Track Record

Lowetide
November 03 2010 06:11PM

The Edmonton Oilers have been out of balance since TC 2006-07. In fact, the one time in the last ten years that the team boasted a veteran goalie, quality top 6 blue with a range of skills and a strong group at forward the team made the SCF's. If they know the template, why can't they repeat it? Is the pursuit of a lottery pick dependent on the thin blue line and lack of penalty kill? 
 

After the Stanley run, the organization has experienced long stretches without entire player-types. Important items like two-way veteran wingers, actual NHL goaltenders, faceoff men and penalty-killers. If an organization is devoid of one thing, they usually make an effort to address it the following summer.

This past summer, I suggested the club had very specific needs:

  • At least two of the small forwards will be gone (I'd guess Nilsson and O'Sullivan).
  • Moreau is flushed.
  • Sheldon Souray will be traded for a lesser defenseman.
  • A veteran RH center comes to town and settles the middle up front.
  • They bring in a big winger with some skill (possibly the new Isbister).
  • They sign one of those monsters Stauffer is always talking about on his show.
  • Oilers will deal one of the young goalies (I hope they keep DD).

It should be mentioned these items didn't require any special skill to identify, many smarter than me were pointing out the the same thing. Let's tackle these one at a time:

  • At least two of the small forwards will be gone (I'd guess Nilsson and O'Sullivan). On June 30th, the Oilers bought out Nilsson and dealt O'Sullivan to Phoenix). The club also decided to pass on the idea of signing Mike Comrie for another season.
  • Moreau is flushed. On June 30th, the Oilers lost Moreau to the Blue Jackets on waivers. It saved them over a million of buyout money.
  • Sheldon Souray will be traded for a lesser defenseman. That didn't happen, but the organization did erase him from the roster by asking him away from training camp. The deal is still out there in the ether. The club did add Kurtis Foster and Jim Vandermeer to the blue, and re-signed Jason Strudwick.
  • A veteran RH center comes to town and settles the middle up front. On June 23, the Oilers acquired Colin Fraser from Chicago for a 6th round draft pick. Although not a right-handed C, Fraser did PK in Chicago (17.8% of his overall time on ice was PK). He's being used heavily in that role with Edmonton (33.8% of his overall playing time).
  • They bring in a big winger with some skill (possibly the new Isbister). I think the Oilers might be thinking Ryan Jones is a candidate to fill this role, or possibly they decided to clear the decks for the kids. Either way, no Coke Machines were acquired for the big league roster over the summer.
  • They sign one of those monsters Stauffer is always talking about on his show. The team did in fact sign Steve MacIntyre and he is the enforcer for this Edmonton Oilers team.
  • Oilers will deal one of the young goalies (I hope they keep DD). The Oilers finally made a decision this past week, sending JDD to the farm where he is likely to stay (barring injury) until he reaches free agency next summer.

So, what can we gather from the season's first 10 games? Two things, both aided by the recent Oil Change 2.0 episode on tsn.

  1. The Oilers did in fact attempt to address need this past summer (Malhotra, Souray trade attempt, additions of Foster and Fraser).
  2. Those changes have not turned out as planned thus far and the responsibility falls on Steve Tambellini.

So, when we're talking about the horrible PK, we need to be very specific about the problem. The penalty kill is awful, but we can't accuse Steve Tambellini of inertia. He did in fact attempt to address the issue, but the results have been poor. Sooner or later, he's going to have to address the PK (and the blue) again or leave it for the next man in line.

Tomorrow is promised to Taylor Hall and the other kids, but not to Steve Tambellini. It's a harsh business.

C2a6955161684b5e3189319acfa5ebe4
Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 AlbertaMan
November 03 2010, 06:12PM
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preventing it

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#2 A Man of Taste and Sophistication
November 03 2010, 06:33PM
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Not lame, actually. One of the things I dig about LT's blog is the fact that no one feels the need to shout "Fist!" (or even "First!") in the comments like it's some kind of grand accomplishment. Saddens me to see that in response to his fine work here.

LT, you seem to be suggesting that Tambi is living on borrowed time. I guess I view that as being optimistic!

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#3 Archaeologuy
November 03 2010, 07:26PM
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5 on 5 this team is 8th in goals for/goals against. That's not 8th in the West. That's 8th in the NHL. It's 0.01 off of Pittsburgh, and better than the Capitals, Kings, Philly, and Detroit.

