A summer of miscalculation; a winter of failure

Jonathan Willis
March 09 2013 11:56AM

The Edmonton Oilers 2013 season did not fall apart during a nine-game road trip. The nine-game road trip was simply the point in the season when a summer of inept management finally caught up to the team.

Forwards

Some of the pain here was an unavoidable part of rebuilding through the draft. Decisions to employ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the team’s top-line forward (an often overlooked weakness entering the season) and to try Nail Yakupov as the second line’s left wing were understandable, perhaps even unavoidable. Nugent-Hopkins’ inexperience means that he would be better suited to a lesser role on a contending team, but he is the best option at the Oilers’ disposal for a top-line job. Yakupov’s left-handed shot, a desire to get him on to a skill line, and the team’s weakness at left wing after Taylor Hall also made a cameo in that position an understandable gamble (particularly given Yakupov’s success in the role in Russia). It is a gamble that has not worked out so far, as the positional change may well have increased the difficulty of Yakupov’s transition to NHL play.

Other errors were unforced. The decisions to re-sign Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk added a pair of 5-on-5 liabilities to a bottom-six group that didn’t need more players incapable of moving the puck in the right direction. The decision not to bring in a second-line left wing to add a capable veteran and force a guy like Ryan Smyth, Magnus Paajarvi or Teemu Hartikainen into a third line role opposite Yakupov on the other wing was another error.

While the root of these problems goes back to the summer, it seems likely the Oilers aren’t even aware of some of them. The decision to spend a fourth-round pick on Mike Brown – fine in his role, but terrible at adding 5-on-5 offence (the Oilers biggest weakness) when plausible options like Simon Gagne (dealt to Philadelphia for a fourth-round pick) or Dustin Penner (in the doghouse and rumoured to be cheap) was understandable but wrong-headed. Brown scores high in areas where Penner has been long-criticized, but in just 15 games in a bad season Penner is within a point of matching Brown’s career-best offensive production. Intangibles do matter – but tangibles matter too, and the fact is that the Oilers went shopping for a fourth-line guy who could punch people even as their team struggled to generate any kind of offence. That is not a criticism of Brown, who I actually like; it is a criticism of a management team that was picking out drapes while the house burned down.

Defence

Justin Schultz personifies both the best and worst of the Oilers’ blue line. On the positive side, he’s a sublimely skilled offensive defenceman, a great fit for the team long-term and was a massive windfall for the Oilers when he chose Edmonton in the summer. On the negative side, the fact that Justin Schultz, rookie pro, is the Oilers’ number one defenceman says everything about the state of the blue line.

It was obvious in the summer that the only prudent course of action was to add another defender – and despite the fact that the best options were signed early, players like Michal Rozsival stayed unsigned until September while Chris Campoli eventually had to relocate to Europe. Ideally, the Oilers would have competed for one of the better options out there; instead they failed even to make a basic insurance signing.

They’re paying for it now. Ryan Whitney’s unsurprising struggles, the inability of Justin Schultz and veteran second-pairing guy Nick Schultz to handle the opposition’s best, along with the ups and downs of a still-young Petry/Smid tandem have been the deserved result of an unwillingness to address a problem visible in the summer months.

Elsewhere

The Oilers made it clear as early as April that they were comfortable with a Devan Dubnyk/Nikolai Khabibulin duo, despite the fact that buying out Khabibulin and bringing in a reliable backup was a viable option. Dubnyk – despite some rough individual outings – has performed well, but Khabibulin unsurprisingly has spent most of the season on injured reserve, which in turn has forced Ralph Krueger to lean heavily on Dubnyk, who has started six games in nine days. The Oilers are already within a point of last place, and are one Dubnyk injury away from being comically overmatched by the NHL as a whole.

The jury is still out on Ralph Krueger, the fourth coach of Steve Tambellini’s run as general manager. I like some of the things he’s done, but at times he’s seemed overmatched and despite his eloquence and the clear loyalty of his players his reluctance to play a line-matching game may be costing the Oilers. Jon Cooper, meanwhile, continues to run the most successful team in the AHL.

