MacT Godsend?

Rumors tonight have Craig MacTavish in the final group under consideration for the Ottawa Senators coaching job. Should MacT win the day, could that impact the 2011 draft board and inspire a trade or two between Ottawa and Edmonton?  

Craig MacTavish has been loyal to most of his players since leaving the Oiler organization, to the point of a painful television moment this past winter where he defended Shawn Horcoff as a capable option in many circumstances. I’ve long felt that Craig MacTavish was an excellent coach who stayed too long at the fair in Edmonton and lost the veterans on the club. Much of that likely came from his very public rips of Dustin Penner, which continue unabated by others on the left coast. 

MacT left some fine players in Edmonton, men he’d come to count on. Many of his foot soldiers have been sent down the line (Moreau, Staios, etc), but there are a few still living in Edmonton. 

Remember 2006?

Among the 2006 Oilers, center Shawn Horcoff (always a MacT favorite) and winger Ales Hemsky remain. Both would be helpful additions to the Ottawa Senators, but that team is also in building mode so would be unlikely to add either player.

MacT’s Rookies

From fall 2000 through the day MacT stepped down as coach, a lot of kids graduated to the show under his watch. Some, like Daniel Cleary and Raffi Torres, came from other organizations. Others were Oilers draft picks and through his years on the job MacTavish displayed an admirable quality: pedigree didn’t count for much.

MacT’s list of rookies is a long one and they displayed a wide variety of skills. He played Sam Gagner the most among rookie forwards, Steve MacIntyre the least. The 07-08 group was probably the best (Gagner, Cogliano, Brodziak, Gilbert, etc) and 05-06 didn’t have much to offer as the veteran team tracked destiny.

Here are 5 current Oilers I can see coach MacT asking his GM to acquire:

  1. Tom Gilbert: Still an effective defenseman but may have outstayed his welcome in Edmonton. The Senators could use an effective finesse defender and Gilbert could be available.
  2. Andrew Cogliano: The double whammy here, as GM Murray tried to grab Cogs in the Dany Heatley deal. Cogliano no doubt pleased coach Renney so it might be a no-go from Edmonton, but one imagines he’ll ask.
  3. Ladislav Smid: As with Cogliano, Murray attempted to acquire Smid in the Heatley trade a couple of whiskey sour’s ago. Ottawa is building a tight blue line, perhaps Smid would be an effective role player.
  4. Zack Stortini: Stortini played his best NHL hockey under MacT and could be a solid 13-14F for the veteran coach. Added value: with Stortini on the roster, there’s one guy who’ll always have your back.
  5. JF Jacques: Laugh at your peril. MacT gave him a job and then give him chance after chance to establish himself in the National Hockey League.

What’s coming back? 

Ottawa has a few things that Edmonton would find attractive. Along with draft picks (Sens want to trade up btw), Edmonton might like the looks of men like Chris Neil, prospect Jared Cowen, Bobby Butler and Colin Greening.

I don’t think much will come of this, maybe a Stortini trade for a depth pick. Still, should MacT get the job it makes sense that the Senators might come knocking and ask after some of his former players.

  • Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle had really nice rookie seasons in both the counting numbers and scoring chances. It is worth noting however that they were giving a ton of chances back to their opponents, but only when Shawn Horcoff wasn’t on the ice with them. Horcoff’s all-around ability and defensive prowess really helped the two young forwards find their way.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Silly sommbeach, why did you put that up for.

      I’m conducting a study here, one of significant depth i might add. This is definately going to scue the data being gathered on this important study.

  • I like the back and forth of comments on Horcoff.

    There is an argument for both for and against Horcoff. Yes he is over paid (grossly I might add) and is therefore un-tradable, so like it or not he is most likely here to stay.

    Horcoff is being over used by the coaching staff because of the lack of talent at center the club has.

    Horcoff should be on the 2nd power play not the 1st, actually should not even be on the PP.

    Horcoff should not be on the 1st line, he should be on the 3rd, in a checking role one he is good at. Horcoff should be on the penalty kill, but should not have 20+ minutes a game.

    Horcoff is playing big minutes for what his role should be which is a checking center. This would explain IMO why his plus/minus sucked so bad, Why he gets injured often and his role is to expansive for what he’s good at.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    The tough thing is that most of the guys that we want to get rid of are either d-men or centers. We have nobody really ready to step up at either position. Still, if we don’t shuffle at least a few players around then we will still be on the outside looking in going forward.

  • justDOit

    Silliness is wanting to get rid of your best center, especially on a team with only one.

    Horc’s the hardest worker and a great captain, but he’s a little over his head in the #1 role some nights. Put him at #2, and he’d be one of your favorite Oilers (as he was in 2008, when he had some help down the middle).

