Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mid Term Grades - Edmonton

Like the Flames report card, this one is based both on point production, impact to the team and expectations of performance.

Jarret Stoll - not only is he second on the Oilers in terms of points, he's arguably their best all round player. He's been physical, he's been winning faceoffs, he's been setting guys up, he's been scoring, and he's been virtually all alone.

Ryan Smyth - Smytty has been Smytty. He's the heart and soul of the team, the goal scoring leader, the guy you want on the ice in every situation. I'm sure MacT wishes he had 23 Smyths out there. Just don't expect him to be in the Oilers jersey much longer.

Ales Hemsky - while Hemsky has been in the lineup, he's done what's expected of him, using his sublime speed and skill to mesmerize opposing teams. Unfortunately right now he's playing with a hurt shoulder, and he hasn't been increasing his shot output so he's still unbelievably frustrating at times.

Fernando Pisani - Despite the huge expectations being a playoff goal scoring leader brings, Fernando has continued to do the things that made him succesful. He makes good defensive plays in both ends of the ice, he buzzes around the net, he's great on the PK (1 SHG), and his smart play has lead to a +9, the best of the team.

Jan Hejda - The most unfortunate thing about Hejda is that he wasn't pulled up from the minors earlier. He's pretty good in the defensive zone, 1-1, is pretty good in breakouts as well. Made a really nice play to pinch in from the point on his first goal in the NHL, and OT GW.

Ethan Moreau - The Oilers miss this heart and soul defensive specialist immensly. Although he sometimes reminds me of Todd Marchant in the way he squanders opportunities, no Oiler is as effective on the forecheck, and his physicality is sorely missed.

Dwayne Roloson - He was the early season hero much like he was the hero in the playoffs, but Roli has been inconsistent at times. It seems when the team played badly, Roli played well, and when Roli played well, the team played badly. Despite this, he's still over .500, has got a +.900 SV%, and is 6th in the league in saves. He just needs some help.

Petr Sykora - His early season success has been marred by his quarter season disappearing act. Now that his best friend Hemsky is playing hurt, I don't expect his team point lead will last.

Daniel Tjarnqvist - He's gotten #1 defenceman ice time, to benched, to hurt. Tjarnqvist has at times been the hero, and at times the goat. But in my opinion, this is a better team with Tjarnqvist playing than when he's not. I had pretty low expectations from the beginning of the year, and he has definately exceeded them.

Patrick Thoresen - The Oiler's newest Norweigan member has been on of their most consistent players. His positional play is outstanding, and he's often involved in good scoring chances. My main gripes are his lack of finish, his lack of speed and sometimes, his lack of compete.

Ladislav Smid - No, he is not the Oiler's top defenseman (I think that probably goes to Staios), but he's played about as well as any 20 year old defenseman I've ever seen (save Phaneuf), and for a guy who was borderline on even making the team at season's start, its an impressive feat.

Jussi Markannen - Jussi started the season a bit soft but has picked up his game a bit in the few games he's played lately. Showed he still has some magic left when he beat Carolina again in December, and I think he should be played more often. Has a .500 record which is not bad for a backup.

Raffi Torres - Keeping up his physical presence every night is an unfair request to make, but he needs to bring it more often than he does, because when Torres hits, good things happen. Is not consistent enough in any part of his game. To his credit, he's a + 7.

Marc-Andre Bergeron - To be fair, MA should really be playing about 12-14 minutes a night, but he's been forced into much more of a top 4 role. Bergeron plays very consistently, in that he consistently gives the puck away in the defensive zone. Bergeron is tied for 2nd in Oilers PPGs with Stoll (first is Smyth, obviously).

Steve Staios - In past seasons, Staios has been voted by his teammates as the Oiler's MVP. He's a great leader on this team who does anything to help the team win. Unfortunately his shortcomings are being exposed - Staois is not a strong skater and sometimes he simply tries to do too much. Despite this, he's a great #4 defenseman, and the team is desperately awaiting his return.

