Dithering about: a Weekend at Tambi’s?

Thank goodness Sheldon Souray busted a bone in his hand in his third-period fight with Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla in Cowtown Saturday. That saves Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini from unwisely rushing into any trades without proper time to assess his team’s needs.

Sarcasm aside, and with Tambellini locked into paralysis by analysis with the Oilers now embedded as laughing stocks after 13 straight losses, the injury to Souray has taken the remote possibility of trading him before the March 3 deadline off the table.

While Oilers fans were cursing bad luck after a 6-1 butt-kicking that capped a season sweep by the Flames, taking Souray out of the pre-deadline trade mix isn’t necessarily a bad thing — even framed by the frustration of seeing Tambellini dither to the point of distraction until now.

I’m assuming, of course, the Tambellini we saw sitting in the pressbox at The Saddledome on Saturday night didn’t stiff two weeks ago and wasn’t being propped up in the cheap seats for appearance sake in a hockey version of A Weekend at Bernie’s.

Really, how would we know?

On the slab

First, there’s no guarantee Tambellini was going to be able to move Souray, who has two years of a $5.4-million cap hit remaining after this season, by the trade deadline. Of course, there’s no guarantee Tambellini is going to move anybody, ever, but I digress.

In theory at least, Tambellini will have more options when it comes to moving Souray after July 1, when his no-movement clause expires. Instead of having a list of 10 teams Souray has agreed to, he’ll have 11, or maybe 12. At least geography and veto power by Souray won’t be a factor.

While that takes some of the more immediate possibilities — Dallas and Los Angeles — out of the mix between now and the deadline, there’s nothing that says those two teams might not come calling in the summer if they don’t get the pieces they want for the stretch drive. Maybe New Jersey jumps in, too.

Second, it’s not like having Souray on the shelf is going to prevent the Oilers from making a trade critical to bolstering their own playoff run — I know, thank-you Captain Obvious.

With the Oilers a lock to finish dead-last in the NHL by a good margin and set a franchise records for futility in the process, they didn’t really need to move Souray by the deadline to assure a Lottery Pick. That said, the injury provides a little insurance that Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin is in the cards, just as trading him would have.

Tambellini, again assuming he’s not gargling with embalming fluid, can and should now concentrate on jettisoning more affordable spare parts — Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan, Fernando Pisani and Steve Staios — between now and the deadline.

The way I see it

— Say what you want about Toronto GM Brian Burke, at least he isn’t sitting around fiddling and blowing formaldehyde bubbles while The Big Smoke burns, as Tambellini seems to be doing here.

Aside from bending over Darryl Sutter and the Flames by getting the best player in the today’s blockbuster trade with Calgary, Dion Phaneuf, when his value has been diminished by a poor season, Burke unloaded Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala to Anaheim for J.S. Giguere in a second deal.

Given that Anaheim has been short up front with injuries to Teemu Selanne and Joffrey Lupul, I wonder if Tambellini, at any time, put in a call to the Ducks to see if they’d be interested in, say, O’Sullivan or Robert Nilsson? If Tambellini and Bob Murray were talking about Moreau anyway, as rumour has it, why not run it up the flag pole?

I’m not saying Murray would have done a deal because the new contract he signed Jonas Hiller to made it clear Giguere was on the way out, but you don’t know if you don’t ask.

— As hesitant as I’ve been to criticize Pat Quinn, I don’t for a second understand why Zack Stortini and Mike Comrie were in the press box against the Flames while O’Sullivan and Nilsson were in the line-up.

What the Oilers don’t need is Shawn Horcoff, who is playing with a bad shoulder, fighting while Stortini sits as a healthy scratch during a game in which the Flames physically ran Edmonton’s show. Even with Quinn opting for O’Sullivan and Nilsson, he could have at least yanked J.F. Jacques in favour of Stortini. How bad was Jacques last night?

