Time for a change: let the do-over begin

I’ll admit to being stubborn when it comes to changing my mind on stances I’ve taken, like the need to tear down the Edmonton Oilers roster and start over with a full-scale rebuild, but the abomination that is the Oilers seven-game losing streak has made a believer out of me.

While the make-up and mix of the roster coach Pat Quinn has to work with has looked wrong to me since training camp broke, I have been of the mind, given injuries and illness, that GM Steve Tambellini should wait 50-60 games to start undoing this edition of the team.

Even then, I wasn’t in for a full-scale Dive For Five, but after watching this mis-matched collection of players that’s supposed to be a team fade into a nothingness that can only be described as an epic fail, 39 games has me convinced.

Consider me a card-carrying member of the DFF Faction, a convert to the belief that Tambellini, or somebody else if he doesn’t have the stomach or wherewithal for the job, has to do whatever it takes to get to square one.

Dan Barnes pulled the trigger by calling for the same thing today in The Journal, so I’m not claiming to be staking new ground here, but I’d rather catch on to what many fans here at OilersNation and elsewhere have been saying sooner rather than later.

It’s broke. Time to fix it.

The ugly details

I said a week or so ago my philosophy for the DFF is that landing a 2010 draft lottery pick should be considered an aside to a proper rebuild, not the focus of it. I’m sticking by that because I don’t believe a Taylor Hall or a Tyler Seguin is the cure-all for the Oilers, even if it is a start.

The goal for me is freeing up cap space and creating options, rather than throwing the mess Kevin Lowe created on the shoulders of 18-year-old kids coming out of the draft, no matter how talented they might be, in the next couple of years.

  • If I’m Tambellini, I’m faxing the other 29 GMs in the league a list of roster players I’m willing to trade before the New Year. I’m informing them that I’m ready to deal between now and the deadline.
    The only players NOT on that list are Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid, Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Potulny, J.F. Jacques, Dustin Penner, Ryan Stone, Zack Stortini, Gilbert Brule and Sam Gagner.
    With the exception of Hemsky and Penner, these players don’t put a significant dent in the salary cap now and likely won’t in their next contracts. There is no windfall waiting for Cogliano or Gagner this summer, so they aren’t going anywhere, at least not yet.
  • While it’s unlikely there’ll be calls for players at the top of the salary scale like Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray or Lubomir Visnovsky, I’d make them as attractive as possible. Dump their salary for picks and prospects, if possible. Yes, these contracts are next-to-impossible to trade, but you take a shot and see what happens. If one or all of them are back, so be it.
  • I’m especially pushing Ethan Moreau, Steve Staios and Patrick O’Sullivan before the deadline. They could be decent pieces for the right team during the stretch drive, even with some term left.
  • My 2010-11 edition of the Oilers includes Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Theo Peckham and Taylor Chorney.
  • My first moves before hitting the fax machine are, as Barnes suggested, finding out if surgery is the answer for Horcoff’s shoulder and Nikolai Khabibulin’s back.
    Surgery takes them out of play in terms of trades in the unlikely case that anybody would be interested — Mike Milbury isn’t an option — but it helps secure a lottery pick. 

At the top

  • If I’m owner Daryl Katz, I’m grading Tambellini on what he does between now and the trade deadline. If I don’t see a significant shift in the right direction, he gets a pink slip when the season ends.
  • If Tambellini gets the sack, then Quinn moves from coach to GM, while associate Tom Renney and assistants Wayne Fleming and Kelly Buchberger run the bench. I also look at rescuing Rob Daum from the shit show that is Springfield and adding him to the staff here.
  • The entire hockey operations side gets re-evaluated at the end of the season, and that evaluation begins with the scouting staff, starting with Kevin Prendergast.
  • If I’m Katz, I take a long look at old pal Kevin Lowe, now the president of hockey operations, and ask some tough questions. Does he serve out the term of his extension or take the fall now for the mess he left Tambellini? Either way, Lowe’s days are numbered.
  • If I’m Katz, I call Tambellini, Lowe and anybody who has a stake in the decision-making process and inform them in no uncertain terms the do-over starts now. Then, I call a news conference to tell fans exactly that.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • Chris.