The reader may notice an abundance of links in the piece above; the reason for that is to establish that this isn’t simply looking in hindsight and spotting things that seem obvious now. Many of the mistakes made by the Oilers management group are mistakes that should have been evident long before now, mistakes that could have been avoided with a little foresight and a little action back in June, July and August. The Oilers management group deserves a team with the record this one has.

They also deserve to pay the price of failure, a price they haven’t hesitated to visit upon players, coaches, and lower levels of management within the organization: dismissal.

Update: To be clear, not all of the Oilers' problems were forseeable. For example, the run of injuries at centre, and the shooting percentage struggles of the top line have hurt the team badly, and neither was a predictable problem. With teams as close as they are, my personal belief is that it takes some things going wrong to end up at the bottom of the pile, and that's happened in Edmonton. But those unforseen problems would have had less impact if visible problems had been addressed earlier. JW.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 StHenriOilBomb
March 09 2013, 12:11PM
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DISMISSAL!

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#2 Rama Lama
March 09 2013, 12:12PM
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FIST......still not sure what that is.

Like I said before, except for offence, defence, and goaltending, we are pretty good.

This whole scenario with the Oilers is so utterly predictible and will continue to be so until Lowe and Tamby are replaced.

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#3 TonyT
March 09 2013, 12:17PM
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Agreed. While the majority of us fans have been patient and understand that this is a rebuild. The fact that this team has had little to no progress and in some cases (5x5) regressed, I believe is beginning to take its toll on the faithful. After more than two decades of following this team at a fanatical rate, I have never been so subdued or passionless over the Oilers. Management should pay, and I would hope that the Rexall faithful would let ownership know it, through volume or attendance.

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#4 Matt F
March 09 2013, 12:18PM
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Can't believe you put Ricky's picture up there... Ricky is impeccable

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#5 stevezie
March 09 2013, 12:19PM
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Wow, was that ever on the nose.

You could have added the curious refusal to address Horcoff and Lander going down. It's one thing if you can't upgrade on Belanger for the third line, but this team didn't even try to fin a better option than VDV for the fourth. Mike Ziggomanis was that expensive?

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#6 Oilfan69
March 09 2013, 12:21PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

FIST......still not sure what that is.

Like I said before, except for offence, defence, and goaltending, we are pretty good.

This whole scenario with the Oilers is so utterly predictible and will continue to be so until Lowe and Tamby are replaced.

I wholeheartedly disagree , the coaching, pro scouting and management are at least as bad as off/def and tending.

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#7 50 in 39
March 09 2013, 12:23PM
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"it is a criticism of a management team that was picking out drapes while the house burned down."

I LOL'd

I can actually visualize Tambo doing this, with that stupid look he had on his face when he was outmatched by the remote control.

In all seriousness though, dismissal is warranted for the entire upper-management group. They got to make their calls and their ineptness and excessive optimism yielded this current joke of a team.

It is not funny for the fans and I am sure it is not funny for any of the players that care. (there is a few)

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#8 Mac962
March 09 2013, 12:24PM
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Dismissal ! All in favor please vote here ! The time has come they have failed over and over again. There is a core group of players here that we all know must stay, but several and perhaps a surprise or 2 need to be gone and perhaps a high round draft pick this year, and yes that may be a first round and perhaps the first overall pick.

Job Cooper Lindy Ruff Take your pick. Ralph is out of his league and needed a year or 2 yet as an assistant to learn this league.

I for one as many of you have never been more frustrated, actually damn right peed off and mad. Yeah , i am just a fan but dump all kinds of money into seats and merchandise. I need to be rewarded for my damn loyalty as do you guys. NOW.

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#10 MAC962
March 09 2013, 12:26PM
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UNTOUCHABLES. i will go first, feel free to add to the list.

