Saturday, 31 March 2012

If you enjoy cardio watch your back

a.m.k. is a relatively fit guy and a pretty competitive athlete for someone who doesn't drink milk, but he has some serious fitness enemies.

I hate runners.

Runners Stampede News Photographers & Cameras at Start of CIBC Run for the Cure in Vancouver
Make room for runners.
Every year, runners flock to Centretown for a variety of races that take place around sun rise, and sometimes run until the early afternoon.

In a practical sense, they've only obstructed me once or twice when I was up for an early weekend stroll near the canal. (OK--I was walking home from a girl's house the next morning, you caught me.) In this case they had blocked off central streets that were my only way of walking home, and much to the dismay of the officers who were charged with brigading this boring event, I ran thru the path when I saw a break in the pack safely to the other side.

Runners are frustrating in a much less practical, but much more annoying way. No, I'm not talking about when they run by you when you are meandering along the sidewalk with your ipod turned up loud so you can't hear the elephant footsteps charging behind you, demanding that you get out of their way--that is annoying too, and sometimes even frightening when you all-of-a-sudden are centimetres from a sweaty old man with a tired but proud look, disgruntedly staring you down, sending you off your feet jumping onto the grass, terrified for your life. Many times I have thought I was about to get jumped, only to realize that it was just an old guy not wanting to hurt his time so he can feel good about his fitness again.

What is worst about runners is how they gather in groups -- and not just running groups, but groups when they get hotels in Centretown for their much-adorned races -- their air of pretension and undeserved sense of entitlement. They talk about running more than an artist talks about art, and talks about it in a way that you know they feel about themselves for being runners. I have nothing against self-esteem -- in fact, I'd love to borrow some of theirs, since they seem to have such a surplus. It's the look they give you when you say you don't run, or how they expect you to say that you wish you did, or how they try to convince of its health benefits and why everyone should run. It makes you feel good AND is good for you, right?

Wrong. Well, not entirely wrong, but kind of. If you are running as much as these nuts are, especially on sidewalks, your knees probably aren't in the greatest shape. Plus, if you are running thru downtown streets like mine, you look like a complete tool unless it's late enough in the evening where there aren't tons of people around. And I'm not talking about the people who go for the occasional jog thru the area at night with their headphones on--once or twice a week, having a brisk jog is a great thing and even admirable. It's those people that take it way too seriously and call it a sport.

Running is even less of a sport than shuffleboard, or even poker or having sex. There are no rules to running; running is moving as fast as you can. Sometimes there is a pre-determined distance to run or a pre-determined time you have to run for. And I guess in races you can't like, bodycheck people or anything (there are some stretches where I bet if you did, no one could see, though). But for the most part, you are just running like a hamster in its cage. And you don't even have the luxury of stopping when you're tired like the hamster does either, unless of course you want to look like a pussy. I was so worried about looking like a pussy once that I threw up after I ran a race. And apparently that's not even abnormal: there are people who regularly throw up after running a race, and in fact they expect it. They think that if they haven't thrown up, it means that they didn't truly give it all that they had.

A real sport.
Wow, is that ever disgusting. If athletes in a real sport threw up after they played each time, no one on the team would want to be friends with them. They certainly wouldn't have a posse like those runners have. So, to all you runners out there, no, I do not like to run.

A startling confession

I have jogged occasionally to find out just how out of shape I am, but I haven't run a race since I was about 15 years old. The last race I ran it was because I accidentally advanced to the south-western Ontario championships for the 800. It must have been a weak field or something in the regional races. It didn't inspire me to go join a club full of other runners.

More hate for the runners

Running is not fun, it is not interesting to watch, and it is not interesting to do. If you want to prove something to yourself about how far and fast you can go, that's great, just don't talk to me about it. I could not care less that you like to get around town a little bit faster than I do when I walk. Hell, if I need to get somewhere quickly, I just take the bus, or if I need to get somewhere really quickly, I just take a cab. Shocking, I know. Running for the sake of running is like using an outhouse and pumping for your own water when you have a perfectly-functioning clean bathroom and access to a plethora of running water. There are other ways to get your exercise and to experience the outdoors.

