Confessions of an Oiler Fan

Lowetide
October 02 2011 08:22AM

My name is Lowetide and I haven't thought about the Oilers trading for a defenseman in five minutes. (polite applause)

Since trading Chris Pronger (and allowing Jaro Spacek and others to leave without replacing them adequately) the Edmonton Oilers blue has been bluer than blue. Purple, maybe. As an Oiler fan, it's like watching one giant experiment over many seasons. I know other teams have NHL defensemen, I see them all the time. But the Oilers keep moving out Vandermeers and shuffling in Suttons without ever really having a plan. I don't recall the last time Edmonton acquired a quality NHL defemseman in his prime without also sending one away.

I think it is beginning to have an impact on me as a fan. I get all jittery when the opposition reaches center ice, and when said team gains the zone and possession my mind runs around in lock step with the Oiler defenders. Pell mell, that's our blue.

What does the future hold? As always we look to the past. This 1979 preview of the Oilers defense offers us a clue about the current club's future.

Over the hills added to fresh faced rookies with a giant dose of never weres.

There's a good pairing here

True, the Oilers (when healthy) could cobble together a solid pairing from Ryan Whitney and Tom Gilbert. Also true that Ladislav Smid has improved over the last couple of seasons and could be considered an actual NHL defenseman at this time. Hell, I'll even throw in Andy Sutton who blocks out the sun, blocks shots and blocks forward progress for opposition wingers.

After that, we're developing at the NHL level while other teams are icing superior pairings. Theo Peckham is a horse and serves as an enforcer who can play the position. Still, as a young blue he's in learning mode and could take a couple of years to reach Smid levels. Jeff Petry has stepped up this fall and gives us someone with a nice range of skills to look forward to watching for years to come.

Added to that is a long list of blue chippers, guys like Oscar Klefbom, Martin Marincin and others. These men will eventually emerge as useful NHL players and could be a big part of the cluster that begins winning playoff series toward the end of this decade.

THEN WHAT ARE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT?

I don't love this defense even when it's healthy. We don't know how many puck movers or heart and soul men are coming through the system and we don't know how many of them will be wasted on the way due to injury, ineffectiveness, etc. All we really know is that the Edmonton Oilers haven't had a top flight defensive group in years and they are more than a Jason Smith away from being anything.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

It means the forwards are miles ahead of the blue in this rebuild, and the prospects we're going to see here in a few years will be ready to help a couple of years after Taylor Hall is getting paid in full. It means the plan is flawed, it means the Oilers are going to have to trade from strength to address weakness. 

I confess: I want the Oilers to made a trade for a defenseman today, and am terrified of the result if they do. The pro scouting department isn't exactly Stu MacGregor-credible,  the last time the club made a big deal to acquire a quality NHL defenseman they sent a better one away and this is the exact time when other teams see the Oilers coming.

Getting 10 cents on the dollar for these fine forwards is not acceptable, but is very possible. Oiler fans are between a rock and a hard place this morning. It's a big test for Steve Tambellini. Collecting assets is one thing, deciding on which ones to keep and which ones to cast away quite another.

In a very real way, this is opening day for Steve Tambellini as Oilers GM. Godpseed.

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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 Team 1260.
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#51 justDOit
October 02 2011, 11:51AM
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@Henry

Could you chew off your right arm instead? That way, we could sew it onto Hemmer.

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#52 Henry
October 02 2011, 11:52AM
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Actually, I just read Ms. Lane's wikipedia page and am no longer a fan of her Mom and Dad. She made the bigtime after a strange childhood.

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#53 Sox and Oil
October 02 2011, 11:53AM
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Hey LT

Any chance or options for shopping overseas (KHL) for help with the back end?

I think I remember good ol Grebeshkov having a half decent year last season.

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#55 Sox and Oil
October 02 2011, 12:02PM
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@Lowetide

I'm most likely wrong but don't most former or potential NHLers negotiate a escape clause into their KHL contracts that way they could come back to the good league?

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#56 John Chambers
October 02 2011, 12:07PM
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Woodguy wrote:

You're bang on, Nate. Thoughts about trading Gagner, Omark, or Lander to fill a hole left by ... Ladislav Smid??? Insane.

The hole is a top pairing RH Dman.

Smid and the other injuries are just exposing the lack of depth on the Oiler blue, but the hole has been there for years.

