A New Dawn

Is it always darkest before the dawn?

For the Edmonton Oilers it is. Although not reflected in the year end standings, there was improvement.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins all proved they are or will become top flight players in the NHL. Smid really embraced his role as a shut down dman and battled every night. After the All Star break Whitney began to return to his high level of play. In net, Dubnyk has earned the opportunity to be the starter next season.

Looking at the team as a whole, the dramatic improvement on both the special teams was a huge step forward. Third best on power play and fourteenth spot on penalty kill are a solid sign of the direction the team is heading.

I think that if the percentage of pk and pp add up to 105%, a team is really clicking. The Oilers finished right around 102%.

Now for the bad medicine….

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Two issues the Oilers need to address are consistent secondary scoring and the defense corps.

Outside of the young trio, who will score on a more regular basis next year? I expect Hemsky to return to his normal point producing ways next year. That is one. Jones has become a solid player who can chip in close to twenty.

After those five there are some question marks. A reduction in minutes for some veteran forwards will help keep their legs fresher through the whole year and result in higher point totals. Gagner must find a way to produce at a steady pace throughout the year. With his drive and skill level this is within his ability to accomplish. He can get closer to sixty points a year.

There needs to be more production from the other players than just the first line. This is a challenge Oiler management must overcome.

There is a need for an additional top end dman on the back end. That being said it isn’t easy to get them. Take a look at the top teams in the league and compare to the Oilers top four.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • New York Rangers: Staal, Del Zotto, Girardi and McDonagh
  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Letang, Martin, Niskanen and Orpik
  • Vancouver Canucks: Edler, Bieksa, Hamhuis and Salo
  • St. Louis Blues: Pietrangelo, Shattenkirk, Jackman and Polak
  • Edmonton Oilers: Whitney, Smid, Schultz and Petry

All four guys for the Oilers are solid NHL’ers. Whitney is a top end player who should return to form and Petry looks as if he will develop into an all around player. The other two are steady horses who will battle.

I just feel that an additional top four dman is required to add depth when injuries occur and to take some of the work load off these four.

All the top teams in the league have top end dman and solid depth behind them. Getting to this point is very important for the Oilers. You simply cannot win in the NHL without a very good defenseman corps. I strongly feel the sun will rise very soon over Oil Country.

Recently by Jason Strudwick

  • vetinari

    I would think that at the least, another top 4 defenceman is in order, if not two. I respect the four cited by Struds but consistency was a problem beyond those guys (Teubert, Peckham, Plante, Barker, Sutton, etc.).

  • I think we need to remember that winning the lottery was a shock – even to Tambo – & he hadn’t yet spoken to Stu regarding Yakupov. Not sure if trading someone compared to Bure for another D is the best option, but with Marincin, Gernat, Klefbom, Musil, etc… on the way, I believe that changes need to be made for veteran D for stability & help – just not at the expense of a potential awesomeness awesome of anyone who compares to a Bure-like talent

  • The Gernat kid on the Oil Kings is very interesting. Offensive defenseman learning how to win on a good team. I hope he becomes the draft steal the Oilers need on their defense. Thrown in Marincin, Klefbom, and maybe a Schultz, there might be a keeper among them.

  • Winning the lottery was good. It enables the oil to push down the talent level, or to take a serious look at trading Gagner. He has had 5 years to develop but yet hasn’t gotten over the 50 point mark. Trade Gagner for that extra defenseman. Plus if the Oil is lucky enough to land Jeff Schultz but hopefully will be a good start on defense. The oil also needs another goalie. I don’t trust yet that Dube will continue his good play, 20 games is not much of a sample and Khabi as the backup is less than comforting.

      • The Soup Fascist

        Agree. The wrong first name is aggravating, but the constant misspelling of “Schultz” – not Shultz, Schulz, Schults, or Shults – makes me bat schmidt crazy.

        Just to make things easy, lets get Jeff, Justin and Nick all on the same team. Dig up Sergeant (I see NOTHING) Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes (I see him as more of an Ulanov / shot blocking type) and .. voila … Top 4 is done. Plus name bars on the jerseys are a snap for the trainer.

        Hey, wonder what kind of shape “The Hammer” is in? Forget it, we’d be better off with the dead actor.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    not to worry. clearly, based on tambellini’s press conference, all is well in oilerville. aside from the fact that the oilers don’t appear to think we as fans are entitled to any concrete information, which we probably are not, we should place our faith in a man who doesn’t have any track record of running a successful hockey team. fair enough. it’s obviously none of our business what he plans on doing with this team. he speaks of a pipeline of players on the way, with very little evidence that any of his draft picks, besides the number ones, will pan out. our “scouting genious” has exactly one pick, eberle that has panned out and the oilers would have been stupid not to take that player at that pick. so, as a fanbase we wait, with blind faith, that a gm whose majority of personal moves have not worked out, doesn’t seem to be able to decide on a coach for his team and HAS NEVER BUILT A SUCCESSFUL TEAM BEFORE, for five years from now when katz tells us that Tambo wasn’t the guy, and that we are starting over because he never did anything significant to improve the team other than pick players at number one overall. If Tambellini can’t realize that his “pipeline” and winning farm team are ficticious and on the backs of veteran ahl’ers, respectively than there is a big problem. yesterday we listened to a gm that appears to believe that everything is A-OK, which essentially means status quo. keep losing boys, eventually, god willing, people will stop going to games and they will realize that doing nothing to improve a hockey team probably isn’t the way to go. then we can watch taylor hall et al thrive on real hockey teams. won’t that be fun.

