Last Place Teams, Five Years Later: Last Place Teams Are Run By Morons

The promise is the same for every last place team in the modern history of the NHL: sure, they may stink now, but stick with them and those top draft picks will eventually turn the team into a contender. This is the current plan for the Oilers.

Is it a legitimate hope? How do last place teams fare, five years after the fact? In this three part series, we’ll look at three sets of teams: successful, middling, and spectacularly bad. We continue with the simply awful.

2005-06 St. Louis Blues

Synopsis: One first round loss in the five years after finishing last.

There’s a lot that can be said about this club, but the easiest way to sum it up is thusly: five years after being the worst club in the NHL, the St. Louis Blues have yet to win a playoff game.

2005-06 was the first time the Blues failed to make the playoffs since 1978-79. They had never won a Stanley Cup but they had been in the thick of it against the best in the Western Conference for a decade (they were eliminated by the powerhouse Red Wings four times in nine seasons during that span). They’d won the Presidents’ Trophy and gone to the Conference Finals in the five years before finishing last. It was a blow.

Over the next three years, St. Louis would take 11 different players in the top fifty selections of the draft, including a first overall pick (Erik Johnson) and a fourth overall pick (Alex Pietrangelo). Although some of those players haven’t turned out, the Blues did add some nice pieces – guys like David Perron and Patrik Berglund – to a system that already had youngsters T.J. Oshie and David Backes. Those four form the nucleus of the St. Louis forward corps, along with Chris Stewart (acquired in a trade with Colorado that saw Erik Johnson go the other way). Pietrangelo is the club’s top scoring blue-liner. Yet, five years after hitting rock-bottom, the best the Blues can show is a four games-to-none sweep at the hands of Vancouver in 2008-09.

2000-01 New York Islanders

Synopsis: Clubs can trade their lottery talent for established players, but the trade-off for limited short-term gain is long-term pain.

2000-01 marked the end of a long stretch of playoff futility for the Islanders. After two miserable years in the mid-90’s, the Islanders showed some signs of progress from 1996-98, but then crashed for three consecutive years, culminating in a last place finish in 2000-01.

Along the way, they accumulated a lot of top talent, as they should have, given that they had 11 top-10 picks in seven years. Naturally, they didn’t all turn out: Brett Lindros and Mike Rupp come to mind as guys that never delivered on expectations. Even so, the Islanders acquired Wade Redden, J.P. Dumont, Roberto Luongo, Eric Brewer, Tim Connolly, Taylor Pyatt, Rick DiPietro and Raffi Torres. Only one franchise player in that mix, but the makings of a strong supporting cast are there.

Naturally, this being Mike Milbury’s team, these players were traded off. Wade Redden was part of a deal that brought in Bryan Berard, among others. J.P. Dumont was sent away before playing an NHL game, for a whole lot of nothing. Roberto Luongo (and Olli Jokinen, just for good measure) went away for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha. Eric Brewer (and some sweeteners, because as we’ve noted this is Milbury) went to Edmonton for Roman Hamrilik. In fact, with the exception of Rick DiPietro – injured and signed forever – every player on the list above was sent away. Milbury also sent away the second overall pick the Islanders got as compensation for being so terrible (and Zdeno Chara, as a sweetener) in trade for Alexei Yashin.

All those trades bought some short-term success: the Islanders jumped straight into the playoffs the next season, and would continue to do so in four of the five seasons following finishing last. However, they were eliminated in the first round every time, and are now nearly back to where they started.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The dynasty Canadiens clubs built their teams in no small part thanks to fleecing new teams of their high picks in trade for established players with more limited upside. Mike Milbury is the anti-Pollock.

1999-00 and 2001-02 Atlanta Thrashers

Synopsis: Some franchises use lottery picks as the foundation of a playoff team. Other clubs just stink forever.

If there is one lesson to be learned from the last four expansion teams in the NHL, it is this: a bad general manager can destroy a perfectly good hockey market.

The Atlanta Thrashers joined the league in 1999-2000, and in their first six seasons took a player in the draft’s first 10 selections six times. They did get some sub-par players: Patrik Stefan was serviceable journeyman but fought through injuries and never turned into an impact player, while Boris Valabik is still trying to claw his way out of the AHL. Yet, despite those misses, Atlanta did collect some fairly impressive talent: Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley are bona fide stars, Braydon Coburn’s a good defenseman, and (when healthy) Kari Lehtonen is a legitimate starter.

We’ve seen teams do more with less. Carolina won a Stanley Cup with just one impact player from the lottery. Unfortunately, the Thrashers never built a team around Heatley and Kovalchuk the way Carolina did around Staal – even in their best season (2006-07) Greg de Vries and Niclas Havelid were the top defensive pairing, and players like Jon Sim, Brad Larsen and Jean-Pierre Vigier were playing key roles up front. That is not, and never was, a recipe for success.

No amount of high-end players can compensate for inept management.

  • Ender

    This is a very good series, Jon. Lots of research and an excellent compilation. It can in no way predict the future and say “This is the absolute recipe for success in the NHL” when there are so many uncontrollable variables that teams face; nonetheless, every GM and Head Scout in the league could do far worse than review everthing you’ve written here. While there may be no sure path to success, there are some pretty reliable ways to find failure.

  • danjo1

    Another good article. Again, I wonder if it would be worth your while to also examine the Nords/Avs.

    I realize that goes further back than the 10 years you set forth in your study, but given the fact that the Avs enjoyed a good, solid 10- or 12-year run as a contender thanks in large part to the proceeds of the draft in the late 1980s and early 1990s, would not be irrelevant to your series. And I don’t think the “eras” are all that much different.

    Three straight No. 1 picks by the Nords paved their way, either directly or indirectly, for a helluva long run of contention.

  • danjo1

    “If there is one lesson to be learned from the last four expansion teams in the NHL, it is this: a bad general manager can destroy a perfectly good hockey market.”

    Let’s assume for the moment that the Oilers miss the playoffs for the net two seasons, certainly not a stretch.

    Does missing the playoffs seven years running indicate a perfectly good hockey market has been destroyed or is selling “hope” year after year enough to keep the Oiler fan base engaged?

  • Is it worth pointing out that each of those teams had ownership issues as well?

    St Louis had an owner looking to get out of the NHL, Wang needs no explanation and Atlanta had ownership that used their team more as a pawn than anything else.

    Is it also worth pointing out that so far Katz has resembled Wang more than any other owner in the league?

    • VMR

      In what way? Getting a building, is that it?

