Thursday, April 26, 2012

2012 SC Playoff Predictions Rd 2

I would recap my first round predictions, but to say they sucked will save a lot of time. At least I got the most important one right with the Kings upset over Vancouver. *snickers*

Okay, lets get down to business, hopefully with better sucess then a 3-5 first round record.

Eastern Conference

New York Rangers vs Washington Capitals
- I'm going with the Rangers in 6, though I really like the way Dale Hunter has the Capitals dialed in defensively.

Philidelphia Flyers vs New Jersey Devils
- The Flyers are scary good and scary mean. Flyers in five.

Western Conference

St. Louis Blues vs Los Angeles Kings
- This is the toughest series for me. Both teams play very similar styles. If LA can get their offense going, Im not sure they can, they will win. I reluctantly take the Kings in seven.

Nashville Predators vs Phoenix Coyotes
- Once again, both teams play very similar styles. The Preds have the ability to score more then the Coyotes though. Nashville in 6.


Friday, April 20, 2012

TOBIAS the 'Silent RIEDER"

While all the talk in this city sits around the Draft lottery win and the possibility of a potential Superstar pick like Nail Yakupov there is also excitement in the city about another good prospect on defence playing the the WHL Oil Kings by the name of Martin Gernat. There is lots to be excited about.

But playing in Kitchner Ontario for the OHL Rangers is a player forgotten by many, who is becoming a "Silent RIEDER" on the long list of potential Edmonton Oiler prospects.

Not knowing much about Tobias, I had my first chance of seeing him play here in Edmonton during last summer's' Oilers Development Camp'. Was not impressive by any means but also was a very astute learner. He had OK speed, made fairly safe plays and executed most the drills well. Nothing stood out, in a good way or a bad way. Is that so bad? I would say no, it's not bad. Most these young players take awhile to grow into their bodies and adjust to the game. The biggest question is always, 'are they still growing and learning and improving their overall game'?

In the case of Tobias, he has, and it has been a huge year in terms of his growth. Tobias had a record year in Kitchener for points and really became a go to guy who was dependable and used at the clutch moments. He is not flashy, not a wildman on the ice by any means. What Tobias has done this year is nothing short of awesome. A good test of a player's growth is how well he performs when under pressure. These OHL playoffs, Rieder is the one creating the offence consistently. In fact he ranks on the top of the stats ladder in the CHL playoffs let alone the OHL.

60 Regular Season Games
42 Goals 43 Assists 85 Points

13 Playoff games (and counting)
11 Goals 14 Assists 25 Points

While he has gone about his role quietly and effectively, don't be surprised to be hearing lots more about this young man in the very near future. He may not be a big man by any means, he is strong on the puck and plays the game like a pro.

For Oiler ,Baron and Thunder news and the 2012 or 2013 NHL draft watch go to

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Krueger on way out?

Well, can't say I didn't already post this. Just a few weeks back I made a blog and posted this very possibility. I also tweeted it in late January I believe.......I had written to respond to some questions. Here was what I had written;

What do you think with happen with our GM and coaching situation with next year?
I know there is lots of speculation everywhere with many different rumours floating. Tamby will get his GM extension (2 years?) and then it is anybodies guess. If someone good becomes available maybe they make a move but I think they try and convince Renney to sign a one year, explaining they need to see greater improvement to move beyond and challenge for a playoff spot to give anything longer. I really believe they want to eventually bring in Todd Nelson but are another year or two away from that. It's a trend more now then ever to do just that and it seems to work 50% of the time. On the other hand I am hearing rumours still that Krueger may not be back next year and returning to Europe. Myself, I really believe he is a vital reason for some of the development we are seeing , more then Renney.

That being said, I am really starting to wonder if now Sutter is next in line here in Edmonton. It's been said, without being said, Sutter was not a fan of Feaster and his way of building a contender. Like him or hate him, Sutter has always done well with top end talent and young skill. Both NJ and Calgary were not great teams to work with and very seldom Sutter makes a bad tactical error in game situations. Going to be a interesting off-season huh?
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Sunday, April 15, 2012

NHL Entry Draft "Here we go again"

The Oilers now sit in the fortunate position of selecting the #1 pick yet once again in this year's 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The question this year? Should we take a defencemen because it is our biggest need? Did we not just go through this whole conversation last year at this time? Was not the big question last year,  if we should take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larson? 

