Piss and moan: Is there no pleasing Oilers fans?

All things considered, it looks to me like Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini had himself a pretty good day Wednesday before the NHL trade deadline ticked by.

With a mandate to rebuild a team that’s near the top of the salary cap structure and languishing at the bottom of the standings, Tambellini’s task, as I understand it, is to overhaul his roster by making the Oilers younger and cheaper.

By sending Denis Grebeshkov to Nashville for a second-round pick, Lubomir Visnovsky to Anaheim for Ryan Whitney and a sixth-round pick and Steve Staios to Calgary for Aaron Johnson and a conditional third-round pick, plus plucking Ryan Jones on waivers, Tambellini got a start on that.

In Grebeshkov, he moved a ridiculously inconsistent defenceman who makes $3.15 million this season and is a pending RFA with arbitration rights.

In Whitney, the Oilers get a 27-year-old with a $4-million cap hit who is signed for three more seasons for the 33-year-old Visnovsky, who packs a $5.6-million cap hit — a gain of six years and $1.6 million on the cap.

By moving Staios, Tambellini unloaded an extra year of a $2.7 cap hit on a player near the end of the line for Johnson, a depth defenceman who can be re-signed or cut loose next season.

Not a brilliant day for Tambellini, not with Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani still here, but a pretty good one in my books, given the mandate and what he has to work with.

Of course, some disagree.

What do you expect?

With the moves Tambellini made Wednesday, the Oilers are younger, cheaper and better positioned to undertake the rebuild fans have said they want.

And, if you got a look at the defence Pat Quinn ran out in a 5-2 loss to Chicago at the United Center last night, it’s obvious this team isn’t going to loosen its grip on 30th place and one of the top two picks in the draft lottery, even allowing for the addition of Whitney.

Still, to listen to some fans, perhaps assuming a complete and proper rebuild would take three months instead of three years, Tambellini soiled the sheets Wednesday, particularly with the Visnovsky trade.

The love for Lubo was a thing to behold on message boards and websites as many of the same fans who have criticized Tambellini for sitting on his thumb instead of taking care of business sniffed about how he ran off the Oilers best defenceman for Whitney. Pardon?

"He could have got more," brayed some. Really. "So, we end up with Whitney for Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. Brilliant trade. Nice asset management," others moaned. Please.

Teams sitting in a position of strength get more. Teams sitting in 30th place do not. Tambellini, for all his faults, didn’t trade Stoll and Greene to Los Angeles for Visnovsky, Kevin Lowe did. Tambellini isn’t operating under the circumstances of July 2008. It’s March 2010 and he’s trying to clean up the mess left him by the previous boss.

What’s the problem?

I get it why people like Visnovsky as a player. He’s smart. He’s productive. He thinks the game. He’s a damn good player, by far the best the Oilers have had on the back end the past two seasons.

Visnovsky is also 33, and, unless he can buck Father Time over the final three years of his contract, his effectiveness, ice time and points production will almost certainly decline. Would Visnovsky have been a significant part of an Oilers team ready to contend in, say, 2011-12?

Whitney, on the other hand, is just entering his prime. While there’s no doubt he’s struggled in Anaheim with just 4-24-28 this season (his bad numbers make him the Oilers leading scorer on defence), past seasons lead me to believe he’s better than he’s shown.

With 38-150-188 in 335 games, including a career-high 59 points with Pittsburgh in 2005-06, Whitney sits at .56 points per game to this point in his career. That, it turns out, is the same as Visnovsky, who comes in at .56 with 88-254-342 in 606 games.

So, which player will have been more productive when we add up the points the next three seasons? Whitney at $4 million or Visnovsky at $5.6 million? I know where my money is.

When 2011-12 rolls around two seasons from now with Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin or the Swiss "sleeper" the Oilers take this summer entering his sophomore season, who stands to be a bigger part of a resurgence, a 29-year-old Whitney or a 35-year-old Visnovsky?

Looking ahead

Before Tambellini got things started by moving Grebeshkov, he was getting roasted, mocked and lampooned for his dithering. Fans, most of them resolved to enduring a rebuild (as long as it doesn’t take too long), had heard plenty of talk but precious little action. Now, they have some.

While Tambellini failed to unload Moreau and Pisani, I don’t get the consternation over the moves he made Wednesday. From where I sit, it seems some people are determined to piss and moan no matter what happens. They’re happier that way.