Jason Smith - Despite having the team's worst +/- for a period of time, Smith has climbed back to a somewhat respectable -3. His situation is similar to Staios, he's a great 2nd grouping defenceman, or a complimentary #2 guy to a very speedy skilled #1 guy (Pronger), but with the Oilers' lack of defensive depth, Smith is called on for too many things too often.

Toby Petersen - Toby doesn't do anything extremely well (despite Craig Simpson's insistence he is a PP QB), but he doesn't do anything really badly either. He is a great utility player, it just so happens he plays on a team that desperately needs him to be more.

Matt Greene - For all intents and purposes Matt Greene is a rookie defenceman who at this time is actually the veteran on his pairing. Sure, Greene is slow, sometimes makes bad puck decisions, and is a weak skater, but he brings toughness and pretty good pose for his experience. Think of him as a young Jason Smith.

Mathieu Roy - Roy has played pretty well in almost all areas of the game; Outlet passes, in zone coverage, pinch decisions. But his 1-1 play has been extremely questionable, and thats sort of an important skill set for a defenseman in the NHL.

Sean Horcoff - Big expectations coming into this season, Horc has been snakebitten in terms of points, and he (whether through miscommunication or something else) has been making an awful lot of mistakes in the defensive zone. Will need to transform into the player he was last year if this team is to have any success.

Marty Reasoner - This has been an on and off year for Reasoner. After playing a beauty game against Chicago in late Novevember, Reasoner followed it up with two -2 games in a row. His -12 is simply not good enough from a guy who should be a defensive specialist. He's ranked 11th in the league in faceoff percentage though.

Brad Winchester - For a period of time in late November-early December, Brad Winchester was the best player on this team. Unfortunately he has not been able to consistently deliver the package he should - Size, toughness, intimidation, and a drive towards the net.

C -
Joffrey Lupul - Fairly or not, Lupul will be compared to Pronger, but Lupul is no Pronger. He's been soft on the puck, he tends not to make good plays at either end, and he's got the 2nd worst +/- on the team, despite often playing with Ryan Smyth. He is tied for 3rd in terms of goals on the team though.

Petr Nedved - Nedved's only been here a short time, so his report will be short. His point production has increased here and he gave Smith some innovative help on the backcheck. However, his +/- has only gotten worse, and his physical game has been laughably bad.

Marc-Antione Pouliot - Listening to Lowetide you would think Pouliot was supposed to be the second coming of Hemsky, but lets face it, thats never going to happen. Pouliot needs to make the major league jump soon or its not going to happen at all.
Jean-Francois Jaques

Jean-Francois Jacques - 19 games, 0 points, -9, 11 shots. Thats just unnacceptable.


walkinvisible said...

i can't believe you would give MA bergeron a B-. i will freely admit that i don't watch a lot of oilers games and i am certainly no authority, but he was absolutely terrible in the playoffs last year & is still truly painful to watch on the ice. his sloppiness (in my opinion) singlehandedly put roloson out of the finals, and his "consistant" turnovers lead to odd man rushes/goals nearly nightly. this man is a defensive liabilty, the likes i have not seen since jyrki lumme. is he rated so high because he's a #7 defenseman playing the role of a #3 ? or because, with so many other guys hurt, he's "stepping up" ? i don't get it. this guy is a straight C at best...

Kyle said...

Bergeron gets a B- because although he can often times be a defensive liability, he's playing against much better opponents than he should, and he does what he needs to do to be successful - get the puck on or at the net. He's the only defenceman the Oilers can put on the point that is a legitimate threat to score, and whether he's made the right play or not he battles hard. I think in his last 3 games he's layed down huge hip checks.

Does he give the puck away and overcomplicate things in the defensive zone sometimes? Absolutely. But is he the victim of an inept organization that pairs him with a rookie defenceman and plays him far more minutes than he can handle? Absolutely again.

I think of him as an Andrew Ference type guy in a worse defensive system with worse defensize zone skills but better offensive upside.