Time for a change: let the do-over begin

Robin Brownlee
December 29 2009 11:38AM

I'll admit to being stubborn when it comes to changing my mind on stances I've taken, like the need to tear down the Edmonton Oilers roster and start over with a full-scale rebuild, but the abomination that is the Oilers seven-game losing streak has made a believer out of me.

While the make-up and mix of the roster coach Pat Quinn has to work with has looked wrong to me since training camp broke, I have been of the mind, given injuries and illness, that GM Steve Tambellini should wait 50-60 games to start undoing this edition of the team.

Even then, I wasn't in for a full-scale Dive For Five, but after watching this mis-matched collection of players that's supposed to be a team fade into a nothingness that can only be described as an epic fail, 39 games has me convinced.

Consider me a card-carrying member of the DFF Faction, a convert to the belief that Tambellini, or somebody else if he doesn't have the stomach or wherewithal for the job, has to do whatever it takes to get to square one.

Dan Barnes pulled the trigger by calling for the same thing today in The Journal, so I'm not claiming to be staking new ground here, but I'd rather catch on to what many fans here at OilersNation and elsewhere have been saying sooner rather than later.

It's broke. Time to fix it.

The ugly details

I said a week or so ago my philosophy for the DFF is that landing a 2010 draft lottery pick should be considered an aside to a proper rebuild, not the focus of it. I'm sticking by that because I don't believe a Taylor Hall or a Tyler Seguin is the cure-all for the Oilers, even if it is a start.

The goal for me is freeing up cap space and creating options, rather than throwing the mess Kevin Lowe created on the shoulders of 18-year-old kids coming out of the draft, no matter how talented they might be, in the next couple of years.

  • If I'm Tambellini, I'm faxing the other 29 GMs in the league a list of roster players I'm willing to trade before the New Year. I'm informing them that I'm ready to deal between now and the deadline.
    The only players NOT on that list are Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Potulny, J.F. Jacques, Dustin Penner, Ryan Stone, Zack Stortini, Gilbert Brule and Sam Gagner.
    With the exception of Hemsky and Penner, these players don't put a significant dent in the salary cap now and likely won't in their next contracts. There is no windfall waiting for Cogliano or Gagner this summer, so they aren't going anywhere, at least not yet.
  • While it's unlikely there'll be calls for players at the top of the salary scale like Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray or Lubomir Visnovsky, I'd make them as attractive as possible. Dump their salary for picks and prospects, if possible. Yes, these contracts are next-to-impossible to trade, but you take a shot and see what happens. If one or all of them are back, so be it.
  • I'm especially pushing Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios and Patrick O'Sullivan before the deadline. They could be decent pieces for the right team during the stretch drive, even with some term left.
  • My 2010-11 edition of the Oilers includes Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney.
  • My first moves before hitting the fax machine are, as Barnes suggested, finding out if surgery is the answer for Horcoff's shoulder and Nikolai Khabibulin's back.
    Surgery takes them out of play in terms of trades in the unlikely case that anybody would be interested -- Mike Milbury isn't an option -- but it helps secure a lottery pick. 

At the top

  • If I'm owner Daryl Katz, I'm grading Tambellini on what he does between now and the trade deadline. If I don't see a significant shift in the right direction, he gets a pink slip when the season ends.
  • If Tambellini gets the sack, then Quinn moves from coach to GM, while associate Tom Renney and assistants Wayne Fleming and Kelly Buchberger run the bench. I also look at rescuing Rob Daum from the shit show that is Springfield and adding him to the staff here.
  • The entire hockey operations side gets re-evaluated at the end of the season, and that evaluation begins with the scouting staff, starting with Kevin Prendergast.
  • If I'm Katz, I take a long look at old pal Kevin Lowe, now the president of hockey operations, and ask some tough questions. Does he serve out the term of his extension or take the fall now for the mess he left Tambellini? Either way, Lowe's days are numbered.
  • If I'm Katz, I call Tambellini, Lowe and anybody who has a stake in the decision-making process and inform them in no uncertain terms the do-over starts now. Then, I call a news conference to tell fans exactly that.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#201 Doug
December 29 2009, 06:05PM
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Yeah at least our draft picks are lighting up the WJHC this year. MPS has three points and the goal he scored was pretty, same with one of the assists.

