Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Waiting For An Alibi: Lowe's Excuses Becoming Thin

That title's probably a bit of a misnomer as Kevin Lowe really hasn't been making any excuses for his inactivity on the trade market. And I also wanted to tie in the post with the Thin Lizzy song of the same name;)

Lowe should be making excuses though because he's working in a hockey rabid city where even the most obedient of lemming has to see that the Oilers need help. He's also seemingly buoyed by the facts that the Oilers aren't really close to the cap, the EIG is likely swimming in cash given the long '06 playoff run and all the revenue it created plus the Edm have a multitude of prospects which are more valuable then ever in the new penny wise NHL.

Yet the silence is deafening.

Everyone knew there would be days like these without both 83 and 94 in the lineup but there also been lots of days like these even with both guys making the gameday roster and that's what's disappointing. I could go on and on about the PP but it sucked before these guys were hurt. Whomever's in charge of that unit should be tarred and feathered before even being fired.

The offense overall has been close to a total bust and some guys have been pulling their weight in the absence of 94 and 83 while some guys just keep sinking like a stone.

Shawn Horcoff's going the right way towards a terrible season. I know he's playing tough min and all but offensively he's worse than shit. He has three goals and I remember the one that bounced off 10 people vs the Yotes and then there was the goal that bounced off 17 people in Van. I can't remember the other one but needless to say the guy has less finish than Paris Hilton's headboard. No I didn't think he was Mike Bossy, and neither is Lupul for that matter:D sorry I had to have a little jab, but he's blowing chance after chance.

Lupul's now playing tough min but no one can argue that he's spent the vast majority of the season playing soft min. In fact when I think about 'the' fact he started the season up with 94-10 I believe that at the time MacT was using his last change to put 18-16-34 HTH facing the other team's top line. 18 was injured at the end of G7 and by the middle of G10 in Phx the blender had come out and the 94-10-15 line was kaput. Now he started seeing tougher opp in G26 in Van so this is a somewhat rough estimate but I've got Lupul playing no more than 15 games where he was top six in terms of tough opp. The other 15 games he was being sheltered bigtime. Yet the kid has just 6 goals at ES and is -11. Everytime I see 24 being hamstrung by 5 or everytime Lupul racks up a minus it reminds me how Burke cornholed Lowe or how Lowe bent over when he should've INSISTED on Getzlaf. The day we learned who came back for Pronger was the day this franchise began to get fucked. And the following days and weeks and months since where we haven't seen any upgrade on the backend continues to doom us towards 7th or 8th place. I keep talking about Lupul because he's an interesting case. He's super young but the Oilers have already chose to "pay" him. MacT is trying to change him and he's just spinning his wheels right now. Skyora completes the current first line and he's looking pretty lost as well. He does have a lot of capital built up from earlier in the season though when him and Smyth basically were the offense.

Back to Lupul for a second and what's his future role once everyone's healthy and 83-71 reunite? He could play with them and be sheltered but I'd hope he sticks with 94-10 though that looks less likely after games like last night. I think I know what Lupul is and I suspect so does MacT and while we're all talking about how Stoll might be the one dealt for a D I'd wager that if Lowe waits until this summer than Lupul's the one to be moved.

And for all my clamouring about how the Oilers have to start developing their kids I'm sad to report this idea looks a lot better on paper than it does on the ice. The current 22-20-79 line is approaching nightmare status during road games with opposing head coaches finding ways to get one of their top two lines against them. At that point it becomes a total gongshow and though I want to like the guy it's looking more and more like JFJ needs at least another 20 games in the AHL. At this point I really don't see any reason for him to carry a stick when he's on the ice. It's not like he's doing anything productive with it. The respective plus/minus of both him and Petersen continue to plummet by the game and a hint to who might sit as soon as both 83 and 94 return might be found in the ES TOI of last night's tilt in Nsh. MAP played nearly three min more at ES then did Petersen. There's no question that Jacques will be the first guy sitting as soon as one of the injured guys draws back in. MAP is a guy strugging to find his legs but at least he shows glimpses. He's still far behind some of his draft class brethern though and I have to admit that colours my opinion of him.

On the backend the problems of yesterday are still the problems of today. The collective +/- of 21/29 has improved but Smid's coming up -6 and really shouldn't be playing more than 10 min a night. At least he shouldn't on a team that is serious about winning the division. Greene's still cutting his teeth and because the Oilers don't trust MAB enough to elevate him into top four ES TOI, you've got a situation where two guys are being sheltered and the kid Smid is being asked to shoulder a load that's too heavy.

Of course there are positives as well. All of 14-16-34 have picked their game up lately and I didn't see this coming. 16 had been taking an absolute pounding from me and some other guys regarding his play at ES but the guy's now risen to +3 and that line is banging on all eight. Torres had one of those games last night where you wouldn't trade him for the world, ie two assists and soundly besting the much bigger Weber in a spirited bout, and Pisani is certainly overpaid but he's +6 and who among us will argue that he hasn't played tough min all season? I'm hoping this line continues to give us something after the inevitable Horcoff/Smyth reunion.