      • D-Man

        I agree, that guy is a fool. Anybody can see that Tambo knows what he is doing. I mean, there may be zero transparency, a lack of communication and a total reactive vs. proactive posture but that is all standard for an organization that respects its fanbase. And a little credit please for the scouting staff. They have told us they have legitimate prospects in the system, and tho they do not appear to be trending in an overly positive fashion, they are there. And don’t underestimate how hard it is to sign ahl vets to make your farm club successful. I don’t think it matters that some of our best “prospects” have been left off the OKC roster for the playoffs, things like that are no indication of a young players development curve. We have been told our propects will be NHL players by Oiler management, therefore it must be so. And if Tambo says Horc had a good season then I belive him, despite what I saw with my own eyes. Hopefully he signs Khabby for four more years.

        Boy, that guy is an idiot.

        But his punctuation seems fine.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Justin Shultz and Erik Gudbranson would be two fine additions going into next season. One could be had for nothing (Shultz) and Gubranson will be untouchable in 3 yrs. Shea Weber would come at a dear price, the Oilers should consider going after Shea Weber jr/Erik Gudbranson before it’s too late.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Even though Edmonton won’t be trading this pick, something else worthwhile could develope during the many discussions that will take place. Pray for a top 2 d’man …..or another work stoppage.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Forget Gudbranson, they will never give him up. What we need to do is constantly upgrade the players we have. Our new russian right winger should be a good improvement for our second line, which will allow us to trade Hemsky sometime during next season. I would really like to see Edmonton find a way to get Ryan Johansen or Jonathan Huberdeau or maybe even Mark Scheifele as our second line center. Does anybody think Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi would be enough to get Johansen or Huberdeau out of their existing teams.Gagner can be easily replaced and with the addition of Yakapov I believe Paararvi is now expendable. Yakapov is just as fast and has better hands so there is no need to keep Paajarvi. Johansen and Huberdeau are big and very skilled and are just what the Oilers need for a second line center. What a line Hall – Johansen – Yakapov, maybe the fastest line in hockey

    • D-Man

      I don’t think the Blue Jackets would consider moving Johansen – he’s their future down the middle… Huberdeau is a Memorial Cup MVP – why would Florida give him up – for ‘maybes’ in Paajarvi or Gagner??

      If the Oil draft Yakupov – I do think you’re right about Hemsky… He does become expendable even though he’s got his 2 year extension…

      Either way – Tambo’s got a interesting situation on his hands… Yakupov according to all accounts is the BPA, but is another small, highly skilled forward… Yakupov doesn’t play center – so he doesn’t replace Gagner, but shoots left playing right wing. Is Yakupov flexible enough to play the left side?? Although still small – a top 6 looking like:

      Hall – Gagner – Hemsky

      Yakupov – RNH – Eberle

      still looks pretty good to me…

      • D-Man

        How is Gagner a ‘maybe’? The guy is a consistent 40-49 point player. That is an NHL player he just might not be as good as you want him to be but he is still a NHL player no question.

        If they take Yakupov I think Gagner and Hemsky will be on the way out for bigger more physical players.

        • D-Man

          Gagner is a consistent 40 to 49 point player – and if he had a 50% plus faceoff percentage or was 6’1″, 190 lbs (or larger) I would be okay with him as our second line center… But he’s not – that’s why he’s a maybe… He needs to provide more than 1 point every two games for us to be successful… I’m not saying he’s not an NHL player – he’s just has to be better if we want to take the next step… Here’s where one may argue that Grigorenko would be a potential upgrade…

          You are right though – if Yakupov is taken, we’d definitely need to shop Gagner and Hemmer around to either upgrade the back end or at least find room to get more size in our top six/top nine…

      • D-Man

        I disagree – I think Gagner might be enough for any of those prospects, and think Gagner + Magnus is way enough.

        Huberdeau looks great, but take a look at the same-age numbers and you might be surprised. Using the wondrous Desjardins equivalency for their 17-year old season we get Sammy with a 137 point projection and Huberdeau with a 96. 96 is very good, but for some context, I’ve got a hundred or so players tracked using the equivalency formula, and Sam’s is the highest of any of them – higher than Tavares, Stamkos, Giroux, Eberle, Seguin, Hall, Nuge and Yakupov. Johansen’s equivalency number by the way is 60 – far from elite. Never understood the hype.

