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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#101 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 16 2013, 07:40PM
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michael wrote:

The ISS ranking came out today and Sam Rheinhart is listed number 1. He 6 feet and 185 lbs. Too small? How about Ekblad? 6'3.

If the Oilers finish in the 29/30 position and they somehow win the lottery and pick first what in your mind is the right move to make.

1. Make the pick 2.Trade the pick for a proven player 3.Trade the pick and a combination of players for the big fish.

I for one would not trade the pick.

It's a mistake to speak in absolutes....."would not trade the pick".....

You wouldn't trade that pick for Sidney Crosby.....?

All Oilers players ARE up for trade.....if the price is right!

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#102 madjam
December 16 2013, 09:28PM
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Is having a new GM and Coach just another excuse for our cellar dweller club ? Yes, I.m afraid it is . We have had enough results to recognize this is another futile attempt for our club to become competitive in the new NHL Specifically , all the top 4 draftees along with Schultz , Gagner , Smyth and Hemsky . I don't buy that we will get upper NHL level with the fab4-5 as they think they will . Results say/show they won't . Over pays on Gordon and Ference look to be premature at this time , and Ference will likely be done before we get competitive .

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#103 nick
December 16 2013, 09:32PM
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Consultant wrote:

Step away from the ledge folks. We need three things: a number 1 d-man, some top 6 grit and better goaltending.

So trade the top 10 pick we have this year for the best availble d-man, get the top 6 vet grit via best available UFA.

Bottom 6 grit can be signed or traded for fairly easily, don't trade a potenital 40 goal scorer for a guy cause he's tall.

Resign Bryz, or look for other best available UFA. Scout Europe like mad for some 1b goalies.

If all else fails trade Yakupov next fall for a #1 dman or a goalie package.

Our first line is 5-8 years away from their prime, so either be patient or go crazy...

People forget the main key in that UFA comment, the Oilers will get no quality UFA's to sign here. They will get the old fringe UFA's like Andrew Ference and that is all. The Oilers will be unable to improve their team via UFA so only way to do it is trade key pieces. Only two names that cannot be dealt are RNH and Taylor Hall, the rest are up for the right price. Oh ya that 34 year old fringe UFA Ference cant be moved either because some how he got a NTC

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#104 Rheal1
December 17 2013, 06:15AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

It's the assistant coaches that are THE problem you say? Time for you to lay off the egg nog.

Well in that case, please do enlighten us on what exactly are THE problem(s), sir. Since everything has been attempted; as we can witness the lunacy of trading first picks for first picks, etc as seen on this blog AND considering that we are with coach #5 since year 8 of the rebuild, please go on and do tell us all in your infinite wisdom: WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

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#105 Wintoon
December 17 2013, 06:19AM
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When you draft players you are drafting assets. Those assets can then be used by the team because they fill a glaring need on the roster or they can be used in a trade to acquire another type of asset(s) which the team needs. This is why teams try to draft the "best player available".

The Oilers have very limited draft success and yet they have made very few meaningful trades in the re-build era. I believe, as Gregor states that you need a masterplan for the type of team you are trying to create but - and this is a big but - the Oilers also seem to over value their players and prospects. Both the fan base and management fall in love with their prospects. Until this changes, the Oilers are destined to be a bottom dwelling team.

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#106 mayorblaine
December 17 2013, 07:21AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

I doubt very much that making trades will solve the team's problems. Take the Oilers roster right now and morph it with Detroit's coaching staff and management. Or Anaheim's. Even Toronto's. Then you would see that the Oilers would be higher in the standings. With the same players. Just diffetent coaching staff and Mgnt...'nuf said. Boy can some Oilers fans read way, way too much into the "problem".

changing the coaching staff, why haven't they thought of that before?

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#107 Rheal1
December 17 2013, 07:28AM
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I give up. Oilers fans deserve the team they have. Enjoy your top 5 picks next June and next. And next after that.

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#108 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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#109 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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#110 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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#111 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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#112 Fresh Mess
December 16 2013, 04:21PM
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michael wrote:

The ISS ranking came out today and Sam Rheinhart is listed number 1. He 6 feet and 185 lbs. Too small? How about Ekblad? 6'3.

