Sunday, September 30, 2007

Vito Corleone steps down; Younger, fresher blood in Michael takes over

Ryan Smyth?


Jason Smith?


Petr Sykora?


3 Veteran hockey players were cut loose or traded this past summer. Perhaps the dollars and cents didn't match. Or perhaps, the organization was set on going in a different direction and the above names didn't align properly.

Kevin Lowe long has been discussing the young blood - public comments of ''Not mortgaging the future'' and the alike.

Now the time has come.

Call it the youth movement - With names like Gagner (18), Cogliano (20), Nilsson (22), Stortini (22), Pouliot (22), Thorosen (24), and Brodziak (24) upfront, all expected to crack the opening roster, there is no shortage of reliance on the young members of the Edmonton Oilers.

Penner (25), Hemsky (25), Stoll (25), and Torres (26) have yet to peak either.

The veterans up front is a short list: Horcoff (29), Reasoner (30), Moreau (32), and Sanderson (35)

Defence is sailing in the same boat.

Smid (21), Greene (24), Pitkanen (24), Gilbert (24), Grebeshkov (24), and Roy (24) round up the old-boys-network-junior.

Souray (31), Tarnstrom (32), and Staios (34) are the veterans on the blue line that will be heavily counted on.

Goaltending is an exception to the rule

Garon (29), and Roloson (38) are expected to share the load.

*I'd like to say so. I'd like to believe Gagner and Cogliano will carry their point production to the games that count. Mikhnov, Lupul's and Schremp's pre-season performances last year though, have kept me honest. A wait-and-see approach if you may.

*Young defenceman will make mistakes. Matt Greene's development has stagnated. MacT doesn't think Grebeshkov has a lot to offer defensively, but they'll work on it. Pitkanen came off a year with hot and cold games. Gilbert needs another 100AB in the NHL before he can find his comfort zone. Smid is still a boy amoung men.

*The veteran's don't provide that much of stability either. Souray is 31, and Huddy will STILL have to work to improve his game. Tarnstrom is a bottom pairing, PP Specialist, who wasn't in the NHL last year. Staios is the only calming presence surrounded by chaos.

* Souray was strictly a PR transaction, inconsistent with the organization's youth movement philosophy. Souray, who reported in AUG 21's Edmonton Journal, "The Oilers came out of nowhere, and I told my agent to get it quickly done." However, that's history, and I'm looking forward to see him put the POW in the POWERPLAY.

*The defence can certainly use a veteran to calm things down. YK Oil is a big fan of Tanabe. I was a fan of Hedja, or even Tjarnqvist at lesser money. Hey, Danny Markov is still looking for a dance partner. What say you, Kevin?

*Upfront, Mike Johnson replaces Pisani. Pisani ridiculously had only a -1 on a poor ES 2006-2007 Oilers team. Mike Johnson, meanwhile was +6 (31 pts) on a similar poor ES team. He's a guy who went 16G, 38A, 54 points in 2005-2006 and Montreal only paid the price of a 4th rounder (which is effectively ~nothing) to acquire him. Latest rumblings suggest that he was at the Blues camp on a try-out basis. Poor guy, just can't get a break. If Billy Beane shared his philosophy to the ''Naked-eye observation NHL GMs," he'd be courted by 30 NHL teams. Perhaps things will change in the future. Perhaps not.

I don't believe we're a playoff team, based on the roster thus far. At the same time, we're going on an embarking journey to watch the youth grow and mature. For the first time in organization's history, I can confidently say and truly mean it: "Just watch. Just watch us next year."

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