I am not someone who should be looked down at because I don't want to feel like I am having a panic attack on the home stretch because I can't breathe and my legs gave up blocks ago. My heart isn't meant to pump that fast unless I am seconds away from a threesome with Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman, and then only if I see the proof that they are present and willing to go. Running is not a lifestyle, it's some weird cult that you became obsessed with because you have something to prove to yourself, and perhaps you think you have something to prove to other people to. Don't be a Jehovah's Witness. Don't try to convert the unsaved. You might just get smacked in the nose with a wooden door and have your pamphlets warm my living room with the makeshift fireplace I installed just so I could watch your persuasions burn. Bump into me on my way to work and your knees might get shattered by flailing nunchucks.

a.m.k. is moving closer to the canal sooner. Runners should keep their heads up.

[Images borrowed from Susan Gittins, Mary Carol Williams, and Wikipedia.]

NHL top ten goals review, 3/30/12 edition

- A lot of these goals are produced from sweet backhand passes. Stapleton to Maxwell (10), Ennis to Stafford (9), Crosby to Cooke (6), Zetterberg to Holmstrom (3), and Spezza to Turris (1) all used backhand passes. It always lets guys reach around the defence and get the puck in front of the net.

- The goalie-dekes also mostly end in backhand shots, but those are getting "ordinary" at this point -- players all need quick hands to pull these off, but a lot of players have learned those moves for shootout purposes. The real skill is that guys can lean one way and change skating-direction fast enough for the goalie to fall for it.

- Grabovski and Holmstrom both get credit for picking corners. Dekes always dominate these best-goals lists, and they both sort of had open nets, but they were both managed to take good shots -- Holmstrom even bounces the water bottle. That kind of stuff makes goals happen even without a perfect setup.

- Ryder (7), Perron (5), Grabovski and Spezza all deserve credit for just being faster than the defence. Spezza, in particular, accelerates from a sorta-fixed position and blows past Jim Slater's check completely. Leblanc (8) and Koivu (2) look like they just caught the defence on a line change, whereas Ryder actually walks through the defence because he catches them standing still.

- The best goal here is probably #3, Zetterberg to Holmstrom. It's a powerplay against the Blue Jackets, sure, but Zetterberg shows a ton of vision, catching a surprise pass from the point and remembering the "map" to know where Holmstrom was and draw off both defencemen. The between-the-legs pass isn't just a hot-dog move; it's the legitimate quickest way to hit an open man put the goalie out of position.

Brendan doesn't make enough backhand passes in Saturday ball hockey. He might be cheering for the Red Wings again this year.

Friday, 30 March 2012

A quick thing about Hitler

There's a saying you often hear, when one group of people are neutral and another group of people want to take action, where the impatient people will allege that the neutrality and indifference of good people are all it takes for evil to prevail in the world.

This pearl of wisdom is, I think, a thinly veiled piece of doomsaying, in the style of a superhero movie. If we don't take action now, all will be lost. What the action-people might be hinting at, though they may dance around Godwin's law,  is that the slow-movers of the world paved the way for the rise of Hitler.

And it is, I think, a funny paradox of history, that the heroic destroyer of Hitler, at least to the anglo world, was Winston Churchill. That what was needed to save us all was a man who distrusted liberals and foreigners, a man who liked a good war every now and then. That if Churchill had ever listened to someone like me and played safe, things would have been very, very bad in Europe.

But there is more to the rise of the Nazis than the indifference of good people. There is, for instance, the desperate enthusiasm of good people to go along with anyone who sounds like they've got a plan. There is the blatant racism of good and, more likely, not-good people, to take scapegoats and blame problems on the "other." And there's the dangerous interest of bad people in asking for destruction and re-imagining the world for their own specific priorities.

It may be fair to blame neutral and inactive people for some part of the rise of Hitler. But it would be more fair to blame Hitler and to blame the people did all the Hitler stuff.

Brendan is a socialist but not a nationalist.

