Time is perspective: one year later

Robin Brownlee
December 06 2009 05:49PM

It's startling how performances and perceptions can change in the span of just 12 months. That holds especially true for Dustin Penner, Gilbert Brule, Ladislav Smid and Tom Gilbert of the Edmonton Oilers.

Before the Oilers managed back-to-back wins for the first time in over a month against Detroit and Dallas to open a five-game road trip, fans prone to panic were calling for GM Steve Tambellini to dump contracts, tear down the roster and take the pipe for a lottery pick in the 2010 Entry Draft.

When proponents of that misguided strategy talked about what names they'd keep as building blocks moving forward at the height of the angst as the Oilers hit the road, Penner, Smid and Brule were mentioned as often as anybody. Gilbert? Not so much.

Buried, belittled and benched by Craig MacTavish a year ago, Penner has been the poster boy for patience by any measure with his re-emergence under Pat Quinn through the Oilers first 29 games. Relatively speaking, Brule and Smid aren't far behind. Gilbert, meanwhile, has gone the other way with fickle fans.

Is there a lesson here?

NOW AND THEN

More fit and focused, Penner has provided the most jarring contrast to last season through 29 games, whether you go by the numbers or simply with two eyes and a brain.

In the third-year of the $21.25-million offer sheet he signed after a 29-goal campaign with Anaheim, Penner leads the Oilers in scoring with 15-15-30. He's a plus-8 and has averaged 19:55 of ice time per game.

He has been Quinn's best forward in all but a handful of games. He's just two goals short of the 17 goals he scored all of last season after getting 23 in 2007-08.

With MacTavish casting a wary and impatient eye Penner's way a year ago, he was a healthy scratch in two of the first 29 games and scored 8-6-14 with a plus-8 rating. The consensus of fans, not to mention yours truly, was the Oilers could've, and should've, dumped his contract for a ham sandwich and future considerations.

Tambellini, of course, tried to move Penner. He had him packaged up with Smid and Cogliano and bound for Ottawa before Dany Heatley queered the deal by refusing to lift his no-movement clause. Some fans, taking salary into consideration, insist they wouldn't move Penner for Heatley straight up now. How big a swing in public opinion is that?

LADDY AND THE GILBERTS

As for Smid, his first 29 games this season compared to last are also like night and day, and not just because he scored his first goal in 113 years (151 games, actually) in Dallas.

Smid has played in 27 of 29 games so far this season and is a team-leading plus 12 with 1-7-8. He's averaging 19:33 of ice time per night and looks like a match alongside Lubomir Visnovsky.

A year ago, Smid played in just 15 of 29 games, including some shifts as a forward with MacTavish dumbfounded as to what to do with him, and had scored just 0-2-2 with an even rating. The most ice time he got in those 15 games was 16:22. There was talk, and it was widely reported, Smid and his agent were considering asking for a trade -- if he wasn't in the plans.

While I'll try not to get carried away, it looks to me like Smid, who doesn't turn 24 until Feb. 1, could become the kind of shutdown defenceman who can take over the minutes Steve Staios is playing now.

Brule, meanwhile, wasn't even in the picture last season despite having a decent camp and pre-season. Destined for Springfield no matter what he did at camp -- I was told that was the plan going in -- Brule played in just two of the Oilers first 29 games and didn't have a point.

Brule's been a revelation so far under Quinn, tallying 7-10-17 with a minus-3 rating while averaging 14:18 ice time per game. He's shown top-six skills and enough grit to fit on the third line. He can play on the wing or in the middle.

In the minds of many, Brule, who turns 23 New Year's Day, has bumped Cogliano as one of the small forwards the Oilers should keep through any significant rebuild. Who can argue that right now?

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on Gilbert, but it's safe to say his stock has dropped significantly -- at least for the many fans who over-valued it in the first place after he put up 45 points last season.

A year ago, Gilbert scored 2-13-15 and was minus-1 through 29 games. This time around, he's managed just 1-4-5 and is minus-3. When Denis Grebeshkov returns from injury, I believe Gilbert and his $4 million cap hit is a good bet to be moved at or before the trade deadline.

