Tambellini’s Take On Sutton, Oilers Rebuild

The Oilers’ official website has posted Steve Tambellini’s take on Andy Sutton’s new deal, and the general manager speaks about Sutton and the direction of the Oilers in general.

The video above is an interesting one, and a few lines stood out to me.

He expressed a real strong interest in staying in Edmonton; likes the city, likes the direction of the team, and we’re happy he’s back.

The idea that it is important to sign guys who want to play in Edmonton stretches back to the early days of Tambellini’s time with the Oilers. This isn’t new. The comment that Sutton “likes the direction of the team” strikes me as interesting, though, since it’s something we’ve heard more recently.

On Oil Change, Tambellini mentioned the third year of Eric Belanger’s contract in a significant way, saying, “One of the reasons why he wanted a three year deal is because he sees what’s happening, not next year, in year two and three, and ‘if I’m gonna go there, I wanna be part of that, in year two and three,’” (tip of the hat here to Tyler Dellow, who has made this point before).

It’s an interesting comment, and I wonder if it’s something Tambellini believes or something he says to try and emphasize what a good job he’s doing. Either way, if I were the player agent for Ales Hemsky or Cam Barker or any other player negotiating with the Oilers, I’d be sure to mention how much my client believes in the team’s current direction. Probably right before I asked for money.

It says a lot, I think, to the recognition of we know where we’re going. It’s hard at times, but we know that we’re acquiring elite talent.

Sutton’s place in the Oilers’ rebuild is an interesting one. He’s old enough that he won’t be a major contributor even if everything goes well and the Tambellini rebuild turns the Oilers into a Stanley Cup contender. His signing, however, now brings the number of NHL defenseman who are either under contract to the Oilers for next season or approaching RFA status to a total of eight – the eight guys currently with the team. The Oilers might dump Peckham or opt not to re-sign Barker, but Petry’s sure to be back and one imagines that Corey Potter will be too. Even if both Peckham and Barker leave the team this summer, that leaves only one spot for the Oilers to use on new defensive talent. If the Oilers decide to keep one of Peckham/Barker, their blue-line for next year could already be set.

We have a much better team than what the results and standings show, we know that.

This is Tambellini’s most interesting comment. Do the Oilers deserve to be higher than 14th in the West? Is the talent on their roster such that Tambellini’s comment is justified, that this season represents underachievement? If – and with NHL managers, there’s always an ‘if’ – Tambellini really believes that this team is better than their record, what does that suggest about the decisions he’ll make this summer, at the draft and during free agency?

Tambellini comes across as content that the Oilers are improving, that they’re moving in the right direction, and that no major changes are required. Time will tell whether that viewpoint is justified.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Amid all the negativity is an inspiring video on Oilers website – Taylor Fedun skating again after probably the most horrific injury I’ve ever seen in hockey last Sept. Good for him. Even if he never plays again, it is heartwarming to see that kind of courage and perserverance

  • I’m glad we firmed up a deal on a guy who has been a healthy scratch how many times? Especially when we haven’t yet spoken to a PPG player who still has a lot lft in the tank and is an impedning UFA.

    Why do I cheer for this team again?

    *closes his eyes and thinks of Eberle

    **remembers that mchockey1979 tells me Eberle isn’t as good as I think he is.

    ***still closes his eyes and thinks of Eberle

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      C’mon we all know that when you close your eyes you’re thinking about Todd Harvey circa the 2006 cup run, as a healthy scratch sporting a moustache and an amazing brown suit on the sidelines. We all are.

  • justDOit

    So, dive for five 3.0? THE REDUX

    Not to be confused with REDDOX from dive for five 1.0.

    Actually i don’t mind the cap hit and term but it’s not a signing that is exciting either.

  • I would hate to see the same defence return, but sutton hasn’t been part of the problem. Barker sucks, and while i had no problem gambling on him its time to cut ties. Petry needs a legitimate shot. And i dont want to give up on peckham just yet as he has shown flashes in the past, and i think this is just an off year. Gilbert and smid are keepers. I could see potter stay up or go down much like this season. That gives us. Sutton gilbert smid petry potter and peckham(try saying that 10 times fast). Whitney is a bonus at this point, as his ankles have crippled him(consider him a safer cam barker bet) i don’t want to sound obvious but thats weak. One big fish would be great for pushing guys down the depth chart. I would also like one more d prospect at the same stage as petry, that would help solidify the d for next season, and add a piece for the future. I really want jonathon blum, and would be okay with a trade of hemsky for blum and a first. I dont know that nashville would do that but principe brought that up. Thats about the only way ide let hemsky leave town. Even if hemsky isn’t part of the future, why not wait til next year when his value is appropriate.

