ONE FOR KRUEGER

Edmonton Oilers fans have one eye on the standings and one eye on the draft lottery (where young men like Sasha Barkov–in photo–are available) as we hit the final stretch of this season. Oilers coach Ralph Krueger’s goal may be the exact opposite of the Nation. Or is it?

I very much like Krueger’s take on this situation. The Oilers have had THREE number one selections since 2010 summer and the time to turn the corner is now. Another week of losses might seem like a small deal, but the Oilers have to stand and deliver at some point and losing for the sake of draft position after those three long, losing years seems noxious to this Oiler fans. If they lose the games fair and square, so be it. However, the Oilers owe it to the spirit of sport to make every effort to do as Krueger suggests in the quote above–and I’m sure they will.

CAN THEY RUN THE TABLE?

The Oilers are currently tied for 23rd in the NHL, with 5 games left (they have a game in hand on several other clubs, but also have a ridiculous final week coming). Taylor Hall left last night’s game with an arm injury, Ales Hemsky may not play again this season and there are no gimme’s among the teams Edmonton faces this coming week (ANA x 2, Chicago, Minnesota, Vancouver).

Chances are Edmonton remains about where they are (the Flames may pass them, Calgary doesn’t know how to lose properly) and a reasonable guess would have them drafting 6th-10th. The draft board on Kingsway might look like this:

  1. Seth Jones
  2. Jonathan Drouin
  3. Nathan MacKinnon
  4. Sasha Barkov
  5. Sean Monahan
  6. Elias Lindholm
  7. Valeri Nicushkin

and I’d think they would be thrilled with any of the top 5. There’s still a lot to be sussed out about this year’s edition and of course there’s always a wild card (often a defenseman) in there somewhere. Darnell Nurse is a defenseman getting a lot of chatter, perhaps he ends up being this year’s surprise selection in the draft.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

Losing games to improve draft position isn’t a sin on the scale of putting ketchup on spaghetti (what the hell?) but as a fan I’m pleased with Krueger’s quote. To hell with losing, every damn Oiler fan has had enough for a lifetime. Seriously.

The Memorial Cup champion 1963 Oil Kings are appearing this weekend (along with Paul Henderson and others) at the Summit IV memorabilia and collectibles show at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park today (1:30 to 2:30 p.m.) and tomorrow (11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m).

We’ll be broadcasting the show live today noon to 2pm, and interviewing many of the Oil Kings players at the event. The day is "fluid", but scheduled to appear:

  • Members of the 1963 Oil Kings: Gregg Pilling, Bert Marshall, Bob Falkenberg, Dave Rochefort, Tom Bend, Russ Kirk, Vince Downey, Harold Fleming and Jim Brown.
  • Scott Francis Winder will preview the FC’s home game this week
  • Evan Daum will discuss the FC’s season, the Oil Kings and more.
  • Kent Simpson (Oil Kings color commentator) gives us an update on what is turning into a very good series.
  • Dennis King, to talk Oilers, Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and more.
  • Numenius

    Principe was a little inaccurate with his quotation. RK didn’t say anything about the lottery:

    “We don’t want the Edmonton Oilers picking in the top 5 in the draft. We want to move up in that category even if that gets us to 21st or whatever we want to reach for. … I think we can get this team to 21st in the league, which I kind of have set with the team as a goal here.”

    RK and LT are absolutely right to emphasize not tanking. To tank now, especially intentionally, would show lack of character and would encourage the losing culture that is still prevalent in the organization.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      there are several ways to tank.

      1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcMGSdPVZiY

      not cool

      2) tinker with the roster (sit players with lingering injuries; call up prospects)

      3) simply be bad

      2 and 3 aren’t mutually exclusive.

      I, like many, want the Oil to tank. I want Barkov.

      That doesn’t mean I want to watch Hall give up or anything. I want to lose 5-4 games every night until the season is over.

  • Light, Sweet, Crude

    Treat Tom’s comment as a reminder to all of us to do better. After all we are ON not Canucks Army or worse yet flames Nation. Move on to the topic or something else relevant to our team.

    For example. Lowetide have we seen the last of Hemsky or do we see him for another season? I felt we wasted an opportunity to cash in on his value.Unless his foot was such that Tambo did not want another repeat of the Fraser Fiasco.
    Also is Smithson a viable #4 center moving forward. Is his Corsie numbers a result of the system he was in in TBay or were there any other contributing factors?

