Even with the hiring of head coach Pat Quinn, associate coach Tom Renney and assistant Kelly Buchberger taken care of, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has a full plate these days.
The first order of business for Tambellini right now is schmoozing and setting the table for possible deals down the road at a meeting of general managers in Pittsburgh over the next couple of days.
While we media types refer to trades made at the NHL Entry Draft as, duh, draft-day deals, the feeling out process begins weeks ahead of time when the GMs get together to kick tires as to what-ifs and possibilities with an eye to when everybody gets together again at the draft.
Given the significant tweaks Tambellini is looking to make to the roster, the glad-handing, huddling and casual inquiries that mark these gab sessions will be particularly important before the draft begins in Montreal.
Hey, big spender, can I buy you a drink?
If Tambellini manages to package up (unload), say, a Robert Nilsson and a Rob Schremp for pucks, I mean picks, chances are the seeds of that deal will be sown in Pittsburgh before the action heats up down on St. Catherines Street in Montreal.
Same thing if Tambellini is looking to move up in draft order from the 10th spot. I know, it never happens with the Oilers, but there’s no harm in asking what it might take to slip into the top five, and Tambellini will do his due diligence on that front.
Likewise, you can bet Tambellini will ask around about players who might fit into one of his top six-forward spots, preferably on left wing. Would making a defenceman like, say, Tom Gilbert (you knew this was coming) and a leader of men like Ethan Moreau available be the start of a meaningful discussion before things get busy on the draft floor?
You’d have to be profoundly dense not to understand Tambellini has depth on the blue line and that, jettisoning spare parts aside, the most likely move is that he’ll use that depth to attempt to fill that top six spot.
From what I understand, Tambellini will wrap up the GM schmoozefest and jet to Kelowna to oversee meetings with assistant GM Kevin Prendergast and the amateur scouting staff in preparation for the draft.
Aside from going over his staff’s draft list — who is this Turkish goalie we’ve got rated No. 10? — Tambellini has his work cut for him in the next 10 days. In no particular order:
— What about naming a head coach in Springfield? I’d be stunned if it isn’t Rob Daum, but I’m going strictly by common sense and the job Daum did at the end of last season despite being saddled with, essentially, an ECHL roster, especially on defence. Indications are we won’t hear anything on the Springfield front until next week.
— What about adding a second assistant to the coaching staff? People are already guessing about who that might be, but I haven’t heard one firm word from anybody who calls the shots that the decision has even been made to go with a staff of four.
— Who replaces video coach Brian Ross, a Craig MacTavish hire who was let go with assistants Charlie Huddy and Bill Moores?
— What happens with goaltending coach Pete Peeters?
— Does Rod Phillips come back for his 37th season as radio play-by-play man or does he hand the microphone over to Bob Stauffer?
When I know, you’ll know.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.