And we all know about Eberle, this kid could be Canada's all time scoring leader at this tournament by the time the gold is won. If in four or five years we could be the next Chicago Blackhawks with MPS and Eberle leading the way, I'm on board. No matter what the next few years are like. I want a Stanley Cup before I die.

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#202 BadSeed
December 29 2009, 06:05PM
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RB, It's been apparent for quite some time that Lowe has done an incredibly bad job. Stauffer's a smart guy - he keeps reminding everyone of his 8 years of post secondary education. Why hasn't he ever been critical of management? Lowe or Tambellini? If you're going to describe yourself as being critical of the Oilers, you can't start & stop at MacT. As you have said today, this is all on management & their ineptitude. I surely hope Katz sees this because apathy is taking hold.

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#203 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 06:05PM
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@Original Ogden Brother

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:http://old.oilersnation.com/2009/04/daum-worry-be-happy/comment-page-1/

With less than 16 hours until Brent Seabrook is named to the Canadian Olympic team, I decided to do some reminiscing ;-)

Good times, good times. You me & Arch... my first memorable ON fight. lol

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#204 crash
December 29 2009, 06:05PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

How could you not understand the mass distaste for him? The fact that people called him a lazy pile last year was largely due to the fact that he was a lazy pile last year.

Not really interested in another long Penner discussion but it's been well documented the success of the Oilers over the last 3 yrs when Dustin Penner is on the ice...

Near as I can figure and my take is that MacT didn't like his easy going laid back personality and decided to rag on him and then many of you decided to get on board....I do think maybe he could have performed at a bit of a higher level last year but given his treatment by the coach and the free ride the coach gave to his fav's who weren't performing (ie: Horcoff, Moreau) I could see how he may have been discouraged and his confidence was shot. But even given this fact and the fact that under MacT last year Penner was 7th amongst forwards in even strength and PP ice time he still managed 17 goals and was the teams top +/- forward. In his first year here he lead the team in goal scoring yet everyone decided to crap on him...I could never figure this out when there were so many more qualified players that should have been receiving this treatment.

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#205 GSC
December 29 2009, 06:07PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Sorry for playing devil's advocate, but Lincoln bucked conventional wisdom by advocating freedom for the slaves.

No need to apologize, that's what makes history great. Always a wide range of theories.

Sure, Abe did buck conventional wisdom to a degree in advocating freedom for the slaves. At the same time, however, Lincoln did so because he needed something to bring the Union together for a common cause against the South. By the time he was elected in 1860, everyone saw the writing on the wall. Secession was imminent. Not to mention, the train was set in motion for emancipation during the war long before the proclamation actually came to pass, thanks to several congressional orders for the Union army to protect fleeing slaves, etc. A lot of it occurred before Lincoln could actually put pen to paper.

Again, just one theory but a pretty good one in my book.

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#206 Chris.
December 29 2009, 06:07PM
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@crash

Also. The Oiler franchise does have more respectability than Washington. Fans older than twenty know this. Five cups, multiple hall of fame inductees, a very high playoff win percentage... What has Washington ever won? What did they ever do that was so great aside from picking Ovechkin by finishing last? The fact that so many people will scoff at what I just wrote is proof of the kind of damage recent years have done to the image of the Oilers.

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#207 crash
December 29 2009, 06:12PM
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Chris. wrote:

Also. The Oiler franchise does have more respectability than Washington. Fans older than twenty know this. Five cups, multiple hall of fame inductees, a very high playoff win percentage... What has Washington ever won? What did they ever do that was so great aside from picking Ovechkin by finishing last? The fact that so many people will scoff at what I just wrote is proof of the kind of damage recent years have done to the image of the Oilers.

How about Pittsburgh then and Detroit who really sucked back when the Oil were winning their cups? Have they no respectability?....the Oilers this year have really been decimated with injuries and sickness and are currently missing their best player and goalie...finishing last overall is much better for this team than finishing 9th or 10th in the west...no respectibility lost

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#208 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
December 29 2009, 06:17PM
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GSC wrote:

No need to apologize, that's what makes history great. Always a wide range of theories.

Sure, Abe did buck conventional wisdom to a degree in advocating freedom for the slaves. At the same time, however, Lincoln did so because he needed something to bring the Union together for a common cause against the South. By the time he was elected in 1860, everyone saw the writing on the wall. Secession was imminent. Not to mention, the train was set in motion for emancipation during the war long before the proclamation actually came to pass, thanks to several congressional orders for the Union army to protect fleeing slaves, etc. A lot of it occurred before Lincoln could actually put pen to paper.

