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Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Year End, Oilers Talk PART III"

As we near the end of yet another losing season, it has become quite discouraging , yet exciting time for Edmonton Oiler fans. On the one hand, we are sick of losing games we should win, sick of hearing Maple Leaf fans tell us how much better their team is, sick of Flame fans rubbing it in, that they are still a better team then us and worst of all, we Oiler fans are sick of not seeing our team compete for a playoff spot come March.

Now on the other hand, we have Jordon "Clutch" Eberle and his magic touch becoming one of the best 15 players in the NHL. Who would have thought that? Yes, we all knew Eberle was going to be good, but this good? No one I have ever read a article on predicted the top end game of Eberle this quick into his career. What about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? This guy is magic with the puck and almost finishes the season at a point per game as a 18 year old kid? He may not win the Calder but IMO , he is hands down the best rookie in the NHL. 20 less games and still on top of the points standings for rookies? The guy is a treat to watch, at both ends of the ice. To me, the rookie of the year is easy to figure out. If you wanted to pick one rookie in the entire NHL on your team this year only, who would it be? RNH right? To say otherwise would be lying to yourself.

Hall is a 'Bull in a China Shop'. The guy rocks and he rolls like there is no tomorrow. He is a fighter, a delight to watch and has a competitive edge that is second to none. Can you imagine Hall lining up on Sidney Crosby's wing for Team Canada? Wow, that's all I can say. Petry, while he has struggled the last couple games is really turning into the top 4 defencemen that us Oiler fans hoped he would become. Smid has become one of the league's best shutdown men and Schultz has become a nice steady random with whomever he plays with. Dubynk, while some may not agree has rounded out well this year in his growth and I see only positive arrows up for him next year. On a 29th place team, look at his win-loss record, his SP and his GAA and there is no way you can deny he is moving in the right direction. (especially when you see how bad his numbers looked before christmas).

I have continued to collect the questions I am asked in person, email and twitter regarding my opinions on items related to the Oilers organization, so will wrap up my final segment on Oiler talk in today's blog.


If the Oilers are to select Ryan Murray at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, do you think he would be ready to play in the NHL his first year?

On most occasions, I would say that a 18 year old defencemen is not ready for the daily rigours of NHL work and should take 2-3 years of development. In Murray's case, his own Everett Silvertips coach, believes he likely won't be returning next year. He believes he is good enough to stick with the NHL club which drafts him. That does not mean he will be ready to step into a top 2 defencemen role, but possibly a protected 5-6 defence role? Like other rookies he can be sheltered and brought about slowly. Should the Oilers draft Murray, I for one think he will be able to make the club his first year. The Oilers will talk the talk, just like they did with RNH, but if Ryan Murray can make a good case for himself he likely would be staying in Oilerland.

If the Oilers were to select another defencemen other then Murray, who do you think it would be?

Griffin Reinhart is a definite IMO for the Oilers. They will try hard to find a way to land a second pick and to select him if there is a way. Chances are slim but I do believe the Oilers brass believe he is a gem. I see no way, the Oilers draft Reinhart in the top 4 however, too high of a risk for that high of draft pick.

Do you feel the Oilers will try and trade for the 1st overall pick at the 2012 NHL Draft?

I believe they will attempt to try and procure the #1 overall pick, but like all the other years, it is almost impossible for the price teams want for that pick.

Who do you think will be in line next year from OKC to play here in Edmonton?

Paajarvi and Hartikanen with Teubert and Plante getting the call ups on defence. Its a do or die year for Plante to make a step but with the defence more then likely going to be upgraded one way or another, players on defence will be in tough to get a shot at the beginning of the season. The wildcard in here is Taylor Fedun. Depending on his rehab and if he is the same player as he was in exhibition season this past season.

Where do you think Paajarvi fits best on the current Oilers team?
I might see PaajarviHartikanen/Horcoff/Paajarvi next year. But what I think and what the coaches think are two entirely different things usually.

What happens to Linus Omark this off-season in your opinion?

Linus will be flushed IMO. I like the guy and there are several other teams in the NHL to catch on with. He has no chance in the top two lines and IMO he is a top two line type skill player. My guess is he gets traded as a RFA for some low pick at the draft table.

With two young goalies in the fold , with Bunz now signed , what happens to Roy?
Roy had a outstanding year in Stockton with the Thunder despite not always having much help with the team in front of him. He has become a much steadier goaltender and is more then likely going to be headed to OKC for a shot as the backup next year. My guess is they try and sign Danis to another one year contract. In the meantime, Bunz will likely take Roy's place in the development curve with the ECHL club his first year and may occasionally get a call up for a game or two with OKC if opportunity arises. The following year, I would venture to guess they hope to have Roy take the OKC starting goaltender position with Bunz as the backup.

What do you think with happen with our GM and coaching situation with next year?
I know there is lots of speculation everywhere with many different rumours floating. Tamby will get his GM extension (2 years?) and then it is anybodies guess. If someone good becomes available maybe they make a move but I think they try and convince Renney to sign a one year, explaining they need to see greater improvement to move beyond and challenge for a playoff spot to give anything longer. I really believe they want to eventually bring in Todd Nelson but are another year or two away from that. It's a trend more now then ever to do just that and it seems to work 50% of the time. On the other hand I am hearing rumours still that Krueger may not be back next year and returning to Europe. Myself, I really believe he is a vital reason for some of the development we are seeing , more then Renney.

If the Oilers were to improve no more then 25th overall at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, who are the top 3 players eligible to draft that may be of interest to the Oilers?
It's a strong draft year in 2013 so they stand to draft a forward again if they do falter. The big 3 names though are the ones you will hear all next year. Nathan Mackinnon of the QMJHL, Sean Monahan of the OHL and Hunter Shinkaruk of the WHL. All three are scoring dynamos and will be pretty closely watched this next season. Other players like Curtis Lazer, Seth Jones and Max Domi are thought to be pretty high end players as well. Goalie Zachery Fucale stands to be the best goalie of the crop year so far.
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