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.

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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#1 NewAgeSys
July 02 2013, 05:32PM
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I dont anticipate the KHL making a serious pitch for Nurse, ever. That is enough to break a tie for me.

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#2 Racki
July 02 2013, 08:45PM
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DSF wrote:

Sure.

Just make sure you wipe the Kool Aid off your chin.

I'm going to take that as you rolling over and conceding to the truth I presented above ;)

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#3 GVBlackhawk
July 02 2013, 09:54PM
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DSF wrote:

Dale Hunter knows 1000 times more than you do about hockey players.

Book it.

He knows 1000 times more than me about coaching hockey and playing hockey.

Nobody, including Dale Hunter or DSF, can correctly predict how a junior aged player will transition into the NHL. It's just guess work and luck.

Book that.

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#4 druds
July 02 2013, 04:35PM
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If Clarkson wants 6 million he is nuts, if someone gives it to him then the whole reason for sitting out a half season was bollocks...The insanity continues . So basically we lost half a season so the cap could go down 10 million for one year. Pure crap!

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#5 vetinari
July 02 2013, 06:01PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

I dont anticipate the KHL making a serious pitch for Nurse, ever. That is enough to break a tie for me.

A short, effective post!!!!! Congratulations!!!!

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#6 oilabroad
July 02 2013, 08:46PM
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This might be off topic and 'feeding the troll' as it were, but the way Gillis handled the whole 2 headed monster was some of the worst management I have seen in a long while, in fact I would say it was an embarrassment to the whole Canucks org as a whole (and that is saying something)...

while I agree that Nich would have been my choice, I dont think Nurse is a bad choice. After all, who had a bigger part in our 2006 run, Gator or Samsonov??? We need to build character on this club, and sometimes character is not defined by stats and highlights...

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#7 GVBlackhawk
July 02 2013, 11:31PM
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Mean machine wrote:

Apparently mueller and pouliot weren't qualified. Both bring size and secondary scoring. I'd look at them. Mueller would help in the shoot out.

Mueller does make hemsky look indestructible. Pouliot teases you with skill and pisses you off with effort.

Something to consider.

Mueller is better than Yakupov according to a notorious troll on this website.

This season when the Oiler centers were injured and the fans were discussing solutions, Mueller's name was brought up. DSF vehemently argued that Dale Tallon would never get rid of Mueller because he was so amazing. I believe his exact quote was "You don't giveaway 6'2", 205 lb 24 year old centers for Oiler spare parts".

Another classic moment. Thanks for the memories DSF.

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#8 Quicksilver ballet
July 02 2013, 11:43PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

For those who care (and don't), NewAgeSys has left the building and won't be back in the forseeable future.

Disagree with any writer here, including me, if you have a different take on what is written, but argue the points made and leave out personal attacks.

That, no matter what else you have to offer, gets you gone.

C'mon Robin, he's just a hockey fan like the rest of us here. Like most, to be taken with a grain of salt, or perhaps even an acquired taste. Can we be sure it wasn't just some subtle pseudo trash talking happening?

If he appeals, anyway he could have it reduced to a week? He's been making amazing progress in regards to his post length (post #26 as an example)

You do have an appeals process, correct, if he gets a new windshield installed?

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#11 Clyde Frog
July 02 2013, 08:05PM
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DSF wrote:

Can I laugh at you right now?

Wait, are you going to "book" that laugh?

Before you do, tell us again how Barker was a great addition to the 'nucks again! I also love your take on Minnie's domination that was "booked" for last season!

Definitely no cap problems there...

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#12 Racki
July 02 2013, 08:34PM
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DSF wrote:

Nonsense.

Listened to an interview with Dale Hunter, Horvat's coach in London today.

He's convinced Horvat will be the next Patrice Bergeron.

Hunter knows WAY MORE about hockey than you do.

Oh right, I forgot that anyone that Vancouver drafts has an instant comparable to top NHLers, but anyone the Oilers draft is a dud. Cam Barker was also Jay Bouwmeester. The only thing separating you from the Kool-aid drinkers here is that Vancouver is handing out your drinks.

Can I laugh at you now?

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#13 Clyde Frog
July 02 2013, 08:37PM
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DSF wrote:

Barker was cannon fodder.

The Canucks paid him $700K as an insurance policy.

The Oilers paid him $2.5 million to be a top 4 defenseman.

Who looks stupid?

The one who signed him last... Oh wait that was the 'Nucks...

