The Oilers Right Wing Depth Chart

Jonathan Willis
May 18 2014 02:52PM

83-Hemsky-6

Last season, Edmonton started the year with right wing as its strongest position. Jordan Eberle led a group that included the NHL’s rookie scoring leader, Nail Yakupov, and the always useful Ales Hemsky. Fighting for the fourth-line job were a trio of players with some nice points – training camp standout Jesse Joensuu, enforcer Mike Brown and minor-league scorer Ryan Hamilton (who primarily plays left wing).

It was a pretty good looking group, but it took some hits over the course of the season. Now the Oilers face a summer that will see further changes to the group.

The Givens

14-Eberle-11

There has been no shortage of trade speculation involving Jordan Eberle over the years, and I’ve written some of it myself. The departure of Hemsky and the struggles of Yakupov should put an end to it; right now Eberle is indisputably the best right wing on the team and the only sure thing at the position. He isn’t a perfect player but he is a legitimate first-liner and a very nice piece of this team.

64-Yakupov-8

Nail Yakupov should probably slot in here, too. He has a long way to go as an NHL player, but he’s also capable of plays offensively that only a tiny fraction of NHL players can pull off. His development is a key story for the Edmonton Oilers; it might even be the key story of Dallas Eakins’ tenure as coach. He should slot in on a protected scoring line with some quality help.

Unresolved

57-Perron-7

The Oilers need to add a player who can take on the minutes Ales Hemsky was capable of playing. Ideally, he’s a little bigger and a little tougher and he doesn’t need to have quite as much offensive skill, but the big thing here is that he’s a guy capable of playing tough minutes while providing some scoring. It’s worth mentioning that David Perron could well slide over to fill this slot if the Oilers have more luck in finding a left wing with those qualities.

Joensuu, Jesse

That’s really the only add the Oilers need to make; they have no shortage of internal candidates for the fourth-line role, a group which by my count includes the following:

  • Jesse Joenssuu. The big Finn was brilliant in training camp last season, got hurt, and never returned to form. He has the frame the Oilers want, is willing to go to dirty areas and isn’t scared of the puck but for long portions of last season he didn’t look like an NHL player.
  • Steve Pinizzotto. The pending UFA is as mean as any of the options the Oilers have at their disposal here, he’s an accomplished penalty-killer, and he’s been quite a decent minor-league scorer over his career. At 6’1”, 200 pounds he isn’t as big as other guys and at age 30 he’s an awfully late-bloomer, but he can skate and he can hit and he can play.
  • Tyler Pitlick. A big, fast forward who finally had a breakthrough season in OKC, Pitlick looked pretty good during his NHL recalls. The problem is that he’s been perpetually injured, and this goes back at least as far as his rookie pro season. He might be a very nice player but he can’t be counted on.

51-Lander-2

The Oilers could also employ centres Anton Lander or Mark Arcobello at right wing, or move left wings like Matt Hendricks and Ryan Hamilton to right wing. Additionally, if the team (as I suspect) wants to bump Matt Hendricks down to the fourth line, it’s possible either that Hendricks slides over or that enforcer Luke Gazdic gets some shifts at right wing.

Philip Larsen probably isn’t long for the Oilers organization, and if he is it’s probably at defence, but I think it’s worth noting that he might have played his best hockey last season during a stint at right wing.

So What Happens?

26-Arcobello-1

Jordan Eberle gets the feature role, outside hire (or David Perron) takes on tough minutes behind him, and Nail Yakupov gets the spot on a sheltered scoring line that he needs to succeed.

Unless the Oilers cull the herd significantly, there should be a dogfight for the fourth-line job and Dallas Eakins and his staff will have the luxury of picking the guy who best complements the players at centre and left wing. I’ve started wondering whether Anton Lander’s shifts at right wing late last season were an audition for this job; if so he didn’t show very well. As Lowetide hinted earlier today, this might be Mark Arcobello’s route to a job in the starting-12, though it’s worth remembering that the coaches didn’t have much time for him as a fourth-liner last season.

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.
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#1 oilleak
May 18 2014, 03:01PM
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Hall-Nuge-E.Kane Bickell-Anisimov-Yakupov Perron-Couturier-Pitlick Gazdic/Hendricks-Boyle-Gordon(Joensuu)

Klefbom-Myers Marincin-Orpik Nikitin-Schultz Ference

Scrivens (Fasth, Elliot, Hiller)

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#3 Sorensenator
May 18 2014, 03:11PM
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oilleak wrote:

Hall-Nuge-E.Kane Bickell-Anisimov-Yakupov Perron-Couturier-Pitlick Gazdic/Hendricks-Boyle-Gordon(Joensuu)

Klefbom-Myers Marincin-Orpik Nikitin-Schultz Ference

Scrivens (Fasth, Elliot, Hiller)

Evander Kane may be bigger and faster then Eberle but is it isn't close when you compare the production value, Eberle is miles ahead.

