Once in a very Blue Moon

Lowetide
December 18 2010 09:00AM

Sometimes things appear to good to be true. However, every once in awhile you come across something so beautiful, so powerful, so impressive, you know in that instant this is special. Oilers fans were blessed with such an event 30+ years ago; what will it take for it to happen again? 
 

We learn from history that youth is wasted on all the wrong people (source: It's a Wonderful Life). If you've passed your 30th birthday, then you've left someone from your influence group behind for good reason. The current NHL CBA makes it very difficult for teams to extend their window of opportunity beyond a few short seasons (the exception is Detroit).

With the Oilers having such an enormous group of talents graduating as we speak, what else do they need to reach the promised land that is the Stanley? 

  1. Kids in the Hall group: The group that includes Hall, Eberle, Pääjärvi and extends through Gagner will form the heart of the team during the '10s. If Hall can become an impact player and the rest in the group improve to the point where they're consistent outscorers, the Oilers will have plenty of offensive firepower. Those are some big "ifs" but the group is making progress.
  2. Deep 6 the bottom 6:  The club made a fine trade when dealing for Curtis Glencross, but the organization chose not to keep him. The current group that makes up the bottom 6 (Cogliano, Brule, Colin Fraser, JF Jacques, Steve MacIntrye) have been inconsistent. The two players who have been solid (Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini) might have the makings of a solid 4th line but coach Renney doesn't like Stortini. I think the Oilers need to start by picking up a quality, veteran C who can play 3line minutes, check, impact the PK and help in the FO circle. I know Tambellini tried for Malhotra last summer but there were other men available. He chose Colin Fraser, and he chose wrong. ST has been given most of the top 6 by Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor and the scouting department, surely he can find a checking center somewhere on the planet?
  3. Improve the blue: Tambellini made a beauty trade when acquiring Ryan Whitney for Lubo. I'm also prepared to buy in to Kurtis Foster having an period of adjustment (he should be better) and that Theo Peckham's progress is for real. Those three--added to finesse defender Tom Gilbert--make for 67% of a useful defense. Ladislav Smid may or may not be top 4 worthy. What Tambellini needs to do is find out if Jeff Petry, Shawn Belle, Alex Plante and or Taylor Chorney can help the team until Marincin arrives. If they can't, job one is to find a defenseman who can play big minutes. I think ST hurt his own cause with the Souray solution.
  4. Goal: If Devan Dubnyk is the future in goal the club needs to play him more than once a week.. If he isn't, then the club needs to find that goalie and right soon.

The hard part is over. The Oilers have the scorers and the skilled men up front, and Whitney, Gilbert and Peckham are nice pieces to build around. The problem? The problem is that 3line RH C, the blue and the goalie of the future have been a problem since 2006 summer!!

Yesterday I wrote an item here at ON about Oilers fans and their increasing nonchalance in regard to this team's success. We're going from dying of thirst to indifference in 60 seconds here. I think we should enjoy the ride, but I don't think management has the same luxury.

Steve Tambellini is the current General Manager. Steve Tambellini takes his time. I understand that. However, if we can agree that Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Pääjärv and, Sam Gagner  are part of the future then there are going to be some things that require change. Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky are a veteran trio with real skill. Should the Oilers keep that line together and run with Gagner-Hall-Eberle as suggested by Bob Stauffer this week? 

What then is to be done with Pääjärvi ? What about Omark? The Oilers are quickly becoming a team with lots of future jacks and kings, and very few 6's and 7's who can check and kill penalties.

A GM armed with veteran skill players should be able to address need along the blue and on the checking line. Right? The Oilers sent away Kyle Brodziak a couple of years ago and haven't replaced him yet, let alone Mike Peca. The current group of talent is quality, but the bottom line is that the club needs some role players immediately.

Tomorrow is very promising for these Oiler kids. Steve Tambellini is the current GM. The scouting department has enjoyed a ripping 36 months. Steve Tambellini has done some nice things but he has to address these glaring (and long term) issues.

Steve Tambellini is the current GM.

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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 TSN 1260.
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#51 Woodguy
December 18 2010, 03:56PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Jake: I understand, but it really feels like the organization (read: Katz) is letting everyone off the hook here. Which is disappointing. I'm not after blood, hell I'm cheering like hell.

But these issues have been around for awhile and nothing ever seems to get done.

Let me ask you something: Renney made some comments today about this team making the playoffs. Would you be okay with Tambellini standing pat at the deadline (or before) in light of the coach's words?

Because Renney's quotes tell me that the coach believes there's a team worth saving already. But they sure as hell need help on things like the PK.

So, would your opinion change if the GM does nothing at the deadline?

Management is determined to get another high pick.

I guess the plan is to add what the Oilers need next summer, starting with trading 44. (might start with trading 27 at the deadline)

Whether or not they can pull it off is debatable. Foster and Fraser have 2 year contracts, and that says something.

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#52 Woodguy
December 18 2010, 03:59PM
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Mitch wrote:

I think O'Marra is a better skater and is more physical than Fraser, O'Marra's offensive numbers would probably be the same as Fraser's. Right now Fraser has more gamesmanship than O'Marra, I base this on experience. Give Ryan some time, he's an upgrade.

