KIDS AREN’T GOING TO SOLVE EDMONTON’S DEFENSIVE PROBLEMS

Jonathan Willis
January 23 2014 10:39AM

Going back at least as far as the day the Edmonton Oilers drafted Sam Gagner, fans of the team have been taught to place their reliance in young up-and-comers. 

It is an easy mindset to fall into on defence, where the problems are many and top prospect Aaron Ekblad may join an already strong prospect group at this summer's draft. As tempting as it sounds, general manager Craig MacTavish cannot afford to make the mistake of falling into the trap of thinking the solution is youth.

The primary problem has to do with timelines. 

Edmonton's NHL team has been in rebuild for a long time. Whether one subscribes to the party-approved line that the rebuild started with the drafting of Taylor Hall in 2010 or instead places the date at Chris Pronger's departure for Anaheim, futility has been the order of the day for far too long. The fans are unruly, and the only way to turn it around is with winning.

Another factor is what Lowetide likes to call the heart of the order - players like Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the like - who are now established as NHL players. Hall's being paid to produce like a first-liner, as is right wing Jordan Eberle. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will join them next season. These players are tremendously talented and entering the prime years of their careers but if they aren't supported - and soon - the Oilers run the risk of losing them. Edmonton has already lost the cheapest years for that trio, which poses its own problem (Chicago won the first Stanley Cup for the modern era Blackhawks while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were still on their entry-level deals).

So with the clock running on its young stars and the fanbase's mood already turned to ugly, the Oilers have to start making considerable progress right now. To do that, they need good defencemen. 

Time & Opportunity 

There may not be a steeper learning curve at any position in hockey than there is on defence and the examples of players really putting things together after two, three or even four seasons of NHL hockey abound. Additionally, an organization can only devote so much space to prospect defencemen if they want to win.

A good example is the Oklahoma City Barons. At the start of the year the team's defence was pegged as a great strength and why not - with some strong second-year pros (Martin Marincin, Taylor Fedun, Brad Hunt and Brandon Davidson), a guy the Oilers felt might be NHL-ready (Oscar Klefbom), an actual NHL'er (Philip Larsen) and some extremely talented rookies (Martin Gernat and David Musil) pushing for time the Barons should have been set; they could ice two top pairings, and force the kids to fight with older guys like Hunt and Davidson for ice time

It hasn't worked out that way. Call-ups and injuries and regression (particularly on the part of Davidson) mean that for much of the year the Barons have relied on three rookies - one for each pairing. That's not a problem for the Oilers - these guys need at-bats and the AHL is a developmental league - but it's a big part of the reason who the Barons are four points out of a playoff spot.

The NHL is even more punishing. Oilers fans have seen first hand how a defenceman coming off college and an incredibly dominant AHL run struggled to adapt to second-pair and now first-pair minutes. They saw Ladislav Smid find his way in the majors after being pushed there well before he was ready.

Edmonton doesn't have a top-pairing defenceman right now. Even if Schultz is penciled in for a top-pair role next season on the assumption that he can handle it, the Oilers need a top-pair guy to complement him. Andrew Ference isn't that guy, and it's crazy to think Darnell Nurse or Oscar Klefbom or Martin Marincin or Aaron Ekblad will be either. The first three (and the fourth, if drafted) may evolve into the role but the Oilers need is immediate. 

As it is, phasing in prospects like those listed above (to say nothing of Gernat or Musil or Dillon Simpson) is going to result in growing pains, which means the Oilers will need to lean on experienced guys who can play hard minutes to off-set the talented youth. Jeff Petry and Andrew Ference might be those guys on the lower pairs, but there has to be somebody topside who can cast a long shadow for the other pairs while they figure things out. The Oilers don't have anybody like that, and may not for years.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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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#101 Spydyr
January 23 2014, 01:16PM
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Curcro wrote:

In the last 5 years, the Oilers sit 15th in the NHL (middle of the pack, so not good not bad in 2nd to 7th Rounds Picks playing games)

It is the 2007 and before drafts that they suck at.

