GODSPEED, CRAIG MACTAVISH

Lowetide
April 29 2013 10:36PM

A Craig MacTavish media conference is always worth the price of admission, and today he rolled out "the plan" for this summer: although it will stop short of a complete makeover, we may not recognize major portions of the roster when the leaves begin to fall.

ROLE PLAYERS

MacT spoke today about role players, about getting better bottom 6F's who could deliver more in all areas of the game. He made a tremendous statement about the 3 and 4 lines:

  • "We had a lot of guys that the best they were going to be in any given game was a non-factor."

If you're an Oiler forward who spent significant time in the bottom 6 and didn't deliver offense, that's an absolutely chilling statement.

5x5/60 (bottom 6F)

  1. Ryan Jones 1.38
  2. Lennart Petrell 1.36
  3. Shawn Horcoff 1.34
  4. Ryan Smyth 1.23
  5. Eric Belanger 0.66
  6. Mike Brown 0.42
  7. Teemu Hartikainen nil

From that list, we can be pretty certain about Horcoff, fairly certain about Smyth and Brown, and at least include Jones as a "possible" for this coming year.

Fair?

BLUE AS BLUE CAN BE

The blueline is going to see some turnover, MacT mentioned Whitney as a goner and it would seem Peckham's future will be elsewhere too. There is some talent on defense, just not enough.

  • “We need more footspeed to play the style that best suits our skill-set. We have to move the puck quicker and the defencemen have to skate into open ice to get them the puck. We didn’t get back hard enough on breakouts.”

The blue all struggled at times this season (especially when playing with Ryan Whitney) but it would be a shock to see any of Justin Schultz, Ladislav Smid or Jeff Petry sent away. Nick Schultz is probably secure too, but with as many as 8 roster spots turned over that's not a certainty. It should be mentioned that Mark Fistric had a solid year (as per the link) and Potter was miles from being the problem.

Can the Oilers add two veterans to Smid-Petry and Schultz's? That's a tall order.

THE ELUSIVE POWER FORWARD

The GM also spoke about three small skill forwards with duplicate skills not being able to get things done, and that can only mean a powerforward entering the picture. On a team that hasn't had a real one since Billy Guerin, some media members feel Nathan Horton is a target.

  • Jim Matheson: I believe the Oilers will go hard after Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton, who is also an UFA.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

If Craig MacTavish can find a way to add Nathan Horton, a top 4 defender and some depth on the bottom 6 forwards, he'll have accomplished something no Oiler GM has managed since 2006 spring: a balanced roster with enough quality and depth to have some real sustain during the long NHL season.

Godspeed, Craig MacTavish. Godspeed.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#51 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 30 2013, 09:15AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

thought i liked nathan horton...turns out i just liked his smokin' hot playboy playmate wife ...nevermind no nathan thanks

You can tell a lot about a potential Oilers future by just looking at his wife. West Edmonton Mall just isn't cutting it anymore I guess.

....i'm, too sexy for the YEG, too sexy for YEG...me's so awesome it hurts...

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#52 15w40
April 30 2013, 09:16AM
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Jeff Petry and Hartakainen to the Leafs for Cody Franson and Joe Colborne. Pretty even swap but gives both teams a bit of a new look.

Maybe Carlyle can bring out the nasty in the Finn

Sign Boyd Gordon - leave Lander in the minors. Look at Colby Armstrong for some proven sandpaper

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#53 Dave
April 30 2013, 09:21AM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

So other say 3 years rebuilding the rebuild, 10 years without playoffs that's a hard pill to take. Well at least the new arena will be built by then.

Not sure about that... may have to endure 10 more years in the "Rexall can't see the ice surface because of the bozo in front of me leaning forward , no concourse, no food dump".

Katz should come forward with the missing portion of the fee.

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#54 Tikkanese
April 30 2013, 09:30AM
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Oil need to sign at least one of

Clarkson Horton Iggy

We'll have the cap space and yes we'll have to overpay but we have so many other holes, we won't be able to trade for them all.

and a Clowe or Cooke for the 3rd line would be good to tho I'd throw up in my mouth a little if we signed Cooke. I'd rather trade for a younger version of one of them but that's easier said than done.

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#55 vetinari
April 30 2013, 09:32AM
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I appreciated MacT's candour and finally thought that here was a GM who wasn't blowing smoke at us and watching a different team that I was night after night.

MacT's off season shopping list likely includes a veteran 1B goalie, two top 4 defencemen, and three to five new forwards, primarily at centre and in the bottom 6, but I think the team will show improvement just by overhauling the backend and bringing in a grinding centre and some better checkers.

