How can you not enjoy the independent state of Kate Moss? I really like her hat in this photo. (Yes she is wearing a hat). If you are confused that I would mention her hat, now you know how I feel about the state of Oilersnation right now. A lot of things have me perplexed.
Liam Reddox was put on waivers yesterday, and you would have thought Oiler fans had just seen Tom Renney kick Ryan Smyth to the curb. Reddox was a favourite whipping boy during Craig Mactavish’s reign, because Reddox spent a whopping one and a half games on the top line. Two years later and Edmonton’s new favourite "Ginger" is being remembered as some sort of hero for the working class.
Reddox worked his butt off on every shift. He gave you everything he had, and it seems he had become the "Rudy" of the Oilers in the eyes of many fans. He was also a buck eighty soaking wet, and while he never shied away from contact he wasn’t going to wear down the opposition.
Reddox went from the whippinghouse to the penthouse without actually doing anything at the NHL level. I can understand why fans would want to cheer for him, but was he going to make the Oilers any better?
Is he any better than they guy who beat him out, Ryan Jones? I’d suggest he isn’t. He might work harder, but even with a better work ethic he won’t produce more. He won’t wear down the defence and he hasn’t put up as many points as Jones to this point. Jones has 15 goals and 29 points in 95 games, while Reddox has five goals and 14 points in 56 games. And Jones is more annoying to play against, because he gets in the face of the opposition, and the Oilers need that.
The most frustrating part for Reddox might be that at the draft in 2004 he was chosen 112th overall by the Oilers, and Jones went one pick ahead of him 111th to the Wild, and now six years later Jones edges him out again by the smallest of margins. I wish Reddox well, and since he wasn’t claimed on waivers we could see him at some point this year, but longterm I don’t see him as an answer to the rebuild.
With all they hype surrounding the kids, did people forget that this team still needs to get bigger. Their top nine forwards include one veteran, Dustin Penner and two kids, Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi, over six feet. Renney needs some size on his fourth line, and Jones has more than Reddox. Jones hasn’t shown much in his brief stint as an Oiler, but I’d go with him ahead of Reddox. Remember Reddox couldn’t crack the lineup on a team that finished 30th last season, and that is why I’d be surprised if anyone claims Jeff Deslauriers on waivers if he gets sent down.
OILERS TO REDWINGS??? REALLY!!!
I’m all for comparisons, but suggesting the Oilers follow in the footsteps of Ken Holland and his Red Wings is unrealistic. Their starting points are completely different. Let’s look at the Wings under Holland’s reign.
- Holland was named GM of the Wings on July 18th, 1997 after serving as assistant GM for the previous three seasons. The Wings won the Cup in 1997, so Holland became GM as the defending Stanley Cup champion.
- In his first year he replaced Tim Taylor, Tomas Sandstrom, Jamie Pushor, Larry Murphy, Mike Vernon and Vladimir Konstantinov ( car accident), with Brent Gilchrist, Mike Knuble (who had played year before but didn’t get name on Cup), Dmitri Mironov, Jamie Macoun, Anders Eriksson and moved Chris Osgood to starter. Not real impact moves when you consider he had Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, Brendan Shanahan, Igor Larionov, Martin Lapointe, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Viacheslav Fetisov, Bob Rouse and other veterans.
- During his tenure the Wings have spent more money than every NHL team, except the New York Rangers.
- Holland never had to rush his young prospects, because none were ready to play at 18, not to mention that the Red Wings could always sign a UFA in the summer, or trade for any big ticket they wanted up until the lockout. It is easy to develop the kids at lower levels, when you can fill out a roster with more experienced and better players.
- And these players he gets applauded for developing, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Franzen all developed in Europe against men. Unless you only draft Europeans this doesn’t apply to North American players. Franzen, who came to the NHL at 26, is heralded as a great signing, despite having only one season of 40+ points thus far. If he was making $3.9 million/year in Edmonton for the next ten years and had only one 40+ point season, I doubt Oiler fans would be drooling over him. Plus he plays with Zetterberg and Datsyuk and they make him a better player.