SO WHAT?

I'm not advocating Tambellini sit idly by without making moves while months and seasons tick away. Not many people, fans or media, are interested in watching the Oilers perpetually finish just above or below the playoff cutline.

Clearly, Tambellini needs to do more than tweak and tinker, even if it's a challenge moving players who have no chance of covering their contracts -- Shawn Horcoff, Ethan Moreau, Staios, to name just three. But a full-scale rebuild? A blow-it-up tank job?

I wonder if the call for that will be nearly as strident as it was when this road trip started if the Oilers rattle off a couple more wins in the next three games before they return home. I'm guessing not.

Be it one year for players like Penner, Brule, Smid and Gilbert, or a week or two when it comes to what fans insist is needed with the Oilers as a whole, time tends to change perspective and perception. Knowing that, pencil me in for a longer look when it comes to turning the roster upside down -- let's say 50-55 games.

Only fools rush in.

-- 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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#1 WizCo
December 06 2009, 06:15PM
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Rebuild? No, let's hold and build. Keep Souray, Smid and Grebs and build around them. Keep Hemsky, Penner, O'Sully and Gilbert and build around them. We have some offensive talent in the pipe by the name of Jordan Eberle and you never know if some of the smurfs might gel or be packaged off for another power forward or sniper or non-sandbaggin' goalie. With a new set of experienced coaches, a more than solid D when healthy and some fairly deep pockets, I agree with Kenny Rogers, "you got to know when to hold 'em."

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#2 DangerMan
December 06 2009, 06:22PM
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Two things happened to help this team start winning.

Putting Souray-Gilbert together, along with Visnovsky-Smid gives us 2 solid D pairings. Staios-Strudwick will pass for now until we can get Grebs or Chorney back.

It's a funny stat but not one that has happened by accident, the Oilers are 8-2-1 when Ryan Stone is in the lineup. You can't take out a player like Stone and replace him with Nilsson. Having Stone in the lineup gives this team just enough ruggedness that it can grind out some wins.

This team isn't a world beater right now, but it has at least given the coaching staff a formulaic gameplan on how to find a way to win a hockey game.

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#3 Heavy G
December 06 2009, 06:28PM
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Hey Robin, I agree that Tambellini should be patient with the current roster, at least for now; however, what do you suppose he might do if the Oilers look like a team that's destined to miss the playoffs around the trade deadline? Who do you think would be out of here and whom or what could the Oilers get in return?

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#4 Oilitsinyoutogive
December 06 2009, 06:36PM
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what do you mean only fools rush in...every off season we try and get a big guy as fast as possible...wait are you saying managements....oh my.

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#5 Pajamah
December 06 2009, 06:38PM
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2 wins means so little, and the 2 home playoff game revenue means even less to a guy like Katz.

I don't believe in blowing it up completely, as some of the vets will be needed to show the young guys the way, but move some of them for sure.

Gilbert could, and should be moved, makes way for Chorney/Peckham/Petry, likely in that order

Move Moreau and Staios if you can, as theyre really not providing much of the on-ice stuff we can get for cheaper, younger versions of the same player.

After that, ride out the middling season, and keep stocking the cupboard

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#6 Mitch
December 06 2009, 07:04PM
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Robin I feel the oilers still got get the salary cap issue under control. I feel the best way to do this is build around Souray, if he's up to the challenge. I would move Hemsky, yes I understand his contract, but Hemsky would fetch the best value. Move Moreau, Gilbert, Staios, Cogliano, and O'Sullivan. Does Gagner have another level? Yes I understand he's only 20. With this I feel you change the culture, get rid of some players that don't have enough game to win at the high level the NHL demands. I'am not so sure that the high level skill guys that Edmonton has pursued is what this team needs, we need to attract players with the win at all costs attitude, that practise hard and play even harder, the skill will then follow.

Would you trade Hemsky for Ott and Erikksen or Neal not sure what the cap does have not. checked numbers.

