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.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ esa tikkanen

    Man I wish you were GM of a team that wasnt the Oilers. 3 young fw\'s to add a $3mil Dman to a team with 1/2 their payroll already taken up with them? Mike Milbury style

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Ever since they shifted Stortini to Center he seemed to have lost his way. He was invisible in almost every game. He should have been given a chance at redemption last night.

    With the exception of Gagner and Poltuny I think the whole team could use some time in the pressbox.

  • Shawner

    Burke took almost as much cap back as he gave away.

    Any moves Tambo makes at this stage need to shed salary for picks. Do we have examples in the post cap era where these trades work?

    I'm all for Tambo getting out of the way and letting a decision-maker take the helm, but it's a bit much to use today's trades as proof that it's Tambo preventing Oiler deals from getting done.

    The Oilers don't need a blockbuster. They need a fire sale. And a fire sale is going to be very hard to achieve under the cap.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      the oilers need something…anything…to at least give the team and the fans some sort of sign that tambo isnt just curled up in the fetal position under klowe's desk waiting for the axe to fall

  • I find myself agreeing with you more and more lately, RB…

    Half of me wants to see "Bernie" do nothing until the trade deadline though, to absolutely ensure that Hall/Seguin is ours. The other half wants to lambaste him for excuses such as "how hard it is to make deals in the NHL these days".

      • Who are you trying to kid?
        Isn't tough at all? Yes it is — two trades by Burke doesn't change that (and doesn't absolve Tambellini of doing what appears to be nothing). The absence of trades to this point in the season isn't about GMs being terrified. It's about cap space. It's about fit. It's about trading money as much as it is players.

        — You thought what happened to Souray "should have" happened to Horcoff? You'd like to see him injured?
        And tell me again about the part where Iginla keeps kicking Souray's ass. I missed that.

        • Shawner

          So what i was saying about souray was that "it seems that everytime he turns around iggy is there when he gets hurt", and as for horcoff i only said that cause souray is "possibly" worth more on the market than horcoff would be. At this point in the season, i could care less how much either one brings to the table. It just seems like the Gm's are very hesitant to make a move even if their team stinks -i.e carolina, if it wasnt for ward and staal picking up thier games do you honestly think rutherford would make a significant deal??, or how about Minn, or tampa, or NYI or StL or columbus, or even the mighty RED WINGS, and BRUINS, all marginal teams who havent done a thing "YET" to help their teams, so tell me How GM's aren't afraid, one wrong move and their whole team drops OR one right move their a contender again, i don't know you tell me??

          • Possibly worth more than Horcoff?

            Tell you? I already did. Waiting for the right time to buy a new car or a new house doesn't make you scared to buy a car or a house. It means you're waiting for the right deal. That should be obvious. Caution isn't a negative, it's prudent.

          • Shawner

            Ok you win, prudence might be the case, but,
            7 – 10 teams that are on the bubble being prudent? seems a little fishy too me
            givin the shelf life of
            decent players -vs- decent (teams)seasons.
            but i guess i may be looking too far into it.

  • Shawner

    Youth is the Answer Not an Old D maN from toronto, Komisarik is horrible and only looked good playing behind markov in mtl,
    and beachamin obviosly looked good playing with ana along side #25 and neidermayer,
    so i think that crappy D is not the answer and besides we already have enough Crappy D men

    sorry im robin but i think he might agree

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan


    do you think it is possible for the oilers to get komiserak or beauchemin for any combination of POS, Nilson, and or Cogliano?

    Frankly, I would just be happy to get Stoll and Greene back from LA for Vishnovski…for some reason Lowe traded the faceoff winning two way third line center and physical dman we didn't have any abundance of for a small non physical offensive dman that were very redundant on this roster…

  • Tambi was last seen assessing the situation at the Osteria de Medici as Sheldon Souray boarded a plane for Palm Springs…

    Hopefully we hear another round of "new arena" talk this week to soften "the blow" that is the Oilers.

    O'Sullivan for Laraque anyone?

    The Oilers are so awful we deserve the 1st AND 2nd pick.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    It's a bitter irony that Souray broke his hand hitting Iggy in the head. He should have just given him a good cross check.

    It was really disgusting seeing our guys get pushed around by the Flames last night, with no one there to really push back … as usual!

    Just like a few years (06-07) ago when the mantra was," We don't need a tough guy because we are team tough". Right! Several concussions and back injuries from getting run. Aside from the flu and other illnesses this year, which have exacted a toll, we again are among the league leaders in injuries… concussions and back injuries. Hmmm, what's the common denominator? A small team with very little toughness. I don't want fighting for the sake of fighting, but we need several guys who can push back if teams take liberties. Opponents have to get the message that if they try to injure our guys with cheap shots, their will be a serious price to pay. Third man in? Instigator? So what! It shouldn't take long for other teams to get the message.

    Hemsky is a prime example. I watch pretty well every game at the rink or on t.v. He is targetted by a lot of teams, particularly Calgary. Regher, Phaneuf, Sarich and others have hit him from behind several times. Reaction? Almost non. For the fans who have been critical of Hemmer, he has probably been playing hurt most of this season before he was finally put out of action. Why would quality players want to sign or stay here if they know they won't be protected?

    George isn't the answer. I hope we don't bring him back.

    I also hope we don't chase any big free agent signings again this year.
    Build with our youth and through the draft. Sign guys with good character and ability (at fair but not overvalued prices) who want to be here and add significant toughness so that we are not pushovers.