Also, at pick #7, MacT has some flexibility-- if your player choices between #7 and say #15 are pretty marginal, trade down and pick up an asset or two to fill holes on your team. Right now, we need roster players, not projects or futures... also, tap into your AHL farm prospects and move a couple (Hamilton, Plante, etc.) for some veteran depth.

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#56 zinn John
April 30 2013, 09:55AM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Oil need to sign at least one of

Clarkson Horton Iggy

We'll have the cap space and yes we'll have to overpay but we have so many other holes, we won't be able to trade for them all.

and a Clowe or Cooke for the 3rd line would be good to tho I'd throw up in my mouth a little if we signed Cooke. I'd rather trade for a younger version of one of them but that's easier said than done.

I like Iggy best here cause he desperately wants to win, is a fierce competitor and leader, and is much less injury prone than Horton. He still has two good years and I'll bet one of them (or both) will be spent raising silverware in Oil Country if he signs here.

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#57 Tikkanese
April 30 2013, 10:17AM
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@zinn John I think Iggy only signs here, or back in CGY for that matter if he wins the Cup this year. Otherwise he'll sign with a Cup favorite.

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#58 Smokey
April 30 2013, 10:20AM
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Good interview, he is incredibly well spoken and a pleasure to listen to. However the Smyth returning, being mum on Horcoff, and the mentioning he needs 8 new players give me little confidence we will see the kinda players we need, or that we won't overpay in order to do it. I'm scared stiff what the next big deal he will be concocting. I'm not sure he's got the Malony or Poille ability to find those bargain free agents and that we may get overpaid 3rd and 4rth liners. I don't like his support of Kreuger, I hope I'm wrong. I hold hope for the first time, and will give him the benefit of the doubt.

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#59 Smokey
April 30 2013, 10:27AM
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Will wrote:

So if, and believe me it's a big if, Monahan is still on the board (F#*% you Calgary), does anyone think we could package our first and Gagner to Philly for their first and Coturier? I mean they basically draft a replacement in Monahan while also getting a much more proven skilled centre in Gagner, who might even play better with some of the bigger forwards they have on that team, and we get a big tough second line centre.

Then at 11, we could be free to draft one of the big mean remaining defencemen, Nichushkin if he's fallen that for because of his "Russian Factor" (Coutier, Yak, Nichushkin = most awesome forward line to watch in all of hockey). Or it wouldn't be such a reach to draft Gauthier which would give the Oilers something they haven't had in a long time: Depth and size down the middle.

Or alternatively, same first and Gagner package for Phoenix's first and Yandle. Sure we leave a big gaping hole at second line centre, but we have that top pairing puck moving point machine on D, who isn't over the hill and has a good contract. Plus we could still draft Gauthier and get what we need in a year to come.

Does anyone think these deals are plausible or am I overvaluing Gagner?

Overpay...

Couturier is nice player...but he wasn't a first overall pick. His offence has not translated. He's a bit of an enigma and gamble. Philly probably do it, cause your giving Gagner away for free.

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#60 Smokey
April 30 2013, 10:28AM
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Will, I misread comment, just ignore me.

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#61 Smokey
April 30 2013, 10:31AM
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Oilcan wrote:

Because most Oiler fans know something about hockey and know there is more then just putting up points. I dont thinkanyone would argue Gagner is a bad player, I think most would say he is a good scorer, but where the Oilers are at and with the makeup of their roster it doesn't seem like Gagner fits (if the team truly wants to improve and balance) there are too many flaws in Gagners game (in relation to Oiler needs) to justify the contract he will be seeking.

Flaws: Small, weak in the tough areas, poor defensively, horrible on face-offs.

He is a gifted scorer but the Oilers would be better off getting something of value for him and signing Weiss for 3.5-4.0 then keeping Gagner. Weiss won't be the scorer Gagner is but he would compliment the 2nd line with his skill set.

MacT is doing a sales job, praise the hell outta him so you can get max return.

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#62 michael
April 30 2013, 10:33AM
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Smokey wrote:

Horton is a concussion away from being done. I'd pass.

Lowetide If we are going after Horton would he not qualify for one of those contracts that are based on games played. The incentive kinda contracts where he reaches certain goals and gets paid accordingly. Basically a base contract plus incentives.Is that how it would come about? Term 2 years at 2.25 plus bonuses.Maybe topping out at 4 million.

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#63 andrewmk20
April 30 2013, 10:33AM
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Can Horton play the left side?

