The Push

Jonathan Willis
November 13 2013 08:49AM

At this point, it seems all but certain that the 2013-14 season is done for the Oilers. The team is in a hole so deep in a conference so good that clawing back into a playoff spot is going to be an extremely difficult proposition. Given that, does it make sense to start the tank job and go for the best available pick?

Not on your life.

RE-BUILD

Rebuild has gotten to be an ugly word in Edmonton, but the idea is sound. The trouble is that the Oilers have only been able to execute one part of it.

Via dictionary.com:

"Withdrawal or backward motion" pretty much sums up the Edmonton Oilers post-Pronger. But that's only half the battle.

Again from dictionary.com:

Pick a definition; that's the plan now. The Oilers need to construct a better NHL team. They need to establish, increase and/or strengthen their ability to compete with other clubs. They need to mold or form young players into championship-calibre professionals. And on and on it goes.

The Edmonton Oilers are masters of “re-.” They’ve got “re-“ down cold. It’s the whole “build” part of the word that was always going to be much, much more difficult and seems to have the organization flummoxed.

Tossing The Season

That’s why it’s important that general manager Craig MacTavish not toss his hands in the air and say ‘forget it, we’ll move the vets at the deadline and take the pick.’ That portion of the rebuild needs to be over. That’s not to say that pending free agents that aren’t in the plans can’t be let go at the deadline – just that the focus has to be on building the team for next year.

Draft picks are a long-term investment that, if they pay off at all, pay off years down the road. This isn’t a team that needs more draft picks. This isn't a team that needs the highest possible first overall pick this summer.

The lone focus here, with this season already all but over, has to be on making the playoffs next season – and the best way to do that is to do everything possible to make and keep the team competitive this season. Even if that means picking 10th overall rather than in the top-five. 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Oiler Al
November 13 2013, 03:49PM
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Bob wrote:

One time I rebuilt a shed.

So has Kevin Lowe, but shed is spelled a bit differently. S..t.

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#102 Hockey fan 1976
November 13 2013, 06:31PM
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So I guess we have now two types of fans : Tier I, those that pay season ticket prices and are now officially watching a team tanking in November and Tier II ,those that can stay home and can turn this circus off their TV while not giving these clowns the satisfaction to take our money. I'll take fan tier II please.

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#103 madjam
November 13 2013, 09:38AM
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Get on Mact's case for the scrimping of cap money on back end ! Until that vastly improves we will remain a cellar dweller and forwards won't be able to progress properly .

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#104 Cubro
November 13 2013, 09:44AM
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@Roger in Vancouver

I don't mind this but really? Larsen over Schultz? He was - 3 vs Chicago in a game in which he had three points. 2 of those goals he left guys all alone in the slot. I think Schultz has better offensive flair and is already better than Larsen defensively.

I think yak gagner nschultz+ a third rounder gets that deal done

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#105 tileguy
November 13 2013, 10:39AM
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Zarny wrote:

Hate to break it to you but Kevin Lowe was not the first President of Hockey Operations?

Not even close. The Oilers had no part in bringing that title into vogue.

where to keep the inflammation down Zarny with your soothing Prep H.

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#106 Drowning in Oil
November 13 2013, 10:44AM
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Big Cap wrote:

With Eakins, MacT and Lowe setting the Oiler record for the fastest bombing of a season (beating their own previous record) I hope they continue to manage and play guys like Smyth, Eager, N. Schultz as much as possible while Eakins continues his blowhard views of how the young guys have to "earn it" and "learn the system".

With another season shot, Our young guys and future roster players should be playing in every situation possible. If not now, then when? When we are in the Conference Final??? PS - Nuge will be 35 years by then.

Eakins has been the Biggest bust in the last 10 years, maybe since Jason Bonsignore. He's demolished our once successful PP and PK, and implemented this ridiculous "swarm defense". Tell us again how we will be the most fit team and the most ultra competitive unit in the league for all 60 minutes.

PS - Thank you to both MacT and Lowe for Green Lighting this coaching hire.

PPS - Katz, enjoy the Caribbean. See you in March when you get back to start hitting us season ticket holders up for next years deposit. Plus 6 percent increase, of coarse.

And that increase is at the dump, I mean northlands....... Get ready for double digit increases when they move!

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#107 tileguy
November 13 2013, 10:58AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It depends on what Lowe's precise role has been these last few years.

