Once in a very Blue Moon

Sometimes things appear to good to be true. However, every once in awhile you come across something so beautiful, so powerful, so impressive, you know in that instant this is special. Oilers fans were blessed with such an event 30+ years ago; what will it take for it to happen again? 
 

We learn from history that youth is wasted on all the wrong people (source: It’s a Wonderful Life). If you’ve passed your 30th birthday, then you’ve left someone from your influence group behind for good reason. The current NHL CBA makes it very difficult for teams to extend their window of opportunity beyond a few short seasons (the exception is Detroit).

With the Oilers having such an enormous group of talents graduating as we speak, what else do they need to reach the promised land that is the Stanley? 

  1. Kids in the Hall group: The group that includes Hall, Eberle, Pääjärvi and extends through Gagner will form the heart of the team during the ’10s. If Hall can become an impact player and the rest in the group improve to the point where they’re consistent outscorers, the Oilers will have plenty of offensive firepower. Those are some big "ifs" but the group is making progress.
  2. Deep 6 the bottom 6:  The club made a fine trade when dealing for Curtis Glencross, but the organization chose not to keep him. The current group that makes up the bottom 6 (Cogliano, Brule, Colin Fraser, JF Jacques, Steve MacIntrye) have been inconsistent. The two players who have been solid (Ryan Jones, Zack Stortini) might have the makings of a solid 4th line but coach Renney doesn’t like Stortini. I think the Oilers need to start by picking up a quality, veteran C who can play 3line minutes, check, impact the PK and help in the FO circle. I know Tambellini tried for Malhotra last summer but there were other men available. He chose Colin Fraser, and he chose wrong. ST has been given most of the top 6 by Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor and the scouting department, surely he can find a checking center somewhere on the planet?
  3. Improve the blue: Tambellini made a beauty trade when acquiring Ryan Whitney for Lubo. I’m also prepared to buy in to Kurtis Foster having an period of adjustment (he should be better) and that Theo Peckham’s progress is for real. Those three–added to finesse defender Tom Gilbert–make for 67% of a useful defense. Ladislav Smid may or may not be top 4 worthy. What Tambellini needs to do is find out if Jeff Petry, Shawn Belle, Alex Plante and or Taylor Chorney can help the team until Marincin arrives. If they can’t, job one is to find a defenseman who can play big minutes. I think ST hurt his own cause with the Souray solution.
  4. Goal: If Devan Dubnyk is the future in goal the club needs to play him more than once a week.. If he isn’t, then the club needs to find that goalie and right soon.

The hard part is over. The Oilers have the scorers and the skilled men up front, and Whitney, Gilbert and Peckham are nice pieces to build around. The problem? The problem is that 3line RH C, the blue and the goalie of the future have been a problem since 2006 summer!!

Yesterday I wrote an item here at ON about Oilers fans and their increasing nonchalance in regard to this team’s success. We’re going from dying of thirst to indifference in 60 seconds here. I think we should enjoy the ride, but I don’t think management has the same luxury.

Steve Tambellini is the current General Manager. Steve Tambellini takes his time. I understand that. However, if we can agree that Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Pääjärv and, Sam Gagner  are part of the future then there are going to be some things that require change. Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky are a veteran trio with real skill. Should the Oilers keep that line together and run with Gagner-Hall-Eberle as suggested by Bob Stauffer this week? 

What then is to be done with Pääjärvi ? What about Omark? The Oilers are quickly becoming a team with lots of future jacks and kings, and very few 6’s and 7’s who can check and kill penalties.

A GM armed with veteran skill players should be able to address need along the blue and on the checking line. Right? The Oilers sent away Kyle Brodziak a couple of years ago and haven’t replaced him yet, let alone Mike Peca. The current group of talent is quality, but the bottom line is that the club needs some role players immediately.

Tomorrow is very promising for these Oiler kids. Steve Tambellini is the current GM. The scouting department has enjoyed a ripping 36 months. Steve Tambellini has done some nice things but he has to address these glaring (and long term) issues.

Steve Tambellini is the current GM.

  • Zack

    If Storts could re-establish his role as an agitator I think I’d like to see a line of…

    Jones – Konopka – Stortini

    It would open up a few roster spots for sure, send down Jacques and or… /Mac/Fraser/Strudwick/Storts.

    Konopka has been in more FO than Horcoff, Gags, Cogs and is 59% in the dot. He’s willing to drop the gloves and could open up numerous spots on the roster. He won’t solve all our problems but it’d be one hell of a start.

    Bait? Small/skilled forward maybe a prospect or JDD even? NYI needs something that will impact the team now, they should have a few building blocks by now (and working on getting some more).