[Images lifted from and]

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Figuring out an Oilers roster for next year

a.m.k. is a serious Oilers fan, a serious writer, and a casual Oilers writer. He just got accepted to some pretty sweet grad programs.

At this point in the season, the most exciting thing for me is watching the AHLers on the cusp of making it to the bigs get tried out in the NHL. Part of that excitement fosters a lot of frustration though, because those players are rarely used in the situations in which I would like to see them. Sometimes I wish they would just use the last two call up options soon, just for fun, to give two more people a tryout.

Here are some Oilers who could use a turn before the season ends:

- Linus Omark is playing on your fourth line? I don't care if you don't think he fits into your team next year, at least give the guy a chance. He played well in his half-season last year, and though he's not currently playing spectacular, he's definitely not the worst guy on the team over the last few games either.

Could  use some minutes.
- Hartikainen is getting a decent shot, and they're probably more interested in him for the long haul. I can't really blame them--I like Harty more as a player; he can score at a decent clip (not as well as Omark; and he can get slotted into the lineup pretty much anywhere. He does a lot of what Ryan Jones does, but he's more skilled and a bit more physical -- even if he doesn't kill penalties.

- Maybe the old Russian will have another groin issue and we can give Roy a look in the bigs? I don't think he has what it takes to be an NHL goaltender -- maybe a backup eventually -- but I don't think it would hurt to give him some minutes especially if you aren't going to give Dubnyk the rest of the starts for the year anyway.

- Can we see Ryan Keller up here? I know he's getting old, but he's still in his 20s and he showed pretty well in training camp. He's also the Baron's top-scorer.

- What about Arcobello? No one ever talks about this guy and he was one of the first sent away from camp, but he seems to be a fixture on the top line in OKC and does well. I don't think he's ever been given a serious look, so why not now? If he has no potential he can be sent away; we're going to need to clear room on the 50-man roster starting next season, and even more after that, with the influx of young guys needing contracts who do have legitimate NHL potential.

- Can Chris VandeVelde get another tryout for the 4C job? (Update: They did call him out when Horcoff hurt himself. Good on them for listening to me.) If he works well, maybe Belanger is traded next deadline (or sooner) and VV can step up without a drop off. He showed OK in the bigs last year -- better than O'Marra I thought, and I was surprised that O'Marra was the first 4C call-up option used.

"Trusted  to protect leads."
- The other guy I wouldn't mind seeing as a 4th line option called up is Hunter Tremblay. I knew nothing about this guy going into the year and I still don't know much, but I do know that he has had a really good season and he seems to be continuing to gather speed. He has 5 short-handed goals on the season which is pretty ridiculous for a bottom six player, and he seems to be trusted to protect leads because he scores empty-net goals. He also scores in shootouts. For some reason I think I've heard he can also play centre, which would be helpful.

- Tanner House is a natural centre but doesn't seem to be getting it done nearly as well as Tremblay is, as far as underdogs to make it further -- though his calling card is as a defense-first forward, so his lack of points might not be a terrible thing. What is a bad thing is that House was one of the few cut from the Barons' clear-day roster, which means he's not valuable enough in the AHL to keep him around for the playoffs.

- Lastly, we got this guy named Bryan Rodney in the O'Marra trade who is an offensive defenseman. He sounds like Cam Barker with less upside, but it could still be worth throwing him in the NHL for a few games just to see what he has. It's always easier to give players away if you see they aren't on the verge of threatening for a job in the bigs or even a good call-up option. I presume the Oilers only have him in mind as a potential call up option and moreso as a veteran presence on the farm after Helmer is near retirement and since there are about to be a handful of young defenders making the jump to the AHL next year.

An aside on the Ryan O'Marra saga

Buy low, sell high.
I was surprised when O'Marra was called up, but even more surprised with what he did with the Oilers, and surprised again when he was traded right before the deadline. Maybe they figured he was at the highest value and they have about a billion other 4C options going forward, which is true. Still, hurts a bit to let a guy go when he's playing the best you've seen him (or at least the best I've seen him).