Again, just one theory but a pretty good one in my book.

I apologized because I largely agree with what you wrote, and I didn't want to come across as confrontational.

I definitely agree that conventional wisdom is often the way to go. This is why people stop at stop signs - because there's usually a good reason for it being there.

Every once in awhile, though, there are revolutionary thinkers that challenge conventional wisdom. Sometimes they're right and they change the world (see Galileo's Dialogo), but sometimes they're the street corner preacher slurring something about the end being nigh.

People tend to assume they fall in the former category rather than the latter. This is the reason why I lose in hockey pool every year - I picked Columbus to beat Detroit in the first round of the playoffs, because I'd be way ahead of everyone that loaded up on Detroit if the Jackets actually pulled it off.

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#209 Archaeologuy
December 29 2009, 06:19PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:http://old.oilersnation.com/2009/04/daum-worry-be-happy/comment-page-1/

With less than 16 hours until Brent Seabrook is named to the Canadian Olympic team, I decided to do some reminiscing ;-)

Good times, good times. You me & Arch... my first memorable ON fight. lol

Those were good days. Maybe one day Gilbert will play well enough to make me a believer again.

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#210 Chris.
December 29 2009, 06:21PM
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crash wrote:

How about Pittsburgh then and Detroit who really sucked back when the Oil were winning their cups? Have they no respectability?....the Oilers this year have really been decimated with injuries and sickness and are currently missing their best player and goalie...finishing last overall is much better for this team than finishing 9th or 10th in the west...no respectibility lost

We used to openly laugh at Pittsburgh as they were bottom feeders for years and years. Detroit as an original six got a free pass. Gretzky once called New Jersey a "Mickey Mouse operation". Nobody talks about the Islanders as ever being a good franchise anymore. Their four consecutive cups are forgotten. Oilers beware.

P.S. There is nothing worse than finishing last. It's embarrassing. Good managers can improve their rosters without having to tank it. Respectable managers that is.

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#211 Oringinal Ogden Brother
December 29 2009, 06:21PM
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"http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:http://old.oilersnation.com/2009/04/daum-worry-be-happy/comment-page-1/

With less than 16 hours until Brent Seabrook is named to the Canadian Olympic team, I decided to do some reminiscing ;-)

Good times, good times. You me & Arch... my first memorable ON fight. lol"

Ha-ha, I've thought about that one a few times (and hoped you would have forgotten). I'll stick with one of my points from that dust up though, before last season Seabrook was considerd a minor disapointment, so I think he would have a little of the "one hit wonder" syndrom dragging down his trade value a bit at the time. he's come along way (and Cogs and Gilbert have dropped along way) making my side look rather ridiculous. :0

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#212 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 06:26PM
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@Archaeologuy

@ Oringinal Ogden Brother

It was my Flames I was watching Chicago beat up on at the time, so I wouldn't say "good days", but I know what you mean ;-) I also like the Hawks and I think I made it pretty clear how I feel/felt about Brent Seabrook. Him & (especially) Shea Weber are two I'd take over Dion Phaneuf, nevermind Tom Gilbert.

Would you make that trade now ;-) lol

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#213 crash
December 29 2009, 06:28PM
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Chris. wrote:

We used to openly laugh at Pittsburgh as they were bottom feeders for years and years. Detroit as an original six got a free pass. Gretzky once called New Jersey a "Mickey Mouse operation". Nobody talks about the Islanders as ever being a good franchise anymore. Their four consecutive cups are forgotten. Oilers beware.

P.S. There is nothing worse than finishing last. It's embarrassing. Good managers can improve their rosters without having to tank it. Respectable managers that is.

no one's laughing at Pittsburgh now and yes there is something worse than finishing last...it's finishing just out of the playoffs every year and picking somewhere between 10th and 15th every year....granted you can find some diamonds in the rough but a couple of really bad years can sure help build a winner...it's quite widely known that the best way to build a winner now is through the draft..

Speaking of which Taylor Hall just scored a beauty his second of the game...cmon last overall

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#214 Archaeologuy
December 29 2009, 06:37PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

@ Oringinal Ogden Brother

It was my Flames I was watching Chicago beat up on at the time, so I wouldn't say "good days", but I know what you mean ;-) I also like the Hawks and I think I made it pretty clear how I feel/felt about Brent Seabrook. Him & (especially) Shea Weber are two I'd take over Dion Phaneuf, nevermind Tom Gilbert.

