Not Too Many Small Forwards

The signing of Mike Comrie doesn't give the Oilers too many small forwards. At least not any more than they already had. Kevin Lowe went on record saying that the Comrie signing wouldn't be in addition to, but instead of a current NHL ready forward on the roster.

"Pat Quinn and his coaching staff are salivating at the thought of having 19 or 20 forwards and having to pick out a roster of 13 or 14." he goes on to add, that "One of the criticisms of the Mike Comrie signing is that we've added another small player, but in all likelyhood, if Mike does well and plays a part in the team this season, he will be replacing a smaller type player."

Interesting. We kind of knew that Comrie coming in meant someone going out, but who will that someone be? My guess, is that we'll have to wait at least two weeks or so and into camp and pre-season before we find out. That is unless of course a viable trade option presents itself.

Making a Case For Each Small Forward

O'Sullivan - He's yet to prove anything as an Oiler and despite what he did in LA, could be on shaky ground if he doesn't get off to a faster start. The Oilers see big things for him, hoping he'll be one of the main goal scoring contributors based simply on how frequently he likes to shoot the puck. He's versatile being able to play any forward spot. He's slated for top 6 forward minutes, but that spot is literally his to lose.

Nilsson - For most fans, he is the odd man out. I'm not sure that the Oilers totally agree as he's shown a lot of jazz this summer adding a ton of muscle (reminiscent of Smid last year) and is ready to play more physical knowing he has a lot to prove. His skill set is still considered amongst the best on the team, it's just his consistency that is in question. If Quinn and Renney see something in Nilsson's game to start things off, he may not be gone.

Cogliano - If given the minutes (and the Oilers want to), they expect as many as 30 goals from Cogliano this season. Scoring 18 on the third line last year and with very limited special teams time, that jump is not at all out of the question. The problem for Cogs is his flexibility. He's not wanting to play anything but centre, but is willing to - there's a big difference there. If he doesn't mesh on the wing, his spot could be in trouble and he has value around the league and may not be a good fit with the puzzle pieces on the Oilers roster.

Gagner - I can't imagine the Oilers looking or considering a move involving Sam Gagner, but stranger things have happened. Should an offer exist too good to pass up, anything is possible. It is very likely however that should Gagner have a strong start (which for the most part has been his downfall), he'll be slotted as the 1st line centre for much of the season.

Comrie - The odds are slim, but it's still possible he doesn't make this team. The Oilers signing Comrie at this price is almost a no risk move. Should Quinn and Renney simply not see what they need to out of Comrie, the Oilers could cut him lose or move him down our out. It makes little sense to do so after signing him mere days before, and I feel he's a lock because if he wasn't they'd have offered a tryout, not a contract, but Comrie still needs to prove something to stay here. By no means, will he get a free pass.

He does offer the most experience of the smaller forwards and has been that prolific scorer the Oilers need in the past. But what that means is only that his odds of not sticking are smaller and his leash longer; but Comrie has to play well and show the coaches where he slots into the lineup.

One thing is for certain and proves Kevin Lowe as accurate in that Quinn has choices. In fact a lot of them. He can put a line-up together of the players that show the most effort, and while the Oilers didn't address that need in a personelle change, healthy competition will and should go a long way to improving the effort of forwards looking to stay employed.

4 comments:

"Kevin Lowe went on record saying that the Comrie signing wouldn't be in addition to, but instead of a current NHL ready forward on the roster."

No idea where you got that from. What I heard Lowe say was... "will he be potentially replacing another small forward, that's more likely the answer..."

And more then likely that other small forward is Brule. Whom before this signing was pencilled into the lineup. There is also an outside chance of it being Nilsson should he be moved in the next coming days.

But no way is it any of O'Sullivan, Cogliano, Gagner or no way that Comrie doesn't make this team over a younger inexperienced player (at least non that are small in stature).

Craziness.

September 12, 2009 at 5:33 PM comment-delete

You're quote is the comment from Kevin Lowe I was referring to, but what other smaller forwards besides Brule (who depsite your belief, has not been penciled in to the lineup) would you consider Mike Comrie taking the place of?

Because Brule is anything but guaranteed a spot, I didn't include him in the equation.

Obviously Comrie is not playing on the fourth line and if Brule was scheduled to be considered a starter, the 4th line centre role is likely where he'd play. (he would have been in competition with Pouliot). Comrie for Brule doesn't make sense.

I also don't agree that O'Sullivan or Cogliano won't be considered as tradeable if they don't come out with good starts. I agree that Nilsson is the logical choice, but no one is guaranteed a spot. That is a direct quote I personally got from Kevin Lowe today outside of a downtown hotel when I had the chance to ask him in passing.

Healthy competition is what he called it.

September 12, 2009 at 6:12 PM comment-delete

If that is the quote, then were do you get the "current NHL ready forward" part?

And "penciled in" does not mean "a guaranteed spot"… that would be "pen'd in". And of course Brule would have to earn it, every player has to earn spots, but that goes without saying but I think he certainly would be a front runner for making the club pre-Comrie.

This is my estimate of the team pre-Comrie:

Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
O'Sullivan-Gagner-Nilsson
Moreau-Cogliano-Pisani
Jacques-Pouliot-Stortini
Brule-MacIntyre

With Reddox on the outside looking in. Of course, he could bump one of Brule or Jacques, but I give JFJ the nod due to this teams need for size and I give Brule the nod due to the higher need for a center then a winger after dealing Brodziak.

And this is my estimate of the team post-Comrie:

Penner-Horcoff-Hemsky
O'Sullivan-Gagner-Cogliano
Moreau-Comrie-Pisani
Jacques-Pouliot-Stortini
Nilsson-MacIntyre

Now with Brule and Reddox on the outside looking in. And Nilsson can be subbed in when and where needed to replace anyone who struggles early.

So what I am saying is that the signing of Comrie does not mean any of our NHL ready small guys HAVE to be dealt. There is room for Comrie without moving any of those players you listed as shown above.

But I do agree that the signing of Comrie makes moving one of these smaller established NHL ready players much more likely and viable. And looking at it like that, I would have to say that any of O’Sullivan, Nilsson or Cogliano the most likely all depending on what deals might be out there. Nilsson might be moved simply for picks, I would think O’Sullivan might get you a player with some size and of course, if Cogliano is dealt it better be for a great player. Gagner is going nowhere; he is our next franchise player.

September 13, 2009 at 12:13 PM comment-delete

You might notice that I didn't place the words "NHL ready" in quotes to suggest that those were Lowe's exact words. More I chose that phrase to introduce the actual quote which is the one you recognize, comparing my words of NHL ready to Lowe's words of smaller forward on the roster, since of those smaller forwards, most if not all have significant NHL experience.

From my take on the context of Lowe's actual quote and the following brief but telling conversation I had with him; I got the sense the Oilers will use camp to make a decision on whether an additional move is necessary. My question was, what move would that be if you were management?

Therefore, I'm glad you took the time to actually suggest a few thoughts about the forwards on the roster, which was the point of the article -- to strike conversation about the idea, not the direct terminology I may have chosen to use.

Keep in mind, even when I'm able to obtain a few words from those inside the organization, my opinion is still very evident on this site and always up for debate, which I encourage.

September 13, 2009 at 10:05 PM comment-delete

Post a Comment

More To Read