BUILDING A WINNER

Jason Gregor
December 16 2013 11:36AM

The Oilers, and specifically GM Craig MacTavish, must devise a plan on how to build a winner. It is clear the Oilers aren't any closer to winning now than they were last year or the year before. The coaching carousel has led to instability and new systems which hasn't helped, but the current roster is not built to win. I'm curious to know how MacTavish plans to build this team, so that eventually they become competitive sometime this decade.

There is no guaranteed path to success, but every successful franchise maintains some core values and a solid foundation.
Do the Oilers know what their foundation is?
Do they have core values?

MacTavish has only been in charge for eight months, so it is too early to say if his plan is working, but he has shown a willingness to share parts of his plan with his fan base. He wanted to make bold moves this past summer, and while some of his moves were solid, none of them registered very high on the "Bold" scale.

I believe the biggest challenge for MacTavish is to create an identity for the Oilers. They don't have one, and they haven't had one for years.

Teams like Red Wings, Penguins, Blackhawks and Sharks are skilled and responsible defensively.

The Kings and Ducks are built on size.
The Canucks have skill, but they are chippy, chirpy and aggravating.
The Bruins are big, tough, rugged and skilled.

The great teams all possess different qualities of course, but most of them have one obvious trait.

Right now the Oilers identity seems to be based on youth, and that is not a recipe for success.

CHIARELLI....

I had the chance to speak with Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli when the Bruins were in town last week, and we started off asking him about his philosophy on how to build a winning team? (my thoughts will be in italics)

Chiarelli: For me it’s about finding character guys and sometimes you have to sacrifice in other areas, other playing attributes, even skill. You can’t ignore skill; it’s a very important component of building a hockey team. I like to say to our scouts, ‘find character in skilled guys, they express their character in other ways, not traditionally, like a huge puck battle or a huge hit or those kinds of traditional ways you’re used to seeing.  

That’s really the common denominator. A sometimes guys that don’t buy in, you have to move guys like that and sometimes you have to sacrifice some skill for character. So that’s kind of what we try to do. Sometimes as a result of that we lose a little bit of speed and I always seem to be trying to find more speed, either in how we play or in personnel. So, we don’t have a magic formula, we just get good guys that want to play and compete hard, and have a good goalie. [Laughs]  

***He mentioned sometimes you have to sacrifice skill for character. You wonder if he was referring to Tyler Seguin, however, that philosophy is exactly what MacTavish will need to emulate in the not to distant future. It is evident that having a lot of offensive skill is great, but if you don't have a good blueline or complementary players surrounding your skill, it is extremely difficult to win.***

Gregor: When you came over from Ottawa and took over, you signed free agent Zdeno Chara. You guys didn’t have instant success right away, but was your plan to build around him?  

Chiarelli: I wanted a defensive pillar more or less. A dominant defensive player and then we were fortunate in Boston, and that certainly was no plan of mine, was that when [Tim] Thomas started hitting his peak later in his career. That gave us two significant defensive players, but following the first year I had to fire Dave Lewis, a very good defensive coach.

I was fortunate that Tim was hitting his peak, that Claude (Julien) was available and that we had one of the best defensive players in the league in Chara. So you have a large part of your team and concept already in place. Those were kind of our stepping stones. [Patrice] Bergeron was already there, a terrific two way player and so the two-way component, the character component was largely in place, or at least the majority of it was in place in the beginning years.

***Chiarelli is being very humble. Bringing in Chara solidified the foundation for this team. Without him, I doubt the Bruins become the dominant team we see today.***  

Gregor: The Bruins have drafted many of your core guys in Bergeron, [Milan] Lucic, [Brad] Marchand and [David] Krejci,  but interestingly enough on your back end, aside from Dougie Hamilton, you built through trades and free agency. Was that by design, or is that just how it worked out. How come you seem to build your team forwards within the draft, but build your blueline through trades and free agency?  

Chiarelli: You have to draft well and use those pieces as either pieces in your team or pieces to acquire other pieces. I think when they dissect our team; you see a lot of the trades that we’ve made. A lot of the trades that we’ve made, we’ve either used draft picks or drafted players. We’ve had to draft well so that those players have some value.  

On the defensive side, I’m just going back over my head acquisitions after… [Dennis] Seidenberg is a player that we really tracked and wanted because of his hardness. And [Adam] McQuaid was an earlier trade, but you can say that we drafted him because he was still in junior when we got him.  