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#64 madjam
April 30 2013, 10:46AM
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NEW Bodies : 6-8 new ones . Wants six minimum , but seems to want 8 if he can swing it . Shopping list = 1 spot for goalie, 2 for defence , 2 for center , 3 for bottom six . One spot on defence will be Klefbom or Marincin by the sounds of it (filled within) . That still leaves 7 new spots outside current roster and system to be filled.

Also got the impression only Hall and Yak fit the grit roll MacT. desires . Not convinced nice things said about some players was more for show than actuality . Depending on who we get , 3 more veterans could be gone or perhaps in one case retired .

MacT. type players not mentioned by most here could include : Winnick ,C.Kelly ,D.Carcillo , S.Downie , J.Boll ,C. Clutterbuck , S.Hartnell , T.Moen ,Gaustad ,Fedotenko ,C.Neil , D.Murray , J.Galiardi , Oshie , B. Jackman , R.Malone , C. Orr, Wheeler , Bieksa , Kassian , S.Begin ,M.Hanzal , Coburn ,B.Crombeen , J. Trouba ,and even Luongo whom might take over in an exchange for Dubnyk . Maybe leaving Khabby as backup for next season .Many others as well could be on radar . Obviously lots to choose from even beyond these names . Some of my old list would be Couturier , Ott , D.Boyle , Nystom . Parros ,Clarkson ,etc. . Don't envy the task MacT. has put forth for him to accomplish .

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#65 VK63
April 30 2013, 10:52AM
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Horton is Penner in an occasionally physical body. He will frustrate the fan base to no end because he will show glimpses of that amazing toolkit and then choose to play with complete indifference for weeks.

Im fine with it as I am struggling with early choices on next years goat.

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#66 Tikkanese
April 30 2013, 11:23AM
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@VK63

Clarkson is the best "free" option tho he will cost I bet 6+ per to sign here. Would be worth it.

I'd love to trade for Hartnell but between him and Hall there would be only the center standing up for half of the time on ice on that line. Could name that line the Weeble Wobble line.

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#67 Acumen
April 30 2013, 01:18PM
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Delete please

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#68 vetinari
April 30 2013, 02:03PM
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Since I find all kinds of interesting stuff over on Kijiji, has MacT thought about advertising over there for new players?

WANTED: Warm bodies to fill out the roster of an NHL(?) team. Must be built like an elephant, tough like a grizzly bear, smart like a border collie and skate like a jack rabbit. Any other additional animal parts or traits would be a bonus (turtles, shrews and chickens need not apply-- we have enough of those already). Defencemen, goalies and forwards all welcome. Hell, we'd talk to anyone with a pulse and isn't Sheldon Souray or Dustin Penner. Salary and term negotiable. If you are looking for a NTC/NMC, the phone number for Jay Feaster is (403) xxx-xxxx. Call him now. Or late at night. And repeatedly. Otherwise, call MacT at (780)xxx-xxxx and forward your resume together with the highlight reel taken by your father 20 years ago and Brian Burke's most recent reference to RX1. Only eight spots remaining. Limited time offer!

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#69 onlyoil
April 30 2013, 02:48PM
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Sid wrote:

Horton is one hit away from being out of the NHL

That could also be said for another 700 players in the NHL. Bad enough hit could end it for anyone not only him.

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#70 Tikkanese
April 30 2013, 03:34PM
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onlyoil wrote:

That could also be said for another 700 players in the NHL. Bad enough hit could end it for anyone not only him.

Yea I agree. Horton's rep alone creates a lot of room out there plus the guy can flat out play. His stats don't lie. Him or Clarkson would be a great addition. Or Iggy for that matter. Yes they are all RW though but it isn't unheard of for guys to switch wings.

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#71 John
April 30 2013, 04:26PM
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Tikkanese wrote:

Yea I agree. Horton's rep alone creates a lot of room out there plus the guy can flat out play. His stats don't lie. Him or Clarkson would be a great addition. Or Iggy for that matter. Yes they are all RW though but it isn't unheard of for guys to switch wings.

Ya, like Erik Cole when he played here...or Yakupov playing left wing...

I do agree that some players could play on their off wing but I wouldn't sign a guy based on that assumption. I don't see how you can add a guy like iginla or horton and not move eberle or yakupov because any 4 of those players would not be playing on the 3rd line. Clarkson, however, could play on your 3rd line and should. Use him on the powerplay. Not worth 4+ million.

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#72 madjam
April 30 2013, 04:57PM
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Example of a reasonable new bottom six . C.Kelly . C.Neil , R.Fedotenko S.Ott ,B.Nystrom , B.Boyle . How does that compare to what we have now ?

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