It’s an exciting time for fans of the Edmonton Oilers. Another thrilling draft (‘we’re number one’) means the club will add an outstanding young player to their already bursting roster of exceptional under 23’s. On the other hand, the list of "things to do" at the NHL level before September is once again enormous.


Last summer, the Oilers entered draft week with several needs, and some of the solutions were solid to very good.

  • Need: A veteran winger to help with the PK/PP and guide the kids at evens. Solution: Ryan Smyth. Although he faded during the season, Smyth’s overall season certainly covered the bet and gave the Oilers a badly needed veteran hand up front. Smyth’s work ethic was an inspiration and his return to Edmonton a wonderful bonus for fans. GRADE A.
  • Need: Truculence. Solution: Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk. Hordichuk played well in his role, giving the club a solid enforcer who could also play a little. Eager was less successful, although his scoring met expectations. Eager’s defining moment in year one in Edmonton probably came on a shift when the Nuge was being shoved around and Eager was on the ice at the same time. Eager didn’t notice and did not enforce. It could cost him. GRADES: D FOR EAGER, C FOR HORDICHUK.
  • Need: A veteran NHL defenseman. Solution: Cam Barker and Andy Sutton. Sutton actually delivered well in the 5-6 role, so well he earned another contract from the Oilers. Barker’s season was derailed by injury and questionable coverage, something many had predicted after the signing. GRADES: F FOR BARKER, B FOR SUTTON.
  • Need: A faceoff man to help with the PK and to balance the C position. Solution: Eric Belanger. I loved this signing so won’t go on and on about Belanger’s poor performance. It was a tough job, playing 4line minutes with massive own zone starts and rookies everywhere. Still, it was astonishing. GRADE: F.
  • Need: A legit option for the moment when goaltending becomes the option. Solution: Yann Danis. He was more than good enough based on minor league numbers but the Oilers didn’t use him despite a clear and obvious need. GRADE: INCOMPLETE FOR PLAYER AND AN F FOR THE ORGANIZATION.

Passing grades on three items, and failing grades on another three.


Once again this summer, the needs list is much too long. Filling all of the holes is one thing, doing this many things well is another.

NEEDS 12-13

  • A top pairing defenseman capable of delivering big minutes at evens and at least one of PK and PP. 20+ overall.
  • A better Renney.
  • Justin Schultz or similar.
  • A reasonable goaltending option for the Khabibulin free fall.
  • An established 2-way winger to mentor the young players who will compete for bottom 6 roles (Lander, Hartikainen, Pitlick, etc)
  • Ryan Smyth or similar.

The Oilers have a lot of needs and they are late to the gate with the naming of their head coach.


The entry draft is one of the major moments in the NHL season, and there is extreme pressure to get better. Will they compete for a playoff spot or is this another winter of frustration for Taylor Hall and company?

The waiting is almost over. Does Steve Tambellini have the imagination to make the moves required to make this team go?

      • derrickhands

        I would have to agree about Whitney, but if he comes back to form. I don’t know, do you trade some of your prospects to get that PMD, and it could cost the Oilers dearly, or do you stand pat and see what happens with Fedun.

  • You draft Yakupov and trade Hemsky for a defenseman,

    Go out and offer Tootoo and Konopka good hard minutes with a feel good price.

    Hope you can land Schultz.

    Call up Stoll and offer him big minutes and a leadership roll, hope that works and send Belanger to MTL and Horcoff to the 4th line.

    Call up the Kings and see what Bernier is worth, while there at it call up the Senators and see about there goalies.

    Try and find a tougher version of Jones, I prefer the Oilers go after Clowe or Moen.

    Well, that’s about it.

    Or is that just my immagination.

  • John Chambers

    I’m disappointed. There are no goalies left to sign, and the ones that got scooped up were had for a song.

