The Edmonton Oilers have their window. The Hall-Eberle contracts mean their window of opportunity is the rest of the decade. By 2020, they’ll have a 6th Stanley, be on their way to it, or the subject of many words on the internet involving snafu, tarfun and fubar. Destiny awaits.

The problem is you develop a past. My wife knows I pass out about 10 minutes before its time to clean up the mess, the broadcast media company I work for knows I can do a two hour radio show but may not remember things like my password to get into the building. I’m sure both would like a sharper mind, but have learned to make the best of addled.

Edmonton Oiler fans are like that with their ownership and management, but it is harder to get a feel for things because the owner is (somewhat) new and rebuilds look exactly like sucking badly until you hit the highway and take it to the limit.

  • We know Daryl Katz is successful in business, but is he going to be successful in the hockey business?
  • Steve Tambellini was second chair for a long time, but can he build a championship team by signing reasonable contracts and making reasonable trades?
  • Kevin Lowe made beautiful music at the 2006 trade deadline but faltered thereafter, can he be the ‘behind the scenes’ brains of the operation, holding back on emotional decisions and making the right choice?
  • Craig MacTavish seems to have a sense of the reasonable, but can he put aside his coaching background and help with the longer term choices?
  • And what of Ralph Krueger, he of the impressive international resume?

And then there’s the players. Can Taylor Hall stay healthy? Will the pressure of the big contract–and the competition for playing time–make it more difficult to post those brilliant boxcars?

We have our principal actors, we have our timeline (8 seasons, through 2020), but we won’t know for some time whethere we’re watching a drama, a comedy or a tragedy. There are ways to keep count, and some of the major items are:

  • addressing weakness
  • signing value contracts
  • lollygagging

I personally believe that Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish had a very good summer. The trio did in fact address weakness on the blue (Schultz) and signed value deals. Signing Justin Schultz as a free agent, getting the Smyth deal done, drafting Nail Yakupov and making sure the rfa’s of value (Gagner, Petry and Dubnyk) were signed. I can entertain questions about dollars and term, but these men are under contract and with the exception of Smyth no one is free at the end of their deal. I am over the moon about the Hall contract, and the Eberle deal is in the (high) range of expectation. I believe there are consquences (if Eberel’s boxcars graduate to the mean that contract will be untradeable) but there’s nothing toxic or fatal that will guarantee a poor decade of underperformance for the Oilers.

The lollygagging may be an unfair criticism. If Ryan Whitney’s situation is as positive as Robin Brownlee’s article suggests then the Oilers blueline situation will be much better than expected. That’s a huge item, and you could make a case that the management group backed off acquiring another defender when they saw the price (Methot acquisition was a crazy transaction) and heard the Whitney news.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what I think or believe, or what we collectively agree is the logical road for the Oilers at this time. Luck, timing and good bets will decide how this turns out, and what is in the suitcase. We’re along for the ride, nothing more or less.

Steve Tambellini and the management group have more ‘skin in the game’ and based on what we know, and what they needed, I’d suggest this has been a very good summer. Combined with recent drafts and player development, things are beginning to rhyme.


While it is true that a rebuild and a genuine turn in fortune look the same until the meter clicks, there is evidence that the Edmonton Oilers are in fact on the edge of a new reality. Huge changes in direction are rare for sports organizations–the Oilers of the NHL were an expansion team (79-81), a powerhouse (82-91), a young team of promise (92-04), a Stanley run (05) and lost in the flood (06-12).

That’s what, 5 sharp turns on a long road? Man, progression and regression can take forever.

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.



NATION RADIO hits the air at Noon today, Team 1260. Emails welcome at nationradio@theteam1260.com or you can leave comments below. Twitter is likely the best spot, @ItsNationRadio and @Lowetide_ works.

Scheduled to appear:

  1. David Staples from the Cult of Hockey. We’ll talk about the Hall-Eberle signings, estimating point totals and the CBA negotiations.
  2. Gus Katsaros from McKeens and Leafs Nation. We’ll talk about the Leafs 12-13 season, projecting numbers for individual players and the best way to develop draft picks.
  3. Robert Cleave from Jets Nation and Flames Nation. We’ll discuss the Bogosian injury and recovery timeline, along with the Jets prospects for the second season in 12-13.
  4. Kent Wilson from Flames Nation. We’ll discuss the Flames in 12-13 (Kent did an exceptional job sussing things out here) and chat about NHL Numbers

There are a couple of other irons in the fire, hope you can join us.

  • DSF

    Sorry kids…after a night of wildly celebrating my knockout win, I needed a little shut eye.

    Just remember, the same guys who brought you Khabibulin, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, Patrick O’Sullivan, Cam Barker, Darcy Hordichuk, Ben Eager, Gilbert Brule, Jim Vandemeer, Zack Stortini (remember him?) , Steve MacIntyre – twice!) and Jesse Boulerice are still running the big top.