1. Taylor Hall

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#12 BigE91
March 09 2013, 12:30PM
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Fans might be able to accept many of the current shortcomings if there was any effort at all to solve them. Instead management has spent the past three years drafting the same small type of player and doing next to nothing in terms of providing some balance in the top 6. I genuinely think the bottom six would be fine if there wasn't so much pressure on them to be more than what they are. Same with Dubnyk, the team is bleeding chances and yes he gives up more than the occaisional weak goal in this stretch but he basically has to be ready for anything and can't trust the guys in from of him to fill lanes and take away shots that shouldn't even be getting to the net.

In truth Jonathon I think this is more than just one summer of inaction or miscalculation it's a combination of past three. There should be some discernable improvement here and there isn't and now the "top 6" couldn't put the puck in the ocean, they aren't moving their legs and trying to draw penalties, they are waiting for everything to come to them. It isn't going to.

Against Detroit we watched as Zetterberg put his stick through the legs of Mike Brown, poke the puck away and upend #13. No call. Why, because Zetterberg has earned the benefit of the doubt from the officials. (I'm not saying this is right, but it is the way the NHL works.) Had that been RNH on Darren Helm, 93 would have been in the box lightning quick.

This team needs to get over all the great press they've gotten the past 2 years and flat out out work some teams.

A couple years ago everyone was trumpeting H.O.P.E., with Omark gone I would submit that has changed to Hall, Yakupov, Pajaarvi, Eberle otherwise known as H.Y.P.E. and until this group steps up that's all it is is HYPE because they aren't showing the drive to be anything more.

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#13 blue31
March 09 2013, 12:30PM
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MAC962 wrote:

UNTOUCHABLES. i will go first, feel free to add to the list.

1. Taylor Hall

I think you have them all covered right there.

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#14 mlcselli
March 09 2013, 12:33PM
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I think it obvious the problems are with the mgt team and clearly everyone needs to be replaced in order to have the team succeed. I think it's also obvious, and unfortunate that those changes won't come. Jonathon, if you are naming the successors for this group, who do we see going forward? I really don't think the problem with the on ice product has as much to do with Kruger and his system, and the players not buying in, or that the coach has lost the room (although I think there's some truth to it), as much as I think the players are sending a message to the Brass. There are injuries and players playing injured, no backup for the goalie.... They need players that are going too be effective brought in ASAP, and this team knows they need more. We are witnessing the train wreck and nobody seems to be embarrassed. The fans are furious.

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#15 Rod from Viking
March 09 2013, 12:33PM
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I'm not sure why so many are crapping on the Mike Brown trade, he is the only player that knows his role and I think he is a really good 4th liner. The problem is most of the rest bottom six except for Horchoff and Jones.I don't think it will be possible to fix anything until this summer,we will be able to trade some of the players for picks at the deadline and some will be FA's and hopefully at least one buy out and retirement. We then could be a real player in the market this summer(remember the cap problems a lot of teams will have) I hope this is the plan.

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#16 Dutchscooter
March 09 2013, 12:37PM
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I think that time for action is nigh. We as fans have been spoonfed that it is a process, this rebuild, that everything takes time. And it does. However, this year, albeit a shortened year this was supposed to be THE YEAR that we begin to see improvement, the light at the end of the tunnel. Not playoffs, but improvement in the standings. Well, we are now one point out of 30th place and sinking fast. We seem to be getting WORSE, not better because three years ago when we were losing 10 in a row you could at least see that they were trying. Right now they are losing and the body language says they don't care regardless what they say. No passion, no heart.

So, I as a fan have been patient with the process. But it has always been said that the architect of a rebuild is rarely around to reap the benefits. I think it is time to fire the architects.

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#17 a lg dubl dubl
March 09 2013, 12:40PM
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blue31 wrote:

I think you have them all covered right there.

Id add Eberle and RNH to that list.

Id also be willing to trade Yakupov and this years 1st for Perry.