    I'm reserving judgement on Tambellini. I think that he is in a difficult position, with overpaid players of average ability, but I will be disappointed if there are no significant moves by March 3.

    As for today's trades, I think Calgary won by getting rid of Phaneuf.
    IMO he is nothing but trouble. Now I can hate the Leafs as much as I hate the Flames.

    Maybe Next Year…. hope springs eternal, until despair takes over … again.

  • Shawner

    way to go leafs and hurricanes, less pressure on the oil now, way to go souray ,now he can't be blamed for a while about how horrible the oilers are ……unless….the start to win, however Dont CHANGE A THING OILERS…

  • misfit

    I must not have been paying attention. I just assumed Comrie got hurt or something. He definitely shouldn't have been a healthy scratch.

    Toronto won the trade, but they're still overloaded on D and no picks for this year's draft. Burke was able to use his cap space to take on a very good (if overrated) player with a big contract, and it also gives them an opportunity to move one of their own defenseman and get some pieces for the future. White's a pretty good defenseman, but they didn't give up anything that could be considered a major part of the future.

  • Ninjafoot

    Maybe Quinn is running up the white flag by sitting Comrie and Stortini.

    Is it possible he will just rotate a couple of guys randomly in and out of the line up for the rest of the season?

    Draw two names out of the hat…those two sit tonight…

    Thus ensuring last place, and keeping all our potential trade bait in motion.

  • Pajamah

    Its bad, because we're calling on Tambo to do anything. Like the friend who watches his buddy getting picked on by the school bully, you just want him to swing back, even if he does get his butt kicked.

    That said, like I mentioned elsewhere on this site, aside from Phaneuf, there are no other players in the 10 dealt today, that I think would help this team significantly, now, or in the future

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Today really isn't about which guys could have helped the Oilers. More about how trades are possibly and how big ticket players can be moved. Almost everyone moved today was a big ticket player.

      Those are the excuses people are trying to come up with for Tambellini, they are no longer (not that I thought they ever were) valid.

      • Pajamah

        I get it, if they can do it, so can we. I just think our expectations will be shot to hell the moment (if) Tambo pulls the trigger.

        If there is a ON-wide moratorium on nit-picking, or over-assessing the deal Tambo makes to rid the team of Souray/Moreau/Nillson/Horcoff etc. then I'm fine

        At this point, I've accepted the addition by subtraction mentality of trading off any useful assets.

        I just see it as a damned if we do, damned if we dont scenario where people piss and moan for the returns the Oilers get for the deals made. If that reveals me as cynical, and slightly jaded, I blame it on the on-ice product I've had to endure

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    so now that toronto has no forwards and the oilers have no dmen, what would it take to get Komisarek or Beauchemin in edmonton??

    we have lots of forwards that are good enough to play in the nhl, but they don't fit here as there is absolutely no complementarity. POS, Nilson and Cogs for Komisarek or Beachemin?

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

          I'd like a little more in return (ie: centerd around). Maybe TO takes a salary dump or we get a 2nd or a prospect or something.

          I like Finger, I think he's the direction we need to go. A minor addition but he helps start to fill a glaring need.

          Move out a small forward that barely scores at a 2nd line clip for a 3rd pairing Dman with a some size that hits and blocks shots. A longer term replacement for Staios if you will.

  • White could be the sleeper. Can't figure out the Stajan part. He is a free agent this summer I believe. I don't think that Calgary really improved any weaknesses such as scoring. White is what Steve Staios was before 2006. I can't help but think the flames might need another trade.

    The silver lining is at least Wanye's crazy dream of getting Gigeure here won't come to fruition at least.

  • I just had a terrible thought… what if the Oilers get the 1st overall pick and DON'T take Hall or Seguin, instead opting for "a real blue chipper" that central scouting has at 151st overall?

    *rocks back in forth in chair and sings lullaby to himself … hush little baby, don't say a word…*

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Calgary is so good at sacrificing the future for short term fixes! Aulie seemed like a decent prospect for them, and who is to say they will be able to retain Ian White? Anyway, I hope for the love of God that the Flames still somehow miss the playoffs!

  • I'm more than a little stunned as to why both Comrie and Stortini sat out. Comrie looked energized last game, and we obviously need some scoring help. Stortini is an obvious upgrade on JFJ too. Makes no sense to me. Perhaps POS was being showcased.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      It's time Quinn started taking some heat. By no means is he THE problem, however he is at the head of a ship that will likely be the worst team since the lockout.

      • Ducey

        In an earlier article when I suggested Horcoff was seeing too much 1st and 2nd line duty and PP time you sugggested that Pat Quinn disagrees and that he knows more than any of us do and now you're suggesting he take heat…

        Which is it? Does he know more or should he take heat?

    • Ducey

      I don't understand this. You make a deal that possibly makes you worse than you were, and this is a good thing? Just because you are trying?

      So Tambellini trades Gagner for Jeff Finger and you are going to give him props for doing something?

        • Ender

          Another definition of insanity could include eating people's faces, which I believe to be preferable behaviour to trading Gagner for Finger.

          I could tell you a long story about the time I once panicked at an auction and bought the last lot available, soley because it was the last one. Buy at any price, just don't leave empty-handed was the thinking. That day is burned forever into my mind as a life-lesson; I hope the Oilers don't learn the same thing this year.

          Patience, Grasshopper. Do it once, do it right. Swinging at a pitch in the dirt is never a good idea.