      So far under Katz the organization has started to make the moves to help them build talent. Scouting has improved, player development via a stable farm team looks like it’s finally settled, they’ve brought in solid respected hockey people into management positions. It looks like they’ve made the right moves since the debacle where they were trying to make a splash and chase Heatley/sign Khabi.

      I dont know if I trust the management team they have right now. Tambellini is slow to act but maybe that’s a good thing, not making quick mistakes like Lowe was doing signing free agents like Nylander, Souray, Vanek.

      The problem is it’s hard to judge management until years later. Who thought Vancouver was making a smart move when they gave the job to Gillis, an agent, but it’s worked out for them.

      • I was thinking more about Katz’s attempts at making the big splash in free agency. Atleast the suggestions that they were Katz driven. First Hossa and then, although not a free agent, Heatley.

        For as much of a boob that Milbury seems to be, he has said outright many times that it was tough to make the right decision when the owner was as involved as Wang is or was.

  • John Chambers

    Excellent series, Willis. Thanks for writing it.

    At the very least it sums up that there is no sure-fire way to build a contender. As has often been remarked on this site, Tambellini has to do more than simply draft high to turn the team into a winner. College players, European leagues, waivers, trades that address the team’s gaps … these are all necessary avenues ST needs to explore in order to build a winner.

    I think I instigated some contrarian debate to an article you wrote on the weekend where I posited that ST wasn’t doing a terrible job. Again, this is just my opinion and definitely a subject worthy of mindful debate. To conclude my feelings, I think people judge ST pretty harshly for signing Khabibulin. Fine. Khabibulin is an awful goaltender.

    I however believe that the Khabibulin signing is also the reason we drafted Taylor Hall instead of Gudbrandson. I also believe that pre-mature moves like the offer sheet to Penner have held the Oilers re-build back 2-3 years. As a result I think the Khabibulin signing was a stroke of dumb luck in a way, and that ST and co. purposefully iced a crap defence and league-worst goaltending to get us to where we are at the draft table.

    I also feel, but understand why others feel opposed, that we should continue to ice a young and inexperienced line-up in ’11-’12 to a) help them gain experience, and b) get back to the draft lottery. Some people begin to feel queasy at the talk of certain doom and short-term failure. Not me. I am comfortable with these themes.

    But I agree that “tanking it” can’t be sustained for the psyche of the players and fans over more than a few years. But going back to your segment about the Islanders and Blues – if you’re going to be a rock-bottom team, at least commit to it for a few years to build the core we’ve been so sorely lacking, and when you decide that you have that core, don’t make any hesitations to GO FOR IT!

    • VMR

      I’m not sure I’d say they intentionally iced a crap defence as much as they stuck with what they had and didnt try to scramble for an easy fix. Besides that I pretty much agree with you.

      Organizationally they’re doing the moves they need to get better. They’re looking to outside sources to pick up players, they’ve built a farm system, the scouting is better. They’ve taken a shot at picking up pieces via free agency. Foster looked like something they could use, didnt work out that way but it’s no surprise you will have some misses when you are trying to find diamonds in the rough. Same thing with Fraser.

      Can Tambellini make the moves when it’s time to go for it? I dont know, but outside those early signings which I believe were Katz/Lowe motivated he hasnt made many costly mistakes. If he can make a few winning moves away from the draft table I’d feel a bit more confident.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Here’s the issue with Tambillini, he *stumbled* apon a rebuild. If the rebuild was planned then I’d give him more slack, however it wasn’t planned, he simply screwed up so bad that the rebuild started itself.

      You can’t say it was a stroke of dumb *luck* AND that he *purposefully* iced a crap defense and league worst goaltending.

      He gets no credit for making the tough decions and starting a rebuild.

  • Sadly the Oil are run by morons. Luckily the magnificent bastard is putting together enough quality 2nd+ round picks that the Oil could be a somewhat successfull team in spite of themselves. plans of a 6 year rebuild are way too long. after this stretch of ineptitude.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    This is Edmonton, a unique but questionable NHL market according to Pronger, Peca, Heatley, Hossa, Vishnovsky and most lately Malhotra among others. How do we not build but by the draft?

    Our GM just resigned Stu, the Magnificent Bastard, moved nice guy/questionable heart guy Dustin for ammo for Stu and a toughie. Got rid of a bunch of our slugs (Nilson, POS, Etc), malcontents(Souray)and started to infuse the team with what appears to be “Guys with Heart and excitement”.

    What did ST do wrong? A couple of things:1)He inherited a team where the belief was that we were pretty close to another “06” run. Just add a hot playoff goalie and FINALLY get a coach who can get the team to play to its potential (which actually happened-last place). 2) ST also did not bring in Lidstrom, Crosby, Ovechkin, the Sedins or “Insert your dream player here”.

    In Edmonton, our choice is the draft. Steady at the tiller and thank our lucky stars we don’t have Captain Milbury sending our youngsters down the plank.

  • Ender

    John Chambers wrote:

    if you’re going to be a rock-bottom team, at least commit to it for a few years to build the core we’ve been so sorely lacking, and when you decide that you have that core, don’t make any hesitations to GO FOR IT!

    I like the thought that goes into many of your comments, John. I am going to pick out this one small snippet to comment on.

    Identifying the ‘core’ of a winning team can often only be done in hindsight. Before a team has won anything, the best you can do is try and imagine who has potential.

    It’s very possible that a decade from now, people will point to 2011 as the first time Edmonton had many of the core players in place that would constitute the cup-winning team of 2014 – Hall, Eberle, RNH, Pääjärvi, Whitney, and Dubnyk. How can you know for sure, though, if you’ve really got that core or not? Do we start the winning now assuming that the ‘core’ I’ve mentioned above (fortified through trade acquisitions and free-agent signings) is the one we’ve been waiting for, or do we anticipate that Whitney’s feet will make him the next Forsberg, Eberle will hit a sophmore slump, Pääjärvi will become the reincarnation of Nilsson, and Dubnyk will grow up to be a career backup? If that were the case, we’d better keep tanking.

    It’s easy to say “Get your core and then move on” but the fact is no team ever really knows if they have their core until they do a lot of winning; only then can you look back and examine in retrospect who did all that winning for you.

    • Ender

      The job of identifying the core, locking it up and adding complimentary pieces all the while managing in a cap environment, is the definition of the job of General Manager.

      If your GM can’t do that successfully, you need to find a new GM.

      While there are always fits and starts on the way to Grandma’s house in any organization, it all starts with the core.

