The Refinery

The home of the Edmonton Oilers on WordPress

Suggestions for a Better Oilers Team

AP Photo of Derek Morris

Here are 4 simple changes I believe will improve the competitive dynamic on the roster of your Edmonton Oilers, including explanations as to why I think they would be effective changes.

1. No line changes when the other team has puck possession in your zone

Ales Hemsky and Ethan Moreau and a few other players do this sometimes. I know they’re tired from work in the offensive zone. But if you’re going to the bench – hustle to the play or hustle to the bench.

Ethan Moreau’s decision to drag his feet back to the bench caused the J.F. Jacques too many men penalty – a needless amount of time wasted in penalty killing.

I remember this happened to Jaroslav Spacek in Chicago a few years ago too when he ended up diving off the bench to break up a play and he injured someone (Matthew Lombardi? Byron Ritchie? I know it was a Flame) and he ended up getting suspended for it.

2. Fix the D-situation –NOW

The Oilers did well with Matt Greene a few years back in the playoffs. But I don’t think it’s wise going into the playoffs with the pairings Souray-Staios and Strudwick-Peckham. Why?

Staios is a giveaway machine. Strudwick is a giveaway machine. With Souray playing extra minutes defensively, his offensive abilities are wasted. Peckham is great – but still a tad green. This is inefficient use of the defense.

It would be wise to acquire a big minute D-player to pair up with Souray or Strudwick/Smid. This way, Smid, who has tons of ability for a guy with so little NHL experience, can get some valuable defensive minutes. With Souray, this player would allow Souray to play the role he played before Visnovsky was injured and when Gilbert was his defensive partner. A guy like Derek Morris or another pending UFA rental (Jordan Leopold?) will probably fit the bill.

3. Acquire veteran energy-line players

With Cole being a pending UFA and all, it might be wise to deal him for one of our weaknesses instead of losing him for nothing like we did with Peca. The difference between dealing a guy like Salmelainen for Spacek or Jani Rita for Dick Tarnstrom or Reasoner and Stastny for Samsonov when compared to giving up a lot of assets for a guy like Tkachuk or Hossa is that what you give up for rentals should always be less valuable than what you acquire. Spacek and Samsonov were guys who helped the Oilers in the short run. Reasoner was expendable due to the roles played by Stoll, Horcoff, and Peca. Salmeilanen and Rita wore out their welcome in E-town and were not going to help the team on any terms, long or short.

Thus, if Cole is to be traded, it will be for equal value and comparable salary (pending UFA, RFA skilled role player) or for a package of lesser assets. It’s inevitable. So we might as well try to fill other voids by dealing him now.

In 2008-09 our own list of players who are wearing out their welcome in Edmonton is once again full since we’ve had an inconsistent season with inconsistent players – guys who play no particular role on the team:

  • MA Pouliot
  • Jason Strudwick
  • Rob Schremp
  • Mathieu Roy
  • Robert Nilsson

With the exception of Strudwick who is somewhat useful as a versatile depth player (LW/D), there is no particular use for the other players on this team. Nilsson has been playing better as of late, but his inconsistency means that he is neither to be counted on in the short term or the long term. He has lots of talent – don’t get me wrong. But so does Rob Schremp – and that pretty much sums up what I think about Nilsson.

Mathieu Roy may not have much of a trade market considering his injury-prone ways. He may come in handy as a depth D-man if the Oilers fail to acquire one.

It is obvious that outside of the Oilers core group, Cole has the most trade value to a playoff bound team. But if we trade Cole, we will need to replace that physical presence. The Reddox-Brodziak-Stortini line has been playing well as of late. MacIntyre, Jacques, and Pisani are roaring in the wings. But are these the depth guys who will take you far in the playoffs – if you even make the playoffs?

Penner – Horcoff – Hemsky

Nilsson – Gagner – Cole

Moreau – Cogliano – Jacques

Reddox – Brodziak – Stortini



I think energy line players like Steve Begin, Chris Neil, Matt Cullen, Darcy Tucker, Dan Hinote, and Jon Sim would make good depth additions and potential short-run replacements for Cole – kind of like a Todd Harvey fix. I think Begin could be had for a guy like Pouliot – who may flourish in his homeland of Quebec.

I think Jacques will be a lot more valuable player than MacIntyre in the playoffs since he actually knows how to play hockey. I would just send Big Mac down to Springfield after the trade deadline.

Adding Marty Reasoner wouldn’t hurt. (Pretty pretty please?)

4. Scoring depth

Offense is always an issue: doesn’t matter if your the Oilers or the Red Wings. It’s just a bigger issue with the Oilers is all. Therefore it would be smart to either get an upgrade on Nilsson or Penner and to do it quick. This needn’t be a better player than Penner or Nilsson in the skill department: most importantly it needs to be a player with pluck and desire. Someone who wants to play and loves to play – someone with desire. Skill is a bonus.

Brian Gionta, Glen Metropolit, Mike Knuble, Nik Antropov are possibilities. I know – Nik Antropov – what are you thinking? He’s mostly a skill upgrade, but I’m sure a change of scenery wouldn’t hurt him or the Oilers. It would certainly help the size dynamic on the second line.

I would play the line like this:

Nilsson – Antropov – Cole

And yes, I would sit Gagner in the playoffs.


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