  • Puritania

    The Oilers still need to sign a #4 defenseman, and loses Cam Barker’s agents phone number.

    If they sign a top #4, they keep the rest, they will have 8 NHL contracts, which is NOT to many. Potter’s 2 year one way deal will mean that he can be on the OKC shuttle without much worry of losing him on waivers, and one can always used emergency recall on the guy.

    #1 Gilbert
    #2 Smid
    #3 Whitney (injury concerns)
    #4 TBD
    #5 Petry
    #6 Sutton
    #7 Gilbert
    #8 Potter
    #9 Teubert
    #10 Plante
    #11 Chorney
    & prospects

    Getting #4 is still pretty important.

  • Bucknuck

    I am glad that they kept a big veteran defenseman on the payroll. It keeps them from rushing yet more prospects into the lineup. We all know there will be injuries next year, so it’s fine to have some depth.

    My only fear/hope is that Tambellini realizes that this team needs another big minutes defenseman if they really want to compete for a playoff spot.

    • DieHard

      Totally agree. Keeps our future D in the AHL for development. Sutton could possibly be re-signed for a few more years after that (one year at a time). There is also the possibility of trading 1 or 2 of our future potential top-end D for a current top-end D (if that makes sense).

  • Wax Man Riley

    I really like the Sutton signing, and was hoping it was going to get done. I love the idea of a monster on the blue line that makes the opposition skate with their heads up.

    Also….. the guy can dangle, and I love seein the big man do it. I remember the game a few weeks ago (Chicago @ Rexall? 9-2?) Sutton stepped over the blue line, wound up for a shot, froze the opposing forward, did a little toe drag around him, then wound up for another shot just to do another toe drag around the defender and put it on net.

    Tambo +1.

    Bring his total (by my count and my Gm-rating equations) to……*pretends to add on paper**looks to the air inquisitively* “…Carry the one…”

    His total on my GM scale of 1-100 is -12 ….

    Well, we’re getting there.

  • Bucknuck

    I don’t have a problem with Sutton staying around. The term is right, but the price seems a little steep to me (if 1.75 is the real figure). I don’t know why we would overpay this particular player.

    This should mean that Barker or Peckham or both are gone next year. I won’t be upset at losing Peckman, but I don’t have a problem being patient with him a little longer. However, the prospect of re-signing Barker makes me cringe – and I see references on Cult of Hockey & CoppernBlue suggesting that management may be inclined that way. Just when I think, “they couldn’t possibly be that stupid” I realize that, yes, they could be … just look at how they’ve handled Hemsky.

    Obviously, what we really need is 1 or 2 more big minute / “top 4” defencemen to knock Petry/Sutton/Potter/Peckham a rung or two down the depth chart. This would allow Renney to play them against some softer opposition, and hopefully they wouldn’t look so exposed all the time (self-edit: yes, I know that Peckam is getting exposed irrespective of opposition).

    Finally, Tambo’s comment about us being better than our record suggests is very disturbing to me. We may be better, but not by much. He should be having a busy summer IMO. Especially re shoring up the D.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    When your 22 as a D-men your out of the AHL and into the NHL.

    Musil is 18. Marincin is 19, will be 20 in 5 days.
    Klefbom is 18 but is a very good prospect and might be NHL ready at 20-21. Gernat is 18.

    So yes we are 2-3 years from seeing these guys in the NHL, and not all will.

    But Ryan Murray can come in at 18, or 19 if we’re patient, and if we draft more D it’s still the same problem of time, or we could though draft forwards and use them as trade bait, and Whitney has looked very good so far, Gilbert has been very good, Smid has progressed.

    So Murray maybe, with Whitney, Gilbert and Smid as our top 3/4 and some serviceable D-men for the 5/6/7/8 spots.

    Look at Vancouver, Bieksa, Hamhius, Edler, then Salo, Rome, Ballard.