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#4 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 03:22PM
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I still miss hemmer

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#5 madjam
May 18 2014, 03:30PM
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Willis : You appear to be advocating filling Hemsky with a downgrade . Our offence was 28th last year and defence 30 th for goals for and against . If this club ever wants to get ahead it requires a player that can better Hemsky offensively for starters . None of your people fit/fill that bill . Do we really want another step backwards with someone like Umberger ? Maybe as a third or 4th liner , but that's a big contract at that level . Arco and Landers are not the answer at either position if we hope to improve . Same can be said for all the internal ones right now . How many more unfilled positions can we keep downgrading on and become a competitive team . None , as we have far to many now occupied by those types . .

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#6 Sketchy
May 18 2014, 03:34PM
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Let's get an nhl D core first before we start worrying about the forwards

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#7 Joel
May 18 2014, 03:34PM
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Oilers need depth in Coaching

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#8 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 03:38PM
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Joel wrote:

Oilers need depth in Coaching

And in management

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#9 Jackson
May 18 2014, 03:42PM
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Fire Kevin Lowe

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#10 Jeffff
May 18 2014, 03:46PM
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Any poster here could have done a poorly as Kevin Lowe has, and some posters better than Klowe.

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#11 Sketchy
May 18 2014, 03:50PM
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You know the old saying "1 step forward, 2 steps back"?

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#13 RexHoles
May 18 2014, 04:00PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I think having a legitimate Dcore that can take care of our own zone and get the puck to the high end forwards we already have will vastly improve our offensive numbers. It's been the same story for years ever since pronger left town

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#14 Racki
May 18 2014, 04:03PM
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I feel like MacT made some progress with this team last year despite the poor finish, but I still see some major holes here too that is frustrating. I know MacTavish sees the same problems though. But it's tough cause the team needs an entire 3rd line, a real 2nd line C, and a major blueline overhaul. Lots of work to do. Who is on the RW is probably the least of this team's worries (not that it isn't worth talking about).

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#15 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 04:15PM
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@Racki

I disagree with you on one point. I think if we had a real 2nd line C we have some pieces for a 3rd line. I'd have no problems with lander and arco battling for the 3rd line spot and we have some options for the wings. But that's only if that 3rd line can be sheltered from having a strong 2nd line. Defense is the biggest area of concern and I believe would make the biggest impact towards no longer being the embarrassment of the league

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#16 Racki
May 18 2014, 04:23PM
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@RexHolez

One thing we definitely agree on is that defense is the main problem. I have been saying the same for quite some time. The trend has been to take long shot gambles on guys like Belov, or Barker (in Tambi's day), etc... when really they should just bring in the tried and true guys. I'd love to see them land a real superstar blue liner like the Oil had with Pronger, but if that can't be done, at least get some guys here we know can play the position. And for gods sakes, guys that know how to defend first and foremost.

Also, never have been sold on Lander.. While I do like Arco, it's hard to turn a blind eye to his lack of offense. I would like to see better options fighting for the 3rd line C.

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#17 Dex
May 18 2014, 04:25PM
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Sketchy wrote:

You know the old saying "1 step forward, 2 steps back"?

There is another old saying

"Oilers suck"

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#18 blainer
May 18 2014, 04:27PM
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I would like perron and Yak to stay on the wing they are comfortable with. Put Yak on the right side and keep him there .. Eakins is just making it harder for him to adjust to the pro game when switching him on the wings. I like Perron in the 2nd left wing spot. I do like the idea of a sheltered scoring line with Yak.. that means Gordon and Hendricks and Arco move to the fourth line which to me is more of a 3B line. There are that many holes to fill its scary. Do NOT dress Gazdic much.. please..we need offence.

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#19 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 04:27PM
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@Racki

Would you target phaneuf? Might be the best Dman actually available

I'd like to see better option battling for the 3rd line too, but I think the focus should be on the higher impact positions first. We can worry about the 3rd line after we get a 2nd line first

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#20 Racki
May 18 2014, 04:35PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Would you target phaneuf? Might be the best Dman actually available

I'd like to see better option battling for the 3rd line too, but I think the focus should be on the higher impact positions first. We can worry about the 3rd line after we get a 2nd line first

In all honesty, while he has his issues, I think he'd be the first real NHL defenseman on this team. I wouldn't go trading the #3 OV for him, as has been suggested, but I'd definitely consider him.

