Dallas Eakins spells out the Oilers' off-season plans

Jonathan Willis
March 27 2014 07:00AM

Dallas Eakins 18

Dallas Eakins’ press availabilities are almost always worth watching, and in a nearly 20-minute session yesterday he hit on a lot of things, including the type of players Edmonton needs to add in the off-season.

Supplementing the Core

The future up front

Asked about where the team was in the process of turning things around, Eakins talked about the improving habits of the team’s core, but also identified the need for external improvements:

We still have a lot of work to do around [the team’s core players]. We need to supplement this group with probably some veteran leadership, some guys who can make plays, and not so much a toughness aspect but guys who are going to win battles in this conference... During the summer Craig [MacTavish] and I have got to sit down and make the right decisions for our hockey club, to add and subtract what we need to move up in our conference.

It’s been a difficult eight years in Edmonton, and since the fall of 2006 the Oilers’ primary weakness has been both readily apparent and all too frequently ignored. Given that history, it’s nice to have Eakins identify it so clearly. The team needs real NHL players, guys who have the ability to win battles and take and make a pass. It’s that simple; there aren’t enough of them on the roster.

The Same Page

Craig MacTavish7

Eakins manner in that answer might have been a little presumptuous, in that general manager Craig MacTavish is the guy in charge of the player personnel, but given that both coach and manager are clearly on the same page it likely isn’t a problem.

Leaving aside the bit players, the list of MacTavish additions to the Oilers roster reads pretty much exactly as the kind of player that Eakins described. David Perron, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks and Andrew Ference are all NHL veterans, all people who can take and make a pass, and all players who are known for their willingness to engage. They’re all greasy players, the kind of secondary support types that the rebuild stripped away from the Oilers organization. The contracts aren’t all ideal (except for Perron’s, which is fantastic) but there’s a definite theme in those acquisitions and it’s exactly the one that Eakins expressed in his presser.

The Summer

57-Perron-5

MacTavish’s first season hasn’t been perfect. If the rumours about Edmonton’s ardent pursuit of David Clarkson last summer are accurate, the team most certainly dodged a bullet when he moved on to Toronto. A lot of the ‘flyer’ type deals (most prominently Denis Grebeshkov) didn’t work out either.

But we can probably expect more of the same general approach to improving the team. One hopes the Clarkson experience has left the team a little gun-shy when it comes to signing the overrated tough guy who can play, and overhauling the defence is going to take some creativity and will be a tough job, but on the whole the players are going to be from the Perron/Gordon/Hendricks/Ference family.

Now it’s just a matter of getting it right. The team can pursue the right kind of player and still get things very wrong – as they would have with Clarkson – if the money is stupid. As a for-instance:

But there are doubtless still solid additions out there via trade or free agency, players like Perron or Gordon that can be added without compromising the team’s ability to compete in a salary cap world. The Oilers may or may not be able to find them, but unlike in some recent summers there can be no doubt they’re actively looking.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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.
Avatar
#151 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 27 2014, 05:15PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

Or maybe the draft strategy is simply to win the lottery....after all...Mr Six Rings knows a thing or two about winning.....draft lotteries.

*opens page 4 pandering for cheap props

Avatar
#152 GCW
March 27 2014, 05:17PM
Trash it!
6
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

MacT said a lot of good things last summer. Look what we got.

Last year the Oilers had a CF% of 44.3% and a FF% of 44.70%.

This year against the west prior to San Jose the team had a CF% of 43.64% and a FF% of 42.53%.

Since January 1st, this drops to 42.57% and 41.37% against the west.

MacT and Eakins actually found a way to make this team worse than last year. Since January, much worse.

And so we are supposed to get excited about something Eakins says? Not bloody likely.

Avatar
#153 steadyarms
March 27 2014, 06:19PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

I believe both gagner, and yakupov should both be involved in a trade. I am sure there is a couple teams interested in these young men, and it could perhaps bring some veteran experience. As for ryan smith, he surely needs to retire or go because his game is not nhl ready no-more. I believe these three trades are very key, as a fan they were so weak this season and in hockey size does matter.

Avatar
#154 merfer
March 27 2014, 06:50PM
Trash it!
16
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

Snow is probably quite embarrased because he has to give Buffalo his first round pick either this year or next due to the crappy trade he made. He can't take a chance that the Islander's first rounder in 2015 is not McDavid so he will have to give Buffalo this year's first rounder. Maybe Edmonton could convince him to trade Hamonic for our first rounder(Ekblad) and Gagner ,who is good buddies with Traveres. He might feel he could save face by getting back a better first rounder than he gave away for nothing. Am I just dreaming?

Avatar
#155 LoweBlow
March 27 2014, 07:18PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
13
cheers

I'm not buying it. This KoolAid sucks.

Simple moves will produce more of the same.

This team needs a serious paradigm shift before anything try positive will happen.

Avatar
#156 SuntanOil
March 27 2014, 07:39PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

@TKB2677

I like a lot of what you say, and my position is the same as it's been since the cap came in. - I don't care who you trade, as long as you win the trade both now and in the future. -

This doesn't mean you are looking for "brain - dead GM's" to fleece, but rather that you look for hockey trades that will benefit both teams in both the short and long term. The Seguin trade looks to be one of those trades.

Unfortunately I don't trust our current pro scouting enough to be sure we can make such a deal.

No one has yet been able to convince me that Clarkson is the answer. It's not a trade you can win in the long run. Many on here were willing to give up picks and players just to dump Horcoff's final two years of contract (5.5 per year cap, 3.5 per actual $$$). Clarkson is more cap (5.25), more per year (up to 7). and runs for SIX more years. If he was earning that here in Edmonton with his 10 points so far this year, people would be looooooosing it.