    Boston has Chara, Corvo, Ference, Seidenberg, McQuiad, and Boychuk.

    So Vancouver has a defence by committee D-core and Boston has one star D-men vis-a-vis Chara(our Ryan Murray) and a Defence by committee core.

    You don’t need Karlsson, Suter, Pietrangelo, and Letang to have a good play-off calibre D-core.

  • Mitch

    Now if we all drink the Kool-Aid Tambi comments might be justified. This team is has no depth up front. We sit 29th in the league for a reason.

    I have suggested that Tambi really step up and go get the big fish, Rick Nash would be a great fit in my opinion. It would give Edmonton that much needed true 2 line threat. It would help them with the combo’s of 4/14 and 93/61 or mix it up and give diffenrent combos of those 4 guys. Make the 1st round selection available. I say Nash because this would be attractive for him and the 2 organizations are going in different directions.

    I would let Hemsky walk, pursue a trade of Belanger at all costs even consider sending him down.

    They talk about contract amnesty, I would use this on Horcoff. I would then pursue Gaustaud for my 3rd line.

    Gagner could be the piece that lands you a dman.

    The Oilers sit in a position to do a Philadelphia make over and stay there for a long time. But it would take guts to pull some of these moves off.

    Keep Khabby they need a goalie.

    The Defense isn’t as bad as it looks.

    This is a major culture shock but it has been along time coming, the correct pieces are in place.

      • Mitch

        Petry, Paajarvii, and another 1st rounder not really sure but I would enquire about the player what would it hurt. You have two organizations going in different directions and it might appeal to Nash, 14/93/4 can’t be part of the deal.

        • justDOit

          If I’m Howson, the only player that would interest me would be Hall. Hall, the 1st and a prospect like Omark.

          If I’m giving up a player like Nash, I’m goin to need some proven young player in return, not MPS, and while Petry is showing great lately, he’s not going to make up for losing Nash from the lineup.

          So what’s to say that ST hasn’t inquired about Nash? You’re telling him to ‘step up’, but he’s not negotiating in a vacuum – the other teams need to be willing to part with their star players, and that doesn’t happen very often.

          • Mitch

            Columbus got Carter for roughly the same kinda deal, as well LA got Richards for a prospect package. Columbus is starting over and this is a heavy price for Nash I feel.

          • justDOit

            Well, I did say, if I was Howson.

            Carter has that albatross contract hanging around his neck. Richards isn’t a player like Nash (although I like him). Philly still had enough top level players to absorb the loss of Carter and Richards and carry on, so that’s why they took prospects. The BJs don’t have that depth (insert joke here).

  • Mitch

    Good signing for certain.Over at TSN mckenzie says its 1.5mil with a 250k bonus for games played wich I think means if Andy can stay out of Shanahans office he will get the bonus.If that is the case I really like that in the contract because he sure hasnt helped our team in the 10 plus games he was suspended this year.

  • We have a much better team than what the results and standings show, we know that.

    This is from the same guy who said (paraphrased):

    “I know that how we played at the beginning of the season is how good this team really is”

    I know that you never, ever, get the goods when a GM opens his mouth in public, but these are pretty far fetched.

    I don’t know if he knows that the Oiler goaltending was at about .960 and were getting terribly outshot when they started strong, but he should.

    Then they got terribly outshot, didn’t get other-worldy goaltending and started to lose a lot.

    This team isn’t good, I hope he actually knows that.


    Ryan Whitney is not a top 4 Dman anymore.

    Since coming back he is getting outshot and outchanced almost as bad as Barker.

    He doesn’t make the idiotic decisions Barker does, but he hasn’t been effective.

    He’s talking about surgery in the offseason to tighten the problem ankle tendons. This is the same surgery that Forsburg had. Didn’t work for him, as the tendons were tightened too much.

    I really hope it turns out better for Whitney, but its not smart to count on him to be anything next year other than a bottom pairing guy.

    His passing and decision-making are still excellent, but he just can’t get around the ice like he used to and its seriously affecting his play.

    Oilers need a top pairing LH Dman in the offseason.

    There are a few that are UFA, I hope they grab one.

    If they don’t there’s a very good chance its lottery time again.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Lets hope for Edmontons sake there’s another work stoppage next season. Back to back lottery picks in 2012 and 2013, what’s not to love about that.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          there’s always hope…(Whackytabaccedia)

          The 2005 NHL Entry Draft was the 43rd NHL Entry Draft.