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#20 ed back in canada
March 09 2013, 12:44PM
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This season is shaping up to be a disaster worse than any before. A rebuild that appears to be regressing.

Lowe still cannot assess hockey talent nor understand what he has and what he needs. Tambo is either just a figure head yes man, or equally incompetant.

A wise sports manager once said the most important skill a coach/manager of a sports team needs is the ability to assess talent and understand how to use it. I don't think Lowe or Tambo have this ability.

BTW the quote came from Bud Grant former CFL/NFL coaching great. I know this is showing my age,

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#21 justDOit
March 09 2013, 12:47PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Id add Eberle and RNH to that list.

Id also be willing to trade Yakupov and this years 1st for Perry.

I hope you mean in a 'sign and trade'. Otherwise a massive overpayment for a UFA.

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#22 BigE91
March 09 2013, 12:49PM
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a lg dubl dubl wrote:

Id add Eberle and RNH to that list.

Id also be willing to trade Yakupov and this years 1st for Perry.

I'd remove all three and place Justin Schultz on the list. Other than that no one should be safe. Too many players that are too similar. We as fans want it both ways, the players we think are great should stay but go out and get them some help without giving up anything. I'd be choked if Hall or Eberle were moved but to make the improvement needed we have to accept that one or tow of these guys won't be around when this team starts to improve.

There's too many needs to address and by the way they are scoring this season the top 6 can't and shouldn't be safe.

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#23 DSF
March 09 2013, 12:49PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'd put an interim G.M. in charge now (probably MacTavish) and do a proper search for a full-time replacement in the summer. Assistant general managers Julien BriseBois (TB), Paul Fenton (NSH), Laurence Gilman (VAN), Jason Botterill (PIT), Jim Nill (DET) and Joe Will (SJ) are the half-dozen or so that immediately come to mind for a short list.

Do an interview with each and a few others - internal candidates as well as external ones I'm forgetting right now - ask them to put together a tentative two-three year plan to turn the team into a contender, have a second interview with the best ones and then make a decision.

I'd be interested in your take on Brian Burke taking over.

He has a pretty good track record of taking moribund franchises and turning them into contenders.

Despite running afoul of the new overlords in the Vatican, the team he built in Toronto, while still somewhat flawed, is having pretty good success and comes to play every night.

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#24 DevoKnows
March 09 2013, 12:50PM
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"Id add Eberle and RNH to that list."

Be careful, this team needs to get stronger and grittier in the top lines. RNH clearly shows he's very weak and doesn't like the rough going

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#25 Rama Lama
March 09 2013, 12:52PM
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MAC962 wrote:

UNTOUCHABLES. i will go first, feel free to add to the list.

1. Taylor Hall

RNH .......is the full meal deal!

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#26 Pharmboy
March 09 2013, 12:55PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I'm not sure why so many are crapping on the Mike Brown trade, he is the only player that knows his role and I think he is a really good 4th liner. The problem is most of the rest bottom six except for Horchoff and Jones.I don't think it will be possible to fix anything until this summer,we will be able to trade some of the players for picks at the deadline and some will be FA's and hopefully at least one buy out and retirement. We then could be a real player in the market this summer(remember the cap problems a lot of teams will have) I hope this is the plan.

I'm not too sure there really is a plan. Maybe you should fax that in to the Oilers office, and please add the hiring of Ruff as well if ya could, thanks.

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#27 Jeffff
March 09 2013, 12:56PM
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The untouchables appear to be Oilers management.

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#29 a lg dubl dubl
March 09 2013, 12:57PM
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justDOit wrote:

I hope you mean in a 'sign and trade'. Otherwise a massive overpayment for a UFA.

LOL yea Id definitly do the sign and trade, but with Dithers at the steering wheel I could see him trade for Perry then let him go to FA.

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#30 Rama Lama
March 09 2013, 12:57PM
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DSF wrote:

I'd be interested in your take on Brian Burke taking over.

