We have to admit that we were a bit surprised when the news hit the wire that Oilers VP of Hockey Operations and Assistant GM Kevin Prendergast has been relieved of his command – a short time after the Oilers had finished 30th in the league and waddled off into the offseason.
We can’t help but think that this is a dash of scapegoating more than anything else and that the real issue lies elsewhere within the organization. However upon further review – and some feverish texting with Gregor – one can see the logic behind the rationale behind the thinking supporting the move.
The Oilers haven’t had a dedicated farm team in over 15 years. This has certainly had an adverse effect on the overall ability to develop players within the organization, notably the lack of NHL ready goaltending and the thinness of the AHL defensive corps. Coupled with the fact that the Oilers have had the ability to attract ZERO free agents of any magnitude beyond Khabibulin –
It is clear that the team is going to have to rebuild the team from within if it is to see any playoff action in the forseeable future. Steve Tambellini has alluded to this much in his press conference following the Oilers securing the first pick overall in the 2010 Entry Draft in his "state of the union address:"
"We have to be great at assessing for the draft, of cultivating that type of mindset and so many areas from strength and conditioning to team expectations to work habits to one day getting a chance to play in Oklahoma City to, further than that, getting a chance to play with the Edmonton Oilers. And the development doesn’t stop just because you’ve arrived here."
Prendergast has been overseeing the farm system for the past three years.
The Springfield Falcons did their best Edmonton Oilers impersonation with a last place finish in the AHL.
This simply cannot continue with the expected influx of draft picks over the coming years as the Oilers continue to rebuild. The ability to develop draft picks into players who are able to contribute both at the AHL and NHL level is a critical piece of the team over the next 5 years.
Changing Prendergast out – in theory – starts to address this issue.
Today’s announcement can either be viewed as an inconsequential move or part of a larger process to improve the culture of the Oilers entire organization.
We personally have no idea which is the correct conclusion to make.
We will put it to a poll.