      I would think the Oilers haven’t even taken the first steps yet since it’s debatable whether Paajarvi, Whitney, Dubnyk (and the yet undrafted RNH you referenced) are core players.

      Paajarvi’s rookie season was underwhelming to my eye, Whitney may have chronic injury problems and is likely too old to fit the “window to win” in any event and counting on RNH to be a core player before he’s even drafted is a huge stretch. Dubnyk has been competent but nothing more than that.

      So you’re left with Hall and Eberle and precious little else at this point although I expect Petry may add his name to that group soon.

      You mentioned a cup winning team in 2014.

      You should ask yourself how that is possible 3 years from now when the core is shallow, the supporting cast is weak and there is considerable evidence that management is not particularly good at evaluating talent.

        • Chris.

          Sure thing.

          Here are leading rookie scorers…I’ve added Paajarvi to the top ten although he was not #11.

          P/60 5V5 (forwards)

          Skinner – 2.49
          Grabner – 2.33
          Couture – 2.18
          Marchand – 2.15
          Ennis – 1.92
          Stepan – 1.84
          Eberle 1.82
          Hall – 1.78
          Paajarvi – 1.38

        • Chris.

          Sure thing.

          Here are leading rookie scorers…I’ve added Paajarvi to the top ten although he was not #11.

          P/60 5V5 (forwards)

          Skinner – 2.49
          Grabner – 2.33
          Couture – 2.18
          Marchand – 2.15
          Ennis – 1.92
          Stepan – 1.84
          Eberle 1.82
          Hall – 1.78
          Paajarvi – 1.38

    • Ender

      Good comments. Not all rebuilds end in a Stanley cup. Certainly some good fortune is involved. You try and draft talent and heart and hopefully trade your question marks while they still have some value. Not an exact science by any means.

      If you go back to ST rebuild speech, he talked a lot, not just about the culture change and that chasing FA does not work for Edmonton, but about development and having the players pushed from inside your own system. Hopefully, when it starts to gel you trade some of your question marks and a true blue prospect or two for your veteran goal scorer, stud D man, or playoof goalie if those are the missing pieces.

    • John Chambers

      It’s certainly all a matter of conjecture. In my opinion they’re in the process of building a strong core.

      The fact of the matter is that I’m not going to chastise ST for signing Khabibulin. On July 1, 2009 we got bad news about Heatley, Rolli signed with the Isles, and the only quality goalies left were Martin Biron and Craig Anderson who had only served as a back-up in previous roles. Khabbi was coming off a strong season in Chicago where he took the Hawks to the Conference Finals.

      After the ’06 run, KLowe has attempted to build a core through a number of means including offer sheets, free agency, and trades. This hasn’t worked. It was a good strategy in theory predicated on the realities of the new salary-cap NHL, but couldn’t be implmented in practice for their own separate reasons.

      What is our core? You’re correct, we’ll have to see. But if I was a betting man I would say that Hall, Eberle, and let’s say Nugent, are a good place to start. Had we tanked it ’07-’08 instead of signing Penner and Souray, then we might also boast Tyler Myers among our core. Eberle aside, tanking it has resulted in the acquisition of what is likely to be the highest-end talent to wear Oiler silks since 1990. As a result, I support the strategy insofar as it’s ugly to remark that we havne’t had a 40-goal scorer since Peter Klima.

      I think everyone can agree that a core of Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky and take your pick of Vanek, Heatley, etc wssn’t going to get it done. Admit when your strategy isn’t working and chart a new course. To their credit, they’ve done that.

      If it takes another couple of years of pain, I’m willing to bear it. I’m a young man. Does ST have to alter his strategy at some point? Indeed. Does he need to become more clever with regard to trades, signings, etc. Without question.

      But unless he trades our 1st overall picks for the next two years for Phil Kessel, I’ll maintain an objective analysis, and opiate myself in the knowledge that brighter days are assuredly ahead. Save your vitriol for the Calgary Flames. They blow.

      • VMR

        You’re wrong there. Tambellini, Lowe, Katz whoever was behind it definitely deserves to wear the Khabibulin signing as a badge of shame. Signing a player over the age of 36 who hadnt had a full good season for several years and had a list of injury problems a mile long was a horrible move. It reeked of desperation, just like the Souray signing.

        The rest of your post I agree with. I think people are fooling themselves if they think we can just flip a switch and suddenly be a better team. Those last few years since the cup run this team has been getting worse not better, they’ve been trying to limp along and find some miracle solution that just wasnt there. It is going to take time to turn this thing around and if you try and rush it the Islanders are an example of what happens. Trade away guys who could be part of your core for washed up players or guys who wont live up to the hype.

        • D-Man

          Agreed – wholeheartedly about the Khabby signing… 4 years for a 36 year old goalie (regardless of pedigree) made no sense, especially when you could have signed a 38 year old goalie for two years and less cash… Granted, Roly did not have the same resume as Khabby; but a 36 year old athlete is still 36…

          Not sure I agree with your viewpoint on Souray – I thought the signing was decent and for when he was healthy; he was our best player. I found it sad to realize his poor character – what a shame, especially considering his talent.

          I think you hit it right on the nail though about ‘flip a switch’ to get better… I find a lot of the nation wants to win now thinking a Bouwmeester or a Smyth are miracle solutions… Building an organization where winning is sustainable is quite a process and requires time and patience. I just hope Tambo keeps showing signs of improvements and stays the course. If he does – we’ll be enjoying playoff hockey for years to come.

  • Chris.

    I’m not going to argue against building through the draft: (That would be insane)

    But I am going to argue that hiring a good amature scouting staff and not interfering with their selections is only a small portion of what a quality NHL management team does.

    An NHL management team needs to oversee a comprehensive development system that maximizes the potential of these picks. There seems to be an improvement in this area recenetly: but overall I would have to give the post Sather Oilers a failing grade in this regard.

    An NHL management team needs to correctly evaluate both it’s own, and the other pro talent world wide. IMO, the Oiler management team deserves a failing grade in this regard.

    An NHL management team needs to properly manage their contracts and the Salary Cap. Fail.

    An NHL management team needs to completely understand the current CBA. They need to know things like: (for example Brule) if their assets are waiver exempt or not. Fail.

    An NHL management team is responsible for hiring an effective coaching staff. This management team has had three different head coaches in three seasons. (In fact at what point MacT, Quinn, and Renny were all receiving cheques from the same organization that claims to be losing money).

