EIGHT BULLETS

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.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

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.

-Jules 

NATION RADIO

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.

  • Mumbai Max

    PLAYERS STRIKE OR LOCKOUT ? Bettman testing waters to see if players back Fehr ? Speed up negotiations by union holding strike vote and confidence in Fehr , and this negotiation could have an early settlement . Doubtfull players will again dump on their negotiating team like the last time . Bettman probably feels they will roll over like last time and dump on their own negotiating team . All up to Bettman now , as union has drawn it’s mark in the sand – and good for them in doing so .

    Seems rather rediculous players should use their salaries to pay for owners mistakes while league revenues continue to grow . Bettman perhaps under estimates the union resolve this time round . Posturing ends ,and faithfull negoiation can now start without strike or lockout being necessary to a final agreement . Play on in the interim .

    • John Chambers

      Player resolve? Like the resolve NHL’ers demonstrate toward respecting their on-ice opponents? Like their resolve to man the picket lines rather than bolt to a pay cheque in Europe? Or their resolve to demand a reasonable salary for the sake of team?

      Have you ever met a pro hockey player? Greatfulness, resolve, humility, groundedness … Don’t exactly leap to the edge of my tongue.

      Edit: with many notable exceptions. But don’t expect these guys to maintain the air of solidarity much longer after the leaves fall.

  • “Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you; I double dare you m*&%$#ker say what one more Goddamn time”

    Not crazy about the movie, love the character!

    “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”

    I honestly believe the Oilers really want to know/ assess if Dubnyk-Hemsky-Whitney can have good seasons. I been saying that I still think this would have been the last year of the re-build.

    After watching the Bettman speak last night, the season is done anyways.

    What happened to the draft now? Do the teams pick in the same spots?

    Anybody got a link to the KHL?

  • John Chambers

    Who’s motorcycle is this?

    It’s not a motorcycle baby, it’s a chopper.

    Who’s chopper is this?

    It’s Zed’s.

    Who’s Zed?

    Zed’s dead baby. Zed’s dead.

    And so is the rebuild.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Well said sir. Won’t totally be sunshine this year but you’re correct, the hardest part is over. We’re still in for a Forrest Gump box of chocolates type of season. With the two additions, we still don’t know what to expect.

      • DSF

        Actually, finishing in the basement and drafting first overall is the easy part.

        The hard part is now building a team through shrewd trades and free agent signings, something the Oiler brass have shown zero affinity for.

        If you look at how Lombardi built a winner in LA, you’ll see that it was the Carter, Richards, Williams, Mitchell, Scuderi, Stoll and Greene acquisitions that put them over the top.

        He had the cajones to trade his young assets like Schenn, Johnson and Simmonds to acquire the pieces he needed to win.

        Going into the season, the Oilers still don’t have reliable NHL goaltending, the D is a couple of injuries away from an unmitigated disaster, the bottom 6 is a mess and the team has the worst centre depth in the league.

        We’ve seen this movie before.

        • Cheap Shot Charlie

          I would disagree that the Oiler brass has “shown zero affinity” for making shrewd trades or picking up free agents. Sure we missed on Heatley, Nylander & Jagr (everyone but the KHL missed on him). But Souray was everything that we expected when he was happy. Bad asset management sure but we did get him.
          Schultz was another great free agent pick up.

          When Stoll and Green were traded for Visnovski I figured that was a good deal. Trading Fraser for Smyth was well played. Visnovski for Whitney looked good at the time – younger and the same money for a comparable player. Who was rumored to be involved in the Heatley deal? Cogs and Smid, right? I’d trade both of them for a 50 goal scorer. What about keeping Hemsky and Gagner because the offer wasn’t good enough. Sometimes the trades you don’t make are pretty shrewd.

          Remember, when making any of these deals you can’t use hindsight. So, Penner for Eberle doesn’t really count.

          Also, I’d rather finish last with a 1st overall pick than finish 17-20 with the 10th to 13th pick.

          I’m not saying that the rebuild is complete but we have a foundation now and pieces can be added from here. I also don’t think that the Oiler brass are amazing but they are better than some other teams have.

          So, have a *HUG* and start doing some forward thinking.

          BTW, what did I tell you about Halls contract being the no-one-gets-paid-more line? Didn’t you tell me that Ebs would demand more money? If I’m not mistaken $6M is the same amount as $6M. Maybe someone could confirm that for us.

          • The Soup Fascist

            I put the calculation through my Bronte 5000 I recently acquired on kijij for $199 (strangely it included one windshield repair). And the results are in: $6 million does indeed equal $6 million.