He has a pretty good track record of taking moribund franchises and turning them into contenders.

Despite running afoul of the new overlords in the Vatican, the team he built in Toronto, while still somewhat flawed, is having pretty good success and comes to play every night.

I think it's safe to say BB was the architect to the success the Leafs are currently having.

Yea I support this .........how about " we want Brian Burke" at the next Oilers Game.

That would be halarious at the game and send a much needed message to Katz and company.

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#31 justDOit
March 09 2013, 12:59PM
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@DSF

Like him or not, the moves he made before this season seem to be the perfect additions to the Leaves (JVR for one). Burkie got screwed over being dismissed before seeing his team play a game.

As for 'untouchables', my list starts with RNH and ends with J Schultz. Wingers may come and go, but those two guys are foundations.

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#32 a lg dubl dubl
March 09 2013, 01:01PM
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DevoKnows wrote:

"Id add Eberle and RNH to that list."

Be careful, this team needs to get stronger and grittier in the top lines. RNH clearly shows he's very weak and doesn't like the rough going

Actually Ive seen RNH take a run at somebody a few times this season, and last year didnt he hit Morrow hard enough to send him to the IR for a few weeks.

Sure he doesnt "go to the dirty areas" but the kid is paid to score.

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#33 John Chambers
March 09 2013, 01:02PM
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Everybody is looking at it through sh!t-colored glasses today. Understandably so.

The team will need a bottom-six and defense overhaul this off-season. It would be wrong to shop RNH or Eberle out of frustration. Veteran players, role players, competent depth players - have to be the targets. Guys able to play through tough periods and game stretches. Hall is my favorite Oiler in two decades, but he is not ready for the C.

Two possible landlines ahead though are: a) management buys out Horcoff without replacing his leadership and defensive acumen, or b) Yakupov gets traded to fill holes, well in advance of realizing his professional potential and by extension full value.

It'll get better - but a new culture of true accountability must be the imperative.

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#34 Ken
March 09 2013, 01:03PM
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The entertainment value of this team is reflected in the 2 drunks they have for a TV broadcast crew and goes down from there.

Katz cannot be pleased

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#35 Caligula
March 09 2013, 01:06PM
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Any semblance of logic, common sense or accountability at the upper levels of this organization are fading in the rear view mirror.

Katz won't fire Lowe, and Lowe happens to be pretty terrible at constructing a competent hockey team. That seems to be at the foundation of all the problems involving this team.

Replacing Steve with MacT or Howson, or making a bunch of meaningless trades neither addresses or corrects the underlying root issue.

Until Katz can accept reality and relieve Kevin and Steve (and Craig too) of their current duties, this festival of pain and ineptitude will continue unabated.

Daryl Katz, your team is broken. Fix it.

Please.

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#36 JCDavies
March 09 2013, 01:07PM
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Great post Jonathon.

I kind of feel like the organization could've handled their young players better. They are burning through the cheap contract years with nothing to show for it. Their desire to win immediately is definitely impacting their future.

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#37 andrewmk20
March 09 2013, 01:10PM
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@BigE91

HYPE. That's beautiful, I wonder if The Bear composes a song about this acronym.

"We've got hype on our side" "Our fans will always cry" "Spell it Hall, Yakupov, Paarjarvi,and Eberle"

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#38 Rod from Viking
March 09 2013, 01:10PM
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Ken wrote:

The entertainment value of this team is reflected in the 2 drunks they have for a TV broadcast crew and goes down from there.

Katz cannot be pleased

They are brutal, who else would want to follow this team around(I would be drinking heavy too)

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#39 Spydyr
March 09 2013, 01:11PM
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J.Shultz to the list.

Remove Ebs.

One of the fab five have to go.

Nuge is a center and a monster talent.

Hall has passion drive speed and heart.

Yak has that shot and appears to be a beast on his skates.