Think about that for a bit. If this team had a goaltender that could stop the puck and a PK that didnt spot the other team 2 a night, it wouldnt be scraping the bottom of the standings.

The thin defense that people are complaining about is getting absolutely no help from Khabibulin. Hard to look capable when every mistake ends up in the back of the net.

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#4 Archaeologuy
November 04 2010, 10:35AM
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I went to bed last night and all of a sudden people are suggesting the Oil trade Hemsky for Staal? What is this world coming to?

Why would the Oilers trade their only consistent 1st liner for a career 2nd line centre. If you believe all the crap that's spewed about Gagner then you'd already know that the Oilers have a 2nd line centre.

Somebody is a pretty big Penguins fan, I think.

Jeezus.

The team needs a Franchise centre and a goalie, not another 2C.

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#5 JustinOilers
November 03 2010, 06:15PM
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First!!

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#6 a lg dubl dubl
November 03 2010, 08:58PM
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Maybe its just me but i still think Gagner can be the "coveted" 1st line center, his only knock is his height, but im pretty sure he's got the smarts to get around it. My only beef so far is the D, i hope Steve-o trades Gilbert, IMO that dude couldnt cover a guy in front if his life depended on it! the last few games i watched he'd rather just put his hand out or wave a stick at the guy. Why he's on the pk is beyond me.

The other useless skater for the Oilers is Zack freakin Stortini last night again proved to me that despite the lack of skill that MacIntyre brings he should be out there for every game at least he sticks up for his teammates when he's on the ice.

As much as I'd like ST to make those 2 players disapear tomorrow I dont expect him to do anything til the deadline, if he doesn't do anything then, at the end of the season maybe start lookin at other avalible GM's.

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#7 Hemmertime
November 04 2010, 12:06AM
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Ryan14 wrote:

While we are making pathetic trade offers that would only be accepted in NHL 98 on N64, Cogliano a second and Chorney for Stamkos and Hedman.

Problem solved :) Goodbye rebuild. Hello glory.

There was no NHL 98 for N64. NHL 99 was EA's first version on it. There was Wayne Gretzky 3D hockey 98, NHL Breakaway 98 (which was awesome game on Ps1), and Olympic Hockey.

So I guess your point changes to there is no universe that the trades would work. Yes, I am pathetic.

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#8 Jonathan Willis
November 04 2010, 07:43AM
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GSC wrote:

I think Tambellini deserves some time, give him a chance to clean up Lowe's mess.

Given that the PK's been a mess since 2006-07, I don't think "time" is the issue. It's been a disaster for three seasons under Steve Tambellini, and during that time he's changed out virtually all the personnel and fired two coaches.

It's not that he needs time to fix the PK, and it's not that he hasn't had a chance to fix it. It's that he's consistently done the wrong things to fix it.

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#9 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 04 2010, 08:17AM
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I always love these "we'll never beat team X because they have player ABC and we don't have DEF that are better then them."

Have we not seen enough hockey to realize that their is no set model that must be followed to success and that ever 3-4 years the common model that is followed by the majority of the NHL changes?

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#10 Horcsky
November 04 2010, 10:48AM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Strong three way play? ~ Of course! Here we've been looking for two way players and we've been excluding a whole dimension! ~

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#11 Archaeologuy
November 04 2010, 11:02AM
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C-DOG wrote:

Because a good one dimentional 1st line winger is = to a great 2nd line centre + they would be dealing from depth. You have to give something to get...

Who's the great 2nd line centre coming back to Edmonton then?

So far the only name I've heard in the proposal has been a great 3rd line centre and has the potential to be a good 2nd liner, but has never played that role on his own club.

And this pretend world where a 2nd line centre is better than a 1st line winger must be one where the team in question has better players on the 1st line and doesnt already have 3 2nd line centres.

It's a ridiculous trade for the Oilers. Picking up a high priced 2nd liner for an equally priced 1st line talent is a bad move, not just for the hockey reasons, but for the Cap as well.

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#12 Archaeologuy
November 04 2010, 11:04AM
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@D-Man

You worry about the D, but it doesnt matter who you put back there. No one can look good when the starting goalie has a save percentage below .900

The future MIGHT be ok, but the present is a gong show.

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#14 JustinOilers
November 03 2010, 06:16PM
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Ah lame...

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#15 Wanyes bastard child
November 03 2010, 06:18PM
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And its FIST! ... not First!! ...

