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. 

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#101 Fresh Mess
November 13 2013, 11:36AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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."

Avatar
#102 Jed
November 13 2013, 11:55AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

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

Don't forget Scott Laughton in the philly organization who could replace Sean Couturier.

I think Philly would me more than interested

Avatar
#103 oilerjed
November 13 2013, 11:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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.

Avatar
#104 madjam
November 13 2013, 12:06PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

When you spend only 8% of budget on top two defence when $10% is minimum , and 5% on goaltending when 6% is minimum - your backend sucks slough water like our Oilers do . Can hardly expect forwards to make up for all of that over site , now can we . We need to trade for backend pronto , not other forwards which will do little to fix our major problems on back end . Results show exactly that, as goals against keep mounting inordinately.

Avatar
#105 DSF
November 13 2013, 12:10PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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.

Avatar
#106 Cold Hard Truth
November 13 2013, 12:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

@Jonathan Willis

So the only case you can envisage Lowe being fired is if it is somehow proved that he forced Tambellini to make poor moves?

Will Lowe ever be accountable for anything?

Here's a separate question for you Jonathan:

Do you think MacTavish would have been hired if he was not personally close with Kevin Lowe and Daryl Katz?

Avatar
#107 Cold Hard Truth
November 13 2013, 12:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

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.

Avatar
#108 Fresh Mess
November 13 2013, 12:16PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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.

Avatar
#109 Jacques Strap
November 13 2013, 12:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@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.

Avatar
#110 mayorblaine
November 13 2013, 12:19PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

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?

Avatar
#111 DSF
November 13 2013, 12:20PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers
Fresh Mess wrote:

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.

In reality, any GM who operates under a President of Hockey Operations is in effect an assistant GM.

Avatar
#112 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 12:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Jonathan Willis wrote:

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

Couturier plus Scott Laugton?

Avatar
#113 Gaz
November 13 2013, 12:23PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
6
cheers
DSF wrote:

Yep.

Small sample size though.

Couldn't we assume that a single truncated season is a small sample size?

Career stats:

Eberle - 3 seasons, 0.80 ppg, -15 +/- Voracek - 5 seasons, 0.61 ppg, +5 +/-

See what I did there? I provided two stats which tell a different story. Now I have no doubt you'll assert that plus/minus is the superior measure, because it supports your opinion, but I think most any team would trade Voracek for Eberle straight-up. Vice versa? I doubt it.

Avatar
#114 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 12:41PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

@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.

Avatar
#115 Citizen David
November 13 2013, 01:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
DSF wrote:

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.

And yet he's till on pace this season for 78 points with a brutal shooting percentage. What happens if it rises?...

Avatar
#116 camdog
November 13 2013, 01:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
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?

Avatar
#117 gcw_rocks
November 13 2013, 01:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

In general I agree they should not try and tank this year, but since they are losing so badly it doesn't really matter. What they shouldn't do is give away that 1st round pick for a short term fix on a lost season.

I took a look at how Chicago, Vancouver, Boston, Detroit, San Jose and Pittsburgh spend their cap dollars. What macT needs to do is start addressing gaps. based on those six teams, an ideal budget would look something like this:

Percent $M 1st 25.0% 17.5 2nd 17.0% 11.9 3rd 9.0% 6.3 4th 4.0% 2.8

1st 14.9% 10.4 2nd 9.6% 6.7 3rd 5.3% 3.7

Starter 7.7% 5.4 Back up 1.9% 1.3

Extra roster 2.9% 2.0 (players 21 to 23) Available 3.0% 2.0 (deadline deals)

Total 100% $70.0 (estimated for next yr)

One quick look at how much the Oilers are spending on their 3rd line and their bottom pairing show some major issues. Underspending on the top pairing also stands out.

If the Oilers are going to trade Hemsky, it should be for a two-way 3rd line winger on a value contract that extends into next season or beyond. When you look at the bigger picture, that's probably better for the Oilers than retaining Hemsky and being forced to underspend elsewhere.

It means spending $3.5M on Nick Schultz is crazy. It means Ference contract is going to look horrible in a year or two when he is on the third pairing.

It means MacT should be looking to trade one of Eberle, Yakupov, or Gagner as the centrepiece for a top pairing defender.

Tanking is not the right choice. Fixing how they manage their cap space is what they should focus on.

Too bad I have no faith in MacT or Howson to fox the problem.

Avatar
#118 DSF
November 13 2013, 01:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Citizen David wrote:

And yet he's till on pace this season for 78 points with a brutal shooting percentage. What happens if it rises?...

He's on pace for a 64 point season.

And the Oilers have played 14 of their 19 games against weaker EC opponents.

In the 8 games against WC opponents, Eberle has scored 1G and 2A.