            Data confirmed.

          • DSF

            So let’s look at the roster players the Oilers have either aquired through free agency or traded for.

            We won’t be counting Smyth and J Schultz because THEY picked the Oilers.

            So we have:

            Khabibulin (great signing 🙂 )

            Ryan Jones (4th liner on a good team)

            Corey Potter (an AHL defenseman)

            The Ghost Of Ryan Whitney

            Eric (the Black Hole) Belanger

            Ben (5th team in 6 years) Eager

            Darcy (on his 7th team) Hordichuck

            Nick Schultz

            Yeah, pretty hard to argue with that level of success. A washed up goalie, a broken down defenseman, a 4th line player, an elderly defensive centre who has lost his mojo and a couple of thugs who were basically run out of town in San Jose and Florida.

            Nick Schultz isn’t a bad player but the Oilers sent away their best defenseman to get him.

            Now, Tambellini has been on the job for exactly the same period of time as Mike Gillis. Let’s have a look at the Canucks trade and free agent acquisitions over the same time frame.

            We have:

            Dan Hamhuis

            Jason Garisson

            Keith Ballard

            Chris Tanev

            Manny Malhotra

            Chris Higgins

            David Booth

            Zack Kassian

            Max Lapierre

            Dale Weise

            Now, in that group, I see 4 top 6 defensemen, 2 above average 2nd/3rd line players, the best face-off man in hockey, two 4th line energy players and a very promising young power forward.

            Makes you want to cry, doesn’t it?

            Now, don’t get me started on Dale Tallon…he’d take the Oiler brain trust out behind the barn on trades and free agent acquisitions…but then, he just got started.

          • longbottom/P.Biglow

            If we can’t count players who pick the team in the discussion then all UFAs are off the table.

            The Gilis list is them left with:

            Keith Ballard – A servicable defencemen but I would argue N. Schultz proabbaly better at this point of their careers and more good years left.

            Manny Makhotra – defensive specialist who fits in well on a team that doesn’t need much offence from lines 3/4. (BTW I know I have taken UFAs of the table but if one looks at Malhotra and Belanger’s career’s they are remarkable similar right down to both falling of offensively last year).

            Chris Higgins – Former high draft pick whose current numbers are pretty much on par with Ryan Jones.

            David Booth – Definate NHL scorer, but quality was give up to get a quality player. (like Gilbert for Schultz)

            Zach Kassian – A risk taken by Gillis. giving up a player who was starting to excel to get s bigger more physical player who MIGHT be NHL caliber. Jury very much out on this one.

            Max Lapierre – Border line NHLer.

            Tambo –

            Ryan Jones – Can anyone think of a better waiver pick in the last 3 years?

            Ryan Whitney – Ouch this one hurts

            Ryan Smith – A trade not RFA, but this was manna from heaven for the Oil.

            N Schutz – Quality defenceman but quality given up as well.

            DSF quite cherry picking your stats

          • longbottom/P.Biglow

            Someones Crown Royal Bag has a few new wrinkles.

            I must be wearing my Copper and Blue NHS Happy Glasses because I sure see a lot more value in the Oiler players than the poster does.

            Fact is Vancouver hasnt won any more cups dureing this time period than we have so no one can clain either team has any advantage to speak of,only sucess defines value,the rest is conjecture and statistics,neither of which wins championships.

            LA exposed all the players you listed last year ,how do you explain that??Was LA just useing a superior system or are they man for man better than the guys you listed from Van??

            Systems and their sucess define players values,even beyond the decision makeing of the teams themselves,again look at LA last year,anyone can be a more valued asset with increased sucess and if you do this for several years you force the league to accept you at that level,but you must be in a system that is winning or you will never realise that premium value you carry.

            Its all BS until you win a cup,and no man wins alone so systems win championships,plain and simple,who can say if a player is the right fit unless the team wins with them on the ice and loses with them on the ice to define value??

            For example I think the Oilers currently have all the personell they require to win a Stanley Cup this year,useing the parent system of the one LA used last year,the NHS.However if we use the system we used for most of last year we will not come close and no amount of imported skill will make that system win.Its really in Kruegers hands–matching the system with the personell is his job and his job alone.He has to mix the ingredients with his own hands.So we dont know the value of any individual players until we see the system krueger uses perform.

          • longbottom/P.Biglow

            @dsf ( I used the little alphabet for your name until you graduate upon manhood……lol)

            Your list of names seems a little out there but I will use it because you did. As one poster pointed out that J.Schultz and Smyth are as fair game as any one of your free agents because of all the teams chasing them they picked Vancouver.( Garrisson comes to mind.)