I don’t know if it was planned out, but maybe we didn’t have those defensive players and out of necessity we had to look harder to find those types of players. You make due with what you have, you work hard and where you think you can find those players. Traditionally drafting and keeping those players is the ideal way, and every GM wants to do that, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

***Chiarelli has moved Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin out of Boston. Those are two very skilled players, but the Bruins are still one of the best teams in the league. He isn't afraid to make tough decisions.***  

Brownlee: I’m wondering in the case of Chara was there some cross over between your time in Ottawa and Boston where you knew something specific about him, and were you feeling pretty good that he would become the dominant force he is?  

Chiarelli: I always go by the rule that, maybe I don’t always apply it, but I try to, that if you are going to sign guys to long terms and big amounts of money you want to know him. I worked in Ottawa and I was a part of the group that acquired Chara in a trade, so I know him very, very well, so certainly I felt comfortable recommending that we sign him. It turned out to be the right move.

***He had the luxury of knowing Chara personally before signing him, and I think it is fair to say that Steve Tambellini's free agent track record was awful. MacTavish's has been better, Ference and Gordon, but not perfect, and I think the Oilers need to do a better job when it comes to acquiring NHL veterans. 

Do the Oilers have an organizational philosophy? Do they know what type of players and people they want to bring in? Prior to MacTavish's hiring it looked like they didn't. I'm curious to see if MacTavish and Eakins will move out some players this season/summer who don't fit with their plans. They will need to make some tough decisions, and start building a foundation, because right now there doesn't seem to be one in place.***
 

Gregor: Jay Feaster being fired in Calgary might impact Boston because a lot of people are speculating about one of your right hand men, Jim Benning, Give us some insight on him. I know that you wouldn’t want to lose him, but most great organizations usually lose guys in those positions to other organizations. What’s his best asset in a management role? What has he done to help you guys out the most in Boston?  

Chiarlelli: I’ll address is the first part of your question, and I think that’s a very accurate statement. It’s a compliment to us that they are calling on these guys and we have another one in Don Sweeney who is entirely capable of being a manager in this league. It attracts better younger people to our group. Specifically on Jim, it’s been a lot about gaining experience. He’s obviously an Edmonton boy and I went to school with his brother Mark, I know the Bennings very well.

He has an uncanny book of players. He sees players in a very good way for team building. He understands character, he understands projections, he’s spent a lot of time amateur scouting, he played a significant role in helping us to build our team, he understands how players fit, he understands that you’re not always going to get a perfect player.

That’s the most important thing that most managers know is that you are not ever going to get a perfect player. So you have to see where those assets are going to fit into your group. He is a very trusted component of our management group; I have a lot of respect for Jim. He’d be a good addition anywhere.

***Winning teams usually provide good people for other franchises. Many people believe Benning is ready to be a GM, and I won't be surprised if he is a finalist for the next few jobs that become available.***  

Brownlee: Peter, curious about what you would consider the kind of resume that makes for a successful GM. We have former players that go on and become GM. Some are successful, some are not. You have a law background, and with Ottawa you were an assistant GM for two years and spent five years as part of the front office. What part of your background do you feel has served you the best during your tenure as General Manager?  

Chiarelli: I think just the ability to have experience in all facets of the game. Obviously I have a certain skill set that not every GM does, but I know a lot of GMs that can do what I do just as well by the legal side of it, meaning the problem solving we can see and all of that stuff.

My experience has just been contracts, arbitration, scouting and free agent signing and all of those things have given me the ability to have gain experience. I think that is very important. There is not one specific model that’s good. I know a lot of GMs that never had the education that I had, that are smarter than me. These guys have experience and they just have street smarts. I think you need to recognize your weakness, recognize your strength and work hard. For me the experience I’ve learned breaths patience, because you see things in history repeat themselves. 

WRAP UP...

It is obvious that Chiarelli likes big, heavy, skilled players, but he also wants guys who are strong two-way players. He admitted he'd like to inject some more speed into his lineup so expect him to do that before the trade deadline. As he said there is no perfect formula, but Chiarelli has built his team around Chara, and he brings in players who fit their style.

MacTavish won't be able to build the Oilers to mirror the Bruins size and truculence, but he needs to have a vision and plan for the future and stick with it.

The Oilers need some stability within their organization. They need to find an identity, and they need to find players that fit what they want for the future. They can't continue to build their team solely around small, skilled forwards. You obviously need skill within your lineup, but the Oilers need to recognize that no team wins with just skill, and the harsh reality is that the Oilers skilled players aren't significantly better than the skilled players on the elite teams.

