THE WAY I SEE IT

Robin Brownlee
July 02 2013 04:29PM

Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish certainly set himself up for criticism by talking the talk before walking the walk prior to the NHL Entry Draft and free agency, but unless my ears have failed me completely, I heard MacT talk about making bold moves, not stupid moves.

So, while, like others, I do have some questions about his overall performance at the draft on the weekend– specifically, I'm wondering about how it came to be, exactly, that the Oilers used the seventh pick on Darnell Nurse rather than Valeri Nichushkin – I'm not unhappy with what I saw.

I've got no beef with picking Nurse as far as how he projects and what he brings to the table. He's tough, is diligent in his physical training and, from all accounts, is a character kid who interviewed very well. Teams can never have too much of that. My issue, I guess, is it's going to take three or even four years before the Oilers know what they have with him.

There's more risk in Nichushkin, a better chance he'll be a swing-and-a-miss rather than a homerun, but drafting that combination of size and skill would provide exactly what MacTavish's forwards lack. He could provide a bigger bang, and sooner, than Nurse. That, framed by the fact the Oilers haven't made the playoffs since 2006, made Nichushkin the more tempting pick for me.

I'm wondering if he was also the more tempting pick for Stu MacGregor and his scouting staff and if MacT, at some point, overruled his birddogs. When I hear Nichushkin was the guy as often as I did from people in the know, not the guessers, and Nurse gets selected, I wonder.

No conspiracy theory here because MacTavish wouldn’t be the first GM to make the call on a pick regardless of the team's scouting list, especially if two kids are rated neck-and-neck, but I'm wondering if MacT went with his gut and took the safer pick over the big swing – that does fly in the face of his talk about being bold.

SUCKER ALERT

What I want from a GM, MacTavish in particular, after he's talked the talked about being bold, is that he puts himself in the middle of the mix on the draft floor instead of waiting around for his phone to ring like a wallflower. That he identifies the players he wants or needs, decides what he's willing to give up to get them and then starts pitching.

MacTavish, it was plain to see to anybody paying attention, certainly did that in his pursuit of Braydon Coburn in multiple conversations with Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren. Homer, if reports are to be believed, put an unreasonable price tag on Coburn, so MacTavish, wisely, I say, said "no thanks."

Like MacTavish said, no deal is better than a stupid deal. If you've actually got a problem with that line of thinking – "But MacT promised he'd make a big deal at the draft" (no, he didn't) – I suggest you think again.

Trades, at least those that don’t involve one of the parties involved grabbing their ankles, are difficult to make, as MacTavish alluded to on the weekend after failing to make the splash many anticipated. Sucker deals? There's always one on the table and, more often than not, they are offered up to rookie GMs like MacTavish.

As 630 CHED analyst Bob Stauffer has already suggested, don't be a bit surprised if MacTavish and Holmgren continue talking about Coburn. I'd be stunned if they don't.

THIS AND THAT . . .

. . . Funny business, the NHL game. Everybody with a functioning brain stem knows the Oilers need more nastiness and grit on their back end, yet today the Oilers walked away from a bunch of it by not qualifying Colten Teubert, Theo Peckham and Alex Plante (as well as Philip Cornet).

The problem with the three D-men who didn't get QO'd, of course, is that while they bring qualities the Oilers lack, none of them has proven they can play regular minutes at the NHL level and, as always, there are always a raft of younger prospects on the way.

We know what went wrong with Peckham. When his window of opportunity swing open, he showed up fat and couldn’t fit through it. Plante has tons of jam but foot speed and concussions are an issue. Teubert? I'd really like to find out what went wrong there. Seems a bit early to turn the page on him.

. . . People here know I really like pending UFA David Clarkson and think he's be a perfect fit here because he brings leadership, toughness and pretty good skill to the dance, but heaven help the Oilers if they even think of offering the kind of money, more than $6 million a season, we heard about today. Clarkson might get that kind of cake from somebody, but it shouldn’t be the Oilers.