            Hamhuis- Decent 2nd-3rd pairing defenceman who picked Vancouver because he thought he had a chance to win the cup. too bad the window is closing Dan.

            Higgins decent 4th liner who’s career was in the dumpster a couple years ago.

            Garrisson- waaay overpayed for a one year wonder.
            Ballard- Waaaay over payed for a 4th pairing defenseman.
            Booth- What does he do for his money?
            Maholtra- Nuff said he chose Vancouver over Edmonton. But I still think he is a decent 4th liner.
            Zack Kassian from the much bally hooed trade for Cody Hodgson. yupp good call there.
            Max Lapierre- OK much balley hooed diver who lost out on an olympic medal…….lol.
            Dale Weise- 8 carreer points nuff said.

          • DSF

            LOL.

            Hamhuis would be the Oilers #1D…just like he is on one of the best defensive teams in the league.

            Hamhuis scored 37 points last season while playing second PP unit. The Oilers top scoring defenseman was Jeff Petry with 25. Now, you tell me which one is a top pairing defenseman and which isn’t.

            Higgins scored 43 points on Vancouver’s 3rd line despite injury.
            That’s more than Ales Hemsky.

            David Booth is a former 30 goal scorer who scored 16 goals and 29 points despite playing only 56 games due to a knee injury.
            That pro-rates to 24 goals and 43 points.

            How many Oilers scored 23 goals last season? The answer is 2.

            Garrison has had 3 very solid seasons playing on Florida’s top pairing.
            He would be the Oilers #1D if Hamhuis didn’t want the job.

            Malhotra is one of the best defensive players in hockey….far, far better than Horcoff or Belanger.

            Zack Kassian is 21 years old and is rated one of the best young prospects in the game.

            Max Lapierre and Dale Weise are much better hockey players than Ben Eager and Darcy Hordichuk who was cut loose by the Canucks several years ago because he is useless.

            Eager and Hordichuk combined for 16 points last season.
            Weise and Lapierre combined for 27.

            There’s a reason the Canucks win the NW every season. It’s because they have better players from the top to the bottom of the lineup and beat the Oilers at EVERY position.

          • Reg Dunlop

            So, the canucks win the NW division every year? I guess ’99, 00, 01, 02, 03, 06,and 08 don’t count. In that time span, the canucks have been to… what, 1 cup final? Hmmm, same as the oil.

            It will be interesting to watch and compare the ascending oil with the decending canucks over the next few years. I would wager both my dollars that the oil reach the cup final before vancouver.

          • longbottom/P.Biglow

            @dsf
            LMAO you speak out of both sides of your mouth so fast it’s not even funny. Do you believe what you are typing…….LMAO.
            Hamius- possible but is Hamuis better than a healthy Whitney? I personally do not think so.Comparing him to a player like Petry with actually 1 1/2 seasons in the league???
            Higgins you said he was injured last year as an excuse yet while Hemsky wasn’t really healthy till close to the end of the season. But I will give you that. Lets see who has more points this season as Higgins isn’t even in Hemsky’s league talent wise.
            Booth is a former 30 goal scorer (once) that has never come close to repeating despite playing with better players in Vancouver,16 goals last year. Again you use Booths injury as an excuse yet the Oilers had several forwards injured that could have put up more goals, RNH (a rookie is a prime example).
            Garrisson?? Hasn’t played 3 full seasons yet in the NHL with totals of 8, 18, 33(that last spike is rediculous should be checked for PED’s) in reality that is a good season, lets see if he repeats or as I said is a one year wonder.
            Malholtra dropped from 30 points to 18 last season, He is more comparable to Belanger who dropped from his average 30-40 points a season to 16 last season. I would take Belanger everyday of the week as our 4th line center.
            Zack Kassian is 21 years old and is rated one of the best young prospects in the game.
            Kassian on of the better prospects in the game? ha ha ha nuff said.
            I would take Eager and Hordi over the two lame ducks you mentioned any day of the week.
            The reason you guys have won the NW for the last 3-4 years is your team is deeper than ours for the last three years I give you that want to bet about the next three years with just about every team in the NW getting better except Vancouver. Lame attemps I have to say. I would take our forwards over yours and the rest of our team is ? marks still to be answered in the comming seasons.

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            So, again I have to remind you, you can’t use hindsight when evaluating these trades or pickups. A GM is forbidden from looking into his crystal ball when making trades or pick-ups players.

