Friday, November 10, 2006

Playing defense is about more than being physical

It's not that we didn't know that before but heading into this season most fans concentrated on the full season upgrade in goal, the deep forwards corps and the possibility of having one of the top five PP's in hockey.

The goaltending theory looks solid but some of the forwards are struggling and that's diluted the current perceived depth to the level of your father's whiskey after you've dipped into for the fourth time that month.

I won't even get into the PP right now, BTW.

Of course the aspect of the '07 Oilers that no one wanted to talk about was how the defense would fare. And by no one I mean anyone who works or plays for the Oilers.

Well right about now those funk soul brothers might have come to the conclusion that you won't go all that far with a d crops that includes all of Bergeron, Greene and and Smid. I'm not sure if either of those guys will go back the other way but in today's Journal they actually had a list of guys Lowe "might" be looking at. How they compiled that list is open for debate and I'd say it's part guys who are UFA at season's end and part guys who Lowe has discussed in a glowing manner in previous discussions.

The biggest news is that the Oilers are now openly shopping for another dman and I can't wait to see who's coming to augment their defense. Just last week the Oilers lost consecutive home tilts against the Stars and Preds and both those teams employ rearguads who hurt you with the pass more than they hurt you with their physicality. You can't find six Brian Rafalski's and if you did you couldn't afford them all but there's an element they bring that the Oilers sorely lack and that's the ability to make a quick breakout pass. Once they acquire that then you'll see an increase in the Oilers going through the neutral zone with speed and a decrease in the amount of time spent in their own end.

Anyway, on to the blurb and this is an old copy and past dealie:

__Here's a list of offensive defencemen Lowe might be looking at in a trade: Tampa Bay's Dan Boyle, Florida's Mike Van Ryn, Lubomir Visnovsky in L.A., Boston's Paul Mara and Ottawa's Chris Phillips, who is an unrestricted free agent in July.__

So here's the job for all the guys who love the trade speculation. Check out the ages of these guys, their contract status in terms of lenght remaining and appliciable monies and which of them have had the most success on the PP because you know that any of these guys will see time on the Oilers PP unit, well outside of Phillips. Later on maybe we can get into each of these mentioned orgs to see where there needs are and just what they might want in return. And what I'd really like to see is which of these guys can handle the tough min and which of them have feasted on the soft mintuted lamb.

I'm really interested to see what you guys come up with.


Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Well, I don't know about the minutes they are facing but I'll stump for Visnovsky right away.


Led the Kings in scoring last year, I believe, or close to it. 67 points.

Relatively inexpensive plus he has one year left on his contract.

Kings are rebuilding and Oilers have chips so that's a fit.

Been a plus every year except 01/02. Including this year.

Plus TSN says he's HOT.

Now, would he really be an answer? I'll leave that to the number crunchers.

11/10/2006 5:56 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

Phillips seems like such a waste to me. He's never cracked 1.0 ESP/hr playing on a team that dominates at ES and he's terrible on the PP. Since we can be pretty sure he hasn't taken too many tough minutes with Chara and Redden around, I think it's safe to say the Alberta boy won't be worth the price.

Boyle's an interesting case. Nice ES offense - Bergeron/Jovo like numbers there. Total crap on the PP. Funny that also matches Bergeron. Liles too. It's interesting to me that there are so many so-called offensive dmen that grab their points at ES and stink on the PP. It's a little odd.

Mara used to be a complete chump on the PP, but he has put up two straight years above 4.0 PPP/hr or right around there and I think that coincides with more PP minutes to a certain extent. He's an interesting one for sure and he's signed for this year and next season at $3.0MM/yr, after which he'll go UFA.

The main problem with Visnovsky is that he's only had the one good year on the PP - 4.4 PPP/hr on a brutally bad PP unit in LA that put up just 5.2 PPGF/hr. His other recent seasons were 3.6, 1.5, 2.9 and 3.9 - none of which were particularly good. His ES scoring his always right around 1.0 ESP/hr or above which is a good sign. He's signed through next season at $1.9MM/yr and goes UFA after that as well.

I don't know. I'm not big on the idea of picking up a PP dman. It strikes me as kind of stupid. Like Billy Beane picking up a closer in a trade stupid. I'm in love with the idea of getting Keith or Seabrook out of Chicago. Especially Keith because he's signed forever at $1.475MM/yr (through 2010), he had a trial by fire last year and he'll only get better. He doesn't look to be a PP guy, but I'd rather play five forwards out there anyway.