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#7 Jonathan Willis
December 06 2009, 07:08PM
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A total blowup isn't the answer, and neither is building for this season. Next year and the year after should be the focus.

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#8 Jason Lee Norman
December 06 2009, 07:11PM
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I've always been a firm believer in the idea that any team, if they play like a team and execute their game plan properly, can win their division each year, or even go deep in the playoffs each year. The Oil have plenty of tools as it is right now if they just execute each and every night. Of course, if I were on my Playstation 3 then I'd be tinkering all over the damn place and sure maybe I'd move Gilbert or try out a Penner for Gilbert swap, but this isn't a video game- it's real life and these are people's lives we are dealing with. Sure Moreau and Staios don't have as much in the tank as they used to but they are proud citizens of our city and have never given less than 100% every night. These kind of decisions will be made in time but treating your team like its in a video simulation mid-season rarely works. If you focus your energies on trying to optimize your production from the players you have now, you will have more success.

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#9 Mitch
December 06 2009, 07:40PM
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Jason Lee Norman wrote:

I've always been a firm believer in the idea that any team, if they play like a team and execute their game plan properly, can win their division each year, or even go deep in the playoffs each year. The Oil have plenty of tools as it is right now if they just execute each and every night. Of course, if I were on my Playstation 3 then I'd be tinkering all over the damn place and sure maybe I'd move Gilbert or try out a Penner for Gilbert swap, but this isn't a video game- it's real life and these are people's lives we are dealing with. Sure Moreau and Staios don't have as much in the tank as they used to but they are proud citizens of our city and have never given less than 100% every night. These kind of decisions will be made in time but treating your team like its in a video simulation mid-season rarely works. If you focus your energies on trying to optimize your production from the players you have now, you will have more success.

The players in the NHL are paid millions of dollars, they have gauranteed contracts. It's not like there getting paid $18 hr, then I could understand. In Edmonton we have been trying to optimize production for 3yrs, the results speak for themselves. Matter of fact go back to when Lowe took over he didn't have a good track record, or go back to 92-93. We have a great hockey market an awesome past, we deserve to win.

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#10 jdrevenge
December 06 2009, 07:44PM
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I'm pretty sure we were knocking Gilbert for the first portion of last season as well. This was until, he started to play with Souray.

Grebeshkov wasn't exactly lights out before he got hurt and who knows what he's going to do after this season. Does he stay here for the same 3.5? Or does he bounce for the KHL...?

I love how manic I feel watching this team day over day.

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#11 Paq Twinn
December 06 2009, 07:45PM
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WizCo Wrote: Rebuild? No, let's hold and build. Keep Souray, Smid and Grebs and build around them. Keep Hemsky, Penner, O'Sully and Gilbert and build around them. We have some offensive talent in the pipe by the name of Jordan Eberle and you never know if some of the smurfs might gel or be packaged off for another power forward or sniper or non-sandbaggin' goalie. With a new set of experienced coaches, a more than solid D when healthy and some fairly deep pockets, I agree with Kenny Rogers, "you got to know when to hold 'em."

I believe Kenny also said "know when to fold'em, know when to walk away, know when to run". A push in the final 20 games for 8th place is just not good enough. I want contender, not an also ran. REBUILD PERIOD

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#12 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 06 2009, 08:00PM
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Robin do you think Gilberts stock has dropped significantly to other NHL teams and GM's or is he still viewed as what he is, a smart right handed defenceman who's overpaid now but has a chance to be underpaid during his long term contract? I guess what I'm asking is has his stock dropped much to the people who actually make the decisions as opposed to last year given the fact that these hockey people knew he was over achieving and know he's under achieving this year? I hope this question is clear and makes sense.

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#13 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 06 2009, 08:03PM
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Also do you think that the Oilers' are going to be hurtin' for a RHD pretty bad if they get rid of Gilbert? I know they have Staios and I think Chorney is a RHD but it seems that soon they won't have an impact RHD.

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#14 Brandon
December 06 2009, 08:22PM
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I'm for complete rebuild with a lottery pick, too many times we have seen our Oilers come close to the playoffs and miss I say if we are going to miss(which we will) let's end up with a lottery pick while we are at it, can't hurt anything can it?