The Oilers need more than just skill to win; they need to create an identity.

DAY 12...MONTH OF GIVING...

Big thanks to Larry for bidding and to the Eskimos for supplying Friday's VIP package.

Today we have three packages up for grabs.

Package #1:

  • An XBox One...Courtesy of Etelligent Solutions.
    It comes with: Console, Kinect sensor, wireless controller, one chat headset and wireless networking capability.

Package #2:

  • A $500 prepaid American Express gift card
  • A pair of Club seats (section 134, row 13) to the Oiler/Flames game on March 2nd.
  • Courtesy of the good people at Etelligent Solutions.

 PACKAGE #3

  • Four tickets in the Crystal Glass suite (main concourse) on January 21st.
  • Includes two parking passes and complimentary food and beverages.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go to Santas Anonymous.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 DaveChamp
December 16 2013, 11:38AM
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I'm quite sad to admit that I have a real fear that the Oilers are on the path of the Islanders or Thrashers and not the Penguins or Blackhawks. There is so much work to be done on this roster and so many gaping holes. That said, if Nurse and Klefbom develop to their potential, that could be a great first pairing and would solve the biggest problem on the team. Even still, it will take them a few years in the NHL to become great, and that really sucks.

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#2 freelancer
December 16 2013, 11:50AM
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Impressive interview as always Gregor. Identity is always one of those interesting things in which there isn't one that is "the best," but without one it is easy to see the poor results.

Would be interested in your opinion on realistically what kind of identity you think the Oilers could form.

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#3 mayorblaine
December 16 2013, 11:59AM
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characters are different than character. too much of the former and far too little of the latter.

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#4 Eddie Shore
December 16 2013, 11:59AM
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Jason, I think the Oilers do have an identity but need it needs to change. Along with the makeup of the team. I think they're know around the league as a team that generates offense with their speed and off the rush. They cannot handle a game where they have to grind out offense and sustain pressure with zone-time and using the cycle. You hear it all the time, "we don't want to get into a track meet with these guys". Unfortunately, this "track-meet" style does not translate into wins in the Western Conference.

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#5 Racki
December 16 2013, 12:01PM
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Dave, in the case of the Thrash Erskine, in particular, they were a habitual failure because they never had the monetary support.. So it's a bad comparison. Re: the Islanders.. Well bad GMing there, although you could argue that's the problem here. They also didn't have much in the way of a payroll for years too. I don't think the Oilers are akin to Pittsburgh or the Hawks, but I think that is mostly because of wrong decisions with complementary players and loading up on too many similar skill guys

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#6 spot
December 16 2013, 12:03PM
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With the salary cap going up yearly no one from anaheim, Chicago, penguins will be leaving, every team has money to spend and can lock up their players. Looks like oilers will have to win with what they have, help isn't coming.

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#7 Zamboni Driver
December 16 2013, 12:03PM
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Great interview (heard it live) Chiarelli is one of the best in the biznezz, I think.

As to the Oilers identity, I agree that one needs to be developed. I also think it's a travesty that they haven't figured that out STILL.

Sure, MacTavish is in the GM chair, now, but his bosses and his owner have been there for many years (many many many many many many (that's six, right?) for at least one them). The fact that they don't even have an IDEA as to what to do, a philosophy - or if they do, they're only figuring it out now is completely astounding.

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#8 oilabroad
December 16 2013, 12:06PM
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Based on what he says above, it actually makes me like the signings this summer a little bit more. I think both Ference and Gordon are character guys and I wish we had 10 more like them... unfortunately by the time we accumulate a few more, those 2 will likely be gone

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#9 freelancer
December 16 2013, 12:06PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Jason, I think the Oilers do have an identity but need it needs to change. Along with the makeup of the team. I think they're know around the league as a team that generates offense with their speed and off the rush. They cannot handle a game where they have to grind out offense and sustain pressure with zone-time and using the cycle. You hear it all the time, "we don't want to get into a track meet with these guys". Unfortunately, this "track-meet" style does not translate into wins in the Western Conference.

Agree and disagree. I think they're known as a team that wants to generate offense with speed. However like you said, in the Westeren Conference teams know how to counter that and close the ice around us. I would like to add a subtext to your identity, "to be a puck possesion team that outworks the opposition for the puck." At the beginning of the year, Eakins talked about this and how we would be a team that would fight every shift for the puck. That's a great philosphy right there for a team built like ours. Sadly we don't have a roster capable of doing that. I would say Perron is one of the only players with that description, maybe Hall and Arcobello in there as well. I would like to see us target guys who may only score 30ish points a season but have that grinding game.

