Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bergeron = Err(or) Be Gon(e)

The trades are starting to heat up.
Maligned scapegoat du jour Marc-Andre Bergeron, an undrafted free agent, has been traded to the Islanders for Russian reverse-defector Denis Grebeshkov.
I wonder if Garth Snow had much to do with it or if he just rubber-stamped the deal and went back to sleep in the GM's comfy chair? I haven't been following that shitshow of an NHL office since that crazy-ass move on a crazy-ass team (retiring a goalie and naming him GM).

Grebeshkov is currently playing with two-time Oiler Igor Ulanov, Oiler-for-a-millisecond Alexei Mikhnov and another player who appeared twice with Edmonton - Brett Hauer - in Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. He chose to play there rather than bounce up and down in the minors with the Islanders.Will he appear with the Oilers this year? With the Russian transfer system so goofy, we'll have to wait and see. We should know soon.

Grebeshkov was drafted in the 2002 cattle call 18th overall with the LA Kings' first pick. This was the same draft that the Oilers drafted Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. The Oilers actually picked Jesse Niinimaki two picks ahead of LA's choice of Grebeshkov with the 16th pick.
The 2002 draft was also the year that Anaheim selected Joffrey Lupul.
Grebeshkov was the 18th pick and the 6th defenceman picked that year, behind blueliners like Jay Bouwmeester and Joni Pitkanen (both coveted by Oilers fans and possibly already courted unsuccessfully by Kevin Lowe - might as well head further down the list).

The Russian should be an improvement on Bergeron - at some point. He is 22 and is said to have great puck skills and some aggression.

So...that's the facts. My opinion? I'm sure everyone is waiting for this. You never get opinions in the Oilogosphere, do you.

I'll miss Bergeron's shot. You know, the one that worked. The shot he takes from just outside the faceoff circle. That one seemed to be struck from the right distance to allow the puck to rise to a height just under the crossbar. If he shot from the point, the puck was usually too high if it made it to the net or a defender or blocking forward would be lucky enough to catch it on a shin before it would make it to the net at all.

I'll miss the fact that a guy who was overlooked in his draft year managed to distinguish himself enough to be considered a real NHL player. I love the underdog.

I'll miss having a speedy player on the team. The Oilers are just a little slower as a team right now. Toby Petersen is now the de facto speedster.

The Oilers also gave up a bargain basement player. His low-ish salary, combined with the fact that he is capable of scoring made him useful. The depth chart, unfortunately, required the team to overuse Bergeron and more ice time just unmasked his faults. When he started with the team, he provided some energy, some speed, a decent shot and one really kick-ass open ice hit on Brenden Morrow. Bergy also will require all those minutes replaced by someone. I imagine Mathieu Roy will fill in on the roster, but who will be on the powerplay? More Petersen?

I will not miss his passes to no one or his passes to the opponents or the fact that he had speed to spare but wouldn't use it when it was needed. Didn't seem to have the judgment to come with the speed.

This trade seems like it could be the first step in Kevin Lowe's series of deals Version 2007. Lowe is reported to be meeting with Don Meehan today and then flying to Naples, Florida for a round of GM meetings.
I imagine that deals have been brewing for awhile and the GMs are waiting to see who moves first. The big deal between Nashville and Philly for Peter (Foppa) Forsberg may have cracked the dam a bit. In between golf games and Everglades tours, I'm sure a lot of kicked tires could result in deals down in FLA.

We'll see what happens next. The Ryan Smyth contract is probably holding up other decisions. The Oilers losing two of three road games so far is probably forcing some decisions.

NOTE: While researching Grebeshkov's numbers in Yaroslavl, I noticed that Mikhnov has three goals in four games so far.

NOTE 2: 8 of 51 respondents to our poll (who will be the first Oiler traded?) selected Bergeron. Time for a new one....


Anonymous said...

I am Russian myself and an Oilers fan for 25 years. I know that russian forvards are very good but not defenceman. K. Lowe would not pick up Samsonov, but would trade for Grebeshkov. Everything he did since he became a GM is a shame, including trading for players last year why had no intention of staing in Edmonton. Insted of new players Oilers need new GM.

young d said...

Russian Oiler fan,eh?
You should take a peek at The gang there have organized a party in honour of Ulie. If you're in Edmonton, you should join them for the party.

Kind of interesting mentioning that Russian players are usually known for scoring goals, not preventing them. There have been way more Bures than Mironovs.
Hopefully this Yaroslavl(ite?) is a keeper.

Jordi said...

I miss him already. And I hated this guy. It's like batman losing his nemesis.... robin? Whatever.