- The Wings have drafted one player in the top 20, Jacub Kindl, in the past nineteen years, so they haven’t had to decide whether a player was ready to play or not at 18. Very few picks outside the top twenty make the jump to the NHL with any sort of impact.
- Holland hasn’t had to worry about ELCs during his tenure until post lockout. Since the 2005 draft, only two Wings’ draft picks have played more than ten games for them in the NHL. Darren Helm has 25 points, and has four years until becoming a UFA. Justin Adbelkader has six points and four years until free agency. Jacob Kindl might play this year on the backend. The Wings are still winning with players from pre-lockout, and signing veterans to fill spots around their stars. When you have great players, there is no urgency or need to bring in kids.
I’m not suggesting Holland isn’t a brilliant hockey mind, but he inherited a great position and has maintained his standing. I give him credit for staying at the top, but he has never had to build up an organization, so suggesting the Oilers follow his model of developing players slowly isn’t a fair comparison. He was able to bring his young players along slowly pre-lockout because he had a great team and there was no need, or room, to bring the young guys in.
He also has had the luxury of having great players throughout his tenure, and great players will always make coaches and managers look better. Very few GMs are responsible for making players great. They might give them a better chance to succeed, but ultimately the great ones are great because of their own ability and hard work.
I don’t think anyone suggests that George McPhee has had something to do with Ovechkin’s ability.
HALL TO JUNIOR, WILL IT HELP?
Reader, Dawgbone, suggested it would benefit the Oilers to send Taylor Hall to junior and Magnus Paajarvi to the minors to delay the start of their ELC, and put the Oilers in a better financial position in four years when they should be a Cup contender.
"I don’t have proof, I have an opinion. Hall should be better prepared to be a rookie in the NHL at 20 than he should at 18, which would give the Oilers a longer window to assemble the players necessary to make a run for the cup while Hall is on his ELC."
"And are you suggesting they (Kane and Toews) wouldn’t have been dominant stars last year with an additional year before they hit the NHL? Is there any evidence that suggests this? Again, there’s the whole 2003 draft class that suggests it’s not a bad developmental move."
"I’m suggesting they should be looking at this like an opportunity to compete for a cup in 3 years time. They should be planning on competing for the cup at that point in time. That means doing things like not letting players burn ELC’s and looking to make moves that will allow the team to add the players they need over the next couple of years. There is no reason why a team in a cap environment can’t turn their franchise around in 3 years, especially with the crop of young talent the Oilers have."
Interesting points, so let’s look at them a bit closer.
I don’t know any team that has turned things around in three years to become a realistic Cup contender, especially one that finished in 30th place the previous year. The Hawks’ turn around has to be traced back to 2002, when they drafted Duncan Keith and then Brent Seabrook the following season. Those two were major contributors, and unless you feel that Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney will be comparable in three seasons, I don’t see how the Oilers become a Cup contender in three years.
When the ELCs of Hall, Paajarvi and Eberle expire in three years, that is when this team should look at becoming a legitimate contender. The next three years will be about becoming a playoff contender, and that is more likely to be the focus in a year or two.
I took the time to show evidence that another year of junior for elite players doesn’t make them more NHL ready.
Let’s look at the 2003 draft, like Dawgbone suggested, to see how much of a difference an extra year or two of development can help a player. Before we look at the results, keep in mind I have argued that the only way to adapt to the NHL game is to play it.
There are very few players, Crosby, Ovechkin, Doughty and Kane, who can make that jump seamlessly. If a player was born before Dec 1st, I listed him as a 19-year-old since he turned 19 very early in his rookie season. And remember there was no NHL during their second season so players had to play in junior, the AHL or Europe. It was the perfect scenario if you felt that players needed extra developing.
- Eric Staal, drafted 2nd overall. He is an October birthday, so he played his rookie season at 19 and tallied 31 points. Due to the lockout he played in the AHL at 20 and then tallied 100 points at 21.
- Nathan Horton, 3rd overall had 22 points as an 18-year-old, (he only played 55 games due to injury), then 47 when he was 20 after one year in the AHL.