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#10 Mark-LW
December 16 2013, 12:15PM
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Maybe we should see if Toronto will trade Clarkson for Yakupov

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#13 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:20PM
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DaveChamp wrote:

I'm quite sad to admit that I have a real fear that the Oilers are on the path of the Islanders or Thrashers and not the Penguins or Blackhawks. There is so much work to be done on this roster and so many gaping holes. That said, if Nurse and Klefbom develop to their potential, that could be a great first pairing and would solve the biggest problem on the team. Even still, it will take them a few years in the NHL to become great, and that really sucks.

You dont have to Fear it happening my friend. We are the Islanders and Thrashers. A team with no success over an extremely long perios of time amd clueless management inept GM and a lost in the woods coach. Overrated talent poor development.

6 years under Katz has to this point been an unmitigated disaster. The Oilers are now the laughing stock of the NHL. this isn't just my opinion either just look at the lack of repect from opposition

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#14 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:23PM
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oilabroad wrote:

Based on what he says above, it actually makes me like the signings this summer a little bit more. I think both Ference and Gordon are character guys and I wish we had 10 more like them... unfortunately by the time we accumulate a few more, those 2 will likely be gone

accidently hit a trash instead of a prop. sorry

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#15 Eddie Shore
December 16 2013, 12:23PM
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freelancer wrote:

Agree and disagree. I think they're known as a team that wants to generate offense with speed. However like you said, in the Westeren Conference teams know how to counter that and close the ice around us. I would like to add a subtext to your identity, "to be a puck possesion team that outworks the opposition for the puck." At the beginning of the year, Eakins talked about this and how we would be a team that would fight every shift for the puck. That's a great philosphy right there for a team built like ours. Sadly we don't have a roster capable of doing that. I would say Perron is one of the only players with that description, maybe Hall and Arcobello in there as well. I would like to see us target guys who may only score 30ish points a season but have that grinding game.

As the roster stands now, they are not able to get the puck back after they lose it. That issue is magnified in the defensive zone. This team is too soft and does not play hard enough. Only way to change that, in my opinion, is to change the mix of the players.

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#16 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:25PM
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Jason are you suggesting MacT was hired without having a plan mind?

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#17 jamang
December 16 2013, 12:27PM
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I think trading yak for Clarkson would be an awful idea.id rather pursue a more affordable steve ott, id pick up Clarkson for a 3rd or 2nd but not yak.

I could see a trade like

liles, Clarkson for jones, hemsky, 4th

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#18 Hayek
December 16 2013, 12:36PM
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Jason, I hate to keep contradicting you because I really enjoy you as a writer, and value many of your opinions. To say certain teams are bigger than others, is simply just wrong though. I can find an article from January of 2013 listing average team weight by James Mirtle. http://mirtle.blogspot.ca/2013/01/2013-nhl-teams-by-weight-height-and-age.html

Anaheim 203.3 Boston 200.0 (26th) Buffalo 203.1 Calgary 195.5 Carolina 200.5 Chicago 203.0 (20th) Colorado 205.9 Columbus 204.5 Dallas 197.2 Detroit 201.2 Edmonton 203.8 (16th) Florida 201.2 Los Angeles 209.7 (2nd) Minnesota 199.7 Montreal 197.3 Nashville 205.4 New Jersey 204.5 NY Islanders 200.3 NY Rangers 206.1 Ottawa 206.8 Philadelphia 202.7 Phoenix 204.2 Pittsburgh 203.3 San Jose 210.7 (1st) St. Louis 205.8 Tampa Bay 206.2 Toronto 204.8 Vancouver 204.0 Washington 208.0 Winnipeg 207.3

Average 203.5 Some of your examples are right, SJ and BOS were the 2 heaviest teams in the league last year, and were successful. Teams 3,4,and 5 were WAS, WIN, and OTT which were unsuccessful. But I'm not going to come here and argue whether size means success as that is not the point.

As of last year in this compilation, Oilers were 16th in the league in size. We were an average sized team in the league, of this, is pretty impressive since we are such a young team (in which young players take time to put on weight).

You mention Chicago and Boston being big teams, but according to this, they are both a lighter team than the Oilers. I just find it interesting if a team has a couple big impactful players, that this heavily sway opinions of the entire team being an above average sized team.