11/10/2006 8:29 pm  
Blogger Lowetide said...

I don't like this at all. They should go with 5 F's, keep Bergeron and Smid as the puck movers and get Don Awrey.

They don't need a QB who can make the deep pass, they need calm feet.

11/10/2006 9:15 pm  
Anonymous MikeP said...

LT: Semenov's available, I hear, and his feet are pretty calm. ;)

I'm not sure that any of those dmen are the solution, but I'll go with Lubo as well. I'm pretty sure his numbers are still better than anybody on the Oilers right now.

11/10/2006 9:52 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

Van Ryan is a guy that interests me - signed for 4 years including this season at a decent $2.9 million per. The plus/minus looks OK and the PPP/hour is about 3.5. He's eating about 20-23 minutes a game by the looks of it.

I like him because of the contract length - yeah we have issues this year - but this team will not be ready to kick ass until the year after next - and Van Ryan will still be signed for 2 years after that.

Who goes the other way? How about MAB and Schremp? Those are the 2 guys I'm trying to package for the guy we need.

11/10/2006 10:17 pm  
Blogger PDO said...


I want Lubo and a pick (2nd maybe...) for Schremp and MAB. That is the dream, anyway...

Lubo puts this team so over the top its not even funny..


11/10/2006 11:53 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

LT - I think we could do with both - Don Awrey and Visnovsky - once again, not sure of the opposition Lubo faces but he's a consistent plus.

Ideally this club would have two veteran D men and would only have to break in one of Greene and Smid but so it goes.

11/11/2006 6:07 am  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Van Ryn's the one I would take in that group.

11/11/2006 10:57 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Dollars considered along with riversq's stuff, looks like Visnovsky is the best fit there. Not a guy I've really noticed a bunch before though.

Flipping through the channels last night and on one of the sports networks they were saying that Calgary is pursuing Conroy and that the asking price is a 2nd round pick or a prospect. I find that a bit hard to believe, seeing that Conroy seemed to give the clear impression that he didn't see eye to eye with Sutter. And Sutter implied that Conroy didn't want to play in Canada.

Anyhow, the same guy also quoted Lowe (I think he was quoting him, not sure) as saying "slow and steady wins the race". So I'm not sure what to believe. I would not surprise me if MacTavish wasn't asking for a PP Dman though. Most Oiler fans seems cool with the 5 forward alignment, but I have a feeling that it's purely out of necessity for MacT, that he'd rather he didn't have to do that.

11/11/2006 12:02 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/11/2006 2:21 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

I think we really have to consider what stage this team is at before you can target a guy. We are not getting back to the SCF this year or maybe even next - we are just too young in key places.

Given that - Vish and Boyle make little sense since they will be gone just at the point where we will be seriously competitive. Van Ryan's 4 year deal looks OK - but one of the young cheap guys like Keith or Michalek look even better like Riv said. If we trade for a younger cheap dman and sign a UFA like Phillips to a 3 year deal in the summer we are pretty much set.

11/11/2006 2:23 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Working from the group of five that appeared in Fri's Journal I'll pick Vishnovsky or Van Ryan. Boyle has 3/9 left so we can't handle that. Mara's making 3 mill so no thank you. Lubby has 2/3.9 left which is quite affordable and is a flat out steal. I know Lombardi's trying to rebuild but LV's a steal so I'd imagine there will be lots of suitors. Today's Journal said that LA head scout Bob Berry was at the Oilers last couple of home games so there's some legitimate smoke rising. I'd be really jazzed if the Oilers could land this guy. He looks like a bonafide 40 point man and he can get it done on the PP. That being said I'm not one of those guys that's against having five forwards on the fact I love it. But if he comes in and someone comes out then you can still use Sykora in the slot. He's also a guy who's gonna play at least 20 min and can do a good job. And of course he should be able to make a few good first passes. Dahlman and Weaver are the Kings 5/6 guys so they're riding the top four hard and LV's played at least 22 min in 12 of the Kings first 16 or 17? games.

I think the Kings can get a lot for this guy and I think they'll be looking for a dman coming back. Not sure what they have in their pipe but Norstrom and Blake are getting long in the tooth and while they have Brown, Cammalari, Kopitar, Frolov and O'Sullivan up front...I think that precludes them from looking at forwards first unless it's good good to be true. I guess it also depends if Lombardi's trading for need or doing the old BPA route. I know we said we'd like to get a young guy who's gonna be affordable for awhile but that's not LV. He's likely to get 4 mill on the market given what dmen were pulling in this past summer. I'd still deal Bergeron plus for him though and get the better part of two seasons out of him before he walks and you'd get them cheaply as well.