If the Oilers finish in the 29/30 position and they somehow win the lottery and pick first what in your mind is the right move to make.

1. Make the pick 2.Trade the pick for a proven player 3.Trade the pick and a combination of players for the big fish.

I for one would not trade the pick.

4. Make the pick and trade Weird Nail Yankovich

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#113 a lg dubl dubl
December 16 2013, 10:44PM
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Jerry wrote:

Your not getting young #1 pairing D man. Not even for Taylor Hall. People are crazy.

you wouldn't want a kid like Hall for Subban? Kool-Aid or not Id be hard pressed to say no.

Closest player the Canadiens have that plays like Hall is Gionta, he's 35

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#114 Joel
December 16 2013, 11:54PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

Realistically, Hall plus the expected lottery pick from this upcoming draft could get any Dman not already locked into a longterm NTC deal. (i.e. No Chara or Suter, but basically anyone else including Weber)

IMHO, from an outside perspective (Canucks fan), that trade *could* realistically happen in real life, not just on message boards... but only if there is a housecleaning in upper management as well.

Otherwise I can't see them essentially admitting that they screwed up the rebuild so bad that the need to trade the face of the franchise and start over.

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#115 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 17 2013, 02:14AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

This idea got 8 trashes and no props......which is interesting because it shows just how much Oilers fans are prospect junkies like Lowetide is. We put more value in "potential" than we do in a young Norris Trophy winner.

This is very telling. I doubt that Montreal makes that deal today. It might come down to what spot/ number the pick is and who's available with that pick.

Could be they dont like Subban perhaps due to his questionable locker room presence.

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#116 michael
December 17 2013, 05:49AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I can't see the Oilers getting rid of any of the kids, as a GM of a franchise that has the worst 5x5 team offence is paramount, getting rid of offence for defence is just re-arranging the deck chairs.

I honestly cannot see the Oilers selling low on any of the kids. Looking around the league I can't see too many #1 defensemen that would be on the block ether.

It all leads me to believe the reason the Oilers have done only minor mid season dumps and deals is the obvious.

They may deal the 1st overall, but got a gut feeling the Oilers are going Whale hunting this year!

I honestly think the Oilers are going to be ultra aggressive during the opening hours of UFA season. If they don't get a # 1 goalie, a top pairing defensemen and tough hard skill players then you will see the Oilers start trading some of the kids.

Even after they secure some of these UFA's I would still wager some kids being shipped out.

Odds on favourite would be Gagner & Yakupov.

Go look at the FA list of defensemen and tell me who you think we should sign. Beyond Phaneuf and Boyle(36years old). Both will be resigned. Who on that list would you sign. I see only one. Lovejoy from Anaheim.

Those who think some team out there is going to give up a 1-2 dman for Yakupov or Eberle are dearly mistaken.

This is a painful process folks and it is not going to improve until the Oilers draft the players they need to fill those roles.

Don't let Gregor fill your head with visions of trades for players that other teams need as badly as we do. This isn't Lets make a deal. The real world doesn't see a GM trade a NHL player with size and grit and scoring ability for one that does not have size and grit.

Until the Oilers can begin to identify and bring in those types of players we'll be spinning our wheels.

We had a shot at Courtier.We choose elsewise. The jury is still out. But when you look at the 2014 draft the number 1 rated player is comparable to RNH.6ft 185.Skilled. Is that the guy we want to draft? Or do we trade down to get a bigger less skilled player? Which has the bigger longterm value?

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#117 mayorblaine
December 17 2013, 06:52AM
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to those who reference the point differential between Couturier and Eberle as a reason for not making that trade, that mentality is part of the problem.

more points does not equate to being better. every team has different requirements and needs. the oilers have point producers we need the other.

i'd take Couturier for Eberle without question and i'd also bet we'd be a better team for it.

