Breaking Down The 2010-11 Oilers With Jason Gregor
Neil Bristow is back with NHL Digest and this week has a great one on one with Edmonton’s sports guru Jason Gregor from the Team 1260 in Edmonton to talk about the state of the Edmonton Oilers.
Jason Gregor- I’ll go with Magnus Paajarvi. He’s played the last three years in Sweden playing against men and I think he’ll make the jump to the NHL the quickest. He is a phenomenal skater, and he will start the season playing with Ales Hemsky so he should put up some point.
Neil Bristow – Out all the players you have saw this training camp and preseason games, who do you see the biggest improvement from so far?
Jason Gregor – Shawn Horcoff looks reborn so far. He changed his off-season training to focus lots on one-legged workouts and he looks faster than ever. With all the turnover in Edmonton, Horcoff will be called upon to lead the kids. I expect him to be named captain before the season starts, and he will have a bounce back year.
Neil Bristow – Ethan Moreau (9 goals 9 assists 18pts in 76gms ), who is now with the Columbus Blue Jackets was a leader for the Oilers at every angle the time wearing Oilers colors. Who takes over that role in the dressing room now that Moreau has gone elsewhere?
Jason Gregor – Horcoff will be the main guy, but they will need more than just one guy. Ryan Whitney wants to be a leader and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind. I also think one of the young “veterans”, like Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano or Gilbert Brule need to emerge as leaders.
Neil Bristow – From what I have saw this early preseason the guy that stood out for me the most is Magnus Paajarvi (3 goals – 1 assist ),Who’s game does his style remind you of? Can Oilers fans get excited about this kid?
Jason Gregor – They are already excited about him, and they should be. I think he skates like Mike Modano, but he needs to learn to shoot more. He reminds me a little bit like Daniel Alfredsson. A solid all-around game, but Paajarvi will be an impact player way sooner than Alfredsson was when he came into the league.
Neil Bristow – Did former Oilers front man Pat Quinn get a raw deal? What exactly is his position now with the Oilers?
Jason Gregor – I don’t think he did. Quinn is a great guy, but he wasn’t organized behind the bench last year. I don’t think he was able to communicate with his players very well, on how he wanted them to play. His role is a bit vague right now, but most of his focus will be on helping scouting other teams, and helping out with the coaches in the AHL and even the Oilers. Renney and him are still close, and Renney wants to lean on Quinn when it comes to the tendencies of other coaches around the league.
Neil Bristow – Shawn Horcoff had a rough go last season, have you noticed any changes to his game to make you believe and Oilers fans believe he is coming back to whom he was before he signed the big deal?
Jason Gregor – He looks better than ever so far. He is much faster, and his shoulder is completely healed now. I’m not sure he will get 73 points, but if he can get 65 and help mentor the kids the organization will be happy. I don’t think he will ever produce enough points to live up to his contract.
Neil Bristow – What is your thoughts on the Sheldon Souray story (4 goals – 9 assists and 13 pts, minus –19- last year )? When do you think he will be moved or if you think he will be moved at all?
Jason Gregor – He will be assigned to the minors or traded by Wednesday. The Oilers don’t want him as one of 23 guys on the roster, so Steve Tambellini will make a move before Wednesday. So far Tambellini hasn’t received any offers that he likes, and I’m not sure that will change by Wednesday.
Neil Bristow – Mark Bell in 2007 got busted for a D.U.I. and the NHL suspended him 15 games. With Nik Khabibulin getting caught as well do you see the NHL handing Khabibulin a similar suspension in the future?
Jason Gregor – Bell was charged with hit and run as well, so the cases are a bit different. I don’t see Khabibulin getting a long suspension from the league. Once his appeal process is over, and we see what his punishment is, I think the league should suspend him for a few games. He blew 0.164, so he was clearly intoxicated, but many other players in the league have DUIs and haven’t been suspended. Bell was because of the hit and run. I don’t see the league doing anything, even though I think they should.
Neil Bristow – The Oilers seem to be stock piled in the goaltenders position this year.Khabibulin,Dubnyk,J.D and Former Sens’ Martin Gerber. You would think one would get cut. Do you see that happening? Thoughts on the goalie situation in Edmonton?
Jason Gregor – Gerber is only here as an injury option. He was assigned to the minors last week, and I suspect Jeff Deslauriers will be the odd man out when the Oilers announce their 23-man roster. I think they signed Gerber for the following scenario. When Khabibulin inevitably goes on the IR, even for a few games, the Oilers can recall Gerber to back up Dubnyk. If they recall Deslauriers, he might get claimed on re-entry waivers, but I don’t see anyone taking Gerber. I don’t think Gerber looked that good in the preseason.
