What Does the Future Hold?

There seems to be more than the usual frustration surrounding the Edmonton Oilers. It probably has a lot to do with the in-season "Groundhog Day" that includes long periods of futility combined with small windows that give us a glimpse of the future.

We have a bunch of questions. Read on for the answers.  

  1. God this is bad. When will it get better? The current  problems are fixable. There are 4 major elements impacting the team’s strong of L’s: several kids are learning on the jobsite; Steve Tambellini’s moves to address need over the summer (Vandermeer, Fraser, Strudwick, Foster) are not delivering; Nikolai Khabibulin isn’t a major league average goalie; the Oilers (as always) address need so slowly they shouldn’t even bother. It’ll get better when the kids turn the corner and the GM at the time addresses need with useful players.
  2. The coach is bad too. Not so. The Oilers have had good coaching all down the line. From MacT to Quinn to Renney and the assistant coaches, this team has attracted top level people. We can probably assume that the assistant coaches new to the NHL are taking time to get up to speed but these are good resume’s behind the bench.
  3. I’m frustrated because the management gets a free pass under the "rebuild" banner. This is partly true. The problem comes from the rebuild starting right after 4 years of terrible hockey. So we’re going to spend a generation in the cellar on the way to glory. However, Darryl Katz listens to the customer and unrest is building over this hockey team. Steve Tambellini is on the clock and the Khabibulin contract (along with this past summer’s moves) are on him. Tomorrow is promised to Taylor Hall in this town, but not Steve Tambellini.
  4. They should have kept Hall in junior. I disagree, but respect the opinion of others. My feeling is that the risk isn’t as great as made out to be by many fans. There are two reasons: Hall’s a #1 overall pick, he was going to make big coin anyway; and assuming he’ll leave at 25 frames the issue in the most negative way. Hemsky signed to stay here through the first portion of his free agent eligibility and from what we hear may sign on again.
  5. How come they’re so awful? They don’t have enough actual NHL players. If I could draw you a bell curve, with the low end being rookies and young men like Cogliano and Gagner, this group is working toward being productive. If we draw a line just after that, the actual NHL players live there. Farther over on the curve, there is the group of men who may or may not have been productive at this level but are no longer able to handle the speed and skill of NHL competition. Robin Brownlee wrote an item last night that covered the subject nicely.
  6. What should the Oilers do right now? Play Dubnyk for three games in a row. It can’t hurt. Also, call up Shawn Belle and Alex Plante, while risking waivers on JF Jacques and sending down Jason Strudwick.
  7. They can’t do that, because there will be too many veteran contracts on the AHL team. Fine, then ask Strudwick to take on a coaching position with the minor league club. No disrespect, but as Robin stated last night it isn’t working. He’s a strong positive in the room? Fine. Keep him there as an assistant coach.
  8. What should fans do with their frustration? Take your wife/GF/BF out to to dinner and let nature take its course. Watch a movie, take a course at GMC, take up knitting. The Oilers are going to have bad nights this season, but it isn’t a reflection of you as a person and you do have a choice. Depression sucks. Turn off the TV when they\re bad and cheer like hell when they’re good. Oiler fans did it in 92-94 when the club was terrible and last season I’m sure the Oilers were partly responsible for a baby boom in the city.
  9. So there’s nothing to look forward to? Not so. The Oilers have some fine veteran players and three or four sublime talents up front. Plus we can follow the Magnificent Bastard’s draft picks in junior, college and Europe. There’s the trade deadline (the Oilers don’t like to address need during the season, it interrupts lunch) and of course the draft.
  10. How did they get into this mess? Trading Pronger for futures, asking the season ticket holders their opinion ("fix it, and get it right") and losing focus on the big league team because the arena is the passion of ownership and therefore management.
  11. Are they following the Chicago model? I’d say this is more the Pittsburgh model. Sucking in order to get good picks and a new arena.
  12. What model do you hope they’re following? The New York Islanders 1972-1980 model. Acquire good NHL players from all possible places. Bill Torrey brought them in via the draft, trade, signings and waiver wire. You can google "Bill Torrey Islanders Panthers team building" and spend hours reading about true innovation and wisdom.
  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans


    It seems like you’re losing patience yourself. Also, I might be reading a bit too much in between the lines, but it seems you’re already unimpressed with Tambellini.

