Archive for September, 2008

MATHIEU GARON

With all the pundits picking the Oilers as a playoff team, the look to our skilled youth, our improved and hopefully healthy defense, and the return of of our banged up leaders into the fold. Garon was drafted 44th overall by the Canadiens in 1996.

Garon actually played pretty well as a Hab. In 39 games played he had a 2.48 goals against average. Watching him as a Canadien, you thought he could be an NHL starter. The problem for Garon was timing. He was just coming into the NHL when Jose Theodore was having the best years of his career.

When he was shipped to LA with a 3rd rounder for Huet and Bonk who was acquired for a 3rd rounder so it was basically a Huet for Garon straight up swap. The lockout was a good year in the AHL for Garon, but the oddity I find in his career was the 2005-06 season in Los Angeles. It was his only year as an NHL starter and the numbers were not good on a pretty decent looking Kings squad. He was given the reigns again in 2006-07 but a groin injury and finger injury provided him with a season that was OK numbers wise but not a lot of games played. The Kings in their infinite wisdom figured that Labarbera’s excellent AHL season was enough to give him a shot at the starting job and the Oilers signed Garon in the offseason.

What we saw last season is probably a pretty good indicator of what the Edmonton Oilers have. A solid goaltender that might win you the odd game, won’t throw up too many bricks, and will be enough to tip a few scales to your side in the Shootout. (Although the expectation of repeat performance in the shootout is wishful thinking.) I think he will outperform last year because of a more mature team in front of him, as well as two veterans in Visnovsky and Souray that will be patrolling his blueline that were not there last year.

Projection: Starting goalie-trending upwards (65 games played 36 wins – 22 loss – 7 OT loss)

DWAYNE ROLOSON

Roli is in the last year of his contract and turns 39 in October. I am not sure what his off season training regimen is but it had better be in decent shape. I think that some team that is a contender would likely kick the tires on Roli after some of his salary was taken by the Oilers. The way the cap works they would only have to fit him in for the portion that they have to pay so if by chance they need an experienced back up, Christmas would be a time frame that would be more likely.

If Tambellini can find a dance partner, Roloson is as good as gone. With the three headed monster in net with three one way contracts, this is a huge negative for the team. When you have three guys in practice, it is uncomfortable. When you have to scratch a goalie for a game and put him in the press box, it is uncomfortable. Needless to say, if a partner existed already, the Oilers might have parted ways with Roloson. It might take a serious injury to a first string goalie elsewhere to accelerate the process, but rather than schadenfreude another team, let’s hope that someone decides they want Roloson as an insurance policy.

The downside of this is that the Oilers may very well be competing for their division. If they move Roloson, and Garon gets hurt, Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk are your tandem. A frightful thought at this juncture of their careers. Personally I have never been a Deslauriers fan but this season he seemed to take a big stride. If the other two perform well, Roloson will be the odd man out and won’t finish the season as an Oiler.

Projection: Back up goalie-trending equal (8 games played 3 wins – 3 loss – 2 OT loss)

JEFF DESLAURIERS

No, I have never been a fan. Ever since the term “Competed hard on a bad team.” was coined for JDD and MA Pouliot, I have hated it. To the point that if the Oilers ever draft a player with that phrase, I will likely discount the pick as a poor one.

The funny thing on the way to the “bust” Deslauriers in the last two seasons seemingly has “got it” more and more. On top of it Deslauriers even impressed enough to gain a two year, one way contract with the Oil. Timing some time is everything. In this case, Deslauriers should be ready for some back up duty this season, and will as soon as the three headed monster is slain.

Projection: Backup to the Backup until he is traded. Trending upwards. (10 games played 4 wins-6 losses)

DEVAN DUBNYK

I can remember looking at the screen in awe when the Oilers took Devan Dubnyk. I knew they needed a goalie, but with their first pick in the first round? They needed Robbie Schremp, the offensive dynamo. (Who knew he would slip to them at 25?) At the time Dubnyk was the 2nd highest rated NA goalie by CSB. As far as curves go, there seem to be a few that look to be passing him,(Cory Schneider who looked great in the Camrose rookie tourney, Kari Rammo for another) but goalies are hard to judge and since he is 22 years old, being the number one guy in the AHL is a decent progression.

Projection: Starting AHL goalie (50 games 26 wins – 20 losses – 4 OT losses)

BRYAN PITTON

Have you ever sat there on draft day, looked over the picks and let the names slip by your eyes like clouds floating by on a windy day? Then, out of nowhere, the name starts doing something, providing some interest where none did before. From what I gather, Pitton had a decent year as a back up for Brampton in his draft year behind Darren Machesney. Goals against weren’t spectacular but his save percentage at least was close to the starter. (That to me is a gauge of a back up. Ultimately if he can keep similar stats to your starter, then he is worth his weight in scheckles.)