    An old friend of mine says: “when judging a person, watch what they do…not what they say.”.

    Sage advice.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      and some of the same guys who built the ’06 team that came basically a blown knee away from possibly winning the cup?

      ***disclaimer*** in no way am i supporting the current management of the oilers or the moves/lack there of. i firmly believe steve tambellini needs to be shown the door. he can take that sh** eating grin he always has splashed on his face and hit the road

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          no sh** sherlock.

          klowe and the crew made the right moves that year, and everything fell into place. the consequences since have been disastrous.

          i do find it interesting that you are around here touting the florida panthers as the the cats meow. they have made the playoffs 2 out of the last 12 years or something crazy.

          in fact, 1 out of the last 11 seasons they have made the playoffs.

          included in that was a 10 consecutive year miss streak.

          so panthers blowing goats for a decade plus and finally making the dance 1 season = good

          cherry picking stats is fun!

          • DSF

            You know what the Panthers did after missing the playoffs for nearly a decade?

            They fired their management team and brought in a guy who knows what he’s doing.

            Shocking, I know.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Even though cherry picking season reached its apex in Kelowna a month ago, I thought I would follow DSFs lead and pick a few of Mike Gillis’ more memorable trades / signings:

      Kyle Wellwood, Brad Lukowich, Lawrence Nycholat, Jason Krog, Ossi Vannanen, Andrew Peters, Andrew Raycroft, Mike Duco, David Booth, Byron Bitz, D. Hordichuck (must me a different guy than on your list, DSF), plus a crapload of guys I honestly have never heard of.

      Wow. That list just REEKS of quality.


      BTW. A friend of mine used to say, the proof is in the pudding. Well the canucks puddin’ is getting stale, and what is worse there is no cup to serve it in.

      • KleptoKlown

        Are you really suggesting that Tambellini and Lowe have done a better job than Gillis and Gillman?

        Those players you listed were mostly brought in the be 4th line players. Yeah, the Canucks 4th has been a revolving door of failure in the past. Those 4th line problems pale in comparison to the embarrassment known as the Oilers franchise these last 5 or 6 years.

        Andrew Raycroft was brought in as a backup to Luongo, and did alright. I would call that a successful signing.

        Brad Lukowich was brought in with Christian Erhoff(and we all know what a horrible trade that was right?) The Canucks buried his contract in the AHL. He played 13 games as a Canuck and scored 1 game winning goal. Not bad for someone who was a toss in.

        Bryon Bitz is one of those 4th liners I was mentioning, but he had a good run with the Sedins.

        Booth was squired for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm. 2 expiring contracts and players who didn’t fit on the team. A top 6 forward in exchange for spare parts…yeah, yet another horrible trade for Gillis and Gillman.

        This isn’t the 1980s anymore. The cup is hard to win. You don’t see teams winning multiple cups anymore. The silver lining is that I have at least got to enjoy watching a competitive team each year. Have you?

        • The Soup Fascist

          I am not a big fan of either regime, frankly. My point is that it is easy to cherry pick good and bad deals. I can find more suspect signings than good ones in Gillis resume. I did not mention the Sundin debacle either. The Canucks frankly have been a joke of a franchise for 40 years. From the great pumpkin jerseys to the Neely trade to the Messier disaster to the riots to the Luongo soap opera that is currently being played out. If you are hooking your wagon of hope to the mule that is Mike Gillis, I wish you well.

          The Oilers have been a mess since 07, but at least there is a future. I suspect Tambo will have moved on when the Oilers win their next cup. As the article indicates the Oilers window is opening and it is easy to infer the Canucks window is closing – with nothing to show. Tick, tick, tick. I am happy you are comforted with your President’s award banners and bitter playoff memories.

          As Sheryl Crow said, “it’s not having what you want. It’s wanting what you got”.

      • DSF

        You seem to have AHL signings confused with NHL signings.

        Of that group you mention I see only 3 players who were brought in to play in the NHL and all, except Booth, were short term bottom 6 gap fillers.

        I’ll show you again since you don’t seem to understand.

        David Booth

        Chris Higgins

        Manny Malhotra

        Max Lapierre

        Dale Weise

        Andrew Ebbet

        Dan Hamhuis

        Jason Garrison

        Keith Ballard

        Chris Tanev

        Which of these players would you think are not an upgrade on their Oiler counterpart?

