Kevin Prendergast: Oilers Have “Given Up Hope” On Dany Heatley

Jonathan Willis
July 17 2009 01:24PM

lnd

When it comes to truly dream-crushing quotes, Dan Tencer has the best set I’ve seen lately courtesy of Oilers’ assistant GM Kevin Prendergast.

I won’t give away everything, but here’s the money quote:

"I think we've given up hope on the Heatley scenario; but, I guess it's not dead in the water. But, at this point, it looks like we'll go to camp with the same team we finished with last year outside of a new goaltender." "I think at this point, it's pretty evident what's going to happen. But, we haven't closed the door on the whole issue yet."

Of course, when Prendergast says the ‘same team’ as last year, he means the same team as last year minus Ales Kotalik, Kyle Brodziak and Liam Reddox. Fun stuff.

Honestly, this quote is so ludicrous that I wonder all sorts of things. There are still players on the market who could shore up weaknesses – most notably the obvious lack of a qualified checking centre. The Oilers still have enough cap space to make a play for a guy like Manny Malhotra or Radek Bonk – and if they are truly considering moving away from Heatley than there is no reason not to sign a player of this ilk. Malhotra’s reportedly looking for a deal in the 2MM/season range, while Bonk would undoubtedly be cheaper even than that.

If we can believe that Prendergast is both a) completely aware of the situation and b) being honest with Tencer, than we should be concerned about the competence of the men currently making decisions for the team. Dany Heatley was never a sure thing, and there are an abundance of flaws with the team, so not having a Plan B is simply inexcusable.

The Edmonton Oilers may still improve; young players like Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano might take significant strides forward, the team might enjoy better halth as a whole (not that there were an inordinate number of injuries last season) and a better schedule could all help the Oilers be a better hockey team.

But there are any number of positive steps still left to Steve Tambellini and his staff, and not taking them would be a mistake.

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#101 Hemmertime
July 17 2009, 09:01PM
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@ DanMan: Detroits system isnt completely offensive, and they have their Maltby's and Drapers too. Their stars are 2 way players, Defense wins

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#102 ronaldo
July 17 2009, 09:08PM
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Every off-season I believe management can't be this dumb, they know what their doing and have something big up their sleeve. Then the season starts, I focus on watching the team and assume the big deals couldn't happen as it's hard to make these things happen in the cap world. Yet, somehow, other teams seem to improve. Why is this? It must be because, yes, they are this dumb. *pours another drink, tries to return to state of blind (drunken) optimism*

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#103 DanMan
July 17 2009, 09:23PM
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@ Hemmertime:

Detroit plays a puck posession game when they have the puck, and forecheck hard when they don't have the puck. Thats not defensive hockey.

To me, defensive hockey is playing in a way, that when you don't have the puck, or it is a loose puck with the opposite team closer to it, you don't forcheck, you set up a zone and sit back to break up the pass at the destination (ie. trapping, which neither team did very much in the finals, which should tell us all something).

But, I have to ask you Hemmertime, and J-Will, why are you such strong advocates of defensive hockey? Is that really the style you want to watch?

I would much rather see Chicago, Washington, even Vancouver play than teams like Minnesota and New Jersey. That is ugly hockey. Shutdown hockey is horrible for the game. It takes the game away from the players and gives it to the coaches.

Not too long ago, we sat through the worst era of hockey. The new rules have SAVED hockey. Do you really want to see the Oilers try and rekindle the magic of the trapinng-era?

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#104 Joey Moss
July 17 2009, 09:38PM
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as far as pendergast goes i think he is probably the least competent member of the management team and most likely to be fired at this point. he did a terrible job of running the ahl teams the last few years and is now making statements contrary to other members of the staff. i heard patrick laforge on cbc just this week talking about how the team was still in the hunt for players.

KP is a joke.