That inclination, given the Oilers are on the way to missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season, is understandable, but let’s not hang four years of disappointment on Tambellini, who has yet to complete his second season as GM.

Going into the deadline, I saw the next four months, March 3 to the opening of free agency July 1, as the window for Tambellini to put up or shut up. To kick-start a plan. To stop talking and start doing so fans can look ahead instead of fixating on these past four years of failure.

While there’s obviously more to do, the Oilers are younger and cheaper today than they were yesterday. That’s the mandate. That’s the process. Call me crazy, but it’s a start.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • I think we are avoiding the real problem.

    Here is the question:

    Would we be complaining about this deal if Tambellini had given us any reason to believe in his ability to maximize a deal?

    As far as I can tell he is simply a bad negotiator.

    If I believed that he could properly negotiate a deal then I would happily accept that this was the market value for Visnovsky, and that would be it.

    When I see something like the Nashville deal I have to question his ability to handle negotiations at this level. Unless new information has come to light today (I have been huddled up in meetings all day) I think it was inexcusable for Tambellini to fail to acquire Jones in the Grebeshkov deal.

    Jones being waived is pretty clear evidence that Tambellini left something on the table, so we are all left wondering what was left on the table in the Visnovsky deal.

    • Colin

      You realize taking Jones off waivers mean nashville still pays half the salary and cap hit right (just for this season though i think)?

      If you want someone it's much preferable to get them via waivers than trade if possible.

    • Ender

      It's hard to say for sure if anything was left on the table or not; the GM's in Anaheim and Nashville may have adopted a hard-line stance with the Oilers and the deals were what they were. In the case of Nashville it's even possible (wild speculation here) that Tambo outsmarted Nashville by getting a better pick for Grebs than the one that was first offered with Jones, knowing that Nashville would likely waive Jones anyway and that he stood a chance to get both the better pick and the player.

      My problem isn't so much the Nashville deal by itself but the Anaheim one taken in conjunction with it. If market value for Lubo's contract was so low right now that a soft $4M d-man was the return (and that's a big suppose right there), Tambellini should have waited for the market to get better before dealing him. And if he just needed to shed salary, why not try to get a better pick for Lubo and keep Grebs for $1M less than Whitney?

      • VMR

        Where's the downside of trading a soft $5.6 million dollar dman for a younger but also soft $4 million dollar dman?

        Not a lot of teams can take on a $5.6 million dollar cap hit for a soft dman and they certainly cant take one on without sending back some salary.

        I fail to understand how everyone is rating Lubomir as some amazing defenceman. His game has a ton of the same holes as the player we got, you cant complain about Whitney without also taking a look at Vis.

        Check out this article by Jim Matheson before the trade, he's talking about Smid but he compares him to Vis. Gives a more accurate picture of Vis than whats going around here.


      • I didn't say the problem was the Nashville deal, the problem is the the issue illustrated by Nashville deal.

        It is not hard at all to say that something was left on the table because it very obviously was. We wanted Jones and they were giving him away for nothing. There are only 3 possibilities – We didn't ask, we asked and backed off way to easily, they held out for the waiver claim fee.

        Only two of those seem reasonable to me.

        Once again – If he left money on the table once, where else did he leave money?

  • Slapshot

    If the Oilers are in a true rebuild, then Eberle should be in the Ahl next year developing.Their is no guarantee, that he is going to make the team.The same came be said about Hall or Seguin.I think the organization rushed the developement of Gagner and for the last few years his inconsistant play shows that.I dont see Pisani,Moreau,Neilson and strudwick here come September.

  • Slapshot

    "You realize taking Jones off waivers mean nashville still pays half the salary and cap hit right (just for this season though i think)?"

    Thats only on re-entry waviers.

    And even if it was on re-entry waviers, both teams would be on the hook for the whole contract. For example, Dallas is on the hook for 2 mil of Avery's 4 mil for the next 2 or 3 years.

  • BigE91

    If we are rebuilding why get jagr? Also I don't think you can compare Whitney to lubo. Whitney played with sid. Chorney have you seen him play ? I'm not impressed. Oilers worst players in my mind that they must get rid of by next season. #1 Moreau #2 Gilbert #3 JDD.
    If habby can't play and tambo can't replace him with at least a half decent tender we are screwed. Oilers defence, defensive zone exit and the goalie have been the worst in the league since Game one this season. How would the oilers look if they place Moreau in the minors ?