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

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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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#151 Serious Gord
July 03 2013, 09:48AM
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The nurse pick as well as the later picks need to be viewed in the context of what the goals/timeline of macT are:

1. he has been allowed at least 3 years of failure before he would get the hook. Thus the shorter term is not that pressing. From his perspective the crap performance of the team over the past few years is irrelevant. The fan's perspective is completely different. And from the scouting staff's POV they are much more in the fan's camp than they are in MacT's - and that would explain why they were probably leaning much more towards the Rooshin. (and how many of the scouts will remain in any case?)

2. Making the playoffs in either of the next two years is also irrelevant to MacT. Sure it would be nice, and it would take the pressure off of Katz and put some money in Mr. K's designer jeans, but it won't result in MacT getting fired.

So, for MacT, a blossoming of the team into a playoff attendee on track to contend for the cup in say 5 to 6 years IS his goal. And Nurse and the other picks look largely to have been made for that purpose. were he more motivated by short-term issues he would have traded some or all of those picks.

Which brings us to what fate lies ahead for the starlings - RNH, TH, NY, JE and JS:

three years from now the oil likely wont be able to afford them. and thus one or more will be traded in the next couple of years to bring in the established and more affordable - but less talented and with much less upside - role players MacT is going to need to assure a playoff berth in the 2015-16 (!!) season.

As we near the beginning of the season it will become more clear that serious contention prospects for the oil have been pushed out to the 5+ years from now. Fan despair/depression will become ever more chronic. It remains to be seen if this will affect the gate...

PS- MacTs timeline also jives closely with the new arena's - not a complete co-inky dink...

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#152 michael
July 03 2013, 10:36AM
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TV6 wrote:

"Pick of the draft for me was Chase. There is guy who the Oilers could use in OKC next year. And beyond if he has mind to do the dirty work. Love that pick.Best draft by a team"

Chase can't play in OKC next year, but he will get some much required Top 6 TOI for the Hitmen this upcoming season...

He's a project for sure, but a GREAT pick at 188th over-all..! He's nasty, & the Oil need that like DSF needs a new Etch A Sketch...

x6

Stayed up last night to watch "Goon" on the tube last night. All I could think of watching that movie is where the frig is that guy on the Oilers squad. Then I thought we drafted that guy. In fact we drafted 2 of those guys in Nurse and Chase.2 NO FREAKIN WAY I AM GOING TO LET YOU DO THAT TO MY TEAMMATES KINDA GUYS.As far as I am concerned Nurse and Chase were exactly what this team needs going forward. I would have loved the Oilers to not waste their 2 3rd round picks on a couple of Russians who may or may not want to come to Canada. Yakomov and Slippery both apparently played with Yakupov at some point in the past. Yakomov at 6'5 has size but beyond that what do we get with the package other than that? Just way too many unknowns to waste 2 picks on imo.

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#153 TDSM31
July 03 2013, 11:45AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You don't have to like the rules, you just have to follow them.

As for an appeal process, mustering the jam to look the person you insulted in the eye and apologize would be a start, but not a guarantee of reinstatement. That, experience has shown, is not a quality common to those prone to running their mouths from a distance.

NewAgeSys is not coming back.

RIP Gary Busey.

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#154 Eddie Shore
July 03 2013, 11:56AM
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@Serious Gord

Take off your tinfoil hat and enjoy the sunshine.

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#155 Jedsdead
July 03 2013, 12:32PM
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Robin, I agree with you comments on MacT. I'm not a big fan of his, but am willing to give some leeway as GM. My biggest issue with his hiring is that I don't think the Oilers needed another rookie GM...we needed someone who has been through this before, knows the other GM's, and how to wade those waters...almost a Brian Burke tuype.

But I am willing to give MAcT a chance...but as soon as he started talking about bold move, and putting Hemsky/Horcoff names out there...I was thinking, 'what an idiot'...now he better do something or he comes off looking like a fool.

So far...all talk, no walk....sounds familiar in this town.

Jed

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#156 Serious Gord
July 03 2013, 03:45PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Take off your tinfoil hat and enjoy the sunshine.

Make a rational case to the contrary.

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