Who is number one? I am glad you asked, Anaheim has gotten the most out of its 2nd to 7th Rounders since the 2008 draft.

Stick Tap to Hockeydb.com

Proven wrong... average isn't bad, just average.

So, what teams are those players playing for?

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#102 Sisyphus
January 23 2014, 01:19PM
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Here is the main problem. I agree with the article whole-heartedly. We cannot wait for these kids to hopefully, miraculously blossom into top NHL dmen, in a very short period of time.

However, we aren't going to be able to trade for any help soon either. We have VERY few truly tradeable pieces--almost our entire d is gone after this season (no ones giving you anything for a decent rental, much less these crappy rentals). Our bottom 6 is laughable--its AHL quality. And even our stars are only middle-of-road players on decent teams.

If you're an opposing GM, and MacT calls about a solid dman, top forward with size and skill, etc. what do you ask for in return? If its me, I refuse to even entertain the conversation unless Hall or Eberle are on the table. Which they will not be--MacT wont touch them. And no GM in the league wants anything else from us. If players are struggling on one of the worst teams in the league, why on earth would anyone expect them to do better on a quality team? If anything, it would just highlight how bad they actually are

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#103 WanderingMind81
January 23 2014, 01:28PM
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Wonder if Vegas has any odds for which of the young stars gets moved first--Hall, Eberle, Yak, or RNH....

My guess is it goes in order of most to least likely: Eberle, Yak, RNH, Hall

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#104 bwar
January 23 2014, 01:42PM
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Just trade the entire team for Chara and Weber.

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#105 pkam
January 23 2014, 01:45PM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

Well I don't see any 1/2 D men going as UFA this year...if you spot one tell MacT.

If it is a true 1/2D who we can sign to a long contract, I don't mind to pay for a trade.

But if it is a 2/3D for a couple of years, I'll rather sign an UFA to a short beefy contract. In other words, I'll rather pay extra cash than asset for a short term 2/3D.

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#106 DisappointedFan
January 23 2014, 01:48PM
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@pkam

Look at the UFA list, there isn't a 1/2 D man on there. The best you have is trading someone, and you WILL over pay simply because this is the Edmonton Oilers and no team is going to give up something to them if they aren't getting one of the top players.

If you think 1/2 D men are just growing on the UFA tree you need to take a step back and look at the facts. HENDRICKS didn't want to sign in Edmonton...if you're going to say a 1/2 D man (if they existed as a UFA) would want to sign here you're certified insane.

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#107 A-Mc
January 23 2014, 02:01PM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

I see Chicago giving MacT a call because Gagner and Kane did so well in junior. Besides that, what team wants an undersized overpaid 2nd line centermen who can't win draws, has not tallied more than 49 points, is consistently injured, and plays a poor defensive zone game. That isn't my opinion, that is the opinion of other teams around the league who talk to our talk show hosts.

I would say if anything we overvalue him because he's not a quality 2nd Line NHL player.

To be fair, 2 of Gagner's semi recent injuries are absolutely no fault of his or are indicative of his body breaking down.

Jones slit Gagners hand with a skate while climbing over the boards, and Kassian lumber jacked Gagner's Jaw.

You meantion talk show hosts, but i hear the opposite of what you're saying. When i hear people questioned about Gagner, the general consensus is that the Oilers shouldn't be too quick to move Gagner. They cite is character and his ability to put up points.

I'm not going to go on a spree defending Gagner, my original reply was simply that he's worth more than a 3rd round pick..

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#108 pkam
January 23 2014, 02:06PM
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@DisappointedFan

I didn't know I said to sign 1/2D UFA.

Let me repeat again what I said.

I don't mind to pay a high price to trade for a true 1/2D if he has a long contract or willing to sign a long contract.

I don't want to pay a high price for a 1/2/3D for a couple of years only. I'll rather sign a UFA 2/3D to a 2 year beefy contract.