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#118 The Beaker
December 17 2013, 07:10AM
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@Rheal1

coaching staffs are great but they dont stop stupid giveaways at inopportune times. They dont increase our save percentage (btw if we has torontos goaltending we might be in a playoff spot... not their coaches)

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#119 Zarny
December 17 2013, 10:34AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

I have one question: WTF are everyone here chasing their collective oilers fan tail WHEN the problem lays right in front of them: KEITH ACTON, KELLY BUCHBERGER, STEVE SMITH & FREDERIC CHABOT. They are THE problem. Promote Todd Nelson and let Eakins hire his OWN guys. Also, PURGE upper management now: RICK CARRIERE Sr. Director of Player Development - a clear FAIL! SCOTT HOWSON Sr. Vice President, Hockey Operations, AND... KEVIN LOWE President, Hockey Operations.

Again...utterly ridiculous.

The problem does lay in front you:

1) Ference, Petry, N. Schultz, J. Schultz, Larsen, Belov, Potter...etc.

None of them are a 1-2D. None of them are good enough to play 25 min per game against the best F in the game. For half of them the debate is whether they are even good enough to play in the NHL.

2) Gazdic, Acton, Lander, Jones, Joensuu

They are AHL caliber players and have less experience than the kids we drafted 2 years ago.

3) Smyth and Hemsky

Smitty is older than Moses and Hemsky plays the exact same soft game with the same defensive liabilities as every top 6 F.

4) Dubnyk - When the pressure was on he let in beach balls for all of October. When the game is tight he lets in soft goals from the blueline.

5) Every single top 6 F is smaller than the average NHL forward. They all play the exact same game, get the exact same scoring chances, score the exact same type of goals, have the exact same type of defensive liabilities and get shutdown by the exact same type of game plan.

That's the problem. Not ph*cking Keith Acton, Kelly Buchberger, Steve Smith or Frederic Chabot. That is literally the dumbest thing I've ever read.

The game is played on the ice. By players. And as a team, the Oilers players simply are not good enough.

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#120 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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#121 They're $hittie
December 16 2013, 03:08PM
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michael wrote:

The ISS ranking came out today and Sam Rheinhart is listed number 1. He 6 feet and 185 lbs. Too small? How about Ekblad? 6'3.

If the Oilers finish in the 29/30 position and they somehow win the lottery and pick first what in your mind is the right move to make.

1. Make the pick 2.Trade the pick for a proven player 3.Trade the pick and a combination of players for the big fish.

I for one would not trade the pick.

What should oilers do with their pick

Props for Reinhart,

Trash for Ekblad,

Respond for trade and propose the trade

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#122 OilDieHard
December 16 2013, 08:46PM
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Spoils wrote:

we live in a bubble. We got first round picks, but we didn't get a Sydney Crosby or a Wayne Gretzky.

The guys are good and are going to be great, but we have SOOOOO much work to do.

Can't stop thinking about what a Pronger was able to deliver for us.

Which #1D can we pluck from a team that needs scoring. We need someone who is 23-25, young but a true #1.

Not really sure who I wouldn't trade for that.

Nurse and Klefbom are 2-4yrs away from dominating, if they make it. That is A LOT of losing.

Shattenkirk? Blues already have JayBo and Pietrangelo. maybe they could use Eberle? they might be losing UFA Steen at the end of the season and would need to replace him.

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#123 Ron
December 16 2013, 09:43PM
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@a lg dubl dubl

Ill trade you Subban for the 1st round pick 2014, Justin Schultz and Darnell Nurse.

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#124 jay jay
December 17 2013, 01:44AM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

...in completely unrelated news, Nail Yakupov has a five stroke lead in the race for the green jacket.

So there's that.

This is funny!!! who is chasing or helping him? May be 18 ladies.....

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#125 Oiler Al
December 17 2013, 06:18AM
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If trades and UFA's were that easy to fetch, they would have been done last summer. The problem is decent and youngish players don't want to come to a loosing team, especially one that has been a cellar dweller for longer than one can recall.

The other point that the Fab Five have not made a big dent in the turn around of this franchise.. not yet anyway, at this rate maybe never.

Also, with Lowe at the helm, I would guess he has turned off a lot of agents and other GM's with his dumb demands.

One thing you can take to the bank though is if you come.. you will be handsomely overpaid.