Problem with O'Marra is that you can get a Reasoner (1.15MM) or a Brodziak (also 1.15MM) for only a little bit more money and a lot more results than O'Marra has shown capable of driving.

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#53 GSC
December 18 2010, 04:03PM
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Lowetide wrote:

If this were Tambellini's first season as GM then you might have a point. His first hiring came July 31, 2008. We are still waiting for a 3line center.

I think maybe this is a bigger issue than Colin Fraser.

This coming from someone who thought Marc Pouliot could be a 3C...but, I digress.

They went after Malhotra and who knows what other player, and came up empty. Hell, they did that after acquiring Fraser if I remember it correctly. Obviously Fraser was meant to help the bottom 6, but management didn't see him as the complete solution. If they thought of him as such, why did they take a shot at Malhotra?

Fraser hasn't performed up to snuff thus far. I remember a certain centre who was sub-par last season, too. Does Tambellini get the blame for that as well? That's probably a rhetorical question...

The fact is that Tambellini is the favourite scape goat of the "Oilogosphere," and while some of it comes with merit, a lot of it is undeserved. A man can only do so much when a certain someone ruined the organization to begin with...

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#54 GSC
December 18 2010, 04:05PM
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Woodguy wrote:

Problem with O'Marra is that you can get a Reasoner (1.15MM) or a Brodziak (also 1.15MM) for only a little bit more money and a lot more results than O'Marra has shown capable of driving.

And the Oilers, for better or worse, went in another direction re: Marty and Kyle.

Dead horse, meet baseball bat...

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#56 Racki
December 18 2010, 04:46PM
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I actually was optimistic, from what I recall, about Colin Fraser. But he wasn't on my radar before we picked him up. There were a few other guys I had hoped for, and I wonder how many of them got called. We don't often receive confirmation about failed attempts at acquiring a player. So for all I know, Tambellini worked his ass off at trying to get us a checking C.

Anyways, at least he finally acknowledged it. If I'm not mistaken, the year before, he mentioned that the team had no interest in picking that kind of player up (*gasp*). Rome wasn't built in a day though, so we'll see if he can make the necessary changes either near trade deadline (if we're in the mix) or come July 1st.

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#57 Dennis
December 18 2010, 04:52PM
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@GSC

look at what 78 did last year and tell he couldnt have been a good bottom six option for this team?

this team did a purge and decided he was a problem but he wasn't.

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#58 Woodguy
December 18 2010, 05:06PM
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GSC wrote:

And the Oilers, for better or worse, went in another direction re: Marty and Kyle.

Dead horse, meet baseball bat...

GSC,

Those are called EXAMPLES. E-X-A-M-P-L-E-S.

There are lots more players like that for about that price.

Don't be such a douchenozzle for no reason.

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#59 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 18 2010, 05:21PM
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@GSC

"A man can only do so much when a certain someone ruined the organization to begin with..."

I always love these claims. He was handed a team that finished 9th in the west and was widely considerd a solid up and coming team.

Boo hoo, poor Tambellini.

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#60 Racki
December 18 2010, 05:24PM
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On the note of Brodziak.. I never understood why they went in the other direction with him.

But anyways, 4th line centermen that are proven PKers and faceoff winners shouldn't be as far down the list of necessities as it seems to be with this team.

I had no problems with parting with Marty Reasoner, as he was under pretty heavy criticism his final year here and it's hard to argue for a guy who was -19 or whatever. The problem was in that they never replaced him with someone who could fill that role. Ditto with Stoll... and then ditto with Brodziak. The effort was sorta there when Pouliot was cut loose (bringing in Fraser).

My thoughts on these guys though is they're a dime a dozen and there's usually a few hanging around before the start of the season, desperate for work, so I don't get the difficulty in acquiring one either. They've learned now, so I'll cut the brass some slack, but I never understood why they'd shell out somewhere around $10M for guys who weren't too interested in being here (and in one case past their prime) but refuse to pay ~$0.7M - $2M (max) for a top notch PKer/faceoff guy.

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#61 ashley
December 18 2010, 06:03PM
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What if Tambellini just sees it different than LT and the rest of us? Perhaps that explains the perceived inertia from Tambellini? I'll barely go out on a limb and suggest that Tambellini is more qualified to create a plan to rebuild an NHL team and follow that plan than any of us here including the writers on this site. As humans, we are biased to act ("action bias"). We believe that by doing something (anything!) we are more likely to positively affect our circumstances even though there are many situations where we would be better off doing/saying nothing at all.

Patience will pay off. The day to tweak will come, but we are a year or two away from that yet.

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#62 Racki
December 18 2010, 06:42PM
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ashley wrote:

What if Tambellini just sees it different than LT and the rest of us? Perhaps that explains the perceived inertia from Tambellini? I'll barely go out on a limb and suggest that Tambellini is more qualified to create a plan to rebuild an NHL team and follow that plan than any of us here including the writers on this site. As humans, we are biased to act ("action bias"). We believe that by doing something (anything!) we are more likely to positively affect our circumstances even though there are many situations where we would be better off doing/saying nothing at all.