    Finally, a good NHL management team has the respect of both the players and it’s peers league wide (Ala Yzerman). Really good executives don’t get into shouting matches with their rivals on public radio (no matter how entertaining). Good executives don’t have very dirty and very public fallouts with their own players. Good executives don’t get investigated for tampering, or demand bonus money back from their players, or go to Kelowna to publicly beg for a players service. (It’s extra embarrasing if it doesn’t work…) Good executives have the ability to call up all 29 other organizations when shopping a player because they have healthy relationships everywhere.

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      This response could be a whole post unto it self. Especially that last paragraph. When you put it all together like that it really looks bad. It is enough to make me wonder if the smell in the room is not a cadaver but because everyone in the room is a mortician they do not notice it any more. (If you have never experienced this let me explain as a biologist I have done a number of necropsy’s and when I am doing it I really get to the place where I do not notice the smell. Other people will come by and take one whiff and be in the bathroom looking like last night was NewYears.) Is this were the Oilers management is? They do not notice it is dead but think it is all fine. We the outsiders cant help but notice the smell in the room. The only thing that gives me HOPE is HOPE and all the Dead wood that left last summer.

    • D-Man

      You make some valid points – especially about the coaching staff, pro-scouting and public tongue lashings (although I’m okay with how they threw Souray under the bus)…

      I would argue though that the current management regime has shown signs of improvement – with the moves they’ve made (outside of the brutal Khabby signing) along with the three year extension to the Magnificient Bastard… I think Tambo ‘gets’ the theory of rebuilding through the draft and not chasing big ticket FA’s right now… Creating a positive culture is a process and takes time…

      To me – the current regime has two more years to prove they know what they’re doing… However – if we aren’t (at a minimum) the 8th seed in the West entering the 2012-2013 playoff series – Katz will need to unload both K-Lowe and Tambo ASAP.

      • Chris.

        My absolute biggest concern with this managent group is it’s failure to correctly evaluate pro talent (Khabibulin for MVP anyone? Or how about trading a second round pick for Patrick O’Sullivan but then a few months later trading Brodziak for a fourth?)

        The stink of this failure permeates everything it does. It affects trades, player assignment, contract negotiations, longterm organizational strategy… everything. Makes me sick.

        • D-Man

          You’re right – one has to wonder about who evaluated Fraser or Foster. Granted, neither player is overpaid; but there’s alot of room for improvement.

          I do think this problem area will begin to fix itself as our core improves. As Hall, Eberle, MPS, Whitney evolve and get better, we’ll start winning more games and in turn, more talented FA’s will want to be here. That’s when Tambo will show whether he’s GM material… Right now – he does fight a bit of an uphill battle… I don’t know of too many GM’s can snap their fingers and get talented FA’s on a last place team (that is – without signing brutal over-priced contracts).

          • D-Man

            Pro scouting is certainly an area that needs massive improvement.

            My bosses son just retired from hockey (he was a tough guy for Manchester and Grand Rapids in the AHL) and he couldn’t believe the Oilers acquired Fraser and Foster.

            His words: Fraser wasn’t even a good AHL player and Foster is just brutal.

            If an enforcer in the AHL can see these guys are not good hockey players that doesn’t say much for the Oilers pro scouting.

          • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

            Hay LoDog Get his(Bosses Son) name to some one in the Nation I would like to hear more about Grand Rapids and the culture there as they have had a player put his name on the cup numerous years in a row. Interview please on scouting.

          • D-Man

            At the time – I didn’t think the Fraser signing was bad – less than a million, has a Cup ring (even though he didn’t play in the final), decent size and could win faceoffs… He was supposedly the type of player who could play with some grit – I’m guessing if he’s doesn’t have a decent camp this year – I won’t be shocked if an O’Marra or Lander (probably the later) claims his spot… I’m giving Foster a bit of a pass on last season though… Many forget that his family suffered the loss of a child. That had to be devastating; and obviously would affect his on ice performance.. I know – he’s a pro, but I can’t see how that and then being traded would affect how he plays… I would be ‘okay’ with him as our #4 d-man, but he does need to significantly improve this year – especially on our power play.

            But I digress – the pro-scouting needs to significantly improve… When we get to that point where we need to add a piece or two to push deep into the playoffs (hopefully, that will be in two to three years), Tambo won’t have any room to make a ‘Fraser-like’ mistake.

        • John Chambers

          & @ VMR Every team has a bad contract or two. Boston has Michael Ryder while Vancouver has Keith Ballard. The Canucks even gave up a Calder trophy candidate to get him. In my opinion, Khabibulin’s contract isn’t a fireable offense. Alexei Yashin or Rick DiPietro’s contracts are fireable offenses.

          I wouldn’t sweat small transactions. On the flipside of the Brodziak argument we got Ryan Jones for nothing.

          If this makes you sick I would advise against any lengthy sea voyages, or eating at roadside delicatessens in Bangkok.

          • VMR

            Fair enough. I dont think it’s a fireable offence either but it was a mistake and another in a long list of examples of management taking unreasonable risks for poor results. Thank god Buffalo matched the Vanek signing or we’d be really screwed.

          • Chris.

            You are correct sir: every GM makes mistakes. (I bet Chiarelli wants the Kaberle deal back)… Shame on me for picking on minutia: it detracts from what I’m trying to communicate.

            So let’s think big picture: Our GM completely misread the relative strength of his own organization (after more than a full season of evaluation) and landed in 30th place completely by accident. (The AHL squad also)

            Yeah… call me crazy for having some reservations about his ability to rate pro talent.

          • D-Man

            You do have to take the injuries when taking that years results into consideration. No one could have predicted the lost man games we experienced.
            Your point has a lot of merit though – you would hope that if we’d fall into 30th place that we’d have a decent farm system. Two years ago – the fact was clear that we didn’t..

            I do give Tambo a bit of credit for improving OKC this last year though.. He signed Omark and Giroux – they improved the team tremendously. I’m guessing OKC would have faired better in the playoffs as well – should the big club had been healthier.

          • John Chambers

            Yeah, I’m in no way a fan of ST at the moment. I do support a from-within re-build, however. I’m just not willing to get out the knives for the guy just yet.

            I got into it with Jesus from the Big Lebowski right around the trade deadline. I thought it was too early to judge Tambellini then, and despite an unspectacular return for Penner, I still think it’s too early to judge him given that he hasn’t done anything really impactful.

            I suppose we’ll see after the draft and the summer. Maybe Tambi moves up in the draft, signs Ville Leino, and trades for one of the Caps’ young goalies. Or maybe he sh!ts the bed and signs Bryan McCabe to an 8-year deal.

            Time will tell.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      I don’t think it would be insane to argue against building through the draft, or at least arguing against what most people seem to mean by “building through the draft”.