If Lowe's been pulling the strings, absolutely he should wear this.

If Lowe's been in other roles - overseeing the broader organization (the Barons, the Oil Kings, etc.) - and not been involved in the day-to-day of the Oilers, I don't think he should be fired for the sins of Steve Tambellini.

Will we ever know to end the speculation, or just let it fester. More Prep H over here.

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#108 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 12:41PM
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@DSF

Also since you refuse in Gagner's case to accept his prorated points last season how about this stat Voracek's highest point total 50. Eberle's 76. As well as a 51 point season.

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#109 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 12:58PM
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DSF wrote:

How about this?:

Cap hit:

Voracek $4.25M

Eberle $6M

Teams in the NHL play in a cap environment.

Or how about this?

Voracek Corsi ON - +13.52

Eberle CorsiON - +4.38

Or how about this:

CorsiFor%

Voracek 56.3% (10th best for RW in the NHL)

Eberle 46.3% (60th best for RW in the NHL)

Players that can take on tough competition and not get outscored are worth their weight in gold.

Players that can score but get their heads caved in by the opposition, not so much.

I have no problem paying a 70+ point first line right winger 6 million. It would be nice it it were more of a bargain but it's fine with me. 4.25 is not what I'd call a great deal for what Voracek does. 40 something's points and good defensively. 2nd-3rd liner.

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#110 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 01:01PM
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@DSF

I know it takes more than points to win but what I want from 6million first liners the most, what is most important from them, is points. And Eberle delivers.

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#111 rickithebear
November 13 2013, 02:22PM
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N. schultz and potter playing together

2.86 GF/60 0.57 GA/60

very strong 3rd pair!

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#112 dangilitis
November 13 2013, 05:03PM
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DSF wrote:

How about this?:

Cap hit:

Voracek $4.25M

Eberle $6M

Teams in the NHL play in a cap environment.

Or how about this?

Voracek Corsi ON - +13.52

Eberle CorsiON - +4.38

Or how about this:

CorsiFor%

Voracek 56.3% (10th best for RW in the NHL)

Eberle 46.3% (60th best for RW in the NHL)

Players that can take on tough competition and not get outscored are worth their weight in gold.

Players that can score but get their heads caved in by the opposition, not so much.

OK.

Then compare Eberle's and Seguin's PPG and salaries and come to a conclusion using your logic!

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#113 Rama Lama
November 13 2013, 10:56AM
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Let's not call it Re-build and call it Re-Deploy...........yea we need to re-deploy our assets to OKC, where they seem to shine and flourish.

Under Nelson, every player played better . We need to convince Yaks to go to OKC and play as many minutes so that he can gain his confidence. He has effectively traded himself, just how do you undo now what has to be a very contentious Coach/Player battle?

I have not seen many players say anything positive about Eakins..........I suspect every is holding back a little but this guy has made a real mess of things. Well at least he has nice hair.

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#114 sizzay
November 13 2013, 11:17AM
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Zarny wrote:

Doubtful Phi would trade Sean Couturier for Eberle straight up.

That's the neat part about trades. Both teams have to actually agree.

We need more than a top pairing Dman unfortunately. So it's still worth a call and an acquisition at the right price.

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#115 DSF
November 13 2013, 11:30AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'd be reasonably shocked if Philadelphia wasn't willing to part with Couturier+ for Eberle.

I'd be very shocked if Philly would be willing to take on Eberle's $6M cap hit given his production.

And beyond that, their RW depth is Voracek, Simmonds, Downie and Reed.

The Flyers already have a bigger, better version of Eberle in Voracek.

Voracek outscored Eberle 46-37 last season.

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#116 DSF
November 13 2013, 11:36AM
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sizzay wrote:

Philly inquired on Eberle over the weekend. I believe Tim Pannachio (spelling) tweeted it.

If they could move one of their toxic contracts to the Oilers I guess they might consider it but $6M for a second line winger is pretty steep.

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#117 Harlie
November 13 2013, 11:40AM
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DSF wrote:

I think he would get more respect if he had a touch of grey.

I see you've got your list out, say your peace and get out. Yes I get the gist of it, but it's all right Sorry that you feel that way, the only thing there is to say is... Every silver lining's got a touch of grey. I will get by, I will get by, I will get by, I will survive.