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#16 Dan the Man
November 03 2010, 06:21PM
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With the way the 4th line played against Vancouver the acquisitions of Jones and Fraser are looking better and better.

On paper they seemed like they would be a pretty decent combo but for whatever reason hadn't been working out that well until last night.

A good 4th line isn't necessarily going to get this team into the playoffs but it's a start.

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#17 TheRealDanMoser
November 03 2010, 06:24PM
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Good calls, and I like that you mentioned they were easy to see.

I appreciate a blogger who really doesn't think his opinion is better than anyone elses.

Keep up the great work!

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#18 Shaun
November 03 2010, 06:30PM
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When did Oil Change Part 2 air?

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#19 GSC
November 03 2010, 06:33PM
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I think Tambellini deserves some time, give him a chance to clean up Lowe's mess. The team isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so let things play out. If the problem persists midway through the season, then you can grill Steve for coming up with poor results to addressing needs in the past offseason.

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#20 DSF
November 03 2010, 06:36PM
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LT.

Perhaps, since the Oilers did pretty much everything you said they should, that both you and Tambellini were wrong.

There is another school of thought for a rebuilding team.

The Oilers need a #1C to push Horcoff and Gagner down the depth chart into their comfort zone and instead they drafted another winger, yet another second tier centre and yet another (perhaps) second pairing defenseman with their top three picks.

The team is short that #1C and two top pairing defensmen and shoring up the Good Ship Lollipop with players like Malhotra would be nothing more than a finger in the dike, even if players like that could be signed.

To solve their issues, they are going to have to capitalize on their marketable assets which, at this point, are Penner, Hemsky and Gagner if he doesn't crap the bed this season.

They also desperately need a player or two who will stand up for his team mates when they get run by the nasties...last night's game was a prime example of lack of cajones on the team as Hall, Hemsky and Magnus all got smacked around while Horcoff, Gilbert and Whitney, all well over 6 ft. and 200 pounds, were checking to make sure their skate laces were done up properly.

Try run a Sedin and see what happens even with Rypien out of the lineup.

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#21 PabstBR55
November 03 2010, 06:40PM
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Hmmm, not too many teams have been successful at turning 29th or 30th overall finishes into playoff spots the next year. The Philadelphia Flyers notwithstanding.

So what do we want here exactly? To have signed Dominic Moore, Zbxryqryk Michalek, and Chris Neil would help us win those close games ... and vault us all the way to 10th in the conference?

Take that, Minnesota! You can draft Ted Nugent and John Hopkin's lovechild, suckers.

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#24 misfit
November 03 2010, 07:04PM
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They've now had 3 coaches since Stoll and Reasoner were given their walking papers (and not replaced), and all 3 of them had a terrible penalty kill. All 3 coaches have had good-to-great PKs in the past.

Here's hoping that's enough evidence for Tambellini to realise that the problem with the PK is personnel, not coaching, and doesn't require another year or two of evaluation.

I was encouraged to find out that we did go after Malhotra this offseason (and then confirmed on "Oil Change"). But it's more than a little discouraging that they didn't seem to look into a plan B. Also, I'm guessing it means they didn't even call him the previuos year when he was a UFA.

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#25 DSF
November 03 2010, 07:10PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Horcoff and Gagner are fine. Really.

Sure they are, as second and third line centres on a below average team

Do you want a team that can play with the big boys or not?

Vancouver is running Hank, Kesler and Malhotra down the middle for the next five years.

If you can't get by them, you aren't going anywhere.

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#26 PabstBR55
November 03 2010, 07:27PM
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Centres Jay McClement, Jiri Hudler, and Jarrett Stoll, and Defensemen Johnny Oduya, Ryan Suter, Brent Burns, Fedor Tyutin, and Matt Carle are all UFA's after the '11-'12 season.

Take one of these C's, and one or two D's into the mix at that time.

Gagner, Cogs and Brule will have 5 years experience, Hall, Paajarvi, and Eberle will have 2, Vande Velde will be our excellent 4th line C. Dubnyk may at that point be a #1.

Re-up Hemsky, and deal Penner to Boston for Joe Colborne and Toronto's #1 overall.

That's how it's done. Pieces of the puzzle at a time.

