Cole – Horcoff – Hemsky will play power vs. power, and I think they’ll come out ahead. All three players are tough-minute outscorers, and Hemsky has never had a goal scorer of Cole’s calibre on his left side.
Penner – Gagner – Nilsson will play soft opposition, likely with Penner taking draws for Gagner. This is a really nice development spot for Gagner, and Penner will fit in perfectly with this line, which should really do a number on their opponents.
Moreau – Cogliano – Pisani will pick up the 2nd toughest minutes. The jury is out on Cogliano as a checking line forward, and Ethan Moreau cannot be relied on to be healthy or play tough minutes after the past few years. Pisani will be counted on to compensate for the other two as they learn (Cogliano) on the job or attempt to rebound (Moreau). This is the biggest question mark on the Oilers team right now.
Brodziak/Stortini/Pouliot/Potulny/Schremp/Reddox/Brule (in that order) will all be considered for the 4th line role, and the smart money says that Marty Reasoner is in the mix too. There is the makings of a nice 4th line here, and both Brodziak and Stortini (as well as Reasoner, if signed) can move up as injury replacements.
Grebeshkov – Gilbert will likely be the first choice to play the tough minutes on the back end. This could work out just fine or backfire spectacularly. I’d say it’s probably 60/40 towards the former.
Souray – Staios should be a nice pairing and be able to handle anything other than top opposition. They don’t have much clearance on the third pairing. Both will be PK mainstays, and I see Souray getting big PP time too. How that will work with Visnovsky is yet to be determined.
Smid – Visnovsky will get whatever’s left, with Visnovsky playing lots on the powerplay. Visnovsky is a legitimate second pairing guy, so right now the right side of the Oilers D is very strong and the left side is a little weak. I expect one of Roy/Chorney/Peckham to be the choice for the #7 slot, with Roy probably the odds-on favourite at this juncture.