Its not "trade a good young forward to fill 2nd/3rd pairing guy", its "trade a good young forward for a Dman who can be a top pairing guy for years"

Okay, then I think we're in agreement. At some point this season the Oilers need to trade something like Pitlick and Anaheim's 2nd rounder for Greg Zanon then re-sign him, and then go hard after Matt Carle in the offseason.

Hopefully ST and co have targeted Shea Weber and he continues to be dissatisfied with the Preds. At that point an aggressive deal like Omark and Marincin for Shea is something we need to make happen.

But expect us to patch holes in the meantime. My expectation is that it's a necessary fact of life that we'll have to endure this season, but I'll be disappointed if we haven't made an impactful move to address the D by this time next year.

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#57 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 02 2011, 12:15PM
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@ John Chambers. This has very little to do with Smid, the team has needed at least 1 and arguably 3 quality Dmen for a loooong time. Their might not be many available now, but theirs been a lot available over the last 18 months... So that excuse just doesn't fly. I know you are a big Tambillini fan, but I have no idea why anyone would want to waste a year with a pretty nice group of forwards by holding them back with an AHL defense.

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#58 David S
October 02 2011, 12:23PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ John Chambers. This has very little to do with Smid, the team has needed at least 1 and arguably 3 quality Dmen for a loooong time. Their might not be many available now, but theirs been a lot available over the last 18 months... So that excuse just doesn't fly. I know you are a big Tambillini fan, but I have no idea why anyone would want to waste a year with a pretty nice group of forwards by holding them back with an AHL defense.

You mean, sorta like we're going to be doing this year?

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#59 speeds
October 02 2011, 12:27PM
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I don't think the forwards are ahead of the blue nearly as much as some tend to think.

But, I do agree the potential of the young forward group two years from now looks much stronger than the potential of the young D group two years from now.

The real issue with the D going forward is that, even of the guys you like, nearly all of them are UFA's in the next couple years. All of Whitney, Smid, Sutton, and Barker are UFA's after the 2012/13 season or sooner, with Gilbert a UFA after 2013/14.

Whitney may be a guy the team likes but doesn't want on a long term commitment, nevermind the fact that he may not want to be here anyways.

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#60 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 02 2011, 12:36PM
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David S wrote:

You mean, sorta like we're going to be doing this year?

Ya, that's what I'm talking about.

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#61 madjam
October 02 2011, 12:36PM
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Why is Tams so adament about keeping teams defence at a less than adequate rate for past and current growth especially ? For some unknown reason he is almost despicably against it . He has had plenty of time to address it and don't buy into any of his B.S yet excuses for failure to do so . Our clubs ready to go but he's not . Simple get rid of him for someone that is before it's to late . Maybe he can't move us , but Oilers can certainly move him even if he remains buried in organization like Quinn, etc..

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#62 misfit
October 02 2011, 12:37PM
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I still don't get the fascination with Carle. I wouldn't want to give real assets and/or money for a player who needs Chris Pronger to look like he belongs in an NHL top 4.

Petry should've been on the team already, and apparently Whitney is expected back for, or shortly after, the season opener. So really, we're looking at finding a stopgap replacement for Smid. A guy like Shaone Morrisonn has already been waived once, and would be a more than adequate replacement until Smid gets back.

Of course, our defense needed improvements before hand, but, like others have said already in this comment section, those kinds of deals just aren't there to be made this time of year, and if Tambellini had any intention of upgrading the D in that way, he would've done it before camp.

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#64 spOILer
October 02 2011, 12:56PM
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You know the Oil looked pretty good last night, despite a few extended Head Up A$$ shifts.

If we call Gagner and Kesler both missing a wash. Hemsky is a much bigger hole than Raymond, and we're still down Whitney and Smid and had Khabeeb smoking the pipes rather than Doobie in net.

We lacked a little finish last night, could've scored more ourselves and by no means were we blown out.

They competed with a team that 4 months ago was one game from being Stanley Cup champions. If that game was representative of what we can expect this year, and its moments of mediocrity sure mean it might be, then we should be able to compete in most games this year.

If the special teams can get turned around, the D stay healthy, I think there's every chance we'll compete for the playoffs.

The D staying healthy is a big IF. This team needed a top notch RHD, but couldn't offer what it took to get Burns or Franson or allegedly Bogosian. I would have been happy with some Whitney insurance, as it seems pretty clear that Barker is not that guy. He's got talents but in the same way that a three legged dog has talents--they're mitigated by its lack of mobility. But alas, no Whitney insurance either.