Would you make that trade now ;-) lol

I'd move Gilbert in a heartbeat, but I'm still in favour of moving the old guys like Moreau and Staios before moving out the younger parts.

I say get rid of the excess fat (offensive d-man and fringe Vets) and then evaluate the team's assets.

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#215 Chris.
December 29 2009, 06:43PM
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@crash

The DFF will happen whether I want it too or not. It's still not a good thing. I fully argued this point already with Ogden from comments #33 and on the Oilers vs Flames post game blogroll (one string back). Tanking for better picks is not a respectable way to build a franchise. Not a single Oiler hall of famer was picked in the top five. In thirty years the Oilers finished in the bottom five just once... and Bonsignore did nothing to help us then.

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#216 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2009, 06:46PM
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@Chris.

The Bonsignore pick came from Winnipeg.

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#217 Archaeologuy
December 29 2009, 06:49PM
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@Chris.

I totally agree. Pittsburgh, Washington, and Chicago have all had lottery picks and they havent benefitted at all...

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#218 Chris.
December 29 2009, 06:49PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

The Bonsignore pick came from Winnipeg.

Have the Oilers ever finished in the bottom five?

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#219 Chris.
December 29 2009, 06:50PM
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@Archaeologuy

Sleazy way out. Anyone can manage a team into the basement. I'd do it in Calagry for free.

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#220 crash
December 29 2009, 06:52PM
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Chris. wrote:

The DFF will happen whether I want it too or not. It's still not a good thing. I fully argued this point already with Ogden from comments #33 and on the Oilers vs Flames post game blogroll (one string back). Tanking for better picks is not a respectable way to build a franchise. Not a single Oiler hall of famer was picked in the top five. In thirty years the Oilers finished in the bottom five just once... and Bonsignore did nothing to help us then.

Relax, it's just one year of tanking. No one ever tanks games on purpose. When Hemsky and Khabby went down there was no real hope so this is for the best...

You can't really compare how to build a team now compared to how to build a team in the 80's or 90's...everything is different...there is a salary cap now and in the 90's it was just basically the rich teams being able to buy the spare parts that were needed to push the teams over the top. Gretzky most certainly would have been a top pick but was never part of the draft. Coffey was a 6th.

Anyway, I just hope the proper retooling is done after this season

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#221 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 06:57PM
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FYI (meaningless stat of the day): The Oil are batting .833 when they pick 6-8 overall

1980-Paul Coffey, 6th
1981-Grant Fuhr, 8th
1993-Jason Arnott, 7th
1994-Ryan Smyth, 6th
1995-Steve Kelly, 6th
2007-Sam Gagner, 6th

EDIT: ooops, missed 1996-Boyd Deveraux, 6th

... batting .714 when drafting 6-8. And the two flops came in back-to-back years (coincidence?).

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#222 Chris.
December 29 2009, 06:57PM
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@Chris.

I covered my displeasure with aiming for the lottery in the Calgary Edmonton post game blogroll. Sure having Hall would be a benifit... but there are also negative consequences to finishing last also. When Lowe killed the season in 07 by moving Smyth at the deadline it marked the first time I could ever remember Oiler management clearly giving up on a season midstream... That blow to the Oiler reputation and identity did way more damage than the absence of #94. So how has that worked out so far?

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#223 Archaeologuy
December 29 2009, 07:00PM
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Chris. wrote:

Sleazy way out. Anyone can manage a team into the basement. I'd do it in Calagry for free.

The team is already in the basement. Now it's up to Tambi/K-Lowe to get the Oilers out of it for the long-term. The plan to retool every year has proven to be greatly flawed.

Take a look at the situation the Oilers are in. I honestly think that this might be the only viable route to winning.

You cant tell me to discount the success that many teams have had after drafting from the top 3. Just look at the teams that have selected in the top positions since 2003. Almost all of those teams have become dominant, many of them have gone on to play in Stanley Cup finals.

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#224 Chris.
December 29 2009, 07:00PM
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@crash

Relax. One year of tanking won't hurt your reputation... kinda like sucking just one dick... (not that there is anything wrong with that)

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#225 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:01PM
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Chris. wrote:

Relax. One year of tanking won't hurt your reputation... kinda like sucking just one dick... (not that there is anything wrong with that)

LOL. You didn't just say that.