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#15 JB
December 06 2009, 08:26PM
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I dont understand your post Brownlee, after 2 victories shouldn't the hour glass in that picture by a parade route for the Stanley Cup we will obviously win in June next year?

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#16 DonDon
December 06 2009, 08:32PM
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Robin. Well stated. Obviously, you are far closer to the 'action' than many of us Oiler armchair QBs and have a clearer picture of the Oilers' situation than most of us could ever expect.

In reading other posts, I have never felt that panic has ever set in; perhaps dejection, cynicism over the management of the hockey operations past and present and, for some, plain heartbreak and humiliation over the prospect of yet another of many lost seasons that will haunt us again.

As you will recall, in the off-season, Tambellini offered hope when little hope existed for a turn-around in the fortunes of the hockey club. With his repudiation of some players, the promise that the Oilers would get grittier and tougher on puck control, and then hired both experienced coaches Pat Quinn and Tom Renney, fans felt they had reason to get excited about the 2009-2010 season. Unfortunately, Tambellini over-promised and under-delivered.

As of today, real Oiler fans are surprised and pleased that the club won the last two road games and hope for more wins. None of us are happy about the futility of losing to the Flames and missing the playoffs for what, the fourth consecutive season?

On the positive side, there is hope for the future, starting with a solid core of players to build around that could eventually turn the team into a contender. The coaching staff appears to be competent and a replacement is in place for Quinn, Tom Renney, when Quinn decides to move on to something different. On the horizon, there are some very promising young players in the system to get excited about. Finally, the farm team in Springfield is actually fulfilling its purpose.

For the present, when I read the standings this morning, the Oilers were in 14th place in the Western Conference. The organization is in the deplorable position of having too many contracts, some close to impossible to move, and uncomfortably tight against the salary cap. As to player personnel, the team is out of balance as there are too many one-dimensional, small forwards not particularly strong on the puck in a league that requires not only physical and mental toughness but skill and size. There are 'passengers' dragging the club down who are not carrying their salaries and others who really aren't NHL-calibre.

We have to presume Quinn and Renney are smart enough to be acutely aware of the deficiencies and the necessary requirements to fix them. Unfortunately for the Oilers' stakeholders, Tambellini is stuck with the present salary cap and somewhat limited to make changes only through addition by subtraction. Many of the subtraction assets have little or no value to other NHL organizations.

What to do under the circumstances? There are some tradeable assets with value that appear not to fit into the Oilers' future. Gilbert and Cogliano? Possibly even older veterans such as Souray, Staois and Moreau, who could help teams in the fray for the Stanley Cup this season. Under the right conditions, even Hemsky. No player should sacrosanct. Is this dumping contracts and tearing down the roster? It really depends on one's perspective of what is required to fix a non-contender. The Flames turn over their roster 30% every year and they remain contenders. 30% of the Oilers' current roster amounts to seven players. Under the circumstances, even eight players would appear to be reasonable.

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#17 Robin Brownlee
December 06 2009, 08:33PM
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Max Powers - Team HME Evans wrote:

Robin do you think Gilberts stock has dropped significantly to other NHL teams and GM's or is he still viewed as what he is, a smart right handed defenceman who's overpaid now but has a chance to be underpaid during his long term contract? I guess what I'm asking is has his stock dropped much to the people who actually make the decisions as opposed to last year given the fact that these hockey people knew he was over achieving and know he's under achieving this year? I hope this question is clear and makes sense.

Gilbert had triple the production through 29 games last season, so I'm not sure who was knocking him. Grebeshkov was far from lights out before getting hurt, but he likes it here. I don't see the KHL being an option unless he asks for stupid money and, even then, the KHL money truck has stalled.

I said earlier this season I didn't think Gilbert's stock had dropped all that much, but I'm re-thinking that because it won't be all that long until we're at 40 games.

