The Edmonton Oilers have been out of balance since TC 2006-07. In fact, the one time in the last ten years that the team boasted a veteran goalie, quality top 6 blue with a range of skills and a strong group at forward the team made the SCF’s. If they know the template, why can’t they repeat it? Is the pursuit of a lottery pick dependent on the thin blue line and lack of penalty kill?
After the Stanley run, the organization has experienced long stretches without entire player-types. Important items like two-way veteran wingers, actual NHL goaltenders, faceoff men and penalty-killers. If an organization is devoid of one thing, they usually make an effort to address it the following summer.
This past summer, I suggested the club had very specific needs:
- At least two of the small forwards will be gone (I’d guess Nilsson and O’Sullivan).
- Moreau is flushed.
- Sheldon Souray will be traded for a lesser defenseman.
- A veteran RH center comes to town and settles the middle up front.
- They bring in a big winger with some skill (possibly the new Isbister).
- They sign one of those monsters Stauffer is always talking about on his show.
- Oilers will deal one of the young goalies (I hope they keep DD).
It should be mentioned these items didn’t require any special skill to identify, many smarter than me were pointing out the the same thing. Let’s tackle these one at a time:
- At least two of the small forwards will be gone (I’d guess Nilsson and O’Sullivan). On June 30th, the Oilers bought out Nilsson and dealt O’Sullivan to Phoenix). The club also decided to pass on the idea of signing Mike Comrie for another season.
- Moreau is flushed. On June 30th, the Oilers lost Moreau to the Blue Jackets on waivers. It saved them over a million of buyout money.
- Sheldon Souray will be traded for a lesser defenseman. That didn’t happen, but the organization did erase him from the roster by asking him away from training camp. The deal is still out there in the ether. The club did add Kurtis Foster and Jim Vandermeer to the blue, and re-signed Jason Strudwick.
- A veteran RH center comes to town and settles the middle up front. On June 23, the Oilers acquired Colin Fraser from Chicago for a 6th round draft pick. Although not a right-handed C, Fraser did PK in Chicago (17.8% of his overall time on ice was PK). He’s being used heavily in that role with Edmonton (33.8% of his overall playing time).
- They bring in a big winger with some skill (possibly the new Isbister). I think the Oilers might be thinking Ryan Jones is a candidate to fill this role, or possibly they decided to clear the decks for the kids. Either way, no Coke Machines were acquired for the big league roster over the summer.
- They sign one of those monsters Stauffer is always talking about on his show. The team did in fact sign Steve MacIntyre and he is the enforcer for this Edmonton Oilers team.
- Oilers will deal one of the young goalies (I hope they keep DD). The Oilers finally made a decision this past week, sending JDD to the farm where he is likely to stay (barring injury) until he reaches free agency next summer.
So, what can we gather from the season’s first 10 games? Two things, both aided by the recent Oil Change 2.0 episode on tsn.
- The Oilers did in fact attempt to address need this past summer (Malhotra, Souray trade attempt, additions of Foster and Fraser).
- Those changes have not turned out as planned thus far and the responsibility falls on Steve Tambellini.
So, when we’re talking about the horrible PK, we need to be very specific about the problem. The penalty kill is awful, but we can’t accuse Steve Tambellini of inertia. He did in fact attempt to address the issue, but the results have been poor. Sooner or later, he’s going to have to address the PK (and the blue) again or leave it for the next man in line.
Tomorrow is promised to Taylor Hall and the other kids, but not to Steve Tambellini. It’s a harsh business.