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#19 rindog
December 16 2013, 12:41PM
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@Jason Gregor

What a diffeent vibe from this interview to that of Kevin Lowe last year.

Chiarelli comes across as humble and genuine. Not once did I get a sence of arrogance or cockiness from the interview.

Such a stark contrast to the "there is only one other guy in the NHL today..." and "I think I know a thing or two about winning"

Sad, but this organization is not at a level where it needs to be...

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#21 Hayek
December 16 2013, 12:42PM
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Sorry, found an updated entry by Mirtle at the start of this season: http://mirtle.blogspot.ca/2013/10/2013-14-nhl-teams-by-height-weight-and.html

Results are similar. With teams mentioned Boston(17th), Chicago(16th), Edmonton(15th), LA(1st), SJ(8th).

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#23 Zamboni Driver
December 16 2013, 12:48PM
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...in completely unrelated news, Nail Yakupov has a five stroke lead in the race for the green jacket.

So there's that.

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#24 Dog Train
December 16 2013, 12:49PM
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The lack of progress is incredibly troubling. I feel like Mactavish made some nice moves like acquiring Perron and Gordon (he's made some mistakes too but every GM does, not just rookie GMs). Yet we've had other players either stagnate or regress (Gagner, Yakupov) and the results aren't there. Looking at this team, I see needs in goal, on D, at centre and the bottom six wingers. Lots of holes to fill. In order to acquire value, we will need to ship out value and thus create more holes.

We will need to acquire players through trades and free agency no doubt but to me this is where years of lacklustre drafting catch up to you. Like Chiarelli said, you need depth and value in draft picks to be able to make these trades. Our 2nd and 3rd rounders need to start being hits rather than misses.

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#25 Ducey
December 16 2013, 12:53PM
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The Bruins can have all the character, size and truculance they want, but if they don't have Chara playing 30 minutes a night, they wouldn't be nearly as successful.

If fact, you plunk Chara on the Oilers, and they are a playoff team.

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#26 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 12:55PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

No, not at all.

His first few moves suggest to me he realizes he needs to add more competitive players. It won't be easy, but they also need to ensure some of the young kids develop into more competitive players every shift. That is where consistency from coaching comes in.

I think MacT gave Eakins a 4-year deal, because he understands the need for consistency from a coaching staff...

So he fired Krueger (A coach that he had said was not the problem) in an attempt to provide consistency in the coaching position....

fired a coach who, without a training camp, had the team playing slightly better so he could bring stability to the coaching position...

cant wrap my head around that logic

let alone giving a completely unproven coach a 4yr deal.

Well at least the winning this year is proving mact right

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#27 Ducey
December 16 2013, 12:58PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

The problem with that it takes the average of the team, and it might even include the goalies.

Look at the players who play the most in Edmonton, compared to LA, ST.L, SJ and Ana.

The Oilers top line is small compared to all of those teams key star forwards.

Look at the current Oilers blueline. Potter is the biggest, and he plays the smallest.

Watch the Oilers in both ends. Watch how easily they get knocked off the puck in O zone, and how rarely they do that to opposing forwards in the D zone.

I never said Chicago was big, I said they were skilled.

Boston is bigger than the Oilers, and even their shorter players, Marchand, play big and hard.

If you actually believe that size chart, then you should be even more annoyed at how soft the Oilers play, but to me that is a very misleading chart.

None of the Oilers main minute eaters are big, except Petry, and he doesn't play overly physical.

You need to dive deeper into that and it is clear to see the Oilers don't come close to matching up with SJ, LA, ST.L, Ana etc..

Gregor,

Not trying to be argumentative, but did the Oiler's lose last night because of a lack of size? The Ducks got three goals, all off bad reads defensively by the Oilers. Its not like some giant just plowed through the Oilers.

I expect that any of those goals could have been prevented by more experience and better defensive play.

Its the same story most games.

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#28 freelancer
December 16 2013, 01:00PM
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Dog Train wrote:

The lack of progress is incredibly troubling. I feel like Mactavish made some nice moves like acquiring Perron and Gordon (he's made some mistakes too but every GM does, not just rookie GMs). Yet we've had other players either stagnate or regress (Gagner, Yakupov) and the results aren't there. Looking at this team, I see needs in goal, on D, at centre and the bottom six wingers. Lots of holes to fill. In order to acquire value, we will need to ship out value and thus create more holes.