I kind of see it as a Perron like acquisition where you go "oh wow, this is what it's like having a real NHLer on the team". Pardon my doom and gloom over what we have here.

Anyways, I think there are some good pieces in the system at D, but this team is going to need a real vet that can bear the burden while they develop. I'd trade for Phaneuf, yes, and I'd still sign another D-man... a safe guy like Willie Mitchell, but a younger version (I am saying a safe guy like him, but not him as he's probably a bit too long in the tooth).

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#21 Racki
May 18 2014, 04:42PM
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If you're looking at trading for an expensive d-man signed that long, maybe Letang would be the better option, since people seem to figure he's available. New management there too, so who knows. But I could definitely get behind acquiring Letang (however, not sure he would get behind that, since he has a modified NTC).

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#22 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 04:44PM
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@Racki

Agreed. I'd like phaneuf over a guy like say letang. So the question becomes what do you give up for him? I wouldn't give the 3ov either but you'd need to give something the leafs need. Does Gagner and Marincin do it?

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#23 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 04:46PM
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@Racki

Letang is a smaller offensive Dman. I think a more physical guy like phaneuf is more of what we need. Letang is a wonderful Dman but I think he's what the oilers are hoping JSchultz can become

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#24 Racki
May 18 2014, 04:50PM
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@RexHolez

I think Marincin and Gagner for Phaneuf would do it, but much of the Oil fanbase would be pissed at moving Marincin. Many consider him to be the best D prospect on the team, even including Nurse. You are right though, you have to give to get.

I think it was David Staples who had this good point.. the Leafs got a much more "prime" version of Phaneuf for next to nothing, so the price should technically be lower here. That said, I think Jay Feaster was just a terrible GM.

I think the Oilers have to do what they can to hang on to Nurse, Klefbom and Marincin though as any one of those 3 could break out and be dominant players.

Unfortunately I'm not sure what the Leafs would want for Phaneuf. If they're wanting to dump him for the sake of dumping him, then I'd be offering something like Gagner, Fedun and a 2nd, perhaps. I'm not very good at the trade suggestions though, just know what I wouldn't give up ;) Not very helpful here :P

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#25 Oiler Al
May 18 2014, 04:52PM
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oilleak wrote:

Hall-Nuge-E.Kane Bickell-Anisimov-Yakupov Perron-Couturier-Pitlick Gazdic/Hendricks-Boyle-Gordon(Joensuu)

Klefbom-Myers Marincin-Orpik Nikitin-Schultz Ference

Scrivens (Fasth, Elliot, Hiller)

Hey, you forgot Crosby and Mckinnon in the line up.!

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#26 Racki
May 18 2014, 04:54PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Letang is a smaller offensive Dman. I think a more physical guy like phaneuf is more of what we need. Letang is a wonderful Dman but I think he's what the oilers are hoping JSchultz can become

He was defensive defenseman of the year back in the Q. He's also a fairly good hitter. I think it's easy to paint him with the "offensive d-man" brush, but I think he's one of those guys that has the puck on his stick a lot and is a big offensive guy for Pittsburgh that you often forget that he can play D if that's what you wanted him to do.

I can't say for sure, but I often wondered if Bylsma just gives him free reign offensively.. but if you wanted, could have him play a safe game too.

I'd take either, really, though.

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#27 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 04:54PM
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@Racki

I'm not as high on Marincin. He'll have a career in the nhl no doubt but I see him in the Gilbert/Petry silky smooth with no nastiness to his game. I'm tired of those guys.

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#28 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 04:56PM
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@Racki

Ya I'm not gonna get picky. I'd just be happy with a legitimate nhl calibre Dman that actually puts on an oiler jersey

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#29 Racki
May 18 2014, 05:00PM
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RexHolez wrote:

I'm not as high on Marincin. He'll have a career in the nhl no doubt but I see him in the Gilbert/Petry silky smooth with no nastiness to his game. I'm tired of those guys.

I will admit, for the first time in decades, I avoided most of the games last year, so I didn't get to see much of Marincin.. just going by what the more active posters had been saying about him.

If he filled out his frame, he might be more apt to be physical. Hard to say. But I do agree if Gilbert / Petry is the sky here, I would have no problems moving him. It just hasn't been sounding like that is the case. Seems like people are pretty keen on him here, but then again, give him a year or two and people will turn on him too ;) .