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#118 DSF
November 13 2013, 11:43AM
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sizzay wrote:

Also Eberle is outscoring Voracek this year.

Yep.

Small sample size though.

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#119 Fatbob24
November 13 2013, 12:11PM
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The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building wrote:

More like vaseline - let's just fast forward to April and get this rerun over with...'Team Toe Drag' is still no where near a playoff spot and will make minor trades at deadline, then go on minor winning streak to end season, get a top ten draft pick, and this time replace assistant coaches. The only way to break this cycle is to remove Kevin Lowe. ....and as a feel good move replace Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer.

Hey I like jack.

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#120 Jacques Strap
November 13 2013, 12:19PM
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@Jonathan Willis

JW

If Lowe hired Tambo to run things then turned a blind eye and allowed him to make terrible decisions with impunity for several seasons while the culture of losing got further and further ingrained into the organization, wouldn't that be far worse than making the bad decisions yourself? Such apathy from a senior executive would be absolutely intolerable in any business. Katz isn't stupid. He knows that. Of course Lowe was pulling the strings. His plan all along was to tank a few seasons and build TBOTB-2.0 and win a bunch of Cups all over again. After rejections from Pronger, Heatley, Vanek et. al., it isn't hard to see why it seemed like his only option to build a winner. Good plan, but it comes with serious risk of creating a losing culture, which it has (**in an early candidate for understatement of the century). If I was Katz, it would have also come with a time limit. From the outcry of the fans (both types), I would say that limit has been reached, if not exceeded.

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#121 mayorblaine
November 13 2013, 12:19PM
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i'm here for 2 things:

1. complain about Lowe all we want, until Katz understands culpability and/or cares about its definition, he goes nowhere.

2. what about Bob? any other home building projects?

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#122 Fresh Mess
November 13 2013, 12:24PM
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@DSF

agreed

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#123 camdog
November 13 2013, 01:04PM
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sizzay wrote:

See, I think he is pulling strings. See how defensive the imbecile got when he got questioned after the Tambellini firing? He didn't say, I left everything up to Tambellini.

Of course Lowe has been pulling some strings, but how many strings, nobody knows.

Craig Mactavish knew he was going to be hired GM 2-3 years ago, long before Tambelini was even fired. As soon as he was re-hired as an advisor most people knew this was happening. There was never a search for a GM...I would love for somebody to question Lowe on when he decided to make Mact the GM?

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#124 Thumby
November 13 2013, 01:21PM
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DSF wrote:

How about this?:

Cap hit:

Voracek $4.25M

Eberle $6M

Teams in the NHL play in a cap environment.

Or how about this?

Voracek Corsi ON - +13.52

Eberle CorsiON - +4.38

Or how about this:

CorsiFor%

Voracek 56.3% (10th best for RW in the NHL)

Eberle 46.3% (60th best for RW in the NHL)

Players that can take on tough competition and not get outscored are worth their weight in gold.

Players that can score but get their heads caved in by the opposition, not so much.

I usually side with DSF logic but I wonder what Eberle advanced stats would look like with comparable defence men and goaltending as Voracek plays in front of?

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#125 brian hitchinson
November 13 2013, 06:28PM
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@Alsker

When does the Oiler management ever do anything to help the Oilers? With Kevin Lowe as pres, the Oilers have definitely competed for the No. 1 pick. This new version of last yr., is worse!! With Lowe as pres., the Oilers will continue to struggle, with this team & it's so called "stars". Why the Oilers are at the max with the salary cap & have got this shi##y team, stuggests to me that this team is not run properly & Lowe is leader of this sinking ship!!

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#126 Fresh Mess
November 13 2013, 11:36AM
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Zarny wrote:

Hate to break it to you but Kevin Lowe was not the first President of Hockey Operations?

Not even close. The Oilers had no part in bringing that title into vogue.

I didn't say first. But tell us, who are the men with the title "president of hockey operations" who got that title prior to Lowe?

John Davidson maybe. I seem to remember he started out with the President title of the Blues. JD became P. of hockey with the Blue Jackets after Lowe.

Neely is President. Lou Lam is president. Robitaille is 'President of Business operations' (also ridiculous) while Lombardi is just President.

So explain to us how "the Oilers had no part in bringing that title into vogue."

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#127 oilerjed
November 13 2013, 11:57AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

I didn't say first. But tell us, who are the men with the title "president of hockey operations" who got that title prior to Lowe?