    The organization simply can’t sit back and wait until July 1. Tamby needs to get proactive and trade a late round pick for negotiating rights. He needs to tap into others’ desperation at the draft. Counting on hope or luck is not a valid plan.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ John Chambers

    Edmonton can get their hands on Ben Bishop now. Heard the asking price is a 4th rounder. we dearly wanted him only a few months ago. Ottawa has decided to go in a different direction in goal i guess.

  • vetinari

    I would easily send Ottawa either Omark’s rights, Peckham’s rights, or a 4th rounder for Bishop… in a heartbeat… I would then shop Khabibulin to any team who is willing to part with a promise of “future considerations” or a defenceman on a bad one-year contract of $3.5M or less.

  • vetinari

    I get the feeling the Oilers write cheques with their mouths to players they sign about ice time that their butts can’t cash. See Belanger, Eager.

    Keeping promises and telling the truth goes a long way to building loyalty and reputation.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they told Belanger he wasn’t getting what they suggested he would because of points, and he thought how can I with what you give me?

    m-i-c, k-e-y, m-o-u-s-e

    If this is the old boy’s club, that should be the last thing they want to be perceived as post Gretzky New Jersey comments.

  • Oilers4ever

    Forget the Oilers.. who’s the chick with the headlights. 🙂

    Aside from the Oilers needs.. really po’d that RNH didn’t win the Calder tonight. How the hell can a guy who tied for the league in points in 20 less games on a 29th place team not win. I don’t get the crap people spout about Landeskog carrying his team and bringing them close to playoff spot. Yeah he got some game tieing and game winning goals down the stretch. Big deal. Every player is paid to do that and it’s a team game. They never would have made the playoffs this year with or without Gabriel. These awards are starting to become more and more BS every year.

    Even with the Lady Byng trophy.. a dman winning that? Aren’t they supposed to be tough and gritty. Seriously? Campbell’s nothing but a soft pansy.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @DSF, have to think the Rangers could easily top that. I don’t think Howson is interested in what Murray has to offer. That’s a pretty weak package from the Senators.

    With Suter likely leaving the Preds this summer, do you think that’s enough to have Shea Weber throw in the towel in Nashville, maybe looking for a fresh start somewhere else in 2013-2014

  • Wax Man Riley

    Let’s hope management grows a pair and starts making moves for now instead of continuing to sell the future and how good we’re going to be.

    Good read like always LT, btw, first girl?

    • Lowetide

      The girl from I knew what you did last summer? Hewitt? Jennifer Love-Hewitt? Is that her name?

      The second one is Kate Upton and of course the Uma photo is from the brilliant Pulp Fiction.

  • striker777

    I don’t want to see endless rebuild. If we trade Belanger, we better get a faceoff man. If we trade Gagner, we better have a 2nd line center. If we’re not resigning Smitty, we better get somebody who’s willing to go to the net….etc.

    I’m all for trading picks and depreciating assets to upgrade, but not prospects, whose upside is huge (like Marincin and Gernat).

    I would move our 4th rounder for Bishop all day long.

  • striker777

    you last line: ‘The waiting is almost over. Does Steve Tambellini have the imagination to make the moves required to make this team go?’

    I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he has been laying low (punn intended) the last 3 years, but until I see otherwise, the answer is ‘no’.

  • striker777

    I like the report card segments you do, LT. They really help me recollect and recategorize the Oilers’ needs moving forward. Thanks.

    However, and I may be splitting hairs here, but I didn’t think Belanger deserved an F. He played nearly a full season (mercy, we haven’t said that a lot about an Oiler the last 5 years), played the toughs most nights with questionable linemates, logged minutes on the PP and PK , was our best Faceoff man by miles (+55%), played nearly every Centre positon (minus C1) and was hardly a disaster in his own zone. Sure, he preformed below expectation but he didn’t fail at his job. If Hordichuk can get a C for “play[ing] well in his role, giving the club a solid enforcer who could also play a little,” over the course of half-a-season, then Belanger should at least get a C- for contributing but below expected standard.

    Otherwise, you were nails on the rest.