If none is available, then I'll take the pain.

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#109 G-Unit
January 23 2014, 02:09PM
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Ed in Edmotnon wrote:

So you are saying that they should be insulted that an aging 38 year old has been is still better at PK than most others on the team?

Aged - not aging.

If a lazy 38 year old is your top penalty killer then the pk coach should be fired immediately.

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#110 A-Mc
January 23 2014, 02:12PM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

Missed games are missed games, he has played 1 - 48 game season which was the closest to a full season he's played yet. Regardless of injury prone he still makes every other point glaringly clear with his play this year.

I'm not talking when Gregor or Stauffer are talking because they all see Gagner as an asset. I'm talking when they bring in radio hosts from other cities or GMs from other cities or people from TSN or CBC, the people who have an unbiased opinion of the Oilers.

It would be like trying to sell you on Artem Anisimov being traded for a first rounder

a GM will do his Due Diligence when researching a player. I'm sorry but "Missed games are missed games" is a bunch of crap.

If a player has missed 20 games through out the season because of repeat groin injuries, then that is very telling. If that same player is out because some goon billy clubbed him in the face and busted him up, that's MUCH different.

re: Gagners performance
Watch how often hockey players get their head smashed against the boards or have random things clip their jaws. It happens a lot. Gagner has had a failure of a year, but that Jaw injury was a huge contributor to that. When you can't get greasy, you're relegated to "Stick" duty. Players who reach with their sticks get used as pylons.

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#111 bazmagoo
January 23 2014, 02:19PM
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@Walter Sobchak

I'd be more comfortable going into 2014-15 with RNH 1st, Arco/Draisaitl battling for 2nd line, Gordon 3rd, Arco/Draisaitl on the 4th line then I would with Gagner in that #2 spot. Gardiner's history with J Schultz is relevant and could give Edmonton the option of playing Ference with Petry to settle Petry down. Not a legitimate top 4 but an improvement. With Klefbom, Marincin, Nurse, Fedun, Larsen?, Belov?, UFA signings battling for that 3rd pairing spot that could be an improved roster. Think that's about the best we can hope for, except for maybe a sought after UFA deciding he wants to get the biggest pay day possible & signing.

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#112 A-Mc
January 23 2014, 02:33PM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

Okay, so you have proven that one small part of his game could be attributed to the fact that he has received the short end of the stick in terms of freak in-game accidents.

You're entire "re: Gagners performance" says a lot of words but no real point. What are you trying to say, that he somehow has an "excuse" for poor performance when other players get injured and continue to perform well all the time?

My point is that the type of injury he has this year is severely hindering his game. It doesnt cause him to miss guys in the slot (which he does too often) but it does limit his ability to dig along the boards or get in on a check from certain positions.

"players get injured and continue to perform well all the time"
You mean like Burrows on the Canucks? Last i heard, he's praying for any kind of scoring to get him out of the funk he's in from his face injury. (Although he has only been back a few games..)

You're using some fairly wide sweeping arguments that aren't really specific to the player we're discussing.

Again, i'll re-iterate that i dont think Gagner should be on the Oilers because he's not what they need. but I'll also re-iterate that i DO think he's worth more than a 3rd round pick and Draisaitl's jock strap(as was previously suggested).

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#113 A-Mc
January 23 2014, 02:49PM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

Congratulations, you just used a very poorly constructed circular argument to prove nothing more than my point. Every aspect of his poor play over the years is contributed to this new injury he received from a stick to the face. You think he magically was a better player other years? He had an 8 point game that saved his record from looking abysmal that year.

Teams do not want or need this player, if they did you think they would have been breaking down our door for him every other trade deadline. Now that he is underperforming even more this year you think anyone wants him for more than a late pick. Good luck with that.

Talk about something other than an excuse of injury and maybe I'll see your point as more than laughable.

Maybe this is where we differ..Until this year, I didn't have a problem with Gagner's play.