Ebs scores big goals and pretty goals.That is all great but he does not hit.Since he got rocked by Johnson he has been shying away form the tough areas on the ice.Defensively no one will confuse him with Datsyuk.

One has to go to fill needs.The entire bottom six outside of PVR and possible Harti and Jones has to go too.Maybe Brown might stay too early to tell. Hemsky and Gagner have to go for some toughness in the top six.

Defensively only Smid Petry and J.Shultz are keepers.

Goaltending total rebuild.A trade is needed.

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#40 andrewmk20
March 09 2013, 01:14PM
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@John Chambers

Agreed as angry as we all are it doesn't make sense to scream about dealing key pieces just out of frustration. The talent is there among the top 6, they just need to fill out the roster with useful depth and add one top 6 with some size and more so a battering ram mentality in the vein of Ladd, Simmonds, etc.

The biggest reason we've noticed the snake-bitten top line is because when they aren't producing no one else is there to pick up the slack. That's not the case when you watch playoff bound teams.

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#41 StuckOutHere
March 09 2013, 01:16PM
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Hall - Gagner - Eberle (Harder mins line)

Hartikainan - RNH - Yakupov (Soft mins line)

Paajarvi - Horcoff - UFA (David Clarkson or Clowe)(Tough mins line, with depth scoring capabilities)

Smyth - Belanger - Jones (expensive 4th line, but shouldn’t bleed too much)

White J. Schultz Sekera Petry Smid Fistric

This is a very doable line up. Is it good enough? And for christ’s sake send next year's lotto pick back down.

Thoughts?

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#42 Mac962
March 09 2013, 01:18PM
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Untouchables- I tend to agree , RNH has magic , it will come. I love Eberle and he is too clutch. Sorry Yak - but i would move you if the price is right. Justin Schultz stays.Smid i would keep, Petry- just another Gilbert,losing him i dont think would ever come back to haunt you.

Dont tell me this has to be done from within, and not the trade. Sorry - There is nothing in OKC that will pull this team out of it. Some good AHLers , thats it. Use your picks and some of the talent this team has and get on the phone.

Of course after Tambo and Lowe are gone. I would rather see MACT run things and hire Lindy Ruff.

What a mess we have here ON. Unreal , i didnt expect the cup this year but i though Ralphs promise of All out or what ever it was would get me through it. Your players are not listening.

Diehard Oil Fan totally sick of this crap. And yeah, we need a goalie. Dub - your are not the man sorry.

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#43 Mark-LW
March 09 2013, 01:18PM
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#fireOilersExecs

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#44 David
March 09 2013, 01:18PM
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Brian Burke would make a good GM, but he does not sound like a yes man so this is a non starter if Lowe is around.

He has a good grasp on how to build a team , look at the USA olympic team very competitive and pushed Canada to the brink in the gold medal game.

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#45 Walter Sobchak
March 09 2013, 01:19PM
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Getting rid of any of the 5 regular kids would be a massive step back, that would be getting into infinity rebuild territory.

Example- NYI......not could, but would have been a championship team had they kept the kids they drafted.

The players are not the problem......management inability recognizing what the team requires to help these players is the whole problem.

Putting J.Schultz out there without a proven top pairing defensmen is akin to telling him to go out there and sink or swim.

Having RNH - Eberle - Hall out there to drive the ship is like asking a 16 year old with a brand new license to go drive Hwy 63 to learn how to drive.

Putting Yakupov with Gagner and Hemsky was foolish and extremely short sighted.

Did anybody else feel that the line of Paajarvi - Gagner - Yakupov actually did some good, didn't turn the puck over half as much.

Yakupov should have been teamed with Horcoff - Smyth for the first year.

You can also dump on assistant GM for making that brutal Paajarvi mistake last year, that's an indication of the whole orginization.

Krueger was this management pick, which automatically makes it the wrong pick, based on 10 years of evidence.

