The Iceberg: Women and Children First

Robin Brownlee
December 04 2013 10:47PM

The deck chairs have been shuffled. Stop the presses. Plan the parade.

Edmonton Oilers fans can be excused if they're decidedly underwhelmed by the move GM Craig MacTavish made today in the wake of taking a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place Tuesday.

MacTavish sent two players who don't belong in the NHL in the first place, failed reclamation project and noted giveaway machine Denis Grebeshkov and career minor leaguer Will Acton, the son of associate coach Keith Acton, to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.

To fill those gaping holes, and another to be determined, MacTavish summoned three players who may or may not belong on the roster of an actual NHL team by recalling Tom Renney remnant Corey Potter, fourth-line centre Anton Lander and 21-year-old defenseman Martin Marincin.

All three could be in the line-up when Oilers toss the welcome mat and their 3-9-0 home record at the Colorado Avalanche, assuming the Avs show up in the wake of these moves, at Rexall Place Thursday.

This makes the Oilers better how? Let us count the ways.

PARDON MY DISINTEREST

There is potential upside to any move that rids the Oilers of a ham-and-egger like Acton and Grebeshkov, who convinced MacT that his high-risk-almost-no-reward routine was worth gambling on at age 30 after three seasons of a whole bunch of nothing in the KHL, but in this case, it's, well, limited.

At 9-18-2 through 29 games, the Oilers aren't going anywhere in terms of a playoff race, so plugging Lander into Acton's spot does no harm and gives MacTavish and coach Dallas Eakins another look at a player who could fill a spot as the team's fourth-line centre down the road. Fine.

If it's Potter for Grebeshkov, again, fine. It's one third-pairing defenseman for another. Neither one gets a sniff of anything but the popcorn in the press box on a team with anything resembling an NHL caliber blue line corps, but that's not the case here – which is the real problem.

Marincin? Again, with the Oilers not needing to trouble themselves with a playoff race, there's no harm in taking a look and seeing how he stacks up. If Marincin struggles, which he no doubt will, send him back down to OKC. I do wonder who gets a seat for Marincin to get in. Jeff Petry, please, or it could be Anton Belov. We'll know by game time.

To understate the obvious, none of the players coming or going are game-breakers or difference-makers. MacTavish won’t find any of those in-house. Simply put, he needs better hockey players than he'll find in Oklahoma City or Edmonton right now. This, we know.

Until that happens, it's women and children first.

WHILE I'M AT IT . . .

. . . I heard Jordan Eberle use the term "pissed off" at least twice in post-game interviews after the Phoenix game. For all his talent, it would be nice to see Eberle actually play like he's pissed off. Just once.

. . . Who on this roster is going to take the job when Andrew Ference gets worn down by standing up for his teammates by himself? David Perron? No. I like Perron's edge, but he's a yapper and an agitator -- a smirk-and-skate-away guy when it gets heavy.

. . . While the buzz about the possible addition of an experienced coach to Eakins staff has quieted down, something tells me the search for a guy who fits the bill is ongoing. Just a hunch, of course.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#201 Ari Gold
December 05 2013, 03:01PM
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Pardon my interest for sure!

Oiler Holes that we should be discussing:

1. Defence. #1 and #2 positions are vacant and have been since Vishnovsky left. Petry and Schultz Jr. can't fill in these spots. Belov & Ference are fine at 3-4 but should be 5-6.

2. Coaching - players of all sizes can play bigger than they already are. This current coaching staff cannot motivate it's players enough.

3. Credibility on the 4th line. This is the smallest of all the issues but is important in the playoffs.

4. Desperation. This comes to coaching and player personalities. Yak shows this but hasn't yet learned to translate it into on-ice success.

5. Goaltending. We have yet to see if Bryz can do it but Dub should be a backup. He'd be good at that.

6. Sam Gagner - he's redundant with Nuge & Arco in the lineup. Arco has a more complete game and costs MUCH less. Trade him before the NTC kicks in.

7. Management. Enough Kool-Aid for the masses. Enough 4th line tweaks. This team needs the Defense and Goaltending to be dealt with. The rest of the year is garbage-time so now is the time to make 'bold' moves. Either that or wait til the trade-deadline to increase the perceived value of our assets.

If the Oilers intend on being a cap-team, there will be plenty of room to add a top Dman and keep all the kids, if we want to.