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#14 Dale Hunter
July 02 2013, 10:09PM
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DSF wrote:

Dale Hunter knows 1000 times more than you do about hockey players.

Book it.

I know more than you too.

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#15 Death Metal Nightmare
July 02 2013, 04:50PM
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i'm not following why Clarkson and his agent think he deserves 6 million in the least... who is reporting that?

there is nothing in his game worth even close to that... i could see a 3-3.5 kind of deal (which is still high for a single 30 goal season)... he might get 20 goals a year. he has the ability to finish but expecting 30 a season at this point is hilarious.

cheaper option: the Oilers trade for Steve Ott. he'd improve the FO% a ton, throw hits, play hard, be a rat, and still puts up solid points. throws way more hits than Clarkson, and put up the same points last year.

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#16 Rod from Viking
July 02 2013, 05:44PM
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Gaz wrote:

Why is Philly such an appealing destination? They seem to be in on every single big name, and they win their fair share. Bizarre.

Echoing #3, I couldn't give two squirts about the team in Philly, aside from who this makes available.

Whos going to play goal? Bernie Parent?

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#17 justDOit
July 02 2013, 07:04PM
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MacT made some bold statements that haven't come to pass (yet?), but I think what really ramped up the expectations of the grass roots was the reports of several Oiler trades that were going to be announced after the SCFs. Pure birdcage liner stuff, that.

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#19 Lochenzo
July 02 2013, 08:43PM
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I'm sure Horvat will be a fine player. But the Canucks could have had Nichushkin, Zykov and a top prospect rather than just Horvat. Canuckleheads indeed.

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#20 Racki
July 02 2013, 08:57PM
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Jerod wrote:

Gillis said he was not offered a first a second and a prospect for Schneider

He said that is not true the best offer was NJ.

The rumor though was that Gillis was ASKING for that. The Oilers did not offer that. This is per Darren Dreger and/or Elliot Friedman.. or one of those types.

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#21 Bonvie
July 02 2013, 09:08PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

@Woogie63

He took the Klowe school of general management degree - so far he's passing with flying colours.

Can you remember the last time Ken Holland aired his desires/dirty laundry/negotiated through the media? Me neither.

Even though Tambo's pro scouting free agency moves blew I actually liked the way he conducted himself with the media/public. Just a shame he didn't actually do anything!

NO COMMENT

Tambo was a terrible GM two trade deadlines passed and he didnt pick any prospects up for his depth veterans. Instead he gave up picks to pick up the fringe veteran depth players that teams making a push in the playoffs load up on just in case they have injuries .

Normally a non playoff team should have been loaded up with picks and prospects, but he essentially handcuffed his predecessor and his scouts by giving them so little to work with.

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#22 Bucknuck
July 02 2013, 09:18PM
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I like the Nurse pick. I would have liked the Nichushkin pick. I would have enjoyed a Monahan pick. They're all great players in their leagues and one hopes that Nurse is the best of the bunch, we will see.

As for losing more so the Oil can pick a little higher. Barf. I LOVE seeing the 7-2 Oilers over Canucks all summer long. That makes me HAPPY. I love that they finished ahead of the Flames for once. It's more fun to be a fan this summer as a result. I will NEVER want my team to lose more than they have. The thought makes me sick.

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#23 Bucknuck
July 02 2013, 09:24PM
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Jerod wrote:

Thanks, I was wondering about that.

At this point I am not going to believe a word that comes out of Gillis' head. When he said his plan all along was to trade Cory Schneider I was waiting for him to laugh like it was the punchline of a joke. Does he really think fans are that dumb?

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#24 TDSM31
July 02 2013, 10:04PM
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DSF wrote:

Nonsense.

Listened to an interview with Dale Hunter, Horvat's coach in London today.

He's convinced Horvat will be the next Patrice Bergeron.

Hunter knows WAY MORE about hockey than you do.

Really?? Every coach of every player that went in the first round will tell you they're the next coming of some top end NHLer. Jezuz.

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#25 nuge2nail
July 02 2013, 10:16PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

For those of you who think we shouldn't overpay for these guys, just shut up.

We have to spend the Whitney, Horoff, Hemsky, Sutton, Souray, Khabibulan and ELC cap relief money on something.

That's 20+ million, spend it on power forwards who can contribute with goals, hits and fights.

Sign Horton 6 Years - 36 Million.

Sign Clarkson 5 Years- 25 Million.

Sign Ference 3 Years - 12 Million.

Sign Brygalov 2 Years - 7 Million.

Thanks MacT.

