What does 2003-2004 have in store…

Well it is that time of year. Hockey is in the air. There is only another week until training camps begin. Where do the Oilers fit in to the tightening western confrence? Here is how I see it…Starting between the pipes…

Salo will rebound from an off year that is for sure. He has just played way too much hockey over the past 4 years. Not just the NHL, but Olymics and WC’s. It will be refreshing to see a good young goalie to get a shot to back Salo up as well. Conklin proved himself with the Bulldogs last year making Jussi expendable this year. I am getting sick of all of this Salo bashing. He is still one of the better goalies in the league, one off year out of his stay with the Oil isn’t nothing to worry about.

Now the D…

Solid as ever. Not to mention young. Brewer and Semenov played well most of the season together. Although it did hurt Brewer’s numbers playing with a rookie for the last half of the season. And don’t forget the two leaf cast aways (which the Oil basically got for nothing) Jason Smith and Cory Cross. Two solid defenceman that will play smart.

Not to mention Steve Staios. After watching him play last year this guy will play through anything. He’s quick, hard nosed D man that is way under rated. Fegusson and Bergeron will battle for the last D position and will likely split the time together and with the possibility of a guy like Doug Lynch seeing time if there are any injuries. So the D looks good. If they settle down a bit there numbers should improve a great deal and so will Salo’s.

The Forwards…

With Comrie, Laraque and Moreau being the last payers still not under contract there could be some holes come training camp, but I believe Lowe will be busy this week and have them under contract by the start of camp. That being said I believe the forward lines will be much improved over last year.(Yes even without Marchant) Look Marchant is a good 3rd line player. He had one good offensive season. Let’s see him put up a 60 point season with Columbus. His numbers were a little inflated when he played with Smyth and Hemsky/Carter/York. The core guys are still there. along with a lot of young talent to push some of the vets. Guys like Rita, Torres, & Stoll will push for a spot on the line up. So here is what I think the lines will look like at the start (if all guys are signed)

Smyth-Comrie-Hemsky

York-Horcoff-Dvorak

Pisani-Reasoner-Moreau

Rita/Stoll/Torres-Chimera-Laraque

Brewer-Staios

Smith-Semenov

Cross-Fegusson/Bergeron

Salo

Conklin

There only thing lacking is a little exerience. The top 3 lines were all there during the Dallas series that, let’s face it Edmonton should have won. So the’ll be hungry to get back. Plus those rookies who’ll be pushing each other for a roster spot should keep them going hard. If Salo can play like he did the year before last there is no reason why the Oilers can’t challenge for the top spot in the Northwest or a mid spot in the confrence. It all depends on if they stay healthy and how well Colorado plays without a tried and tested Roy and if the Canucks don’t get some much needed secondary scoring, along with the other surpise teams like the Wild and Ducks do. But as it stands the Oil are in a good position to move up in the standings this year.


17 Responses to What does 2003-2004 have in store…

  1. THEGREATONE says:

    Great Article!The Oils are one of my favorite teams and the most exciting to watch. That being said, the trend continues in Edmonton where the turnover of key players is killing the chances of exceeding any expectations since the start of the Lowe years.

    The saving grace is the wise management of this team and especially the talented youth pool that seems to be endless in the organization. The #1 ingredient missing in this formula is EXPERIENCE. Somehow the onus lies upon that of Smyth and youngster Comrie to lead the Oils past the perrenial Stars in the first round. The 2 will be superstars in their own right, just not with an experienced supporting cast.

    Salo has proven to be mediocre at best. Watch for Dvorak to break out. Could really use a key veteran (Oates, Ronning, Thomas to name a few…..look at what they did for their young teams last year)

  2. movingfire says:

    What about Brad Isbister. He will be on one top 3 lines for sure. I also think Hemsky is going to be an explosive scorer, especially if he makes the first line.

  3. Zamboni says:

    a) Salo is washed up, and frankly was never as good as a lot of people like to believe he was.

    b) The Oilers lost to the Stars in the playoffs last year just like they should have. The extra goon effort stretched the series to 6 games, but they were lucky it lasted that long.

    c) I hate to burst your bubble, but as far as your forwards go, your best guys would be third line guys (at best) in Dallas, Colorado, Detroit, St. Louis…

    Another year, another first round exit for the Oilers, if they even make the playoffs anyway…

  4. movingfire says:

    But, at least they dont play the trap. or left wing lock. Wide open exciting hockey is the Oiler way.