Van Ryan's making 1.7 this year and I'm not sure if his contract runs pass this season. I'm also not sure if he's a impending UFA or not. There was one season where he played just 20 games and I don't know if it was due to injury or not so I don't know if it counts as a full year of service time. He's an intersesting guy as we've heard about him since he played at the WJHC and had that really good second season at Michigan and of course created the Mike Ryan loophole with which Mike Comrie would use to extort the Oilers:) Anyway...MVR's settled in as a consistent 40 pt guy who's a very smooth skater and passer.

I'm not sure what Fla would want in return. I'd have to take a longer look at their org to see who's close to helping them out. MVR is a guy though that we might be able to pick up and ink longterm at an affordable price.

I'm hoping for LV but I'd be glad with MVR as well.

11/11/2006 2:26 pm  
Blogger RiversQ said...

I forgot to put the Van Ryn stuff up. He's making $2.9MM/yr for this year and the next three seasons. (I assume that's cap hit.) He has been fairly mediocre on the PP, but he's in the 0.8-1.0 ESP/hr range at ES. If I had to guess, I'd bet that he got pillow soft minutes last year jusdging by the team GD and his +/- last year. Just based on the Thrashers/Panthers game I went to this year, he's only a 2nd pairing guy for Martin. (J-Bo/Allen got the heavy lifting on the road in that game and Van Ryn was paired with Salei IIRC) Factor in his salary and despite the long term deal he's not really that appealing IMO.

Let's face it, it's the price that matters. The guy on the list provided by Matheson/Dennis that comes with the lowest asking price in terms of assets is the one they should take. Visnovsky's the only one that's even close to being a step above the rest of that list.

11/11/2006 2:58 pm  
Anonymous smyth94 said...

Fix two problems with one trade???

Seems to me the Oilers need:

1) steady D-man;
2) centreman who can log tough minutes.

Why not address both needs with one deal?

Lubo & Conroy are both signed for two more years, with $1.824 million and $2.394 million cap hits respectively.

Torres and MAB go the other way, freeing up about $2 million in cap room. Consider that both of these Oilers need to be sheltered from tough mins, and neither sees much time on the pp or pk units...



11/11/2006 3:58 pm  
Anonymous uni said...

I can't see Lubo and Conroy going for MAB and Torres alone...just seems like a pipe dream. I had hopes of Michalek myself with all the craziness going on in yote land pre-season, but now with his play, it looks very unlikely *sigh. Van Ryn I'm also not sold on, as like riversq said, the B man and Allen seem to be the top pairing, and I really don't know that much about how good he really is.

Chicago's D-men seem awfully interesting though, and riversq makes an excellent point about Ballard, who has the advantage of not being as expensive as Seabrook.

Personally I still hope that Greene morphs into a shutdown D man and Smid suddenly turns into the second coming in December and ends up being a freak like Patrice Bergeron was as a rookie...a guy can dream.

11/11/2006 4:48 pm  
Anonymous SweatyO said...

smyth94 - I saw somewhere they were speculating that Lombardi might try to move those two (Lubo and CC) in a package deal.

I'm also one who thinks this team needs another good veteran centerman at some point, so in principle, I'm in favor of making a move like this.

But I'd rather not give up Torres if I'm GM, because this team has issues with toughness at forward with Moreau out. I'd offer up Schremp, MAB and a pick. (once again, I think you want to keep Cogliano and Pouliot and move Schremp at a time where his value in a deal may be inflated due to his OHL dominance last year).

Of course the ideal situation is to make a move on a Seabrook or Michalek, but those guys are slightly more attainable than a Boumeester or a Pitkanen (translation: not going to f'n happen unless Mike Milbury suddenly got the GM job in Chicago or Phoenix).

Visnovsky and Brad Stuart (word is the Bruins might shop one of him or Mara, and I've got Mara in with Souray....just say NO) are the top of my list. Eric Brewer and Chris Phillips I like to, but they'd do squat for the PP.

11/11/2006 9:05 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

The other things to consider:
- Where did Matheson get these names from?
- If he got them from an Oilers source, why did they offer these names up?

It's entirely possible that Matheson had a column to fill and got these names from the internet.

IF, however, he got these names from an Oilers source, why? ...
- Helping out old Jim?
- Or are they truly pursuing a Dman (who may or may not be on the list) and want the GM in question to know that they have other irons in the fire?