        • The Soup Fascist

          Among your many “talents” mind reading is another? You state Gillis only brought 3 of the 11 players I mentioned in as “NHLers” the rest were procured for the AHL. Astounding! Let us go through the list, as painful as that will be, for your own edification. NHL experience prior to the Shamucks picking them up:

          Wellwood – 5 NHL seasons / Lukowich – 10 NHL seasons / Vannanen – 6 NHL seasons / Peters – 6 NHL seasons / Raycroft – 8 NHL seasons / Bitz – almost 100 NHL games / Krog – 200 NHL games / Hordichuk – 8 NHL seasons (you still have not explained why he was a “miss” on the Oilers list, but conveniently he was a shrewd signing by Gillis and Co.) I will give you Duco and Nycholat. I included them as it appeared to me they were put on the big club for an extended time in the hopes that they would play for the Canucks, to no avail.

          So your “AHL” list had roughly 47 years of previous NHL experience. The fact that Gillis ended up putting many of these guys in the AHL or moved after they washed out is a telling story. Either Gillis was attempting to put together one of the most experienced AHL teams in history – delaying the development of his prospects – or there are more busts here than you care to admit to.

          Edit: Oh I forgot the elephant in the room Mats Sundin. Was his $8 million dollar salary and 29 points a good move as well?

          Your desire to re-write history with your own spin is both comic relief and sad at the same time. Please re-visit WWII for us. The Germans did not really lose, they just ran out of time, right?

        • The Soup Fascist

          Now, lets deal with your A-listers, guys you are holding out as Gillis’ best work:

          Booth – $4.25 mil cap hit / 29 points. This was the guy you wanted me to start with?

          Higgins – a butter soft winger $2.0 mil 43 points (sadly this guy could be the best of the bunch)

          Malhotra – $2.5 million cap / 18 points and minus 11 from your defensive center. Sadly, his career could be over. Bad Luck – tough to blame anyone, including Gillis.

          Lapierre – 19 points. Abrasive player on ice and in locker room.

          Weise – His 8 points is a toughie to replace.

          Ebbet – Ditto Weise ‘cept he got 6 points last year.

          Hamhuis – Expensive but nice defenceman. 40 plus points and decent defensively. Too bad he missed last round of the playoffs vs Boston, coulda used him. Injury prone?

          Keith Ballard – $4.2 mil cap hit for 14 points (OVER TWO YEARS). As tradable a contract as Horcoffs.

          Tanev – Lotta hype for like 2 career points. Oilers have 4 guys better who have not played in the league yet. From what I can see has all the edge of a wet Kleenex.

          Garrison – 6 years @ 4.6 mil / year for a guy who INCLUDING his big year this year, scored 59 points in 190 games and has the defensive mindset of the French Army.

          Here is a word for you DSF. V-A-L-U-E. I don’t see much here. Spending a bunch of money foolishly does not make one a great GM.

          • DSF

            Booth – 16 goals ($4.25M)
            Hemsky – 10 goals ($5.0M)

            Higgins – 43 points ($1.9M)
            Ryan Jones – 33 points (1.5M)

            Weise – 8 points ($615K)
            Hordichuk – 3 points ($850K)

            Lapierre – 19 points ($1M)
            Eager – 13 points ($1.1M)

            Hamhuis – 40 points ($4.5M)
            Whitney – 20 points ($4M)

            Ballard missed almost half the season due to injury but is a very good 3rd pairing defenseman although over paid for that role.

            Tanev is far better right now than a bunch of prospects who haven’t even played in the AHL yet. Hell, Klefbom can’t even make the top 6 on his SEL team.

            Garrsion was one of the best shutdown defensemen in the league for the past 3 seasons AND his offense took off when he was given PP duties. I wonder how he’ll make out now that he will be on the point on the best PP in the league over the last 3 seasons?

            Show me where the Oiler value is now.

            Petry? That’s it.

            Every other player is over paid.

            Do you realize that Burrows only makes $2M…now THATS value.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Wonderful. Now Booths signing is crappy but not as crappy as Hemsky’s. Before it was a wonderful signing. Lapiere is a knucklehead but Eager is a little worse.

            I was basically just saying Gillis has done nothing wonderful, not really comparing to the Oilers.

            Thanks for proving my point that the GM of Vancouver is as bad or marginally better than the management of a team that has finished 30-30-29.

            I appreciate your ability not to let facts get in the way of your opinion. It is an endearing quality.

          • The Soup Fascist

            So we have gone from Booth was an excellent Gillis acquisition to – he has a crappy contract but hey its not as bad as Hemsky?

            I will consider that progress in the world of circular logic that is DSF.

          • DSF

            Booth is just fine. And his contract is not an issue.

            His season pro-rates to 22 goals and 40 points. Not bad for his first season with a new team.

            Only 2 Oilers scored more than 20 gaols.

            Hemsky was just dreadful and has been for 3 years and yet he got a big raise.

            Go figure.

            Want to talk about what great value the Khabibulin, Horcoff, Sutton, Jones and Gagner contracts are.

