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, 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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#51 Quintana
November 13 2013, 10:11AM
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Drowning in Oil wrote:

BUFFALO FIRES THEIR COACH and GM after a crappy start..... PHILLY FIRES THEIR COACH after a crappy star..... and in EDMONTON ??? What do the Oilers do to shake things up??? They trade our grittiest D-man and bring in a goaltender that was absolutely IGNORED BY 29 other teams!!!

In Edmonton chaos..6 rings stand still!!

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#52 Bongshow
November 13 2013, 10:20AM
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loweblows wrote:

really??? as I stated earlier the kids are now young men learning to play in a mans league-if you look at most teams they shelter and groom them in the ahl until they are 21-its sad that the majority of the posters agree that RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov are destroying the organization-trash me all you want but it is obvious that your anger outweighs logic, glad you guys aren't in charge

You misunderstood. The destroyers from the top are the "original" boys on the bus. Not the current players getting thrown under it. J.

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#53 DSF
November 13 2013, 10:46AM
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Cam Cole ‏@rcamcole 4m

Now here's a stat to ponder: @mc79hockey The Oilers are the 29th worst defensive team in the NHL when Yakupov isn't on the ice.

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#55 sizzay
November 13 2013, 10:52AM
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DSF wrote:

Cam Cole ‏@rcamcole 4m

Now here's a stat to ponder: @mc79hockey The Oilers are the 29th worst defensive team in the NHL when Yakupov isn't on the ice.

Interesting. If you look up turnovers on NHL.com, Yakupov is far from the worst culprit.

His defensive positioning and understanding his assignments require leaps and bounds of work but I'm sure he will become average at best over the next several seasons. Just need to wake him up offensively and play him with someone to mask his defensive issues.

Why haven't we tried: Perron - Gordon - Yakupov. Tried everything else imagineable.

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#56 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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#57 Zarny
November 13 2013, 11:01AM
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Excellent article and 100% bang on.

People say "three #1 draft picks" like they come with magical pixie dust from a land of unicorns and rainbows.

Sorry but no. Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Yak and Schultz does not a rebuild make.

The Oilers are characterized by a complete and utter lack of depth. Squeaking into the playoffs in 7th or 8th was always best case scenario.

This year won't be best case but it is certainly not lost. It gives MacT an opportunity to move off of step 1 of the rebuild.

Forget about "bold moves" right now. Start with assembling a 4th line that isn't all AHL caliber players.

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#58 sizzay
November 13 2013, 11:01AM
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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.

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.

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#59 tileguy
November 13 2013, 11:10AM
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No no no, don't start with the 4th line, start by adding tough, gritty hard to play against top 9 a la Burke. That means we have to give up something to get something, "BOLD MOVES". Can you see this team playing playoff hockey when the intensity gets turned up?

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#60 sizzay
November 13 2013, 11:14AM
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Ray wrote:

People trash this suggestion because they have no idea how to build a team, All- Star teams don't work.

I actually think that is a good post.

Kulemin - 6'1 225lbs on the LW adding some scoring and size to our top 9. Plays 2 ways.

Couturier may not put up 80 points per year, but if he gets to 60 points and stops pucks from going in, sign me up.

I would attempt to acquire both.

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#61 Towersofdub
November 13 2013, 11:18AM
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why do people come on here and make ridiculous trade suggestions, as if they believe that every other team in the league will go out of their way to make Edmonton better. Furthermore...what the hell has Tyler Myers accomplished since his rookie season? Honestly. Think about these things before you post them.

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#62 Hockey Problems
November 13 2013, 11:21AM
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@Jonathan Willis

What is the best way to tell the team and it's fans that the recent history of the club is unacceptable ?. You punt the "reason" we're in this mess in the first place. If the kids on the team see the ship being run astray with no accountability at the top, how can anybody preach accountability to the players, it seems like lip service. The fact is that the team has been brutal for years and in this, the year we were to see an improvement, we see regression. Clear out the top and send the message that "incompetence" will NOT be tolerated. ANYMORE !!

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#63 sizzay
November 13 2013, 11:33AM
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DSF wrote:

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.

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

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#64 tileguy
November 13 2013, 11:36AM
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Simmonds and Subban, now the team would have teeth.

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#65 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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#66 Fresh Mess
November 13 2013, 11:51AM
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JW,

Fedun's demotion in favour of Potter would also be consistent with Katz ordering management to reduce payroll. Fedun is oon a two way contract. Potter is on a one way NHL deal.

