August Smörgåsbord

So it seems the coaching staffs (staves?) of the NHL have been settled. And Jason Smith doesn't have a job. This goes directly against my bold prediction (based on Gator's own words) that the former Oilers captain would be prowling a bench somewhere in the Bigs this season. I don't want to reveal my source, despite the rumour being unsubstantiated, because I still think Gator was convinced he was going to be hired. It didn't happen and my creditibility's sunk (not that I had any to begin with).

Sometimes you et the bar, and sometimes the bar ets you.


At the Draft, I picked three guys I was bullish on. For those who care, here's a brief follow-up:

Devante Smith-Pelly
drafted 42nd overall by the Anaheim Ducks
Smith-Pelly covered his bet, getting drafted a good ten picks higher than his most generous ranking (BobbyMac had him at 52). All signs point to ANA having a great 2010 draft with their first three picks consisting of Devante, Cam Fowler, and Emerson Etem. For me, as much as I like the Major, Pitlick > Smith-Pelly. 2010-11 should see DS-P play another solid year for St. Mike's with the slim possibility of a trade to a more stacked team in the O.

Jordan Weal
drafted 70th overall by the Los Angeles Kings
The Pocket Pat was pegged as a slider from Jump Street and slide he did. Weal watched sequoias like Martin Marincin, Curtis Hamilton, and Ryan Martindale stroll up to the podium for the better part of a weekend until the Purple Crowns called his name. A steal of a pick that should pay dividends sooner rather than later for the Kings.

Patrik Nemeth
drafted 41st overall by the Dallas Stars
Going a pick prior to Smith-Pelly, the big Swede should be happy to be headed to Big D. They love Nemeth's type of game in the Lonestar State and, if all goes as planned, he could end up forming a killer shutdown pairing with RFA Nicklas Grossman (assuming he signs). Time will tell.


When trying to distract one's self from the summer wasteland that is hockey news in August, it helps to turn to those who make the best of it: the Oilogosphere. While many blogs are in radio silence for much of August, the guys over at Copper'N'Blue have been knocking it out of the park with almost every at-bat. Bruce McCurdy's most recent post, Retro Rockets is yet another dinger. They've added an OKC correspondent and a weekend link aggregator to the team, while the core posters have been dropping gems all month long. If you haven't been reading them, go take a perusal through their archives. Quality stuff.

Elsewhere, LT & J-Dub have made Oilers Nation much more bearable of late and they have even converted some of the braying farm animals that manage to work keyboards with their hooves into a near-thoughtful community of commenters. Key words being more bearable, some, and near-thoughtful. Keep up the good fight, gents!

Also a major shoutout to David Staples over at Cult of Hockey. He ranked SlowFreshOil a generous 35 out of 38 Oilers blogs based on readership, clout, and professionalism. How we didn't make dead last, I'll never know. Quite frankly, it's an honour to even be included in the same breath as some of the finest hockey bloggers on the planet. But look out Doritogrande, SloFreO's gunnin' for ya this season. Haha-- riiiight. Anyway, Staples also put up an intriguing piece on defensive mistakes today, which is well worth a read.

Lastly, BoA alum Andy Grabia is doing good work over about the Arena boondoggle at his new site: Why Downtown? A quick thanks to Andy for the glove-tap he gave my alter ego in a link dump citing the Internets Celebrities doc Stadium Status. Go read Andy's site and get angry, it's for a great cause.


Shaugger broke the news on Friday: Fernando Pisani is a Blackhawk. Hell of a team gets a hell of a player (when healthy) and a hell of a guy (full-time). In return, Fern gets another crack at Stanley (Hockey Gods-willing) and another season in the NHL. As usual, BDHS says it best:

Good luck and the best of health to [Fernando] and thanks for the memories.

Amen, brother.


Project: Rebuild, the Build-Up

Edmonton Oilers: last place team in the NHL. A team barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild it. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic team. The Oilers will be that team. Better than it was before...

Better, stronger, faster.

The last instalment of this series was posted after a whirlwind Deadline Day. Many things have come to light since then, most notably is the rapid retreat from the cap ceiling. On March 4, the Org was only sitting a stifling $2-million shy of the cap. As of today, August 10, we can breathe comfortably with a ~$10-million cushion. Of course Samwise and Andrew have yet to sign, but we've got plenty scratch to spare.

the UFAs
Moreau (waivers)
Nilsson (buyout)
O'Sullivan (trade)

Brule (re-signed)
Deslauriers (re-signed)
Dubnyk (re-signed)
Foster (signed)
Fraser (trade)
Gerber (signed)
Jacques (re-signed)
MacIntyre (signed)
Strudwick (re-signed)
Vandermeer (trade)

Gone are the expensive and ineffective; enter the inexpensive and large. While Fraser should be an asset in a checking role, his most appealing feature is his affordable cap hit and short term. Vandermeer is an overpay, but a UFA by the end of the season. Foster's deal is affordable and short, although it remains a bit of a gamble.

SMac and Jason Masterton return to Edmonton for peanuts and should see most of the games from the press box. Our goalie hydra is back, with a fourth head in Martin Gerber peering up from the depths of the A. Brule signed a cherry deal to avoid arbitration (helped by ATL's tossing of MacArthur into the shallow-yet-crowded FA pool) and the Org continued to pay Jean-Francois Jacques because, clearly, he's worked a gypsy curse of blindness on Steve Tambellini.

Overall, nothing you can get really mad at. Tambi sacrificed the three biggest goats on the team and managed to escape the worst of the cap ramifications. As predicted in the previous instalment, Steve went for big first, player second. Character seems to have rounded out his wants and all of these new additions seem to bring a lot to the table in that regard.

However, it's far from all good: the goalie situation is more than a little muddled; qualifying (and then signing) JDD & JFJ seems to be akin to flushing dollars down a toilet; and not a shred of clarity has been found in the Souray clusterfuck. Still, Steverino has earned a passing a grade this offseason and, given good numbers and length for Gags/Cogs + a possible Souray transaction, he just might start the season looking like a serviceable NHL General Manager.

As an addendum to the OUT column, we should probably include Pat Quinn whose "promotion" will allow Renney to step up and begin tinkering with the circuitry of the team. Where once was an old-timey line roller who relied on players' instincts, there will be a tactician (once more) who will attempt to hardwire the players' game in order to maximize development and, hopefully, success. Tom's already altered the coaching staff and it will be interesting to see how the bench dynamic develops when patrolled by Krueger-Buchberger-Smith.

In the IN column, we could bring the Entry Level contracts into the picture (Eberle, Paajarvi, Hall), but it remains to be seen who will break camp in the Bigs. The safe bet is Hall. Eberle is 50/50 (PPG+ in his AHL tryouts = satisfied management). Paajarvi could prove to be a longer shot than some think. While the Swede might have the greatest physical gifts and most rigorous experience (played vs. men for two seasons), there's a solid chance the Org will have him fire up his engines in OKC. Again, no telling where they'll land until Training Camp, so best to focus on the NHL players of the roster (which is why I've left out the AHL signings of Grioux et al).

So, now we wait. We wait for the last two RFAs to lay ink on paper. We wait for our starting goalie/MVP to stand in front of a judge in Sherriff Joe's county. We wait for Steve's vet forward to manifest itself into Eric Belanger (pleasepleaseplease), or Brendan Morrison (pleasenopleasenopleaseno), or nobody (better than Brendan Morrison). We wait for training camp and the myriad of answers it will bring to the questions swirling around the Org. Most of all, we wait for the NHL Regular Season to start so we can all start ignoring everything else in life. Moreso.