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#202 Low
December 05 2013, 03:13PM
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Rick wrote:

So how many of our core ( Hall. Eberle ,Hopkins ) starts demanding a trade from this debacle after this season ??

who cares, they are not as good as you think or the media make them out to be!!! Too soft and overrated!! That should be in European league!

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#203 Low
December 05 2013, 03:18PM
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Joe Mamma wrote:

How do Flames fans spell dynasty?

O-N-E

can you spell playoffs? Do not live on past!!!!

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#204 A-Mc
December 05 2013, 03:19PM
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We have a number of Pending UFA's this summer. below are the guys i think the team will let go:

Smyth (2.25M/yr)
Hemsky (5M/yr)
Potter (775k/yr)
Labarbara (1M/yr)
Grebeshkov (1.5M/yr)
Eager (1.1M/yr)
Stevie Mac (625k/yr)
Omark (600k/yr)

Total: $12.85 Million in cap space.

I think they'll re-sign Dubnyk, if they don't trade him, for a lesser value than his current (3.5M/yr). And i think they'll try to re-sign Bryz (if his play continues to be pretty decent) on a bridge contract type thing. I could almost see these 2 swapping salaries so we'll call it a wash. So that means we'll have a solid $12.85M extra over what we currently have + Cap increases, to spend on UFA's. This summer could be the summer we spend $$ to buy a UFA or two. I'm going to take a look at what UFA's are potentially available this summer.

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#205 Bucknuck
December 05 2013, 03:19PM
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Boy - everyone is freaking out. I did that when they lost 5-0 to the wings. The season is over. They have been winning more than they have been losing lately, so lets see the progression. Let's see how they come back after being burned by the Blue Jackets.

Bad D and Goaltending screwed the Oil AGAIN. We all know the weaknesses, and so does MacT. I think that there will be a solution in place before next season, and it remains to be seen if it works or not. Or if it stays healthy or not.

For now, deck chairs moving around is fine, but by next season I want to see something happen to fix the #1 D and Goaltending problems. The Perron trade was a good example of getting rid of what we don't need and bringing in what we do (feisty players). This should be fun. Relax.

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#206 Martin
December 05 2013, 03:19PM
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They have been a horrible team for so many years now. Nothing really changes.

Senior management thinks it knows how to win. Look at the results

If I was an Owner I would try to win. The machine has been broken for years.

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#207 ValleyviewSports
December 05 2013, 03:21PM
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Schultzes, if they are in fact playing together will probably get the most minutes... and will have to both have the best games of their careers if we hope to need less than 5 goals to win.

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#208 Puck JammeR!
December 05 2013, 03:26PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

Burn down Rexall, the team plan and all other human capital. Start from scratch, except for Perron.

Keep li'l Nuge too. He never did nothin to no one

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#209 hall the time
December 05 2013, 03:31PM
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Low wrote:

who cares, they are not as good as you think or the media make them out to be!!! Too soft and overrated!! That should be in European league!

Yah the Oilers need players like

Hartnell, Callahan, Tootoo, Stoll, Erik Johnson, Bertuzzi, Simmonds, Chara, Smid, Miller

Keep Smith, Hemmer, Ferance, Gordon, J Shultz Ebs ,Young guns/first overalls

Nurse, Kelfbom, around the corner

Different coaching staff. Only in a dream.

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#210 Johnnydapunk
December 05 2013, 03:34PM
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A-Mc wrote:

We have a number of Pending UFA's this summer. below are the guys i think the team will let go:

Smyth (2.25M/yr)
Hemsky (5M/yr)
Potter (775k/yr)
Labarbara (1M/yr)
Grebeshkov (1.5M/yr)
Eager (1.1M/yr)
Stevie Mac (625k/yr)
Omark (600k/yr)

Total: $12.85 Million in cap space.

I think they'll re-sign Dubnyk, if they don't trade him, for a lesser value than his current (3.5M/yr). And i think they'll try to re-sign Bryz (if his play continues to be pretty decent) on a bridge contract type thing. I could almost see these 2 swapping salaries so we'll call it a wash. So that means we'll have a solid $12.85M extra over what we currently have + Cap increases, to spend on UFA's. This summer could be the summer we spend $$ to buy a UFA or two. I'm going to take a look at what UFA's are potentially available this summer.

