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.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    The same blueline will totally work. All we need is Whitney’s return to health, no other significant injuries, linear progress for Petry, no regression from Smid, Sutton not showing his age…

    Never mind. Can we have a new GM please?

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I hear this a lot. From media, fans, comments etc. We have d-prospects and just need to draft more this year.

        I’d like someone to lay out a scenario where that works out in the real world… Unless we are talking Stanley Cup 2018 or 2019 I don’t see it given the natural development of dmen vs forwards.

        D take time to MAYBE pan out. Gernat, Marincin, Klefbomb, Musil.. these guys are all good prospects many many years away from maybe turning into top 4 d men. So how does that work in the timeline of Hall/Ebs/Nuge??

        Vancouver had exactly 0 (zero) d men that they drafted on their team last year.

        Chicago drafted Keith/Seabrook 5+ years BEFORE Kane/Toewes. 7-8 years before they won a cup. Thats just how long d men normally take!

        I just don’t see what the Oilers plan is, or how anyone can hinge the future on some 18 year old kid d men when the normal development curve for defenders takes so long.

        The way I see it Oilers mgmt either is serious that the team is 5+ years away from being competitive still OR they are hoping one of their prospects turns into a miracle Drew Doughty generational talent. Even Doughty has shown his tender age of late….

        • Quicksilver ballet

          The Oilers best have something on the go before these kids start getting plunked into the lineup. I think there’s little option but to plunder someone else from an exclusive list. A Suter,a Weber or a Yandle are what’s needed…. or there’s always the Canucks (ala Sundin) approach. ~Offer Niklas Lidstrom a boatload of cash to extend his playing career for two yrs till some of these kids are ready.~

      • A-Mc

        I didn’t realize the draft had already occurred. Thanks man. You must be a time traveller.

        None of the other 4 prospects you note should be on the roster next year if the club has any interest in developing players patiently. That leaves the current group, which isn’t very good. Is the goal playoffs or another lottery pick next year? Hop in your hot tub time machine and break it down…

        • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

          Not to forget.. before his horrific injury Fedun opened a LOT of eyes at last camp. If his recovery looks as good as I am hoping, perhaps he will be the one to add to the bottom of our D….

          … allways was a fan of his, I guess.

        • bleedingoil

          whoa, slow down chief.

          1)nowhere in this guys post did he say they were on the roster next year, and if my math is correct, we actually have a full defensive roster for next year without these guys, so……
          they wont be here anyway and your point is moot.

          2)our current roster is not AWFUL….they are respectable and had they been healthy all year, we would be, I bet, in a playoff hunt right now.

  • vetinari

    Yeaaahhh! After 2 years of placing 30th in a thirty team league, we are now sitting in 29th! Progress! By his logic, give the man a 28 year extension so that we can finish 1st in the league…

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Dithers just gave Katz the same speach.Geez Steve havent heard from you for a month or two what have you been doing?This is what you call winging it.

  • Charlie Huddy

    I’ll be the FIST to say that Sutton has been a pleasant surprise this season.
    I always have a bit of a chuckle when he comes streaking in off the wing and fires a shot at the
    goal. Love it.