  5. Enigma says:

    yea, and unfortunately for them it hasn’t got them past the first round in recent yrs.

  6. Megaroset says:

    a) Salo is not washed up, just had an off year. I agree he is not as good as some people say, he can’t steal too many games for you, but he is effective.

    b)Extra goon effort stretched it? Gimme a break. If they are a “third line Dallas team” how did they stretch the Dallas All Stars to 6 with only “goon effort”?

    c)They are a young team, and I think a lot of teams would like Smyth on their first line.

    Not trying to be a jerk, but that’s just my opinion.

  7. Megaroset says:

    Great article. I love watching the Oilers play. They are a young exciting team, and even if they are a few goals down, you can’t count them out. They have heart. AND, I expect Hemsky to kick his game up a notch and pick up any slack Marchant left offensively.

  8. orlandomac says:

    Great article on the Oil…

    They are an exciting team to watch…

    I love young talent and the reason the Oil always has kids coming up is because they think they have a chance.

    They are motivated to work because they know they have a chance to make the first team, not just have a short career in the minors. They even get a chance to play with the top lines, which propells them even further.

    Unfortunately Pat Quinn has done a miserable job here in Toronto with our youth, hopefully Mr Ferguson can change that, by forcing the old bastard to play the young guys, and give them quality roles. Not just six minutes with Green and FitzGerald.

    As you mentioned you did get a good Defenceman in Smith out of the Leafs, but he was acting like a cry baby at the time, about his Ice time, he fit your team nicely and you are well rewarded by him. I think that situation worked out best for parties.

    Don’t count on Cross though, he is no diamond in the rough, you’ll see that over the long hall, but I think you will have some young guy step up and take his place anywyas.

    I must also agree with the others on Salo, he is a good goalie, not a great one.

    Like Vancouver if your were to get say a Martin Biron, your team would excell.

    I look forward to watching your farm team this year, the Toronto Roadrunners, because I am sure they will have some talent on show. I can also watch the Baby Leafs more often now. Should be great I love young talent.

    Good luck to the Oil this year, I don’t think they will be as bad as everyone thinks they will be. They have a fighting spirit and should make the playoffs.

  9. jofa says:

    Yeah as someone already mentioned, you forgot Isbister in the lineup. The forward lines should be something like:

    Smyth – Comrie – Hemsky

    York – Horcoff – Dvorak

    Isbister – Stoll – Laraque

    Moreau – Reasoner – Pisani

    extras: Chimera, Rita, Torres

    Hard to say how Lowe will work in the extras, as Torres is on a one-way contract, and Chimera has shown he can score goals, but as long as Moreau and Reasoner are in the lineup, there isn’t much room for them. Stoll may not get third line center right away, but I figure he’ll be there by the end of the season. We’ll see.

    I think this is one of the best Oiler front lines I’ve seen in years, as there is scoring potential from every line. Guys like Smyth, Comrie, York, and Dvorak are proven performers (Dvorak could get closer to his 30 goal level now that his knee is healed and he’s playing with a team that uses speed to their advantage). Isbister, Horcoff and Laraque have potential to have career years. And Torres, Stoll, Hemsky, Rita, Chimera, etc, are some of the best youth in the league.

    Probably to an outside viewer, the team may not look that strong, but I seriously think this is a team that can make some noise this year. Defense is not really as good as you make it out to be. Semenov is a great find, but guys like Ferguson and Cross aren’t much to get excited about. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lynch can bring, as he has a good combination of size and skill.

    Salo, as much as he’s done for team, should really be moved along in favor of a younger goaltender with potential. Maybe one of the Buffalo minders – young, cheap, and with loads of potential.

    Anyway, I’m babbling. Be interesting to see what Lowe does, as there is a bit of a glut of forwards, with three extras ready to crack the lineup. Maybe trade Moreau and Reasoner to make room…

  10. titans says:

    SALO RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Pavel_Bure_NYR says:

    Kevin Lowe stated that Radek Dvorak would be playing 1st line with Comrie and Smyth. Hemskys way to young and not that great. He can prolly play second with York at centre and Isbister at LW

  12. great_one98 says:

    SAMI DOES RULE!!!!!!