Last year he platooned in goal with Patrick Kileen with marginally better stats, but was good enough in the playoffs to earn a three year contract. It is still too early to tell what we have here, but he is good enough to be in the mix at training camp.

Projection: Back up AHL goalie (20 games 9 wins – 7 losses – 4 OT losses)

GLENN FISHER

Fisher isn’t going to be much for this organization. Fisher’s like top end might be an AHL starting goalie sometime in the future, but he would still have to make a big jump to get to that point. He was statistically worse in the ECHL to his platoon mate in Stockton named Tim Boron.

I remember watching Fisher in training camp a couple years ago and seeing a guy that really had some work to do to compete for any kind of NHL job. Would be nice if the hometown boy could do well, but he likely is near his top end already.

Projection: ECHL starting goalie (52 games 20 wins – 25 losses – 7 OT losses)

ANDREW PERUGINI

Jonathan Willis from Copper and Blue likes Perugini better than Pitton. I can’t agree or disagree since I haven’t had any viewings and not much to compare him to. I will go with the premise that since he was passed over in three drafts and doesn’t have an NHL deal, he isn’t ahead of the guy with the contract.

Projection: (EDIT APPARENTLY PERUGINI WILL BE OFFERED A CONTRACT AND COMPETE FOR THE AHL BACK UP JOB) With that knowledge Projection: ECHL/AHL (25 games 12 wins – 10 losses – 3 OT Losses)

The Edmonton Oilers have nice depth in net. It will become better for the team when they decide if and when to move Roloson and allow Deslauriers to get some starts.

The first rant…

Posted: September 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

Brian Burke...dude or dud?

Ah our old friend Brian Burke. With the news today that he has waived veteran defenseman Matthew Schneider, Burke continues his tenure as the most overrated GM in all of hockey.

On Friday July 27, 2007, Brian Burke made many disparaging comments towards Kevin Lowe. Among them…

-The Penner offer sheet was an act of desperation for a GM that was trying to keep his job

-Gutless

-Run his team into the ground

As we all know, things often come out in the wash. Let’s take a long look at the bad moves of Brian Burke in Anaheim.

-Doesn’t qualify Penner (Which is why he could get an OS)

-Signs Bertuzzi

-Signs Schneider

-Has to trade away Andy McDonald for cap space

-Bryzgalov on waivers

-Bertuzzi on waivers

-Schneider on waivers

The Ducks are in cap hell, getting worse and because of bad signings Burke has to let assets go for free because no one will trade for them. Burke overpaid both Bertuzzi and Schneider and although some people believe in revisionist history, this is what the salary cap is supposed to accomplish, allowing for a level competitive field for everyone in regards to salary and free agents.

It is oft said that players won’t sign in Edmonton because of weather, well if they sign in Anaheim, they will get at least one of their few years then shipped off to whereever because Burke can’t afford to keep them.

Kevin Lowe ranted because of Burke’s incessant pot shots in the media at the Oilers’ boss and put Burke a little more in his place, although Burke’s parting shot was to suggest tampering on Corey Perry, (Lowe made a comment that if Burke couldn’t afford to pay him, Lowe would take Perry off his hands.) which amounted to nothing.

Burke on top of it all wouldn’t be a Stanley Cup winning GM without the Pronger fiasco to begin with.  When Pronger decided (well Lauren Pronger decided) that he could no longer stay in Edmonton, the final result was Burke having two of the best defensemen in the game.  Lowe would have been well served to take a lesser return and send Pronger east, alas the Ducks paid the asking price and their championship now history.

What I can’t stand about the whole thing, and even my own disdain for the megalomaniacal Burke is that it could have been as simple as Burke’s first tirade.  He rips Lowe a new one, Lowe shrugs and they move on.  That would be the professional way to handle things.  Instead, the “Fire Hose” shot off continuously for over a year until Lowe’s comments put an end to the public feud. (Well, since Lowe was attacking Southern California as a market, Bettman ended the feud.  I assume it would be allowed to continue if it was just a personal thing.)

So, now Schneider is on waivers so Burke can try to find a way to finagle Selanne into his lineup.  Looks good on Burke….very good.

The transition….

Posted: September 15, 2008 in Uncategorized
Love those uniforms

Love those uniforms

With the Oilers prospect camp and other prospect tourneys around the league already underway, I am going to summarize my background in one more post and then get back to the Oilers later today.

I moved to Alberta in 1984. It isn’t hard to see that loving the Oilers was going to be pretty easy. I followed the WHA since I grew up 120 miles east of Winterpeg, so familiarity existed….and they were a pretty darn good team. I watched in dismay as the upstart Oilers in 1981 beat my team….the funny thing was, they were like my team. Fast skilled and a treat to watch. And it wasn’t close, a 3-0 series win and the torch was beginning to be passed. The Islanders had their dynasty in full swing and in only a scant two more years, the Oilers were challenging against one of the best teams of all time.