      A team should always strive to select the best players you can, and do as much as they reasonably can to aid their development, but I’m not sure that’s the same as the “build through the draft” viewpoint that many have.

      I was a strong advocate of building through the draft in the old CBA, but I don’t believe it to be as effective in this CBA as it used to be. It can work, but your window is a lot more narrow than it used to be.

      • Chris.

        Okay. I’m happy to revise my statement. I’m not going to argue against the Oilers rebuilding through the draft based on the current predicament they are in.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    The descriptions here remind me more of the Oilers Pre 2010 than the descriptions of the teams that were winning in five years. We have to HOPE that all the talk about Habi being our all star player was just to keep Bettman of their back. If that is true and we tanked on purpose we should know that soon as we should be looking for another goal tender to serve with Dubnyk. If we do not sign another goalie then Dubnyk better get 50+ starts. We should also now be starting to fill some of those free agent holes. It does not have to be a rush thing but by Oct 2012 a lot of “Great in the room” guys better be great on the ice as well.

  • VMR

    Jonathan:

    An excellent article, one that offered grist for the mill and prompted meaningful response(s). This is what a blog should be – clear, incisive and thought provoking. Well done sir.

    As for the posts by John Chambers and Ender (and many others) thank you for your insights – “they made my day”.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    Hockey is complex and many of you use great logic to back up your arguments. I find my self agreeing to both sides of the same argument. PLEASE don,t try to sell me swamp land in Kazakhstan.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    How many more yrs will it be before Katz removes that blindfold. He needs to start acting like an owner rather than a fan.

    Co-GM’s,MacGregor and ?????

    • D-Man

      Two more years… And Co-GM’s won’t work.. I don’t know if Stu would be an improvement to Tambo; but I do certainly think should Katz remove Tambo that our next GM should be Rick Dudley… He’s currently with Winnipeg but rumor has it that True North would be tempted to replace him with their guy (who’s managed the Moose there up until now)…

  • D-Man

    On a different note. What constitutes a successful rebuild? Do you have to win the cup? Or can we say that Ottawa and San Jose have been successful in their builds. On the other hand, in spite of a Cup win was Carolina successful?

    Some obvious success are out there Pittburghs, but how about Chicago? Only one cup but also looks like they may have a core to compete for a while.

    What about Washington. Looks like they are going down the same road as Ottawa. So how wide is success defined?

  • Chris.

    If I’m Katz; these are the ten minimum expectations I have from my people in Hockey Operations: (Forgive me for being somewhat repetative)

    1) A top 10 amateur scouting staff.

    2) A top 10 development system. (That doesn’t necessarily mean a top 10 AHL record… it means that by every possible reasonable measure: I’m convinced that my prospects are being given superior developmental support)

    3)Can demonstrate they have a good handle on the relative value of their own pro talent, and the talent available worldwide.

    4) Can provide me with reasonable value for my salary dollars.

    5)Can maintain flexibility under the 50 pro contract maximum.

    6) Demonstrates a willingness to be creative when meeting the specific challenges of running a pro sport franchise in a small market.

    7)Complete honesty.

    8) Demonstrates clear leadership and superior communication skills.

    9)Demonstrates a FLAWLESS understanding of the legalities of the entire CBA.

    10)Represents my organization (and therefore myself and the entire City of Edmonton) with absolute dignaty and class on the world stage.

    Of the 10: how is the current group performing? (Notice my expections do not include things like: ice a playoff team or else; or make really good trades; or successfully attract high profile UFA’s; or demonstrate excellent salesmanship skills in retaining talent)… All I want is basic competence, honesty, class, and upper tier systems. IMO, the current management structure does not meet all, or even the majority of the listed expectations… My beloved Oilers deserve better direction; and I fear they are destined to remain in this group of loser franchises for an unnecessarily long time unless changes at the very top are made.

    • D-Man

      I would argue Tambo needs work on #3 and #8, especially with some of his signings… He’s also comes across slow in front of the media… I do think he’s doing a better job with #5 though… He’s cleared up a lot of cap space over the last two years and still has the Horcoff albatross that he inherited from K-Lowe.

      There’s of course alot that we don’t see… Like you I’m interested to see what happens over the next year or two…

  • Ender

    DSF wrote:

    You mentioned a cup winning team in 2014. You should ask yourself how that is possible 3 years from now when the core is shallow, the supporting cast is weak and there is considerable evidence that management is not particularly good at evaluating talent.

    I feel like I’m breaking the ‘Don’t Feed the Troll’ rule here, but I’ll bite.

    I don’t have to ask myself how it’s possible. I have great writers like Jon here to spell out how it’s possible.

    ’04 Penguins, 30th place. ’08 Penguins (only 3 seasons because of lockout) in the SCF. ’09 Peguins got their Cup after 4 seasons.

    ’03 Hurricanes, 30th place. ’06 Hurricanes, Stanley Cup Champions. Time elapsed, 3 seasons.

    ’99 Lightning, 30th place. ’04 Lightning, won their Cup. Time elapsed, 5 seasons.

    Keep in mind, this is just teams that finished dead last. There are other recent examples where teams finished very low (25-29) and then went on to become powerful contenders and even Cup winners within 3 or 4 seasons.

    I’m not here to pass out Kool-Aid. I’m just saying that there’s no reason to turn this place into Jonestown just yet either. Could we win the Cup in 2014? Yes, yes I believe it’s possible. Vegas probably isn’t passing out very favorable odds just yet, but that just means there’s more money on the table for us to win. Thanks, Vegas bookies.

  • Chris.

    Re my 10 expectations: Lowe failed on 1,2,4,5,9 & 10. Tambellini is failing on 3,6,7,8 & 9. It’s funny to me that they are nearly complete foils of each other.

    • VMR

      I’m not sure I agree with you on where you fail Tambellini maybe I dont understand your criteria.

      – 3)Can demonstrate they have a good handle on the relative value of their own pro talent, and the talent available worldwide.

      Seems like they’re doing this. With the comments that came out of Lombardi this week about Penner it’s looking more and more like the value they got for him in trade was very good.

      – 6) Demonstrates a willingness to be creative when meeting the specific challenges of running a pro sport franchise in a small market.

      I think how they dealt with buying O’Sullivan was fairly creative. Vandermeer was a useful piece this past season.

      – 7)Complete honesty.

      I dont really see this one. I mean sure to me as the owner I want complete honesty but dealing with the media and the other teams you cant be dishing that out. So how can you say he’s not giving it?

      – 8) Demonstrates clear leadership and superior communication skills.