Special teams... Well the PK looks like it is going to better. But last time we had a good PP, Doug Weight was still learning to shave. So another huge If. Hopefully Nuge, Hall and Ebs can get the PP turned around, but the Oil have always seemed to be able to negate all manner of talent with the man advantage.

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#65 John Chambers
October 02 2011, 01:30PM
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@ OB1 - Team Hall

Hey, I agree that a move needs to be made. But clarify for me what move we should've made for a D-man, and where we missed an opportunity?

We didn't have anyone of James Neal's calibre to obtain Goligoski. Take on Kotalik's salary to get Regehr? No thanks. Pay a ransom for a decade of Christian Ehrhoff? Or maybe we should've traded a 30-goal scorer like Grabner to have Keith Ballard become our 6th defenseman.

There are opportunities out there - I'm just glad that while we're re-building we haven't been so impatient to force a move on D that would actually set us back in the long term.

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#66 FastOil
October 02 2011, 01:40PM
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This team is ready to compete for the playoffs, the management isn't.

How hard is it to set up the D core to allow for the promotion of the prospects as they push guys off the roster and be reasonably competitive at the same time? Another LD better than Smid, a RD at least at Gilbert's level and we're there, decent enough to compete. Let Peckham or Smid and Petry play thirds. To see the playoffs we don't need Webber. To win the Cup perhaps. We just need guys better than Sutton etc. at his age now.

It's not brain surgery. I think it is important to allow the forwards to have mountains to climb soon and gain the experience they are going to need when they can contend. I'd rather have more years with a real chance than watching them learn playoff lessons in years they may have had a chance to push but hadn't been there enough times yet.

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#67 madjam
October 02 2011, 01:48PM
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John Chambers wrote:

@ OB1 - Team Hall

Hey, I agree that a move needs to be made. But clarify for me what move we should've made for a D-man, and where we missed an opportunity?

We didn't have anyone of James Neal's calibre to obtain Goligoski. Take on Kotalik's salary to get Regehr? No thanks. Pay a ransom for a decade of Christian Ehrhoff? Or maybe we should've traded a 30-goal scorer like Grabner to have Keith Ballard become our 6th defenseman.

There are opportunities out there - I'm just glad that while we're re-building we haven't been so impatient to force a move on D that would actually set us back in the long term.

Impatient ? You don't think sitting status quo over that time hasn't hurt us enough , or the worst equivalent of the two ? We are not bubbling with much to begin with, and arguably the worst when you consider most of them have injury issues a plenty to begin with . Our 2-4th best projects are still aways yet in Teubert , Musil, Klefbom and Marincin . Conventional wisdom of buiding from backend and center obviosly is not and does not sit well with Oiler management for some unexplained reason ?

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#68 Quicksilver ballet
October 02 2011, 02:53PM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

I mentioned last season that Tambellini was doing exactly what he was brought into do, bulldoze this right down to the clay and land the Oilers some options go as far as franchise players go.

Renney's doing the best with what he has, meanwhile Steve is below the waterline punching a hundred holes in the hull of the goodship Oiler. Renney didn't have a chance and faces the mass media on a daily basis while management pick and choose their spots to release their positve spin. There's a game being played in the stands as well as on the ice at Rexall Place.

Steve being fired at years end after signing a 3 yr extension (a severance package)may confirm my suspicions. The fans have their scapegoat for the last five yrs and Tambellini will remain on the payroll for years to come for doing the dirty work.

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#69 Douche Nietzsche
October 02 2011, 03:09PM
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There is no light at the end of the tunnel of this rebuild road Oilers fans are being taken on.

These poor kids/prospects are being used more to build an arena than they are to build a championship contender.

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#70 book¡e
October 02 2011, 03:55PM
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I think too many of you are buying into the 'This year we are targeting the playoffs' line. The playoffs are not the plan, 23rd through 26th is the goal. The GM can talk about how much the team improved while getting one more good pick in a deep draft. The forwards will put on an exciting show while defence and maybe goaltending ensure the team loses enough to get a good draft pick.

Steve Tambellini is not going to 'fix' the defence because that might mean that the Oilers don't get their good draft pick. Instead he will pick up someone who is a borderline AHL/NHL player and someone who is an AHL depth player to help out the AHL club.

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#71 Rob...
October 02 2011, 04:00PM
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TAE0145 wrote:

You do realize they scored 2 empty netters and the Oilers were out chancing them for most of the game. Kind of early to panic when you haven't even officially lost a game!!!

