Friday, August 11, 2006

2006-2007 Oilers Lineup Redux

It looks like the Oilers' lineup is pretty much done with the signing of Petr Sykora and I can't let Lowetide and Grabia at BofA have all the speculatory fun.

If I had to guess, I'd say that the 23-man roster on opening day will be:
G - Roloson, Markkanen
D - Smith, Staios, Tjarnqvist, Bergeron, Hejda, and Greene. (Ext. Smid)
F - Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky, Stoll, Sykora, Pisani, Lupul, Torres, Reasoner, Moreau, Pouliot, and Mikhnov (Ext. Jacques and Winchester)

This would mean that the Oilers would be looking for legitimate AHL spots for Dubnyk, Deslauriers, Schremp, Brodziak, Gilbert, Syvret and Roy. I think Schremp will start down on the farm because I really doubt he's more than an extra forward with this group of forwards and it doesn't make developmental or financial sense to have him as an extra forward.

Assuming cap numbers of $1.5MM for Lupul (I think he signs for two years) and $3MM for Sykora gives the following breakdown:

When I compare this to the main 23-man roster entering the playoffs, I see some good things here.

Now if you assume that the money is spent correctly, which is a bloddy massive assumption, I much prefer this year's breakdown to the one used last season. The 2006-2007 Oilers are spending their money on goaltending and forwards. The average for the top six forwards in 2005-2006 was $2.3MM and this season it looks to be almost $3.2MM. The average for the top four defensemen was $3.0MM last year and barring any significant moves it looks like the new top two pairings will average out at $1.5MM. The goaltending averages are in the charts - $1.2MM last year and $2.2MM this year. I think this is an efficient way for the Oilers to spend their money.

I'm not terribly pleased with the blueline situation, but I think I'm content to watch it play out at this point. I'm really just concerned that having both Greene and Smid around will be too much to handle. I would much prefer to see Hejda/Greene as the 6/7 alternates and then send Smid down for some AHL minutes. That will require a trade for a veteran that can preferably play 2nd pairing minutes.

I'm also not sure I'm totally comfortable with the forwards but Sykora should help quite a bit. I think he's capable of solidifying a 2nd line playing soft minutes along with Stoll and Lupul. I also really like the fact that they've picked up another forward that can play the point on the PP. I think it's virtually a cinch now that the Oilers will use four forwards on the PP and that can only be a good thing, especially with this group of atrocious PP defensemen - not a one capable of playing on a good NHL PP unit in my estimation.

There's a bit of a concern that the forwards might be too young and that some young players won't get the minutes that they need at this point in their careers, but it's too early to tell how things will shake out. The logjam of young forwards champing at the bit for an NHL roster spot - Mikhnov, Schremp, Pouliot, Jacques - leads me to believe that they're probably the prime trade bait at this point. Unfortunately, the Oilers are going to be pushing $40MM pretty soon, so it may be a little difficult to justify adding a veteran dman while moving out less than $1MM in salary.


Blogger Dennis said...

What are the chances we could see a Stoll/Syokra PP point duo? Only MAB would even be considered for PP duty on the rearguard side but that being said I don't think MacT's ready to enter into the "five forwards on the PP" zone.

But it certainly would be interesting...

8/11/2006 3:47 pm  
Anonymous PDO said...

I'd kill to send that first unit out with five forwards, except, but I don't see it happening.

What I do think is possible though, is Hemsky on the point in an umbrella formation.

Throw MAB out there on one side, Lupul on the other, Smyth in front, and Sykora in the slot?

Maybe flip Sykora and Lupul, either way...

8/11/2006 4:23 pm  
Blogger dawgbone said...

PDO, there is a giant fundamental flaw with the umbrella system... it's far too easy to defend against as a full time system (though you can shift into it at various times for a different look).

When a team locks into an umbrella, there are 2 primary ways... a wide setup and a close setup. The wide setup makes the 'D' move more, but it is also less of a shooting setup.

The close setup allows for a better shot on goal, but the pk'ers aren't forced to move around as much.

This is why you don't see an umbrella power play very often in the NHL... unless it's a 5 on 3.

8/11/2006 4:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Management has said thet they are going to try to extend Smyth, Smith, Staois and Moreau during the year. It may be a worthwhile exercise to re-evaluate the current payroll with some increases factored in. The picture is not so rosy. The cap is not going to have the same kind of increase after this season and its gonna be time to move some of the vets down the depth chart - at reduced $$ or out.

