Multitasking

Jonathan Willis
July 10 2009 08:22AM

malhotra

There is no secret as to what Steve Tambellini’s number one priority this offseason has been: acquiring a goal-scoring LW, namely Dany Heatley of the Ottawa Senators.

It isn’t possible to argue that the Oilers don’t need some more offensive punch; they scored 152 even-strength goals (7th in the WC) and their powerplay clocked in at 17.0% (10th in the WC). Neither of those numbers is overly respectable.

That said, with the Dany Heatley situation currently on hold (and Eugene Melnyk making noises about him possibly coming back with the Senators), there’s no reason not to take some time to deal with other matters as well. To his credit, Steve Tambellini has made some minor housekeeping moves (sending Sestito to New Jersey, adding AHL players) and didn’t leave the goaltending situation unresolved. There is however, more to be done, something evident from a couple of statistics I pointed out last week:

Penalty-killing Percentage: 77.5% (14th in the West) Faceoff Percentage: 47.9% (13th in the West)

Other teams are making moves. The only team in the Western Conference weaker than the Oilers in both of the above categories was the Phoenix Coyotes, something that Don Maloney acknowledged in an interview published today:

MONIQUE: What do you see as the biggest areas you want to improve? MALONEY: Penalty kill, power play and faceoffs. We picked up Fiddler for those reasons. Vern is 54% on the faceoff and plays big PK minutes. We need to improve those stats in order to have success next season. Our goaltending has to be better.

In addition to bringing in Fiddler, Don Maloney also signed Adrian Aucoin, who was Calgary’s second most-used penalty killer last season.

These aren’t big, headline generating moves, and I don’t think the Phoenix Coyotes are a model to emulate in most cases, but I do know this: a couple of lower-profile veterans to shore up the Oilers weakest points (faceoffs and penalty-killing) would make me feel a lot more at ease about this team.

Some players off of the following list might be of interest:

  • Andrew Alberts (D): 2:28 SH TOI/GM, 157 hits, 133 blocked shots
  • Blair Betts (C): 2:59 SH TOI/GM, 93 hits, 49.3% faceoffs
  • Radek Bonk (C): 59.9% faceoffs, 6th in QualComp in NSH
  • Chris Gratton (C): 2:05 SH TOI/GM, 58.5% faceoffs, 37 hits (in 24 games)
  • Mike Grier (RW): 2:29 SH TOI/GM, 147 hits, 1.61 EVGAON/60
  • Manny Malhotra (C): 2:49 SH TOI/GM, 74 hits, 58.0% faceoffs
  • Marek Malik (D): 2:45 SH TOI/GM, 3rd in QualComp in T.B.
  • Travis Moen (LW): 2:21 SH TOI/GM, 171 hits, 5th in QualComp in S.J.
  • Dominic Moore (C): 2:19 SH TOI/GM, 75 hits, 54.1% faceoffs
  • Scott Nichol (C): 2:40 SH TOI/GM, 79 hits (in 43 games), 54.6% faceoffs
  • Rob Niedermayer (LW): 3:09 SH TOI/GM, 1st in QualComp in ANA
  • Martin Skoula (D): 2:39 SH TOI/GM, 126 blocked shots

There aren’t a lot of guys out there left; the lower-tier veterans are slowly being signed away, and Edmonton needs to pick up one or two – either via free agency or trade.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 jeff
July 10 2009, 11:49AM
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@ The Menace: Donairs would be a disaster at an Oilers game. Not just because there messy as can be, but the bathrooms are so small to go and clean up.

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#52 Chris.
July 10 2009, 11:50AM
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Old man Quinn may not know who our centers are... but at least he seems aware of the critical importance of the center position. As it stands, the Oilers lack size and depth down the middle... I'd be shocked if this hole is not addressed before Christmas.

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#53 Harlie
July 10 2009, 11:51AM
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jeff wrote:

@ The Menace: Donairs would be a disaster at an Oilers game. Not just because there messy as can be, but the bathrooms are so small to go and clean up.

haha that is exactly it. I work right near a Donair place and occasionally I'll hit it for lunch and after I'm done I'm so messed up from the dripping sauce and grease that I feel like taking a shower.