The conversation became so large that, bloggers and MSM were breaking down the validity of drafting a defencemen #1 overall. People were saying RNH was at least another year away and Larson could play NHL immediately. The stats guru's were going on about how RNH was not producing enough 5on5 and how he was still too small to play in the NHL.

What I find very interesting is RNH too many was considered too small. Why? Cause at season end he was maybe 165lbs. By training camp he was sitting at 174 and some still doubted his size. He is 6'1 and coming into camp and the complaints were there about his size. So his height was fine but his weight was too light? What size should he be, was my curious question to those in doubt. 190+lbs is the argument I heard.

Enter, 2012, Nail Yakupov. The question I hear yet once again is...'he is too small'. Too small? How's that? He is 5'11 and 190lbs when the season started. He is the 190 that everyone wanted RNH to be but now because he is 5'11, he is too small? Can't have it both ways. Very few STAR players are at least 6'1 and 200+lbs. Usually those players are drafted in later rounds and molded. The hope is, players like Hartikainen will fill those molds.

Back to the original question. Draft a potential 1-3 defencemen or a potential 40+Goal scorer? % of success is with the forward and not the defencemen. Why change course this year? People say we have 2 RW's already in Eberle and Hemsky. Do we really? People now are believing in Hemsky for next year? Sorry folks, as much as I like Hemsky, I believe his style of play is exactly what the Oilers do not need. This team is being molded different then in year's past. We have 3 top players, that's all! Everything else is a maybe or hopeful. I am glad we signed Hemsky. Why? Because it gives us a asset. It's another player we can trade. 

Some are saying that Yakupov could bolt to the KHL. True, but the Oilers could also finish in 30th place again next year as well. Nothing is guaranteed. But let's look at some strong facts and reasoning before we start anointing Murray as our best pick at #1.

1.Yakupov came to Canada to play in the CHL at 16 years old. He said he wanted to adapt early and play in the best jr development league in the world, so he would be the most ready to go straight to the NHL. This should be a strong sign, that the KHL is not his goal or a temptation. 
2. Yakupov's agent is Igor Larionov. Igor represents what is great about Russian hockey players. He is their greatest ambassador IMO. 
3. Mark Glavin, Sarnia Sting Assistant GM raves about his work ethic and dream to play in the NHL and his dynamic abilities on the ice. This is the same guy who saw Stamkos grow up on his team as well and go on to carve a awesome career to date in Tampa Bay.
4.Yakupov strives to be the best, not only does he want to be the best, he works hard on being the best. Don't read too much into his cocky attitude as speaking his thoughts and feelings into english, things can be misunderstood quite easily.
5. Should the Oilers feel Yakupov is not the right fit, they can always trade that asset.

Yes, Murray would have been a very good pick at #2, but with #1 pick locked up, to pick anyone other then Yakupov would open this team up to scrutiny beyond imagination. I can't see a team being able to give the oilers a 1st round pick and top 2 d-man for that 1st overall , cause no one wants to give up that good of a proven defencemen. 

As has been mentioned by the Oilers, this is a rebuild. Adding one more potential superstar player to the forward mix can be nothing but good. They are not looking at a quick fix and I see no reason why they will buck their trend. Could a trade happen? Absolutely! But the % is low someone will step up and offer something incredible on a potential. 

I think instead of lines, we should be looking at pairs to play together. In whatever combination you want but to have 2 top lines with a pair that excels and you move different guys in and out on those pairings. Both Hall and Yakupov play a hard, fast, in your face style of play. To me, they need to be split up, to best utilize the shutdown tandems that play against them. To have say Hall with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins with Yakupov could be a deadly combo. Any way you look at it, it will be a interesting couple months leading up to the draft.

For Oiler ,Baron and Thunder news and the 2012 or 2013 NHL draft watch go to

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oilers put final 'NAIL' in the Coffin

With the final result, weighted now in the favour of the Edmonton Oilers, this should now put a end to the drought of a losing season in Alberta's Capital City. Adding Nail Yakupov will now give the Oilers not 3 BUT 4 Star players to play in the top 6. We know things will be slightly more confusing in regards to positions on the wings but competition like this will now really push the current players to perform at their peaks or be moved and or even put down a line.