Seven hundred grand savings is nothing to sneeze at when you are talking about your own money.

Another year with no playoff revenue, I wouldn't blame Katz for cutting the budget. Spending to the cap sure didn't bring results.

Although choosing Smid to dump salary is still perplexing to me. Terrible trade.

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#67 The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building
November 13 2013, 11:57AM
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tileguy wrote:

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

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.

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#68 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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#69 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 12:31PM
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@DSF

Wow. This is why you don't have credibility. You say that Voracek is better that Eberle because in a 48 game season Voracek out scored him. When it's pointed out that Eberle is beating him this year you say small sample size. How about full sample size: Eberle career PPG .799 Voracek .615

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#70 Alsker
November 13 2013, 12:34PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

JW,

Fedun's demotion in favour of Potter would also be consistent with Katz ordering management to reduce payroll. Fedun is oon a two way contract. Potter is on a one way NHL deal.

Seven hundred grand savings is nothing to sneeze at when you are talking about your own money.

Another year with no playoff revenue, I wouldn't blame Katz for cutting the budget. Spending to the cap sure didn't bring results.

Although choosing Smid to dump salary is still perplexing to me. Terrible trade.

I'm with you, money can't buy love or a winning hockey team. As for Smid if there would have been another deal in place where $ needed to be shed, whatever. With MacT stating its for cap help next year than he's either an idiot or Smid crossed the line on something. With all our matinees so far this season its fitting that this is such a soap opera.

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#71 DSF
November 13 2013, 12:54PM
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Citizen David wrote:

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.

Yes, Eberle is a better scorer but, as you see above there is much more to winning hockey games than scoring.

You should also factor in the season before last when Eberle had an unsustainable shooting percentage which, predictably, has fallen back to earth.

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#72 Serious Gord
November 13 2013, 01:06PM
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rob wrote:

hey J.W,how about the fans give the oil a standing O tonight and cheer through out the game,lets see if we can kick start our team instead of leaving it to our incompetent managment team!lets make these guys feel like someone is behind them and turn this year around,I know they dont deserve it but lets rock the hell out of rexall tonight!

Wow!

Cheering failure. That ought to work...

I'm sure It will really send a message to management that we think they are incompetent.

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#73 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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#74 Dave
November 13 2013, 09:13AM
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Can a team tank when it never got up from the bottom ? This is just business as usual for the Oilers.

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#75 Andrew
November 13 2013, 09:31AM
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Smokey wrote:

Saw yesterday Fedun got sent down and they brought back Potter?

Is this one of those where Potter finished his conditioning stints and he has to come back up, or did they just send a bad message to Fedun. Fedun been so-so defensively, but has contributed to the offence. Anyone got some perspective?

I'm not surprised. I'm just waiting for the announcement that Arcobello has been sent down. The Oiler way...2 steps forward 3 steps...etc

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#76 RealFakeDiesel
November 13 2013, 09:38AM
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Even if we get on a hot streak. Its not like we'll be drafting 30th overall

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#77 Drowning in Oil
November 13 2013, 09:44AM
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VK63 wrote:

Y u heff 2 be mad?

I know, I know, I need to learn to calm down, lol.

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#78 Todd
November 13 2013, 09:48AM
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Smokey wrote:

Saw yesterday Fedun got sent down and they brought back Potter?

Is this one of those where Potter finished his conditioning stints and he has to come back up, or did they just send a bad message to Fedun. Fedun been so-so defensively, but has contributed to the offence. Anyone got some perspective?

Willis tweeted yesterday how Potter has been very good in OKC. Shot differential was something like -14 with Potter not on the ice, and +65 with him on it. So basically, he earned a shot with great play.

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#79 Bob
November 13 2013, 09:51AM
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One time I rebuilt a shed.

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#80 Jon
November 13 2013, 10:05AM
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Todd wrote:

Willis tweeted yesterday how Potter has been very good in OKC. Shot differential was something like -14 with Potter not on the ice, and +65 with him on it. So basically, he earned a shot with great play.

Err, just so no one thinks Potter is Jesus...he meant +6 not +65.

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#81 Hockey Problems
November 13 2013, 10:13AM
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Bob wrote:

One time I rebuilt a shed.

Did it take 8 years because you had to fire and rehire 4 hammers, 3 sheets of plywood, and a special lock that "swarms" anyone trying to enter your "zone" ?