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#126 Rheal1
December 17 2013, 07:01AM
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mayorblaine wrote:

to those who reference the point differential between Couturier and Eberle as a reason for not making that trade, that mentality is part of the problem.

more points does not equate to being better. every team has different requirements and needs. the oilers have point producers we need the other.

i'd take Couturier for Eberle without question and i'd also bet we'd be a better team for it.

I doubt very much that making trades will solve the team's problems. Take the Oilers roster right now and morph it with Detroit's coaching staff and management. Or Anaheim's. Even Toronto's. Then you would see that the Oilers would be higher in the standings. With the same players. Just diffetent coaching staff and Mgnt...'nuf said. Boy can some Oilers fans read way, way too much into the "problem".

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#127 mayorblaine
December 17 2013, 08:13AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

I give up. Oilers fans deserve the team they have. Enjoy your top 5 picks next June and next. And next after that.

without question Bucky and Smith need to go. if you think this is the sole reason for the Oiler woes and not at all the players, well i have some lovely swamp land to sell you.

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#128 j
December 17 2013, 08:34AM
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I'd rather watch the 1996-97 Oilers grind out a passionate game than sit through some of the current displays of skilled shinny. There is no paint by numbers formula as all Stanley winners are different however high-end talent is only one ingredient for success. Every single team to hoist the Cup has found the right balance at the right time. The 2006 Oil are the perfect example of all the elements and reactants finally synthesizing. Do the 2013/14 Oilers have all the necessary substances? Doubtful - but some chemical reactions are just one element/electron/ reactant away from igniting. But which ones? Maybe we should fire Smith and Bucky and replace them with Robert Boyle and Isaac Newton?!

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#129 Zarny
December 17 2013, 10:21AM
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Rheal1 wrote:

I doubt very much that making trades will solve the team's problems. Take the Oilers roster right now and morph it with Detroit's coaching staff and management. Or Anaheim's. Even Toronto's. Then you would see that the Oilers would be higher in the standings. With the same players. Just diffetent coaching staff and Mgnt...'nuf said. Boy can some Oilers fans read way, way too much into the "problem".

That is utterly ridiculous.

The Oilers problem is not the coaching staff. The players simply aren't good enough. Full stop.

On a contender, every single Oiler D would be 3rd or lower. Half of them don't even make the roster. Coaching isn't going to change that I'm afraid.

The entire 4th line are AHL caliber players. On the 3rd line, Boyd Gordon is flanked by Moses and Hemsky who plays the exact same soft game with the same defensive liabilities as the top 6 F.

Every top 6 F gets shutdown by the same game plan.

1st overall draft picks don't come with magical pixie dust from a land of rainbows and unicorns. Hall, Nuge, Eberle and Yakupov aren't going to score 140 pts and win with a supporting cast of below average players no matter who the coach is.

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#130 rindog
December 17 2013, 12:46PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

It's the assistant coaches that are THE problem you say? Time for you to lay off the egg nog.

It's not just the assistant coaches.

However, after reading this article, it's apparent that the coaching/management we have is not up to par with with "good" organizations.

When I think of it - has either Smith or Buchberger ever been mentioned as a head coach candidate ever?

Has MacT, Lowe, Howson, Eakins ever won anything at the coaching/management level?

Being on winning hockey teams as players counts for something, but not nearly as much as knowing how the NHL works on the other side of the plexiglass.

We complain about the players not being good enough, but it is this management team and these coaches that have put together the roster/systems, etc.

Gregor is absolutely right when he suggests that the Oilers have to move out 1 or 2 of the young kids and bring in pieces that are needed.

The only concern I have is whether or not management and coaching staff will be able to make the right moves.

Judging by past history, I am not holding my breath...

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#131 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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#132 TonyT
December 16 2013, 01:31PM
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@Ducey

Are you suggesting the Oilers are big enough?

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#133 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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#134 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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#135 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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#136 Rod from Viking
December 16 2013, 11:18PM
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The only trade that might work with the Flyers would be Eberle for the Schenn bros,it would cost the Flyers the $1.5m in cap difference but Braden in an RFA,Luke is not playing up to his paycheck but at least he is big & physical and could turn into a solid #3 shut down with some maturity.