Players like Hemsky, Gagner, Paajarvi and Hartikainen will all be pushing for those remaining 2, top 6 playing minutes. Healthy competition like this should only bring out the best in this team. The options remain many. Hall could be tested at Centre to play with Yakupov and Gagner moved to the wing or even to 3rd line centre. Maybe Yakupov has the ability to shift to LW and you could play Yakupov/Hall/Hemsky ? Maybe you change things up. What about Hall/Gagner/Eberle and a Yakupov/RNH/Hemsky line? The options are limitless. If 1 or 2 stars go down, you still have a minimum of 2 in the line up with some other good skill.

Yakupov size? Well he may be 5'11 but he is 190lbs when he entered the season in 2011/2012. This guy has strength in his legs, core and upper body like few his age. Crosby was relatively the same size coming in and Yakupov has been up against several big bodied defencemen in the OHL this year. This guy keeps his legs moving constantly and has speed to burn with incredible control and vision on the ice. He draws penalties often due to his speed and constant leg movement. Like Hall, he will have to learn to keep his head on a swivel and be careful out there against the big boys of the NHL.

Injuries? Yes, he did have a couple this year to deal with, but that can be said of several top end prospects this year including Ryan Murray, Mikhail Grigorenko, Morgan Rielly and Galchenyuk. No indication from what I know before this year, that Nail is a injury prone player.

Bad playoff in 2012 for Nail? 5 points in 6 games and it's a disappointing playoff run? He just returned from injury and was still not playing up to par if you ask his teammates and coaches and the guy was still a trooper and still played. Imagine if he was not injured and running at full throttle!

What about his high end offensive potential? Nail Yakupov rates well against the best in the last 7 years of hockey in regards to points per game. Here is a small sample how he compares to the Oilers "Big 3".

Taylor Hall 1.54 ppg
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.26 ppg
Jordon Eberle 1.22 ppg
Nail Yakupov 1.59 ppg

Even comparing Nail to a couple star players from the OHL he fares well.

John Tavares 1.75 ppg
Steven Stamkos 1.59 ppg

Nail holds his own quite well in ppg. His biggest work will be learning to play well without the puck. However this guy knows all about puck retrieval and NHL coaches can work further on that part. No way I see the Oilers moving this player whatsoever. They will lead everyone to believe they will consider it, but in the end the Edmonton Oilers will select Nail Yakupov #1 Overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in June.

Here is a video for those of you who have yet to see some of the sick moves this player can make. Is he cocky? Yup, but I say it's always nice to be able to back that up sometimes. Myself, I am getting tired of Robotic type answers that never truly express how they feel or think. As long as the player is teachable and has all-world skill and work ethic, it's worth the chance.

Things are starting to really get interesting in Edmonton. Talk about pressure to make a move this next year. Cheers Oiler fans!

For Oiler ,Baron and Thunder news and the 2012 or 2013 NHL draft watch go to

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Edmonton Oilers Win Again!!!

The Oilers have won the NHL draft lottery once again for the 3rd year in a row. This is HUGE for this team.

Will the Oilers draft Yakupov or Murray? I'm excited to find out.


2012 SC Playoff predictions Rd 1

With the first round of playoff action starting tomorrow night, I thought I'd throw out my fearless predictions.

Eastern Conference

Rangers vs Senators....Sens in 7
Bruins vs Capitals....Bruins in 5
Panthers vs Devils....Devils in 6
Penguins vs Flyers....Pens in 6

Western Conference

Canucks vs Kings....Kings in 6
Blues vs Sharks....Sharks in 6
Coyotes vs Blackhawks....'Hawks in 5
Predators vs Redwings....Preds in 7

So there you have it. Feel free to point and laugh at your own discretion.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Who to take at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft?

Depending on who you speak with in Edmonton or even around hockey mad cities, the answer will vary. Some say, take for need, some say take best available player. Others say if they are even at best available player you take the defencemen. 

Regardless of each person's opinion, they all should be given consideration regardless. Being the Oilers will not be picking #1 overall this year, (Unless they win the draft lottery on April 10/12) the decision is far more up in the year then previous years. Let's look back at the last two years of picks in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

In Hall's draft year, the only question was which one should the Oilers take. The speedy left winger 'Bull in the china shop" no holds barred Taylor Hall, or the smooth talking, laid back but consistent defensive minded Tyler Sequin? No one else was even in the equation. Some wanted Sequin being he was a centre and that position was dearly needing to be filled in Edmonton. In fact the Oilers even had that discussion with Hall at the Combine about him possibly playing centre in the future.

