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.
  • John Chambers

    The Chambers Plan: (Madjam may use as a template)

    1) Play Doobie a whole bunch more this year. That kid has heart and intrinsic motivation.

    2) Get Belle, Petiot, Arsene, some journeyman to play his ass off for a 5- or 6- spot. Push the roster. No major shake-ups, just increase the compete level. Bring up the Red Ox as well.

    3) Give the kids lots of room to skate, powerplay time, and increase their confidence. It’s all about them. Cogs, Gags, and Brule too.

    4) Deal Penner and possibly Gilbert. Try to obtain top defensive prospects … I’m looking at you, Ottawa.

    Season ends. Draft a C. Indiana Jones is right – without a C you don’t win. Defensemen are also easier to trade for and purchase. Re-up Hemsky for another 4-6.

    4) Prior to the start of ’11-’12 sign a couple of gritty wingers to play the PK. Try to get a bona-fide 3-4 dman as well.

    5) Develop Chris VV as our 3rd line C.

    6) Make an assessment of our goaltending during the ’11-’12 season.

    Finish the season competing for a playoff spot. Buy out the last year of Khabibulin. Decide whether Renney is the man or get a Quenneville-type coach.

    Sign a top-pair defenseman (if possible). I believe Oduya, Wideman, Tyutin, and a few others are UFA’s after ’12.

    Execute to become the world’s leading IT company, er, NHL powerhouse.

    • D-Man

      I must admit I’m impressed with your foresight – not sure I agree with everything you’ve said – but kudos for putting your opinion out there..

      The only piece I disagree with is drafting a center… I’d still like to get a pedigree defenseman like Larrson to develop instead… We need a ‘d-stud’ on the back end and you don’t pass up the opportunity if you have one… Granted, we might not get the top 1-2 pick as NYI and NJ are hurting more than we are anyway…

      Not sure I’d bring up Chris VV but considering that you’re expecting him to emerge over a solid season in the AHL, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt… I’d like to see how Pitlick emerges in the WHL – he might be a decent 2nd/3rd line center too…

      But I digress – kudos and props too you…

  • “Also, callup Shawn Belle and Alex Plante, while risking waivers on JF Jacques and sending down Jason Strudwick.”

    Agreed, I’d say Plante is similar to Peckham in style but even bigger, can’t hurt to try him out as he’s been doing good on the PK down in the A. And while discussing the PK, I’d also bring both O’Marra and Reddox up to have them form a solid PK-unit. Send MacIntyre and someone of Jones (though he’s been rather good, but hes sadly not much of a much needed PK’er) or Stortini (mr I’m big but I don’t hit big) down. We’d still have a couple of semi-fighers around in Peckham, Belle and Plante.

    Sadly, I have doubts Oilers mgmt will even make 1 move.

    • John Chambers

      We also have a TelePresence endpoint in every home, and a turkey in every pot.

      It’s interesting (so interesting I’ve posted this 3 times now) – have a look at the ’06-’07 Chicago Blackhawks. They had some atrocious losing skids where the couldn’t score goals. They ended up with 70 points and eventually developed the best defense corps in the league.

      Or the Capitals in ’05-’06 who got blown out repeatedly while developing character players (Laich, Green, Fehr, Steckel).

      So it’s fine. We’ll probably have a 4-game winning streak in December and become jubilant again. Magnus Paajarvi will get hot and jerseys will fly off the shelf in time for the holidays. I am confident the stock price will go back up.

      Joy.