After the first cup, I was hooked. Out west, you would get the inundation of passion for the Orange and Blue. I still maintained an allegiance to the Habs, and still do to this day. If the Oilers play the Habs in the finals one year, I am not sure who to cheer for, but the longer you live with the home team, the more likely they are going to get more of your cheers.

The similarities to the Oilers and Canadiens is extremely interesting to me. The dynasties, the history, and of course the styles of play have always been very close. If I ever had to move to Minnesota or New Jersey, I am sure I could carry my allegiances with me.

I love skill, talent and defensive hockey is the burden of those that choose not to compete at the highest level. They hope to win based on stifling the highest level. I loved Lemaire the player but hate the coach.

So now to the real thing. Hockey is here, or at least the start of it.


The passion begins…

Posted: September 13, 2008 in NHL
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Since it is the offseason, I have time to paint the timeline of my hockey fandom, reminisce about how and when I became a fan and take things chronologically to today.  So, the passion begins…

On some Saturday night, in a winter about 34 years ago, I have vivid recollection.  “O Canada, terre de nos aieux…” A pudgy faced Francophone named Roger Doucet started.  To this day, I can replay his rendition of our national anthem in my head with his powerful voice echoing and almost giving me goosebumps.   Pretty impressive since I haven’t heard him in over 20 years.

Then, on with the Bleu Blanc et Rouge.  Back in the early 70s as a Canadian hockey fan, you had pretty much two choices.  The Habs and the Leafs.  At the time I was watching, there really was no comparison.  The Canadiens were fast, skilled, and just a joy to watch.  I would still watch the Leafs on Saturday, but it was only a consolation for the thirst until they were back on TV again.

I learned a lot from this guy.  When you are 5 or 6 and a cartoon puck is there to tell you about the nuances of what you are watching, you are in pretty good shape.  The league would be well served to cater to these young fans again.  Who knows what they are watching now. 

Funny thing is, my team didn’t win the first year I was a hockey fan.  They got beat out by Gilbert Perreault and the Buffalo Sabres (He was a treat to watch by the way.).  That didn’t matter to me though.  From that first game on, I was Ken Dryden in net, Yvon Cournoyer or Guy Lafleur as a skater for the next several years on the road, on the ice, or even the table top rod hockey we would get for Christmas.  I was a  Canadiens fan.  With the group they had assembled, it wouldn’t be tough to be a fan, starting the next year, they were one of the most dominant teams in history for four seasons.

Next….transition.

The blog…

Posted: September 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

OK, obviously I decided to join the likes of Lowetide, Copperandblue, among others in the blogosphere.  Am I looking for some sort of feedback as to why, what, and so on?  Well, I a like a decent debate, learn from other’s point of view, and this seems like a great way to get into a different type of discuss.  Something more unabashed than one might find in other places.

It was several months ago that Eklund offered me a blog on his site.  I thought it might be a good idea, and although many would be appalled to find a first blog about “the anonymous hockey blogger”, I am sure the amount of blogs that have occurred in the hockey genre were directly influenced by the Ek himself.

I am one of few that have met him.  We had lunch at some italian place in a Philadelphia suburb.  Unassuming area, I got the feeling that he lived nearby because it sure seemed out of the way.

At the time I was writing for hockeysfuture.com and as one of the people that questioned everything he said and did, my goal was to see for myself, who was this guy.  Well, he wasn’t what I suspected.  And he wasn’t a big scam artist from what I could tell.  Mostly he seemed like a hockey fan that had a good idea and tried to follow it through.  He offered me a “job” writing for hockeybuzz.com

At the time, I decided to take a pass, mostly because of the disingenuous way that he got started.  He told stories that were hard to take seriously, people tried to expose him as a fraud, and his whole enterprise reeked of challenges. (I actually asked him at lunch why he doesn’t proof read his work better.)

I didn’t think that the association was suited to me, although regardless of what anyone says, he has insider information, and some really good information.  He emailed me an insider document that I am sure could get someone in a whole lot of trouble at some point.  (Think the NHLPA fiasco)  So those who really think they know him, probably don’t anywhere near as well as they think they do.

Do I think he makes up or plagarizes (Rick Hammond?) information?  Well, let me just say he either is unethical or has very bad judgement.

But, with that, blogs about hockey are about as commonplace as articles on hockey in your local newspaper.  Right or wrong, Eklund revolutionized blogging for hockey getting mainstream media to post regularly on his site.  In some strange way some might want to thank him for the flood of information and writers that now take part in blogging because of what he started.

What this means for me is a way to talk/rant/discuss hockey in a new and exciting way….I look forward to it.

G