I was almost always on the boat that he should be moved because he's not the right fit HERE, but in saying that, i was recognizing that he had value and that moving him would bring something decent in return.

If You and I are subject to miscommunication because you think Gagner has always been garbage, and i do not, then i dont think we can really go down this path.

Ultimate conclusion: You think Gagner is worth a 3rd round pick. I think otherwise. Opinions are opinions!

We'll just have to wait and see what happens with Mr Samwise.

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#114 A-Mc
January 23 2014, 02:56PM
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Gored 1970 wrote:

I thought that since defensemen take longer to develop (if you're doing development the right way and not rushing things) the rule of thumb was to draft forwards and trade for defence.

A while back i posted all the top 2 D (in TOI) for each team and how they were acquired by their respective teams (Trade, UFA, Drafted).

The glaring truth of the matter was that top defensemen most often were drafted by the team they are playing for.

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#115 DisappointedFan
January 23 2014, 03:02PM
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@A-Mc

I'll agree to disagree on Sammy Snowpants.

Regardless coming up with a catchy phrase for doing bad and McDavid....it's a tough one, if you can think of one I'd like to hear it.

Best I have is "lurid for McDavid", doesn't roll off the tongue though.

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#116 pkam
January 23 2014, 03:25PM
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Gored 1970 wrote:

I thought that since defensemen take longer to develop (if you're doing development the right way and not rushing things) the rule of thumb was to draft forwards and trade for defence.

The problem is, if every team drafts forwards and trades for defense like you suggest, where is all the defense coming from?

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#117 Dave
January 23 2014, 03:35PM
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Eakins was on the radio saying that they were trying to install an identity and a system for the long term.

What would that be, I am not sure.

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#118 Tikkanese
January 23 2014, 04:09PM
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Jesse wrote:

Eberle for Sean Couturier

David Perron for Adam Larsson.

These moves would make oilers a much better team in the future.

Yea because it would guarantee picking first overall for another 5 years.

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#119 bsmart
January 23 2014, 04:25PM
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When drafting this summer, if I'm the oilers. I would take Reinhart over Ekblad. The centre is far more valuable especially with Sam not getting it done. I agree with Willis another developing D is not going to make us better. Ekblad reminds me of chris Phillips not shea Weber.

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#121 tyler
January 23 2014, 04:51PM
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this seasons a gonner....lets draft conner!

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#122 Walter Sobchak
January 23 2014, 05:19PM
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bored wrote:

The years of wanting multiple first round picks are over. We need players that are capable of playing in the NHL today and if we have to give up some future prospects to get them, than we do so. Drooling over junior hockey players is a step backwards.

We should try to trade the pick for proven talent, but if nothing fair or useful comes to fruition, than draft the best player who fulfill the biggest need.

Who said anything about drooling over a Jr?

Drafting for need is what got the Oilers terrible prospects for 15 to 20 years.

You draft BPA unless a centre is so damn close, then you draft the centre.

This trade Yakupov or trade Eberle has got to be the worst idea in a long list of ideas.

What makes more sense? Trading Perron who's under contract for only 3 more years & has value or Yakupov who we still have no idea what he may do & has little value.

Does it make sense the Oilers trade Eberle for a centre when we can draft a centre or trade that pick for one?

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#123 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 23 2014, 06:52PM
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Mitch wrote:

OT:

I'm watching TSN regarding Seahawks Sherman's rant. They go on to say Sherman is the most articulate athlete in sports. I really wonder if TSN would say this about a white player. TSN does not even know how racist that statement was.

Mitch....you're going to need to better articulate your case.....whatever color you are.

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#125 Walter Sobchak
January 23 2014, 09:13PM
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michael wrote:

Bennett and Rheinhart are right there for the taking. Gagner at the draft gets you a solid NHL player. The Oilers will shed 9-11 contracts this summer.