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#226 Chris.
December 29 2009, 07:03PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The team is already in the basement. Now it's up to Tambi/K-Lowe to get the Oilers out of it for the long-term. The plan to retool every year has proven to be greatly flawed.

Take a look at the situation the Oilers are in. I honestly think that this might be the only viable route to winning.

You cant tell me to discount the success that many teams have had after drafting from the top 3. Just look at the teams that have selected in the top positions since 2003. Almost all of those teams have become dominant, many of them have gone on to play in Stanley Cup finals.

I'm not saying that being crappy to grab picks wouldn't work. I just don't like it. It's not in tune with a proud Oiler history. It should not be celebrated.

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#227 crash
December 29 2009, 07:03PM
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Chris. wrote:

Sleazy way out. Anyone can manage a team into the basement. I'd do it in Calagry for free.

We should be happy about Calgary, they kind of do the same thing every year...

Every year media and Calgary fans alike always for some reason believe that they have this powerhouse team with the self proclaimed vaunted best defense in the NHL. I understand why their fans might but I could never figure out why the media guys do, even the ones here in Edmonton. Every year the Flames only go as far as Kiprusoff can drag them. By playoff time Kipper is burnt out and the team has managed to crawl into one of the bottom 2 playoff spots...I've never seen a more overated team year to year than the Calgary Flames. What happens next is the inevitable first round exit and a 20th or so overall draft pick...

Does Calgary have any prospects anywhere that are a standout? Not many if any. So things may look bleak here but actually in Calgary things are much worse.

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#228 Chris.
December 29 2009, 07:04PM
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@RossCreekNation

Comment 220. Crash told me to relax. It's just one year of tanking.

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#229 crash
December 29 2009, 07:04PM
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Chris. wrote:

Relax. One year of tanking won't hurt your reputation... kinda like sucking just one dick... (not that there is anything wrong with that)

I guess whatever you do in your spare time is your business

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#230 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:05PM
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@Chris.

I know... but I'm not sure the comparison is quite the same. Funny as hell tho.

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#231 Chris.
December 29 2009, 07:10PM
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I can't believe how almost everyone is openly embracing defeat and humiliation with a smile. None of you would be on my hockey team.

Few people on this site are more openly critical of the entire Oiler mananagement structure, prospects, heck even game day presentation than me... But you will never ever hear me openly celebrate an Oiler loss.

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#232 Archaeologuy
December 29 2009, 07:15PM
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Chris. wrote:

I'm not saying that being crappy to grab picks wouldn't work. I just don't like it. It's not in tune with a proud Oiler history. It should not be celebrated.

That proud Oiler History is getting in the way of the Oiler present. It kept MacT here several years too long, K-Lowe apparently has diplomatic immunity, and now its keeping the Oilers from admitting that they arent that good anymore.

What shouldnt be celebrated is the constant battle to be a fringe team that the Oilers have been in since the early 90's. Al Gore hadnt even invented the Internet the last time the Oilers were a truly good team. So instead of paying 56 million to miss the playoffs the Oilers should be dumping the fringe vets and salary and acquiring the players that will actually make this club proud again.

The fans cant will the Oilers to be good. They need the players and they need them long term. So instead of signing every 36 year old Russian with spinal issues to fat long term contracts they should be acquiring quality prospects and inexpensive role players.

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#233 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:16PM
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@crash

From HockeysFuture... NHL Organization Prospect Rankings

21-Edmonton Oilers

Strengths: Balance and depth with a healthy dose of scoring Swedes Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Anton Lander and Linus Omark represent a new era in Edmonton, a franchise that has historically failed to draft and develop well out of Europe. Add Finnish junior sensation Toni Rajala and SM-Liiga scorer Teemu Hartikainen and the Oilers have the best crop of Euro potential they've perhaps ever had. Sniper Jordan Eberle impressed at training camp and is poised to dominate the WHL this year. Defense appears strong with collegian Jeff Petry, AHL rookies Alex Plante and Johan Motin plus NHL bubble defender Theo Peckham. Weaknesses: The Oilers have quality netminders in Devan Dubnyk and Olivier Roy, but neither holds the sure-fire NHL starter label. While the Oilers have a few strong defense prospects, they could use more depth in this area. Edmonton did not improve themselves as much in the 2009 draft as some other teams.