We know Lowe has the patience of Job and the excuses of 1000 20 year old's so holding one's breath while waiting for a solution isn't the best course of action. MacT publicily admitted he was hoping for .500 hockey for the time being and then a flourish once everyone was healthy. The only reason why Lowe might jump is if the Flames start winning on the road. They're currently hard charging and I doubt he'd want them to start piling up serious distance points wise. Yes the Oilers lead the division currently but their lead is a mirage.

Lowe has the chips and he has the capspace and he has a divisional rival just about to overtake him. If he doesn't jump it's probably just an admittance to this year being one of those fucked up "rebuild and develop while giving the impression of competing" years that we probably knew was upon us but didn't want to admit in the afterglow of last year's elongated second season run.

In the meantime don't ask Horcoff to handle your groceries and don't loan any money to Lupul.


Blogger Black Dog said...

Great post Dennis - good summary of what is good and what is bad.

Times like these you look at Torres and say where was this guy earlier this season and of course we'll be saying it again before spring comes I am sure - whenever anybody says the guy has no trade value he puts a string together like this and you know everyone would like a guy like this but there's no way the Oilers can move him because when he has it together he's just too valuable. If he'd ever put it all together ...

Anyhow they dare not break 14-16-34 up now and 71-83 and 94-10 will be reunited we know so Lupul has two shots - playing the tough minutes with 94-10 and playing the soft stuff with 71-83 and if he can't make hay with either and Stoll and Torres continue to give the Oilers what they need ie/ tough minutes and production while doing it then I would say your theory is correct - Lupul moves on.

Although the politics involved in that ...

12/13/2006 11:05 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Yes...I keep forgetting that his grandfather's part of the EIG. I hope that doesn't eventually get a little messy.

I keep waffling on either or but it looks like one of 15 or 16 is gonna have to be dealt. 15's still young enough that a lot of teams would consider this season to be one where he couldn't handle the fishbowl and I still think he could fetch something. I was all ready to trade 16 but now he's taking the body and putting up some points at ES. Earlier I might've seen him blocking 78's progress at pivot but if we kept 16 then we could go 10-16-19 down the middle, 83-34-28 on the right side and 94-14-18 on the left side or we could move 28 down and have MAP jump up to play in the top nine. That's looking ahead to next year and factoring in 71 being gone and 94 getting paid. That might lead to the old 94-10-83 PVP line complimented by a tough min line of 18-19-28 and then another scoring line of 14-16-34 or you could switch 34 and 83. Those are probably your top 9 though and MAP makes it a top 10 and then you get a couple of vets or a vet and a kid.

As for 14...there was a piece in the sun awhile back that basically illustrated everything we thought about him. He's super fraglie and is prone to bouts of self doubt. For the time being I'm not gonna worry about him until he starts getting paid and when you see first leaning on Hamhuis and then pounding on Weber, most likely in retailiation for the Smithson line running around, you see a couple of reasons why you can't trade him in the here and now given what he's making.

Unless there was a Seabrooke coming back which is quite unlikely

12/13/2006 11:40 am  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

B4 anything else is said..awesome job once again Riv!!!

That Linott pic is more badass than badass and the Lowe pic right alongside that line...awesome stuff indeed:)

12/13/2006 12:25 pm  
Blogger dawgbone said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12/13/2006 12:33 pm  
Blogger Black Dog said...

Who knows who knows - I like that top nine and can see that top nine mostly because then you have three lines which can handle tough assignments.

And while someone out there likely covets Torres its probably not the guys we want to covet him - also unless he gets it together and, say, carries on the remainder of this season as he is now, his value isn't going to be enough to bring us what we need.

And having said that if he does get it together then why would you trade him - guy can score, guy can play some tough minutes, guy can play physical (a dimension this team needs)- plus you're not going to move him at all until they sign Smyth anyway.

So it comes back to Stoll or Lupul and you know I was on board moving Stoll but you cannot if he can play the way he has the last two weeks or so consistently. Can he? Guess we'll see.

And lets not forget that Lupul was getting some praise himself for doing alright with tough minutes a short while back. That sure didn't last long though.

But with Lupul it comes back to one thing - when the hell are we going to see some goals - ES/PP - who cares - just some production - he's on pace for @ 28 again but what a quiet 28. Man. I had and have high hopes for Pisani and he'll likely end up potting 20 but he contributes a whole lot more. If he scores 20 and does what Fernando does and Lupul scores 28 and does what Lupul does I'd sure take Fernando every time.

12/13/2006 12:34 pm  
Blogger namflashback said...

rebuild and develop while giving the impression of competing

To Lowe's credit, I'm pretty sure this season was going to be the year - but this is what Pronger-gate left us with.

We knew it on July 1, 2006 and we know it today. They will give fans the "illusion" of going for it. And if they happen to have enough gunpowder, you never know. I would bet that internally, they hope for 1 or 2 rounds if lucky.