Ryan Smyth,Jones,Scrivens,IB,N.Shultz,Joensuu,Grebby,Potter,Eager,Smack and so forth.

MacT will have cap room to spare.Contract space to sign guys like Dillon Simpson and Yakimov.Slepyshev.Chase.

MacT needs 5o ride out this sh#$storm.He has to be like LT Dan from Forrest Gump. scream and yell and ride out the storm.

look at my earlier post #40. I just feel that the win right now and damn the cost to the franchise long term pundits are beating their collective chests loudly. I hope that MacT takes a calm reflective approach and makes further changes based on his assessment based not on the voices of the mob. But on what he knows is right for this franchise long term.

Well said,

In no way am I giving this management group a pass here, I will say if MacTavish can resist the urge to make a huge stupid trade then I think the Oilers can at least start to show a huge improvement.

I don't trade any of the kids and it had better be a massive overpayment to pry that draft pick away.

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#126 Striker
January 23 2014, 09:20PM
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@Rick Stroppel

Penner was a beast. Exactly the type of player that people undervalue. By eye, people think he's lazy but look at his stats every year. He was playing too high in the lineup here in Edmonton but that's on the Oilers, not him. His last full season in Edmonton he got 32 goals and 31 assists in the 09-10 season. His career average is 0.54 points per game so let's assume that's what he will get every year. He is making 2 million this year playing for Anaheim, you know that team that never wins. Last year the LA Kings paid him 3.25 mill, you know that team that doesn't know how to identify talent. The Oilers would kill to have a big body like Penner on the wing on their second or third line. We are paying Matt Hendricks 1.85 mill for the next 3 years after this one. The Oilers wish they had Penner at 2 mill for that term.

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#127 Jeffff
January 23 2014, 09:34PM
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Striker wrote:

Ahhh, it was only a matter of time. I didn't think someone would actually go there but you did.

"not an anomaly that a white quarterback is intelligent"

And the cherry on top, you quote George W. Bush as wise sage that justifies your ridiculous stereotype.

Well played sir...well played.

I'm sorry you don't understand what i'm getting at. Don't grab the low hanging fruit , think a little.

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#128 Jeffff
January 23 2014, 09:38PM
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Jeffff wrote:

I'm sorry you don't understand what i'm getting at. Don't grab the low hanging fruit , think a little.

I'm in a generous mood. Why did so many sportswriters go on to say Sherman is a genius, articulate and went to Stanford? Why do you need to say that you wouldn't ,if this was a White player. It is because he is Black they are making excuses.

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#129 Striker
January 23 2014, 09:46PM
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@Jeffff

I think I grasped exactly what you're trying to say.

"No one bothers to call Eli Manning smart, because they know it’s not an anomaly that a white quarterback is intelligent. "

Ok so white athlete's are generally intelligent (i.e. not an anomoly)

"Yet some dreadlocked black cornerback"

Dreadlocked....ok

"has a slightly above-average intelligence, and every sportswriter bends over backwards to call him a genius and articulate ."

Ok so it's rare for black athlete's to have "above average intelligence" and because that is so rare, people go to pains to point that out.

"To quote George W. Bush: this is “the soft bigotry of low expectations."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ej7ZEnjSeA

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#130 Striker
January 23 2014, 10:03PM
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@Jeffff

I'm not a fan of Obama or Bush so that really doesn't do much for me. I regret throwing that video clip at the end of my comment because it lets you off the hook since you don't have to address the racism inherent in your comments that perhaps you're likely not even aware of.

Did I interpret your comments correctly in my post or did you mean something else by them?

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#131 THRNHJE
January 23 2014, 11:29PM
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For all of you looking for the tank slogan for McDavid, the team will suck D for Mac-D

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#132 BobbyCanuck
January 24 2014, 10:06AM
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Jeffff wrote:

Bush does have a MBA from Harvard and graduated from Yale. How about you?

Yes, Bush has an MBA from Harverd, I beleive there is also a library on campus named after his father, read into it what you will.