    Belanger is a buyout without question. Do you save a buyout or 2014 or do trade for a buyout player on another team and then buy him out. For example would you trade for Danny Brier and get Philly’s second round pick also.Philly is capped out and will need to spend to get out of their situation. If I am the Oilers management I would prey upon Holmgren and try to get him to give you something.Philly cares little about picks. There all about Veteran players.Squeeze a little. The buyouts are going to be very valuable to non cap teams with money to spend.If you Philly you can’t buyout Brier and Bryzgalov.Its insane that kind of money. Teams will need to get cheaper and that means a team like Edmonton has an opportunity to get an asset.Edmonton is ideally situated going into the summer cap wise.

  • Rama Lama

    I say it is pointless winning a bunch of games at this stage. I say we blow for Barkov!

    I for one don’t want another 5″ 10″ right winger……..we have enough of those!

  • Numenius

    I want Barkov too. And losing the last games 5-4 would be an acceptable way to tank to me.

    But if the Oilers could find a way to win all last 5 games, I think it would bring something better (though more intangible) to the team than Barkov.

    • Crispy

      So you believe that a 5 game winning streak, which still results in us missing the playoffs, is more valuable to the team than acquiring a potential star Center with size grit and skill? You know we have been needing that exact type of player for many years now right?. Winning meaningless games to me is, well…. Meaningless! All that matters now is getting the best possible roster for next year, and our Roster would look much nicer with Barkov rather than Lazar.

      • Citizen David

        I think we should temper our expectations of Barkov. I don’t think he’ll be at the level of the three first overalls and probably not at Mackinnon’s level either. His stats are fairly comparable to what Grandlund put up so I’m guessing Barkov will be a good second line center with size. I have no idea what his defensive game is like or if he actually uses his size. Dustin Penner was a lot bigger than Barkov, and put up nice points but fans didn’t like him.

    • Crispy

      i ask anyone to provide me withe examples of teams who have had meaningless late season pushes that have carried over into the next season, i really have a hard time thinking of any. is losing the next 5 games going to be anymore devastating to the young oilers, than the way the season has turned out already? look winning or losing meangless games has no effect one way or the other, winning meaningful games next year and getting into the playoffs will have a positive effect on the oilers. in the mean time they should help management plug the many holes on the roster, by tanking the rest of the season and securing a top five pick.

  • Light, Sweet, Crude

    I’d have to agree with Tom on this one but have never bothered to comment as my own grammar isn’t perfect and some idiot would come back at me for not capitalizing something. The key difference is neither me nor Tom are trying to pass ourselves off as a semi professional journalist. Having said that, LOWEtide is nowhere near as bad as Richard Cloutier on Hockey Buzz. That guy is a complete and total hack.

  • Klima's Mullet

    That was the problem with firing Tambo when they did. With Tambo around they could tank, blame it on him and fire him at the end of the season. New era dawns.

    But, but kicking off the new era during the season, tanking sets the wrong tone for the new era, which should be about winning.

    Let, it is in the franchise’s best long term interest at this point to get Barkov or MacKinnon if he falls.

    I hope rubbing Tambo’s nose in it by promoting MacT four years to the day he “left” was worth it…

    • Rama Lama

      I was probably the hardest on Tambo………mainly because I hate indecisive people and Tamby fit that narrative perfectly. All I can say is that he is gone so I will try and leave him alone.

      As for where we want to finish, if the Oilers are serious on improving without having to trade important assets, we need to finish the last five games with a losing record. Getting Barkov would take a little heat off Mac T having to find a second line centre with size……..almost an impossible task. It would then give us an opportunity to trade Gags for a first round draft choice that we could convert with other assets to get Valarie Nichuskin………Yaks needs some Russian company.

      After that we could brind in a free agent here or there to round out the roster and totally fix the bottom six. No more Smithsons, Belengers, Horcoffs, Petrelles, in other words guys who no one else wants.

      I know that there are Horcoff fans out there but eveytime I watch the guy he is usually coughing up the puck ……….exactly what role does this guy perform?

      • jonrmcleod

        “I know that there are Horcoff fans out there but eveytime I watch the guy he is usually coughing up the puck ……….exactly what role does this guy perform?”