My opinion, I don't think the optics of trading Lupul would be too negative. Nichols/LaForge give Lowe a pretty big sandbox to play in and keep grandpa interference to a relative minimum.

That and they already have the spin machine spouting on about Smid being the centrepiece of the deal.

That and the fact that this team could not have all 3 of Lupul, Hemsky, and Schremp on the same team.

12/13/2006 12:39 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

Bingo -that's the point - this team clearly can't hide all 3 of Lupul, Hemsky, and Schremp - include Mikhnov and it become silly. Add JFJ, MAP, Smid and Greene into the equation and you have a very tough task for MacT every night. Lupul needs 4th line time and expecting more now is just wishful thinking. I still like the kid as a player in 2 years but right now watching him putz around is tough.

We need a blueliner who is in his later 20s who has a clue in his own end and will be here for a while. Vishnovsky would obviously be good and Boynton would be OK. We could also use another veteran RW with some grit and defensive smarts (a Moreau clone would be good) so that Pisani can stay in the top 6 and Lupul can pull 4th line matchups. It's getting close to the time where we cut bait with a few younger guys who have reached their ceiling (MAB and Winny) or one dimensional prospects like like Schremp and Mikhnov.

12/13/2006 1:07 pm  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Fuck the politics and optics and ALL that shit.

Lupul for Seabrook. I'd bet Tallon would dance with Lowe if he threw that track in the CD player.

30 games in and I'm sick of the guy. One shot scorer? Yeah, but softer than wiping your ass with one of those kittens from the Royale Toilet Paper commercials. And man, that is SOFT...

12/13/2006 1:19 pm  
Blogger Mr DeBakey said...

another veteran RW with some grit and defensive smarts

Martin Lapointe from Chicago?
He gets mentioned often on the B-Hawk Fan Boards.
Perhaps a little pricey at $2.4 Million

Moreau - Reasoner - Lapointe

12/13/2006 2:22 pm  
Blogger Andy Grabia said...

Now a Thin Lizzy pic? Woo. You guys are killing me!

12/13/2006 2:38 pm  
Blogger Dennis-IOF said...

Martin Lapointe??

Does anyone else smell burnt toast??;)

I don't want anything to do with that guy unless he's coming at the absolute last second and we're giving up next to nothing for him.

12/13/2006 2:58 pm  
Blogger Mr DeBakey said...

burnt toast
I threw his name out because his profile fit.
He doesn't actually stand out that strongly in my mind.

That's because its so hard to tell those Kweebekers & Yuros apart under their visors.

His not just a go to Chicago to die guy?

12/13/2006 5:49 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I think Lowe planned on trading Pronger for youth long before last summer.

I remember about half an hour before a home game vs Minny last season, was late in the year because it was fan appreciation night. Anyhow Lowe comes on CHED and starts talking about the good situation that the Oilers find themselves in, they have so many great young prospects that they must clear out veterans to make space for them to play. Other teams HAVE to lose vets, the Oilers WANT to. That was the message.

The writing was on the wall. And the return on the Pronger deal a couple of months later removed all doubt. Hell, there wasn't even a rumour around that didn't involve kids in return.

It is what it is. And Lupul and Smid, and the others, they'll all have stretches this year that go really well and make us forget the suck. And then they'll have another poor stretch. That's just the way it seems to work. And the Lupul and Smid fans right now can grab onto some "even their mistakes are beautiful!" thinking if that's what it takes to get them through this. C'est la vie.

Thank Christ they signed Roloson (Certainly not a given, because I think he was the only rent-a-player in the whole league who resigned with his renting team, no?) and that this Tjarnqvist guy who I'd never heard of is actually a damn good hockey player and that Sykora has played really well on the whole. That might just be enough to get them into the playoffs.

12/13/2006 10:39 pm  
Blogger Asiaoil said...

The only thing wrong with all of this is that we lost G7 - win that puppy and the rebuild and even Pronger leaving would be pretty much fine - even sensible.

12/14/2006 1:35 am  
Blogger SweatyO said...

Interesting theory Vic, but I disagree to a point....I somehow doubt Pronger gets traded if he doesn't ask for it. But maybe Lowe knew at that point he MIGHT have a situation to deal with, and he was dropping a subtle hint. It's hard to say.

Either that or he was planning to do a total gutting if the team missed the playoffs and unload veterans like Staios and Moreau. It's hard to tell.

And asiaoil....EVERYTHING would be easier to swallow if we won game seven. Of that there is little or no doubt.

12/14/2006 7:00 am  
Blogger Doogie said...

Well, I think Vic was more saying that Lowe knew he was probably going to have to deal Pronger for several months, and it was just a matter of to whom and for what.

12/14/2006 5:08 pm  
Blogger MikeP said...

"Vic was more saying that Lowe knew he was probably going to have to deal Pronger for several months"

Neither Vic nor anybody else have to say that for Lowe; Lowe said it for himself. I believe the exact quote was along the lines of "some time about mid-season we knew there might be a problem."

12/16/2006 7:04 pm  

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