I'm also thinking there is a lot that could go over the summer, quite a few RFA's as well that could be up for debate. It's sad to be looking up potential summer signings before the Christmas lights are even up, but I guess you can only say Fire 6Rings, Fire MacT, Fire Eakins, blow everything up so many times.

All I am hoping for which I doubt will happen but I like surprises, is to see some major trade or firing to get excited over, something more then this pointing the deck chairs to the North or South as Brownlee has referred to.

Meh, whatever happens, happens I guess.

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#211 Chainsawz
December 05 2013, 03:35PM
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pkam wrote:

You can do whatever you want, but only Katz can make the final decision for the team.

If you put forward 400M to buy the team, will you let someone make decision for you that you don't agree with?

No. But I still wouldn't try to shut anyone up just because they don't like my decisions.

Maybe I misread what you were getting at in first place but it sure sounded like if you don't own the team, don't worry/complain about it. And I can worry/complain about whatever I want, thanks.

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#212 ValleyviewSports
December 05 2013, 03:51PM
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Belov demoted to OKC.

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#213 tileguy
December 05 2013, 03:55PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Belov demoted to OKC.

more stupidity!

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#214 Joe Mamma
December 05 2013, 03:57PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

Pardon my interest for sure!

Oiler Holes that we should be discussing:

1. Defence. #1 and #2 positions are vacant and have been since Vishnovsky left. Petry and Schultz Jr. can't fill in these spots. Belov & Ference are fine at 3-4 but should be 5-6.

2. Coaching - players of all sizes can play bigger than they already are. This current coaching staff cannot motivate it's players enough.

3. Credibility on the 4th line. This is the smallest of all the issues but is important in the playoffs.

4. Desperation. This comes to coaching and player personalities. Yak shows this but hasn't yet learned to translate it into on-ice success.

5. Goaltending. We have yet to see if Bryz can do it but Dub should be a backup. He'd be good at that.

6. Sam Gagner - he's redundant with Nuge & Arco in the lineup. Arco has a more complete game and costs MUCH less. Trade him before the NTC kicks in.

7. Management. Enough Kool-Aid for the masses. Enough 4th line tweaks. This team needs the Defense and Goaltending to be dealt with. The rest of the year is garbage-time so now is the time to make 'bold' moves. Either that or wait til the trade-deadline to increase the perceived value of our assets.

If the Oilers intend on being a cap-team, there will be plenty of room to add a top Dman and keep all the kids, if we want to.

1. I think the only real option out there is Erhoff for a real top pairing guy. Is he the solution? I doubt it, but most other moves are pipe dreams without trading the core. Erhoff can probably be had for prospects and picks, although we may need to dump some salary for this season. And as you said, we will have the cap space to absorb his deal next year as the cap will be going up, and with the new tv deal some are pegging the cap to peak in the 90mil range eventually.

2. I think Eakins is in over his head. My first preference would be to can him now, but if they really are set on him, then at least bring in a veteran associate. Would love to see new assitants too, but we all know how that ends.

3. Meh. Small potatoes, relatively speaking.

4. I don't know what the coach can do here. I think we need more veteran leadership. And please don't say Smyth and Hemsky are vets. I mean vets that actually know how to win.

5. Think we're stuck with what we have for now. Let's hope Bryz can at least be a serviceable #1.

6. Oh lord, please trade this guy before we are stuck with him. If there is a handshake deal not to do it before his NTC kicks in, then I think they have to seriously weigh the optics of breaking said deal, or being saddled with him and his ugly contract. Knife straight in the back gets my vote.

7. Gordon and Perron were great moves. Gagner, Garbagekov, and Labarbera were terrible moves. I'd say MacT is sitting even or slightly in the negatives, and with all his promises in the off-season, that's just not good enough. I think he needs to make a splash, preferably before christmas, or the natives will go from restless to disinterested in a hurry. The stands are already starting to get thinner, and I have visions of the early 90's if things don't improve before long. He can't wait for the deadline. They need help now.

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#215 Joe Mamma
December 05 2013, 04:03PM
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Low wrote:

can you spell playoffs? Do not live on past!!!!

Ugh. It's a joke. Trying to lighten the mood in a flamewar. Grow a sense of humour.

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#216 Harlie
December 05 2013, 04:27PM
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2 words. RESET BUTTON

1 acronym. ROFL

0 chance of. WINNING.

