Monday, July 13, 2009

How Much Improvement Can Be Expected With A New Coaching Staff In Place?

The team roster presumably isn't finished yet, but let's look at the players that remain from the train wreck that was the '08-09 season.....

Shawn Horcoff: He most certainly didn't play at the same level that he did before a season ending shoulder injury the year before.
Low Side Improvement: 2 goals and 5 points
High Side Improvement: 10 goals and 20 points

Dustin Penner: Misused and left for dead by the former coach. Penner is a guy that's both young enough and talented enough to leap forward in his production this season.
Low Side Improvement: 3 goals and 6 points
High Side Improvement: 13 goals and 23 points

Sam Gagner:
Suffered horribly from the sophomore jinx for much of the season before once again finishing the season strong.
Low Side Improvement: 0 goals and 6 points
High Side Improvement: 5 goals and 25 points

Andrew Cogliano: Tossed into a defensive role, Cogliano could benefit from a more offensive role this season.
Low Side Improvement: 2 goals and 7 points
High Side Improvement: 7 goals and 17 points

Robert Nilsson:
Another player that was much maligned by the former coaching staff, he has the talent to improve drastically on last seasons totals. Will he be here come the start of the season? If so is he ready to put in the work to succeed?
Low Side Improvement: 1 goal and 8 points
High Side Improvement: 8 goals and 30 points

Patrick O'Sullivan: Contract issues kept him from having the break out season that was expected of him, got worse the longer he was here after the trade.
Low Side Improvement: 4 goals and 7 points
High Side Improvement: 12 goals and 21 points

Marc Pouliot: Never seemed to be a favorite of the coach, would get bits and pieces of playing time and would oddly get less playing time when he seemed to be at his best or fresh off of those stretches.
Low Side Improvement: 2 goals and 5 points
High Side Improvement: 7 goals and 15 points

Other players that should benefit greatly from a new coach but didn't play enough to set a realistic bar for themselves.

Rob Schremp: One way or another the Oilers will have to deal with the well known prospect that has only seen 7 NHL games since turning pro. The downside is no different than it was last year, the upside is that of a cheap 2nd line forward and 2nd PP unit QB.

Gilbert Brule: Another player that faces waivers, Brule should get a chance with the team and his contributions should be greater than they were last year in a limited amount of games.

Theo Peckham: A physical player that provides energy and toughness, two things that the former coach never seemed to appreciate unless it came bundled up in a 5'10" 180 lb. package minus the pugilistic prowess.

JF Jacques: Another player that plays a physical game and a guy that seemed unsure of what the coach expected of him. I expect to see him become a solid 4th line NHLer next season.

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers: The new coaching staff would be hard pressed to not show more confidence in JDD than what MacTavish did or should I say didn't.

It is entirely possible that these players will not only not improve but actually regress, however it is my opinion that a number of them will blow their '08-09 stats out of the water. This is assuming that the roster doesn't change much between now and the start of the season. If this team doesn't get bolstered prior to the start of the '09-10 season, we will need some significant improvement from 3-4 key forwards and virtually no significant regression or injuries if the Oilers are to be a respectable team.

The biggest improvements could come in terms of team stats like a vastly improved PP and PK. Even if individual stats aren't too much better, a significantly improved special teams and a little better goaltending could really improve the team. If the new coaching staff can get more out of these players and really improve the special teams this team could be much better than they're being given credit for.

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