I don't think Gilbert will be underpaid at any point in this contract. He came as close to that as he's going to get last year with those 45 points. I said before and I'll say it again, I don't see him reaching 40 points again during this contract, if he stays in Edmonton, and he doesn't bring enough other elements -- physical play, toughness etc -- to become a bargain. He's a good second-pairing defenceman and that's how he's seen by NHL people I know.

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#18 Robin Brownlee
December 06 2009, 08:38PM
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Brandon wrote:

I'm for complete rebuild with a lottery pick, too many times we have seen our Oilers come close to the playoffs and miss I say if we are going to miss(which we will) let's end up with a lottery pick while we are at it, can't hurt anything can it?

I'm for a significant overhaul in terms of freeing up cap space with an eye to having a significantly different team two seasons from now, but I'd stop short of the tanking it talk.

With a couple of moves -- trading Moreau, Staios and Souray, if there's a taker -- and inserting younger players, this team will be in contention for the lottery in 2010 without giving players away for nothing.

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#19 Heavyd
December 06 2009, 08:55PM
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If big mac plays tomorrow, anyone think he will fight sortini?

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#20 Brandon
December 06 2009, 09:03PM
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@Robin Brownlee

I'm not saying tank it either but like you have said we need a younger team, if I were Tambi I would be trading guys like Moreau et al for draft picks. Stock up the house and the cottage while we are at it. In two years time I think this team will be great but adding more skill in Hall I think will help us develop say MPS more, instead of rushing him into the league we could have him play a year with the Falcons while Eberle-Cogs-Hall tear it up for us.

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#21 Ogden Brother
December 06 2009, 09:07PM
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Simple concept for Oiler management: Poll the fan base as to who to keep and who to trade. Then do the opposite of whatever the majority wants.

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#22 Robin Brownlee
December 06 2009, 09:14PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Simple concept for Oiler management: Poll the fan base as to who to keep and who to trade. Then do the opposite of whatever the majority wants.

I'm reasonably confident Tambellini is already ignoring the expertise in team building that Dick the plumber from Morinville and Jack the oilfield equipment guy from Fort Mac have to offer.

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#23 BarryS
December 06 2009, 09:23PM
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I think the best we can hope for is a longer term contract for several shorter term lessor player contracts equalling the same value this year and maybe a high draft to make up value. Of course I am willing to be pleasantly surprised, if Tambo finds someone willing to get "even" for an impending firing and doing in his present bosses, but that's not very likely given every let go GM never drops out of the game and is soon angling for a new job.

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#24 Hemmertime
December 06 2009, 09:32PM
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Brandon wrote:

I'm for complete rebuild with a lottery pick, too many times we have seen our Oilers come close to the playoffs and miss I say if we are going to miss(which we will) let's end up with a lottery pick while we are at it, can't hurt anything can it?

Lets tank the season and pick 5th Overall and pick Bosignore!

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#25 RossCreekNation
December 06 2009, 09:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

A total blowup isn't the answer, and neither is building for this season. Next year and the year after should be the focus.

x2

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#26 Jaime
December 06 2009, 09:43PM
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I admit, I wanted Steve Staios to be traded. But is there really any team that will take a player like Staios or Moreau? Do these guys have any value whatsoever? I'd think that the most we could hope to get back for either of them is a very low draft pick. I think about these players, and I see how long they've been here and how hard they've battled for this team, and I just think to myself, perhaps they've earned the right to play out their contracts. Maybe they deserve a little respect. I know it's a business, but trading Steve Staios and Ethan Moreau at the trade deadline is unlikely at best, and even if it did happen, we would get very little in return. Let's let these guys walk away with some dignity and show them some appreciation for their hard play and commitment to the Oilers for so many years.

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#27 RossCreekNation
December 06 2009, 09:47PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

I'm reasonably confident Tambellini is already ignoring the expertise in team building that Dick the plumber from Morinville and Jack the oilfield equipment guy from Fort Mac have to offer.

How 'bout Tyler the snow plow operator? Does he have a say?

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#28 RossCreekNation
December 06 2009, 09:51PM
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@Jaime

It is my belief that BOTH players can & will be moved by the deadline. The respect they will be given is a trade to a contending team. Gritty veterans are always in demand come deadline day. And the point of dealing them is to a) get them off the books moving forward, and b) redefine the leadership contingent, so getting a 5th round pick or whatever is fine.