Patience will pay off. The day to tweak will come, but we are a year or two away from that yet.

I guess it all comes down to whether you believe that last statement or not. I've kind of held back from saying it, but I've often wondered if the lack of action is just because Tambellini doesn't want this team winning just yet. Not saying its a bad plan or anything. I probably would have said the same thing before the start of last year, but I think we have the major building blocks (or at least enough to make it work) we need to start filling the gaps. But I have gotten the feeling at times that Tambellini would prefer another year or two of last place hockey to get another top pick.

For the record, I think trying to win now would be good for this team. But I definitely concede that I've never GM'd a team and don't claim that I should be either. I can see the benefits from both mentalities (the belief that making this team a winner would go a long way in experience/confidence, as well as the belief that losing another season would go a long way in giving us another major building block). So like I said, it just comes down to whether fans/management/etc. believe that last statement in your post or not.

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#63 DSG
December 19 2010, 08:16AM
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Lowetide wrote:

Good thoughts, Mitch. I don't know if O'Marra has enough offense but there's no harm in letting him audition until the deadline.

I agree O'Marra is looking like he has a good shot to stick around but I don't think Fraser has to worry. Cogliano is the guy who is going to lose his job to O'Marra.

The clock is running out with Cogs. People seem to think that he is going to score 50+ points or more than 20 goals but we are still waiting. 8 points in 31 games with a -12 on this team is pretty glaring. The writing has been on the wall since the summer when he was signed to a 1 year deal and stats like this are not going to help him negotiate a much better deal. Trade him for a draft pick and move on.

I think a similar case could be made to have Omark take Cogliano's place on the roster

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#64 russ99
December 19 2010, 09:13AM
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The Whitney trade is still a bit of a sore subject.

Whitney has been absolutely great for us, but the player who needed to be traded at last year's deadline was Gilbert. Still, who's to say Anaheim would have gone for that.

Lubo is being paid $6M, $5M, $3M from 2010-11 to 2012-13.

Gilbert is being paid $5, $5, $3.5, $3 from 2010-11 to 2013-14

Lubo this year (age 34) 4-23-27 0 Gilbert this year (age 28) 5-6-11 -7

The key point here is that even when he's not helping on offense, Lubo is a solid defenseman.

Surely at some point Lubo's skills will diminish, but we're certainly not seeing Gilbert get better this year...

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#65 GSC
December 19 2010, 11:02AM
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Dennis wrote:

look at what 78 did last year and tell he couldnt have been a good bottom six option for this team?

this team did a purge and decided he was a problem but he wasn't.

44.3% on the dot and wasn't nearly physical enough.

That's what I saw from Pouliot last season, what did you see?

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#66 GSC
December 19 2010, 11:06AM
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Lowetide wrote:

I agree Kevin Lowe is responsible for much of the problems 2006+. However, Steve Tambellini's track record is at best uneven and his acquiring of Colin Fraser didn't address the issue we've been dealing with since 2006 summer: checking C who can help in the faceoff circle and on the PK.

As for your mentioning Marc Pouliot, I'm complimented that you follow my blog. I didn't know that, thanks for reading.

Well then call his track record uneven, that's fair. Again, it seems to me that he takes a helluva lot of undeserved heat for this organization's shortcomings. I'm no homer and do hold Tambellini accountable for certain things, but like you said Lowe is primarily responsible for the problems that the Oilers continue to face.

As for your blog, I just remembered that you believed Pouliot was a viable 3C option. Can't remember if I read it here or over at your site, but that's neither here nor there (or is it?). Oh no, I've gone cross-eyed...

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#67 GSC
December 19 2010, 11:07AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

"A man can only do so much when a certain someone ruined the organization to begin with..."

I always love these claims. He was handed a team that finished 9th in the west and was widely considerd a solid up and coming team.

Boo hoo, poor Tambellini.

You honestly thought that team was up and coming? Guess we'll agree to disagree...

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#68 GSC
December 19 2010, 11:10AM
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Woodguy wrote:

GSC,

Those are called EXAMPLES. E-X-A-M-P-L-E-S.

There are lots more players like that for about that price.

Don't be such a douchenozzle for no reason.

I'm being a douchenozzle because the examples presented are of players the organization has said goodbye to a long time ago. They aren't coming back, at least not while this regime is in charge, so I just don't see the point in continuing to gripe about it?

For example, I'm still upset over the Oilers not keeping Curtis Glencross around...but he's gone, and as much as that sucks it's still the way it is. I know Oiler management has its flaws, that's apparent. But do we need to be constantly reminded of who they decided to part with?

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#70 GSC
December 19 2010, 12:23PM
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Lowetide wrote:

I haven't posted anything on Pouliot here. It's okay to admit you read my blog. Really.

Then I've read it on your blog. It's not like I'm hiding the fact that I've read your work.

Hell, I've posted in your comments section before, in particular re: Jeff Petry leaving Michigan State early...one of the few times that I got to brag about having a source.

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#71 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 19 2010, 02:05PM
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GSC wrote:

You honestly thought that team was up and coming? Guess we'll agree to disagree...

Many people did.

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