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#137 camdog
December 17 2013, 07:27AM
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Team is short 3 top 4 dman, a number one centre (RNH should be a number 2 right now), a few forwards who play with compete in the top 9, a couple of 4 line forwards and potetenially 2 new goalies.

That's before we can consider ourselves a playoff team. Problem is we have so much need, that trading away what talented players we do have just adds to a hole somewhere else. The reality is this rebuild is still another 2-3 years away from being close to finished.

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#138 barry.moore23
December 17 2013, 08:09AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

QSB, Why, in the name of all that is holy, can i not stop caring ?? Is there something wrong with me ?? Can't wait to see my Oilers play in St. Louis early March. This time it will be different .......

Peace from Illinois.

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#139 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
December 17 2013, 08:16AM
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@Rheal1

Don't you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby!

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#140 Puck JammeR!
December 17 2013, 09:21AM
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hall the time wrote:

The Oilers are playing against the whole league, teams players want to beat Edmonton because or our high draft picks.

There no better way to show your value then to beat players that were drafted way higher then you. Its not just a team thing, its a personal thing for these players.

Go ahead and thrash it, but its true in some respect.

Teams want to beat the Oilers because it's worth 2 points and there's no excuse not to do it.

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#141 Zarny
December 17 2013, 10:12AM
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Hayek wrote:

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.

You can't be serious? Average team weights? Good grief, you completely miss the point.

The game isn't played by 12 players of average weight and height. When it comes down to it the game is nothing but a series of 1 on 1 match-ups.

It's not about weight. "Size" is a euphemism. It's about diversity. It's about the ability to be effective in different ways. It's about being able to score in different ways.

The Oilers don't play an average weight of 200 lbs in Bos. They play Milan Lucic. He's 6'4" 220 lbs and if he doesn't have a step on the D he can say ph*ck it, drop his shoulder and go nuclear through the crease.

Anh, LA, Chi and SJ...they have guys like Getzlaf, Perry, Carter, Bickell, Thornton. They are all 6'3" or 6'4" 230 lbs. They can play physical against D like Chara and Weber. They can drive the slot and score goals in ways and in areas that not a single top 6 F Oiler can.

Every single top 6 F Oiler is smaller than the average NHL forward. They are literally the same type of player; all between 5'11"-6'1" and none weigh more than 205 lbs.

Sure some skate a bit faster, shoot a bit harder or have a niftier toe drag...whatever. They all play the same way. They all score the same type of goals on the same type of chances. They all get shutdown by the exact same game plan.

That alone necessitates swapping out 1-2 players in the top 6 F. The Oilers will never, ever play for the Stanley Cup with the current top 6 F because they'd never win 4 playoff series with them.

Add to it the fact that the Oilers are not going to get a top pairing D or elite G for middle of the road prospects and 1st round draft picks. One of the kids will need to be included and that's fine. We have 4 of them.

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#142 Sean17
December 17 2013, 12:24PM
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I love the mouth breathers who blame the assistant coaches. LOL! What a joke. Why not blame the trainer. Oh wait, Tambo did that when he fired them all. Gong show.

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#143 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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#144 a lg dubl dubl
December 16 2013, 09:37PM
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I go hard after Subban, if Montreal feels they cant afford his 7 mil contract. He just reminds me of Pronger just not as tall.

1st pick, Shultz jr, and prospect for Subban

Eberle or Yak and a prospect for Kane(or somebody like him)

The Oilers have roughly 35mil going into next season, time to spend MacT.

I thought Gagner had a NMC after this season. does that kick in July 1 or at the beginning of next season? Anyone?

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#145 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
December 17 2013, 07:37AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

On November 3, 2013, as we turned our clocks back from daylight savings time, @Fake Oilers GM tweeted:

"Attention fans: don't forget to turn your Edmonton Oilers rebuild clocks back 4 years."

I thought it was hilarious, but I wasn't taking it seriously at the time. I was still hopelessly deluded. I have now lost all hope, and now I realize that the above tweet is about right.

