A losing streak to end the season would be the best thing for the Edmonton Oilers

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Well on their way to a seventh consecutive season without the playoffs, fans of the Oilers are probably long past being sick of trying to find the upside in losing. Despite that, one last run of terrible play – say five losses in their final seven games to match the current five-game losing streak – could be exactly what the team needs, for three reasons.

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The Obvious Reason

All of a sudden, the Oilers have just a three point lead on Calgary and Carolina for the third overall (pre-lottery) draft position. Based on the scouting reports there seems to be a gap between the top-four in this year’s draft – Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Aleksander Barkov – and the rest of the pack. While the Oilers should be past the point where they’re tanking for picks, with the playoffs out of sight there’s no reason not to grab the best talent available.

Let Go

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There are a lot of players on the roster who should have been cleared out some time ago. The summer re-signings of Lennart Petrell and Darcy Hordichuk come to mind, as do the deadline decisions to retain guys like Ryan Jones and Ryan Whitney.

Other lists will have other names, too – and there’s no doubt in my mind that both at least one of the Oilers’ compliance buyouts should be getting used this summer (Ben Eager, Eric Belanger). [As pointed out in the comments, the rules allow for compliance buyouts to be held over to the summer of 2014, so it’s only prudent to retain at least one of them – JW].

A lousy run to end the year might just break management’s tight grip of their underachieving depth players, and encourage them to be a little more aggressive about trying to make the team better.

Which brings me too…

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Ownership Impatience

What will it take for the top men in hockey operations to be shown the door? The post-Pronger collapse of the team under EIG ownership didn’t do it. Neither did the implosion in 2009-10 after the acquisitions of Pat Quinn and Nikolai Khabibulin (the latter’s contract should have been a firing offence in its own right). The failure to climb out of the draft lottery in 2011-12 cost Steve Tambellini’s third coach his job, but once again accountability stopped just short of the general manager’s office.

Virtually every position on the team – from the assistant general manager to the head coach to the trainers to the players – has seen change during the slightly less than five-year reign of Tambellini. If the difference between a 10th-place finish and a 13th-place finish is the difference between regime change and the status quo, the Oilers are likely to be better off in the long-term with a 13th-place finish.

At some point, the team hopes to start winning again, and for that to happen they’ll need a highly competent executive in the top hockey operations job. Based on the last few years, is there any reason to believe that person currently works in Oilers management?

Recently around the Nation Network


  • Quicksilver ballet

    Tom posted this on an earlier article

    While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old Texas rancher, whose hand was caught in a gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man.

    Eventually the topic got around to politics and then they discussed some new guy who was far too big for his shoes as a politician.

    The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, he is a post turtle’. Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.

    The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.

    The old rancher saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain. ‘You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just wonder what kind of a dumb ass put him up there in the first place.

    Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini are both, post turtles.

    Worth repeating.

  • DSF

    Management needs to go regardless but I agree that a losing streak might force ownership’s hand. I am not convinced that upper management will pay the price even though they should. A continued collapse might force their hand.

  • The Worrier

    3 first overall picks in a row and the Oilers are still at the bottom of the league. How did they manage that? Management has made a debacle out of this rebuild. Or as they say in Calgary “re-tooling”.

    The Oilers will get their own ESPN special. It will be similar to the Marcus Dupree story.

    I like the title of the show Oil Change. But when will it get to the part when there is Change? It should be called Oil Spill or Crap.

    Go Blue Jackets!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    What happened last evening will help stoke the fires and make for a much more vocal home audience during these last 4 home games. We could see it all in the next 2 weeks. Fire Lowe, Fire Tambo, heck, even fire Katz.

    Going into a difficult last 7 games, this could go south real fast.

    Finally, the winds of change are upon us.

  • Alsker

    Should be simple. Draft Barkov/Monahan/Lazar (one of the 3)

    Trade Gagner, Hemsky, Paajarvi, and any bottom 6’er for the following

    1. LHD, of the top 2 variety
    2. 3C, to bump Horcoff to 4C, key is they have to be more talented than Horcoff
    3. back-up Goalie

    You’re not signing #1, maybe 2 and 3, but the UFA pool is shallow.

    The worry is that Tambellini is too incompetent to get that all done.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    It must be great to once again be looking forward to a lottery pick.
    If Edmonton had not received the last 3 first overall picks in the draft, Edmonton would have a different management team as they clearly cannot make a hockey decision unless it is staring them in the face.
    Lowe is an idiot and Tambellini is puppet. Do something….

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Change coming but what shape ? President and GM same person ? Weed out the excess . Coaches might remain the same for once . A deal maker mover shaker type- not necessarily PRES/GM ? Downsizing in scouting ?

    We need bigger sticks , as our players look like they are playing with field hockey sticks in comparison to other teams that appear to have pole vaults for sticks . We look like leprachans wielding schalaleighs .

    Most of our players have an ego and confidence problem. Not enough ego , and thus lacking confidence . You balance the two and reach a higher level of play . You lack one or both , you play resigned and lethargic .

    • The Soup Fascist

      We think this Madjam fellow is onto something with the undersized stick thing. Certainly mismanagement and tentative, predictable coaching can’t be the reason.
      Yours in hockey,
      Steve, Ralph and Kevin

  • Alsker

    Conspiracy theory time: Klowe put a stop to trades at deadline with the excuse of team unity/faith knowing this would end thumbellinas tenure with the team protecting him and allowing McT to take on GM(wonder if Craig will have deja vu as he once again becomes the scape goat) or allowing Klowe to triumphantly return as GM to save the organization from failure. Having worked for him I wouldnt put it past him.

