Oct 162013

Sam Gagner and Boyd Gordon

So what happens when Sam comes back?  Even though the Edmonton Oilers are mired in a tough stretch to start the 2013-14 NHL season, there have been a few bright spots on the roster. The most prominent being the play of unheralded centre Mark Arcobello. The primary fear entering the season were the injuries to both of the team’s top two pivots, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, and the organization’ s paper-thin depth to replace them. Arcobello has not only filled in admirably, he leads the team’s centres in scoring and is the second best face-off man behind free agent acquisition Boyd Gordon.

Gagner is planning on coming back ahead of schedule, so what do the Oilers do when he reappears?

Mark Arcobello

One of the fears of many Oilers’ fans prior to the start of training camp was Sam Gagner’s 5’11’ frame. The irony is that with his injury an even smaller player took his place in the form of Arcobello, who stands at a tiny 5’8″ and 166lbs.  However, size hasn’t been a deterrent with Arcobello and he has not looked out of place; he has provided a solid presence on the top two scoring lines and posted positive possession numbers.

Can the Oilers send Arcobello back to OKC and expect him to clear waivers?

The answer to that question is ‘no’. He has shown enough to start the season that it is more than likely a team would put in a claim. The better bet would be to either send Will Acton to the press box or to the farm and use Boyd Gordon in his customary 3rd/4th line role. To those who will argue, “but Gordon’s our leading goal scorer!”- it should be pointed out that Gordon’s shooting percentage is an unsustainable 36.4% and he has never scored more than 8 goals in a season. It is very unlikely he will lead the team for long. Will Acton has been good on the dot winning 54.8% of his draws, but he has been bleeding chances to the other team and the ice has a definite tilt towards the Oilers goal when he is on the ice. It would be better for a team which endeavors to play a puck possession game to move Acton out.

Will Acton

A lineup with Gagner could be envisioned as such:

Hall – RNH – Eberle

Perron – Gagner – Yakupov

Smyth- Arcobello – Hemsky

Joensuu – Gordon – Brown/Gazdic/Jones

( insert your own variations)

The point is the Oilers could roll three skill lines and one dedicated and effective checking line; a checking line that doesn’t have to concede a grossly uneven number of chances to the other team.

Combine that with some semi-competent goaltending and the season may not be over yet.

Until next time,

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One of the three bloggers who founded of Oilers Addict in 2011. I also contribute over at The Oilers Rig.com. I ran 77kms in a single day in May of 2015 from Leduc to Camrose and raised over $23,000 dollars for the MS Society of Canada. I'll be doing it again this May. If you would like to learn more visit TheReallyLongRunToEndMS.ca. I also blog and podcast (YEG MS) about my battle with MS at Own Multiple Sclerosis.com. I can be contacted through that website.

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 Posted by at 12:36 pm

  6 Responses to “So what happens when Sam comes back?”

  1. I thought Smyth worked well with Eberle and Arcobello when he hit the net, Hemsky also seemed to work well with Hall….might just switch those two around. I think 1st/2nd/3rd can be interchangeable and compete for 1st line honors. Make each line dependent on working together for 1st line rights….it shouldn’t be a given.

    Hall – RNH – Hemsky

    Perron – Gagner – Yakupov

    Smyth- Arcobello – Eberle

    Joensuu/Pitlick – Gordon – Brown/Gazdic/Jones

  2. dam I didn’t know Mark Arc had to clear waivers to be sent down… definitely complicates things, and I agree that someone would claim him.

  3. Hall-Rnh-Hemsky

  4. As long as Hemsky isn’t in the top 6 I am happy. He is skilled offensively, but way too hard to play with. I believe he needs a very capable defensive specialist with him.

    My lines would look like this;

    Hall – RNH – Yakupov
    Perron – Gagner – Eberle
    Joensuu – Gordon – Hemsky
    Smyth – Acrobello – Jones/Acton/Brown

  5. @codybrentanderson I love the idea of having Yakupov on the first line. Also, I would agree Joensuu and Smyth could be switched. I like how you dropped Gazdic- I think the fourth line has been a black hole chances-wise, and he’s just not enough of an actual hockey player.

  6. @Kooler agreed.


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