Framing the Issue

This is Henry Fonda in "12 Angry Men." Along with wonderful phrases like "the New Jersey hair-splitting convention" the movie is a compelling look into the meaning of reasonable doubt and the power of bias and prejudice. It’s one of my favorite movies. 

There a slight disconnect between most of the msm and the blogosphere on a very important issue involving the Edmonton Oilers. Bloggers have been spending a lot of time discussing Taylor Hall’s future, going into great detail in regard to important issues. Keeping Taylor Hall in the NHL now allows him to leave via free agency (if he wishes) at age 25; if he’s sent back now the Oilers would enjoy his playing rights until age 27. That’s a big deal.

Also, many secondary issues (why on earth can’t these kids play in the AHL at age 18? that is something the league needs to adjust) have been brought up across the blogosphere and at the very least make for an interesting discussion.

The mainstream media appears to be using this discussion as a platform to call out "crazy fans" for being fickle. The radio has been full of diatribes about the silliness of sending Hall away ("give your head a shake") and not at all discussing the actual issue: are the Edmonton Oilers better off starting the contract clock a year (or two years) down the line. For the record, I haven’t talked to one fan in panic nor a crazy person about Taylor Hall. The Edmonton fanbase is taking a kicking here, and they don’t deserve it.

The fact is that there is an issue here that should be addressed: should Taylor Hall be sent to junior in order for the Oilers to get the most out of his pre-UFA career?

My own opinion is here. In that post (and quoting myself, good grief) I said:

  • I’ve always believed (and Earl Weaver taught me) that when a young player is ready to compete at a certain level the best thing to do is elevate him to that level immediately. Don’t put him in a position to fail, but rather take the things he does well and place him in ideal circumstances at the higher level. I think the monetary argument is a secondary consideration (honestly) and that player development should be the only real concern. If Taylor Hall is ready to score 20 goals in the NHL at his age, I believe he’ll be a better player one year from now because he was able to handle the extreme challenges at speed. It is a major step, and if he can do it at this age we may be staring at a Steven Stamkos. That’s what I believe.

Still do. If the Oilers are any good at all when Hall turns 25 he may well sign here again, and the Oilers are going to pay through the nose if he develops so here’s hoping. This is an issue that has enjoyed a longer than normal shelf life–certainly longer than it warrants–partly because the msm isn’t listening.

So let me be clear: these are not panic stricken thoughts of youngsters who hold their hockey cards in their hands while drifting off to sleep, these are not the idiot ramblings of unemployed, middle aged men with Cheesie bags and giants bottles of Coca-Cola.

These are well thought out arguments by adults that have benefits and are worthy of discussion.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    I think the whole point of this rebuild year is to give the Oilers’ prospects some time to develop in the NHL. The Oilers did clear roster spots for the big 3, but they earned those spots.

    They are going to make mistakes, and those mistakes will end up in the back of the net. But the sooner they get schooled in the NHL, I believe, the faster they will develop. Short term pain for long term gain.

  • Wanyes bastard child

    Jason

    JFJ signing is puzzling in the extreme. He has produced bupkas at the NHL level and again gets signed to a one way deal. Is there any suggestion that there is a market elsewhere in the NHL for oft injured no point producing part time wingers that requires a one way deal?

    Because when you say a segment of the management group want to give him one last chance— I understand that impulse entirely but that impulse should have been fully satisfied by about 07/08

    And if you are truly developing young kids….. why have Strudwick sit in the pressbox? We have enough veterans to mentor the kids why not try to develop a young guy with 35-40 games this year

    • Jason Gregor

      Which veterans do they have on the backend, that are great mentors about life in the NHL. I think many fans underestimate that aspect of the game. It is hard to guage because there are no numbers that will prove that type of value. But a guy who can keep people loose, teach them how to be a pro and how to prepare is a valuable asset at this point of the rebuild.

      As for Jacques, sure they could have let him go, but Jacques isn’t on the roster, so if they would have signed another player in his place would he even be here right now? I doubt this “player” would have forced Tambellini to make a choice in his backups at the end of camp.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    question a Suoray trade rumor(to Ottawa) came accross to me tonight. I said it wouldn’t happen because he would have to go thru recallable waivers even if he was traded.
    Either the Oilers would call him up to trade him or ottawa would call him up to play. he would be taken by recallable. Unless if Edm made a deal with Ottawa they recalled him and they took him off waivers. either way Edm would be on the hook for half his salary right?

  • Jason said:
    “how does signing Frolov, Pisani, Moore and Clark stay consistent with a re-build mode?”