          As a lockout cancelled the games of the 2004–05 NHL season, the draft order was determined by lottery on July 22, 2005. Teams were assigned 1 to 3 balls based on their playoff appearances and first overall draft picks from the past three years. According to the draft order, the selection worked its way up to 30 as usual; then instead of repeating the order as in past years, the draft “snaked” back down to the team with the first pick. Therefore the team with the first pick overall would not pick again until the 60th pick. The team with the 30th pick would also get the 31st pick. The draft was only seven rounds in length, compared to nine rounds in years past. The labor dispute caused the shortened draft.

          The Pittsburgh Penguins won the draft lottery and, as expected, selected Sidney Crosby. The lottery associated with the draft has colloquially been referred to as the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes due to the certainty of Crosby being selected first

  • Time Travelling Sean

    I don’t want Nash tbh, he’s a great player but he takes a big piece of our pie to get him, and Ryan Whitney has 3 points in 5 games? and is playing very good from what I’ve seen, skates well, using his size, good puck retention, can hold the blue-line, makes smart passes, gets the puck out of the zone, and he’s only been back 7-8 games? after being out quite a while and coming off injury/confidence issues.

  • I caught Hallsy jawing with Tencer just before 6:00 tonight on the way home. He mentioned that it’s easier to trade a player when they’re under contract versus them being FA’s heading into the off-season.

    *stokes chin*

    Hmmm… Interesting…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Appears to be very much a one sided interview going on there. Who’s asking the questions, Glee club guy? Has to be, can’t see Steves eyes darting left to right reading his pre written speech on a teleprompter.

    Was this real, or just one of those new halographic simulation type interviews?

    I’m board/boreded.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Cudos to Tambellini for the Sutton signing- I’m hopeful there will be more cudos to offer. If we can move Hemsky for an asset/prospect it could go a long way in perhaps targeting Johnny Boychuk this summer. Moving Hemmer frees up some cap space for taking a run at Boychuk and perhaps a home coming of sorts….

    • Yeah. Because this team could REALLLLLY use more “assets/prospects” instead of a proven top-six veteran capable of going up against the other team’s best players on a nightly basis.


      Note: Boychuk or any other highly regarded D-man is NOT going to voluntarily go from a cup contender to a double winner of the coveted green jacket in the NHL overall standings. NOT going to happen. Doesn’t matter how much NHL 12 (or Hockeybuzz *spits*) says it will.

      • justDOit

        Boychuck is a good player, but you have to be careful in picking players who play on great teams – sometimes they aren’t capable of stirring the drink on lesser teams.

        Edit: This reply was meant to go to someone else – damned sinus infection/fever!!! “Momma… Momma? Is that you?!!”

        Yes, I think you can safely say that Boychuck should be hesitant to jump from a ship that’s not going down any time soon.

      • A-Mc

        Well if you were a GM would you even trade for Hemsky. It will be a bonus if we can get a bag of pucks. This trade should have happened last year. We have to many so called proven top 6 skilled forwards who can’t take a hit/made of glass. One can argue too- what have they done for us lately. Last I checked- we are a toilet bowl contender yet again. Good teams build from the D out with strength down the middle. Where are we on those two fronts not to mention question marks in goal and our best D-man is playing on one leg.
        Also, Horcoffs contract makes signing Hemmer to term impossible. If you’re Hemsky are you signing here for less than your centermans $$$.

  • Bryzarro World

    You guys would draft Murray 2nd overall if we got that slot? I wouldn’t… to me it would have to be Grigorenko if Yakupov goes first. BPA and not great luck drafting Dmen so early.

    What position did Barker get drafted again?……..

        • justDOit

          Take the best player, and sort it out later. Who knows, maybe RNH is dangled for a high-end defenceman? I know… I know… but if these things can’t be considered, then the GM isn’t doing his job.

          Or maybe by that time, Gagner is back to being somewhat of a goat.

          Do you think they should go for D? I don’t know enough about the current defence prospects this year, but ‘they’ say that they take too long to develop (Larsson, Fowler, Hedman aside).