I read daddy got me into Harvard

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#133 They're $hittie
January 23 2014, 10:41AM
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Ekblad, Nurse, J Schultz, Maranicn, Perty and Ference may not solve the D problems but the D is so bad right now that it is still likely an upgrade.

Ouch, we need some D.

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#134 He Who Knows
January 23 2014, 10:51AM
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Greg wrote:

I don't understand why everyone is so high on Aaron Ekblad . They make it sound like a given he #1 D-man.

Aaron Ekblad comparables in the NHL are Chris Phillips/Brent Seabrook.

From what i have read Nurse has a higher upside and higher downside compared to Ekblad.

Every team needs a Chris Phillip/Brent Seabrook type blueliner to accommodate a guy like Nurse.

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#135 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
January 23 2014, 11:15AM
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Mitch wrote:

It is racist because you would never describe a white athlete as the most articulate player in sports. You describe a black player in those terms as if your shocked or white guilt. Either way your not treating the black player as an equal.

To be fair, I rarely ever describe professional athletes as being articulate. It's not a very common trait, regardless of race.

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#136 pkam
January 23 2014, 11:27AM
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Spydyr wrote:

The Oilers cannot draft any worthwhile players outside of round one. That is why they trade away all their second and third round draft picks for quick fixes.

I wonder why the Hawks drafted Anton Babchuk ahead of Duncan Keith? And why so many teams passed on him and let him go 54th overall?

Don't forget the team that drafted Seabrook and Keith also drafted Barker 3rd overall.

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#138 GlennH
January 23 2014, 11:34AM
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Any team that has guys like Potter and Belov playing regularly, REALLY needs an upgrade. I thought things were bad back in the early 90's when we had guys like Gord Mark and Ian Herbers.... Yikes...

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#139 Armchair GMing
January 23 2014, 11:35AM
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@JW

I've read some comments on ON that Lander's offensive failings at the NHL level are due to his boat-anchor linemates on the 4th line he's only ever given. What do you think of the possibility of calling him up and putting him on the second line with, say, Perron and Ebs to see how much truth there is to such a theory. If he can generate decent numbers with genuinely offensive guys, then perhaps we have a (admittedly imperfect) 2nd line center who is very responsible defensively. Plug him in with some of our offensive dynamos, and perhaps he could do the job, at least until a better option arrives. If it fails, nothing lost (the season's a goner anyway), and if it succeeds, we may avoid cutting ties with a possibly useful NHLer in the offseason.

Thoughts?

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#140 DisappointedFan
January 23 2014, 11:44AM
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@camdog

Name some Oiler call ups who have been successful on the Oilers 4th line and stayed on board?

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#141 camdog
January 23 2014, 11:45AM
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@Jonathan Willis

What I remember is him commenting on him supposed to be carrying the load in respect to physical play when he was surrounded by very small hockey players that were unable to compete physically. It's the same quote that applies today.

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#142 oilerjed
January 23 2014, 11:57AM
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michael wrote:

Robbing Peter to pay Paul what it amounts to what your suggesting. any one of those players is going to cost you considerable assets to obtain.

If one of those assets is Bennet,Eckblad or Rheinhart is it not taking 2 steps back to go 2 steps forward?

I can't but help wondering if we spite our nose to save our face if it helps in the long term anyways?

The rebuild is in MacT's hands. My opinion is such that we have 3 years more before we can even think we have a shot at winning more than a round in the playoffs.

Hall,RNH and Yak and Ebs will all be in their prime at that point.I just can't see wasting assets on defenceman who may not be here when we start winning.

I believe that MacT wll find at least 2 NHL defencemen this summer. We certainly need more seasoned NHL defencemen.That is a given. Heck we need more seasoned forwards. Halland EBs are certainly rounding into form. Given time RNH and Yak will be up there too.

Suck it up and let MacT do his thing.Good cripes you'd think he was only on the job for less than a year. Have some patience. Tambo wasted 3 years doing nothing. MacT at least does something.