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#26 petrklimashelmet
July 02 2013, 11:28PM
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We will look well at this draft depending on what MacT can accomplish outside of the draft this year. Plus, if even one of the late draft picks turns out as a solid 3rd liner, the media will certainly look back in approval. Call me crazy, but there is tons of potential for the Oilers to make some deals, and also in signings.

Just consider Boston alone. Just throwing this out there: Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky for Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly? In some ways, Seguin's game may be slightly behind Gagner's in development. Boston gets more maturity and a well-rounded 3rd-2nd liner who can score here. Hemsky could spark from a new environment and can help fill the void left by Jagr.

Oilers get better potential, size and better faceoff man in Seguin. Plus Chris Kelly is great at face-offs, 4th-3rd line centre that is more than a good replacement for Belanger. Plus, another centre would help take off pressure when trying to move Horcoff.

Oilers might have to throw something else in like a 3rd-4th round draft pick and/or eat some of Hemsky's salary to sweeten the deal.

Oddly enough, the Oilers could benefit by signing Horton and/or Jagr as well this off-season. Jagr would be a great 3rd-2nd line veteran presence.

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#27 TV6
July 03 2013, 12:24AM
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DSF wrote:

You know that Tallon drafted Barkov, right?

If you want his sloppy seconds, fill yer boots.

Wait... You mean the Cat's GM Tallon drafted a Center after DSF has been telling everyone here for the past 3 months that they are UBER~DEEP at Center & they won't be drafting 1, or don't need 1 via trade, or even be gifted 1 by Santa on Canada Day as a special favor just to them..?

You mean 'those' stacked at Center Cat's from Sunrise..?

And they drafted Barkov...

Who would have thunk'..?

x6

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#28 Sean17
July 02 2013, 04:35PM
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mmmm Cake....

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#29 Quicksilver ballet
July 02 2013, 04:41PM
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Have to wonder who's touchable on that Flyers roster now that Lecavilier has made his decision?

Couturier?

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#30 Jerod
July 02 2013, 04:45PM
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I like the pick given Monahan and Lindholm were gone.

Offensively, he's very solid and there's massive room for growth in that department. He played on the second powerplay unit because the Hounds had two of the best (including the CHL d-man of the year) running the top unit, which got 75% of the time. When he's on the first unit next year, his stat line will jump.

Nurse was not asked to score , he was used as a shutdown Dman. Just wait until he puts on 20 to 30 lbs.

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#31 Gaz
July 02 2013, 04:52PM
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Why is Philly such an appealing destination? They seem to be in on every single big name, and they win their fair share. Bizarre.

Echoing #3, I couldn't give two squirts about the team in Philly, aside from who this makes available.

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#32 Crackenbury
July 02 2013, 04:53PM
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There is absolutely nothing in MacT's past as a player or a coach that gives any indication he is a "bold move" kind of guy. He comes across as intelligent and thoughtful, but bold has never been something in his bag of tricks. I believe he is going to live to regret those comments.

The bold move was to take Nichushkin. The guy looks like he might be a beast up front. I like Nurse too and I think in the long run he may well be the better pick, but there was nothing bold about it.

I have very little hope we'll see anything overly bold this fall. I'm very concerned with the amount of grit that has dropped out of this lineup, when we really couldn't afford to lose any.

People can critisize Lowe all they want, but if you want bold roster moves, he was the guy to get it done. .

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#33 Tileguy
July 02 2013, 04:53PM
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Whats wrong with 6 mil for Clarkson, it,s not my money and no talent was given up?

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#34 Eddie Shore
July 02 2013, 04:54PM
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Now that Philly's payroll is maxed from signing Lecavalier I wonder if Coburn will shake loose? Do you think Hartnell could be had too? Something has to give...

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#35 Citizen David
July 02 2013, 04:59PM
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The draft is never about which player can impact sooner. It's about which player will make a better impact. Nine teams thought there was a better player on the board than Nichushkin.

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#37 Gaz
July 02 2013, 05:03PM
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@Robin Brownlee

This is probably a tough question to answer, but given that MacT is a new GM, how much gamesmanship do you think is taking place?

Holmgren's been doing this a while - wonder if he thinks he can play chicken with MacT and squeeze him? He's got plenty of time before he must drop salary, right?