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#105 Garett
July 17 2009, 10:03PM
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At one point this year I was so mad about the cost to attend an Oilers game, I live in Grande Prairie and used to rip in, go to the game and rip home all in the same day. Me and some buddies would do this 6-8 times a year, we loved it. Last year we did it once, that is all (in this dire economy) that we can afford now. At this point after much thought, I realize the rise in the cost to go to the game is actually a blessing because it would have been a waste of time, money, and emotion to go to any more games! The game we attended was the one where Horcoff had an open net with less than 2 minutes to go and only had to side-step the d-man to put it in, instead shot it into the d-man's pads and Darcey Tucker went back to tie it up with 10 sec to go, then he scores the winner in a shootout! This years budget for extra-curricular activities may well not have an Oiler game in it!

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#106 Hemmertime
July 17 2009, 10:07PM
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@ DanMan: There is a happy median. The Oilers tightened up their reigns when Hemsky is not on the ice. The MacT "press" I believe its called, 1 man in, 4 in the neutral zone. Gasp, defensive hockey.

It all depends on roster. As long as we are pumping north of 25 shots on net I could care less how we accomplish it. Be it "pressing" and playing for PP, free wheeling offense or a combination of the two. Quite frankly, if we had Minnesota's roster the years where they were just horrible to watch (every year?) I would want us playing a defensive system too. Sorry, but Andrew Brunette shouldnt be told to run wild and he was one of their best. Mind you he did have over 80 pts in Colorado - but 95% their roster you get the picture.

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#107 oil fan
July 17 2009, 10:50PM
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The phones are still on. Just not for the big star we all want, but may not need. A defensive center man would get into the dance. Then trade or two during the season Oil will be fine.

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#108 West Coast Oil
July 17 2009, 11:01PM
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A lot of good posts especially the ones between DanMan and JW. I am thinking perhaps Cogliano gets traded to a team that has several defensively sound centres and needs a more offensive one. I am also thinking that Quinn will use the players the Oil have the way they were meant to be used. My complaint was always the fact that the team KLowe built was not the right team for MacT. KLowe built a Ferrari (okay maybe a Corvette) fast skating, offensively gifted and designed to go forward and meanwhile MacT was trying to drive the car like a Semi or a tank. The disconnect between the team built by the GM and the team the coach wanted or could drive was huge. From what I have seen of Quinn he doesn't match lines and he doesn't have a specific checking line, what he does is have every line forecheck as hard as they can and attempt to score goals. The junior team Quinn coached to the gold medal was a team based on this premise and his main players were offensive minded guys (who were criticized for their inability to play a solid two way game) like Tavares, Eberle, Saban, etc. in fact I would be hard pressed to name too many defensive type players who played a big part. In fact it would be interesting to see the face off percentage of that team. The Oilers have more prospects at centre than any other position and the fact is DanMan is right we need to develop them in their natural positions and let them learn the hard way. I think Quinn will play the young guys and the message will be "I don't care if you lose the draw but you better fracking work your ass off to get the puck back if you do lose." Guys like Brule, Stortini and Horcoff fit this type of player, Brodziak as much as he was liked doesn't.

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#109 West Coast Oil
July 17 2009, 11:13PM
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Just did a quick look for the 09 juniors face off percentage and Canada had 4 players in the top 30. Tavares was number 2 at a 65% rate.. so perhaps that isnt a good judge.. :)

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#110 Jonathan Willis
July 18 2009, 01:15AM
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@ DanMan:

There are two zones. I want my team to win, so I want them to be good in both of them.

It's all about balance.

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#111 TonyT
July 18 2009, 04:45AM
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All I wanna know is what happened to Tambellini's desire to get "bigger and stronger", did he not have a gameplan or did he simply change his mind. Also, please forgive me if these were already adressed as I haven't read the other posts.