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#54 smiliegirl15
July 10 2009, 11:56AM
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I think that article forgot to address the fact that we don't have to give our tickets away because we can actually consistently sell out home games. Half price game day seats are good for fans too. The Oilers are the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL.

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#55 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 11:58AM
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Darren wrote:

Hey guys, interesting story on ESPN detailing their list of ALL sports franchises. It looks at which teams are most deserving of our dollar as fans. I know this is the duldrums of Oilers reporting days but that is something the ON could turn into a story if you wanted to, to point it out their findings to all the fans. In case you’re curious, they are none too happy about how much the Oilers are charging for tickets, 10th in the league, for what the fans here in Edmonton are getting. To get to the story just click on any sports team and you will find it as one of the stories for that team. Keep up the good work, ON.

Supply and demand my friend. Theirs no one to blame for high ticket prices but the fans themselves.

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#56 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 12:01PM
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scorecoff hemmercules wrote:

@ jeff: Haha, Penner won’t be going to the minors with that contract. Lowe would never allow it anyway. If we were to sign a player I don’t how Nilsson can’t be bought out or sent down or traded for picks. That clears around 2 mil right there I believe. There must be a team out there looking for a guy like Gilbert too, no? Does anyone have any idea what kind of money Malhotra, Gratton, Moore or Bonk are looking for???

We make way to big a deal out of $$$. Most of the money is easy to move (lots of talent on the back end) and We've already got 7 guys for 6 top forwards spots. if we are in need of money you waive Nilsson and trade O'sully for futures.

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#57 Downright Fierce
July 10 2009, 12:17PM
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Man, do you guys eat donairs open-face or what?

Any donair place worth its salt should wrap them with plastic bags or, at least, heavy duty foil. You just unwrap the top and roll down as you go and all the sweet juices gather at the bottom.

My main concern would be providing donairs in such close proximity to Dustin Penner.

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#58 Victoria
July 10 2009, 12:28PM
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jeff wrote:

@ The Menace: Donairs would be a disaster at an Oilers game. Not just because there messy as can be, but the bathrooms are so small to go and clean up.

Lol! I read that last part wrong, at first. I thought you meant 'cleaning up the bathroom' after a person had a Donair.

Eeeeew.

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#59 Joey Moss
July 10 2009, 12:30PM
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Downright Fierce wrote:

Man, do you guys eat donairs open-face or what? Any donair place worth its salt should wrap them with plastic bags or, at least, heavy duty foil. You just unwrap the top and roll down as you go and all the sweet juices gather at the bottom. My main concern would be providing donairs in such close proximity to Dustin Penner.

it is still messy that way if you get a donair the size of your head with extra cheese and sauce....

all this donair talk makes me wanna pick up a lebanese girl to call my own.

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#60 misfit
July 10 2009, 12:33PM
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I think the coaching change is being completely overblown by a lot of people. In fact, I think most coaching changes are. If we go into next season with the same roster we have now, there's a very good chance we're going to end up with another top 10 pick regardless of who's standing behind the bench.

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#61 Cam
July 10 2009, 12:39PM
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You Penner haters are missing the fact that he is the best LW on the team. We saw what happened to the first line's production when they pulled him off of it.

If you do anything with Penner then there sure as hell better be an improved option on LW coming the other way.

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#62 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 12:40PM
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@ misfit: Really? the coaching changes in Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Washington have all produced incredible results. What about in Ottawa, where Clouston had the team playing like they were supposed to by the end of the year? Coaching is not overblown, if anything it has been underrated in edmonton in recent memory because the coaching has been terrible yet everyone wanted to believe that good results would occur despite that.

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#63 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 12:43PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ misfit: Really? the coaching changes in Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Washington have all produced incredible results. What about in Ottawa, where Clouston had the team playing like they were supposed to by the end of the year? Coaching is not overblown, if anything it has been underrated in edmonton in recent memory because the coaching has been terrible yet everyone wanted to believe that good results would occur despite that.

Worked good in TB/NY too right!

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#64 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 12:46PM
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@ Ogden Brother: you cant deny the difference good coaching makes. Changing the coach wont guarantee better results, finding a good one will.

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#65 David S
July 10 2009, 12:47PM
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The Menace wrote:

...maybe if they brought in a donair vendor or two (just don’t tell DP).