    The DFF is a cold hard reality whether or not key vetrans are moved. Fans who celebrate grabbing a spot in the draft lottery are a lot like people who are thankful for achiveing early retirement when they learn they have terminal cancer. There is no joy in this.

    • PattQuinn'sChesthair

      That's a good point too.

      If a total teardown does happen, things will probably get worse before they get better. Missing the playoffs for the next couple of years is a real possibility but I think that most fans would be on board as long as they can see a logical plan with continued improvement.

      • "If a total teardown does happen, things will probably get worse before they get better."

        How? I think this must be pretty close to rock bottom now.

        Let's take advantage of this miserable situation to build a proper foundation.

        • PattQuinn'sChesthair

          In terms of now being the time I totally agree.

          But I could see a vocal contingent of people who are furious next year if we don't make the playoffs again… "But we have a number one draft pick and new gm and blah blah blah.."

          Just hope that people are realistic and don't expect miracles.

  • I would love to see these steps taken but I'm so pessimistic right now that I expect the status quo to remain.

    The Oil have some quality prospects coming up the pipe, it would be great to set the stage to keep them around. Although this Hall kid has some game! #df5

  • Bucknuck

    Good article Robin. I agree with you, except I would consider a package deal for one of the players on your list if it included dumping some significant salary and getting a return.

    Let's say someone wants Andrew Cogliano and offers a significant return. You agree to that with a side order of Shawn Horcoff.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    You know there is something inheritably wrong with this whole organization when every hockey team under the brand of Rexall Sports is either last or next to last in their respective leagues. The Oilers, Falcons, and Oil Kings are all abyssmal (however I do give Oil Kings somewhat of a free pass being only 3 years in).

  • swany

    Dive for Five?

    Like it was said here weeks ago, the Oilers are already there, infact, there 4 points out of 28th, and 7 out of 30th, they can catch the Hurricanes

    But to do so, they need to gut this team sooner than later.

    Trade Moreau for picks, use O'Marra in his absense, trade Staios, use Peckham

    If you can move a Horcoff or Souray, like RB said, load up on picks/prospects who wont improve the team right away, we have a chance at a potential game-breaker in the top 2 picks. Plus Eberle and MPS

  • I think there'll be enough interest in Souray out there. I say Dallas.

    Ethan Moreau's return is of little significance to me. Turn the page.

    Steve Staios could stick around for the final year as far as I'm concerned. If you can move him – great, if not – fine.

    I'd be talking to Atlanta about Colby Armstrong even though he's a UFA (Would they take Patty O?). Trade & sign for him if possible. (FYI: I'd probably HATE Armstrong within 3 games. That's a good thing. Hence, I'd be all for the Flames adding the former Rebel.)

    Dan Hamhuis is another UFA that intrigues me (again, for both the Flames & Oilers). I think he's an upgrade on Gilbert and I'd rather spend $4mil on him.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Should be tons of interest in Souray. You would think for teams not pressed up to the cap, that have a shot at the playoffs, teams would be chomping at the bit to have him.

      For either Moreau, or Staios, at this point, despite good years here, they would be addition by subtraction, we have players to fill their spots, and we need picks/prospects. No 1st rounders for either guy, but maybe a 2/3

      Personally, I'd pass on Armstrong, but definately would like to see Hamhuis here, but not at the expense of someone who can be a shutdown guy against a teams 1st line

    • Chris.

      Totally agree with this. I mentioned in another thread that the Oil should try to target Armstrong and Hamhuis in the off season as well as Jordin Tootoo. IMO they should also try to get in on whatever Chicago needs to dump to meet the salary cap next year. Word is that guys like Seabrook, Barker and/or Sharp will be made available and Chicago won't want much salary in return.

      So offer up a draft pick…say a 2nd or 3rd round pick and possibly a Cogliano or something similar.

  • Good read Robin. I was like you and was stubborn about the dismantle. But who am I to argue now? This team stinks. Although I do question Quinn's decisions. Why play Moreau in the 3rd periods? Why pull Grebeshkov for Strudwick when Moreau, O'Sullivan or Staios could have been replaced. Although… Strudwick sucked last night – minus the assist –

    *sigh* I love this team but they are giving me a headache.

    So if the Oilers do take Eberle and MPS on next season, doesn't that still leave us with smurfs? I know… they will be smurftastic, but I hope they get bigger soon.