First Steve MacIntyre was declared expendable. Now, Stortini sits as teams push around a legion of runts incapable of pushing back. Is Quinn making a mistake by under-valuing toughness?

— With Ladislav Smid, Staios and now Souray out, expect the Oilers to recall Alex Plante from Springfield.

Why? I don’t know, seeing as Plante, selected by the Oilers 15th overall in the 2007 Entry Draft, hasn’t shown he can play at the AHL level yet, but these are desperate times, after all.

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

  • Ducey

    Any idea where the Oilers dined after the game last night. Probably not that Oscar place I assume. Seriously though, making moves just to make them really isn't going to solve this mess. Maybe get closer to the deadline when there are some close to playoff contenders and maybe they need a player the Oilers have. Not likely though. Crap now is going to be crap then. Sidenote: the Sun rumored Messier will be NYR GM next year, I wonder how he'll be as a GM.

  • Saw a camera on Tambellini in one of the Oilers home games. He's not looking too happy and I'll bet his stomach is not all that great these days. I also heard Prendergast on Jason's show recently and Prender sounded like a guy who knows the end is near. One only hopes that management is finally made accountable…

    • If he doesn't want the job, I'll be more than happy to wear a fancy suit, do little to improve the organization, and offer up excuses and "we're waiting to evaluate when healthy" to the media at half the price. I'll even throw in a few e-mails and phone calls to GMs to try and make a move for free.

  • Is it too early to slit my wrists?

    After hearing The Toronto/Calgary deal, I honestly applauded Brian Burke at a great unload of useless talent to score a great player. Yeah, Yeah most of you Oiler nuts hate Phaneuf, but I tell you I would love to have this guy on my Oiler Team. Sjostrom is the Peca kicker in the deal. However his second deal for a heavy Giggy deal was questionable, however again to unload a useless Blake and Toskala made the trade worth while.

    Crap if the Oilers were so Lucky to hammer off Moreau, O'Skully, and Nilsson for a Getsalaugh or Ryan we should be so lucky!

    Now that would be a bloody miracle, but Yet I hold my breath, or maybe should I slit my wrists waiting for something good to happen to this team.

    On a side note, if Burke makes the leaf a Stanelt Cup contender in the next two years, I will vow to buy a Leafs Jersey and cheer for them I guess as a second favorite. Keep in mind, I hate the Leafs…

    Time to sail with the Captain…

    C for Souray…

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      "C for Souray…"

      No, that ship sailed when he said he'd be willing to be traded. I'd willingly hold on to him, but last thing we need is a C with one eye out the door. If you want the C, you do everything you can to stay and want to make this team go. Not be a bystander while your goalie is pelted by repeated shots.

      I'd rather have Staios, Horcoff, Gagner. Each with their own concerns.

      • From reading the quotes he has given on the matter I don't think Souray wants to leave particularly.
        I on the other hand would personally love to be traded to another team and ply my trade as a psychopathic superfan somewhere else but sadly I have a no movement clause in my lifetime contract.

        • No, I agree. Nothing sounds like he's trying to get out. But at the same time, he's not kicking and screaming trying to stay. Unlike a few others like Gagner who look this is where they want to be.

          Like I said I'd like to see him stay if he decides to stop being a casual bystander on the ice watching JDD/DD get pelted. Lately he's shown very little on ice leadership by example to make me think Captain. And I want a Captain that will lead by example, good stretches and bad stretches.

          I think he handled the question as honestly and classy as he could, and full respect for not being the next Pronger or Heatley-gate.

          But as a candidate for the C, I would have preferred to hear a dull, textbook "I've no intentions on going anywhere, I'm here to help this club fight its way forward."

  • As an aside, quite relieved to see no one using the "but the contracts Lowe left him with are too difficult to move" defense. If Tambo's absolved because of the situation he signed up for, why the hell bring in any new GM then?

    • That excuse's best before has past. Tambo has had two offseasons, one tradedeadline, one and a half regular seasons to make a positive impact on this club. GMs have been fired in shorter time periods than that. Tambo is in a performance based industry, or atleast I hope it is.

