Steve Tambellini: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

To listen to some people tell it, Steve Tambellini hasn’t done one damn thing to help the Edmonton Oilers. Not so.

The Good

  1. The major thing Steve Tambellini has done is give room and bullets to the amateur procurement department. His first trade (Garon to the Pens) and his most recent trade (Penner to the left coast) included draft picks (both 2011 selections) meaning MBS and his scouts have a better chance to find useful things.
  2. Trade of Denis Grebeshkov to Nashville for a 2nd rd pick. Similar to what I discussed above, but this is worthy of a spotlight because the return was a 2nd in a good draft year. MBS turned that pick into Curtis Hamilton. Steve Staios deal is exactly the same kind of deal.
  3. Claiming Ryan Jones off waivers. Jones has played in enormous luck and the advanced stats expose the conditions he’s playing in, but the results offensively have more than covered the waiver cost.
  4. Trade of Lubomir Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney and the pick that turned into Brandon Davidson. Special circumstances here, coach Quinn liked his defenders to pass the puck up, so the sublime talents of Lubo served to gall the already galled coach for much of the time. Getting a younger veteran like Whitney and a depth pick was a nice return considering the situation.  
  5. Lower level trades and signings for men like Colin Fraser and Kurtis Foster. Although neither worked out in year one, these were good bets and may end up paying dividends in year two. Fraser was low event (not a bad thing) and Foster struggled for many reasons but was a good soldier and should be better in 11-12.


The Bad


  1. The 2009 deadline deal that sent away Erik Cole and a 5th rd pick for Patrick O’Sullivan and a 2nd rd pick. The 2nd rder was flipped in exchange for Ales Kotalik. It’s bad because this was a trade in an effort to improve for the stretch run and acquire a young, useful offensive player (O’Sullivan). Nothing about this trade worked, and two years later the other teams involved (Carolina, Los Angeles and Buffalo) all made out like bandits compared to the Oilers.
  2. Trading Kyle Brodziak at the draft and then spending two seasons trying to find Kyle Brodziak. You know the player Edmonton is looking for this summer? You know, 2-way forward who can PK and help out a little on offense? Win some faceoffs? That guy? Yeah. Kyle Brodziak. Dealt at the 2009 draft for the picks that turned into Kyle Bigos and Olivier Roy. You can’t trade people from your NHL roster if there is no one to replace them.


The Ugly

  1. The major item for this Oiler fan was the Khabibulin signing. I liked the goalie, but not the money and not the term. A rational signing would be coming off the books by now.
  2. Firing Craig MacTavish and replacing him with Pat Quinn. A disaster, a complete disaster. When you bring in a coach to help young players and they don’t progress, the cost is enormous. It was so bad the Oilers had to make the move to Renney ahead of schedule. Long term negative impact on the team.
  3. Keeping Kelly Buchberger over Charlie Huddy. I’m not sure if it was a cost consideration or maybe the Oilers just don’t like defensemen, but the club had some young blue who were on track when Huddy was here who have stagnated since he left. It would behoove the Oilers to re-hire Huddy in his previous role should he come available this summer.
  4. The handling of Sheldon Souray’s situation. I can only guess about the reaction from NHL players to the year long trip to Chocolate land. This sort of thing doesn’t help the Oilers reputation, already negative due to things like the Comrie cash grab and the Smyth $100,000 game.

So, Steve Tambellini has done some good things. He’s acquired picks and Stu MacGregor has been able to turn them into promising prospects. He’s also dealt an outstanding NHL defenseman for a very good one in a deal that addressed the coaching concerns and the future (Whitney is younger, plus Davidson has a chance).

He’s also shown an ability to make reasonable bets (Foster, Fraser) and although they haven’t worked out there’s at least some hope for them.

Tambellini has gotten into trouble on the larger canvas. The Khabibulin signing, the Souray punishment, the Quinn blunder, the wonky trade of Erik Cole.


Steve Tambellini’s summer is very likely to be a large canvas summer. ON’s Robin Brownlee suggested this week that the club might be considering trading next year’s first round pick in an effort to grab both RNH and another top 5 pick this season:

  • Robin Brownlee:  "Just Saying: Might the Oilers look at trading the 19th pick in the first round this year and their first pick in 2012, which figures to be anything from a fifth to a 10th pick, to get a second top-five pick in Minny? More on that to come."

Should that happen, I believe Steve Tambellini will be fired within 12 months of the 2012 draft. There is no way the 11-12 Oilers finish well enough for that first round pick to be outside the top flight prospects that the (already) deep 2012 crop will provide. It might sound like a good idea, but if the pick he sends away ends up in the Nail Yakupov range I think we’ll see Kevin Lowe back in the GM’s chair by Christmas 2012.

  • Dutchscooter

    ‘It might sound like a good idea, but if the pick he sends away ends up in the Nail Yakupov range I think we’ll see Kevin Lowe back in the GM’s chair by Christmas 2012.’

    God help us…..that would be a major step backward……and already sully this teams’ name.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I used to be on the blame Tambellini bus as well but the worm has turned for me. I’m thinking Steve was brought in for 5 yrs to act as a wrecking ball for this hockey club, someone to come in and do the dirty work. When the light can be seen at the end of the tunnel, he’ll be moving onto his next task. Kevin Lowe will be named interim GM, only to have the interim dropped a few months later.

      After yet a fourth bottom five finish this coming season the fanbase will have their sacricifial lamb when Tambellini is forced to move on. Kevin Lowe will inherit a pretty solid youthful hockeyclub with a bright future if they can add 2 or 3 kids to that group of Hall,Eberle and perhaps Paajarvi in the coming week.

      Steve Tambellini will sign an extension with the Oilers this season and remain on the payroll for yrs to come after he’s terminated. The Oilers do certainly take care of their own.

      • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

        Your theory sounds good.

        (Steve was brought in for 5 yrs to act as a wrecking ball for this hockey club, someone to come in and do the dirty work.)

        Unfortunatly it is completely contradicted by his actions his first few years on the job.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          I don’t follow Obbie?

          The Khabibulin deal is a just one example of where i’m coming from. 15 million for a goalie with a wonky back. Steve had to know he would spend atleast half that contract on the IR leaving the goaltending to kids with little or no experience. He drove this hard and fast into the mud….agreed?