We will need to acquire players through trades and free agency no doubt but to me this is where years of lacklustre drafting catch up to you. Like Chiarelli said, you need depth and value in draft picks to be able to make these trades. Our 2nd and 3rd rounders need to start being hits rather than misses.

I will give MacT at least a years reprieve considering what he walked into. First off he had to clear out as many Tambo blunders as possible. He acquired some good pieces in Perron, Gordon, Ference though a bit on the high side. He know he actively pursued some bigger names in Schneider and Clarkson (whether or not they would have been good acquisitions is up for debate). Brought in a backup and then traded when it was obvious that was a poor decision.

This deadline and summer will be the true test. Rebuild 2.0 has begun and MacT has been trying to bring in the right pieces. I hope to see him add some of your aforementioned pieces in the near future.

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#29 ubermiguel
December 16 2013, 01:01PM
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I find teams take on the personality of their leaders. So the skilled but defensively responsible Red Wings, Penguins and Blackhawks take after Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Crosby and Toews.

Skilled, chippy, chirpy and aggravating sounds like the Sedins and Kesler to me

Big, tough, rugged and skilled is Chara.

Who is the Oilers' leader? Is Hall there yet? What kind of player is he? Skilled but reckless?

And if we aren't going to win puck battles due to size then we'd better learn to gain the zone with the puck and score on the rush. Work with the players you have, or get rid of the ones you can't work with.

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#30 Sean17
December 16 2013, 01:07PM
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I love watching him, but Eberle is the one that has to go. He will net the biggest return. Also, he has never been a "winner" like Hall. Those Regina teams he was on were awful but, had some talent that should have overcome the shortcomings. But instead Eberle and Weal enjoyed great personal success but no team success. It'll be the same as trading Kessel or Seguin. Not great on paper but, better on ice.

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#31 FastOil
December 16 2013, 01:09PM
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Very well done piece, good job getting candor.

I agree with you. I am not sure however if they are unclear, or more worrisome, like players for the wrong reasons.

I see journeyman players repeatedly getting picked up and doing really well on a new team. You can't win them all, but you can't lose them all either.

Whale hunting is not necessary all the time. They just need decent players with no glaring deficiencies that won't take crap to take some weight off.

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#32 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 01:10PM
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This team will never have consistent success under these circumstances.

Lowe has no clue. he thinks bluster and bullying is how one manages. look at his reaction to getting money from comrie, hios reation on the radio to Al strachan's pronger story

Mact talk out of both sides of his mouth but does it in a way that the media loves. Same as when he coached. MacT is knows that bulls&^t baffles brains. If one wants stability at a position then why did he fire Krueger and not hire him help? Sadly that is all he knows and when you take the entirity of his post playing days this guy has done nothing that resembles long term success.

Howson brought back in after being completely unremarkable in Columbus.

bucky and Smith....jeez what can be said that hasn't already

Frederic Chabot. Which Oiler goalie has he made better?

Islan..err um Oiler mangement has been lost in the desert for so long all they see are mirages

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#33 Sean17
December 16 2013, 01:11PM
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And for everyone that craps on Gagner, let's remember he is one of the few guys who does give a damn IMO. Remember when he dropped the gloves with Beauchemin?! He will actually stand up for guys even though he knew he was gonna get a beat down. Once the jaw is 100% next year, you will see...

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#34 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 01:13PM
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Sean17 wrote:

I love watching him, but Eberle is the one that has to go. He will net the biggest return. Also, he has never been a "winner" like Hall. Those Regina teams he was on were awful but, had some talent that should have overcome the shortcomings. But instead Eberle and Weal enjoyed great personal success but no team success. It'll be the same as trading Kessel or Seguin. Not great on paper but, better on ice.

What about his clutch scoring in the world jr.s? not saying he shouldnt be traded but saying eberle cant win isnt quite accurate

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#35 Spydyr
December 16 2013, 01:20PM
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"It is obvious that Chiarelli likes big, heavy, skilled players, but he also wants guys who are strong two-way players"

Amen.....I have been preaching this for years and years.

The Stats guys don't agree.

Wonder who is right?

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#36 Hayek
December 16 2013, 01:20PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

The problem with that it takes the average of the team, and it might even include the goalies.

Look at the players who play the most in Edmonton, compared to LA, ST.L, SJ and Ana.

The Oilers top line is small compared to all of those teams key star forwards.

Look at the current Oilers blueline. Potter is the biggest, and he plays the smallest.

Watch the Oilers in both ends. Watch how easily they get knocked off the puck in O zone, and how rarely they do that to opposing forwards in the D zone.