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#29 Jaime
December 06 2009, 09:54PM
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Well, I guess if you traded either to a team expected to contend for the Cup, that would be ultimately most respectful. But what contending team needs a Staios or a Moreau? They don't need them, because they're contenders!

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#30 Jaime
December 06 2009, 09:58PM
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Draft picks are so valuable today, I just don't see teams throwing away picks at the deadline like they used to. If you're the Sharks, or the Hawks, do you trade a pick for Moreau or Staios? No, because if you want to stay a contender, you need to keep your draft picks so you always have talent coming up. Contenders aren't built through trades or free agency anymore.

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#31 Paq Twinn
December 06 2009, 10:02PM
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With the understanding that some of the Oilers current contracts are untradeable, why hasn't there been talk of buy-outs or banishment to the minors through waivers? I thought Katz had $. Where is it? He should just hand Nilsson what ever is owed to him and say thanks for nothing. There are a few others I'd do the same to if I owned a chain of pharmasuetical companies.

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#32 RossCreekNation
December 06 2009, 10:06PM
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Jaime wrote:

Well, I guess if you traded either to a team expected to contend for the Cup, that would be ultimately most respectful. But what contending team needs a Staios or a Moreau? They don't need them, because they're contenders!

Contenders are always looking for depth pieces at the deadline. They pick up a #5 d-man from someone else to be a #6 for them; they add somebody's 10th forward to be their 12th man. If you ask me, (and the Sharks/Flames have been faves of mine for quite a while), guys like Moreau or Staios is EXACTLY what San Jose needs - some heart & soul.

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#33 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 06 2009, 10:13PM
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Paq Twinn wrote:

With the understanding that some of the Oilers current contracts are untradeable, why hasn't there been talk of buy-outs or banishment to the minors through waivers? I thought Katz had $. Where is it? He should just hand Nilsson what ever is owed to him and say thanks for nothing. There are a few others I'd do the same to if I owned a chain of pharmasuetical companies.

well, buyouts cant happen during the season, so that option is out.

As far as waiving players, i would suspect we will see that soon

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#34 Brandon
December 06 2009, 10:15PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Lets tank the season and pick 5th Overall and pick Bosignore!

I heard he has crust, am I wrong?

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#35 RossCreekNation
December 06 2009, 10:36PM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Lets tank the season and pick 5th Overall and pick Bosignore!

BoNsignore was drafted 4th... and he was supposed to be a "poor-man's Mario Lemieux". Hm... maybe a "dead-broke man's Mario Lemieux" would've been more accurate?

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#36 Spottheloon
December 06 2009, 11:16PM
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Hi Robin,

Change for the sake of change isn't a good solution to what ills this team. That said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, is it not?

My take on this whole situation is that management needs to take a step back and identify a concept of what will make the Oilers a successful team. Kevin Lowe talked about skill and gathering as much skill as possible. However, without size, grit and players with different skill sets, it seems to have made the Oilers an easy team to play against too many nights. In my mind, this is where Tambi has the chance to put his mark on the team, along with the other high foreheads of the Oilers management group. Once a concept of what makes a team competitive has been identified and endorsed, individual components will have to be identified. As part of this, the current roster will have to be examined to see which players fit the bill and which don't. Obviously, cap considerations will also play a significant role in all these discussions.

When I look at the Oilers since they traded away Pronger, I find myself wondering what the overall vision of the team is and what management is hoping to achieve. As a fan, I can't see what it is they are working towards, although that doesn't stop a lot of hand wringing fans from offering countless suggestions on player personnel moves.

I would be interested in what you think of this approach, Robin. Great read, as always.

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#37 Bucknuck
December 07 2009, 12:33AM
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I think there are some great building blocks on this team. Don't blow it up. Let's get some balance on the roster.

The defence and the Goaltending on this team can be left alone. This team is fine in those departments.

