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

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

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.

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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…

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.

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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

  • DSF

    One thing that really bothers me is there is no one in management talking to the fans, we heard from Steve Tambellini at the trade deadline and a little bit at the beginning of the season but that is it, I would say they are getting as reclusive as their owner. At least when the EIG owned the team Lowe was on the airways quite a bit. Stauffer get your employers on your show.
    Every year when I am wondering if I should renew my tickets if this is going to be the year, why am I so stupid, they haven’t added any size,toughness or a decent veteran d-man that they know they need to get better .If we really want changes we need to not renew our seats and take our names off the waiting list as well.That is exactly what I am going to do if they don’t make the changes needed this summer.

  • MarcusBillius

    Jasmine, got a crush on Lowe?

    When your team goes SEVEN SEASONS without a sniff of success, and nothing appears to be on the horizon to turn that around (even after drafting 1st overall three years in a row and adding talent like Eberle and Justin Schultz), then it’s time for a management house-cleaning.

    The same-old status quo is not working, and there is no clear indication whatsoever that it will get better. The only solace Oiler fans can take is that they are further along in their fiftieth rebuild than Calgary is, and we just got whooped by the Flames’ AHL affiliate on National TV by three goals.

  • Maggie the Monkey

    The prospects cupboards look a little bare, save maybe Klefbom so the Oilers really only have either picks or junk to peddle. That would have landed us what exactly? We are still a ways away from being wheeler dealers.

    • DSF

      I don’t want a GM that wheels and deals, I want one that looks at his roster and sees at least three guys that he has no intention of bringing back and gets value back for them, a prospect, draft picks, new water bottles, do something! Trading one or two of Peckham, Whitney, Jones, Fistric wouldn’t have hurt the team. Picking up Smithson for a fourth when better were available for nothing weeks earlier when we actually needed a centerman should have been the final act of this management regime.

  • Supernova

    Which of the free agent signings from 2011 would signal they wanted to win. Barker bought out by his previous team. Potter a man who Renney was familiar with, who could not crack the NHL line up of anyother organization he was with. Petrell a 27 year old rookie. Oh you must mean belanger the man who was made expendable in Anaheim when we traded them there current 3rd line centre for 50 cents on the dollar. Yeah cause 33 year old centres just keep getting better. Ben Eager should have been a solid signing, but injury, unlike age, is not a linear or predictable fall off in performance.

    No sir, I think we are still in a deliberate tank job, or at the very least it was never planned for the Oilers to make the playoffs.

  • DieHard

    I have no problems with the picks management made. They were each bpa. That’s how you draft. HOWEVER there incompetence comes with not dealing from a position of strength. That’s why some people feel seguin landeskog and gally/Murray should’ve been the pick. Had they done that’s the we wouldn’t need to make a deal to solidify the top 6 with balance. I think hall nuge ebs and yak should stay. Hemsky, paajarvi (I like him but his value is going up) and gags. Get players less skill more size and grit who can chip in 15 goals.

    Lowe needs to go. Now.

  • DieHard

    I have no problems with the picks management made. They were each bpa. That’s how you draft. HOWEVER there incompetence comes with not dealing from a position of strength. That’s why some people feel seguin landeskog and gally/Murray should’ve been the pick. Had they done that’s the we wouldn’t need to make a deal to solidify the top 6 with balance. I think hall nuge ebs and yak should stay. Hemsky, paajarvi (I like him but his value is going up) and gags. Get players less skill more size and grit who can chip in 15 goals.

    Lowe needs to go. Now.

      • Reg Dunlop

        You want a second line made up of 3 Ryan Jones’? You can have that, I’ll take skill. “Size and grit” the thought that this makes a hockey player tough bugs the sh!t out of me. I want skill that is hard to play against, loved seeing Yak take the body last night, I am tired of our players swiping sticks in the puck carriers general direction and then turning off and skating by them. Take the body, finish a check, rub them into the boards get engaged physically, get some actual NHL players between the ages of 24-29 and I believe this will change, we have kids playing against men, and the men we have can barely play.

        • DieHard

          I didn’t say a second line made of three Ryan jones. I said leave hall yak ebs and nuge. That’s two spots to split between the top 6. Two bigger players that are harder to play against.

  • Reg Dunlop

    What should the Oilers have done July 1st of last year? Exactly what they did, next to nothing. There was a limited supply of UFAs and that drove the price up. This, just before the new CBA came up for renewal.

    What should the Oilers have done at the trade deadline? Difficult to say. they were a playoff bubble team at the time, not quite ready to mortgage a little of the future I should think.

    July 4 or whatever of this year will be the time for them to make some moves.

  • The Soup Fascist

    you may be right that they would have done no better than lowe, however none of those clowns had three first overall picks in a row. we have and we don’t have a big number one center or a number one defenceman to sow for it, and chances are the draft is the only way to get them. what we got for three number one picks, i’m not sure will cut it.

  • The Worrier

    We need Four Season players ! You Know -the self motivated type that show up for work fall , winter , spring and a couple of weeks in summer . Looks like Katz will stick with same management group as long as turnstiles dole out sell outs .

    How good is our youth compared to others ? Not as good as we expected or as advertised . If it were otherwise , the standings and stats would back it up .

    Gutting the team actually took about three years before we hit bottom , even though we had first picks at same time . This is probably first year from completed gutting , only to find out more is required . The youth can only carry us so far in one direction while veterans all seem to be going in another direction .

  • 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.


    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


      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 .