First off... props to Richard C for his great blogs!
After watching the Oilers pump up their farm system I have come to realize that there are only going to be two of the rookie forwards making the Oilers this year... and there are three main reasons that I can see:
1) The Oilers need to fulfill a commitment to Oklahoma in regards to providing a quality product that will allow the franchise to be financially successful. That means having a steady stream of quality players to sell tickets, each year
2) They are trying to create a veteran filled structure not only in the NHL, but in the AHL as well to provide guidance and leadership to all the blue chip rookies as they roll through the system
3) They still need to follow the NHL/AHL line structure template that 99% of pro teams follow
Now I know those statements seem pretty obvious but I think point 3 is a very clear indicator that not all of the Winger rookies the Oilers have will be making that team (specifically, I don’t think you can roll with a Top 9 forward system as some have suggested).
When you look at the line structure of most pro hockey teams, there is a pretty common formula…
- 1st line and 2nd lines are played for scoring situations, comprised of players that can play 5 on 5 as well as the primary and secondary power play units.
- The 3rd line consists of two defense first forwards who make up the primary/secondary PK units and 1 offense first forward that’s responsible in their own end
- The fourth line consists of your secondary PK unit and energy/enforcer player that can play 3 - 6 minutes a night and not cost you a goal
If you believe the Oilers will follow the standard NHL/AHL template, here is what I think happens…
- The first line remains Penner, Horcoff, Hemsky (Shawn remains the number 1 by default)
- The second line will be the “future number 1 line” consisting of Hall, Gagner, Paajarvi (The reason Pajarrvi wins out over Eberle is MPS has a left hand shot, on the right wing and an extra 25 pounds and 3” in height)
- The third will be JFJ, Cogs, Brule (ideally Cogs is dealt for a young 3rd line Winger, not Center like some think… see 1 year later below)
- The Fourth will be Jones, Colin Fraser, Stortini/Macintyre (secondary PK plus tough guy role)
Here is why Eberle and Omark go down to the AHL for one year
- Eberle and Omark are sent down to help the AHL franchise succeed and sell tickets… they will play 1st line and PP minutes the whole year along with Giroux as their center
- If and when Eberle succeeds in the AHL this year, Hemsky will be dealt. If the Oilers are in a playoff run, Hemsky is dealt at the draft table. If the Oilers are out of the playoffs, he is dealt at the deadline for a future replacement for Eberle in the system
-Omark is in the same boat… if he performs well, same scenario for Penner
And here’s why all this happens… fast forward 1 year
- The 2nd line of the Oilers graduates to the 1st line (Hall, Gagner, Paajarvi)
- The 2nd line then gets populated with Omark, Cogs/Brule/Pitlick, Eberle (ideally Pitlick is ready for the center roll but most likely AHL bound)
- Horcoff takes over as the highest paid 3rd line center in the NHL, but it turns out the Oilers get an outstanding shutdown center (JFJ, Horcoff, 2 way player or Brule/Cogs if Pitlick appears)
Oh, and BTW
- Souray stays an Oiler… like K-Lowe said, if he could go back and do something differently they would have sat Pronger and not dealt him. Part of me thinks they are going to fix that mistake and leave it to Souray to repair his own value, then reward him with a trade… or let him rot. Either way he is either on the ice, or riding the pine in Oilers silks.
Well that’s enough prognosticating for one night…
Mark - New Oilers Nation