One of the worries I have about the Oilers current rebuild is that this team is eventually going to resemble the Anaheim Ducks of this season.
The Ducks entered these playoffs as the favourite dark horse of many pundits, largely on the strength of their elite talent. Up front, the high-powered quartet of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan offered plenty of offensive punch, while Lubomir Visnovsky had a simply phenomenal season on the back end.
Despite the wealth of talent, the Ducks have been underwhelming since their Stanley Cup win, and worse than that since the departure of Brian Burke (in early 2008-09):
|2006-07||plus-50||Stanley Cup win|
|2007-08||plus-14||First round loss|
|2008-09||plus-13||Second round loss|
|2010-11||plus-4||First round loss|
The reason for their struggles is an obvious one, and one that I pointed to prior to the playoffs: the Ducks are almost entirely without competent NHL depth.
This is something that Oilers fans are familiar with, although lately they have been bereft of both competent NHL depth and high-end NHL stars.
The latter problem is one that looks likely to be solved sooner or later. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi are a very strong start, and this year’s lottery pick (and probably next year’s high-end selection) are only going to add to that base.
I do worry that the Oilers are going to keep ignoring the former problem, though. They’ve needed quality depth players for the entirety of Steve Tambellini’s tenure as general manager, and they’ve ignored that need for the same period. It’s possible that as part of the
tanking rebuilding plan, the Oilers plan to address their depth needs – the bottom two lines are in need of a complete overhaul – but until we see them making positive moves we won’t know that.
My hope is that we see some positive action this summer. Between the players in place, the prospects in the pipeline, the picks this summer and next year, I think it’s reasonable to believe they will have a good core of high-end talent, and now’s the time to start looking for complementary help.
It’s especially important because these are the sort of roles that generally need to be filled either via free agency or trade. The Oilers don’t have the kind of responsible veterans that can kill penalties, handle defensive zone work, and win face-offs. These aren’t skills that players typically enter the league with; generally high-end defensive specialists have a lot of professional experience under their belt. The Oilers need a bunch of them; it makes sense to get started now that they’re hopefully looking at improvement as a team.