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#30 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 05:03PM
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@Racki

You know oiler fans, when A kid shows potential the sky is the limit

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#31 Racki
May 18 2014, 05:03PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Ya I'm not gonna get picky. I'd just be happy with a legitimate nhl calibre Dman that actually puts on an oiler jersey

Agreed. The difference even a guy like Visnovsky made when on the ice is very noticeable even compared to, say, Petry. Again.. to me, "real NHLers" are pretty noticeable when you have them.

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#32 Racki
May 18 2014, 05:04PM
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RexHolez wrote:

You know oiler fans, when A kid shows potential the sky is the limit

This is true. I prefer this more than the other side of Oil fans, which is turning on a player when they don't reach that potential we thought they had ;)

"Oh you aren't the second coming of Ray Bourque?? You suck!"

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#33 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 05:05PM
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@Racki

Wouldn't it be nice to talk about an oiler player that doesn't have to "fill out his frame"?

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#34 Racki
May 18 2014, 05:13PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Wouldn't it be nice to talk about an oiler player that doesn't have to "fill out his frame"?

The way I see it, I think we could get a lot more out of the Petrys, Marincins, Kelfboms, ... even Gilberts... if there were proper players for them to play with.

To me, we had a guy like Visnovsky who was a great defensman for Grebs or Gilbert to play with, so we go and trade him for Ryan Whitney. OOOooook. I think MacTavish is smarter than that though. I think if you land a guy like Phaneuf, you will finally see what Justin Schultz, or even Jeff Petry can be. For too long, these young guys have been expected to carry the defensive load when really they should be more sheltered. Most other young, big name D-men have had the benefit of playing with safe d-men to help them transition to the NHL game. The trend during the Tambellini era was to sink-or-swim most of our prospects. That to me is the same strategy the CBJ had years ago. It doesn't work, and worse yet, to me it destroys these players.

If we have to sacrifice a guy like Marincin to bring in a long term blue line presence though, so be it.

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#35 RexHolez
May 18 2014, 05:32PM
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@Racki

Absolutely, throwing nurse or an ekblad into the fire now without support would be a good way to break their confidence. But you don't only need experience you also need diversity. Having 4 petry's and 1 or 2 ferences doesn't make a good Dcore. You need your puck movers and PP specialist's just as much as you need you're high end defensive defenseman..

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#36 Racki
May 18 2014, 05:38PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Absolutely, throwing nurse or an ekblad into the fire now without support would be a good way to break their confidence. But you don't only need experience you also need diversity. Having 4 petry's and 1 or 2 ferences doesn't make a good Dcore. You need your puck movers and PP specialist's just as much as you need you're high end defensive defenseman..

You're preaching to the choir ;)

My motto has always been that I don't care how good a d-man is offensively if he doesn't know how to defend. But that said, it's a lot easier to find a guy who can be good at offense, and pair him with a more stable defensive defenseman than it is to find someone who does it all. Right now, this team definitely has a bias towards offensive-minded guys though and could use some more defensive minded guys.

Ideally, you want someone who is solid enough at both ends though, of course. I think that Phaneuf or Letang would work well in that regard. In order to get the most out of a guy like "Jultz", the Oilers will need a stable defensive guy to pair him with (or in the case of Letang, an actual NHL defenseman).

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#37 pelhem grenville
May 18 2014, 05:59PM
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...did u do a cap value on that lineup oilleak?

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#38 oilleak
May 18 2014, 06:23PM
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@pelhem grenville

yes sir. just over 6.3 mil in cap left.

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#39 Racki
May 18 2014, 06:40PM
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oilleak is a fitting name ;)

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#40 Mason Storm
May 18 2014, 07:33PM
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oilleak wrote:

yes sir. just over 6.3 mil in cap left.

Did you factor in the 15-25% mark up for free agents to play on the Oilers?

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#41 Serious Gord
May 18 2014, 08:05PM
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The last few threads have really put the mess that the oil is Into perspective for me.

The team is so unbalanced - lots of offensive potential, very little physicality and very very weak at centre and D. Looking at what the oil needs - almost all of those things are the most difficult to aquire via trades or FA. Successful teams draft and develop those players from within.

And that exposes the real core of this teams disastrous past and likely it's future: terrible drafting and arguably worse development.