I never said Chicago was big, I said they were skilled.

Boston is bigger than the Oilers, and even their shorter players, Marchand, play big and hard.

If you actually believe that size chart, then you should be even more annoyed at how soft the Oilers play, but to me that is a very misleading chart.

None of the Oilers main minute eaters are big, except Petry, and he doesn't play overly physical.

You need to dive deeper into that and it is clear to see the Oilers don't come close to matching up with SJ, LA, ST.L, Ana etc..

That is a fair enough point, but it would be nice if clarified when you were writing. You can't clarify the Oilers as a small team as that is simply wrong. If you want to say the Oilers top 6 is small, you probably have a point.

My question is, the Oilers top line, or top 3 players, let's just say it's Hopkins(180lbs), Hall(201lbs), Eberle(180lbs). So you are implying we need to get rid of one of these. Let's assume Eberle or RNH because they are undersized. So which one do we get rid of, and what kind of return are you expecting to get?

It's just people want to say let's get bigger without subtracting. Is it just not politically correct for you to come out in an article and say "WE NEED TO GET RID OF HOPKINS OR EBERLE TO WIN?" Is that not really possible for you to say being so close to the team?

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#37 Neal
December 16 2013, 01:31PM
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One thing which has always baffled me is the difference between Lowe the player and Lowe the manager. The same guy that gutted it out with broken ribs in the playoffs built a team with little heart, no work ethic, and soft, small players. Like, he knew what it took to win a playoff series, then as a manager built a team pretty much the opposite. Go figure...

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#38 TonyT
December 16 2013, 01:31PM
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@Ducey

Are you suggesting the Oilers are big enough?

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#39 freelancer
December 16 2013, 01:33PM
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@Hayek

I think people are missing the point here when size comes up. I don't want to put words in his mouth but I think Gregor's point is look at our team as a whole. Yes, average size wise we're probably in the middle of the league. But who on our team plays with any physicality? Usually players with size = more physical play but we also know there are plenty of exceptions (Penner and Paajarvi anyone). Then you look at a guy like Perron, who is not a big guy by any definition yet he has the ability to get under the skin of other teams. That should be the point here. We don't need coke machines to hit everything that moves, but we need more players who will push back, aren't afraid of going into the boards or pushing an opposing player into them. We don't need more weight, we need guys who use whatever size they have to push back.

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#40 Smokey
December 16 2013, 01:35PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

I find teams take on the personality of their leaders. So the skilled but defensively responsible Red Wings, Penguins and Blackhawks take after Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Crosby and Toews.

Skilled, chippy, chirpy and aggravating sounds like the Sedins and Kesler to me

Big, tough, rugged and skilled is Chara.

Who is the Oilers' leader? Is Hall there yet? What kind of player is he? Skilled but reckless?

And if we aren't going to win puck battles due to size then we'd better learn to gain the zone with the puck and score on the rush. Work with the players you have, or get rid of the ones you can't work with.

I think that some of the mentioned players are so good offensively that it makes up for the liabilities. Guys like Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov don`t score enough to make up for their poor defensive play. Sam Gagner in particular should concentrate on the backend a bit more.

Malkin, Datsyk, Zetterberg are TO specialists. But the often get the puck back and they score more then they give up.

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#41 Digger
December 16 2013, 01:53PM
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In my mind the root of the on-ice issues the Oilers have stumbled into this year all stem from a handful of gambles by MacT that either gave tepid returns or outright blew up in his face.

-The goaltending

The double-barrelled shotgun blast to this team's face came from their bet that Dubnyk would be a quality starting NHL tender and Labarbera could be his capable backup. Both decisions turned out to be disastrous, and pretty much disemboweled this team before they knew what hit them. The fact that Bryzgalov is now an Oiler only accentuates how desperate MacT was in trying to dig his way out of this mess.

-The d(?)men

Bringing in Grebeshkov for 1.5M? He may as well have taken that money and set it ablaze with gasoline, Joker-style. Belov - He's been OK, but nothing great. He's like a non-physical Souray who can't hit the net with his point shot. If he was the "best dman in the KHL", that league is worse than I thought. J. Schultz - I think the Oilers were really hoping he'd turn into a minute eating stud on the blue line, but he's had a ton of growing pains instead, with a smattering of offensive production. Ference - He's been decent, but like what happened to Staios during his "good" years, is being forced to bat higher in the order than he should, and he's finding out life without Chara isn't so great N. Schultz - Not MacT's acquisition, but still a guy that's not giving a good ROI given his salary. Klefbom - It really did seem like the Oilers were expecting him to make this team right away and give them a jolt of two way excellence...it never happened, and it turns out he may be a lot further away then we thought from making an NHL roster.