    Signing quality NHL vets on one year terms who don’t bleed goals against would seem to be better for a re-building team than signing a bunch of scrubs who contribute to losing rather than winning.

    Unless the plan is to tank for the lottery again, there is no reason to fill out the roster with the terrible players that Tambellini has.

    Isn’t winning more than you lose a better environment for the kids?

    Even Lowe said “making the playoffs would be great this year” on Oilchange pt2

    So if making the playoffs would be great experience for all the kids and you have a ton of cap space, why is Vandermeer, Strudwick, Smac, JFJ here, why is Foster playing above his NHL experience and why are there redundant players (Brule/Cogliano) on the 3rd line?

    And for the love of all things sane, why are there two AHL goalies on the roster?

    Sure you can’t have everything, but look at how Tallon filled out his roster on his “re-building team”

    Reasoner, Bernier, Wideman, Reinprecht, Higgins, Weaver etc.

    All NHL vets signed on short affordable contracts, and combined with their core and kids, I bet Florida makes the playoffs this year.

    Too many people are giving management a walk on terrible decision because “its a rebuilding year”

    Unless they want to hit the lottery, its no excuse for filling out the roster with bad NHL players.

    • Jason Gregor

      So you are saying Pisani is better than Jones?

      Clark is a better fit than Peckham?

      Ask yourself why the Kings, who are an up and coming team walked away from Frolov and replaced him Ponikarovsky?

      The scrubs you are complaining about are MacIntyre, Strudwick and Jacques correct?

      Jacques isn’t playing and so if you replaced him, then someone from the roster wouldn’t be here. If you say MacIntyre then you haven’t been watching this team get pushed around and intimidated for the past few years.

      Strudwick is an extra player and here for more off-ice stuff than on-ice. Do you know for certain Clark would have brought this element?

      They would have had to trade for Reasoner..FYI. And how many really young players do they have in Florida right now? I’m not sure they are close to a rebuild like the Oilers. They couldn’t agree on a contract with Gubrandson.

      They got Wideman for Nathan Horton. You think they won that trade. They had to take Bernier as a throw in with Ballard trade. Kid is on 4th or 5th team already. He is suspect, not a prospect. Higgins another project. I actually like how Florida plays. They will compete this year, but not with a really young roster like the Oilers.

      I would have taken Reasoner over Fraser I guess, but they are seeing if Fraser can turn into Reasoner. He is younger. But the rest aren’t any better, and weren’t signed as UFAs they were traded for. So hard to compare.

      • Jason,

        “So you are saying Pisani is better than Jones?”

        I never mentioned Jones, but since you asked, probably, not sure.

        “Clark is a better fit than Peckham?”

        Which Clark are you referring to?

        “Ask yourself why the Kings, who are an up and coming team walked away from Frolov and replaced him Ponikarovsky? ”

        I never mentioned Frolov, speeds did.

        “The scrubs you are complaining about are MacIntyre, Strudwick and Jacques correct?

        The scrubs also include having Foster playing 2nd pair minutes instead of 3rd, Brule and Cogliano getting outchanced by everyone and being redundant on this roster, and yes the three you mentioned + AHL goaltender and Vandermeer

        That’s 7 roster spots out of a total of 23, or 30% of the team being below replacement value.

        “Jacques isn’t playing and so if you replaced him, then someone from the roster wouldn’t be here.”

        How about replacing him with a player who isn’t terrible and only having 1 AHL goalie on the roster so the non-terrible player is available. Brule needed a night off to rest his ankle and the options were Smac, Strudwick and a goalie. Brutal roster management.

        “If you say MacIntyre then you haven’t been watching this team get pushed around and intimidated for the past few years.”

        What does 3 min a night do? He didn’t stop the Flames from hitting everyone last game. Boogaard was playing when Armstrong knocked Gaborik out for 3-6 months in NY. How about some larger players that can play the game?

        I guess we disagree, but enforcers don’t seem to stop hockey players from hitting other hockey players. I think getting better hockey players helps a lot more.

        “Strudwick is an extra player and here for more off-ice stuff than on-ice. Do you know for certain Clark would have brought this element?”

        Again, not sure which Clark you are referring. By all accounts Strudwick is an awesome guy, but he’s not helping them win games. Keep him around the team, but get guys who help win games.

        “They would have had to trade for Reasoner..FYI.”

        Steve Tambellini is allowed to make trades too.

        “They got Wideman for Nathan Horton. You think they won that trade. They had to take Bernier as a throw in with Ballard trade. Kid is on 4th or 5th team already. He is suspect, not a prospect. Higgins another project. ”

        Good points. I still take Higgins and Bernier over most of the 7 players mentioned. The Oilers need a Wideman type in a big way.