The place where there are problems is at forward. There are too many small guys that get pushed off the puck. If we could move a couple of those guys with great upside but limited size and get a biggish centerman with some speed and grit, then I think this team could really be set up for next year when a couple of our youngish guys may break through to the next level, just like Penner seems to have this year.

Which of those smallish skilled forwards do you keep? My money is on Gagner, Brule and Eberle. Cogliano, Osullivan and Nilsson will be moved and Comrie will resign wherever next year.

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#38 DonDon
December 07 2009, 12:35AM
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Brownlee said: "I'm reasonably confident Tambellini is already ignoring the expertise in team building that Dick the plumber from Morinville and Jack the oilfield equipment guy from Fort Mac have to offer."

Maybe so, maybe not, but I'm sure Pat Quinn and Tom Renney have the expertise in team building that is necessary to fix this team and from Quinn's verbal expressions about the current roster and the 14th position in the standings, I'm confident Tambellini has heard plenty from Quinn about the roster's inadequacies. Perhaps, Dick and Jack are on the money.

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#39 Tayranchula
December 07 2009, 12:36AM
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The Oilers should get rid of Cogs, been saying it all year. There just isnt anywhere on the team that he fits in and Ganger is going to be better and will be better to build a team around in the future. Does Omark plan on making a jump to the NHL or is he just going to stay in the K? I could see a guy like him, MPS, Eberle or Rajala being bettr than Cogs,

If Kovulchuck isnt the Oilers number one target for offensive help they should look at Chicago for Sharp. Everything Oiler fans want Horcoff to be.

And why does everyone want to trade Gilbert? Him and Grebs are almost carbon copies of eachother and Grebs contract is up after this year and probably could gain more interest from other teams.

Stone and Jacques are everything the Oilers need when it comes to being physcial along with showing offensive ability.

I hope the Oilers can find something nice in exchange for players like Moreau Staios and Nilson although i know im just dreaming that would happen.

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#40 mowgli
December 07 2009, 01:21AM
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I wounder what R-Smith and Hemsky be doing mabe hemmer would be higher in scoreing then kopitar. He seems to be helping in that department.

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#41 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 07 2009, 06:37AM
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mowgli wrote:

I wounder what R-Smith and Hemsky be doing mabe hemmer would be higher in scoreing then kopitar. He seems to be helping in that department.

wow, huk'd on phonexs wurked fur u!!!!

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#42 Robin Brownlee
December 07 2009, 07:08AM
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@Tayranchula

Has Gagner proven he's a player you can build around or is that simply the hope? You get into trouble by making a series of moves to build around any one player, if that player isn't what you thought he might be.

If Grebeshkov comes back and improves on a tough start to the year, I think you see if you can sign him for 3-4 years and try to move Gilbert.

I agree on Jacques and Stone. They do provide the kind of added grit Tambellini talked about, even though there's always room for more.

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#43 Lofty
December 07 2009, 07:18AM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I think there are some great building blocks on this team. Don't blow it up. Let's get some balance on the roster.

The defence and the Goaltending on this team can be left alone. This team is fine in those departments.

The place where there are problems is at forward. There are too many small guys that get pushed off the puck. If we could move a couple of those guys with great upside but limited size and get a biggish centerman with some speed and grit, then I think this team could really be set up for next year when a couple of our youngish guys may break through to the next level, just like Penner seems to have this year.

Which of those smallish skilled forwards do you keep? My money is on Gagner, Brule and Eberle. Cogliano, Osullivan and Nilsson will be moved and Comrie will resign wherever next year.

You are right that the defense and goaltending is fine (when healthy) and it would be great to leave them alone. But too much money is stuck on the back end to make any significant moves on the front end.

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#44 Tayranchula
December 07 2009, 07:52AM
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@Robin Brownlee

I do agree with what your saying about Gagner, although I didnt make myself clear. I meant to say that Gagner would make for a better veterans core down the road than Cogs, because Gagner is a beter finisher and setup man. Im sure we can both agree on that.

Another thing is: Why does Stone play on the 4th line with Storts and Nilson. I would rather see him play with Potulny and Cogs and have Moreau Storts on the 4th. Just a sugestion.