And it really makes me wonder whether instead of drafting the best player available with the three number ones, the oil should have traded down to get a spot where the BPA also matched one of the two core needs of any team: Centre and Defense. Yes, I know that RNH is a centre, and a very good one - but is he a franchise level of centre that a team can build around? I doubt it.

My para above is not intended to make the argument that the oil made mistakes with the number one picks, rather it is to make the point that those picks and their similarities really have warped the team into a very unbalanced - and thus losing - design. And the fixes that that design requires requires the oil to take a very difficult perhaps impossible path to getting those players. And what makes it so difficult is the lack of time the core of this team has before it starts to disintegrate.

Depressing stuff...

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#42 madjam
May 18 2014, 08:45PM
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On a happy note Oil Kings beat London 5-2 . Go Oil Kings .

No matter whom you might disagree with our first round picks over last several years , the problem is not whom they drafted . They are all good picks even if it was Katz or his sons that picked them . The problem is whom they have surrounded those high draft choices with .

Katz pays management and coaching exhorbitant wages/salary to do just that . They have unfortuneately not done a credible job in developing that talent with the surrounding team about them .I think Katz has not had a good return from those whom he has entrusted to make that talent move forward .

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#43 Racki
May 18 2014, 09:14PM
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madjam wrote:

On a happy note Oil Kings beat London 5-2 . Go Oil Kings .

No matter whom you might disagree with our first round picks over last several years , the problem is not whom they drafted . They are all good picks even if it was Katz or his sons that picked them . The problem is whom they have surrounded those high draft choices with .

Katz pays management and coaching exhorbitant wages/salary to do just that . They have unfortuneately not done a credible job in developing that talent with the surrounding team about them .I think Katz has not had a good return from those whom he has entrusted to make that talent move forward .

I totally agree with this, but I actually think MacTavish made some ground last year with the goaltending pickups, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, and even Andrew Ference (if they have him as a bottom pairing).

I felt that Tambellini was very much of the mindset that you speak of, however. I think MacTavish gives me the impression though that he believes (as I do) that you can't keep putting these young guys in key roles and hope someone emerges. The better way is to surround them with good players and let them learn from them, be protected from them, and hopefully be better players than them one day. The latter is the Detroit way of doing things.. the former is the Oilers/Bluejackets way of destroying your young guys' confidence before shipping them off for spare parts.

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#44 Yaz
May 18 2014, 09:21PM
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Joel wrote:

Oilers need depth in Coaching

Not a damn chance that is going to happen, I suspect after Eakins is canned in November we will still have Bucky and Smitty behind the bench..Why change when you have guys who are good in the dressing room, can't coach worth S--t but apparently that doesn't matter. What a joke this management team is.

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#45 Blue
May 18 2014, 09:37PM
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Gagner + Ference + a second (2015) for Phaneuf?

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#46 Serious Gord
May 18 2014, 10:08PM
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Yaz wrote:

Not a damn chance that is going to happen, I suspect after Eakins is canned in November we will still have Bucky and Smitty behind the bench..Why change when you have guys who are good in the dressing room, can't coach worth S--t but apparently that doesn't matter. What a joke this management team is.

Yeah, what is happening with the assistants?

Is it really possible that after having one of the worst seasons in franchise history and probably THE most disappointing season ever, and after promises that there will be accountability that NO ONE in management will be dismissed?

Amazing.

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#47 Oilers4ever
May 18 2014, 10:54PM
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Until Kevin Lowe and the assistants named Buchberger and Smith are gone this team wont improve. PERIOD.

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#48 Sevenseven
May 18 2014, 11:20PM
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@Serious Gord

I agree with you. But I do see some hope in our development. Okc has shown improvement. The oilers buying an echl team is another positive development. Unfortunately the holes in this team are huge. At EVERY position. Everyone can blame eakins and mact. But even the best coaches and gms in the nhl would have a tough time fixing the lineup. Its not looking like a quick fix.

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#49 ThatGuy
May 18 2014, 11:49PM
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Right Wing/Too Bold of a Move = (Gaborik, Callahan, etc.) x (1 year, Big $ Contract). Or Maybe MacT can tell us now that "the cavalry is coming"...

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#50 Sketchy
May 19 2014, 07:07AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Yeah, what is happening with the assistants?

Is it really possible that after having one of the worst seasons in franchise history and probably THE most disappointing season ever, and after promises that there will be accountability that NO ONE in management will be dismissed?

Amazing.

Accountability in the oilers organization is more elusive than flying rainbow colored unicorns. It's so frustrating because I've been an oiler fan my entire life but how can I justify supporting such an incompetent and poorly run team anymore?

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