        “I would have taken Reasoner over Fraser I guess, but they are seeing if Fraser can turn into Reasoner. He is younger. But the rest aren’t any better, and weren’t signed as UFAs they were traded for. So hard to compare.”

        Agreed that its pretty close, but again Tambellini is allowed to make trades. Tallon got Reasoner for Jeff Taffe (career AHLer with some NHL games after being a 1st rounder in 2000), not exactly an earth shattering trade.

  • Jason said:
    “I doubt this “player” would have forced Tambellini to make a choice in his backups at the end of camp.”

    Sanity should have made Tambellini make his choice between the back ups.

    These guys are fairly replaceable, and JDD is UFA after his year. WTF is he afraid of?

    Also,

    “As for Jacques, sure they could have let him go, but Jacques isn’t on the roster, so if they would have signed another player in his place would he even be here right now?”

    JFJ is on LTIR, when he gets healthy they have to put him on the roster.

    Also, pretty much every other player in the league is better than JFJ so I’d imagine whoever they signed instead of him had a shot at a roster spot.

    Perhaps a 3C who can PK and win faceoffs?

    • Hemmercules

      “Perhaps a 3C who can PK and win faceoffs?”

      Everybody wants this guy, was he available and we didn’t sign him??? Did they try to get a guy like that and couldn’t?? I’m still confused as to why the Oilers still suck at PK and faceoffs after 4 years. Where are these 3c players that rule at faceoffs and block shots with their face on the pk and why won’t they play in edmonton?

  • VMR

    GSC wrote:

    In THEORY.

    That’s all you can hang your hat on: THEORY.

    Debate all you want, it doesn’t change what is happening in the here and now.

    I will confess to not understanding your point at all. As far as I can tell, nobody should criticize what the Oilers do because the management is employed by an NHL teams and, ipso facto, therefore has decision making that is beyond reproach, regardless of what the worst record in the NHL over the past four years might suggest.

    If I’m understanding you properly, why are you on the internet? Just to say how good they are at everything? What’s the point of the discussion if you start with the conclusion that everything they do is right?

    • GSC

      That’s where you’re wrong, again.

      I don’t come anywhere close to jumping to the conclusion that everything they do is right. You’re proving my earlier point about bloggers finding those of us who agree with the organization and/or MSM more often than you do to be “sheep.”

      Criticism is fine, but when it’s all you do without a second thought, what else is there to discuss? Where is the debate? We come right back to the notion of “I’m right, the Oilers are wrong, and if you disagree with me then you’ve lost the ability to think for yourself.”

      I guess I’m just too stupid to think for myself, since I don’t criticize the organization at every turn and conjure up theories from hindsight as to what they should have done instead.

  • Ender

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Lou understands the CBA the same way a career criminal understands the law.

    Extremely chuckle-worthy, Mr. Jones. Although, there are some career criminals who know exactly what the law can and can’t do to them, especially the white-collar criminals. If you’re comparing ol’ Lou to one of those guys, the NHL perhaps has reason to be very afraid.

  • Where did our club go after an impressive opening victory ? Perhaps tonite we might see that club again with all the practice time they have had lately ? Can we get back to dictating the type of game they (Oilers) hope to play ? We look great playing our game , but terrible when other club dictates the game !

  • “Ask yourself why the Kings, who are an up and coming team walked away from Frolov and replaced him Ponikarovsky? ”

    Since I’m the guy that brought up Frolov, I’ll address this.

    One, I think LA signed the slightly worse player, for slightly more money. Two, I think Frolov probably wanted more money, and a longer term from the club he’d been with his whole career, and settled for less later than he thought he’d get. Additionally, I think there might be a perceived attitude problem with Frolov, at least from LA mngmnt perspective. If that’s the problem, then fair enough, I might well re-evaluate, but I have no access to that information.

    I like both players, the Oilers could have used either one.

  • Well, speaking as the guy other than Willis with whom you seem to have an almost pathological obsession, that’s BS.

    I don’t come anywhere close to jumping to the conclusion that everything they do is right. You’re proving my earlier point about bloggers finding those of us who agree with the organization and/or MSM more often than you do to be “sheep.”

    I don’t think I’ve people who agree with the organization or MSM more than I do are necessarily sheep. It would depend on the basis for which they were defending the team. If the argument is something like “Tambo runs an NHL team, you don’t” (which I think you’ve made a bunch times), then I think it’s fair.