We''ll have to see how that works out as the season progresses.

Avatar
#119 forsoothed
November 13 2013, 01:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

We may want to be past "rebuild" and it may be silly to be in a "rebuild" at this point in time, but the Oilers just traded a legit NHL D for prospects with no one to immediately fill his shoes... that's a rebuild and we're still in the middle of it.

Avatar
#120 Rob...
November 13 2013, 01:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

So pathetic. I tuned in to Stauffer this afternoon for the first time in ages. He states in the first segment that Arcobello says he still works on a shift by shift basis. Sounds great, right? Except that in the second segment Stauffer plays the actual interview and yet again he fed Arcobello the answer and got him to parrot it back to him. Shame on you Bob. Could you possibly show more disrespect to your interviewees? Let them answer the flippin questions on their own.

Avatar
#121 DSF
November 13 2013, 01:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
Thumby wrote:

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?

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.

Avatar
#122 rickithebear
November 13 2013, 02:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

N. schultz and potter playing together

2.86 GF/60 0.57 GA/60

very strong 3rd pair!

Avatar
#123 match16
November 13 2013, 02:24PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
6 ring circus wrote:

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.

Wait, the Oilers are an organization? I thought it was just a club for Lowe and his buddies to hang out?

Avatar
#124 Dog Train
November 13 2013, 03:33PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers

All I can is it's a good thing this is an Olympic year. The Winter Olympics should provide a much needed distraction.

Avatar
#125 MessyEH!
November 13 2013, 03:45PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

@Mike

Could you save me some of what your taking? The Oilers don't deserve fans like you.

Avatar
#126 Oiler Al
November 13 2013, 03:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers
Bob wrote:

One time I rebuilt a shed.

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

Avatar
#127 Oiler Al
November 13 2013, 04:00PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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.

Avatar
#128 Oiler Al
November 13 2013, 04:01PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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.

Avatar
#129 madjam
November 13 2013, 04:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers
gcw_rocks wrote:

In general I agree they should not try and tank this year, but since they are losing so badly it doesn't really matter. What they shouldn't do is give away that 1st round pick for a short term fix on a lost season.

I took a look at how Chicago, Vancouver, Boston, Detroit, San Jose and Pittsburgh spend their cap dollars. What macT needs to do is start addressing gaps. based on those six teams, an ideal budget would look something like this:

Percent $M 1st 25.0% 17.5 2nd 17.0% 11.9 3rd 9.0% 6.3 4th 4.0% 2.8

1st 14.9% 10.4 2nd 9.6% 6.7 3rd 5.3% 3.7

Starter 7.7% 5.4 Back up 1.9% 1.3

Extra roster 2.9% 2.0 (players 21 to 23) Available 3.0% 2.0 (deadline deals)

Total 100% $70.0 (estimated for next yr)

One quick look at how much the Oilers are spending on their 3rd line and their bottom pairing show some major issues. Underspending on the top pairing also stands out.

If the Oilers are going to trade Hemsky, it should be for a two-way 3rd line winger on a value contract that extends into next season or beyond. When you look at the bigger picture, that's probably better for the Oilers than retaining Hemsky and being forced to underspend elsewhere.

It means spending $3.5M on Nick Schultz is crazy. It means Ference contract is going to look horrible in a year or two when he is on the third pairing.

It means MacT should be looking to trade one of Eberle, Yakupov, or Gagner as the centrepiece for a top pairing defender.

Tanking is not the right choice. Fixing how they manage their cap space is what they should focus on.

Too bad I have no faith in MacT or Howson to fox the problem.

Well said , and your analysis breakdown on coppernblue was a gem .

Avatar
#130 dangilitis
November 13 2013, 05:03PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
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!

Avatar
#131 Thumby
November 13 2013, 05:35PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
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...

Avatar
#132 brian hitchinson
November 13 2013, 06:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers

@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!!

Avatar
#133 Hockey fan 1976
November 13 2013, 06:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

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.

Avatar
#134 Hockey fan 1976
November 13 2013, 06:39PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers
MessyEH! wrote:

Could you save me some of what your taking? The Oilers don't deserve fans like you.

@Mike you have got to be kidding me. Either you are high or really have no concept of how professional sports or any business for that matter works. I could care less that these guys feel bad or have "pressure" and we are so negative and they couldn't take the booos from the crowd. You and the Oilers can both grow a pair. They are professional hockey players making millions and millions per year. You get paid to perform and it's not a popularity contest.

By the way @Mike, in the real world, if you don't perform you get fired. Ou boss doesn't care if your feelings get hurt when you don't meet deadlines and reach quotas. Results and bottom lines is what the real world asks for.

What a joke!!!

Comments are closed for this article.