Top five prospects: 1. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW, 2. Jordan Eberle, RW, 3. Riley Nash, C, 4. Linus Omark, LW, 5. Theo Peckham, D.

25-Calgary Flames

Strengths: An often under-respected array of blueliners has the Flames well positioned for the future. WJC gold medal winner Keith Aulie is supported by Matt Pelech and John Negrin, who both made impressive NHL debuts in 2008-09. Newly-drafted Swede Tim Erixon was a welcome addition to an already strong prospect defense. Netminding is rarely an issue with Calgary and Leland Irving silenced most doubters with a solid year in the AHL last season to get back on track as a bona fide blue-chipper. Forward Mikael Backlund brings an offensive dynamic to the mix after finally arriving in North America midway through last year. Power forward Greg Nemisz had a strong year helping the Windsor Spitfires capture the Memorial Cup. Weaknesses: Outside of Backlund, and perhaps Mitch Wahl, Calgary's forward group could be considered blue-collar, hard-working players, but there is a definite lack of true offensive talent. Goalie Matt Keetley struggled in the AHL last year and will need a much better campaign in Abbotsford.

Top five prospects: 1. Mikael Backlund, C, 2. Greg Nemisz, RW, 3. Keith Aulie, D, 4. Leland Irving, G, 5. Tim Erixon. D.

The cupboard is not entirely bare in Calgary. They don't have a big-time offensive weapon coming up, but given recent performances, the Oilers should be able to be more than 4 spots ahead of the Flames. And the Oilers don't look to be so great (although a top draft pick this year should widen the margin between the two teams, as the Flames are without a 1st round pick because of *sigh* Olli Jokinen).

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#234 Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009, 07:28PM
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RE: Gagner vs. Ryan

Sure Ryan's ahead right now. Doesn't mean he will be in five years.

Two years after he was drafted, Bobby Ryan failed to match Gagner's OHL scoring in his draft year.

In the summer of 2008 - when Ryan was five months older than Gagner will be this summer - he had all of 23 NHL games to his credit and was a point-per-game guy in the AHL. We're not sure where Gagner's going to be, except that he'll be past NHL game #200.

Point being that it isn't remotely fair to compare Gagner to Ryan until the end of next season - because at the end of next season, Gagner will be as far removed from his draft year as Ryan was as he finished off his first real NHL season.

I wouldn't trade Gagner for Ryan today.

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#235 crash
December 29 2009, 07:29PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

From HockeysFuture... NHL Organization Prospect Rankings

21-Edmonton Oilers

Strengths: Balance and depth with a healthy dose of scoring Swedes Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Anton Lander and Linus Omark represent a new era in Edmonton, a franchise that has historically failed to draft and develop well out of Europe. Add Finnish junior sensation Toni Rajala and SM-Liiga scorer Teemu Hartikainen and the Oilers have the best crop of Euro potential they've perhaps ever had. Sniper Jordan Eberle impressed at training camp and is poised to dominate the WHL this year. Defense appears strong with collegian Jeff Petry, AHL rookies Alex Plante and Johan Motin plus NHL bubble defender Theo Peckham. Weaknesses: The Oilers have quality netminders in Devan Dubnyk and Olivier Roy, but neither holds the sure-fire NHL starter label. While the Oilers have a few strong defense prospects, they could use more depth in this area. Edmonton did not improve themselves as much in the 2009 draft as some other teams.

Top five prospects: 1. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW, 2. Jordan Eberle, RW, 3. Riley Nash, C, 4. Linus Omark, LW, 5. Theo Peckham, D.

25-Calgary Flames

Strengths: An often under-respected array of blueliners has the Flames well positioned for the future. WJC gold medal winner Keith Aulie is supported by Matt Pelech and John Negrin, who both made impressive NHL debuts in 2008-09. Newly-drafted Swede Tim Erixon was a welcome addition to an already strong prospect defense. Netminding is rarely an issue with Calgary and Leland Irving silenced most doubters with a solid year in the AHL last season to get back on track as a bona fide blue-chipper. Forward Mikael Backlund brings an offensive dynamic to the mix after finally arriving in North America midway through last year. Power forward Greg Nemisz had a strong year helping the Windsor Spitfires capture the Memorial Cup. Weaknesses: Outside of Backlund, and perhaps Mitch Wahl, Calgary's forward group could be considered blue-collar, hard-working players, but there is a definite lack of true offensive talent. Goalie Matt Keetley struggled in the AHL last year and will need a much better campaign in Abbotsford.

