Monday, August 27, 2007

What the Super Series Means to the Edmonton Oilers

I've been meaning to get to this post idea for a while because there are a lot of (at least) short term implications of the Super Series for the Edmonton Oilers. First up, the direct impact of Sam Gagner.

I've had the opportunity to watch Gagner in one live Team Canada u-20 camp tryout and all the World Jr. Hockey Championship games, and I got to see him briefly in the game today (although I wasn't able to watch too closely due to being at work and all). His goal today was pretty nice, and his assist was nice as well. He was drafted by the Oilers this June 6th overall and by all accounts is a very good hockey player with a high degree of leadership potential. I wanted the Oilers to select Karl Alzner, but I'm as liable with draft errors as anyone, and Alzner wasn't available by that point in the draft anyway. He was named player of the game today so odds are it was hard to go wrong with either of them.

Gagner's play in this tournament could have a big effect on his future. If he continues to look like he did today, Oilers fans will be very happy with Lowe. Even if he turns out to be a crap NHLer, it'll be difficult to accuse Lowe of misfiring - Gagner just looks good right now period. But if he has a very bad tournament, it will look bad on Lowe. Another player seemingly picked on a very small sample viewing with an outlier performance.

The one that got away could make Lowe look pretty bad over the next two weeks as well. Alexi Cherepanov has had comparable numbers (better actually) than Kovalchuk, Malkin and Ovechkin in the RSL. Kevin Lowe actually had two gauranteed opportunities to draft him in June's entry drafft, but as Pierre Maguire said at the time, Kevin Lowe isn't going to pick a Russian (xenophobia perhaps? Sorry Kevin...). Brad Marchand claimed that "When we were in the World Junior Championship, he didn't step up at all. All we had to do was play our game and he was a ghost out there. Any time anyone has a chance to hit him, we have to hit him," and maybe that's why Kevin Lowe didn't bother picking Cherepanov, although one suspects it had more to do with the transfer agreement problems. Either way, if Cherepanov steps up and is the player many believe he is, Kevin Lowe will look terrible. He's dodged the bullet a few times this summer but one has to wonder how many more rounds are in the chamber and how much jump Kevin has left.

Finally, the tournament is featuring one defenceman named Drew Doughty and one forward named John Tavares. Those are two guys that could have been Oiler's property if Kevin Lowe hadn't offered Dustin Penner that outrageous offer sheet, giving up his first rounder next year. Now Tavares' draft eligibility is in question, so that may become a null problem. Doughty however, is a sure fire early first rounder for next year. He is a top notch defenceman of which the Oilers desperately covet. The odds of the Oilers actually being eligible for the spot necessary for Doughty was low, but now it's zero.

I think Canada can and will win this mini Summit Series tournament. The real question is whether Kevin Lowe will come out a winner or loser.


Anonymous said...

Lowe did in fact say the transfer agreement was a problem for him. Remember quite a few teams passed on Cherapanov.

therealdeal said...

I remember but the fact is that at worst it was because of some sort of prejudice and at best it wasn't a hockey decision. It's probably a lose lose either way.

Anonymous said...

Why do you keep on misspelling Gagner's name?