I don't think I'm panicking. I agree with LT that with our trades and pickups that the Oilers have some veteran forwards who are more capable of playing both ends of the ice. On top of that, our rookies also seem to understand the need... especially surprising in Hall since he idolizes Iginla... cherry picker extraordinaire.

I also think that a 4-1 loss with Khabi in net is hardly a surprise, regardless who you put in front of him as his defensive corp. I'd also rather lose a lot of 2-1 & 3-2 games with DD in net and our current defense than give away a valuable asset for a lesser return just cuz we NEED another veteran D.

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#72 a lg dubl dubl
October 02 2011, 04:17PM
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Brule is 1 of the latest cuts sent to OKC kinda interesting IMO. He didnt play great and Lander out played him in pre-season but I thought for sure Brule would have been traded instead, especially after all the Dman injuries.

*goes back to being an NHL12 gm*

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#73 Quicksilver ballet
October 02 2011, 04:25PM
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Rob... wrote:

I don't think I'm panicking. I agree with LT that with our trades and pickups that the Oilers have some veteran forwards who are more capable of playing both ends of the ice. On top of that, our rookies also seem to understand the need... especially surprising in Hall since he idolizes Iginla... cherry picker extraordinaire.

I also think that a 4-1 loss with Khabi in net is hardly a surprise, regardless who you put in front of him as his defensive corp. I'd also rather lose a lot of 2-1 & 3-2 games with DD in net and our current defense than give away a valuable asset for a lesser return just cuz we NEED another veteran D.

Weekend results were as follows - Khabibulin at .893 on Saturday and Dubnyk at .880 on Friday. Neither is providing what is considered adaquate NHL goaltending. Who should we point both barrels at?

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#74 mick swagger
October 02 2011, 04:25PM
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Lt. The oilers put brule on waivers and harki is going to the farm this all but guarantees RNH stays but does this mean that there is a real chance for lander to make it to? Or petrell?

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#75 TAE0145
October 02 2011, 04:27PM
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@a lg dubl dubl

I can't see much of a market for Brule unfoertunately. I like the guy but he really didn't show anything in the pre season

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#78 champski
October 02 2011, 05:08PM
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Woodguy wrote:

Agreed, although Lubo for Whitney + 6th was fairly high risk.

Pat Quinn hated the way Lubo skated the puck out when there wasn't a forward pass option.

Lubo's skating was the only thing worth watching 2 years ago at Oiler games.

I'd like to see the forward corps as they are together for a year too. 3 lines that have offensive ability is a very good thing to have.

In retrospect this was a bad trade for the Oil, why did want to get rid of Lubo in the first place. Was his contract coming up?

I mean Whitneys had injuries on every team he has played on. Why trade for him?

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#79 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 02 2011, 05:11PM
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@ John Chambers. I'm thinking if Hannan signed in Calgary for a million, Edmonton for 2 rears at 1.75 per would have looked good. We could have cashed in on the Hawks fire sale from last year or when a guy like Mesaroz gets moved for a second. Or we could just continue to make excuses.

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#81 The Farmer
October 02 2011, 07:18PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Small sample size there. I would go with last seasons save % not much doubt who is my starter.

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#82 Dog Train
October 02 2011, 09:40PM
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Teams aren't usually willing to trade top 4 dmen at this point in this season. Unless something unexpected happens it will likely be sink or swim with the current D until around the trade deadline. Then, if we are somehow still in the hunt, maybe we can add a blueliner or something. I wouldn't hold my breath for a Ryan Suter or anything though.

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#83 FastOil
October 02 2011, 10:18PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

@ John Chambers. I'm thinking if Hannan signed in Calgary for a million, Edmonton for 2 rears at 1.75 per would have looked good. We could have cashed in on the Hawks fire sale from last year or when a guy like Mesaroz gets moved for a second. Or we could just continue to make excuses.

Steve will begin jamming his fingers in the holes in the dyke this year once he knows where we will settle in the standings.

I imagine this start to the year couldn't have been better - no waiting to see if the usual suspects can get hurt. They have, and will. When Whitney gets wonky around Christmas, Hemsky gets too sore, Gagner restrains his ankle, Horcoff's leg or arm falls off, Smid gets a concussion, Peckham gets hurt trying to annihilate someone, Dubnyk gets a strain, OKC gets depleted, ya, we'll Nail that draft pick.

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#84 VK63
October 02 2011, 11:04PM
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Soooo..... too early to start a morgan reilly vs griffin reinhart debate?