  • Alsker

    You all know the Oilers are an abismal organization. And their fans are just as pathetic. Why do you need to read a bottom feeder blog to realize that doing terrible is the best thing for a team that had no ability or desire to make the playoffs. If you read this… you suck. your team sucks. And i pity your intellect.

    You would think after the past 20 years of mediocrity (i’m being polite) that most of your minions would know that doing bad is actually good.

    • RexLibris

      Sorry to step in here, but I thought I’d offer up what I’ve read about this: the maximum amount that can be retained is 50%, that amount remains as a cap hit on your books. So far as I can tell there are no limits to the number of times it can be done, with the overall salary cap probably serving as an ad hoc ceiling to this sort of thing.

      The difference between the cap hit retained versus the actual money retained is something I haven’t delved into yet (ie: if the cap hit is $5 million but the salary is closer to $3 million due to a backdiving contract).

      I’m sure others will have the information to proved there.

  • Send Paajarvi down to the AHL,

    sit Smyth, sit Dubnyk, play Whitney, Petrell and Brown more,

    call up some AHL types,

    put Gagners line out with the toughest comp line with Hemsky

    Keep playing the Schultz against the tough comp.

    Bring the Hall line down to 15 min TOI

    Bring Horcoffs line up to 17 min a night

    That should gets us to 3rd overall pick.

    Barkov please!

  • Supernova

    This team needs a complete overhaul. From the top, right on down.They screwed up at the Draft Table too. Picking Hall 1st overall was a mistake and I don’t think Nugent-Hopkins will amount to much either, He doesn’t play with Grit.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Management needs to release job descriptions and a management flow chart for us fans. What does everybody do exactly? Theres too many people for such few jobs.I bet Lowe doesnt cc Tambellini in all his emails. Howsen probably secretly forwards them to Tambellini later. How can management be this top heavy and expect to be effective. There has to be some infantile stuff happening behind all the smoke and mirrors. There would be at any other company so top heavy.

  • Eulers

    Attn Oilers fans

    Steve Tambellini is not a puppet. I have formally given him my premission to say so.

    Signed

    Kevin Lowe

    P.S I have always had a hard time hearing your boos with my 6 stanley cup rings in my ears. This has also made it difficult to pull my head out my ass.

    • The Worrier

      LOL

      Ridicule and derision may be what it takes to get L&T out of town.

      In the remaining home games chants of “fire Tambo” and better yet “fire Lowe” could have the desired effect – what else is there to do?

  • New Proposal : A new branch of the NHL – the heavy weight division and the middle weight division . Middle weight will obviously be the most entertaining and skilled . Many sports over the years have gone to such classifications , and one should consider the advance of the sport , and rinksize being like a boxing ring . We are the fans and we want to be better entertained .

  • Are we a fraud NHL team ? Dominated and pushed around by a mediocer AHL team , while we are playing for our playoff lives in the NHL . I dare say maybe our rebuild has only taken us as far as a mediocer AHL team in reality . Time to take the callouses off our eyes ? I used my magnifying glass to watch our team play ,makes them look pretty big afterall .

    Still reeling from the way we got waxed by Flames AHL squad . As fans even we are embarrassed , as are the players and coaches . Lets not over react , but lets not under react either . Management is ‘mum ‘in times of negativity . Oiler slick has turned to goo sludge . Oilers new logo on retro sweaters will read ” Slippery When Wet ” . The slide for five . Poking fun at a pokey team .

  • outdoorzguy

    The way there playing we don’t have to try to tank . I felt 4-5 weeks ago we would get a 5-8 pick and it’s possibly the 5 not 8 . I would send J. Schultz & Magnus to OKL to give them a shot at playoffs . Bring up Tuebert who will probably be cut but find out for sure .

  • Eulers

    Maybe now is the time to try Hall at center. What do we have to lose at this point? Might as well do the hard learning when the mistakes have little consequence.

  • RexLibris

    The Edmonton MSM will break out the knives on Tambellini and offer him up to the rabble.

    Lowe and company will get another grunt front and center. Maybe Howson maybe someone else as desperate as Steve was.

    Nothing is going to change until Taylor Hall calls his agent and tells him to get him out of town.

    • The Oilers Shot Clock

      the simple truth is that if things don’t change dramaticly, new management that makes dramatic moves to make this team a contender, if the team doesn’t start winning next season, then that’s what hall will do, and eberle, rnh, schultz and yaks will be on the phone to their agents 5min later. and when every other gm knows these guys all want out of dodge, we’ll be lucky to get abunch of 4th line ahl players and a bag of magic beans for them. the point is if things don’t get alot better awful quick, then they’re going to get a whole lot worse awful quick. this is exactly why replacing the entire managment team right now is critical.

  • Czar

    If we’ve learned anything in the last few years it should be to avoid anyone ever associated with the Canucks! Tamboob, Renney and Quinn are proof enough of that. DSF is right again[ouch] about Jim Nill,he might be very tough to get but would be well worth it!

    There were opportunities in the past to get the right people in the organization. I don’t care who’s behind the bench,when a guy like Hitchcock becomes available he should have been pursued and the minute John Davidson parted ways in St.Louis Katz should have had a limo at his door and a contact in his hand.

  • Czar

    I’d like to see Taylor at centre too. But tell him at the end of the season. Let him work on some things and be ready to give it a try at camp.

    It also spares the locker room any tension. Obviously, moving Taylor to centre means somethings gotta give in the middle.

  • does anyone think its possible for us to be drafting top 3? need to be that high to get a top 4 player as its more likely now someone wins the lotto and pushes us back.

    Or is is likely at all if we are drafting 5th to get Barkov?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    How would you feel about this? Buyout Horc, then offer the same contract to Bozak this summer. I’m assuming that you can buyout anytime over the summer. So you can sign Bozak and then do your buyout. Still a hard thing to do to your captain.