    Lest we forget that success usually comes from the bottom up, and doesn’t come over night. That being said the farm team, for the first time that I can ever remember, is actually operating like a farm team and a successful one at that. IMO he’s getting it done properly and has the rope from DK to follow through.

    Sure the Oil suck, but Tambo might end up building an actual hockey club from the ground up.

    • Lowetide

      Max Powers: I think ST’s timeline as a GM is long enough now (he was hired July 31, 2008) to begin asking some tough questions. He’s been the driving force behind picking up Khabibulin, chasing Heatley, acquiring Foster/Vandermeer etc this summer.

      I’m still all about the patience and think the three kids (along with Gagner) absolutely represent the future. Tambellini has done well acquiring picks and has in fact made some nice deals.

      But the men who’ve left (Garon through Pisani) and the men who’ve arrived (Stone through Foster) don’t really represent a step forward imo.

      And that’s the measure of Steve Tambellini. The clock is ticking. The Oilers needed several players over the summer and the ones chosen by ST (Foster, Fraser, Vandermeer) haven’t done well.

      That’s Steve Tambellini’s responsibility.

      • LT,

        Agree with you 100%.

        Tambellini’s a great off season salesman but the product remains generic.

        He can lead a purge but can he build a winner?

        (speaking of purge where are the avatars)

        I’ll reserve judgement until we see ST’s handling of Penner/Hemsky and if he’s able to acquire another 1st rounder/legit prospect

  • Bucknuck

    I am not a Tambellini fan, but I appreciated the moves that were made this summer. He unloaded a lot of dead weight. Vandermeer might be in over his head, but I will take him over O’Sullivan every day of the week, and for 500K less a season too. Good work.

    Since 2006 the thin part of the Oilers has been defence. Since Roloson left it has been defence AND goaltending. Not a good combo. The Oilers need to get deeper on defence. In order to do that they have to trade some forwards. You can trade youth as long as you are getting youth in exchange.

    We need at least one more Dman who can play top minutes with Whitney.

    That, and playing DD more often would be a help.

      • Bucknuck

        I give credit for unloading guys because he got something back on most of those deals and we aren’t paying for players that aren’t on our team.

        That said, on the day that he gets the hook I will be a happy man.

        GM’s make mistakes, but if they won’t admit them then they don’t learn from them. I bet Tambellini is still telling himself that Khabibulin is our MVP, and he still thinks they lost that one season due to macTavish, and also that we have the right personnel to win without any changes. Bah!

        Lowe made mistakes, but at least he had the stones to admit it afterward. I haven’t seen him make the same mistake twice. Tambellini still hasn’t figured out we need PK people, and faceoff people. Though he admittedly figured out that we need ‘crust’.

  • Let’s everyone think back to that scene in Oil Change when Lowe’s in the back of the minivan calling his shot on the draft and Tambo’s grinning like a maniacal trophy way.

    there’s no bloody way he’s calling all the shots so let’s be sure to spread the blame around to our Sinden or Bobby Clarke.

    • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

      Dennis: Although I still think Lowe has some pull, I sincerely think Lowe has stepped behind the curtains a lot since this club decided it was going to ‘rebuild’. Of course this is only opinion.

      LT: I honestly think Tambellini is doing exactly what what Oil management want him to. The MO is probably to lose but try to do it in style, all the while developing players properly. So far so good, except the losing with style part…

  • Undiscolosed Personal Reasons

    LT: Any evaluation of Tambo’s moves needs context, especially the Vandermeer deal. I recall the trade being celebrated for it’s utility in shedding an under-performing small forward (O’Sullivan) and creating some contract space (i don’t think it was much, ~600K per yr?).

    IMO, the Vandermeer trade still looks like a win at this point.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Why on earth do people want to give him credit for dumping guys?

      Their is really no reason to consider this a win.

      On a team with 15(ish) million in cap space, 600K is irrelavant.

      No credit should be given for getting rid of players… waivers and buyouts are easy.

      (That said the Staios trade was decent on a value perspective….though he’d still be a nice upgrade on JV/Strudwick)

      • Undiscolosed Personal Reasons

        I give him credit b/c deciding who to keep and who to get rid of affect the success of the club. just a thought.

        Plus, it was a trade. I wouldn’t call it a “dump”.

        Even if Vandermeer is a 6th D he’s still more important to this team than a pricier O’Sullivan would have been. The Vandermeer trade looks like a win, a small win, but a win.