Plante get the EV strength time he needs to develop, plus it creates a problem having Motin not play at all. The only good thing would be once Chorney touches the ice it will be with a veteran that can help him adjust his game.
I have no clues . . . it is a mystery and a debate but it is not about the kids. Unless we end up with a three headed monster and it further reduces the press box players we can carry at the NHL level.

So how much time should each of the youngsters get on the each of the rosters. Hall is going to get all his games at the NHL level and we know this so it is not worth discussing. I would have Eberle with a minimum of 20 games at the NHL level, but also a minimum 30 games at the AHL. Pääjärvi should be about the same as Eberle, but since the Oilers like Eberle based purely on the love the fan base has for him I would say the Pääjärvi is looking at closer to 40 or 50 games at the AHL level. Omark is the real wild card for my; I'd have him at closer to 40 games at the NHL level, but about I am sure he'll need a kick in the pants with a couple 10 game stints in Oklahoma City. As for the Defense, I see Petry and Plante getting at least 5 games in the NHL, and the Oilers will want to keep them in the AHL line up when ever they are not injured. Chorney will get a bunch more in the Press Box, and I could even see a trip to the ECHL if he continues to struggle being used as a motivational tool. Unless Motin takes a big step forward, and I hope he does since I am a big fan, he will most likely not see any NHL time and might even have difficulties making the AHL line up with all the Veterans signed. I think he will play 1 or 2 games at the NHL level, about 40 at the AHL, and at least a baker's dozen in the ECHL. This could be a major problem for his development.
Remember this is what I would do, not what I think the Oilers would do. What would you do if you where Tambo this up coming season?

Wait, I forgot Teemu Hartikainen, and I doubt that would be kosher in the OilerDiaspora. OK, I do not see him getting NHL experience this season. He is going to need to be counted on to provide offense in AHL, especially if that team is going to succeed. So I have his games at 70 in the AHL barring an Injury Situation like last year (then most likely 60 gp at the AHL and 10 at the NHL).

No comments: