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.