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      im only interested in these stats if the CORSI rating is involved.

      seriously? PLUS-MINUS projections? thats so archaic and pedestrian in weight.


    • VMR

      That pretty much shows that you can get stats to say anything you want. Oh wow some defenceman has a better plus minus than an NHL defenceman that's amazing. They must be amazing stopping all those scoring chances that Hnat Dominchelli gets!!

      Plus even if he has a point does it really matter who is on the ice for this team now? I mean seriously is it going to be a tragedy if our defence costs us a game?

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Who really cares, that was defense for one game now Whitney and Johnson are in over Motin and Arsene. Is it really news to us that we dressed a bad defense the other night?

  • No problems with any of the deals. If we can lose some more salary in buyouts or waiver transactions even better. Guys like POS & Nilsson can be bought out for cheap – only 1/3 of the cap hit as compared to a guy like Moreau who would be 2/3 of cap hit.

    The thing that would piss me off is unloading this salary, pretty much saying that we are in rebuild mode & then going out & signing Jaromir Jagr this summer. That would be the one thing that would piss me off.

  • Chaz

    We honestly cannot complain as fans to what The Oilers did at the deadline or not. Personally to dump over 6 million in cap space going into draft weekend is pretty damn good. It sucks that Visnovsky is gone but everything happens for a reason. With as many prospects potentially that the Oilers have coming to camp next year, and the number 1 or 2nd overall choice in the draft, the Management crew still wants to clear out a few more contracts. So why all the whining and bitching? Really, if the team is going to rebuild it doesn't take one deadline day to get it all done. There is 6 MONTHS to camp! That is a lifetime for you guys not to worry so much. I realized this team was done back in December. I have gone on with my life and enjoyed other things, than bitch about the Oilers. THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO! Bitching and moping isn't going to solve anything. I really feel sorry for the bunch of you that phone in daily to the team 1260 and gripe about the Tambellini, and the Oilers. GET A LIFE… I'm going to enjoy my time, and warm up for the Golf Season…

    • 1. We as fans can complain about whatever we want.

      2. We actually gained cap space, we didn't dump it. Did you mean we dumped salary?

      3. Of course it happened for a reason…our GM may not be very good at his job.

      4. Many of us realized the team was done long before you did apparently, but how does that have anything to do with talking about it? This is an Oilers hockey site. WHAT ELSE WOULD WE TALK ABOUT ON A SITE DEDICATED TO TALKING ABOUT THE OILERS?

      5. I feel sorry for a guy who feels the need to post on an Oilers forum to tell people to stop talking about the Oilers. Who needs to get a life?

      • Reagan

        Oh boy you have issues…

        Point 1: You are a whiner.

        Point 2: Dumped contracts gained cap space, miswording… Oh sorry about that.

        Point 3: Cleaning up previous GM's mistakes, not really his fault for trying to trade inadequate players and lousy contracts. Hence previous GM moves.

        Point 4: My reference was regarding the season. DO I HAVE TO SPELL EVERYTHING OUT FOR YOU. LOL

        Point 5: Not telling you to stop talking about the Oilers, but quit whining about every transaction like its the end of the freaken world. You must be one of the whiners.

  • Chaz

    I'm getting tired of the people Bitching and Moaning about people Bitching and Moaning. Seems like a Kettle / Pot situation to me.

    Speaking of Golf Season, are there any good indoor practice ranges in the city now that Urban Links is closed? Is the Golf Dome still open? No Oiler playoff games to use an excuse for a crappy swing this year!

    • Chaz

      It depends how tough you are. Haha. Oh wait, this is the internet, we're all MMA-ers…

      No, seriously though the thing I do find funny is the instantaneous assessment of moves made, and how sure people seem to be with these assessments. For example, I know Lubo is a great player, but until I actually have a few games to watch Whitney I won't be able to comment on weather it was a good trade or not, even though I've already complained about it (That pot / kettle thing again). Even if their stats align, which they seemingly do the proof for me is watching them play.

      It seems tough to me to really have a good read on players from other teams unless you have Center Ice or are paid to watch hockey….

      And remember, all great sports franchises have the hard core love/hate fans that will always complain. Could be worse, we could all be soccer hooligans.

