This Oilers season is about returns and arrivials, and increasingly about the future. For management, huge decisions are on the horizon that will change the face of the franchise.
As the season comes into focus and teams like the Oilers reach the conclusion they are sellers (Oilers aren’t there yet, but as Robin Brownlee has been saying this road trip will go a long way toward writing the script) that brings a whole new set of questions.
- If Hemsky continues to battle injury, will he have enough value to even entertain offers? 83 might end up getting a one or two year deal because his value could be very low. Should Hemmer rip off a hot streak in January then teams like Detroit and Pittsburgh may come calling. If not, allowing him to walk is bad asset management.
- If a team comes calling for Nikolai Khabibulin, do you entertain the offer? Hey, Nik has played his rear end off this season and frankly without him this team would be pushing up daises already. However, if a team like Tampa Bay made a legit offer, does it behoove Mr. Tambellini to listen? I think it does.
- Will owner Daryl Katz shuffle the management? If I’m right on this, Daryl Katz will follow the Detroit model and move Steve Tambellini into a role that sees him on the inside of the groupthink but no longer the trigger man. I suspect there is some frustration with the rebuild’s progress and the amount of losing the kids are doing while learning the NHL game. With the arena issue somewhat solved good results are needed. If I were a betting man ($8!) my money would be on Kevin Lowe to return to the GM post and for the Oilers to possibly reward Stu MacGregor with an additional title (my vote is "President of Amateur Procurement"). This is almost identical to the Mike Illitch model that allowed the Red Wings a "group vote" on major moves and eventually led to Ken Holland’s brilliant run as the Red Wing GM.
- Will they trade for a defenseman before summertime? Ryan Whitney’s injury situation means Edmonton is in dire straits at the position. Can Sam Gagner fetch a defender? Ales Hemsky? Khabibulin? Paajarvi?
- When are we going to see Hartikainen and Omark? This team isn’t ripping it up offensively, what happened to the old "3 scoring lines" saw we heard for years? I don’t know that Omark will be an Oiler much longer, but perhaps they can play him for 10 games before the deadline and offload him?
- Would they deal Ryan Smyth? Jason Gregor brought this up not long ago and it makes sense from a rebuild point of view and Smyth could return in the summer on a longer term, cap friendly deal.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Oiler fans will need to adjust their sights. This Oiler team could be buried by the time we sober up from New Year’s. The future is bright, but there are some massive questions to be answered, including the possibility of managment changes in the next few months.
Nation Radio’s New Year’s eve show hits Team 1260 at noon today. You can email questions to [email protected] or drop them off here in the comments section. You can also check @itsnationradio or @lowetide_ on twitter and I welcome your questions and comments.
- Jonathan Willis will be on the show for the entire first hour. Jon has a mountain of information on the world juniors, advanced stats as they pertain to this year’s edition of the Oilers and the NHL in general.
- Scott Taylor from Jets Nation. There’s a story brewing here and it involves Winnipeg pushing Toronto out of the playoffs. Scott will give us the Jets view and we’ll talk WJ’s.
- Pension Plan Puppets have several smart people who monitor the Leafs and one of them will join me today. We’ll talk about the rocky relationship the fanbase has with their goalies and also discuss the importance of the numbers 18-14-5.
Hope you can tune in. We’ll also be discussing cool ways to bring in the New Year, so pass along your suggestions.