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#27 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 03 2010, 08:16PM
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@PabstBR55

deal Penner to Boston for Joe Colborne and Toronto's #1 overall.

i will have some of whatever it is you are smoking

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#29 DSF
November 03 2010, 08:50PM
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Lowetide wrote:

You're framing the issue in an odd way. The center position in extremely important, but I do believe the Oilers could beat Vancouver despite their exceptional quality and depth at center.

Obviously they'd need to have superior players at other positions (not currently the case). We're looking at some number of years before the Oilers have a better center than Sedin imo, no matter who they drafted this summer.

You're framing thins in a very odd way as well.

You show no evidence the Oilers could beat Vancouver at any position an yet you assert they can beat them,

The Canucks have better goaltending X2.

4 defensemen who are demonstrably better.

Three centres who easily outclass their Oiler counterparts.

Wingers are Daniel, Burrows, Samuelsson, Raymond, Torres and Hansen.

Good luck with that.

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#30 Oilchange64
November 03 2010, 09:03PM
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Not sure how many people feel the way I do. I only want to see effort and progress this year. I think most do not expect a playoff run now. But my expectations are considerably higher for next year and I do want to see the team make the playoffs then. Tambellini did make progress this year, but more moves will be required to get there. Going from 30th to the playoffs is asking a bit much. But given we have not seen the post season since 06, my patience does start to get a little thin at some point. I realize that many who believe in the full rebuild will think this is not enough time, but at some point even I have to say that results matter. In my job, excuses do not last indefinitely and I have to show results. In fairness, other than Khabi, I think Steve has done decently so far. Thoughts?

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#32 TonyT
November 03 2010, 09:27PM
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@Lowetide

Where do you see Jacques entering the lineup? Does he move to the 3rd or to the 4th? Is Penner a possible healthy scratch or is Stortini expendable? I am somewhat concerned with Stortini's lack of physical response (esp w no fights), assists are a bonus but is that why one of the league's fighting major leaders from last season is in the lineup? I actually like Stortini but he's hardly been noticeable in the games he's dresses in.

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#33 Rogue
November 03 2010, 09:55PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Maybe its just me but i still think Gagner can be the "coveted" 1st line center, his only knock is his height, but im pretty sure he's got the smarts to get around it. My only beef so far is the D, i hope Steve-o trades Gilbert, IMO that dude couldnt cover a guy in front if his life depended on it! the last few games i watched he'd rather just put his hand out or wave a stick at the guy. Why he's on the pk is beyond me.

The other useless skater for the Oilers is Zack freakin Stortini last night again proved to me that despite the lack of skill that MacIntyre brings he should be out there for every game at least he sticks up for his teammates when he's on the ice.

As much as I'd like ST to make those 2 players disapear tomorrow I dont expect him to do anything til the deadline, if he doesn't do anything then, at the end of the season maybe start lookin at other avalible GM's.

As much as i like Gags, I have my doubts. 2nd. line I think. He just seems to be too light. Seems to me he gets bounced around too much. Methinks he needs bulk, because I do not see his speed helping him. Otherwise, he is another one of our small players.

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#34 David S
November 03 2010, 10:00PM
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TonyT wrote:

Where do you see Jacques entering the lineup? Does he move to the 3rd or to the 4th? Is Penner a possible healthy scratch or is Stortini expendable? I am somewhat concerned with Stortini's lack of physical response (esp w no fights), assists are a bonus but is that why one of the league's fighting major leaders from last season is in the lineup? I actually like Stortini but he's hardly been noticeable in the games he's dresses in.

I don't think Zack suddenly forgot his job description. If the PK weren't as horrid as it is, perhaps his leash might be loosened a bit.

My guess is the coaching staff is well aware of the PK problem and has told the guys as a group to watch the penalties against. Known enforcers and agitators are targeted by refs, and are more susceptible to questionable calls. If we had a decent PK, retribution hits wouldn't be such an issue. As it is, it seems if a guy looks sideways at an opponent these days he's in the box.

Unlike in the Moreau era, there are no "good penalties that are easier to kill" for this squad. They're all hard.

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#36 Horcsky
November 03 2010, 10:10PM
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@DSF

Hall - 6'1'' 194, Pajaarvi - 6'3 200, Hemsky 6'0'' 184. Outside of Hemsky the other two have plenty of size, especially the kids. I see your point, but your argument is kinda weak.

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#37 Oilcruzer
November 03 2010, 10:11PM
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Bit early to judge methinks. Ten games in doesn't show you all the lines, never mind full team play.