        Now obviously this is just a predictive tool (although a very good one in my experience), and today I’d take any of those guys I just listed (other than Johansen) instead of Samwise, but my point here is that all anyone is doing right now with Huberdeau, Scheifele etc. is predicting, and our predictive tool tells us they probably don’t have the offensive upside Sam did at the same age.

        If I’m a GM I take a long, hard look at a guy who has that upside and has already proven in 4 NHL seasons that he can score some points om this league, versus the entirely unproven kid my predecessor drafted who sure could be the next Stamkos. Or he could be the next Colin Wilson or Kyle Turris (to pick 2 former top prospects who are the same age as Gagner but have nowhere near shown what he has).

        The question then becomes the one we’ve all been asking for a few years – should we trade Sammy at all…

        • D-Man

          No one can deny Sam’s heart and grit – you know what you’re getting from him… You’ll probably get 40 to 49 points, a good 2nd PP unit guy, a couple fights, a 45% faceoff percentage and a center who can get pushed off of the puck easily… He’s also 22/23 and may become something more, but one could argue that Johansen and Huberdeau have more of the upside and natural tools than Sam has… Sammy can’t grow 2 to 3 inches and put on 15 lbs of muscle…

          To be honest, I don’t know much about the Desjardins tool, but I’d be interested to see what Robert Nilson, Linus Omark or Robbie Schremp’s scores would be… I’m not comparing Sam to any of those guys, but as you’re aware – there’s a huge jump between junior performance and the OHL… Sam also had Patrick Kane on his wing – was Sam’s performance due to that? Would he have been as successful alone?? I don’t know – but I don’t think his score would have been as high alone…

          To be honest, I do like Sam as my 2nd line center, but he’s not as valuable a commodity as we’d like to think… Assuming we draft Yakupov, I do like Sam centering Hall and Hemmer… Sam has the vision and smarts to keep up with both… We know what we get with Sam and the more pressing upgrades we need are on the back end anyway…

          • D-Man

            I don’t think there’s enough data for leagues other than Canadian Junior – in any case I don’t find the tool as useful for guys from Europe, College or the AHL. However, here’s the numbers it would have predicted for those 3 guys, using their best years.

            Omark – 21-YO SEL season – 51 NHL pts
            – 22-YO KHL season – 48 NHL pts

            Nilsson – 20-YO AHL season – 39 NHL pts

            Schremp – 17-YO OHL season – 73 NHL pts
            – 18-YO OHL season – 60 NHL pts

            There’s usually a drop-off between the 17 and 18 junior predictions, and for my purposes (scouting for my super-deep fantasy keeper league) I like to take the average of the two. The projection is also for when that player is in their “prime”. That tells us that with a better head, better heart, better opportunity, better coaching, better development, etc. etc., Schrempy coulda been a contender. (I say this mostly pining for the good old days of pages-long Rob Schremp debates…)

            It also doesn’t adjust for linemates which is a good point, and boy did he have a good one that year – Kane’s 18-year old number is a ridiculous 103 (the highest number I have for an 18 year old). But, as you point out the 2012/13 linemates he could have are pretty good too.

            Not trying to oversell Sam – if we could get Jordan Staal (whose equivalencies were lower but whose NHL performance thus far has been similar) for Sam or Sam+ I’d be on board in a heartbeat. Size, ability to win a faceoff, some scoring – dreamy… I just don’t think we need more prospects in exchange for something tangible. It was the same point I had in the “trade Hemsky” debate. Sure Omark or someone could come in and play those minutes, but Hemmer is proven. (his 17 and 18 YO numbers by the way project him as a 75-90 point player).

            Anyway, lots to look forward to in the coming months.

  • NastyNate

    “Shake it up, shake it up!!”

    With Horcoff, Eager, Belanger under contract next year. I can’t see the oil signing Pettrell and there will be very little room for Smytty. Are Lander and MPS going to be full time NHLers next year? What about Van de Velde? Liked what i saw from him during his brief stint.

    Also with Yann Denis winning AHL goalie of the year and a pending UFA do you let him walk? I imagine we will see Oliver Roy Promoted to the AHL next year, Bunz to the ECHL? I personally do not think Dubynyk is a #1 (ATM). Needs to work on his communication, puck handling skills, and eliminating the softies. This offseason should be very interesting and lets hope Tambo preforms better than he has in the last couple years. That being said, i would rather see the majority of management fired, but here in Edmonton we still believe in the old boys club, despite our recent regular season failures.

  • The Soup Fascist

    It doesn’t matter, after tambo’s comments unless they play Dubnyk 60+ games(and he maintains his current performance) this team won’t be close to the playoffs. Look across the playoffs, there are some great goaltending tandems happening and they are a big part of thier teams success. Bulin is finished and with the season Danis has had, he should be backing Dubnyk up.