    I think Horcoff’s biggest mistake was playing that season with injuries (was it 2009?) which limited his effectiveness. But he didn’t stand down, he dug deep and put a lot of heart into everything he did.

    So let’s do a poll – how many trollers here would refuse the contract that he was offered in 2008? Hmmmm? Maybe just a show of hands would suffice…

    Here’s my big concern about Horcs: an article a few years back mentioned that he’s best buddies with Katz. That’s a dangerous dynamic to have on a team, IMO.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    Quicksilver Ballet wrote with reference to Horcoff: “…he’s pretty much all we got when he’s healthy.” Can’t agree more.

    If the Oilers are in a serious rebuilding mode, there is a major problem at centre, how do you build on a crumbling foundation? The situation is equally bad on defence.

    I wish MacTavish all the best in his pursuit of returning to the NHL as a head coach.

    As for the owner, it is not unusual for successful businessmen to experience repeated brain cramps when they buy into professional sports, e.g. Washington Redskins, Jerry Jones etc, etc. If the owner was so smart, why is Lowe and Tambelinni still around? Why have the Oilers missed the playoffs five seasons running? Why have the Oilers ended in last place the last two seasons? Why did Tambi sign the teams MVP Khabibulin?

    When will the insanity end?

  • Horcoff has earned respect and his contract. bloody if it wasn’t for the frakin injuries he would have led this team in scoring last year. MacT deserves another shot. He is a capable coach.Penner? See Dean Lombardi’s comments last month. The Oilers were a team in transition at the end of MacT’s tenure. He deserved better than what he recieved from alot of the players. But as with all things it was time to move on. At this point Horcoff’s value to the Oilers is not in goals and assists but in his leadership. This team needs him to lead generation next. Hall and Eberle need his experience. They need his leadership on and off the ice. he is the bridge for a whole new generation of Oilers. as was Kelly Buchberger and Ryan Smyth(Who the Oilers should bring back). Good luck to MacT.

  • O.C.

    What the…?

    Moving Horcoff doesn’t solve anything. He is NOT a liability… He just isn’t first line for a chmpionship team.

    For now he will do, then put him on line two when the number one C is filled.

    He was one of the better Oilers last year. I ain’t a fanboy either.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Look at what you’ve written there Cruzer, as i go from left to right on each line i can’t believe it’s come to this for our Oilers here in Edmonton. Shawn Horcoff is a great first line center if we’re in the American Hockey League Cruzer. It’s a sad state, but he’s our undisputed No.1 center on our NHL hockey club for half a season if we’re fortunate. It’s sad we’re even grovelling over this? We’re the weakest team at the center ice position in both the NHL and AHL. Sell whatever we can and get the two decent kids we have as much help as possible this summer. Lets not kid ourselves anymore, we suck.

      • Wax Man Riley

        Nobody is kidding themselves. i think the consensus is that Horc is not a #1. Everyone agrees that for the Oilers to be a contender, there has to be an upgrade at center.

        The problem is the reality of the situation. We don’t currently have the assets to trade for one unless you are trading Hall, Eberle, or PRV. Even then, I doubt there are the assets to trade for the #1.

        Free agency is the only other route, and unless The Oil are looking to throw $12M a year at someone, that #1C won’t sign here if they can sign in Van, or Tampa, or LA, etc…

        The draft and development is the only real option at this point. It isn’t a case of being complacent or dithering. It is working with what you have to work with.

        We know The Oilers suck. No one is kidding themselves.

      • O.C.

        It ain’t happening tho. No one will pick him up unless at a cost to the Oil.

        Then what? You still need a centre who shows up, leads, and wins face offs.
        Horcoff is an important asset, even at second line.

        If he is off the PP, then I’m content to focus on finding other talent, instead of trading problems with other teams.

        You might end up with a cancer in exchange.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ QSB. Tsk tsk. Ballard was a far bigger ‘mistake’ then Horcoff, 7 years for a 34 Y/O with concussion history is no screaming hell of a deal. Heck, both Widman and Ryder have been considerd horrible contracts at times and just last yea Thomas was considerd to have one of the worst contracts in the league.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      There’s still a role for Horcoff on this hockey club, unfortunately it’s just not as the first or second line center. For 5 yrs we’ve watched Horcoff have more and more weight put on his shoulders. It’s easy to see he’s failed as the No.1 center here, but i’m not saying he’s failed as a hockey player. Get the guy some help, a couple kids in the 1 and 2 role, he’s shown his body can’t handle the wear and tear anymore. If he’s expected to continue as is, i think he’ll be done playing in two yrs. With #10 expected to carry the role of the first line center, we’ll suck more than ever this coming year. Like Gilbert was last season in the #1 blueliner role, Shawn is miscast as a top 3 player.

  • Chris.