No outright catastrosphic moves, but in total they're enough to make this arguably the worst dman group in the entire 30 team NHL.

Not sure what else to say. The forward group still needs work (and still needs to learn how to play for the team and not for themselves), but IMO it's good enough for this team to at least be in the running for a playoff spot, if it hadn't been for the multitude of mistakes made on assets that ply their trade behind their blue line.

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#42 VK63
December 16 2013, 01:55PM
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Kind of ironic that Gags, Cogs and Bobby were soft smurfs that the Oilers were building around.

5 years ago.

When the d sucked and the goaltending was brutal…. ahem.

There is definitely a culture in the Oilers organization.

"A team so broken it shall be part of how (not) to be a GM discussions for years" or something like that. Wanye.. said so. and I laughed.. because.. he is/was right. Again!!

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#43 TigerUnderGlass
December 16 2013, 01:56PM
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Spydyr wrote:

"It is obvious that Chiarelli likes big, heavy, skilled players, but he also wants guys who are strong two-way players"

Amen.....I have been preaching this for years and years.

The Stats guys don't agree.

Wonder who is right?

The stats guys don't want strong two-way players? Nonsense.

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#44 TigerUnderGlass
December 16 2013, 02:02PM
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Smokey wrote:

I think that some of the mentioned players are so good offensively that it makes up for the liabilities. Guys like Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov don`t score enough to make up for their poor defensive play. Sam Gagner in particular should concentrate on the backend a bit more.

Malkin, Datsyk, Zetterberg are TO specialists. But the often get the puck back and they score more then they give up.

It's true. When I think of Malkin I always think "great defense".

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#45 They're $hittie
December 16 2013, 02:08PM
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Guys go on your copy of nhl 13, trade hemsky, gagner , eberle, omark, potter.

See what you can get for them. Make the team better. Now take away about 25% of the value you got in return. This is what MacT is dealing with.

Eberle is the only one that people are asking for that they know we might consider giving up. (please drop the WJC stuff thats in the past).

Nobody wants our crap, Omark, Hemsky, Potter, Jones, Dubnyk, N Shcultz,

Gagner may get you something but you are trading low. No one is going to give you a bigger second line center with better defence and put up 50 points a year for Gagner.

So many dumb rade proposals being posted.

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#46 Ducey
December 16 2013, 02:13PM
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TonyT wrote:

Are you suggesting the Oilers are big enough?

I am suggesting that size is not the simple answer to what the problem is.

The get bigger, more "character", more truculant crowd sees these as the simple answer. As with most things, there is some complexity involved.

If the Oilers added Chris Letang, Zach Parise and Erik Karlsson to the lineup they would get smaller and less gritty but would be a pretty good team. Agree?

The Bruins have an elite defender who eats massive minutes against other teams best players in the most important situations. In fact, their group in their Cup year wasn't that big either. They had guys like Seguin, Krejci, Marchand, Savard, Kelly, Campbell all play prominant roles. Their defence had Ference and Seidenberg who are hardly killers.

The Oilers need to add some more size and grit to be an elite team, but size isn't keeping them from being a playoff team. Its inexperience, no defensive conscience and a lack of goaltending.

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#47 isense7en
December 16 2013, 02:17PM
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@Hayek

Yes, but that doesnt change the fact that the oil are soft as butter out there. Finish a(@*#&@ check, clear out the front of the net,drive to the net instead of t-dragging or forcing a pass to the middle, and start standing up for your teammates.

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#48 Randy
December 16 2013, 02:27PM
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Making big trades in the NHL is hard to do. Would be nice if Edmonton could pick up a #1 D-man. But it just doesn't happen unless they are older and the team thinks they have very few years left. So what do you do? I think they take a shot at younger D that have not proven themselves as potential 1st unit Dmen. Example some like Adam Larsson . Maybe you trade for him, he would be expensive .

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#49 Sid
December 16 2013, 02:35PM
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Adam Larsson is a player that probably has under performed given the expectations of NJ.

I think NJ would ask for Eberle or Yakupov for Larsson.

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#50 Randy
December 16 2013, 02:40PM
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How about Edmonton's First round pick 2014 for Adam Larsson

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