Monday, September 29, 2008

What Does it Take to Crack the Forward Line-up?

Last season Andrew Cogliano was a blur. Coming out of college the then 20 year old flew out of the gates with 7 points in 5 preseason games.

Sam Gagner had a superb training camp but only had 2 points in 5 preseason games.

Robert Nilsson had a solid preseason with 3 points in 4 games.

Marc Pouliot had 1 point in 5 games

JF Jacques was pointless in 4 games as was Patrick Thoresen

Rob Schremp had only 1 point in 3 games

Slava Trukhno was a PPG player in 3 games

The players that broke camp with the Oilers (of the above players) were Cogliano, Nilsson, Gagner, and Pouliot.

What does this tell us? It tells us that the staff was really high on Gagner and that they wanted to give him a look despite an inferior preseason to Cogliano and Nilsson. It also tells us that a number of contenders didn't take the ball and run with it. Pouliot, Jacques, Thoresen, and a recovering Schremp fit that bill.

That's what it took last year to make the club. An incredible camp by Cogliano, Nilsson showed the ability to create offensively, and Gagner showed promise. Pouliot? Well, he just showed up.

So what will it take this year? So far we have (please forgive me as I go off of my memory since's preseason stats aren't currently working)...

Tyler Spurgeon 2gp. 1-0-1

Liam Reddox 2gp. 1-0-1

Rob Schremp 2gp. 0-1-1 1/2SO

Marc Pouliot 2gp. 0-0-0 1/1SO

Gilbert Brule 2gp. 0-0-0 0/1SO

Slava Trukhno 2gp. 0-0-0

Ryan Potulny 1gp. 0-0-0

Potulny doesn't seem to be in the coach's plans much like Schremp and Trukhno appeared that way last year.

Spurgeon is capitalizing on his opportunities like '07-08 Trukhno did, but again good luck at making the squad.

Schremp appears to be following the Robert Nilsson model from last year, putting up some numbers but not blowing the doors off while also concentrating on improving their overall games.

Pouliot? Well, he's Pouliot. I'm sure as far as he's concerned he'd like the regular season to start in spring, because that's usually when he takes his game up to the level where it belongs.

Reddox maybe in the Thoresen mold, a solid, feisty, and semi-skilled player that could play a bottom 6 role on a weaker team but might get beaten out by a guy like Pouliot.

Brule maybe following the Thoresen mold as well. Fast, feisty, good shot, but limited results. IMO to make the team he has to show that he can produce offensively. It has been said that at a past Columbus preseason, Brule was superb, however that quickly ended once the games started counting for real. It's up to him to show that he doesn't need time in the AHL to become the player that he was projected to be at the draft.

Trukhno seems to be following the '07-08 Schremp model, 21 year old with skill, but poor skating and minimal results.

There's still time to see who can up their game and join the "Nilsson category", there are no "Cogliano's" here, but there are a few players that could help the team despite not setting the preseason ablaze.

In the end, the guys that get the most games in are the guys that the coach is still deliberating on and probably the odds on favorites to break camp. Cogliano, Gagner, and Pouliot all had 5 games to show their stuff. Nilsson seemed like the surest bet of the bunch not named Pouliot prior to the preseason and he played in 4.

Judging by this past model, expect some cuts after tomorrow's game and for a player or players to cement their spot(s), and soon.

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