  • It will be interesting to see what happens with the “other three” forwards MBS picked last year: Pitlick (playing RW now and seems to like the lower defensive responsibility based on a recent Q&A) at 6’2″, Martindale (C) at 6’3″, and Hamilton (LW I believe) at 6’2″ (I think) again. If Martindale can gain some more consistency in his game (same issue that Penner had/has) then he might have been a steal for a big C. In a couple of years, a 3rd line of Hamilton-Lander-Pitlick might not be bad. It will also be interesting to see how Teemu Hartikainen pans out. He is another decent sized player that could develop into a solid 3rd liner.

    On the blue line, I liked what I saw from the Plante-Marincin pairing in the rookie tourney last summer. Both have good size and after stoppages in front of the Oiler rooks’ net one or both usually hammered their opposing forward down to the ice.

    In any case, the key is to develop the young talent now so that it can be ready to challenge in 2 years time. You can always fill in role player holes with veteran UFAs if it looks like you have a chance to win. The key is building a strong enough core of young talent to be seen as attractive.

  • I actually was optimistic, from what I recall, about Colin Fraser. But he wasn’t on my radar before we picked him up. There were a few other guys I had hoped for, and I wonder how many of them got called. We don’t often receive confirmation about failed attempts at acquiring a player. So for all I know, Tambellini worked his ass off at trying to get us a checking C.

    Anyways, at least he finally acknowledged it. If I’m not mistaken, the year before, he mentioned that the team had no interest in picking that kind of player up (*gasp*). Rome wasn’t built in a day though, so we’ll see if he can make the necessary changes either near trade deadline (if we’re in the mix) or come July 1st.

  • On the note of Brodziak.. I never understood why they went in the other direction with him.

    But anyways, 4th line centermen that are proven PKers and faceoff winners shouldn’t be as far down the list of necessities as it seems to be with this team.

    I had no problems with parting with Marty Reasoner, as he was under pretty heavy criticism his final year here and it’s hard to argue for a guy who was -19 or whatever. The problem was in that they never replaced him with someone who could fill that role. Ditto with Stoll… and then ditto with Brodziak. The effort was sorta there when Pouliot was cut loose (bringing in Fraser).

    My thoughts on these guys though is they’re a dime a dozen and there’s usually a few hanging around before the start of the season, desperate for work, so I don’t get the difficulty in acquiring one either. They’ve learned now, so I’ll cut the brass some slack, but I never understood why they’d shell out somewhere around $10M for guys who weren’t too interested in being here (and in one case past their prime) but refuse to pay ~$0.7M – $2M (max) for a top notch PKer/faceoff guy.

  • What if Tambellini just sees it different than LT and the rest of us? Perhaps that explains the perceived inertia from Tambellini? I’ll barely go out on a limb and suggest that Tambellini is more qualified to create a plan to rebuild an NHL team and follow that plan than any of us here including the writers on this site. As humans, we are biased to act (“action bias”). We believe that by doing something (anything!) we are more likely to positively affect our circumstances even though there are many situations where we would be better off doing/saying nothing at all.

    Patience will pay off. The day to tweak will come, but we are a year or two away from that yet.

    • I guess it all comes down to whether you believe that last statement or not. I’ve kind of held back from saying it, but I’ve often wondered if the lack of action is just because Tambellini doesn’t want this team winning just yet. Not saying its a bad plan or anything. I probably would have said the same thing before the start of last year, but I think we have the major building blocks (or at least enough to make it work) we need to start filling the gaps. But I have gotten the feeling at times that Tambellini would prefer another year or two of last place hockey to get another top pick.

      For the record, I think trying to win now would be good for this team. But I definitely concede that I’ve never GM’d a team and don’t claim that I should be either. I can see the benefits from both mentalities (the belief that making this team a winner would go a long way in experience/confidence, as well as the belief that losing another season would go a long way in giving us another major building block). So like I said, it just comes down to whether fans/management/etc. believe that last statement in your post or not.

  • GSC

    The Whitney trade is still a bit of a sore subject.

    Whitney has been absolutely great for us, but the player who needed to be traded at last year’s deadline was Gilbert. Still, who’s to say Anaheim would have gone for that.

    Lubo is being paid $6M, $5M, $3M from 2010-11 to 2012-13.

    Gilbert is being paid $5, $5, $3.5, $3 from 2010-11 to 2013-14

    Lubo this year (age 34) 4-23-27 0
    Gilbert this year (age 28) 5-6-11 -7

    The key point here is that even when he’s not helping on offense, Lubo is a solid defenseman.

    Surely at some point Lubo’s skills will diminish, but we’re certainly not seeing Gilbert get better this year…