The Tambo years, aided and abetted of course by KLowe, are now being revealed as utterly disastrous. The Oilers braintrust clearly were operating under the assumption that because Pittsburgh and Chicago sucked for a few years, drafted elite players as a result, and then won Stanley cups, that all that was necessary was to tank, draft first overall, and voila, plan the parade. I'm convinced that is as far as they were looking. They forgot that Chicago was drafting and developing elite dmen, and Pittsburgh had a generational talent that wasn't going to be coming around every draft. And it takes more to build a winner than skilled forwards.

So here we are. Back to the beginning. Maybe an NHL dman in Nurse. But is he Duncan Keith? Brent Seabrook? We all know how unpredictable defensemen develop. Look at out great Swedish hope, Oscar Klefbom. 23 games in the AHL, 3 assists, -11. Not exactly looking like Kris Letang. Or even Marc Giordano.

I guess I should have known the Oilers brass had no plan, when I remember Tambo's spit-eating grin when the Oilers won the lottery 2 years ago. Brian Burke looked angry he was even there, like he was vowing he would never occupy that chair again. Tambo looked as happy as a pig in slop, like it had taken some kind of skill on his part.

Maybe MacT can do something over the next 5 years. Maybe not. But the rebuild didn't start 4 years ago or 6 or 2. It starts now.

Why now. Where was all this wisdom 3 yrs ago? You use to berate guys like me, and now you're one of us.

This just in......get out of Nortel!

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#146 hall the time
December 17 2013, 08:49AM
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The Oilers are playing against the whole league, teams players want to beat Edmonton because or our high draft picks.

There no better way to show your value then to beat players that were drafted way higher then you. Its not just a team thing, its a personal thing for these players.

Go ahead and thrash it, but its true in some respect.

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#147 camdog
December 17 2013, 10:13AM
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Puck JammeR! wrote:

Teams want to beat the Oilers because it's worth 2 points and there's no excuse not to do it.

There are a number of teams that believe what the Oilers did by intentionally tanking was wrong. It's hurt the team in respect to our ability to trade with some GM's, hence certain GM's ask for more from Edmonton in trade talks then they ask from other organisations. From proof of the anger over Edmonton's rebuild, just look to Calgary and Bruian Burke. Of course they are the extreme in respect to the hate for Edmonton, they are not alone in their disrespect of the organisation.

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#148 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
December 17 2013, 01:02PM
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Crackenbury wrote:

I make that trade if I'm in position to make a push for the cup. No way I make it today with the Oilers near the bottom. Giving up way too much for a good, but not franchise player that won't change much in the short term. By the time the Oilers are contenders Nurse is potentially as good as Subban, not to mention still having a top 3 pick from this years draft and J Shultz.

I'd rather see some of the current top 6 move out. The current mix will never work together and the returns should be equivalent skill players, only with a different skill set.

Respectfully, this is exactly the "prospect junkie" attitude that I'm talking about. PK Subban is a Norris trophy Winner...at a very young age. Darnel Nurse may or may not be a top pairing NHL Dman. Right now Nurse is getting booed in his home rink in the Mighty Soo.......there are no garauntees....and a lot of people on this site overvalue Oiler prospects. Klefbom is another example.....a year ago if you read this site or Lowtides articles Klefbom was a lock to make the big club this year and would probably be a top paring Dman in his second NHL season...right now he's struggling big time in the AHL.

And...Justin Scultz is right now a borderline bust. Of course it's too soon to give up on him...but there is not a lot there to be optimistic about regarding him being anything more than an average defensemen who plays the powerplay.

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#149 VK63
December 17 2013, 01:18PM
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@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

The booing of Nurse is reportedly erroneous. So Staples was wrong.

I know.

~how shocking~

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#150 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
December 16 2013, 07:40PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

Im sitting watching the Detroit Lions on MNF. It occured to me that I had been working with some Detroit travel cards when Matt Millen was announced as fired as their GM. I still remember how they acted like Santa hsd just dropped by. God knows its such a better team now.It would be ironic if anyone from Detroit was around if/when Ol' 6 rings get cut. Hey, how many rings did Millen have?

he has 4. twice in oakland once in San Fran and he was on the redskins roster but was deactivated for the super bowl

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