Personally I think those are good questions, though I have no answers.

11/12/2006 8:38 am  
Anonymous SweatyO said...

Vic - I think we've got to give Matheson the benefit of the doubt here. If ANY member of the Edmonton media truly knows what the hell is going on in the GM's office, it's this guy. Despite the fact he's "slipped" in recent years, he's still the guy in the Edmonton dailies.

I think they're genuinely looking for a D-man, and that Lowe wants to make a move by X-mas time. He learned his lesson last year from leaving the goaltending issue until 20 games left. Now, granted, a guy like Visnovsky will not have close to the impact on the W/L column that Roloson does, but it's still a glaring need. Another veteran d-man, someone to play in the top three, someone who can move the puck....

As far as I can see Visnovsky and Stuart are the best "fits". Really, it depends on when the curve of what Lowe is willing to offer intersects with that of what LA, Boston, etc. are willing to accept (i.e. when will the "fire-sale" start in those cities, along with Phoenix, Chicago, and other towns where it's pretty obvious that they don't have a chance at the second season).

We shall see. Over/under for a deal is Christmas. Past that, I don't know what else can be said with any degree of certainty.

11/12/2006 10:04 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

I didn't realize that Keith would be so affordable for so long. Hard not to jump at that if there was a chance and they have so many young kids on the backend that you should be able to pick up one of them..and especially if the Hawks keep struggling and Tallon starts hammering on the panic button.

Vic...I'm very suspicious of all forms of local media but I think I have a decent handle on the way things go down sometimes. And especially in a city like Edm where the local media isn't allowed to criticize because gosh golly the team might leave!!!!;)

So Old Matty throws out his propaganda pieces and MacT and Lowe uses him to pat guys on the ass or kick them in the nuts and for his troubles the Oilers throw Matty a bone every now and then like say this latest list of names.

And in the meantime yes it gives a shout out to the other GM's that they're not the only action in town.

11/12/2006 11:33 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ya, surely true in the short term. Those are the guys most likely to get the Oilers into the playoffs, possibly with a decent seed. I'm not at all convinced that Lowe is operating in "this year" mode though. He may be, but I dunno.

Ya, I hadn't realized that on the Keith contract either. To me he's target #1 because of that.

The other thing for the conspiracy minded to consider ;) a universally good reason for the Oil to be looking for a PP dman is if Stoll is on the trade block. This meshes well with your "they're seeing if he can lift the heavy weight" theory, and not so much with my simpler "trying to make him a better player" idea ... still, the pieces of the puzzle fit in nicely that way.

I tell ya what though, if they do trade, say, Schremp and Stoll for some youngish 'way ahead of the curve' defenseman ... Oiler fandom is going to go apeshit. :D

11/12/2006 11:55 am  
Anonymous SweatyO said...

Vic - I think the minimum standard still has to be the playoffs. There's no reason this team shouldn't finish top-eight in the west. And once you get in, who knows what could happen.

I like Visnovsky because he's signed through next year at a reasonable price. I like Stuart because he's only 26 (IIRC) and is an Alberta boy, so he might sign here long-term. Either way, we need to get one of these guys.

If we're not in this year mode, why the heck the contracts for Roloson, Horcoff, Pisani, and Sykora even?

Fucking Pronger....

11/12/2006 4:17 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Vic: Matchup wise..It would be easier to deal 16 if 18 weren't injured because they could just go 18-19-34 and give them the tough min and then saddle 94-10 with 15 and see how that plays. Or they could try Torres up there or even go for a safer bet with Thoresen. Personally I'm all for winning now but I'd allow for one caveat and have 15 up with 94-10 and that leaves 28 with 71/83. I thought he did a good job with the boys anyway and I don't mind MacT breaking out his blender every now and then but I thought that line worked more shifts then it didn't but it just got scrambled for everyone else's sake.

Or course this leaves 14 playing with 20-26...or maybe even in Chicago renting Duncan Keith's apartement;)


You give Roli that coin because Lowe maybe now knows he sucks at identifying netminding talent and he has one in his grasp so if you overpay a little then who really cares. It's not like you don't finally have some money to throw around PLUS we all saw last year what it's like to try and win without a guy that's actually good.

You sign Sykora because it's just one year anyway and he's pure skill.

You give Horc that money because he'e a stalwart who's always gonna play the tough min for you and at a young age he's proven he's trustworthy in that role.

You sign Pisani becuase he's from Alberta and you have money. That's the best I could come up with for that one!!;)

11/13/2006 6:09 pm  

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