8/12/2006 10:04 am  
Anonymous PDO said...


I understand that you can't use the Umbrella fulltime, even if it didn't completely come off in my post.. which, re-reading it, it doesn't look like it did ;).

More of what I meant is that we have the personel to run a fairly succesful Umbrella, so hopefully it'll be utilized at times.

Though, I still do expect/hope to see Hemsky atleast tried on the point. He has a pretty good one-timer, and is a great passer... I think he could be extremely effective on the point.

8/12/2006 3:43 pm  
Anonymous bigleaguer said...

Why send Smid for more AHL seasoning? He's already spent a season there and proven that he can play at that level. What more can he learn there? He's already had more prep for the NHL than Bouwmeester and Phaneuf, for example, have had before they broke in. It's time he learns about the NHL. If the scouts are right, he's probably way better than Greene already and perhaps even Bergeron and Hejda. If he isn't, it's best the Oilers find out in October.

8/13/2006 11:09 am  
Blogger Showerhead said...

Good post, RiversQ. It's interesting to see such a clear shift in where the dollars are being spent, whether the actual causes were by design or not.

It's not hard to feel like the team we have going into 06/07 has a lot more strength and a couple fewer holes than the 05/06 edition at this time. While this should add a few points in the standings, I get the impression that a lot of Oiler fans are remembering the most recent edition of the club when they hark back to 05/06 and doing this to their detriment.

The team that these optimists are remembering is the one that came together in all of the right ways at all of the right times. It's a team that, along with 3 of the other 4 semi-finalists, received kindness from the posts and crossbar. It conjured up miracle periods such as R1-G6-P3, miracle momentum swings such as Torres' removal of Michalek, and miraculously awful opponents in a Mighty Duck team that never really brought it.

The optimists are then taking their memory of this team, giving it equal weight with hockey's version of a bi-polar circus, and deciding that we'll be better next year.

This digression aside, I think I'm with you RQ - things look better than they did at this time last year. The bounces will shake out our way or they won't; our rivals will show on-ice improvement worthy of their on-paper acquisitions or they won't. I too am content to watch things play out at this point and see an exciting season ahead. Compared to the most recent half of this club's history, it's a very good time to be an Oiler fan.

8/14/2006 10:13 am  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Good post and good comments. Interesting times for sure.

For all the wringing of hands about the Oilers defense situation, the rest of the teams in the mighty Northwest Division don't exactly have defense corps that trigger memories of the '89 Flames. In fact by the looks of it most of that bunch aren't spending much on their defencemen either.

And in a starnge new world where Jay McKee earns $4M, Derek Morris $3.9M and Pavel Kubina $5M ... maybe that's wise.

We'll see. This capped world, with the new rules in play as well, and more importantly the perception created by them, it's resulted in a strange time in the history of this league. It's fun.

Guys like Ferguson and Lombardi (who I really like BTW) are at one end of the spectrum ... Lowe and Wilson at the other. Hell, Wilson traded one of the better young puck moving defensemen in the game (Preissing) for a youngish power forward (Mark Bell is already 26?! ... damn, time flies). Maybe we'll look back one day with the awesome power of hindsight and compare that deal to "selling Yahoo shares at $80 before the dotcom collapse". Or maybe the better analogy will be "selling IBM shares in 1965 to invest in a hovercraft company". Only time will tell.

Personally, given the price of the wagers, I think Lowe is making the smart bets here in going for forwards. It doesn't screw up his salary structure with his D either. Hopefully Smith and Staios are signed to longer deals and that sets the benchmarks (Tjarnqvist is in at Staios' salary exactly I think). And I hope he has left enough cap space to add one or two reliable veteran Dman mercenaries at the trade deadline.

A fun summer is this one.

8/15/2006 12:11 am  
Blogger PunjabiOil said...

Is it pretty much a given that Sykora is only here for 1 year? I can see Smyth being rewarded a long term contract with a nice raise. Staios might be signed at 2M. Moreau 1.5??

8/16/2006 11:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the additional spending at RW this year has anything to do with the difficulty the Oilers are having finding left D-men???? Maybe in their search through the league they saw a trend.

8/18/2006 9:57 pm  

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