Horcoff Set to Earn Every Penny in 2009/2010

If the outrageously bad faceoff skills of the remaining players on the Oilers team is any indication of what is to come, Shawn Horcoff will earn every penny of his $7 million ($5.5 cap hit) this coming season. Better still, fans will forget just how valueable he is when while earning it, he can't put up more than 50 points.

Shawn Horcoff's lack of offense won't be his own fault. As was evident in his production last year, he'll be so busy taking every key faceoff for the Oilers that much like last year, he'll be gassed before he gets the chance to put the puck in the net. I mean truly, can fans now understand after watching last nights game; that with the exits of Stoll, Reasoner, and Peca in just the last few years, how important it truly is have someone who can do more than just put the puck in the net?

The Edmonton Oilers lost Thursday nights game to Tampa for one reason. Faceoffs. The equalizing and winning goals came as a direct result of the Oilers inability to win the draws they needed to. Because no team ever wants to assume a faceoff loss, the rest of the team was out of position to counteract after each loss positionally, directly resulting in Lightning goals.

Either the Oilers have to figure out a way to improve their faceoff numbers, or they'll needed to practice what to do after each loss; because if they don't, every cent the Oilers pay Shawn Horcoff will go to practice time learning to be better than just good, but the best faceoff guy in the NHL. That's quite the task considering he's up there for faceoffs taken, but not nearly as high for faceoffs won amongst the tops in the league.

I see only two real solutions. A faceoff coach needs to be hired. Someone who can come in and work exclusively with each player under 50%. In this case, almost everyone. Teach them how to line up their feet, distribute their weight, or moreover, cheat to win a draw more than half of the time. This means adding an extra 30 minutes to an hour to each practice for guys like Cogliano, Brule, Pouliot, Gagner, Stone and others. They'll hate it, but in the end, should make them more valueable commodities in a very competitive for jobs NHL.

The other solution? Waive at least two forwards with skill. Let them get through waivers or be claimed by another team. Immediately when those contracts are off the books, go out and sign the top faceoffs guys still left in the league, still looking for an NHL team to give them more than a tryout. Don't let another Malhotra opportunity pass by.

Off the top of my head, Robert Lang and Mike Peca. Neither may want to play, but for a one year deal better than league minimum, you can bet both would consider a healthy job offer.

The Oilers are working on systems. Great. But they better find a solution to the faceoff dot, because come October 3rd, they can expect to lose at least one goal a game to their lack of faceoff ability. This team has enough trouble scoring goals as is, for that to be an option.


Your exactly right. They will have to loose some contracts to waivers and move on. Only way they can pick up someone they need. Oil have to much of the same thing. Lang or Peca would be perfect.

September 25, 2009 at 7:34 AM comment-delete

My question is WHY after the last 2 terrible faceoff years, there isn't already a faceoff coach ... and if there is, why his head isn't on a skewer. You have to think that there is a guy on the coaching staff but he sucks donkey nuts.

September 25, 2009 at 8:02 AM comment-delete

I am believer that faceoffs are the one hockey skill that ca be learnt. You can suck at it and get significantly better if you put in the time.

You can improve your skating, hand eye, soft touch and so forth, but not anywhere near the same level.

I'm willing to say have someone come in and teach these guys like Horcs and Stoll learned when an Adam Oates was on the team, but they better get on it fast Any coincidence that Oates is a powerplay coach in Tampa and they just happen to be that good at faceoffs?

I'll bet the two are related.

September 25, 2009 at 8:13 AM comment-delete

I think they are very related.

September 25, 2009 at 10:21 AM comment-delete

This is way too simplistic of an analysis. Hey, I understand it's convenient to point at - a nice simple statistical benchmark - but, there's also 5 other guys on the ice.

Sure, I would like to see the team win more faceoffs but it's not a panacea.

September 25, 2009 at 11:24 AM comment-delete

@ MrOiler

The need for the Oilers to solve such a glaring hole as their faceoff issues is a major crisis and not one that should wait for the season to start or Horcoff to lack any offensive production. Look at the game last night for just one of many examples.

The Oilers played incredibly well to fight back against a stacked Lightning lineup only to give the game away.

Of those 5 other guys on the ice, should we suggest that they be in position to and ready to go for each faceoff loss? That's about where the Oilers stand in terms of being able to win a draw.

A far cry when we think about 2006, when the Oilers dominated in the faceoff circle and could actually win games they might not have deserved to with a less talented line-up than their competition.

September 25, 2009 at 12:45 PM comment-delete

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