      I’ll give you that one in spades, the silence over the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg is another black mark (although a minor one), they really need much better communications/public relations. Even if they do have reservations about a team in Winnipeg they need to act like they’re all in favor of it, they dont gain anything by crying over possible lost revenue.

      – 9)Demonstrates a FLAWLESS understanding of the legalities of the entire CBA.

      I havent seen any mistakes like failing to sign people or an inability to deal with the cap so I cant really give them a failing grade on this.

      • I think how they dealt with buying O’Sullivan was fairly creative. Vandermeer was a useful piece this past season.

        I still don’t see why everything thinks this was sucha creative innovative move. They traded a player they didn’t want for a player another team didn’t want. Deals exactly like this happen every year. The fact that POS was bought out after the deal doesn’t change the nature of the deal.

      • Chris.

        3) Your kidding right? Khabibulin the MVP?

        6) What is so creative about simply tanking it?

        7) Honesty is important: goes to your integrety and helps build positive relationships. I’m not saying Tambellini needs to lay down all his cards on the table, or answer every question by the media… I’m saying he needs to be honest with his people behind closed doors. The (mis)handling of the Quinn dismissal last offseason is an example of organizational dishonesty… all that B.S about upping the time table of a planned succession: Quinn sure never heard any of that. Poor form IMO. Makes you wonder.

        9) These clowns don’t even know when one of their RFA’s is waiver eligible or not. (Remember Brule) Or how about when Tambellini didn’t realize Pitlick was actually eligible to play in the AHL? There have been other examples also where Tambellini has demonstrated ignorence of basic CBA rules… Jonathan Willis would be better qualified than me to provide additional specific examples.

        In my rant I didn’t even mention how this group has repeatedly failed at even the most basic due dilligence. How about Tambellini being “unaware” of Khabibulin’s life-long hydration “issues”; or not knowing when Heatley’s bonus was actually due to be paid and putting a final trade offer on the table 24 hours too soon; or the fact that Tambellini had no idea that Teubert didn’t kill penalties and had been a healthy scratch at the AHL level numerous times; and on, and on, and on.

        • VMR

          A lot of your complaints are about comments they’ve made to the media. Khabi the MVP, waiver eligibility, Pitlick in the AHL. They’re just statements made to the media, I dont expect them to always say the right thing to the media. I dont mind if off the top of their head they dont get all these things right, they may not get top marks but I wouldnt fail them based on those comments. They’ve found out all those things when they needed to know them and never screwed something up and lost a player.

          I havent heard Tambellini say that Khabi is the MVP in a long time and he was using it last year as an excuse why they did so bad. Even after saying that they did due diligence and picked up Gerber in case he was still injured or in jail.

          • Chris.

            The media is my only portal into that room in Kingsway… (it might surprise you to know I’m not invited to the meetings). Through the media, and by watching the product on the ice, close observers see glimpses of mis-cues and stupidity all the time with this group… I shudder to imagine what we’d find if we had complete access.

            How do you evaluate Tambellini? Is he a top 5 executive in this league? A top ten? A top 15? Edmonton is at a certain competative disadvantage simply due to geography. If we are ever going to have a top notch, long term, competative franchise; and win another Stanley Cup… we are going to need above average leadership at the executive level… Heck: we are going to need superior leadership. I don’t think the group we have now falls into either category.

          • VMR

            The only way you can evaluate them is based on what they’ve done. It takes years to see what a management team has achieved based on a body of work. We cant tell yet how good or bad Tambellini is as a manager, he hasnt done enough to really say. Kevin Lowe proved to be a horrible manager, he’s the architect of this team that has finished 30th two times in a row. There may be extenuating circumstances due to ownership and economic issues, Katz appears to believe that at least.

            At this point my view of Tambellini is that he hasnt been fast moving, that may be a good thing in comparison to some of Lowe’s actions. There are certain points where he has to act and we can judge him. The Penner deal was one of the first, he got a decent deal for him if the draft pick turns out it could end up an excellent deal. Hemsky is the next big one. They either have to get value in trade or sign him to a decent deal, it’s an opportunity to move the team forward. Beyond that they have to start filling holes over the next few years and show signs they recognize the pieces they need to make the team competitive.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            A heck of alot more competitive then the 21st last and last that Tambillini has on his resume.

            Fact is he took a 19th place team and turned it into a 30th place team….. by accident.

          • VMR

            That’s pretty much all that Lowe left him with.

            He turned Pronger into draft picks who are just coming into the league.

            His ability to find players through the draft was unremarkable at best.

            He lost Ryan Smyth for Robert Nilsson, who played his way out of the league, and Ryan O’Marra who might be able to hold down a 3rd line spot in the AHL.

            He traded away our forward depth when he let Stoll and Torres go.

            He destroyed our defence by not replacing the defensive, physical element when he gave away Jason Smith and Matt Greene.

            He didnt bother to get anyone good defensively, overpaid Souray for the physical element even though his injury history was a mile long and he was piss poor defensively not to mention his attitude.

            That’s not even going into the things Lowe attempted and failed at. The Vanek signing, boy would that have looked good if we’d given away all those first round picks.

            The Nylander signing, just glad he went to Washington until they convinced him to play in Europe.

            You can go back further and see what he accomplished like the Comrie trade. Or turning Doug Weight into Marty Reasoner.

            In comparison the biggest complaint you can make about Tambellini is that he hasnt done much and the Khabibulin signing. If that makes him so bad it’s another nail in Kevin’s coffin for bad judgement on who to hire as a replacement.

            Lowe is the architect of the current Edmonton Oilers. Tambellini is the contractor hired to come in and clean up the mess.

  • What did ST do wrong? A couple of things:1)He inherited a team where the belief was that we were pretty close to another “06” run. Just add a hot playoff goalie and FINALLY get a coach who can get the team to play to its potential (which actually happened-last place). 2) ST also did not bring in Lidstrom, Crosby, Ovechkin, the Sedins or “Insert your dream player here”.

    This is an example of what I like to call “Oiler Goggles.”

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      So do you have that list yet of superior and equivalent garbage goal scores to Jones that weren’t able to maintain a relatively high shooting %?

      • You mean like your example of Andreychuk who ranged from 7.4% to 21.4%?

        I gave your assinine comments a response already on the other thread and this is the last your baiting will get from me. If you are going to continue to ignore the point of a comment in favor of responding with irrelevant nonsense nitpicking one improperly interpreted phrase there is no reason for me to continue is there?

        Edit: Way to edit your comment after I’ve responded.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          I gave your asinine comments a response as well.