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#82 tileguy
November 13 2013, 10:32AM
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Can't wait for game day predictions that may involve Horc. Somebody start the ball rolling.

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#83 Lowe Expectations
November 13 2013, 10:33AM
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This rebuild looks like the birdhouse Homer Simpson made.

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#84 Toro
November 13 2013, 10:38AM
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Play bad for Ekblad

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#85 2004Z06
November 13 2013, 10:39AM
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What's sad is that 1/3 of our team is players averaging less than 100 NHL games total. What other organization does that?

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#86 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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#87 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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#88 Drowning in Oil
November 13 2013, 10:49AM
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loweblows wrote:

really??? as I stated earlier the kids are now young men learning to play in a mans league-if you look at most teams they shelter and groom them in the ahl until they are 21-its sad that the majority of the posters agree that RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov are destroying the organization-trash me all you want but it is obvious that your anger outweighs logic, glad you guys aren't in charge

Wow, how long have you lived in Edmonton son? Get a grip and do some research! The boys on the bus are the management of this team who used to play on this team. It is really hard to blame the kids for this mess!!

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#89 Zarny
November 13 2013, 11:11AM
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Roger in Vancouver wrote:

JIm,

My name is Roger from Vancouver. I need you to tell me if these proposals are crazy or if they are feasible. I sent you the proposal last year for Matt Duchene which you reasonably reasoned out…

Here are my proposals:

1. Trade to Philly - Hemsly, Gagner, N. Schultz, 2015 2nd and 3rd for Coburn, B. Schenn, Simmons

as well as

2. To Buffalo - Yakupov and J. Schultz, 2014 1st rd pick for Cody Hodgson and Tyler Meyers.

Lines: Hall RNH SImmons

Schenn Hodgson Ebs

Perron Gordon Joensuu

Smyth Arco Jones

Defense: Coburn Meyers

Ference Larsen

Petry Belov

The only reason i say J Schultz is we need a tougher D. Im liking Larsen and how he is jumping into the play a la J Schultz but still gets back on D.

The second line may relive the magic of the WJC….

Hallsie gets a guy that plays like him with the magician RNH that can feed those two…..

AM I CRAZY JIM???!

Please pass this to Mc T if you approve!

Your devoted and humble fan in Vancouver,

Yes, you are crazy.

Why on earth would Phi even consider your first offer?

And why on earth would the Oilers consider your second offer?

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#90 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
November 13 2013, 11:11AM
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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.

Even if Lowe isnt making the Oiler decisions (Although he travel with mact and mess on a scouting/trade mission so apparently he is heavily involved in the day to day) He is the man responsible for the Hockey operations and the Hockey operations have been a catastrophe. Tambo's sins were basically not being a friend of Katz

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#92 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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#93 oilfan in yyc
November 13 2013, 11:19AM
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loweblows wrote:

really??? as I stated earlier the kids are now young men learning to play in a mans league-if you look at most teams they shelter and groom them in the ahl until they are 21-its sad that the majority of the posters agree that RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov are destroying the organization-trash me all you want but it is obvious that your anger outweighs logic, glad you guys aren't in charge

Most organizations don't shelter first overall picks in the AHL until they are 21, first overalls immediately make it to the NHL the majority of the time.

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#94 DSF
November 13 2013, 11:20AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

And that's a fair point.

I said it at the time and 100 times since: the Khabibulin signing alone should have been a fireable offence given what it said about management's approach.

Yes you did and there have been multiple decisions since then that only reinforce that sentiment.

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#97 6 ring circus
November 13 2013, 11:26AM
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In some organizations they don't allow you to keep making mistakes and have endless excuses,they just get rid of you, never to be heard from again.

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#98 Old School G
November 13 2013, 11:30AM
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Since Buffalo's making changes MacT should be calling about Foligno, Ott, and Tallinder, just a few guys that would address team needs right now.

Maybe whoever the Sabres name as GM will forget all about the Vanek offer sheet and deal with us? Both teams badly need to make some changes, both fan bases would welcome it if the deal was fair I'm sure.

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#99 Serious Gord
November 13 2013, 11:31AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

And that's a fair point.

I said it at the time and 100 times since: the Khabibulin signing alone should have been a fireable offence given what it said about management's approach.

Even more egregious was not getting Niemi when they had the chance.

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#100 sizzay
November 13 2013, 11:34AM
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DSF wrote:

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.

Also Eberle is outscoring Voracek this year.

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