Top five prospects: 1. Mikael Backlund, C, 2. Greg Nemisz, RW, 3. Keith Aulie, D, 4. Leland Irving, G, 5. Tim Erixon. D.

The cupboard is not entirely bare in Calgary. They don't have a big-time offensive weapon coming up, but given recent performances, the Oilers should be able to be more than 4 spots ahead of the Flames. And the Oilers don't look to be so great (although a top draft pick this year should widen the margin between the two teams, as the Flames are without a 1st round pick because of *sigh* Olli Jokinen).

right on cue, i knew you would bite...ever notice

Due to years of dealing draft picks for established players, GM Darryl Sutter's Calgary Flames are currently relatively light in terms of junior level prospects. That said, a number of Calgary's most promising offensive futures currently reside in the WHL and OHL. The majority of the six junior prospects currently play in the WHL, which is where the organization tends to concentrate its scouting and draft picks. Mitch Wahl and Ryan Howse are the most potent offensive weapons from the West, while Greg Nemisz and T.J. Brodie of the OHL continue to be noteworthy contributors in the East.

Due to the Flames' dearth of high-octane forward prospects, their minor league club is once again being led in scoring by AHL veterans and fringe NHLers. Combined with a very young defensive corps, the result is a mediocre Abbotsford Heat team, placing fifth out of seven North Division clubs with 16 wins and 36 points in 34 games.

Right from the Future Watch you seem to use as your bible.

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#236 Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009, 07:34PM
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RE: Colorado as a rebuilding model.

Since going 10-1-2 to start the season, Colorado has gone 12-11-4. That's an 85-point season pace.

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#237 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:38PM
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@crash

I actually rarely check the site out. Just thought it'd be the easiest place to look. I never claimed for them to be as good or better than the Oil. Fact is, there should be more than 4 spots between the two clubs. How are the Heat compared to... oh say... I don't know... the Springfield Falcons?

So... Edmonton's team is worse, their farm team is worse, and their prospect pool (sans Taylor Hall at this point) is not a whole lot better.

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#238 Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009, 07:39PM
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RE: MacTavish lost the room/was here to long.

Given the performance of the Oilers this season, under a shiny new coach with an unimpeachable resume, is there any reason at all to believe that MacTavish needed to be fired?

And if you cite Penner, feel free to glance at Cogliano and Gilbert.

There was all this talk about how he'd lost the room and that an all-star coaching group like Quinn and Renney would turn things around. The fact that MacT did as well isn't just a reflection on the poorness of the roster: it's a reflection on his ability as a coach.

That's not a pill the really rabid anti-MacT crowd will ever swallow, but I can't believe we're still arguing he needed to go. He could have taken this team to the cellar as easily as Quinn & Co. are right now.

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#239 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2009, 07:41PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: Colorado as a rebuilding model.

Since going 10-1-2 to start the season, Colorado has gone 12-11-4. That's an 85-point season pace.

And they do get to keep the points from the first 13 games as well, no? Fun with numbers.

If the Avalanche are a 90 point team when the season is over that's a huge improvement over where they were -- and where they were picked by every one of the smart guys in our preview.

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#240 crash
December 29 2009, 07:41PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: Colorado as a rebuilding model.

Since going 10-1-2 to start the season, Colorado has gone 12-11-4. That's an 85-point season pace.

Funny how you can swing the stats to work a certain way...ok, over the last ten games the Av's are 7 and 3 that's a 114 point pace

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#241 crash
December 29 2009, 07:43PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

I actually rarely check the site out. Just thought it'd be the easiest place to look. I never claimed for them to be as good or better than the Oil. Fact is, there should be more than 4 spots between the two clubs. How are the Heat compared to... oh say... I don't know... the Springfield Falcons?

So... Edmonton's team is worse, their farm team is worse, and their prospect pool (sans Taylor Hall at this point) is not a whole lot better.

I don't buy what hockeys future has to say as gospel so I'm not buying the difference of 4 spots

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#242 Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009, 07:44PM
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RE: Kipper's burnout.

Courtesy of FlamesNation's Jean Lefebvre:

During Keenan’s two years at the reins in Calgary, Kiprusoff’s cumulative regular-season numbers in October and November consisted of a 3.01 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage. The corresponding figures in March and April for those two years are 2.95 and .900.

Urban legend.