          Nothing improperly interpreted at all, you made it pretty clear that superior garbage goal scores didn’t maintain a high shooting percentage and then when challenged in a civil manner on the claim you switched gears and went to your standard, childish insults.

          No player has a straight line shooting percentage. Elite goal scorers like Iggy have been as low as 8.4% and as high as 16.7%, Ovechkin from 8.7% to 14.6% and Marleau from 10.6% to 17.4%.

          So when Holmstrom can go 14%+ 10 of the last 11 years or Anderchuck can put up 11 out 14 years at 13%+ to start there carers, I think most would consider that pretty consistent.

          • Nothing improperly interpreted at all, you made it pretty clear that superior garbage goal scores didn’t maintain a high shooting percentage and then when challenged in a civil manner on the claim you switched gears and went to your standard, childish insults.

            Which insults were those? A low opinion of your comments is not the same thing as an insult. Your misinterpretation of my comments was pretty obvious and, I assume, intentional.

            No player has a straight line shooting percentage. Elite goal scorers like Iggy have been as low as 8.4% and as high as 16.7%, Ovechkin from 8.7% to 14.6% and Marleau from 10.6% to 17.4%.

            Why are you even arguing with me then. THIS IS EXACTLY MY POINT!

            I finally just realized your problem. You have completely ignored the context of the entire discussion. You just jump from comment to comment looking for anything you feel you can dispute, yet I am the nitpicker.

            *The conversation in short*

            Jones claims his percentage is high because he scores garbage goals.

            I dispute this by saying garbage goals scorers don’t maintain especially high shooting percentages. (If you noted the context you may have realized this is in comparison to other players)

            You trot out some of the greatest garbage goals scorers in recent memory to claim that they do, as if that somehow relevant even though it’s kind of like comparing Yzerman to Horcoff because they are both 2-way centers.

            I point out the fluctuations.

            You come back with…but these other guys fluctuate too.

            and here we are – with you reiterating my point that garbage goal scorers are subject to the same rules of shooting percentages as everyone else.

        • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

          Re: Your edit

          I had to tweak it so it reflected your original point 100% accurately because I know how you love to nitpick. I didn’t want to leave it up to chance.

          I’d also love if you could provide some links to all the conversations regarding Jones that outlined the other concerns with Jones that people have outside of the shooting % and SC numbers against.

          • You go on and on ignoring a point to dispute the literal construction of a statement and I’m the one who loves to nitpick?

            Your comment was to the effect that when people don’t like Jones it’s because of his shooting percentage. That is not remotely accurate.

            I don’t like Jones because when he is on the ice the other team dominates play by almost every possible underlying metric, and it doesn’t seem to much matter who he plays with.

            His shooting percentage only matters insomuch that it helped disguise his poor play.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Perhaps it is you that has “the worst reading comprehension skills of all time”.

            I mentioned quite clearly his poor scoring chance against numbers in that post as well as his shooting %.

            The anti Jones crew assumes he can’t maintain his shooting % from an 81 game sample. (more like 176 game sample), yet they assume his scoring chances against data from 81 games is completly reflective of his skill set and/or can’t be improved on.

            I’m not ignoring a point at all, the point was that Jones claims his shooting % isn’t that big of a worry because of the type of goals he scores, you then disputed that claiming that other garbage goal scorers, including ones superior to Jones don’t carry high shooting percentages year after year.

            Unfortunatly you did nothing to back that claim up and in reality it looks like some garbage goal scorers can be fairly consistant with a high shooting percentage.

            Last time you played your childish games with me was when I was debating the cap with Arch.

            Guess who ended up being correct?

          • Ended up being correct about what exactly? I really doubt it. You have a tendancy to claim factual correctness when it exists only in your mind.

            If you want to play semantics, this was your quote, you have it different now.

            The funniest part of the anti-Jones cru is that they all want to crucify him for a “high shooting percentage” assuming he can’t maintain it (even though this year was only 1.2% above his career average).

            Yet they assume he will maintain his poor SC against numbers, despite the fact that we only have one year of date.

            Do you see the difference? If I am the one playing games why are you requoting two distinct thoughts as being one? wrote that we are crucifying him for his high shooting percentage. This is not accurate. We are crucifying him for being a bad hockey player. Do I need to repeat this any more or do you have it now?

            Moving on…I also never once said that NONE of the garbage goals scorers in the leagues history maintained high percentages. It is beyond obtuse to claim that my implied it is impossible for a garbage player to maintain a high number or that none have ever done so. The only reason to do so is to pick an argument. Congratulations.

            You already agreed with my point anyways, so I have no idea why you are still arguing.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            I was correct in that the cap didn’t go down, when 99.99% of posters/bloggers/media were insistent that it would.

            Looks like your poor reading comprehension is at work again.

            I’ll summarise my main points as clear and concise as possible in hopes that you are able to put it all together.

            The point is that he is crucified for a high shooting % AND a poor SC against numbers.

            Now here’s my issues with that:

            It is assumed his Shooting percentage will drop but it is conceded that his SC against will stay high.

            1. His shooting percentage has been fairly consistent over 150+ games, so maybe their is something to his theory, intuitively it makes sense doesn’t it? You should have allot more success shooting from the blue paint then you would from the hash marks… doesn’t seem like too difficult of a concept.

            2. Even a 5% drop in his shooting percentage still leaves him at 12 goals, I’m pretty confident that most coaches would be happy with 12 goals out of a bottom 6 player.

            3. It’s humours that everyone thinks that his shooting % is an anomaly but they assume his SC against is a true reflection of his ability. Talk about small sample size, if he’s still putting up those kind of numbers in a couple years then theirs something too it, at this point it’s laughable.

            Now, if your plan is to continue to be intentionally obtuse then please let me know so I wont waste any more time playing your childish games.

          • I was correct in that the cap didn’t go down, when 99.99% of posters/bloggers/media were insistent that it would.

            Looks like your poor reading comprehension is at work again.

            Hey, good for you. You were right about something, although I have no idea what reading comprehension has to do with not remembering a discussion vaguely alluded to from who knows how long ago. I am glad that you were able to retain such a landmark event though.

            Apparently the conversation wasn’t as important to me because I don’t remember the conversation nor what I said, but likely I just disagreed with a specific point you made rather than the entirety of it because I never had an opinion on which direction the cap would go. I do remember at some point, whether it was here or somewhere else I have no idea, presenting some evidence that people spend more money on entertainment during hard financial times and linked to articles theorizing that it had to do with seeking distraction. It was either here or a Sacramento Kings blog.