        A defense of Horcoff could begin with the Oilers’ record while he was injured earlier this season.

  • Bucknuck

    Not that he didn’t deserve it, but I almost feel bad for ol’ Tom. I haven’t seen someone get roasted alive like that in a long time. His comments were so out of line that even Quicksilver and DSF steered clear. Good for the nation, rising up in defiance to protect Lowetide. It makes me proud to be a part of it.

    In other news, that article about Ralph’s system being at fault for some of the Oilers troubles was intriguing. I admit I don’t really understand what he is talking about, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t correct. Lowetide, what do you make of it?

    http://www.coppernblue.com/2013/4/17/4230198/oilers-struggles-centre-systemic-slumps-ralph-malph

    • Rama Lama

      This is the type of coaching decisions Krueger makes: Play a career left winger at center and a career centerman on the wing. It’s becoming funnier by the day.

      Last night Horcoff took 8 draws and only won one while Gagner took 19 draws and won five. Not the greatest stats to support my argument, but Horcoff this season sits at 50% and Gagner at 43.2%.

      After watching Krueger decisions this year I, myself, need some motivational speaking. Too soon?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Thank you R A. (big smile, lol)

    Integrity please, can you imagine the scandal and shame upon the NHL if Hemsky after being traded to Nashville even though he was promised he wouldn’t be traded leaked out than management told the players to looses. Than just does not happen and also against the bylaws of the NHL. You never ever try to loose, tinkering with your lineup is different.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    For me it’s more about how we play then the result. I don’t want to win games where we don’t play particularly well. If we are full marks for our wins, then great. If we deserve to lose, then changes need to be made. I am sick of losing but I am even more sick of deserving to lose.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    6’2″ 209lbs, good size, but he has never had more than the minimalist of penalty minutes. Doesn’t appear to be much backbone to his game yet for a kid his size.

    Another soft Euro kid who’ll need protecting, just sayin. Rather have MacKinnon. Man it really sucks to not have a top 3 pick. Big difference from the top 3, and the next 3 it appears.

  • 15w40

    So again pure what if here – what if the Oilers plummet to #3 or #4 in the draft and actually win the darn lottery again.

    Then what do you do – take the pick – and if so who?

    Or if you were planning on a 5 to 7th pick anyway and you can get a good roster player in a trade and still pick from 5 to 7th do you do that instead??

  • book¡e

    Lowetide,

    I was thinking about the Oilers shoring up on size and skill in the bottom six for next season. I was wondering what you might think of the possible additions of either Dwight King, Brian Boyle, or both?

    Dwight King is a younger guy (23) and is massive. He has proven over the last two seasons that he is a top 9 player and I think would add some serious size to a lacking third string.

    Boyle is a do-it-all grinder. Wins faceoffs, puts up decent points, and also has some good size. Contract is comparable to Belanger so I think he would look good on the 4th line with hartikainen and Brown in a serious energy line.

    Let me know what you think!

  • book¡e

    I want to return to the spelling thing, because Tom has totally nailed something that has bothered me for a long time. Some of LT’s spelling is simply unbelievably atrocious.

    For example, he always used to misspell Pouliot as S-M-I-D and then he would misspell Smid as P-O-U-L-I-O-T as in “The Oilers have a real player in Pouliot, but they should trade this Smid guy and get something for him while they can”.

    He is still doing stuff like this. In todays article for example there are so many spelling and grammar mistakes that if you don’t read it carefully, you might think LT wants the Oilers to WIN games, when clearly what he means to say is that the only logical thing to do is to lose games.

    Seriously, this is like grade 2 English stuff here and I expect better.

  • book¡e

    Paajarvi looks like a lock for top nine . Horcoff losing a step and value as well .Bottom six possibles as acquisitions : B.Sutter $2.067 ,Talbot 1.75 ,Dupuis 1.5 ,Orr 1.0 ,Parros .937 ,Boll 1.05, Henrique .854 Wilson 2.0 ,Yip .750 , Fiddler 1.8 , Nystrom 1.4 ,Sobotka 1.3 Ponikarowski 1.8 , and several defenceman from .87 -2.75 . Defence has the likes of Franson , Alzner , Bogozian , Morris ,Sbisca, Del Zotto , Stralman , McDonagh ,etc.. All with good contract amounts .