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#217 Fresh Mess
December 05 2013, 04:50PM
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Right on the money RB. With you telling it like it is, I don't even have to perform my usual function of injecting a bit of reality.

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#218 Jason
December 05 2013, 05:11PM
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Playing for the Oilers stunts your growth as a hockey player.

Not much more to say.

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#219 Ari Gold
December 05 2013, 08:33PM
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Joe Mamma wrote:

1. I think the only real option out there is Erhoff for a real top pairing guy. Is he the solution? I doubt it, but most other moves are pipe dreams without trading the core. Erhoff can probably be had for prospects and picks, although we may need to dump some salary for this season. And as you said, we will have the cap space to absorb his deal next year as the cap will be going up, and with the new tv deal some are pegging the cap to peak in the 90mil range eventually.

2. I think Eakins is in over his head. My first preference would be to can him now, but if they really are set on him, then at least bring in a veteran associate. Would love to see new assitants too, but we all know how that ends.

3. Meh. Small potatoes, relatively speaking.

4. I don't know what the coach can do here. I think we need more veteran leadership. And please don't say Smyth and Hemsky are vets. I mean vets that actually know how to win.

5. Think we're stuck with what we have for now. Let's hope Bryz can at least be a serviceable #1.

6. Oh lord, please trade this guy before we are stuck with him. If there is a handshake deal not to do it before his NTC kicks in, then I think they have to seriously weigh the optics of breaking said deal, or being saddled with him and his ugly contract. Knife straight in the back gets my vote.

7. Gordon and Perron were great moves. Gagner, Garbagekov, and Labarbera were terrible moves. I'd say MacT is sitting even or slightly in the negatives, and with all his promises in the off-season, that's just not good enough. I think he needs to make a splash, preferably before christmas, or the natives will go from restless to disinterested in a hurry. The stands are already starting to get thinner, and I have visions of the early 90's if things don't improve before long. He can't wait for the deadline. They need help now.

Completely agree with you about Gags. The intangible con of breaking a verbal agreement needs to be weighed. I'm sure Gags wouldn't mind going to a winning team anyway.

I like the addition of Gordo, Perron, Belov & Ference. Gags, Grebers, Nuge's contract (though I don't mind the player, it was too early a contract, they could've signed him for less now given his fallible performance) & Labarbera are horrific dealings. MacT should be holding his head.

I'd still look at moving a core member for a Dman. You've got to give up something to receive quality in return.

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#220 Kypreos
December 05 2013, 09:08PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

OilerAl and Kypreos: You had comments removed because they contained comments from a banned poster. To remove his comments, had to remove yours. Sorry about that, but no other way in our system right now.

Holy what was so bad?

I am confused...

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#221 Wonger
December 06 2013, 08:49AM
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A-Mc wrote:

We have a number of Pending UFA's this summer. below are the guys i think the team will let go:

Smyth (2.25M/yr)
Hemsky (5M/yr)
Potter (775k/yr)
Labarbara (1M/yr)
Grebeshkov (1.5M/yr)
Eager (1.1M/yr)
Stevie Mac (625k/yr)
Omark (600k/yr)

Total: $12.85 Million in cap space.

I think they'll re-sign Dubnyk, if they don't trade him, for a lesser value than his current (3.5M/yr). And i think they'll try to re-sign Bryz (if his play continues to be pretty decent) on a bridge contract type thing. I could almost see these 2 swapping salaries so we'll call it a wash. So that means we'll have a solid $12.85M extra over what we currently have + Cap increases, to spend on UFA's. This summer could be the summer we spend $$ to buy a UFA or two. I'm going to take a look at what UFA's are potentially available this summer.

No NOT STEVIE MAC! HI BROWNLEE BUDDY!!!!

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#222 oilbaron
December 06 2013, 01:38PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Right on the money RB. With you telling it like it is, I don't even have to perform my usual function of injecting a bit of reality.

yep, right on the money. what a little difference those additions made... ACTUALLY I thought potter and marincin looked like two of the better d-man last night, and lander seemed to play pretty well also.

yep, what a sinking ship, with a new coach and pretty much the youngest team in the league we can only beat the Av's (who were 19-6-0) by a score of 8-2.

eat it all u crybabies who think you know hockey, don't think there will be room for you in the cup parade

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