            Frankly I wouldn’t brag about it if I had to go back that far to find the last time I was right about something, but that’s just me.

            The point is that he is crucified for a high shooting % AND a poor SC against numbers.

            …and my point is that he is not being crucified at all for his shooting percentage. It is only being used to point out that his scoring is not likely to sustain itself. This has nothing at all to do with why people don’t like his game.

            1. His shooting percentage has been fairly consistent over 150+ games, so maybe their is something to his theory, intuitively it makes sense doesn’t it? You should have allot more success shooting from the blue paint then you would from the hash marks… doesn’t seem like too difficult of a concept.

            I wouldn’t say it has been consistent. People seem to forget that he spent much of the season at a ridiculous number. At one point well into the season he was carrying a percentage over 20% and 3/4 of the way into the season he was over 17%. It fell off the last month or so to end up around 14%.

            This isn’t a problem in itself and is perfectly normal,but if the Oilers think they can count on a guy to score similar numbers when he is likely to both get less playing time and shoot a lower percentage they are not playing the odds very well.

            Yet once again I will reiterate…this isn’t even important as to why Jones is not a good player, but it does speak to his perceived value.

            2. Even a 5% drop in his shooting percentage still leaves him at 12 goals, I’m pretty confident that most coaches would be happy with 12 goals out of a bottom 6 player.

            Yep. Nobody has disagreed with this premise, although you left out his likely decrease in TOI, so this statement does not refute a single thing I have said.

            Most coaches would be fine with 12 goals from a bottom 6 player. However most coaches are not fine with bottom 6 players who get completely dominated by the opposition every time they are on the ice no mater who they play with.

            This is the crux of the matter, and thus why shooting percentage is not the reason why we don’t like Jones.

            3. It’s humours that everyone thinks that his shooting % is an anomaly but they assume his SC against is a true reflection of his ability. Talk about small sample size, if he’s still putting up those kind of numbers in a couple years then theirs something too it, at this point it’s laughable.

            No it isn’t. Shooting percentage is strongly influenced by luck. Being dominated by your opposition does not involve nearly as much luck.

            Question….why do you keep saying “SC against” as though it is the only number working against him?

            Now, if your plan is to continue to be intentionally obtuse then please let me know so I wont waste any more time playing your childish games.

            This is my favorite part of your comment because it is essentially saying “I know you are but what am I” and following immediately with an accusation of being childish. Brilliant. I wish I’d thought of it.

            If you are going to be a shining example of all things good and right for the chronically immature like myself you are going to have to do a lot better than that.

    • VMR

      So I guess you agree with the rest of my post, just cherry picking the middle paragraph, that’s at least encouraging.

      What I see is lots of Oiler fans thinking you just go out and sign who you want and think that everyone wants to come here or is available for any pathetic trade offer you throw at them. That is not realistic.

      I keep going back to ST declared plan, the one he announced (the one he sold to Katz or was directed to follow by Katz). Remember? We are 20 players away from a cup and we have to draft and develop players who want to be here. Full culture change. He has followed that plan to date.

      That plan made sense to me. I don’t know if ST can execute the whole thing but he has been steady on course so far and for that I support him.

      Signing FAs or trading our assests -which are mostly our picks or rookies is counter productive.

      If you don’t like the rebuild plan as laid out, then yes bring in another GM and start the rebuild all over.

  • VMR

    It’s funny that if one is to ever mention trading players for high draft picks the blogo lynch mobs start rolling.

    I do believe it is risky, but so is playing in the NHL. If due diligence is done, and you have good scouts, I firmly believe in trading for picks to find better upside potential.

    I would trade Hemsky and Gagne for this reason – both are fine, except Hemsky can’t play enough to help, and Gagne can’t skate well enough in his 4th year to get over the hump he’s stuck on. 50-60 pts out of a small non-physical 2nd centre will make it hard to win a cup, especially when offense is pretty much his whole bag of tricks. 3rd and 4th line don’t suit him either.

    How much damage can you do trading them? Trading D or goalies too early can kill you. It takes forever for defensive forwards to develop USUALLY so trade for/sign them. Offense first players USUALLY either have it or don’t.

    They may make mistakes, but you can see the explosiveness right away, like with Hall or Eberle.

    Waiting too long to decide if players have the stuff to win it all can kill you as well. Or keeping them past expiry.

      • Agreed, so get a top 4. Barring injury, which can strike any player, established or not, I say it’s a safe bet that Strome, Huberdeau, RNH, or Couturier will be better players than Gagne at the end of the day, because of speed, size, and equal skill.

        If trading Gagne nets me one of these guys, I do it. Gagne has talent, but it will be years before he’s approaching good. Any one of these guys could reasonably pass him within a couple of years and I think have higher ceilings because of less drawbacks.

        We know Gagne is not going to be elite, so do it and allow the possibility that we might have two great centres, at least.

        This is playing the odds, in a way that can increase the ceiling for the team. Gagne is what he is. He’s going into his 5th year, there are no more surprises. He will get a little better every year, but will never have the speed, physicality or enough size to do the Oilers justice, or play against Toews, Kessler, Kopitar, etc. And the top 2 C are going to have to.

        He doesn’t have enough speed to create room for him to use his skills or make enough plays to cover the fact that passing is his only trick.

        Hemsky can’t stay healthy, so his skill doesn’t matter. If enough return was there, he’d go to.

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            Maybe – what I am saying is that unless you are sure that Gagne “is the one” it is better to take that chance than sit on a second tier player and lose when it counts because he just isn’t quite good enough.

            Despite his age, there are enough weaknesses I see and that stats verify, that despite perhaps improving, slowly, so slowly over time, will still leave him behind the really good 2c’s he will be playing against, and being dominated by. And he is not prime 3C material.

  • Chris.

    @ VMR:

    I guess we just disagree. No harm in that. Personally, I want a fresh start on the pro side of Hockey Operations. No Lowe. No Tambellini. No Gare. No Olczyk. This much talked about “culture change” should have started at the very top.

    I don’t need more time to believe that this is not an elite management team… And I don’t want this group to F up this rebuild and launch us back to square one five years from now.

  • Chris.

    IMO, Tambellini is mostly a mouthpiece, and the people under him do the majority of the work. The junior scouting team is excellent, the pro scouting team is either bad or are not being allowed to do their jobs to the fullest.

    He was hired to be a gut rip-down GM, stall for time, and be visible enough to get the arena built.

    When the Oilers are serious about contending again, I suspect that you’d see an change to a veteran GM.