Penner's loaded. He probably has his own donair station in the team rec-room. Come to think of it, that would be pretty cool for the house - donair on tap 24-7. Downside is, I'd probably be Jabba the Hut inside of a month.

What? Multitasking? Oh yeah. Well I'm stunned we haven't made any real moves to address the obvious deficits this team has. Our infatuation with hitting the home-run ball is killing any real chance for improvement. That's 100% on Katz' shoulder I suspect.

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#66 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 12:51PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: you cant deny the difference good coaching makes. Changing the coach wont guarantee better results, finding a good one will.

Unfortunatly fans don't understand what what good coaching is.

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#67 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 12:53PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ misfit: Really? the coaching changes in Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Washington have all produced incredible results. What about in Ottawa, where Clouston had the team playing like they were supposed to by the end of the year? Coaching is not overblown, if anything it has been underrated in edmonton in recent memory because the coaching has been terrible yet everyone wanted to believe that good results would occur despite that.

Nice twist of the topic too, the original poster was talking about coaching changes, which is also what you replied to.

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#68 daveeed
July 10 2009, 12:53PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Worked good in TB/NY too right!

Neither Scotty Bowman at his peak or Jesus H Christ could have done anything with either of those teams...I wouldn't want any player off of either of the rosters last season except Lecavalier/St.Louis/Stamkos. I feel bad for Tavares when he looks up to pass to someone this year and his best option is Trent Hunter!

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#69 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 12:54PM
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@ Ogden Brother: Are you trying to somehow suggest that MacT was a good coach? Explain, because as far as i can tell he did nothing to suggest he was a capable coach.

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#70 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 01:02PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Are you trying to somehow suggest that MacT was a good coach? Explain, because as far as i can tell he did nothing to suggest he was a capable coach.

I'm suggest we don't have the knowledge base to make an accurate assesment.

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#71 JB
July 10 2009, 01:04PM
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Once the team craps out on Heatley, which I would suggest is inevitable but only after a further two month wait, the Oil will head back to camp wit the same craptastic roster that shat the bed last year; the only difference is we'll be missing a top 6 forward (Kotalik) and our 4th line centre (Brodziak). Does this look like a recipe for success?

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#72 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 01:07PM
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@ Ogden Brother: Sometimes fans are a mindless mob ready to burn down the city Sometimes they scream DOAN DOAN DOAN to a club that couldnt pick a 1st rounder of any quality if their life depended on it.

Saying that fans lack the knowledge base to conclude whether a coach is good or not is an over statement i think.

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#73 godot10
July 10 2009, 01:12PM
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The Oilers have too many forwards under contract to sign more. They also have moderate cap challenges after next season.

Tambellini inherited those problems

Tambellini is not going to solve the above problems signing a bunch of marginal role specific NHL players. Most of the players available won't be interested in signing one year contracts in July, and the Oilers cannot afford to give out multiyear contracts to these guy. One has to wait till September for them to be more desparate.

Coaches are paid to coach. They better start coaching some of the Oilers existing young fowards to kill penalties.

There is no reason why Pouliot (or Brule or Stone or Cogliano) shouldn't be able to kill penalties as well as Vern Fiddler or Blair Betts.

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#74 jkumar
July 10 2009, 01:14PM
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I totally agree. This whole Heatley ordeal is taking away from other areas we should be concentrating on. We need guys that can win a faceoff, and can kill a penalty, and some of those guys listed can generated some offence too, not much, but more than marc pouliot, reddox, nilsson, and some AHLer's that will never make the jump to this league.

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#75 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 01:18PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Sometimes fans are a mindless mob ready to burn down the city Sometimes they scream DOAN DOAN DOAN to a club that couldnt pick a 1st rounder of any quality if their life depended on it. Saying that fans lack the knowledge base to conclude whether a coach is good or not is an over statement i think.

Same concept I'm sure applies if a high school kid were to critic the work of the proffesonials in your are of expertise.

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#76 Hemmertime
July 10 2009, 01:21PM
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Say hello to Malholtra and Betts and say good bye to Moreau. Betters played on NYR PK, one of the best (or the best, dont recall) and Manny for the FOs.

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#77 The Menace
July 10 2009, 01:25PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: @ Ogden Brother: you cant deny the difference good coaching makes. Changing the coach wont guarantee better results, finding a good one will. Unfortunatly fans don’t understand what what good coaching is.