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#112 DanMan
July 18 2009, 11:19AM
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West Coast Oil wrote:

A lot of good posts especially the ones between DanMan and JW. I am thinking perhaps Cogliano gets traded to a team that has several defensively sound centres and needs a more offensive one. I am also thinking that Quinn will use the players the Oil have the way they were meant to be used. My complaint was always the fact that the team KLowe built was not the right team for MacT. KLowe built a Ferrari (okay maybe a Corvette) fast skating, offensively gifted and designed to go forward and meanwhile MacT was trying to drive the car like a Semi or a tank. The disconnect between the team built by the GM and the team the coach wanted or could drive was huge. From what I have seen of Quinn he doesn’t match lines and he doesn’t have a specific checking line, what he does is have every line forecheck as hard as they can and attempt to score goals. The junior team Quinn coached to the gold medal was a team based on this premise and his main players were offensive minded guys (who were criticized for their inability to play a solid two way game) like Tavares, Eberle, Saban, etc. in fact I would be hard pressed to name too many defensive type players who played a big part. In fact it would be interesting to see the face off percentage of that team. The Oilers have more prospects at centre than any other position and the fact is DanMan is right we need to develop them in their natural positions and let them learn the hard way. I think Quinn will play the young guys and the message will be “I don’t care if you lose the draw but you better fracking work your ass off to get the puck back if you do lose.” Guys like Brule, Stortini and Horcoff fit this type of player, Brodziak as much as he was liked doesn’t.

WestCoastHockey, you have a brilliant hockey mind.

Pat Quinn has always been my favourite NHL coach. If more teams played his style of hockey without the micromanaging BS, the game would THRIVE in the United States

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#113 DanMan
July 18 2009, 11:20AM
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*WestCoastOil

How did I screw that one up?

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#114 Kevin hater
July 18 2009, 12:46PM
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For the Oil to go into next season with the same team as last year is like taking a spoon to a gunfight.

Kevin P should be locked in a back room and not allowed to speak unless spoken to.

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#115 oilersinsider
July 18 2009, 06:48PM
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There are a few big factors that should they happen, could make the current roster a playoff team as it is right now:

1) Quinn and Renney need to be clear when they explain to the players that this is a new start. Each person on the team will get a chance to do what he does best. They'll be expected to work hard every shift and be responsible, but that they will coach to excentuate their strengths.

2) The players have to believe point #2.

3) Penner, Nilsson, Hemsky and have to decide that they can change the game when they want to in a positive way. We've already seen that when their minds are in the game they can be game changers.

4) The coaching staff has to encourage point #3.

5)Every player has to work on areas of weakness. Cogliano on face-offs, Penner on using the body, Hemsky on shooting...

The team does this stuff, it can be a much better team that the underachievers we all saw last year.

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#116 Racki
July 19 2009, 05:07PM
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"But, at this point, it looks like we’ll go to camp with the same team we finished with last year outside of a new goaltender.”

That part kind of makes my stomach turn. Honestly, I'm no GM and I oversimplify things, but rumors have been abound this year of a few players being available that could easily fit that top line role. To name a few: Frolov, Semin (according to Scott Cullen of TSN), Gagne, Tanguay (while I'm not a fan of his), our very own Kotalik, Kessel (debatable though since he's a RWer). Then we can name the players we missed the boat on while staying 100% focused on Dany Heatley - Martin Havlat and Marion Gaborik to name two. Is this the doing of Steve Tambellini? Is he that focused on one player? Or is it maybe a mandate from above again from Mr. Katz, I have to wonder.

Anyways, there are other holes, as you have mentioned in your article, Jonathan. I've been on the Malhotra bandwagon for quite some time now (since the start of last season, anyways). As well, I still think we could use a bigger physical/defensive presence in our top 4. It kind of makes me sick that Boynton was signed for a mere 1.5M. He would have been perfect, and the Oil could have flipped any of our top 4 d-men elsewhere to another team to solve our top line LW/C issue.

All I can say is, I sure as hell hope that the Oilers don't stand pat. Are we really expected to believe that new coaches and a bit better of a goaltender are all we need to succeed this year? Can Quinn and Renney get the most out of our forwards that MacT could not? Possibly, but I still think more could be done here, and why make it harder on ourselves than we need to? Get out there and get one of the other available players for that top line!

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#117 MrOiler
July 20 2009, 03:31AM
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Mr. Willis:

I think you're causing people to jump off ledges. Never believe a word that comes out of a GM's mouth (even if he's an assistant GM).

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