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#45 Ogden Brother
December 07 2009, 08:30AM
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Spottheloon wrote:

Hi Robin,

Change for the sake of change isn't a good solution to what ills this team. That said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity, is it not?

My take on this whole situation is that management needs to take a step back and identify a concept of what will make the Oilers a successful team. Kevin Lowe talked about skill and gathering as much skill as possible. However, without size, grit and players with different skill sets, it seems to have made the Oilers an easy team to play against too many nights. In my mind, this is where Tambi has the chance to put his mark on the team, along with the other high foreheads of the Oilers management group. Once a concept of what makes a team competitive has been identified and endorsed, individual components will have to be identified. As part of this, the current roster will have to be examined to see which players fit the bill and which don't. Obviously, cap considerations will also play a significant role in all these discussions.

When I look at the Oilers since they traded away Pronger, I find myself wondering what the overall vision of the team is and what management is hoping to achieve. As a fan, I can't see what it is they are working towards, although that doesn't stop a lot of hand wringing fans from offering countless suggestions on player personnel moves.

I would be interested in what you think of this approach, Robin. Great read, as always.

From what I've seen Oiler brass were trying to build a Chicago type team. Only problem is our skill is ok to good while theirs is good to great.

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#46 Ogden Brother
December 07 2009, 08:34AM
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Tayranchula wrote:

I do agree with what your saying about Gagner, although I didnt make myself clear. I meant to say that Gagner would make for a better veterans core down the road than Cogs, because Gagner is a beter finisher and setup man. Im sure we can both agree on that.

Another thing is: Why does Stone play on the 4th line with Storts and Nilson. I would rather see him play with Potulny and Cogs and have Moreau Storts on the 4th. Just a sugestion.

Well Moreau is a proven 15 goal guy. Stone...not so much.

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#47 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 07 2009, 08:43AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Gilbert had triple the production through 29 games last season, so I'm not sure who was knocking him. Grebeshkov was far from lights out before getting hurt, but he likes it here. I don't see the KHL being an option unless he asks for stupid money and, even then, the KHL money truck has stalled.

I said earlier this season I didn't think Gilbert's stock had dropped all that much, but I'm re-thinking that because it won't be all that long until we're at 40 games.

I don't think Gilbert will be underpaid at any point in this contract. He came as close to that as he's going to get last year with those 45 points. I said before and I'll say it again, I don't see him reaching 40 points again during this contract, if he stays in Edmonton, and he doesn't bring enough other elements -- physical play, toughness etc -- to become a bargain. He's a good second-pairing defenceman and that's how he's seen by NHL people I know.

So if I'm picking up what you're putting down then Mr. Lowe has signed yet another albatross contract apart from Horcoffs and (previously) Penner's. Only this one has the possibility of being moved.

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#48 Bucknuck
December 07 2009, 08:48AM
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Lofty wrote:

You are right that the defense and goaltending is fine (when healthy) and it would be great to leave them alone. But too much money is stuck on the back end to make any significant moves on the front end.

That might be why there are rumours of moving Souray, though if they are looking at dumping salary but still remaining competitive I would look at Staios first.

There is a lot of salary in Moreau, Horcoff, Nilsson and Pisani. I would hate to lose a healthy Horcoff or Pisani, but both of them have not been 100% since 2007 and it is hurting the club.

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#49 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
December 07 2009, 08:57AM
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@Tayranchula

Why mess with a good thing? Moreau, Cogs and Potulny have been as lights out as a 3rd line gets lately. I'm not a big fan of Moreau but he's impressed lately.

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#50 jdrevenge
December 07 2009, 09:09AM
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@Brownlee...

His production was triple but if I remember right he played a much better second half than first. He also played a lot better with Souray. They seem to compliment each other pretty well.

Souray down low taking care of business. Gilbert carrying the puck and making the outlet pass which Souray's ridiculously long stick prevents him from doing.

I'm undecided as to whether or not Gilbert is the guy to trade IF such an oppurtunity arose.

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