    Lowetide, to pick an example, disagrees with me on Hall. I don’t buy his reasoning but I don’t think he’s saying it because he has a tendency to support the Oilers, right or wrong. He’s not a sheep.

    In any event, that has nothing to do with the comment to which I was responding, in which you said:

    In THEORY.

    That’s all you can hang your hat on: THEORY.

    Debate all you want, it doesn’t change what is happening in the here and now.

    You aren’t addressing my point with your response. Obviously everything that isn’t specific discussion of what they did do is hypothetical. You seem to think that this is somehow wrong or pointless. I don’t see how you can discuss the team and management without thinking about their options.

    Criticism is fine, but when it’s all you do without a second thought, what else is there to discuss? Where is the debate? We come right back to the notion of “I’m right, the Oilers are wrong, and if you disagree with me then you’ve lost the ability to think for yourself.”

    This IS responsive to that point. I’m not sure why you think it’s done without a second thought. Are you seriously say that people like me and Willis think or argue that given decisions are stupid solely because they’re made by the Oilers? If so, I’d suggest that you aren’t really paying attention.

    I guess I’m just too stupid to think for myself, since I don’t criticize the organization at every turn and conjure up theories from hindsight as to what they should have done instead.

    I assume you would think it appropriate to criticize the organization at every turn if the decisions were poor but you think that the worst team in the NHL over the past four years has made more good decisions than bad.

    As far as it being hindsight, I don’t think that you entirely know what that word means. I’ve criticized the moves that I think have really blown up – Souray and Khabibulin – when they were made. I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt on some other things – Horcoff, for example, was probably overpaid by about a million bucks when they signed him. The deal began to look a lot worse when the US economy blew up, the salary cap flatlined and the distribution of money in the NHL changed. I’m not sure it’s fair to blame them for not forecasting that.

    You obviously read my site, when you’re able to make months old references to single lines on it. I’m surprised that you don’t register your objections in the comments to specific posts rather than engaging in veiled whining about the tone here. Of course, if you complained about specific comments, you’d have to deal with the argument that is generally presented along with it and not get to have your own characterization of what is actually said.

    • GSC

      Actually, I don’t read your site. I just happen to have a good memory of what you’ve said on here and what has been referenced from your site.

      I do not think that the Oilers have made more good decisions from bad, I have no idea how you’re arriving at that conclusion. Yes, they royally screwed up on not only the signings you mentioned, but on letting quality players like Glencross and Hejda walk and trading away assets like Greene and Stoll. Awful, awful decisions. Not to mention, their overall philosophy was doomed from the start because they didn’t seem to have a philosophy as to what they were doing.

      There is no debating that the Oilers have hit rock bottom in almost every aspect of their hockey operations, from the NHL on down. The difference between you and I is that I started re-evaluating the organization once it all blew up in their face. They finished last, as did the Falcons, and at that point they were forced to accept a full-blown rebuild. From that point forward, I made up my mind to give Tambellini and Co. a chance to right the ship. They’ve certainly shown promise in their scouting department, and the moves they made this offseason should pay dividends in OKC.

      So far, I like what they’ve done in this rebuild. I doubt that you agree. Does that make me a sheep? Because I accept that those who screwed it up to begin with are charged with rectifying their mistakes is just the way it is, whether I like it or not, does that mean that I can’t think for myself? It’s great that we can debate on the subject, but at this point you’re beating a dead horse in criticizing the Oilers for past mistakes. What’s done is done, they’re in the position they’re in for a reason, no one needs to be constantly reminded of it. It’s time to move on and hope that they’ve learned from their mistakes.

      Anyway, I think we’re both guilty of making generalizations about the way each of us think and how we view the organization. I’ll try harder not to do so in the future.

  • Rogue

    Wow! Unhappy or what. Oil have started the process and people are very divided. I, like everyone have questioned some of their moves and non moves. Now, I may be wrong, but I think management has a 4-5 year stamp on this thing. And they need another top 3-5 Draft pick. We are weak at center and on the D. Only way to accomplish this, is to stand pat and make non-moves for the rest of this season.

    I can see Gags as a 2nd. line center, not sure if he will ever be a number 1. We need size and toughness in the top 3 lines, which we desperately lack right now. Same on D. We have 3 or 4 3rd pair dmen, and no real shutdown guys. What good will it do to jump from 30th to 20th in the standings? We NEED this pick to be a good one, to at least cut down on what we have to trade for in the future.

    If this team is a threat in that time frame, how many of these players will still be here? Of the top 3 lines, only 6 will probably still be here, if they want to improve. Defense? 3, maybe 4. I wish Lowetide would do an article on who he thinks will remain in 3-4 years.

