Centering on The Oilers
Well after phoenix decided to put an end to the hopes of every Oilers fan. (from what I have heard from sources out of Edmonton, the deal was quite a kick in the junk to Mr. Lowe) Where do the Oilers stand when it comes to finding a number one center. There are a few options when it comes to free agency. 1- Alex Zhamnov- Lowe should try his best to sign this guy to a contract. He has good offensive talent. Would help the Oilers struggling PP and is somewhat responsible in his own zone.
2-Yanic Perrault- Good face off man with some offensive talent. Good on the PK. An average center at best.
3-Eric Lindros- I hate to even mention this guy’s name, but If he is healthy and has his head on straight (literally and figuratively) He is still a good player in this league. Would give the Oilers more size up front.
4-Jozef Stumpel- Don’t know much about the guy, but I know he has had a few average seasons.
2 Long shots
Jason Allison…If he is healthy he was one of the best players in the league. Reports out of Carolina (TSN.ca) said that he wasn’t physically fit to play. The Oilers should test him…show some interest, that way if or when he gets healthy he could be a dominant player.
Cliff Ronning…Older still has some offense left in the sputtering tank. He was believed to be an option last year, but they signed Oates instead (who just couldn’t quite keep up)
From the “Middle” of the organization
People often forgot last year that the only reason the Oilers were hurting at center for most of last year was the fact that Marty Reasoner was injured for pretty much all of last year. When he was combined with Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani they were an excellent 3rd line combo. And with the way Pisani and Moreau came on at the end of last season there is a potential for and an Oiler “Grind Line” if they are put back together . (RPM sounds way cooler though)
Mike Bishai- Who can forget the way this kid came out fighting (from the Atlanta thrasher bench i might add!) He showed some skills during his stint and just seemed snake bitten at times. He will be a good center for the oil some day.
Don’t forget Jarret Stoll. This kid showed a lot of potential last year and MacT put him in some big situations. He has a real good upside. Not a flashy player, but he has shown at times that he can get the job done. Why did Calgary ever let this guy go back into the draft???
So now that that is out of the way it is time to look ahead to the upcoming year…if there is one. The Oilers will be a lot stronger from the back end. They have a lot of young talent…meshed with a good core of veterans. With Smith and Brewer as your #1 pair they are a good combo…Brewer just has to play like he did at the end of last year for an entire year. Staios and Ulanov are 2 good veteran defenseman…Igor should have just stayed in Edmonton in the first place! Now you have a race for the final 2 spots between Cory Cross an average Dman, Marc Andre Bergeron who has so much offensive up side, Alex Semenov who has a real hard shot. Plus 2 real good prospects in Doug Lynch and Jeff Woywitka who were the 2 best defenseman For Red Deer when they won the Memorial Cup. I live in Calgary and hear all of the talk about Phaneuf…I believe these 2 will be just as good. (Plus they have a chemistry from playing together in Red Deer and Toronto/Edmonton Roadrunners) So the D is set!
They are set in goal as well with Conklin and Markaanen. The way Conklin played with an at best average USA team at the world championships. There is a lot of potential there. Plus Jussi is an excellent back up who could start many games if Conklin ever struggles. And Jeff Desluaries who will be the Oilers #1 in a couple of years, who will get his first taste of pro hockey with the road runners.
The forwards will be the same as last year…No losses or gains,….yet. Look for guys like Torres, Rita, Salmelainen and stoll to see much more ice time. As well if Reasoner is healthy the middle will be in better shape than last year. As well with York, Smyth, Dvorak and Hemskey (if he shoots more!) The Oilers will have a good core of forwards.
On Paper the Oilers are a real good team, there is no superstar, but there is more “all around” talent on this team that makes up for it. If they could sign a free agent center, or trade a d-man to get one it will be a good year for the Oilers! Any comments?