  • Not sure if it was mentioned yet, but the Oilers most definitely will be recalling Alex Plante. He was a healthy scratch in the game vs. Providence today, and the reason given in the game notes was "Edmonton".

    The options were pretty limited down there too with Peckham and Arsene hurt.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    "As hesitant as I've been to criticize Pat Quinn, I don't for a second understand why Zack Stortini and Mike Comrie were in the press box against the Flames while O'Sullivan and Nilsson were in the line-up."

    My guess is that Stortini and Quinn are already in the Oil's plans for next season.

    For the other two, it's a case of proving to the coaching staff that they are worth keeping or giving them exposure to shop them to another team.


    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      Your guess is something I'd considered because showcasing players is an obvious possibility at this time of year.
      But pick another game, not one in which you're facing a hungry and physically tougher team that hates your guts.
      The Oilers don't need an already banged-up Shawn Horcoff fighting and Lubomir Visnovsky getting hammered into the boards.

  • Reggie Dunlop

    I can't believe how bad this is getting. A total meltdown from the top on down. 29 more games of this and fans might quit on the team like the players & management obviously have.

  • Slapshot

    As per Darren Dreger twitter Jokinen, Prust for Kotalik and Higgins……..seems like a big shake on the Flames organization and Tambi just doing nothing!!!

    • Sutter wants soft and suspect offensive talent with a history of poor efforts all of a sudden? Seems weird… I expect another round of screaming from sutter B upcoming…..
      I understand shedding some salary and any deal that involves Jokinen leaving is a winner. Perhaps its as simple as that, get rid of some malcontents in an effort to get Iggy the room back and free up enough cap space for the summer to sign Bourque and maybe Giordano.

      Perhaps hes just gathering pawns for a Kovalchuk deal.

    • The flames make another trade where they ship out the best player?

      Did Sutter slip and fall on his head? Are these the last ditch efforts of a GM who is trying not to get axed? I dont like any of the trades he's made today. He shipped out the best player in 2 deals and received midling players in return.

      • I hate to be the Devil's Advocate in any topic involving the Flames, but consider that they addressed their scoring issues while adding a lot of depth today. Neither Kotalik or Higgins are going to ever be as good as Jokinen in terms of natural scoring ability, but consistency is not an issue with the players they acquired because face it, Jokinen wasn't that consistent as a Flame.

        The emergence of Giordano and the money they saved on flipping Phaneuf and getting the inexpensive White might even make the acquisition of another depth D-man behind Sarich possible.

        Plus Hagman is an underrated sniper in the NHL.

        The biggest "IF" is Stajan and whether he's just a rental or if the Flames can resign him with Bourque and others pending this off season.


        Phaneuf – PP, PK, EVs
        Jokinen – PP
        Sjostrom – PK
        Aulie – Prospect


        Stajan – PP, EVs (don't know if he kills penalties)
        Hagman – PP, EVs
        Mayers – depth
        White – PP, PK, EVs
        Higgins – PK, EVs (Pisani type role player, good for the playoffs)
        Kotalik – PK

        They got a bunch of role players in this deal. Toronto wins the long run today but Calgary definitely wins in the short run for now.

        They shipped out Phaneuf but I wouldn't say they gave up the best player in both deals. (Joke)inen is a pending UFA and Higgins will cover the bet, IMO.

  • Slapshot

    The Oilers are offering a meet and greet with some of the players if you buy 4 mini paks,it is only a matter of time before Katz realizes that we wont keep supporting a losing team and management that has no accountibility to the fans.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    On the plus side of Souray's injury we now get to maximize the Ryan Smyth trade by playing Plante….