- Nikolai Zherdev went 4th and had 34 points as 19-year-old, (Nov 5th) played in Russia during lockout and then tallied 54 when he was 21.
- Thomas Vanek went 5th overall, but was drafted at 19. He played a year in NCAA then one in the AHL before scoring 48 points as a 21-year-old rookie.
- Milan Michalek went 6th overall but got injured in his 2nd NHL game in 2003. He came back in January and re-injured his knee in the minors. He did rehab the entire lockout year and then tallied 35 points as a 20-year-old rookie.
- Andrei Kostitsyn went 10th to Montreal, played at 18 in Russia, then two years in the AHL (did play 22 NHL games at 20) and then scored 53 points as a 21-year-old rookie.
Jeff Carter went 11th to Philly, and stayed in junior at 18, played in the AHL at 19 and tallied 42 points as a rookie 20-year-old.
Dustin Brown went 13th to the Kings, went straight to NHL at 19, but hurt his ankle in late November. He only scored five points in 31 games that year. He played in AHL during lockout and then scored 28 points when he was a 21-year-old rookie.
- Zach Parise was drafted 17th and went to college at 19, then to the AHL at 20 and tallied 32 points as a 21-year-old rookie.
- Ryan Getzlaf went 19th to the Ducks and spent the next two years in the WHL. He scored 39 points as an NHL rookie in 57 games. He started the year in the AHL and got recalled.
- Ryan Kesler went 23rd to Vancouver and as a 19-year-old rookie he split his season between the Canucks (28GP) and the AHL (33 GP), at 20 he was in the AHL and debuted with 23 points as an NHL rookie at 21.
- Mike Richards went 24th to Philly and played two years in the OHL and scored 24 points as a 20-year-old rookie.
- Corey Perry went 28th to the Ducks and spent two years in the OHL. At 20 he debuted in the NHL and scored 25 points in 56 games. He also started the year in the AHL and got called up.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SOURAY
As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday evening Sheldon Souray had yet to be traded, but Steve Tambellini is feverishly working the phones trying to make a deal. Tambellini told me and a few others that he will try to make a deal or he’ll assign Souray to the minors before the the Oilers have to submit their 23-man roster on Wednesday.
I declared this the Summer of Steve once the season ended, and if he can somehow pull off a deal in the final hours, he will put an exclamation point on his summer. Tambellini has had a very good summer. He got rid of the guys he didn’t want in Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan, Marc Pouliot, Ryan Potulny, Aaron Johnson, Fernando Pisani and Robert Nilsson and all it cost him was a small buy out and Jim Vandermeer’s overpriced contract, but much needed toughness and grit.
He replaced them with Hall, Paajarvi, Eberle, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, Steve MacIntyre and Ryan Jones. I know Jones was technically here, but he only played eight games.
Now Tambellini is on the eve of ending a three-year relationship with Souray that didn’t go as planned for either side. Souray was hurt for the majority of two seasons, and was the Oilers best player in the other year. Now he is a malcontent who wants out, but he has realized that few teams want him at his existing salary.
I respect that Tambellini is standing his ground with Souray and refuses to have him around, but I don’t think it will benefit the organization. Souray would be a top-two D-man on this team right now, but his attitude is what Tambellini can’t stomach.
If he can pull off a trade by the roster deadline, and it doesn’t involve taking on a horrible contract for longer than two years, then he’ll deem it a successful trade regardless of which player and contract he eats in return. I won’t, but I’m not privy to all that went on with Souray the past few seasons.
If Tambellini can’t make a deal and assigns him to OKC, where he will most likely be loaned to a different team, then Tambellini loses in my mind. Souray becomes not just a diminishing asset, he becomes a negative asset, because either the Oilers pay him $4.5 million to play in the minors, or he gets recalled and they have to eat half of his cap hit and get nothing in return.
If Tambellini can orchestrate a trade, the Summer of Steve will look rather sunny, but if he has to assign Souray it will dampen what had been a pretty solid 178 days for Tambellini.