I would've said the same thing had they dealt Gagner, but now I am thinking that it wouldn't have been a terrible idea if there was a good return. Maybe they tried. Although he is still very young so you don't totally know what you can get out of him, and I'd hate to give him away for him to start tearing it up. Yeah he's a 5 year vet but he's 22 and could still take his game to uncharted territories for him.

Oilers' 50 Man Roster for 2012/13

There are more than 50 people that I could see the Oilers signing. And since I think the Oilers pick up a couple UFAs and (hopefully) make a few trades, predicting the 50-man roster gets even harder. For simplicity's sake, I will assume that they are picking up one NHL defender, let's say via free agency, and leaving the rest as is, though I bet they'll take a couple of college free agents too. They haven't made an indication they are going goaltender shopping, which means that next year we might be stuck with Dubnyk starting 55 games or so and Khabby starting the rest into his retirement. I guess they want to finish like 10th place in the West or something, which is probably about the worst plan I've ever heard.

Goalies (5)



They have Khabby, Roy and now Bunz signed through next season, and unless they make a trade, they are going to re-sign Dubnyk. The biggest uncertainty here for me is Danis, who is playing very well in the AHL, but with at least Roy graduating to the AHL next season, they might want to get him to split time with someone else and free up an NHL roster spot, so they might re-sign LeNevue to an AHL-only contract and give Danis away.

I still think that they give away LeNevue, though, who has been a good backup this year for Danis getting lots of starts, since he might get some kind of crappy prospect or AHL player in return. That way, they have Danis as the first NHL call up option and don't have to rely on Roy, who doesn't look as poised to be in the top league yet. Perhonen and Tuohimaa, the two overseas goaltenders, don't need to be signed yet, and perhaps it's North America bias or draft pedigree or because I haven't seen them play, but I'm not really counting on either to do anything.


With all of the blueliners in Junior looking to make the jump, it'll be interesting to see who the Oilers decide to sign in the off-season. It could be a tell as to who they think their best prospects are, but it will also be related to their ages and whether they have another year of Junior eligibility. I am going to assume that they aren't dumb enough to resign Cam Barker. I am also going to assume that one of Whitney or Peckham is sent away -- probably Peckham because there will be a team wanting him, and we have Teubert who could maybe take his place in another year. (Actually, I'd rather give Teubert away than Peckham, but that's probably my bias because I've seen Peckham have some good games whereas I've seen Teubert play well like twice. Their age difference isn't actually all that great, either, but let's still say that Peckham is dealt.)

Defense (14):
Free agent signing



For the AHL, you'll see there are five defenders listed. I'd save the last two spots for two AHL-only deals, with one of either Yeo or Ringwald, who apparently have both played well this year, and Tulupov. The other of Yeo or Ringwald can head back to ECHL and be call-up number one, or traded.

Normally few players with NHL contracts are stuck in the ECHL, but there is just no room anymore, unless the Oilers are cleaning house. The problem with that is that they don't want to give up on defensemen too early. The only D-man listed here that isn't a prospect hunting for an NHL job is Rodney -- and really, you might want at least one veteran call-up option if your team plans on challenging for a playoff spot.

AHL superstar Alex Plante.
I can see one of Davidson or Blain not getting signed and perhaps Plante traded. It was a bit of a toss up between Plante and Chorney for me which one would stay and which would leave, and I chose to let Plante stay mostly because he's a couple years younger and he made the first-team AHL all-star team this year, so that's a good sign. Chorney shows well at the AHL but is older and in all of his call ups looks lost. Plante does have concussion issues, though.

Otherwise, I can see Helmer saying goodbye this year or signing elsewhere for a year, since we don't really have room for a 39-year old AHL-only defenseman anymore. Montgomery didn't make the AHL clear day roster over Yeo or Ringwald, so that's not good for him. Lowery got sent to the ECHL about a third of the way through the year, but good for him for managing to impress enough to go from nothing to an AHL deal. I can see him in the ECHL next year but unless he has a stellar summer I don't seem him back in the AHL for the Barons. I could also see Montgomery in the ECHL, but he can probably get an AHL job somewhere else.

