Thursday, July 05, 2007

We Can Rebuild Them

With the exclusion of the newly-acquired Joni Pitkanen, the Oilers line-up could pretty well be set for the opening face-off in October, but there's still a long way to go for the Oilers. Re-signing Raffi Torres and Matt Greene were steps in the right direction and the acquistion of Mathieu Garon through free-agency was also quite a solid move.

The Oilers line-up suffered dearly in the points department as 10 of the top 11 players in points went down in the overall points standings from the season previous. Only goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had increased ice-time after full season with the squad went up and took first place on the team. Both Hemsky and Horcoff dropped 97 positions in the rankings, so the offense has been a major focus.

Raffi TorresShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Geoff SandersonJarret StollFernando Pisani
Ethan MoreauMarty ReasonerPatrick Thoreson
Marc PouliotRobbie SchrempZach Stortini
Joni Pitkanen *Steve Staios
Ladislav SmidDick Tarnstrom
Matt GreeneDenis Grebeshkov
Dwayne Roloson
Mathieu Garon

As of right now, it really looks like the fourth line is open to anyone who really wants the job. Both Pouliot and Schremp have been with the organization for some time, but neither of them can crack the line-up full time. With the emergence of Andrew Cogliano, they could have someone who will jump right into the line-up and give any one of the centres a good push in the coming season. Also a Ryan O'Marra or Robert Nilsson could make the jump into a full-time role.

You should assume that both Tarnstrom and Grebeshkov should jump straight into the Oilers line-up, which should give a good shake-up in front of Roloson. Neither of the two, or Pitkanen for that matter, are a Chris Pronger and it would be foolish to assume that this is the best six in the league, but they do make themselves a little more competitive if all six can be regulars in the line-up, instead of having the revolving door in the five & six slots.

Unless there is a marvelous signing before camp, the Oiler players have not really increased in pool value, but if they remain healthy, they could be pretty good little sleepers, as they did run into a few injury problems through last season. Adjust their numbers accordingly...

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