    I just think there are too many holes to fill and the management see it as such. Let the kids play and after this year, start to pick up the pieces you need. IMHO

  • BIGGEST FEAR ? Oilers may not be capable of dictating game played on the ice . If that continues ,then voids will just be magnified, and this season could be even worse than last season even with a healthy lineup . A season more of playing the opposition dictating the game will do little to help our youth , unfortuneately , especially offensively . Patience or reality setting in here if slide continues ?

    • What part of icing one of the youngest line-ups in the NHL suggested to you that the Oilers would be capable of dictating the game? This is an incredibly unexperienced club on the front end, and not much better on the back end.

      I would love to be standing near-by (but out of blast radius) when reality sets in for you. I imagine a scenario where you drop to your knees, look up, and scream “WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??!!” at the top of your lungs.

      • VMR

        They dictated game one and were able to accomplish what they hoped to accomplish as a team . Since then it has been a real struggle avoiding having to play defence too much . It’s not youth or front end that bothers me , it’s defence and not being able to play the type of hockey they hope to dominate with . If we continue to have faceoff and defensive woes there is little the youth can do to make it much better – nor should that burden be put on their shoulders as much as incumbent staff .

        Put the youth aside and see just how little we have to dictate the flow of most ,if any games . Horcoff, Penner , Hemsky and sometimes Gagner look to be doing their part , but not to much from rest without including the rookies . Hard to have a transition or forcheck game when you don’t have the puck to start plays . Same goes for PK and powerplay . Our problems are far beyond our youth is what i’m trying to relay here !

        • Defense isnt just played by defensemen. The forwards have a say in that too. Note the -3 performance by both Eberle and Hall last game.

          The team was not built to contend this year. It was clearly built with the aim to get the kids their experience. The team purposely kept the defenseman with the most experience away from the NHL and Smid was given a bigger role.

          This year isnt about winning. It’s about development. Developing penalty killers, developing centres so they can win more faceoffs.

          • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

            Developing penalty killers, developing centres so they can win more faceoffs.

            what else happens in this dream land of yours? can i have a pony?

          • VMR

            Arch -are you serious ? “Oil Change ” last nite was about winning this year and so the players also feel likewise . Yet you say (or seem to imply )it’s about development and losing deliberately this season . Just what year in this development plan do they intend on doing a defensive makeover ? This sort of development you seem to think is happening could go on forever and we may never see the playoffs again .

            MANAGEMENT THINKS THIS PRESENT TEAM CAN WIN AND CONTEND THIS YEAR BY the OIL CHANGE spiel i heard last nite ! I ask you once again whose right – you or the players and” Oil Change” spiel ? Maybe i’m being naieve thinking they just might want to win more than lose this season .

          • Am I serious? Uh, yes. Yes I am serious. The Oilers are not icing a team that was meant to contend this season. Too many glaring holes and not enough veterans.

            You cant possibly be serious that the show “Oil Change” convinced you that the Oilers were going to contend this year. No one, not even you, can drink that much kool-aid.

            The kind of losing that I’m talking about is the same kind of losing that teams like Pittsburgh and Washington did AFTER they drafted Crosby and Ovechkin respectively.

          • What? Which players are they keeping in OKL that have the most NHL experience? More than Smid? Huh?

            While I agree there’s no desire to contend this year (duh!), I DON’T agree with intentional suckage. How are we properly developing players by NOT surrounding them with decent role models and a winning attitude? Not that we should expect them to win, but I do expect them to bring their best, most competitive game every night. THAT’S how you learn to win. Certainly not by practicing and playing with AHL-level talent and borderline NHL’ers.

            Strudwick I get, because he provides an intangible (and very important) element to the team. But he’s not playing very much. Foster, Vandermeer, Jones, SMAC, DD and JDD on the other hand are living, breathing facepalm generators in Oiler uniforms.

          • I’m giving Foster a VERY long leash this year. 2 weeks after he lost his baby, mine was born. I cant imagine what he and his family are going through. Moving, new team, grieving a terrible loss. If he’s a wreck in his own zone for a bit then I’ll live with that.

  • VMR

    I’ll give you the point on depth players, they are available now via free agency. However it still stands that you dont get top end talent unless you draft it, whereas pre cap it was much easier for the top teams to pilfer the best players. Now Jersey gets Kovalchuk but they have to ice 16 players and lose games just to fit him into their salary cap. Chicago drafted their top end talent with a few free agent pick ups that caused them to have to shed talent, the Penguins won through the draft as did Detroit.

    I think you are overrating depth players if you think they are what make the difference between winning a cup and just being a decent team.