  • Ender

    Browner, I think you're exaggerating a little bit about the fans' response. My sense is that the average fan is a little ticked off about how Tambo has handled his mangerial duties up until this week. Tambo did nothing to address the Oilers needs in the off season and most fans felt his attention was over concentrated on Heatley and even the Sens Neil. If anything some of your media colleagues including the Journal blogger Staples was lamenting the loss of Grebs. I'm gonna give Tambo a B- grade this week but a C- grade overall for his entire body of work as the Oilers GM. You've gotta look at his moves, his non-moves as well as the mess Lowe left him with.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      A little ticked off? I haven't exactly went to too many places were anyone was happy to have Tambo as a GM. And I'm not talking about the internet, go to the Oilers game and during the intermission there are guys ripping Tambo all over the place. Go to the bar and when the other team scores you hear "yep see what happens when our brillant Gm signs Bulin".

      The average fan that just focuses on the Oilers doesn't care about the future as much as they do about the present. I have been trying to convince people in my bar that us losing is a good thing, the only one that listens is the waitress that wants new tits.

  • Reagan

    @ Ogden Brother Jr.

    Another whiner. It's been a whole two weeks since the whole re-builing phase has started. Let's see, I don't know… Hey how about a little time…?

    Obviously trying to please the whiners with a potential #1 goalie/alcoholic wasn't enough for you? LOL

    It's warm enough in Alberta to pull out your Lamborghinis? Isn't it.. The Porsche is already on the road!

    • What's with the Whiner schtick you've got going here? Not everyone is a Lamb that is content to be herded by Bob Stauffer and Steve Tambellini. Learn to think for yourself and you just might find a few things that you dont like.

      • Reagan

        Oh, I think for myself. I think a lot of followers tend to over react to every move that is all. Some are to quick to react before they think that miracles cannot happen of night.

        Seriously Archeologuy, how long owuld it take for you to Dump BAD Contracts, trade useless (sorry derogatory statement, less desirable) Players, draft new talent, and please all the Whiners in Oil Courty by next fall.

        Oh, and I forgot to mention… Make the team +500 and make the playoffs, and potentially go for for the Stanley Freaken Cup, all in 2011…

        No Bob or Steve thoughts here, just the facts.


        I'm not impressed with the team the last two years. It hurts to be an Oiler Fan. Plain and simple. But it's useless to attack and demeanor every move or trade that happens toward Management or staff of the Oilers. Steve Tambellini has a job to clean up the mess. It isn't going to take days to fix it. It may take months, if not several years to build another winning franchise. There is no sence in fighting and whining and bitching about small steps in the advancement or rebranding a failing club. I'm not trying to create more enemies but there comes to a point where guys like Owners would rather have no fans that listen to some of the crap spilt by some of the whiners here. I am one of them. Why fight for something, you cannot control? Life is too short to worry whether a player is having a good season or not. Let the player be the player, and in most cases he'll figure it out. And if he doesn't he gets moved. Management and Owners are well aware of how fans feel. Lets give them some time to figure it out. Like I said before it has been two weeks since this so called rebuild has started, lets give them a bit of time.New players and draft choices have still to enter the team next year. Why not wait for three of the most exciting players to start their careers here in Edmonton!

        Yeah, I do not what else to say…


        • I fundamentally disagree with a few assumptions that are required for me to agree with you.

          1) I do not think Lubo had a Bad contract
          2) I do not believe that Tambi has made any step towards rebranding a failing club
          3) I do not believe that while this club is rebuilding that there are decisions that are off-limits to my (or anyone's) criticism

          This is the perfect forum to b*tch about all things Oiler. If this site worked under the "Why fight for something, you cannot control?" concept, nobody would say anything. Ever.

          • Reagan

            Almost everything said about the the Oilers is negatives. Not saying that is a bad thing. But at the same token unfortuantely I honestly believe that they know what they have to do and it thoretically is out of our control. Most are Whiners

            All my assumptions are coming from not only you but everyone that has bashed the Oilers and management in the last few days.

            1) Lubo had a decent contract, just to steep for the Oilers because Souray is hurt.

            2) Tambi has now tried to Dump Salary to get bigger and younger.

            3) The club is in rebuilding or reorganization or players. How ever you want to call it.

        • At what point do you notice anyone arguing that Tambellini is not moving fast enough?
          we have a problem with the specific moves made, not the pace at which trades are being made.

