Every season has its ups and downs. This season has brought the biggest up (winning wise) for the Oilers since the race for a playoff in the spring of 2008 when Gags and Cogs were rookies. Now we’ve hit a downer that we’ve gotten fairly used to over the last many years. Should the Oil stand pat and wait things out or is now the time to change things up a bit.
I unequivocally believe that some change is absolutely necessary and should happen now. We need a more balanced forward group, and more depth at defence. I agree with realoilfan that now is the time to use some of our forward depth/prospects to snag a top pairing defender. Maybe not a typical “puck-moving defenceman,” but he should be able to move the puck, and play against the opponents top lines. Maybe we can plunder a team like Columbus or the Islanders that are in desperate need of a change. Management seems unwilling to go that way, but I’ve argued for a while that they should (and many others as well).
If we make a trade who do we trade? Most suggest one or more of Omark, Gagner, or Hemsky, but others like Jones or Eager have been mentioned, and I advocated for Khabby’s name to be added to the trade chatter. Maybe I’m a sucker for potential, but I’ld rather see the Oilers trade Hemsky, Eager, and Khabby than Omark or Gagner. Hopefully the Oilers can get something done, and while I understand waiting for the right trade to come along, I just hope that when that trade comes up that management jumps at it.
If however, no realistic trade offerings come (or they refuse to make a trade anyway), change is still necessary. Unlike some people I fully admit that I know less than the coaches and management do, so when I make suggestions they are just that. The first change I would like to see happen is a breakup of the kid line. That happened a bit in the last game with Eberle and Hemsky trading places, but I would like to see a few different looks. First off I would like to see both Paajarvi and Gagner in the top six (or top nine if things are evened out a bit), and preferably on different lines. If the Oilers won’t give Paajarvi more minutes with better quality linemates (maybe Horcoff and Hemsky?) then I think he should go to OK city where he can go on a tear with Omark. If he stays then I would suggest sending down Lander so he can light it up with Omark. On the Oilers webpage there was a report (last line of the team today) that if Gagner is out then he may experiment with Paajarvi at center. I don’t remember who, but I remember someone advocating that once, as he is one of the more defensively minded forwards, and his style is somewhat suited to playing center. I would be all for it. Play him at center for a few games with quality wingers (I would suggest two of Hall, Smyth, Eberle and Hemsky) and see how he does. If it goes well, great, if not move him back to the wing.
Here’s my suggestion for the forward lines, barring any changes (injuries, demotions or Paajarvi to center). I still don’t think it’s perfect, but take it for what it’s worth, and feel free to comment with how you would change things up.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Omark back and then I would put the bottom two lines like this, but I don’t see that happening just yet.