What exactly does the pro scouting staff do in this orginization? The Oilers have not made a single news worthy trade.......Brown was already known by Tambellini.

Sorry for the rant!

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#46 Raine
March 09 2013, 01:19PM
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All it takes is a look at the history of Steve Tambellini trades and UFA signings to know he has failed.

http://www.oilogosphere.com/blog/oilers-need-competence-and-leadership-within-management/

5 years of inadequate signings and ineffective trades should be cause for dismissal.

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#47 Shaun Doe
March 09 2013, 01:19PM
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I can't believe how many people are willing to get rid of Eberle already. They kid led the team in scoring two year in a row and despite a down year has played very hard on the puck in past seasons. I wouldn't be suprised to see an injury hindering his game this season. I think I'd rather trade an unknown in Yakupov before I went the trade route with Eberle. Just my two bit though.

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#48 JCDavies
March 09 2013, 01:20PM
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@DSF

"I'd be interested in your take on Brian Burke taking over."

I really like this idea. Brian Burke has a good track record with trades and I feel like this is something the team needs right now. Building through the draft and free agency is great but some players can only be acquired through trades.

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#49 Saytalk
March 09 2013, 01:22PM
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Re Willis on trading core players: yes Quebec traded Nolan for Ozolinsh, but they also traded Sundin for Wendel Clark and traded Lindros for a boatload of players including Forsberg and Ricci. So all three of their first overall picks were traded away to transform a collection of prospects and potential into a cohesive team that could complete at the NHL level. I look at the Oilers roster and I still see a collection of prospects and potential, and to make matters worse, the prospects are all the same type of finesse perimeter player that is heavily discounted during drafts and in trade markets (why do you think Paajarvi and Eberle fell to us in their draft spots anyway?). The Oilers need to find their 2 or 3 foundation players and build around them. The rest are trade fodder ala Sundin, Lindros, Nolan.

You have identified problems in individual roster spots, but no one is talking about the systemic problems that have persisted in this franchise for several years now. The cronyism in the front office has led to incompetence in both pro scouting (who have they found besides Jones?) and in day-to-day management (see Paajarvi call-up from late last year as the worst example). Don't get me started on the over-rated coaches we had during 30, 30 and 29, but now we have an obscure coach whose only NHL experience prior to this year was being the associate coach for a 29th place team (maybe he was here for the second 30, I don't care). WTF is a "gap control" system anyway? Has anyone considered that each one of these prospects should be playing on a line/pairing with a successful veteran that can mentor him and point out required adjustments after every shift? It's like no one in this franchise even has a clue of the most basic elements of developing a player. Low quality coaching, absence of any mentoring, is it any wonder the kids aren't learning how to work hard and win?

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#50 @eastcoasteh
March 09 2013, 01:22PM
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Totally agree with you. Although in terms of bad shooting% is that just more a function of not getting to shooting areas (this team must lead the league in % of shots blocked/missed)? It seems when the kids do get in good areas, they try some fancy play that worked in the AHL, but not the big leagues...Anyways, it's pretty obvious what this team needs: - Better D. Our breakouts are atrocious, resulting in now flow for our forwards. Not sure how the team didn't see this coming with Whitney. Pretty obvious by watching him skate that he's a hurting unit and is pretty much done as a top-line NHLer. - A power forward (or two) to play in top-6. These guys don't grow on trees, so this will mean parting with some prospects to get there, but is a necessity to mix things up. - A better gameplan. Why is Coach-K asking his skilled guys to dump it in with little to no chance of retrieval. It's a good strategy if you have a banger or two to go get it, or to ask your bottom-6 guys to do it--at least if you don't get the puck, you wear down the opposition D. But for our current top-6 to do it, the puck comes out as fast as it went in most of the time. I think mgmt needs to identify their core and dump out anyone who can't fill an identifiable support role. Oh, and for all those people bemoaning our lack of PPs the past few games..if you don't have the puck, and never threaten to score, why would the opposition take a penalty on you?

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