And On The Fourth Line…

Oiler fans everywhere are looking at this coming season as the first step in a resurgence to greatness.  Ask around, and you’ll get a few different answers on how big that “first step” should be.  Not finishing last would be a good start, although there are many who believe this team will be in the hunt for another high first round pick in 2011.  Maybe 12th place in the West?  10th?

Maybe this team could squeak in at a number 8 spot to play a powerhouse in round one?

Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle.  Hemsky, Penner and Gagner.  These are names that have been thrown around all offseason, well before the premiere of Oilers Revival.  And I think you’d have to agree, each one of these guys are going to be essential to the Oilers revival.

Let’s have a look at who could be on the fourth line on opening night.

ZACK STORTINI

Well Hello, Radim! Have we met? Photo courtesy canada.com

For me, this is the easiest choice, and it might be helped by the fact that he’s been on the 4RW for a while now.  Stortini is your typical fourth line player in that he’s a complete package for his position – at his worst, he’s a pretty good pest.   If you put him next to two other capable fourth liners, Stortini is still a pest, but he’s a pest with hands that can sometimes find paydirt given the appropriate situation.  He does everything I want a fourth line guy to do, and he’s energetic about it.  He hits, he fights, he’s not embarrassing while lugging the puck. At 24, Stortini knows and embraces his role on this team, and he’s an obvious fit on the 2010-11 Oiler 4th line.  Stortini will make 800K this year before becoming a restricted free agent.

’09-’10 STATS -77GP,  4G-9A-13 PTS, 155 PIM

COLIN FRASER

What do you mean Stortini "has my number"? Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

If this team didn’t have Gilbert Brule, I’d say that Fraser could make a big push for third line centre.  Fresh off his Stanley Cup season, it’s obvious that Fraser’s strength comes in his 48.4 faceoff win percentage last year in Chicago, and poor faceoff percentage is a big soft underbelly on this Oiler squad.   Having the 25 year old Fraser on 4C is a pretty big feather in this Oiler team’s cap, considering it only cost them a 6th round pick. Fraser signed a 2 year deal upon becoming an Oiler worth $825K each season.

’09-’10 STATS – 70GP, 7G-12A-19 PTS, 44 PIM, 0 pts in 3 playoff games

And now, it gets a little fuzzy.

ANDREW COGLIANO

Stoic Cogs. Photo courtesy communites.canada.com

Alright, before anyone starts losing their minds, understand that Cogliano has slipped here for a couple reasons

  • It’s the middle of August, and he’s unsigned.  But what about Sam Gagner?  He’s not signed either. Understand that I like Cogliano, but he’s not posting Sam Gagner numbers.  Is there a likelihood that Cogs is signed and Fraser opens up in the AHL?  Anything’s possible, but I wouldn’t go paying someone for the futures on frozen concentrated orange juice anytime soon, Beaks.
  • Cogliano’s numbers are going the wrong way.  Granted, the number of the wins column has gone the wrong way too, but Cogs is coming off of a 28 point (10G-18A) season.  He finished in ’08-’09 with 38, and ’07-’08 with 45.   Remember the final 20 games in the ’07-’08 season where Cogliano had 17 points?  While that’s a lofty goal, we need more of those Cogs.

Andrew’s still young enough to turn the ship around, but I don’t know if it’ll be in an Edmonton sweater.  If he’s an Oiler come October,  there’s a legit chance he sees action on the fourth line.

’09-10 STATS – 82 GP 10G-18A-28 PTS, 31 PIM

JEAN-FRANCOIS JACQUES

Riding the wave. Photo courtesy hockeysfuture.com

Jean Francois Jacques may not have been your number one choice at 4LW before the 2010-11 season, but his contract would beg your pardon. Jacques and the Oilers skipped the arbitration process, and Jacques signed a one year, one way contract for $615K. Normally, I’d say that he’d be a lock to open the season at this point with a one way deal at over $600K, but you’ve got another guy who’s twice the pugilist with half the offence that the oft-injured Jacques can offer on a similar deal. If Jacques has a decent showing this training camp, he’s a pretty good chance to open up at 4LW, but this position is the cloudiest one on the roster.

’09-’10 STATS- 49GP, 4G-7A-11 PTS, 78 PTS

And finally, although not necessarily the last plausible candidate

STEVE MACINTYRE

The Mac is back in town...so don't you mess around...Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

Steve MacIntyre and JF Jacques on the same team?  Yes, it’s true.   You’d think they’re not bloody likely to play on the same team, much less the same line.  But hold the phone, The Big Mac comes back to Edmonton on a one way deal worth $500K this year.

I’d find it very interesting in kind of a Klaus Nomi at Urgh! A Music War kind of way if we saw Jacques, Stortini and MacIntyre on the same line, however I don’t think I’d ever wish it in anything more than a few minutes in an exhibition game.  The end results may rival the near 4-minute ballad of Taylor Chorney and Jason Strudwick against Detroit this past season.

Steve MacIntyre was signed after ending the 09-10 campaign in Florida organisation, and it’s quite obvious that he was picked up for his pugilistic prowess.   He may be sent through waivers once again in the hopes that he’ll put butts in the seats down in OKC, but the whole one-way deal thing is a head-scratcher.  I’d put his likelihood at starting the season on the big club at about 10%, but stranger things have happened.  And if he does begin the 2010-11 campaign in Edmonton, he’s going to punch something that night.

’09-’10 NHL STATS22GP, 0G-1A-1PTS, 24 PIMS

Ryan Jones is another guy who has a spot on this team, although I’m not quite sure where.  Fernando Pisani is a dark horse, but he’s losing light every day on the UFA wire.  If camp shows up and he’s not with another squad, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an invite.

Topics: Andrew Cogliano, Colin Fraser, Fernando Pisani, Jean-Francois Jacques, Ryan Jones, Steve MacIntyre, Zack Stortini

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