          It looks to me like you take the bpa, and try to even out the back end via trade or free agency.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Originally I was all D all the time… but I was still nursing the idea that we might pick as late as 5-8… now that we are firmly in the lottery camp, I think you got to go BPA and hope to snag one of Yak or Grig

            Beyond that though, I think that article at Copper and Blue makes a good point that maybe in the early first you stick with forwards anyway… I don’t know enough to have a settled opinion, however.

            It certainly seems that the longer the development period the harder it is to project… ie., D are just much trickier to find young.

          • A-Mc

            Hah yep. Bad enough to be bad but not bad enough to get a good draft position!

            Using foster as a case study for a femur break; he was injured on march 20, 2008 and returned to play on Feb 9,2009.
            Fedun went down preseason, so there is a chance that we DO see him again at camp later this year!

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I hope the Oil dont take another forward in the 1st round, get 1 in the 2nd imo, use the 1st pick to get a dman(if not used in a trade) preferably Reinhart if Murray is takin before.
    Reading the TSN draft rankings those 2 have the best upside out of the bunch for dmen.

    Does anybody know why Yakupov was suspended for missing the Cherry/Orr game awhile ago?

    EDIT: Who ever ST takes at the draft…LET THEM DEVELOPE PROPERLY

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      That’s why he was suspended, i.e., for not showing up to the game (it’s a diss to the league and the fans).

      This coppernblue post had me rethinking the draft D in the lottery zone:


      a sample:

      The issue that the Oilers are faced with for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft is that defensemen tend to develop at a slower rate than forwards, especially elite-level forward prospects like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Sure, every now and then there is a Drew Doughty, but he is the exception, not the rule. Recent examples like Victor Hedman, Alex Pietrangelo and Luke Schenn are more demonstrative of a reasonable development curve for even the most elite defensive prospects. While they may be able to contribute at the NHL level at an early age, it is likely to be years before they realize their potential to become impact players. And that’s assuming you don’t end up with the next Cam Barker.

      Still not sure myself… but as a general rule BPA in the top 3 if not top 5 is probably the safest bet.

  • I know Tambi is supposed to be the unflinching positive public voice of management, but c’mon, what is he smoking??

    His comments and what we see on the ice are two different things.

    Take 2/3rds of our (non-kid) roster and trade them with another team, and that team is in the lottery too.

  • A-Mc

    With regards to taking a D instead of a forward If you draft top 2-3;

    Something tells me that the oil aren’t going to have to make that choice. With the lotto, and with how well the team has played lately (now that we’re healthy), I actually think we’re going to be picking in the 4-5 range.

    There are 5 teams ahead of us with 5 or less points between; with a healthy squad I don’t think 30/29 is a lock for this year.

    PS: it made me really happy to see fedun skating. I’m not sure what the turn around time is on a femur break but I would love for him to be back in camp next season!!

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      you’re a step more optimistic than me. Either way the season will be both better than last year and still disappointing (so far from playoffs still).

      MacKenzie’s special really seemed to emphasize the draft was a crap shoot after #2 this year… so hopefully we get in there, or luck out with our roll of the die (Stu has been picking pretty well so far!).

      I have no idea what breaking your biggest bone does to you… but just thinking about it is horrible. I hope he makes it on the team! that would be an amazing story… part of me, though, worries we’ll put too much pressure on the kid…

    • Yourmomthinksimhot

      Or quite possibly what he is saying is… “Edmonton fans are stupid and if I can deflect any blame from myself, I will do it by throwing my coach under the bus.”

      I tell you, the guy doesnt speak much but when he does I get a chuckle. I wish for once he’d just quit insulting our intelligence and just admit this team isn’t quite there yet.

      I can accept him saying he’s working on it, but telling everyone we’re basically there and for some reason it just hasn’t shown in the standings, is flat out insulting. If he honestly feels this way, then it sickens me how far out of touch with reality he is.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    On Belanger and Sutton, if I’m an NHL player nearing the end of his career, and a GM offers me over a million to play until I’m 36/37, then I would like “the direction of the team” too.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    The only thing that is justafiable at this point is getting playoff tickets to see the Oil Kings kick some serious butt.

    That Gernat kid is something…

  • vetinari

    Sean Avery is to manners and etiquette as Steve Tambellini is to building winning hockey teams.

    Of note during the Tambellini interview, you can’t see Lowe moving his hand to make Tambellini talk.