Fortunatly, fans aren't hireing the coach. That's the General Manager's "are of expertise".

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#78 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 01:32PM
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The Menace wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Archaeologuy wrote: @ Ogden Brother: you cant deny the difference good coaching makes. Changing the coach wont guarantee better results, finding a good one will. Unfortunatly fans don’t understand what what good coaching is. Fortunatly, fans aren’t hireing the coach. That’s the General Manager’s “are of expertise”.

Good point, certainly relavant to the conversation.

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#79 The Menace
July 10 2009, 01:39PM
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@ Ogden Brother: +1

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#80 RobInALab
July 10 2009, 01:46PM
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daveeed wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Worked good in TB/NY too right! Neither Scotty Bowman at his peak or Jesus H Christ could have done anything with either of those teams…I wouldn’t want any player off of either of the rosters last season except Lecavalier/St.Louis/Stamkos. I feel bad for Tavares when he looks up to pass to someone this year and his best option is Trent Hunter!

But imagine what JC could have done with the Oilers. Promising to turn water into milkshakes would have gotten 40 goals a season out of Penner.

In all honesty though, if the trades fall through, I really hope Penner comes into camp in the best shape of his life and makes it tough to keep going with the fat jokes. It'd be great if it made him a mean SOB as well.

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#81 RobInALab
July 10 2009, 01:48PM
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Oh what the hell...

What if we had a hypnotist convince him that a puck was a donair? Penner could be converted into the ultimate penalty killer. No puck would get by him.

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#82 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 02:03PM
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@ Ogden Brother: I wouldnt expect too many highschoolers to have an opinion on my area of expertise, but there are things that even a kid in high school can understand about it.

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#83 Chris.
July 10 2009, 02:11PM
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godot10 wrote:

The Oilers have too many forwards under contract to sign more. They also have moderate cap challenges after next season. Tambellini inherited those problems Tambellini is not going to solve the above problems signing a bunch of marginal role specific NHL players. Most of the players available won’t be interested in signing one year contracts in July, and the Oilers cannot afford to give out multiyear contracts to these guy. One has to wait till September for them to be more desparate. Coaches are paid to coach. They better start coaching some of the Oilers existing young fowards to kill penalties. There is no reason why Pouliot (or Brule or Stone or Cogliano) shouldn’t be able to kill penalties as well as Vern Fiddler or Blair Betts.

Good post. It's easy for us as fans to sit out here in cyberspace and pull faceoff numbers, and various other stats on a guy like Malhotra, and say, "Why doesn't Tambellini just sign him to fill the gap at third line center?"

The thing that we often forget, is that pulling stats is NOT the same thing as actually scouting the player. Maybe the Oilers have assessed the overall skill level of Malhotra, Betts, and several others and believe that they aren't as good as thier stats indicate. Or, maybe they want too much money. Or, maybe Quinn and Renny are confident they can get more out of a guy like Pouliot. Or, the king daddy of my hopes, maybe a terrific trade is in the works...

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#84 Jonathan Willis
July 10 2009, 02:12PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Really? the coaching changes in Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Washington have all produced incredible results. What about in Ottawa, where Clouston had the team playing like they were supposed to by the end of the year? Coaching is not overblown, if anything it has been underrated in edmonton in recent memory because the coaching has been terrible yet everyone wanted to believe that good results would occur despite that.

I love Carolina as an example. They had a good coach in Paul Maurice, who took them to the SCF. Unfortunately, the team slumped, he was fired and a good coach in Peter Laviolette was hired, who took them all the way to a chamiponship. Unfortunately, the team slumped, he was fired and a good coach in Paul Maurice... wait a second!

The point? Simply that the difference between a good coach and a bad coach is often very little other than timing.

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#85 ChiliChunk
July 10 2009, 02:12PM
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RobInALab wrote:

Oh what the hell… What if we had a hypnotist convince him that a puck was a donair? Penner could be converted into the ultimate penalty killer. No puck would get by him.

Yeah but then he lead the league in delay of game penalties as he would pick it up with his hands and shove it in his mouth...

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#86 Chris.
July 10 2009, 02:14PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I wouldnt expect too many highschoolers to have an opinion on my area of expertise

It would be both illegal and immoral to introduce "highschoolers" to MY area of expertise...