    To be honest there is a lot of reasonable contracts out there of personnel that could definitely make our core bigger , grittier and more skilled at a cost lower than what we are paying now . Why chase bad contracts when it appears one does not have to . Lower the risk while guaranteeing more” bang for the buck ” and team . Slight risk in dealing possible first round pick this season . Our team should look much different from next years core , and I am looking forward to that newness .

  • Jari Kurri On Barkov.

    For those who have not had the chance to read this.

    The Edmonton Oilers almost surely would take Finnish centre Aleksander Barkov with the first pick in the NHL entry draft, but they have to get in the top five to do so. He’s big at six-foot-three and 205 pounds, has skill and he’s just 17, but he’s played in the Finnish Elite League for two years and has 48 points in 53 games in Tampere. “Plays a 200-foot foot game, up and back. Plays like (Mikko) Koivu,” said former Oilers star winger Jari Kurri, general manager of the Finnish national team. “Yeah, I like him.”

    http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/03/31/edmonton-oilers-seriously-eying-aleksander-barkov-in-draft/

    That’s some pretty big praise right there, Barkov is not soft.

    I apologize in advance for the music not my choice, but check out where he is scoring the goals his from.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVqhvEkDQGk

    The Oiler’s need this kid in the worst way, IMO if he was in the CHL, he might be number 1.

    • Citizen David

      That’s good to know he plays a 200 foot game. I still think we shouldn’t expect him to be a superstar like our number 1’s. If we get him, great our one two center punch should be very good down the road. But I don’t think he’ll be amazing. If we end up getting Lindholm or Monahan I do ‘t think we should be super crushed. Impossible to tell now which of those three will be the best. Mackinnon will be better than all three of them though.

      • Obvously I take Mackinnon over everyone including Jones.

        I take Mackinnon – Barkov – Monahan and then Nichushkin in that order.

        Lindholm to me is a wasted pick, I feel that the Oilers already have to many of this type of player.

        I think the Oilers should be compelled to move up in the draft and take Barkov.

        If Barkov goes to another team, then the Oilers let a big, strong and skilled two way player get away.

        Trading for this type of player means Serious assets in the future to obtian a player like this.

  • book¡e

    I am an Oilers fan and I cheer for them to win each and every game.

    I was against tanking last year for Yakupov, the year before for Nuge, and the year before that for Hall. Not only is it poor sportsmanship, but it really puts your loyalty as a fan of the team in question when you’re hoping they lose just so that they can get a hyped-up shiny new prospect. If that prospect is really so important, the GM can trade up to get him, and if not, well then pick the next best guy, but c’mon if picking a blue-chip prospect every year is the only way this team knows how to acquire NHL players, then this team will be tanking for 18 straight years to build their roster.

    I get the sense that some of the posters here aren’t Oilers fans but just armchair GM’s who like shiny new things.

  • Reg Dunlop

    While it doesn’t always translate into a great career, the Calder trophy for top rook is RARELY won by a first overall. Occasionally, first overalls are a bust. It is as if the hockey Gods are smiting the team picking first, especially if the smell of tank is in the air. The oil have to compete as professionals and true hockey fans have to cheer victories and bemoan loses lest the hockey Gods pass judgement on their team. Barkov a bust? Who knows. Lets cheer on the oil and let the draft unfold. Win them all, finish ahead of the phlegms and just wait till next year!

  • Reg Dunlop

    Kreuger’s comments are those of a desperate coach trying to save his ass. Better to remain silent and be thot a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Hopefully stupid statements like his are ignored by MacT and he moves to better the team when they have obvious shortcomings in the lineup.

    Haven’t we had enough proof this week that not all that can be said…should be said. Right KLowe?

  • paul wodehouse

    “…If they lose the games fair and square, so be it…”

    LT…Anaheim twice…Chicago…Minny and Vancouver?
    this has the appearance of “tank” all over it!

    …as for your yet again awesome selection for art in the what does it all mean section…coulda sworn you chose a picture of Nigella Lawson eating ketchup drenched spaghetti dressed in that slithery red frock that Jill Hennessey has worn a number of times on this website…with enough digging through google images i have found that your taste in brunettes is stellar as always and am now wondering if Diane Lane knows of your lusting for Monica Belluci…as always many thanks