That same year, both made their respective teams out of training camp and while Hall played a prominent top 6 player role, Sequin played a lot of isolated minutes on the 3rd and even 4th line occasionally. He did however play much more on the wing then he did at centre. When people start saying in Edmonton that Sequin is better (and he may be better in the long run, that we will not know for sometime.) they say we should have picked him cause he is a centre and look at how well he has produced. But did we not just mention he has been brought along as a winger? Yes, he is now transitioning to centre but time will only tell if Sequin can be as elite centre as Hall is a winger. I for one, am glad we got Hall. He represents what I want a Oiler to act like, play like and think like.

Last year, the question was raised between mostly RNH and Adam Larson. People said Hall could play centre, don't draft a centre who is small and only produces on the PP. We need a big defencemen to be the next Lidstrom for the Edmonton Oilers. IN the end, the Oilers choose RNH. (Every team in the league would have chosen him as well) No one a month into the season or since has gone back and said that we should have taken Larson with that 1st pick. Granted Larson is a solid and good defencemen, but Centre's like RNH come very seldom and team's usually never let them go until late in their career's. I love what RNH brings to our team. I love his vision for the game, love for the game and work ethic. He truly is a great mix with what we have started with Eberle and Hall. Those three probably have some of the highest respect from at least 25 of the 30 teams in the NHL, including the GM's.

So this brings me to the question. Who do we pick this year if we pick 2nd or 3rd? I am going on a limb here and predicting based on how things are shaping up that the oilers will be selecting either the BIg Russian Mikhail Grigorenko or the solid all around defencemen Ryan Murray. Both of these players have way more upside then negative things to say about their game. I am not one to value talent and ability or even hockey sense based on some observations from a couple scouts here and there. Every player has a bad game here or there and sometimes there are bad assessments of players cause it was unknown the extent of their injury and the affect it had on their game.

In Ryan Murray, you get that all around defencemen who may be ready to step in as early as next year and start competing hard for a job while honing his game. IN fact, I believe Ryan Murray WILL play his draft year with whatever team drafts him. IMO he has no reason to keep on the WHL path a extra year. He does not really benefit lots from playing with boys. He needs to start working on his NHL game even if at a 5 or 6th defencemen role. The guy can skate, block shots, shoot, stick handle and play well positionally in competition in the CHL, but what about with big tough men? That is a question we will know soon enough.

In Mikhail Grigorenko, you have that 6'3 centre men the Oilers have coveted for years who has skill to play in the top 6. He can skate, pass, has sick puck skills and loves to play centre and wants to be challenged. Yes, he may possibly take a game off here or there. Every player does, don't rate a player by a game or two, rate them by the whole body of their work. (Where have I heard that before?...haha!)

What do the Oilers need more? If the 'Bastard' believes they are equal I think they take Murray. If he believes Grigorenko is the real thing I really believe they take the 'Big Mikhail'. Either way, the Oilers are adding one hell of a player to their roster next year or the next again. Myself, I would take Mikhail cause I believe to find another centre who is a big Centremen for that second line and a great talent with skill is harder to find then a defencemen. This team IMO needs to solidify that second line centre before adding the backend as far as the draft. With decent goaltending this team has proven it is not far off from being a contender. Add a real threat on that second line next year or next and I believe the defence will be coming around soon enough. Having a top two lines in two years of.....Hartikanen/RNH/Eberle, AND Hall/Grigorenko/Paajarvi (change them up if you want) would be a sight to behold in my eyes.

However the same could be said if our backend consisted of Petry/Smid/Whitney/Murray/Schultz/Klefbom with guys like Gerant/Marincin and Musil waiting in the wings.

Regardless of who the Oilers take, I will stand behind "The Magnificent Bastard" and the choice he wants. Why? Cause if he feels Grigorenko is the guy, I believe he knows and see's something great. If he passes him over, he knows something that some of us don't OR he see's far greater potential in a 1 or 2 defencemen. I have Faith, the Bastards decision will be the right one!


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