    All those morons yelling, “Loooooouuuu!”…after a routine freezing of the puck; are the same people who cheered when “Lou” was pulled only 48 hours ago.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    @ QSB. I take no issue with that (though I think he’s got another year or so as a resonable 2C). It will be a good day to be an Oiler fan when their are 2 clear cut better centers. An even better day when their are 4 superior centers.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I feel those two are within reach this summer. We have Hopkins already, we just need to sell our soul to move up to get a shot at Couturier. This is vital as far as i’m concerned. This Lander kid, the Oilers need to give him every opportunity to stick with the big club in the fall. If this is the case we may have our two rookies starting down the middle in the fall. Throw these three rookies into the deep end and see which two can swim.

      No doubt Horcoff starts the season as the no.1, can’t help but feel one or two of these kids will make a difference sooner rather than later. Oilers get hot for two ten game spans next year but still finish in a lottery position.

      • Wax Man Riley

        I still maintain, that with your centers of RNH, Horcoff, Couturier, and Lander, the team is doomed for another 30th finish. I’d rather see Horc, Gags, Lander, and a signed FA with actual experience. Too many rookies/sophomores will be a bad thing.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          We’re splitting hairs here, next year is bad, all bad. Like last year the goal will be to hopefully get Hopkins and if we’re fortunate enough, Couturier a thousand minutes of icetime like Hall and Eberle did last year.

          Always trying to see the bright side in all this, this could land us that future #1,2 or 3 d’man in that draft next summer.

          Ryan Smyth is a 6.25 cap hit but only a 4.5 salary.

  • Wax Man Riley


    Those aren’t all Tambos signings. Horcoff and Souray are from the Lowe era.

    Foster was a good experiment coming off of 45 pts the year before.

    Fraser and Jacques … well … Jacques for whatever reason keeps getting chances, and Fraser was a gritty #4C that is just coming off of winning a cup.

    I think Burke lost that trade the day it was signed and cemented it when they came in 29th. Kessel is good, but being drafted last in the all-star game, then putting on the performance in that game that he did, I think shows his ability. He reminds me of Penner.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Horcoffs pt/gm rank for centers each year. he needs to stay healthy.

    05-06 #18 .92pt/gm
    06-07 #38 .62pt/gm
    07-08 #13 .94pt/gm
    08-09 #35 .66pt/gm
    09-10 #57 .47pt/gm
    10-11 #35 .58pt/gm

    So his production has been #1 center two years, top #2 center 3 years, bottom #2 center 1 year while playing toughs and usually poor defensive starts. what crack heads think he is a #3. We need him to be healthy and play all season.

    The year he signed was after the 08-09 season the 08-09 season there was only one center who face the other teams best in a tough zone shift setting and outscored them.
    MR. horcoff. Mike richards was almost there.

    he should have been signed for the league average for good shutdown centers 4.75m.

    • He went to the all-star game likely with a bad shoulder, made it worse there or in the game or 2 he played after, then his season ended, shoulder surgery soon after. Had some 50 points in 53 games. Who wouldn’t make his all-star appearance, even with a bad shoulder when you likely have extension talks comming in the months to follow? ( I could be corrected here but I understood his shoulder was wonky before even going to all-star game).

      He was signed to an extension in July of 2008 (a player can’t be extended before July 1 of the last year of his active contract) while still in shoulder surgery rehab. He had the 2008-09 season to go before new deal kicked in.

  • Thanks LT for a wonderful article about MacHorcofftavish. I feel quite sure that everyone has been confirmed in their presuppositions, and those of us who weren’t, well we can feel safe in the fact that we either didn’t read the appropriate select comments, or that we didn’t presuppose, I suppose. This once again just goes to show that we are all absolutely correct all the time and I will argue this incontrovertible fact to the death at my convenience.

    In conclusion gentleman, I would like to say that I told someone so, and thank you Gladis for the meat-pies. Canoe Canoe.

  • Wax Man Riley

    would the oilers take a shot at Wojtek Wolski. he’s only 25 and has better offensive skills than Horcoff or Gagner at this point. Also at 6’3 210 he’s got better size. i heard the rangers are going to buy him and drury out.

    giving him a 1 year like tanguay got from calgary wouldn’t be totally unreasonable and would provide better depth at center, especially since the oilers can’t guarantee lander starts with the oilers next season.

  • Clyde Frog

    Does anybody remember when we signed Horcoff it was under rumours that San Jose was interested in a Horcoff, Patty Marleau swap? The fear that gripped us we might take a shot at that chronic underachiever for our up and coming 1st line centre?

    He was a hot commodity looking at a big pay day soon, we offered him a decent contract to keep him at the time.

    To sit here several years later and kick the Oilers for making a deal 20 of the other teams in the league would have is kind of sad.

    Especially when leading up to the deal the entire fanbase was yelling about the prospect of losing him, like we did all our other young stars.

    Hindsight is a magical thing…

    Also @Rickit, well said.