What good does it do our current players to undercut their development by not having a good group around them in which to develope. The first round pick this year is nothing more then a pipe dream to a better future. At some point you need to make the move to bring in experience, and by this I mean quality experience. Using your logic we are only going to be 2-3 years down the road but no better off. Encouraging prospects that fail to develope into what they are hyped to be.

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#143 Brad
January 23 2014, 12:00PM
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Jerry wrote:

JW,

I watch the Oilers are none of them know how to play hockey in the NHL. Only players that know how to play come from other teams. This is a disaster oilers ruin hockey players. I really can't see it getting any better.

If I was a young player getting ready to be drafted, I would pray Oilers don't pick me.

Dave Lumley was on Oilers Now yesterday and was a pretty solid interview. Basically put Stauffer in his place. He said everything that we fans have been thinking all season.

Why are Hall and Eberle continuing to make the same mistakes?

Gagner, Hemsky, etc have zero trade value.

You can talk about bringing in big, two way dmen or big top 6 centres, or big top 6 winger, but no one wants to trade those right now.

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#144 DisappointedFan
January 23 2014, 12:01PM
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@michael

You have guys right now in the farm or in junior who the Oilers are banking on becoming NHL level defensemen. What he is suggesting is taking a step to stop the constant last place finish by putting a quality player in now to train and teach the new up and comers while at the same time preventing a few more pucks from ending up in our net.

Sure we give up a player like Eberle right now, but we need to replace our vast plethora of small skilled forwards with someone bigger upfront anyways.

Since they aren't going to win games getting outmuscled by most teams in this league.

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#145 Eulers
January 23 2014, 12:06PM
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Bang on from the title on down, JW.

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#146 DisappointedFan
January 23 2014, 12:06PM
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@pkam

Pretty sure we wouldn't be complaining quite as much right now if we were 5 spots higher in the ranking, compared to fighting for the bottom spot. So we don't get whooped as badly for a few more years, I'd take that over watching them get manslaughtered every time St Louis comes to town. If they end up in the playoffs as they would 4 years (hopefully) what is the difference if they reduce the current pain?

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#147 A-Mc
January 23 2014, 12:09PM
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Greg wrote:

I didn't say he won't be good. My point is that people have him as a #1 D-man in NHL without playing a game.

I will say that i'm excited to get Ekblad, but not because i think he'll be a #1 dman. He could be a career #4 and i'd be OK with drafting him.

The reason i'm excited is because he's already over 200lbs and he's only 17. His size and defensive play alone would make him a great asset to the Oilers. His offensive upside is what COULD put him into the top pairing one day, but if it takes 300 NHL games to get that out of him, i'm OK with that. I dont need the offense.. I want the size, jam and defense first.

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#148 DisappointedFan
January 23 2014, 12:13PM
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@Spydyr

Joaquin Gage, he had a great career...outside the NHL.

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#149 OilCanFan
January 23 2014, 12:29PM
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GlennH wrote:

Everyone who thinks Shea Weber is not going anywhere, needs to remember that Gretzky was thought to be untouchable. I'm not saying the Oilers have even the slightest chance of grabbing Weber - my point is that everyone is available, for the right price... A top NHL defender's starting price is at least a player like Eberle...

The Oilers didn't have the upfront multimillion dollar investment in Gretzky that Nashville has in Weber.

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#150 Oiler63
January 23 2014, 12:36PM
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Problem is the Oilers don't have any other options except to develop from within patiently.

First of all, how many teams around the league would part with their #1 or #2 D Man. I think by the time KLowe figured stud D man is hard to come by everyone else would've figured long time ago. When was the last time an elite d man changed teams?

Even if a team is willing to move a good D, chance is he has a NMC and Oilers is on the list.

Lastly, UFA market, when was the last time oilers landed a big name through UFA? Fact is people would rather take less to play somewhere else.

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