    The parade route starts and ends in nisku

  • Reggie Dunlop

    You got to love "Killer" Horcoff fighting! If he continues to play the enforcer role for the rest of the season Zack could be trade bait. When nothing else is working, you might as well throw them. =8 8=

  • Pssst… why all the Flames talk here? You know, cuz we could go over to flamesnation.ca to discuss this. After all, its in the family, and you don't have to sign up over there – your ON login works too. C'mon by 😉

  • swany

    RB this is getting worrysome, is Tambo going to be able to do anything? What the hell happens if the trade day comes and goes and the Oil don't do a friggen thing? He seems to be sitting on his hands, I understand that trades are hard to make but this is getting redundant.

      • swany

        Something, anything, from RB's blogs he feels the same there must be SOME action comming the Oilers way, I hope Tambi isn't holding out for the homerun on a deal. There's not even any rumours out there about this team, I'm worried because this is the biggest T.D.D. for the Oilers future and if nothing gets done our rebuild could be set back another year or 2

        • We dont have the players to make your so called home run of a deal. Not trying to be a negative prick here but who the hell would want any of our players were offering? Who would you be interested in from the oil right now?

          • ummmmm, they had/have more then we could offer. Better contracts, timing of contracts, bigger forwards. Blake is the only one they moved that had a crappy contract because of the long term and its still better then Horcoffs, lol.

          • My only point there was that we often under-estimate the value that other clubs put on our players. Even before Penner proved he could really play in an Oiler sweater he was the center piece in a deal that almost landed Heatley.

            So dont assume that no one wants our crappy players, because that probably isnt the case. That's what I was getting at.

          • I never said noone would want them, I asked who would want them? "we often under-estimate the value that other clubs put on our players" are you kidding? most Oil fans over estimate? say Patty O, Nilsson and Pisani for Kovalchuk.

            I'll ask you the question then, who would you be interested on the Oil at this very moment?

          • I would probably be asking about Cogs, Grebs, Gilbert, Vis, Penner, Nilsson, POS, Brule, and Moreau depending on what my needs as an organization were.

            I might not be offering Kovalchuk for any of them but that's not to say that another team doesnt look at Grebs or Gilbert and say "these guys are pretty young and on the verge", or look at Cogs and say "I think I can get this kid some steady 2nd line minutes and that should really get more out of him than the Oilers have gotten."

            Yeah there are guys that over-estimate players, but there are even more guys that say "why would Calgary give us Phaneuf and Aulie for Stajan, Hagman, and White?" Crazy sh*t happens.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I agree, I'm very fed up with the "no one wants so and so!!!1111!!!!1111!!"

            No one is talking blockbuster, we've got our "blockbuster" coming at the draft.

            Trade bit pieces for bit pieces that fit.

            Move O'sully for a 28 year old Staios.

            Move Cogliano for a long term goalie fix.

            Move Gilbert for a second liner with size that can score 20.

            Move Nilsson for a 3rd pairing dman with size

            Move Souray for a 3rd line banger

            Small trades to create proper roster balance.

            Trade Staios/Moreau for salary dumps and a pick to facilitate the roster space.

  • Hey Robin,

    I heard on the 1260 morning show that there was a rumor that Garnet Exelby might be headed to the OIL. any truth to that at all? would Burke really be willing to make a trade with a team that KLowe still works for?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Any chance the Oil pick up Boynton off waivers. Couldn't hurt to test him in our silks and avoid being embarrassed so badly with only 3 NHL d-men in the lineup now. I'm looking at you Willis with you score blog article.

  • I'm not sure who I have less faith in, Oiler management or the team. It seems apparent that Tambellini's attempted signings were all horrible efforts to make a lousy team and a worse organization better. I'm not so certain we want Tambellini making trades of any type. He is just as inept as Kevin Lowe when it comes to having even a remote idea of how to build an organization let alone an NHL team worthy of the name.

    He got passed over in Van. by Dave Nonis and just about anyone else who came along. I think Van. was happy to see him head for somewhere…lets be honest…anywhere else.

    Tambellini is my nominee for for the Sid Dithers award.