Whither Horcoff?

Terry Jones doesn’t apparently think much of Horcoff. After pointing out that Gilbert, Visnovsky, Hemsky, Penner, and Souray are all signed to 2012+, with Nilsson, Staios, and Moreau to 2011, he says “What they really need is the main man in the middle of the first line, scoring 40-plus goals and 50-plus points.”
Earlier in the column he’d talked about trading Pitkanen *and* Horcoff and mentioned getting a scorer to play with Hemsky. Now, while I’ll grant that Horcoff is not a pure scorer, he’s not a dog’s breakfast either, and he knows on which side his bread is buttered when it comes to coming back too. He’s sort of like a reverse Mike Modano, progressing from a checking centre into a scorer. I think giving up on Horcoff now would be a huge mistake; he’s got a lot to offer the team, and I don’t think they need… well, I’m not sure who Jones has in mind that would be both available and a major upgrade to Horcoff at the first line centre spot. I can’t think of anybody off the top of my head.
Perhaps Jones really did mean to package up Pitkanen with Horc. Trading Horc right now though, would leave the club awfully inexperienced up the middle; anybody as good as or better than he would be just as valuable to the presumed trading partner team as Horcoff is to this one.
What I’m dreading is Horcoff getting the Smythian brush-off. “Thanks for all the help, we’ll trade you for some prospects now that your contract is expiring, we can’t afford you now.” I honestly don’t see Horcoff asking for more than 4.5-5 million, and unless Lowe knows something about the player’s shoulder that we don’t, I think he’s likely worth it. The team should be able to fit that in under the cap.
Is Lowe waiting to see what happens with his UFA offers before he sees how much is left for Horcoff? The prospect of seeing a pair of genuinely viable power plays featuring Hemsky, Hossa, Penner, Gagner, Visnovsky, and Souray is, no doubt about it, very attractive. But I’m not sure the cost of losing a guy who can play with literally anybody else on the ice and look good, a fellow who did nothing but help lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals a couple of years ago, who has improved his points per game total from day one, a guy who has paid his dues at every level and is probably one of the smartest players on that team is worth it. If somebody told me “you’re the Oilers GM today and you have to make a choice: sign Hossa and trade Horcoff, or keep Horcoff, what will it be?” I’m not sure I could let Horc go. Let’s hope that Lowe finds a way to fit Horcoff in, whether or not Hossa takes that huge offer.

One Reply to “Whither Horcoff?”

  1. I agree in my barely hockey-experienced way. There was just that special click Horcoff showed playing with Hemsky last year that would be foolish to lose. I don’t really know Hossa so I don’t know the value he’d bring to the oil but I think Horcoff has shown exactly what he brings to the team — a shitload of drive, determination and work ethic. He knows he’s not got the skill brimming out of him, so instead of shrugging and playing like a 4th liner he’s driving himself to make up the difference by working his ass off. He wants first line, wants to be the best player on the team and he’ll work until he gets there. Having someone working that hard has to be a motivation to everyone else in the team. That’s worth a lot, especially with the amount of youth on the Oilers at the moment. Kids need good role models, rookies need mature players who’ve been there, and the oil have those mature ones in Moreau and Horcoff and they should keep them.

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