          If you have been around here at all you should be aware that we all pretty much recognize that it can't happen immediately.

          • Reagan

            The some to a point where everyone at this site and forum has called you a whiner. When will you learn to just shut up? Obviously you lack the ability to see beyond your own words. I shake my head at you ability to understand any one elses comments. I have not only mentioned the speed but also the quality of moves in generalization. You are dense, just like Tiger Woods in his apology speech.

          • You have mentioned speed often enough to be comment worthy, and I never claimed you didn't mention quality. Whether you mentioned quality as well is irrelevant. I asked when you noticed anyone criticizing the speed.

            Why don't you try answering my criticism rather than launching into infantility.

            For the record, I have been called many things on this site, but you are the first to call me a "whiner", so I believe you may be overstating yourself just a mite when you say that "everyone on this site" has called me any such thing.

            Shake your head all you want, but I shake my head at your inability to formulate a coherent argument. I understand you just fine, but you have very clearly misunderstood many posters because you persist on responding to claims never made.

            Then you really proved your brilliance when you felt the need to resort to "shut up." Perhaps I will respond with grow up.

  • VMR

    "Does Robin get what the Oilers are doing? Maybe. Are the trades what we expected? No. Is Ethan going to get bought out? We'll cross that road in the summer. Did we try move Pisani and Moreau? We tried but no one wanted them. Did Lowe have an eye for talent? He's as blind as a bat.

  • Reagan

    Wow, you conceited and self indulgent. You must feel like a hero.

    At this point I have no idea why I am replying again. Shut up Reagan, Shut up. Ignore the ignorance…

          • What's really funny is I just noticed how he justifies claiming that everyone is calling me a whiner. It's because "Boris" agreed with him back in #271. Everyone indeed.

            I love it when you dispute something someone says and they just lose it, yet somehow you are the one who has problems and needs to relax.

          • I just hate the people who want everyone to stop talking, arguing, or debating about what the Oilers are/should be doing. Then I get accused of having a screw loose because I question the competency of a group that is performing worse than every other team in the league.

            Personally, I'm of the opinion that anyone who isnt skeptical of this group is a mental midget.

          • Reagan

            It is not just Boris but other find you less than desirable on this board. You said it so you self by others calling you names. It was more of a generalization in general about your supposed character reference. Well since it is not everyone that does visit here, I'm inclined to apologize for the previous statement.

          • It was more of a generalization in general about your supposed character reference.

            In truth I have no idea where to begin because this statement is so convoluted I feel like my IQ dropped 6 points just reading it.

            What is a generalization in general? Character reference? What are you even trying to say? Have you ever managed a coherent thought? Do you now think you have insight into my character because of discussions on OilersNation?

            I happily admit to having irritated a couple people who have a habit of taking disagreements as personal insults, like yourself, but if you are waiting for me to care you have a long wait ahead of you.

            I have news for you…if you think people around here have a higher opinion of you then you are sadly mistaken, and if you actually care what nameless people on a hockey forum think of you then you have some priorities you need to reconsider.

            One more thing….tell me who seem more like whiners to you:

            People who have specific doubts about the transactions made and are posting to outline their doubts because they want to talk about it, or

            People who post condescending rants about how everyone with a contrary opinion is a whiner, and then go on to pout like children with nothing better to say than "whiner" because someone disagreed.

  • Reagan

    Most of the responders in this forum Today did nothing but whine. So therefore the Whiners call were just called. Not trolling, just tired of hearing whining. I'm an Oiler fan to N th degree and sick and tired of hearing complaining when we should be glad to even have an NHL franchise still.

    Good night!

  • Reagan

    @ Archaeologuy

    Never accused you of having a screw loose. Did I say or reference that anywhere. That is a lie.

    Oh, I never said anything of the sorts that there wasn't a problem with the exisiting team. As a matter of fact in post 284, I said I was not impressed with the team, and it hurts to be an Oiler fan. Now you are putting words in my mouth, and name calling me a mental midget for it. That is a lie. Did I ever call you a whiner? I don't think I did. I called Tiger one but not you. That is another lie.

    • I only called you a mental midget if you werent skeptical of the people in charge of the Oilers. I never said names.

      You called all the people who came on here talking negatively about the trade whiners. I was talking about the trade negatively. I can only take that to mean you grouped me in with the whiners.