His contract is simply looking like a mistake. Let's be glad we didn't make it and look for something else.

Avatar
#157 Steve
March 27 2014, 07:46PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers
GCW wrote:

MacT said a lot of good things last summer. Look what we got.

Last year the Oilers had a CF% of 44.3% and a FF% of 44.70%.

This year against the west prior to San Jose the team had a CF% of 43.64% and a FF% of 42.53%.

Since January 1st, this drops to 42.57% and 41.37% against the west.

MacT and Eakins actually found a way to make this team worse than last year. Since January, much worse.

And so we are supposed to get excited about something Eakins says? Not bloody likely.

MacT did well, got rid of some players that had to go then added a few solid goaltenders and Perron.

Eakins on the other hand has turned a team that was looking Ok last year back to a basement team. He has a much better group of guys then Kruger did last year and has done significantly worse.

Avatar
#158 Bryzarro World
March 27 2014, 07:53PM
Trash it!
7
trashes
Cheers
8
cheers

Love morons who try to use the term "mouth breather" as an insult. I can't wait until you people have a plugged nose or have to work hard. You'll die and we won't have to hear self important dipshats trying to be clever...

Avatar
#159 Joel
March 27 2014, 07:55PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

MacT is articulate but that does not win games.

Avatar
#160 Bryzarro World
March 27 2014, 07:56PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

Also i smfh at the inbreds that suggest to trade Perron. Just go away and educate yourself ofthe topic before opening your yap...

Avatar
#161 M22
March 27 2014, 08:25PM
Trash it!
5
trashes
Cheers
12
cheers

I said it before, and I'll say it again.

There is only ONE move that needs to be made to correct this mess, and it must be done by Katz: Remove Lowe ENTIRELY from the organization, find the BEST hockey man available (no ex-Oilers), hand him the keys, and say "Build me a winner".

Everyone below this man's level will fall away, with few exceptions. All of the various aspects of this organization (hockey side) that need changing will change.

There you go, Daryl. I've never built a business like you have, not even close, but I just gave you the plan for your hockey team. You're welcome. I'll take 2 season tickets for life.

Avatar
#162 Casey
March 27 2014, 08:41PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Cheers
3
cheers

"Defense is at an all-time worst ooo look Mark Fraser!!" -MacT "Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, and Nuge aren't what we need! Woah Craig let's sign that ex-Marlie!!"

I get Dallas feels we need some upgrades on our team but c'mon are Marlies that didn't get resigned by them(there of course would be a reason) any better?

Avatar
#163 CMG30
March 27 2014, 09:12PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
4
cheers

With our stabilized goaltending and no other changes, if the season was to start over tomorrow I believe that by the end we would be up to the low 20s in the standings.

If Mactavish can add a legitimate top 2 defenceman, then I believe we just might be playing some meaningful games come April.

If Mactavish can pick up 2 top 2's and find a big mean skilled center look out!

Avatar
#164 kboof
March 27 2014, 09:15PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Cheers
9
cheers

Any of you idiots even talking about trading Perron, need to be on a one way ticket to planet Zoltar. He is EXACTLY what this team needs.

Avatar
#165 shaun
March 27 2014, 10:10PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Cheers
7
cheers
kboof wrote:

Any of you idiots even talking about trading Perron, need to be on a one way ticket to planet Zoltar. He is EXACTLY what this team needs.

No doubt that Perron is an upgrade from what we had before, but the position he fills was not the position that MacT had to address last summer. Perron fell in his lap but he needed to address defence, goal, and center, not wing

Avatar
#166 Kr55
March 27 2014, 10:52PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
11
cheers
Joel wrote:

MacT is articulate but that does not win games.

MacT said talk is cheap during his GM hiring conference where we got all the cheap talk from Lowe. This year though, talk is mainly what we've got from MacT. "Success is coming". "Good structural improvements". The junk about how people that know hockey see this team going in the right direction. Saying the Oilers provide very, very high entertainment value to the fans.

I don't even want to think of the mess this team would be in if Clarkson accepted our deal. The dismantling of the kids would probably need to start next year with that boat anchor on board.

Avatar
#167 Zarny
March 28 2014, 09:12AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers
kboof wrote:

Any of you idiots even talking about trading Perron, need to be on a one way ticket to planet Zoltar. He is EXACTLY what this team needs.

No, actually a guy like Lucic, Horton, Okposo or Perry is exactly what this team needs. A legit power forward.

I don't expect any are readily available but a guy like Wayne Simmonds might be. Or Blake Wheeler.

Perron has the attitude Edm needs but ultimately he's more small and skilled than power forward. If he doesn't have the angle he peels off to the boards; he doesn't drop his shoulder and go nuclear on the net.

The Oilers need to swap out 2 of their top 6 F. If you ranked them skill wise Gagner and Perron likely come out 5 and 6 so there is logic in trading both.

Both probably have the lowest return in a trade however, and since Perron has the attitude the Oilers need they can afford to look at trading Eberle or Yakupov.

But the attitude of this guy has to be traded or can't be traded is beyond ridiculous. Anyone can be traded.

Avatar
#168 JPC
March 29 2014, 11:50AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

@steadyarms

I would agree with you, except for Yak. He has been defensively lacking and he must work on that side of his game, but all in all, it's not THAT bad. I believe Ovie was a -31 last time I looked. Not to mention Edler, Ott, and a handful of players who have been in the league long enough to know better. Seth Jones is -23 and he is a Defenseman by trade.

There is too much upside to Yakupov to throw it away without even attempting to develop him, imo.

Comments are closed for this article.