Neil Bristow – You are on twitter (http://twitter.com/JasonGregor).What are your thoughts on athletes on twitter? Tampa Bay goalie Dan Ellis recently made some comments on twitter about taking a pay cut and in fact upset a lot of people. The next day Dan Ellis said he was leaving twitter for good. What’s your thoughts on the whole
Dan Ellis twitter story (Puck Daddy on Dan Ellis’ Twitter ) ?
Jason Gregor – I think it is great if athletes go on twitter, but don’t expect every fan to love you. As a talk show host, I get all sorts of emails or twitter responses that disagree with what I say. Dan Ellis’ comment that he worried more about money now than when he was in college, was ignorant. He has made a few million dollars the past few years, why would he expect people to sympathize with him. No one wants to lose 18% of their salary, I get that, but players just need to be smart in how they word things. Ellis sounded like he is a little thin-skinned, and that is too bad. It would have blown over in a week, but he jumped ship. There are lots of other NHLers on twitter, and I’m sure we will see more very soon.
Neil Bristow – Do you think Kurtis Foster can replace Sheldon Souray’s point shot? Is there a replacement on this young Oilers team?
Jason Gregor – Foster shoots the puck hard, but he is one notch below Souray. Foster will probably hit the net more often, and keep his shot lower, which could lead to more deflections, so he’ll be an adequate replacement. He doesn’t bring Souray’s nasty streak though.
Neil Bristow – If you where head coach of the Edmonton Oilers and from what you have seen this far what are your projected pairings heading into opening night?
Jason Gregor – Whitney and Tom Gilbert were a pair at the end of last season, and they played great together. Foster will play with Ladislav Smid and I see Jim Vandermeer being the 5th guy and he’ll play with Jason Strudwick or Theo Peckham or Richard Petiot. Petiot and Peckham are battling for the final spot on the blueline. Petiot has been the biggest surprise in camp so far. The 28-year-old AHL journeyman has played great, and if they picked the team today he might beat out Peckham. The only reason Peckham makes it ahead of Petiot is if the Oilers are worried someone would claim Peckham on waivers.
Neil Bristow – What are your thoughts on the arena project? What is the latest on Katz getting a building done in downtown Edmonton?
Jason Gregor – We need a new rink in Edmonton, plain and simple. Figure out a mixture of public and private funding and make it happen. Rexall Place is the 2nd oldest rink in the league and the city needs a new facility. It is election time in Edmonton, and once the new council is voted in at the end of this month, I’d expect an announcement in early 2011 that a rink is coming.
Neil Bristow – Will the 2010-2011 Edmonton Oilers bring the Oilers faithful out to the “blue mile” this spring? Where do you see them finishing ?
Jason Gregor – Smack yourself Neil. Edmonton doesn’t copy anything Calgary does. We don’t have a Blue Mile…ha. There is lots of hope and optimism in Edmonton right now, but I’m not sure they are playoff ready just yet. The problem is the Oilers aren’t bad enough to be a bottom five team, which would get them another lottery pick. I suspect they will finish 9th, 10th or 11th this year. If Khabibulin can stay healthy they might battle for the final playoff spot, but that is a big if.
Neil Bristow – Do you know if Mike Comrie was offered a contract with the Oilers?
Jason Gregor – No he wasn’t. The Oilers are in a rebuilding mode, and despite Comrie and the city kissing and making up last year, they wanted to give their young kids a chance to play. Comrie won the lottery signing in Pittsburgh, and if he stays healthy I bet he scores 25-30 goals.
Neil Bristow – Can you tell readers what you do and where they can read your writings and hear you on the dial?
Jason Gregor – They can read my stuff at www.oilersnation.com or listen to my show at www.jasongregor.com
Neil Bristow – What is your thoughts on having two Heritage Classics this year? Do you kind of think it spoils it having two this season instead of the regular one?
Jason Gregor – Not really. It is all about TV money. The winter classic on New Years is becoming more popular every year in the States, so maybe watching another outdoor game in Calgary will generate a bit of interest. But this is all about making money. I don’t think it hurts the game at all to have two of them.
Neil Bristow – who makes the Stanley Cup Finals this year?
Jason Gregor – Hard to pick without having seen one regular season game, but I will go with Washington and Los Angeles. They are my surprise team, although Detroit looks damn good again.
Neil Bristow – What is your greatest moment hosting your own radio sports show on the Team 1260?
Jason Gregor – Having the ability to talk to so many different people from all walks of life. I don’t know if I have one specific moment that stands out. If I had to pick one it would be our annual radiothon for the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Hearing from the parents and the sick kids and realizing how much strength they have is powerful. We raised over a million dollars in one day last year between our three stations in Edmonton. It was awesome and I look forward to that day every year.
I would like to thank Jason Gregor of the team 1260 in Edmonton for his time once again.
Please check out his show weekdays Monday – Friday 2pm till 6pm on Edmonton’s sports radio the Team 1260 and his sites JasonGregor.com and The Team 1260.com