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#39 Oiler Al
July 02 2013, 05:07PM
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Death Metal Nightmare wrote:

i'm not following why Clarkson and his agent think he deserves 6 million in the least... who is reporting that?

there is nothing in his game worth even close to that... i could see a 3-3.5 kind of deal (which is still high for a single 30 goal season)... he might get 20 goals a year. he has the ability to finish but expecting 30 a season at this point is hilarious.

cheaper option: the Oilers trade for Steve Ott. he'd improve the FO% a ton, throw hits, play hard, be a rat, and still puts up solid points. throws way more hits than Clarkson, and put up the same points last year.

I agree, Clarkson is not worth $6 million, but Bickell is not worth $4 million and he got it.

I totally agree with you on Steve Ott, I have mentioned it several times , he would be a good pick exactly for the reasons you mention.

I dont think Buffalo will part with him though, 29 yrs, and salary under $3.00.million.

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#40 Eddie Shore
July 02 2013, 05:08PM
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@Gaz

I don't really think he is in a position to play chicken anymore. Any leverage he had is now gone. He's got to shed some salary as well as sign a starting goalie unless they are going to pin their hopes on Mason. It's the Flyers though, so you never know.

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#42 OilClog
July 02 2013, 05:17PM
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Nurse will be the better player with just as high a ceiling as a defenceman could have. Or do we only read 2 or 3 scouting reports and the first couple lines. Come on now!! Read until the end..

Didn't we draft a big hulking Russian centerman that played with Yak? Everyone else was passing up on because of the what if... And didn't we draft the other winger on that line too.. Aren't those pretty bold moves? Ummmm

I'd say the draft was a success, and only one day of the trade period sooo.. I don't know how people can really bash or say MacT has failed at delivering yet.. I'd say he's doing pretty damn good so far.

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#43 Eddie Shore
July 02 2013, 05:21PM
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With Pronger going to LTIR the Flyers will be roughly $4.6M below the salary cap. Perhaps Coburn/Hartnell may not be had after all.

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#44 Citizen David
July 02 2013, 05:24PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Never?

When two players are rated dead-even on a scouting list, and indications are Nichushkin and Nurse were on the Oiler list, and BPA is a wash, other factors -- position and immediacy of impact -- come into play.

Better impact? The Russian is more top-end IF he pans out. Nurse is a safe pick who will definitely play. The question is his ceiling.

But thanks for playing along.

Top end for Nurse if he pans out is number one defencemen. The only way to get those is by drafting them. The idea that Nichushkin is a lock to be instant impact is a guess. He hasn't proven much yet. He just looks like he has the tools.

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#45 Walter Sobchak
July 02 2013, 05:24PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Have to wonder who's touchable on that Flyers roster now that Lecavilier has made his decision?

Couturier?

Quick, I would HAVE to think the Oiler enquire about both Couturier and Scheen..

I would suspect Couturier would have to be the player the Oilers desperately need, with Scheen being a distant second.

The Oilers need to lock that 3rd centre down soon.

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#46 Curcro
July 02 2013, 05:27PM
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I think Holmgren maybe painting himself into a bit of a corner. With the Vincent signing that puts the Flyers into Salary troubles and unless they plan to start Steve Mason they have to sign a Goalie.

There is probably a dance going on here, with both putting the squeeze on each other.

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#47 Woogie63
July 02 2013, 05:29PM
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MacT gave the 29 other GMs too much information in his multiple "presser".

Clearly he learning that negoitation has more to do with listening, having trading variable and silence than tell the local media all your plans.

Right now the bold move seems to be he has lost all this big tough player...

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#49 Truth
July 02 2013, 05:31PM
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My initial thought was to grab Hartnell if possible, but then I looked and he's signed until he's 37 at a cap hit of $4.75M/yr. I don't know if his style of play will allow the final years to be anything but a disappointment.

How about their center depth. Giroux, Lecavalier, Schenn, Couturier. Giroux is a 1st line C, Lecavalier a 2nd line C, and then Schenn and Couturier would be 3A and 3B. Not much room for a promotion in the next 3-5 years either.

I would give them a significant package for Couturier and Coburn.

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#50 Rama Lama
July 02 2013, 05:31PM
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The fact Mac T actually answers questions in a forthright manner, gives him massive appeal over his predecessor FBI Tamby.

I'm going to give him all sorts of slack.........up until the time he makes a bonehead of a trade, that is. I too was rooting for Nichuskin and feel that all the bad press ( much like Yaks received) is more due to the " Russian Factor", and a language barrier that must be more difficult when you have a camera in your face.

I still do not understand the Peckham thing..........Robin you mentioned his state of physical shape, but all indications were he was ready at training camp. The whole body fat thing is so over-rated, I wonder how all the fat guys like big Bufg, Murray in SJ can play?

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