John Davidson maybe. I seem to remember he started out with the President title of the Blues. JD became P. of hockey with the Blue Jackets after Lowe.

Neely is President. Lou Lam is president. Robitaille is 'President of Business operations' (also ridiculous) while Lombardi is just President.

So explain to us how "the Oilers had no part in bringing that title into vogue."

Wasnt it Brian Burke who started the POHO when he went to Anaheim?

edit: oops that was in T.O.

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#128 DSF
November 13 2013, 12:10PM
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oilerjed wrote:

Wasnt it Brian Burke who started the POHO when he went to Anaheim?

edit: oops that was in T.O.

Actually, the position appears to have been created in Detroit although they call it Senior Vice President.

Jim Devellano was the first individual hired by owners Mike and Marian Ilitch after purchasing the Red Wings in June, 1982.

He was the team’s general manager for eight seasons before ascending to his current position as senior vice-president on July 13, 1990.

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#129 Cold Hard Truth
November 13 2013, 12:15PM
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Jonathan,

I'd also like to point out that the Oilers have gotten worse - not better - since Tambellini left. The decisions made under MacTavish have made this team worse, as the record indicates.

How exactly is that Tambellini's fault?

Tambellini is merely a convenient scapegoat for you.

I guarantee when Lowe & co. eventually leave (and it will happen eventually if they keep losing) you'll be harping on how it was Lowe's fault all along.

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#130 Fresh Mess
November 13 2013, 12:16PM
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oilerjed wrote:

Wasnt it Brian Burke who started the POHO when he went to Anaheim?

edit: oops that was in T.O.

Burke was the vp/GM from what I remember. My point is the head of hockey operations should be the GM.

Whether you want to call them GM/chairman of hockey, or GM/Grand Marshall of hockey operations, or whatever, doesn't really matter to me. But it is ridiculous to have a layer of management above GM WITHIN the hockey operations department.

If these teams were traded on an exchange, they would have market caps of around 200 million. They are small businesses. Having department 'presidents' is ridiculous. This isn't General Electric.

There is no need to have Lowe's position in the organization, other than Katz' desire to avoid firing his buddy when he removed him from the GM's job.

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#131 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 12:23PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'd be reasonably shocked if Philadelphia wasn't willing to part with Couturier+ for Eberle.

Couturier plus Scott Laugton?

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#132 Oiler Al
November 13 2013, 04:00PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It depends on what Lowe's precise role has been these last few years.

If Lowe's been pulling the strings, absolutely he should wear this.

If Lowe's been in other roles - overseeing the broader organization (the Barons, the Oil Kings, etc.) - and not been involved in the day-to-day of the Oilers, I don't think he should be fired for the sins of Steve Tambellini.

Come on Jonathan, Tambelini was Lowes ticket to "Goatscapedome'. Besides the buck stops with Lowe.

If he's not involved day to day, maybe he should be... he appears to be in the spotlight in the Oil Change segments... Seems to be lurking in the press box with Howson and MacT.

He's in charge of the Oilers as much as he is of the Barons, and Oil Kings.

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#133 Oiler Al
November 13 2013, 04:01PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It depends on what Lowe's precise role has been these last few years.

If Lowe's been pulling the strings, absolutely he should wear this.

If Lowe's been in other roles - overseeing the broader organization (the Barons, the Oil Kings, etc.) - and not been involved in the day-to-day of the Oilers, I don't think he should be fired for the sins of Steve Tambellini.

Come on Jonathan, Tambelini was Lowes ticket to "Goatscapedome'. Besides the buck stops with Lowe.

If he's not involved day to day, maybe he should be... he appears to be in the spotlight in the Oil Change segments... Seems to be lurking in the press box with Howson and MacT.

He's in charge of the Oilers as much as he is of the Barons, and Oil Kings.

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#134 Thumby
November 13 2013, 05:35PM
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DSF wrote:

Phillies goaltending has been dreadful for years and, without Pronger, their D doesn't scare anyone.

Braden Coburn is pretty good but it's pretty thin after that.

True, we're comparing ugly ducklings here...

I still think Philly's D + G > Oiler's D + G.

Not to mention the quality of 2 way players at center Philly has vs. Edmonton...factor all that in and I think you'd agree Eberle would likely have better advanced stats all things being equal...

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