Changing 50% of the lineup and the coaching staff means everyone learns together. The first thing that will take a hit is PK. That is predictable - learning a system and trusting others to be there, so it becomes automatic, can't be perfected in practice, unless you could somehow practice against other teams.

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#38 Horcsky
November 03 2010, 10:13PM
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@Lowetide

Whoa LT, you think Brule would be the first healthy scratch? What makes you think that? Haven't heard that from anyone else yet. Although Brule certainly isn't a top 6 forward on the team, I like having a forward in the lineup that can actually beat an NHL goalie with a shot. Brule seems to be one of the few shooters this team has.

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#40 shadi
November 03 2010, 10:45PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Horcoff and Gagner are fine. Really.

Yes, there good people.

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#41 C-DOG
November 03 2010, 10:50PM
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DSF wrote:

Sure they are, as second and third line centres on a below average team

Do you want a team that can play with the big boys or not?

Vancouver is running Hank, Kesler and Malhotra down the middle for the next five years.

If you can't get by them, you aren't going anywhere.

Hey, I thought I had copyright on that! Find your own goats~.

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#42 C-DOG
November 03 2010, 10:56PM
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@DSF

Penner,Gagne for Staal, Kunitz.

2nd best part about that is Staal is injured and can't hurt our draft position.

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#43 Ryan14
November 03 2010, 11:57PM
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While we are making pathetic trade offers that would only be accepted in NHL 98 on N64, Cogliano a second and Chorney for Stamkos and Hedman.

Problem solved :) Goodbye rebuild. Hello glory.

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#44 Ryan14
November 04 2010, 12:04AM
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@shadi and DSF

Why would Pitts trade a prototypical big 3rd line centre for a gentle giant and a small skilled centre? Call me crazy but I think shero likes his job.

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#45 dohfOs
November 04 2010, 02:18AM
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@a lg dubl dubl

absolutely loving your comment.

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#47 Horcsky
November 04 2010, 08:16AM
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@Lowetide

Ah, thanks for the insight. Turnovers machines we can do without for sure.

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#48 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
November 04 2010, 08:44AM
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GSC wrote:

I think Tambellini deserves some time, give him a chance to clean up Lowe's mess. The team isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so let things play out. If the problem persists midway through the season, then you can grill Steve for coming up with poor results to addressing needs in the past offseason.

Just so we're clear, the "mess" that Tambellini had to clean up was a 9th place team widely considerd one of the young up and coming teams in the league.

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#49 D-Man
November 04 2010, 08:59AM
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PabstBR55 wrote:

Centres Jay McClement, Jiri Hudler, and Jarrett Stoll, and Defensemen Johnny Oduya, Ryan Suter, Brent Burns, Fedor Tyutin, and Matt Carle are all UFA's after the '11-'12 season.

Take one of these C's, and one or two D's into the mix at that time.

Gagner, Cogs and Brule will have 5 years experience, Hall, Paajarvi, and Eberle will have 2, Vande Velde will be our excellent 4th line C. Dubnyk may at that point be a #1.

Re-up Hemsky, and deal Penner to Boston for Joe Colborne and Toronto's #1 overall.

That's how it's done. Pieces of the puzzle at a time.

Jarrett Stoll would probably be a good signing, and I don't necessarily think you'll need to get another defensemen... We'll still need to make room for Petry and possibly one more d-man (either through the draft or UFA) with Vandermeer departing along with Strudwick...

There's no way though that you'll get that trade with Boston... Why would they deal a good #1 pick for Penner?? Penner has shown glimpses, but hasn't proven that he's a consistent performer.. He 'checks out' of a game way too often...

Good call on re-upping Hemmer... I hope he gets another three year extension approx $4.5 to $5.0 million/year...

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#50 TrentonL
November 04 2010, 09:02AM
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@DSF

Honestly I don't think the problem this year has anything to do with where Horcoff and Gagner fit in the batting order. The top three lines overall have been doing their job. What has lost us games is the PK being horrid. If the Oil were at a 3rd worst in the league 75% on the PK that would have saved 3 goals (probably 1-2 wins) if they were league median 84.3% that would be 7 less GA, or 2-3 wins more.

I agree about the number 1 D but that player doenst come along very often. Carolina did it by committee when they won the cup. A better player than Vandermeer would have been nice to keep Strudwick out of the lineup. Too bad Souray ran his mouth/hates management.

100% agree the top players have been run repeatedly this season and nobody is standing up at all game in and game out.

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