            Bulin was over paid but fresh from a future cup team. Also, he was picked up before the true “tanking rebuild” started.

            Jones was a smart waiver pick up. He has added to the team and was free.

            Did you know Whitney was broken when we got him? I can honestly say I didn’t.

            “Black Hole” Belanger has never had a season like he did last year. Would you expect a guy to tank as soon as you grabbed him?

            N. Schultz was a pick up that wasn’t just for his on ice performance. When you manage people you have to look into personalities and not just what they do at the tasks they perform. Gilbert was our best dman (a number 2-4 on most teams). But was he experienced enough to teach and lead others? I would guess not but I don’t really know. The oilers needed a leading force that could be effective at his position. I remember Minny players being upset he was leaving and that would indicate that the Oil were getting the personality and leadership they needed.

            As far as your Vancouver analogy, it’s true that they have made some good trades (minus Hodgeson) but when you are a premier team you can get the best players for the best price. That’s something that we (Oilers) will hopefully start seeing more of.

            Tallon has had one year of surprise success. He has torn down a team and put the right players in place. Will they repeat? I don’t think they will but if all his guys can continue to have career years they might. This actually goes back to picking up N. Schultz. If you have good leadershiIp and the right personalities everyone performs better.

            You’re right we haven’t just started this rebuild but we have taken 2 directions in rebuilding since ’06. I’d say that half way through the 09-10 season was the start of the current rebuild. It may be splitting hairs but that’s what we do, isn’t it?

            I’d write more but then I’d just sound line NewSys and no one would read my post.

            P.s. I still love you – “HUG”

          • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

            There is one thing, and one thing only that I’ve ever seen DSF actually post correctly, and that is that Oilers management have done a poor job acquiring players outside the draft.

            I don’t really see how anyone can argue otherwise.

          • Cheap Shot Charlie

            I’m saying GMs don’t have the luxury of seeing the trade in hindsight to decide what players they should acquire and which one’s they shouldn’t. A GM can pick up a former 50 goal scorer and can flop on the new team. That’s just the way that things work. They only have some of the information. After the fact, all the fans (or critics) can say “what a bad move” or “I said all along that he shouldn’t have done that”. The GM had to make the decision so you are able criticize it.

            The parallel I would draw is that you write a post thinking that it makes sense. Everyone jumps on your back because of something you posted. But you had the gonads to post your idea in the first place. So, a guy like me comes along and tries to *HUG* the sense back into you. Without you I wouldn’t have posted at all. So, who posted the more shrewd/original idea? You or me? 😉

            I hope that helps you see that the brass have made some (maybe not a lot) of shrewd decisions on acquiring talent.

            @OB1 Team Yakopov – F.S.T.N.F

            Before you sell your soul…I’m not saying that Oil Management has done a good job. I’m saying that they have some (just not zero) affinity for making shrewd decisions on players. But you are right, the draft route seems to have been much better.

          • DSF

            No, good GM’s know how to evaluate talent and make a series of good bets.

            As observers (some are more observant than others) we can only judge their actions based on how those bets turn out.

            I’d say the Oiler brass are batting about .195.

          • Jaw17

            DSF doesn’t every unrestricted free agent pick the team they play on, Justin Schultz did pick us, but it’s because we had him the best opportunity, just like any of those Canucks free agents you listed PICKED Vancouver because it gave them the best opportunity to win! I’ll give you Smyth but you could say any free agent picked there team so that point is moot

          • John Chambers

            Ba-zing!

            Cheap Shot Charlie takes a 1-0 lead in what is surely to be a mid-Saturday square-off between himself and The Eagle. “That opening round salvo packed a real kick to the gonads, John. Charlie went all historical on DSF, challenged his grumpy side, and even referenced another of DSF’s failed predictions”

            “Thanks John. We’ll almost certainly hear a sharp-toothed, semi-coherent rebuttal from DSF as is his trademark”.

            The Nation awaits with baited breath!

  • sofarsogood

    RNH-74, hall-70, eberle-69, hemsky-69, gags-58, yak-50, horc-49, smyth-42, petry-38, MPS-37, jones-34, justin-33, enough. These are full season predictions, so minus 10% for the lost part of the season.

  • Lowetide

    Petry will score 40 points this year..Hall 78, Eberle 80, RNH 69, Yakattack 64, Hemsky 56, Gags 49.9999, Paajarvi 34, Hartakainen 20{35ahl), Jones 30, Smyth 42, J.Schultz 42, N.Schultz 28, Smid 19, Sidney Crosby 151.

    A full 82 NHL games will be played.