Just as we thought the Oilers-offensive would become healthy with Horcoff back, Brule reported to be fine and Eberle taking the ice again injury struck again. Hemsky got a concussion and will be sidelined for awhile. While his injury might be just a game or three who knows how long it will take. For his sake I’ll hope he gets back in time for the All Star Game.
Still, the thought of all the players coming back forces you to start thinking about who will remain on the Oilers roster should you fast-forward a month from now. With Omark and Reddox being the two Oklahoma City Barons-callups currently on the roster, these two are the most likely candidates to be sent back down. But is that really the best thing to do? Have the other players done enough to remain on the team ahead of Omark and Reddox? Or does one or both of Omark and Reddox showed they deserve their spot?
Whatever happens the lines will be juggled to make way for Eberle, Hemsky (as Horcoff will play his first game tonight) and perhaps Brule. I for one would like to hang onto both Omark and Reddox. Omark is starting to find his game and I’d say his 8 points in his first ever 16 NHL-games in a struggling Edmonton-team is rather OK. Even better when considering his TOI/G is one of the lower of the top-9 with 14.21. I look at him as a big contributor to the Oilers powerplay aswell as the shootout. He can make things happen on his own which is a skill that any team could use and especially a team such as Oilers who tend to be outshot more then they outshoot their opponent. Reddox ability to skate, hit, kill penalties and his work-ethic make up for his lack of size. I believe this year will be his breakthrough. Reddox would have to clear waivers to be sent back to OKC Barons and while Reddox is king at clearing waivers, I do believe he won’t be able to pass through unrecognized this time. He’s been terrific in the AHL and been very stable during his current stint in the Oilers (4 assists and a +1 rating in 8 games if you wanna talk stats).
But how on earth do we keep both of Omark and Reddox on the team? My gut feeling say we won’t. Management will send Omark (easy way out, his contract will make sure of it) to OKC Barons while Reddox might be held onto in favor of JFJ. But, should they both remain this is how I would do it (barring trades).
Penner - Hall - Hemsky: I’d like to see Hall at center for a longer period. Should he be up for the task, the draft bode for a different scenario then if he doesn’t. We need to know, simple as that. This line showed real potential at times, stick with it.
Omark - Horcoff - MPS: I’d like to keep the Swedes together for now. I’d also like to see Horcoff in the middle of the two. I could see it work out in similar fashion as Hall - Horcoff - Eberle did, with C13 acting as some kind of mentor and defensive supporter of the two. Could be a good way to get both of the Swedes going for real could it not? Eberle could be used instead of MPS (see below).
Jones - Gagner - Eberle: The spot here taken by Jones could as easily be Reddox but I’ve used Jones as he and Gagner showed some chemistry when they played together earlier on. Personally, I’d favor Reddox but Jones looks like the best solution to not come up with a completely new line. Eberle will bring a lot to the line making it more balanced. Another thought that comes to mind would be to put Eberle with Omark and Horcoff to reunite the Jones - Gagner - MPS line. That would (at least in my mind), for better or worse, make a possible Omark - Horcoff - Eberle-line a more obvious 2nd scoring ditto.
Reddox - Cogliano - Brule: Possibly the smallest 4th line in the NHL? Yeah, I know.. dumb Swede who doesn’t consider the important of size you say (which is a valid point, but I considered it, so not entirely true). The likes of Stortini, MacIntyre and JFJ haven’t really used their size anyway so with a playoff spot gone with the wind, why not give Brule a chance to shine again in a new role. This line would do well when it comes to the hit column, it’s gritty consisting of tons of effort and work-ethic. Cogliano would continue his new role as a defensive/2-way center and should we not keep Cogliano and/or Brule this would at least showcase them. Either Brule finds a new role in this team or he should be traded (and if the latter, we need to find a way to rise his value again). I’d put Stortini as my first healthy scratch.
So, what happens with JFJ, Fraser and MacIntyre? Well, I would send JFJ to OKC Barons without much hesitation. Should he clear waivers he will make a nice contribution to the Barons. Should he not clear I for one wouldn’t bother too much about it. MacIntyre seems like a good guy but Dubnyk said it best (when he joked about it) - MacIntyre need a pair of hands (but he didn’t seem to get ‘em for Christmas so.. he’s out) - shortly put, I don’t believe in thugs. Fraser have been nothing but a disappointment for me, though lately he’s slightly upped his game, so for now - he might remain on the team as a second healthy scratch.
Mind you, I know trades might happen, but that’s something I have not taken into account writing this. So, that’s it for now, will touch on the Oilers D in a future post.