(If you know what I'm sayin...)

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#87 daveeed
July 10 2009, 02:15PM
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ChiliChunk wrote:

Yeah but then he lead the league in delay of game penalties as he would pick it up with his hands and shove it in his mouth…

Is it a minor or a major for eating the donair, I mean, eating the puck?

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#88 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 02:16PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: It goes to show that there really is a shelf life for coaches. Either way, the changes in Carolina were changes that brought in the right coach for the right team at the right time.

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#89 Jonathan Willis
July 10 2009, 02:18PM
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Chris. wrote:

The thing that we often forget, is that pulling stats is NOT the same thing as actually scouting the player. Maybe the Oilers have assessed the overall skill level of Malhotra, Betts, and several others and believe that they aren’t as good as thier stats indicate.

Yes, maybe the Oilers have scouted Chris Neil and decided that he fills the holes at 2MM dollars a year. Wait, you say that's crazy? But... they have actual scouts... and such a great track record of player assessment...

Arguing against individual players on the basis that they don't measure up scouting wise makes no sense - because on July 1st there were dozens of these guys available.

Last year, the Oilers decided not to send away Stoll and Reasoner without hiring replacements. Reasoner, at least, would certainly have signed a cheaper, relatively short-term contract. Instead, we watched as a succession of players - starting with Pisani but also including Cogliano, Brodziak and Pouliot - were tried without success in the third line centre role.

If a hole remains unfilled, at the end of the day the GM deserves the blame.

And as for Malhotra, take a look at how Ken Hitchcock used him. Personally, I know that I'll take Hitchcock's judgement over pretty much any of the Oilers' professional scouts.

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#90 Ogden Brother
July 10 2009, 02:19PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Archaeologuy wrote: Really? the coaching changes in Pittsburgh, Carolina, and Washington have all produced incredible results. What about in Ottawa, where Clouston had the team playing like they were supposed to by the end of the year? Coaching is not overblown, if anything it has been underrated in edmonton in recent memory because the coaching has been terrible yet everyone wanted to believe that good results would occur despite that. I love Carolina as an example. They had a good coach in Paul Maurice, who took them to the SCF. Unfortunately, the team slumped, he was fired and a good coach in Peter Laviolette was hired, who took them all the way to a chamiponship. Unfortunately, the team slumped, he was fired and a good coach in Paul Maurice… wait a second! The point? Simply that the difference between a good coach and a bad coach is often very little other than timing.

Bingo

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#91 daveeed
July 10 2009, 02:19PM
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Chris. wrote:

It would be both illegal and immoral to introduce “highschoolers” to MY area of expertise… (If you know what I’m sayin…)

I am pretty sure there are tons of high schoolers putting curves in their hockey sticks in their mom's basements...

(sorry couldn't resist) : )

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#92 Chris.
July 10 2009, 02:21PM
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daveeed wrote:

Is it a minor or a major for eating the donair, I mean, eating the puck?

Probably just a delay of game. (2min)

Why can't we just install rotating advertisments behind the nets? When you want Dustin to charge at the goal, show a picture of a tasty Donair. When it's time for him to stop, with authority, just shy of the crease... rotate away that picture in favor of a promo for Club Fit. Think of this as a modified Forrest Gump technique.

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#93 Jonathan Willis
July 10 2009, 02:23PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

It goes to show that there really is a shelf life for coaches. Either way, the changes in Carolina were changes that brought in the right coach for the right team at the right time.

A shelf life for some coaches. Bowman did just fine in extended stints, as have others.

And bringing in a good coach - even a Stanley Cup winning coach - doesn't guarantee success. See Hartley, Atlanta. Crawford, Los Angeles. Tortorella, New York. Quenneville, Colorado. Keenan, Calgary. Hitchcock, Philadelphia. Martin, Florida. Maurice, Toronto.

Plenty of good coaches fail in plenty of places. A team probably can't go far without a good coach, but plenty of well-coached teams can fail miserably.

Looking to the coach to trigger a massive turnaround, more often than not, is a mistake.

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#94 GSC
July 10 2009, 02:27PM
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This is what I've been saying all along, the Oilers need to pick up a checking centre and a shutdown defenceman via free agency.