    We have so much in common man.

  13. SASilverbacks says:

    Good article. The oilers have always been a favourite team of mine ever since the Gretzky days.

    The upcoming season will be very interesting. The Canucks problem isn;t scoring. During the regular season the last 2 years, they have been in the top part of the league in that category. They have had no success in the playoffs. I can’t see them challenging the Canucks.

    Colorado is not going to go through the season without a proven goalie. Lacroix will spend what is necessary to bring the cup back to Denver (as much as i hate to say that!) That being said, i think Colorado will finish first in the division.

    Basically, I figure the oilers will finish third in the conference (especially since it looks like Gaborik isn’t going to be around) Minnesota 4th and Calgary dead last. The oil shoul dlock up 7th in the conference.

  14. JeffBurnz09 says:

    I’m not sure what 2003-2004 has in store for the Oilers, but I’m pretty sure I know how it will end. Same way it always ends, with them shaking hands with Dallas.

    But seriously, Edmonton is a nice young team, but they’ll always be stuck in the small market cycle. They only players they can sign are in some way flawed or they would be signed to a better, high paying team, and they star players they create always end up leaving for more money. It’s unfortunate, yes, but it’s just the way things work. The Oilers remain consistant because they usually have a steady flow of young talent taking the place of they’re lost players. Weight leaves, Smyth steps up. Once Smyth leaves, Comrie will step up, and so on. I’d say they have a usual Oiler season, finishing about 7th or 8th, but they’re not going far in the playoffs.

  15. jofa says:

    Has Lowe said that? I’d be surprised, considering how well Smyth and Hemsky were playing together last season.

    As for Hemsky, yeah he’s young, but he’s probably the most skilled player in an Oiler uniform right now. By the end of the season, he was making some pretty unbelievable plays. His linemates are learning to expect the unexpected with this kid, as they were often caught off guard by his moves and passes. If he had been playing in the first half of the season like he was in the second half, Hemsky would have easily have been the Calder trophy winner…

    I think he’ll be a 50+ point player this season, so I see no reason to put him down on the second line. However, even if he is down on the #2 line, he’ll still get lots of ice time and Dvorak would likely do well with Smyth and Comrie as well… Should be interesting to see.

  16. jofa says:

    I think thats probably a fair assessment. Calgary may surprise and do better than expected, but probably not. I really can’t see Minnesota repeating last year’s performance. Nobody is going to take them for granted anymore, so they won’t be catching too many teams sleeping this season.

    One team that may falter this season are the Vancouver Canucks, mostly due to their reliance on one line to provide the bulk of scoring. If Bertuzzi or Naslund were to get injured, this team may take a nose dive in the standings. Its happened before when Naslund was injured, and they’ve yet to really address the problem.

  17. oiler79 says:

    as an ex coach, i’d put hemsky on the second line from the get go, simply to light a flame under him so that he wants TOP LINE….. cause he does have it all, some of the d’s he burned last year, they weren’t first year rookies, or wannabe’s, they were bonifide vets, so it says something about him… and in the end, he was getting the space that gretz, lemieux, forsy, jagr get cause of them not wanting to be embarrassed, and i think cause of that, he will excell more now. as for the line ups…… i don’t think comrie will be back.

    1st——-smyth, york, hemsky

    2nd——isbister, chimera, dovorak

    3rd——-pisani, moreau, reasoner

    4th——-laraque, tores, horcoff

    hands and grit on the first line.

    speed and size on the second.

    tenacity on the third,

    muscle, grit, tenacity on the fouth.

    thats who’d i’d want, but from what i’ve heard it will be

    1st——smyth, hemsky, isbister

    2nd—–dovorak, york, chimera

    3rd——pisani, moreau, reasoner

    4th——laraque, horcoff, torres/stoll

    on defense

    brewer, semenov

    smith, staios

    cross, ferguson/bergeron.

    there is a guy in the minors that i think the oil should give a look see something this season is hakkana. big and strong, had some exciting plays last year.

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