Sunday, September 25, 2005


I'm tired of pre-season already

D-mac seems to think that the ALI line scoring a few goals on a teenager is something to jump up and down about. I don't know, I find it difficult to get even mildly worked-up after these pre-season games. Like Mike W over at Covered in Oil, I find it especially difficult when the only thing I have to go on is Rod Phillips radio call.

Goaltending is a worry. Conklin's groin is apparently not yet healed, and Jussi still isn't back from his broken clavicle. We all know from last season that weak goaltending early in the year can kill your chances right out of the gate.

What do do with Schremp, Pouliot, Winchester, Rita, and Stastny, is another pleasant problem.

The Edmonton media have loved Schremp since the day he was drafted, and he has been getting lots of ink during training camp - so much so that it might be difficult to send him back to London. The trick here is that by keeping him up, you burn a year of free-agency, and if he isn't doing much more than just sitting in the press-box and getting some limited 4th-line duty you have to wonder if that year was really worth it. Of course, if you send him down after having such a terrific camp, maybe it cheezes him off so much that he goes back to London and sulks for a while, or worse goes back into the draft and the team loses him for good.

The other problem is who do you get rid of to make room for him. At this place, there has been all sorts of crazy talk about trading Horcoff, Reasoner, or Stoll. I think this is absolutely nuts. All three of these guys are good players and, to date, we have no clue what kind of player Schremp will be over an 82 game NHL season. Sure, he has looked ok against a pre-season university team, and he has played fine in a couple of pre-season NHL games; but, Dan Cleary always looked like a Hart Trophy candidate in pre-season too.

Pouliot and Stastny can both go back to the AHL; but, Rita and Winchester have one-way contracts, which makes it more difficult. Not only that, Pouliot, Rita. and Stastny have all had strong camps as well, although they are getting less press than Schremp. Given the contract situations, maybe it makes more sense to keep Rita around - especially since he is more comfortable on the wing than Schremp.

However, given the Oils powerplay woes, they definitely need someone who can play the sideboards. In pre-season, Schremp has done this pretty well. Maybe 4th-line duty with lots of powerplay time is worth it.

My guess is that he will be up for 10-games and if the powerplay is appreciably better with him, then they will find a place for him - probably at the expense of Rita. If not, he goes back to London and we all hope that Rita finally has his long awaited breakout year.


Winchester has supposedly played pretty well too. They aren't making it easy.

My strong suspicion is that Schremp is for real, and that if he starts the season with the Oilers he'll bury Rita deeper than the lost treasure of Oak Island.

Interestingly, Stastny seemed to have the inside edge with the Brass before camp began. His injury really hurt his chances.

From what I've heard Winchester has been very solid; but, I'm not really sure what he brings this year. He is a nice, big, strong centre, but is hardly someone who is going to help us much on the powerplay. And I wonder how much playing time he is actually going to get 5on5 given that we already have 4 solid centers. I see him being a strictly pressbox/injury guy, unless Stoll really flames out this season.

My guess is that if/when they trade Rita, Schremp will fill in on left-wing and powerplay, and Winchester and Harvey will rotate in when some size/toughness is required.

I think Schremp'll stick, basically cause he's showing the balls-out offence that Edmonton so desperately needs.
However, I'm noticing that talk of the new free-agency seems to crop up. I can't see the seven-year rule factoring in at all as to whether a guy stays up. Borderline guys are going down no matter what, and if the guy's a star today than get him producing now. NHL GM's don't care about 2012 or 2013 when they'll have to deal with Schremp's free agent demands. A) the average lifespan of a GM is too short and B) this seems like a much more "today" league, at least til things even out.


PS. I'm from over on coveredinoil, who fellas do a fine job.

You're right. Winchester is listed as playing all over the place. I don't know why I was under the delusion he was strictly a center - probably a subconscious reflection of every Oiler Fan's dream for a big, strong, true #1 centerman.

I also agree with Randy that the free-agency line is overstated. You're probably right that GM's don't take this too much into account, considering their own shelf-life and considering the amount of player movement these days. They have already shown that they will keep 19 year-olds (Hemsky). The question is whether or not they believe that it helped Hemsky or hurt him, and how much they believe Hemsky helped the team.

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