Fiddler was one of my favourite choices as a centre signing, with Betts and Malhotra not far behind. In terms of defencemen, Greg Zanon and Kurtis Foster topped my list...and, of course, they're already gone.

At this point, if these issues haven't been addressed by Tambellini, they're not going to be.

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#95 Jonathan Willis
July 10 2009, 02:28PM
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While we're at it:

Everyone here who believes that with a wave of his magic wand, Pat Quinn will make his players play up to potential (either actual or as imagined by fans) go read what San Jose Sharks fans were saying once Ron Wilson was fired.

Then read what they're saying now.

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#96 Archaeologuy
July 10 2009, 02:30PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Bowman is to coaching as Gretzky was to scoring. He was a freak of coaching nature that will likely never be seen again.

I dont know how much or little Quinn will affect the Oilers this year. You make a compelling argument that is conservative in nature, but the Oilers were a team without an identity or work ethic last season. I cant help but believe that a new leader at the helm will change that.

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#97 Jonathan Willis
July 10 2009, 02:37PM
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And since I'm on a roll....

Is 'we don't need a checking centre because Pat Quinn can turn Marc Pouliot into one' really a compelling argument?

Especially since MacTavish's specialty was polishing projects who might not have otherwise had a career into defensive specialists (see Pisani, and virtually every other less-than-skilled forward MacT's ever coached)?

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#98 Jeff Finlay
July 10 2009, 02:37PM
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Kotalik is gone. UGH!!!

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#99 Chris.
July 10 2009, 02:37PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Oh believe me... I regularly shake my head at some of the decisions the Oilers have made. Why didn't they scout the way Cole drives to the net, and realize it wouldn't be easy for him to do so from the left side? Why did they offer a one way contract to JDD when his performance at the AHL level was only average.(Anyone remember the three-headed-goalie-monster, or the fact that Roli played a thousand games in a row?)

This offseason, why did they offer Niel so much money? Why didn't the lawyers read Heatley's contract and realize that the bonus deadline was twenty-four hours later than initally reported?

The thing is... I'm trying to remain upbeat. It took me a few seasons to realize that Lowe never had REAL long-term plans; and was flying be the seat of his pants. I still hold out hope for Tambellini... I'm trying real hard to believe that there may be a method to his madness...

When we, just as casual observers, can see so many obvious mistakes... It makes me wonder why Katz is paying these guys. Though it could be worse: Tambellini could have pulled a Tallon with some paperwork, or signed Pronger to a seven year deal without realizing that it wouldn't in fact take effect till after he was 35....

Avatar
#100 Soup
July 10 2009, 02:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@ Jonathan Willis:

Seems to me at the end of 07/08 Oil Brass probably had enough of the mediocrity. We fans get these love affairs with guys like Stoll and Reasoner because they're good guys and because they fill a percieved hole. Sounds oddly similar to some old coach's love affair with short almost NHL players.

I'm figuring that the OBT (Oil brain trust) probably assumed last year that Pou, Cogs or Brods would learn to fill the holes left by Reasoner and Stoll, and at the end of 07/08 that was a pretty fair assumption. all three played very well for the last half of the season previous and showed all kinds of potential to move into more prominent roles. We'll never really know if the failure was in the read by the OBT or coaching or the players or some mix there of.

The talk of the Betts or Malhotras of the world is way off base in my mind (and for what its worth, I know fully that my opinion is worth no more than anyone elses). Plugging holes on lines 3 and 4 totally ignores that our line 1 and 2 aren't near the upper side of performance compared to the rest of the league.

I agree that the last year is best viewed from as far away as possible. At the same time I think it is worth cutting some slack to team until they show what they can do under another coach/system. We bitch and moan about the over pay for Moreau, Pisani, Staois and others, yet if they played near their normal potential last year (not to their contract, but to their actual past performance) this team is in the playoffs with a bit of margin to spare.

Lines 3 and 4 are critically important, especially for teams built to go deep. For teams like the oil in their awkward teen aged stage of development, the confidence gained by having at least one line that strikes fear into the opponent's mind by scoring on a regular basis, the rest of the team would probably grow three inches.

Sorry for the long post, but I really think that this team already has all the 3rd and 4th liners you need and then some. Yeah, you'd have to trade away one or two good guys with potential, but give me some asshole who can score! At least one more than what we have now!

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