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#85 D
October 03 2011, 12:15AM
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LT,

I know it's late in the comments thread, but I would like to throw something out there for the fans to consider. I believe the current state of the Oilers (stronger on offense, weaker on D) may be coming right from the owner. It is no secret that Katz is very much into the "80's" Oilers - uniforms, professional relationship with the glory day players, etc. I also believe that Katz is also interested in recreating the offensive juggernaut, if not to the extent of years past, at least something similar to the Washington Capitals a few years back.

What better way than to keep adding skilled forwards who know that the only way this team can win now with such a weak D is by scoring a lot of goals. If Hall, RNH, Eberle, MPS, Omark and the gang know that the Oil are going to allow 3 or 4 goals a night, then they know in order to win, they have to score 5. Additionally, there is no pressure to worry about being good defensively because the expectation is already set that this team will be poor on D.

I bet Katz would rather have the Oil known as the team that can only win by offense rather than the balanced approached propounded by many others.

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#86 jake
October 03 2011, 08:38AM
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D wrote:

LT,

I know it's late in the comments thread, but I would like to throw something out there for the fans to consider. I believe the current state of the Oilers (stronger on offense, weaker on D) may be coming right from the owner. It is no secret that Katz is very much into the "80's" Oilers - uniforms, professional relationship with the glory day players, etc. I also believe that Katz is also interested in recreating the offensive juggernaut, if not to the extent of years past, at least something similar to the Washington Capitals a few years back.

What better way than to keep adding skilled forwards who know that the only way this team can win now with such a weak D is by scoring a lot of goals. If Hall, RNH, Eberle, MPS, Omark and the gang know that the Oil are going to allow 3 or 4 goals a night, then they know in order to win, they have to score 5. Additionally, there is no pressure to worry about being good defensively because the expectation is already set that this team will be poor on D.

I bet Katz would rather have the Oil known as the team that can only win by offense rather than the balanced approached propounded by many others.

Interesting take.

I have a silly theory that maybe they are trying to force the young players to learn/respect the defensive side of the game. Weak D (all D really) need good forward support. You want to win in this league, you have to learn D zone play. Put Pronger, Lidstrom etc. behind these younglings and they won't learn too too much.

Renney somewhat alluded to this in a post-game (can't recall who the forwards dressed were) when asked about the poor performance of the D and he wasted no time in talking about the forwards.

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#87 Quicksliver Bullet
October 03 2011, 09:25AM
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Who do we move for a defenceman? And who do we get? Tough to say. I'm less concerned about goaltending this year, but how much rubber will our tenders face before they start to look like a horror show? We need not only a blue chipper on defence (Doughty-esque, Weber-esque, dare I say Pronger-esque) . . . we need some depth on the farm. Marincin et al are solid prospects, but not ready to jump in at the 34 game point and bring what's needed.

On another note . . . how are you doing Marbles??

Great to see you here. HAHAHAHAHA!

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#88 Bucknuck
October 03 2011, 11:37AM
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As much as I hate to say it, you have to give up something to get something (unless you are getting Ryan Smyth, apparently).

The Oilers had a ton of depth up front, and they needed to trade from that strength to get some depth on the blue line.

But now is not the time.

The question is, why are we discussing this now. Everyone on this forum knew that the D-Core was 1 or 2 men short of being adequate, particularly with Smid and Whitney being often injured. How come Tambellini couldn't see it?

I wonder, is the plan to have high entertainment value with the forwards being stellar but still losing thanks to a bad D and a Khabibulin between the pipes. Is that the plan? It kinda seems so.

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#89 Quicksliver Bullet
October 03 2011, 01:06PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Weekend results were as follows - Khabibulin at .893 on Saturday and Dubnyk at .880 on Friday. Neither is providing what is considered adaquate NHL goaltending. Who should we point both barrels at?

We should point both barrels at Bucknuck and his ilk, who seem to think that prescience is a common trait amongs the Oilers intelligentsia.

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#90 Bucknuck
October 03 2011, 01:13PM
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Quicksliver Bullet wrote:

We should point both barrels at Bucknuck and his ilk, who seem to think that prescience is a common trait amongs the Oilers intelligentsia.

Hmmm... the D has been substandard for five years, and Khabibulin has been bad ever since he became an Oiler. Even if Whitney and Smid were healthy, the D-core on this team needed a shot in the arm.

Prescience is hardly involved.

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