The five defenders I've chosen to keep off this list and have remain in junior are Gernat, Bigos, Klefbom, Musil and Simpson. It's an age thing. Gernat still have more years he can play in Junior, and even though he is a better prospect than Blain or Davidson, I don't think a year dominating Junior will hurt. Bigos has another year of NCAA eligibility and I hope he gets the call to the AHL soon since his season is done already, but unless he is very impressive I bet he goes back to college because of numbers. The only downside is that he might elect not to sign with the Oilers; he'll become UFA only a few months after he graduates, and with his size, he'll get signed somewhere for sure, so not signing him might be a risk. Klefbom has one more year left on his Sweden contract anyway and he doesn't seem to be tearing it up or anything (he went almost the entire year with 0s across his boxcar), so another year there will be good I think. No need to sign him because Oilers won't lose his rights if they don't, as far as I know. Musil should have another year in Junior and Simpson in NCAA, again, because of numbers. If anyone ahead on the depth chart doesn't impress, expect them to lose their spot to these guys being graduated in fall 2013.


The forwards are also interesting, but to me the more interesting part of the forwards is who will be on the NHL roster. I think they will be giving away more forwards than defense because I think they know more what they have in lots of these players and it's just a matter of tightening up and cutting off the loose ends. Guys who haven't performed great might be given another year (Pitlick, Hamilton), but there is a tight leash.

Forwards (28):


Kytnar is overseas now, and though I like him, it seems like he's done. House has another year left on his contract but I can see him being given away. Goodbye Hordichuk, please. I bet they give away Omark and someone else for a draft pick or 2LW. Maybe Gagner goes? Or for a goaltender. Pelss and Czerwonka can be returned to Junior, but I think there's an off-chance one of them makes the majors, probably Pelss if I had to pick. Kellen Jones is still waiting for a contract, and I think he'll still be waiting, though he's showing well in NCAA for his low draft pedigree. I am betting Tremblay gets resigned and VV might not, but I'm not sure so I left him in.

That's 47 roster spots. That's room enough to sign their first round pick and have the ability to sign two more guys. I bet a few of the guys listed above get traded though along with the others I mentioned and some fresh blood is brought in. At this point, I'd list the "expendable" Oilers as Abney, Martindale, Rajala, VandeVelde, Green, Petrell, Belanger, Eager, Gagner, Blain, Davidson, Rodney, Teubert, Plante, Marincin, Potter, Sutton, Whitney, Danis, Khabby and Dubnyk. I wouldn't trade any of them away for a bag of pucks, but that list makes 21 current players I'd be OK without.

a.m.k. may never have actually been to Edmonton.

[Images grabbed from Wikipedia,, Copper & Blue, and]

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

How to eat at McDonald's

Brendan M. is an otherwise-reasonable human being.

Eating at McDonald's is a shameful and unproductive thing to do, but lots of people still do it. Here are some tricks I've picked up to help make the experience comfortable.


Schedule around the high schoolers. Lunchtime and 4PM are risky times to go to a McDonald's.

Switch up which McDonald's you go to. You don't want the staff to recognize you at any single franchise.

Don't go on weekend nights. McDonald's will be crowded and understaffed on those nights. You'll have a bad time, and you'll be a burden to the staff.

Don't get soft drinks. You can get cheap soft drinks anywhere.

Sit by the window. You'd rather look out at the world than look in at the rest of the McDonald's.

Use the value menu. Everyone should know this by now. If you aren't a cheapskate, then why are you at McDonald's?

The real reason for going to McDonald's is probably that I'm too young to really appreciate my own mortality. But here's I justify to myself any trip to McDonald's.


1. "I'm running low on paper McDonald's cups to use at home."

2. "Nothing else is open 3:00 AM."

3. "I have half an hour until my ride shows up."

4. "I have to dump all these pennies and nickels into the children's fund box."

5. "At least I walked all this way to the McDonald's."