Kiprusoff traditionally stinks to start the season, not end it. If I were a cynic, I'd say he generally plays himself into game shape but decided to keep fit this summer.

No proof of that, of course, but at least it's possible - the idea that he fatigues is completely unsupported by the evidence.

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#243 Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009, 07:45PM
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@ Robin Brownlee:

I agree. But if we're swinging for a 90-point team, I think we've already proven that Kevin Lowe can buy that, haven't we?

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#244 crash
December 29 2009, 07:48PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: MacTavish lost the room/was here to long.

Given the performance of the Oilers this season, under a shiny new coach with an unimpeachable resume, is there any reason at all to believe that MacTavish needed to be fired?

And if you cite Penner, feel free to glance at Cogliano and Gilbert.

There was all this talk about how he'd lost the room and that an all-star coaching group like Quinn and Renney would turn things around. The fact that MacT did as well isn't just a reflection on the poorness of the roster: it's a reflection on his ability as a coach.

That's not a pill the really rabid anti-MacT crowd will ever swallow, but I can't believe we're still arguing he needed to go. He could have taken this team to the cellar as easily as Quinn & Co. are right now.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think MacT ever had to go basically the entire season without his best player. Also IMO MacT didn't treat everyone the same..he would only single out certain guys...Quinn doesn't seem to care and doesn't play favorites...with him it doesn't matter who you are you can get called out...

Didn't MacT have 8 yrs to mold the team into what he wanted? I think Quinn should be given some time to mold this team into his own.

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#245 crash
December 29 2009, 07:51PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

RE: Kipper's burnout.

Courtesy of FlamesNation's Jean Lefebvre:

During Keenan’s two years at the reins in Calgary, Kiprusoff’s cumulative regular-season numbers in October and November consisted of a 3.01 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage. The corresponding figures in March and April for those two years are 2.95 and .900.

Urban legend.

Kiprusoff traditionally stinks to start the season, not end it. If I were a cynic, I'd say he generally plays himself into game shape but decided to keep fit this summer.

No proof of that, of course, but at least it's possible - the idea that he fatigues is completely unsupported by the evidence.

Don't stop there JW, what are his numbers then in the playoffs...don't just stop where they work for you, keep going

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#246 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:51PM
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@crash

Last season's Hockey News Future Watch issue (before MPS in eTown & Tim Erixon in cTown) had the Oil pegged at 21st and the Flames at 23rd. Given where those 2 players were drafted, its safe to say the margin would be a bit wider now. Perhaps instead of a 2 spot difference, maybe a 4 spot difference? Maybe 5 or 6?

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#247 Robin Brownlee
December 29 2009, 07:53PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Robin Brownlee:

I agree. But if we're swinging for a 90-point team, I think we've already proven that Kevin Lowe can buy that, haven't we?

Who said that? The Avs are coming off a 69-point season. They've made a significant step forward after looking like they'd be garbage. The Oilers would be sitting pretty if they could improve by 21 points.

What, you're going to start getting hinky with language as well as numbers in the span of a few posts? That 85-point pace can of corn was, well . . .

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#248 Jonathan Willis
December 29 2009, 07:53PM
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@crash

Well, I could be wrong too but I'm pretty sure the Oilers never finished 15th in the West under MacTavish either.

Pre salary cap, this team wasn't a contender. They moved Guerin and Weight and countless others because they couldn't afford to ice a contender. Blaming MacT for that would be wrong.

2005-06 turned out fine, once they got goalies.

After that, I don't think we can blame MacT either. This has been a crap team bleeding veterans since 2006-07. Sometimes by force, but more often by choice.

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#249 RossCreekNation
December 29 2009, 07:53PM
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@crash

You're not one of those guys that says you'd rather be out of the playoffs to begin with than getting bounced in the 1st round year in, year out. Are you? Clearly they haven't had much success, but it beats missing the playoffs each of those years instead, doesn't it?

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#250 crash
December 29 2009, 07:57PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Last season's Hockey News Future Watch issue (before MPS in eTown & Tim Erixon in cTown) had the Oil pegged at 21st and the Flames at 23rd. Given where those 2 players were drafted, its safe to say the margin would be a bit wider now. Perhaps instead of a 2 spot difference, maybe a 4 spot difference? Maybe 5 or 6?

What do you suppose it will say after this season?...I predict a big difference after this season in the rankings. Especially if the Oil get Hall, Seguin or Fowler

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