            Kyle Wellwood scored as many goals and points as Gagner and makes half of what Sammy Snowpants makes.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Not sure why you have the need to compare to the Oilers. My point was that Gillis has done nothing spectaclar.

            I agree there are some bad Oiler contracts. Most teams have some skeletons in the closet.

            We are nowhere near the same universe if you think:

            -Booth is a good contract.
            -Garrison is a league leading shutdown D.
            -Kassian is one of the best NHL prospects under 21.
            -Mats Sundin’s $8.6 million / 29 point season was a positive move for the organization.

            I guess if you tell yourself anything often enough you will believe it. Denial ain’t just a river, friend.

            Can we at least agree on one thing Canuck related? I would feel better. Will you acknowlede Barry Pederson for Cam Neely was not a good trade for Vancouver.

  • paul wodehouse

    …Quicksilver ballet? re: your comment #51

    …have you abandoned your seemingly unending demand to acquire the likes of a Weber type one-two Dman in favor of the ‘hope’ that the 3 players you named above will emerge as just what this squad needs? I’m surprised that your hope outweighs your always well planned out and most devious reasoning…question though

    … who’s gonna win the Conn Smythe when the Oilers startup their Cup winning ways again?

    …just as the L.A.Kings know, there was an NHL goalie in there somewhere that they desperately needed…

  • DSF

    Wellwood – 1 year contract to play 3rd line minutes

    Lukowich – throw in on the Ehrhoff deal to rid San Jose of his salary – buried in Manitoba.

    Peters – AHL depth

    Raycroft – 1 year stop gap while Schneider developed

    Bitz – potential fourth line AHL/NHL tweener

    Krog – AHL veteran signing

    Hordichuk – signed by the Canucks in 2008. Punted in 2009 for obvious reasons.

    Duco AHL signing and injury call up. Played 6 NHL games

    Nycholat – career AHL player.

    Hey, you forgot these guys.

    David Booth

    Chris Higgins

    Manny Malhotra

    Max Lapierre

    Dale Weise

    Andrew Ebbet

    Dan Hamhuis

    Jason Garrison

    Keith Ballard

    Chris Tanev

    P.S. Sundin was brought in as a one year mentor for Kesler.

    Kesler scored 41 goals the following season.

    I guess when you have the cash and the cap space you can do things like that.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Actually I did. You were too busy re-writing history to notice.

    Sundin was brought in for 8 million to “mentor Kesler” – to what, win cups? Nice theory, better sign Sundin again, because Kesler is back to sucking again.

    Between this doozey and the “Kassian is one of the best young NHL prospects” line earlier, I have been in stitches.

    Please let me know when you are at Yuk Yuks. Honestly, I will pay to hear these gems. Will be the closest thing to NHL entertainment for awhile.

  • KleptoKlown

    It’s easy to criticize other teams successes and failures when a successful season for your team is (yet another) draft lottery pick.

    Keep setting that bar so low that a even a limbo line wouldn’t attempt to get under it. You have no idea how ridiculous you look criticizing a team that is actually trying to win…you know, cause that’s what hockey is actually about.

    “Lets fail, fail, and fail some more” Is not the proper way to rebuild. The fact the Oilers continuously get rewarded with high draft picks because of piss poor player management and coaching is a slap to the face of the spirit of hockey.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Another comedian. The Canucks are the very definition of mediocre. Is “your” team the best of the lousy or the lousiest of the best.

      You laugh how easy it was for the Oilers to win in the 80s. Let’s assume you are right. Now let’s count the Canucks cups during the era …. Cue the crickets.

      I assure you I have not enjoyed the scorched earth policy current Oilers management has employed. But I understand that at least there was a plan. The Canucks management seem content to overpay marginal talent (Garrison, Booth, Ballard, et al) and hope for the best.

      The thing is the Canuck fans are so used to mediocrity they value their President’s awards, division championships and “oh so close” playoff disappointments more than actual success – Stanley Cups. As I said the Canucks had their chance two years ago and frittered it away. As the decline continues the fair-weather Canuck fans will turn their backs and cheer for WhiteCaps soccer, Jai Lai, competitive rioting or whatever the flavour of the day is.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Ok. So initially Booth was a shining example of a fine Gillis acquisition. Now he has a crappy contract, but hey it’s not as bad as Hemsky.

    Why are you comparing to Oiler players. It is pointless. My only comment was Gillis has made a ton of poor signings (so have Oilers Management and 28 other teams). You cherry picked as did I. But thanks for proving my point that Gillis is as bad to marginally better than the GM that finished 30-30-29.

    Finally, let’s make a commitment to look at Garrison in a year or two. Crazy overpayment / term. How are you objectively calling him a top shutdown D? He will be Ballard 2.0 and form the most expensive 3rd pairing in NHL history. Feel free to mark it down.