Brendan goes for regular walks and has a kitchen full of spinach and oatmeal. He may or may not have ingested McDonald's food while writing these lists.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Oilers in a Post-Gilbert Era

A.M.K. is a smart guy and a deadly-serious Edmonton Oilers fan. He reflects on their 2012 lineup and sketches out the team's future.

On trading away Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz

There seems to be mostly negative evaluation of Tambellini and friends on the deadline day trade that happened like a car crash in the middle of nowhere. At this point I have not studied Schultz' game enough to offer a particularly intelligent opinion of him, but overall I agree with most of the comments infiltrating the blogosphere in that this trade seems to be a loss for Edmonton. That being said, I don't hate it.

Tom Gilbert / Nick Schultz
The trade can be considered a loss for various reasons. On the surface, Gilbert is one of the Oilers' top point-producing defenseman, and even though I wouldn't label him an offensive defenseman as many people do, he definitely has offensive ability. Offensive ability on a team whose defensive severely lacks such a thing. Minus one on the trade here.

Gilbert has averaged more ice time than anyone else on the squad in the past several years, meaning that he can be counted on to log a lot of minutes. He has logged these minutes sporting a much better plus/minus than the overall team, and he usually faces tough competition. His zone starts are not dominate in either way. Schultz on the other hand does not log as many minutes as Gilbert, but he does log over 20. I haven't seen anyone mention this yet, but perhaps if Schultz were on the Oilers over the past few years and Gilbert on the Wild, their minutes would be reversed. Furthermore, there is a difference between eating up a lot of minutes and being effective and eating up a lot of minutes and screwing up. Normally you'd think that if you eat up minutes you are entrusted to do so, meaning you don't make a lot of mistakes. This is the Oilers we're talking about though, and part of the reason Gilbert has been a minutes-eater has been because they don't really have anyone else. That being said, Gilbert is effective in almost every situation and dependable.

Schultz is counted on for even strength and penalty kill minutes and is similarly dependable in all the situations in which he is asked to play. On the surface this looks like an immediate loss--two guys, not prone to errors, who give you what you want in the situations they are asked to play, except one can play on the power play and add points.

A digression on powerplay defencemen

I would argue that Gilbert is the fourth-best PP defender on the Oilers at this point, behind Whitney, Potter and Petry. Actually I like Potter better on the first unit at this point--he seems to be a bit quicker with the pass and less prone to letting the puck hop over his stick and generally better at keeping the puck in--but neither are ideal guys if there is a breakout by the other team's PK. Whitney is immobile and Potter is terrible at defending 2-1 rushes. That being said, I still don't think Gilbert is needed for the PP on this team right now, seeing as they only run one defender (usually) on it. Even with injuries, I see the Oilers either adding a #5 guy or a top pairing guy before next season who can play on the PP. So even though Gilbert can be used on the PP, he doesn't need to be, and is not a better option than we already have. Redundancy is the issue here.

So why would we want to add Schultz instead of Gilbert?

Nick Schultz getting tough.
It has to do with the direction management wants the D to go in. I half like this decision because I think the Oilers are too soft on D right now. Gilbert is good positionally and a good defender but I don't think he is particularly scary or tough to play against. I think only Smid is tough and good positionally (Suttion just tough), and from what I hear about Schultz, his defensive positioning is even more sound than Gilbert's and he is harder to play against. He has sound positioning with his angles in the defensive zone and he is more likely to rough you up a bit if you cross him.

How it affects the rest of the team

I half don't like this decision because I'm worried that a tougher D means that they are not as concerned now about adding a tough top-6 left winger. I don't not think Pajaarvi cuts it right now. He might later, but he doesn't now. Ideally we add a tough first line left-winger via free agency (I can't see how they'd manage this) or we draft Forsberg and hope he's tough and is skilled enough to play on the top line. Penner again? He must be cheap right now. I will grudingly accept another year where no one quite fits the bill, but by 2013's camp we need someone ready to step into this position and fly with it. The other thing that I can see happening is drafting Grig as the 2nd line centre and trading Gagner and a couple prospects that aren't looking like great fits (plus Peckham and/or a pick) in exchange for a #1 left winger. This is probably the most plausible option and the most immediately effective one, which hurts me to write because I like Gagner. Ideally though he puts on a good show the last twenty games enough to have high value and it's a charade of talent so the Oil get top dollar for him.

What I think the defensive move boils down to, as has been mentioned, is a huge vote of confidence for Petry and a prayer that Whitney regains form. I like part one but am pessimistic with part two. Ideally I am wrong and Whitney regains form and Petry is what he looks like--if Petry keeps improving and Whitney comes back (the real Whitney) we could have a decent top pairing with a really good shut down pairing in Smid and Schultz. Or we could have Petry/Smid and Whitney/Schultz if Whitney isn't 100%, which is a more likely conclusion in my opinion. Not terrible, but not great, and certainly not elite.

High hopes for Jeff Petry.
It would be nice if the Oil pick up a top pairing defensive, get rid of Whitney (again, I am pessimistic) and either pick up a young up-and-coming defenseman as guy #5 or pray that Fedun recovers 100% and turns out quickly. I like Fedun more for next year than any other prospect stepping in at this point, even with his injury. Sutton and Potter can be 6/7. If you are counting on Fedun as #5 instead of first call up though, any injuries come to our top 5 we are screwed. Give me a young Leafs defenseman please; they have plenty still, even with Aulie gone. Has the ship sailed on Schenn?

What should happen in the next six months?

Ideally, in my head, some variation of this:

- draft Grigorenko at #2 overall (and stop winning games already goddamnit)
- or, win the lottery and grab Yakupov as our #1 LW; it will mean Gagner is 2C, Horcoff 3C and Belanger 4C, or Lander 3C/Horcoff 4C, and although all those people can probably handle those assignments, injuries = we're screwed because no one can move up in the depth chart effectively and not only that I don't think those players will excel in higher positions as much as if they were dropped down a peg with a big strong talented 2C

- trade Gagner, Whitney and Peckham for a #1 left winger to play with RNH and Eberle. Throw in Martindale and a pick if they want them.

- or, just sign one via UFA and not give up anyone; it could happen, right?

- Sign a UFA top pairing defender (or trade for one) to play with Petry/Smid/Schultz
- Sign a #5 defender as insurance in case Fedun doesn't pan out
- Get rid of other excess for draft picks or prospects

There, wasn't that fun? If no one wants Belanger/he greatly improves his game over the last regular season games, I would be okay with keeping him as 4C and leaving Lander down for another year. 2013 Lander can come up for 3C and Horcoff down to 4 if need be, or deadline deal Belanger next year and have Lander step up then. Perhaps Vandevelde can step in too if need be, people in OKC seem to like him as a 4C guy and he didn't look bad in his call-up last year.

Where does this leave next year's lines?

I'm glad you asked.

Trade guy - RNH - Eberle
Hall - Grig - Hemsky
Smyth - Horcoff - Omark
Harty - Belanger - Jones
Petrell, Eager

UFA - Petry
Smid - Schultz
Trade/Fedun - Sutton

OR, if we get lucky and win the lottery, how's this:

Yakupov - RNH - Eberle
Hall - Gagner - Hemsky
Harty - Horcoff - Omark
Smyth - Belanger - Jones
Petrell, Eager

UFA - Petry
Smid - Schultz
Fedun - Sutton

And lastly, option #3 in my head, which is what I actually think might be most doable:

Hall - RNH - Eberle
Who will it be?
Pajaarvi - Grig - Hemsky
Harty - Gagner - Omark
Smyth - Horcoff - Jones
Petrell, Eager

UFA - Petry
Smid - Schultz
Fedun - Sutton

A.M.K. was born sometime between the Gretzky trade and the Oilers' last Stanley Cup. He's not much of a sports fan, but he's a huge Oilers fan and a dedicated writer. He probably won't bother watching any playoff games this year.

[Images grabbed from Copper & Blue, The Edmonton Journal,, and]