GODSPEED, CRAIG MACTAVISH

A Craig MacTavish media conference is always worth the price of admission, and today he rolled out "the plan" for this summer: although it will stop short of a complete makeover, we may not recognize major portions of the roster when the leaves begin to fall.

ROLE PLAYERS

MacT spoke today about role players, about getting better bottom 6F’s who could deliver more in all areas of the game. He made a tremendous statement about the 3 and 4 lines:

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  • "We had a lot of guys that the best they were going to be in any given game was a non-factor."

If you’re an Oiler forward who spent significant time in the bottom 6 and didn’t deliver offense, that’s an absolutely chilling statement.

5×5/60 (bottom 6F)

  1. Ryan Jones 1.38
  2. Lennart Petrell 1.36
  3. Shawn Horcoff 1.34
  4. Ryan Smyth 1.23
  5. Eric Belanger 0.66
  6. Mike Brown 0.42
  7. Teemu Hartikainen nil

From that list, we can be pretty certain about Horcoff, fairly certain about Smyth and Brown, and at least include Jones as a "possible" for this coming year.

Fair?

BLUE AS BLUE CAN BE

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The blueline is going to see some turnover, MacT mentioned Whitney as a goner and it would seem Peckham’s future will be elsewhere too. There is some talent on defense, just not enough.

  • “We need more footspeed to play the style that best suits our skill-set. We have to move the puck quicker and the defencemen have to skate into open ice to get them the puck. We didn’t get back hard enough on breakouts.”

The blue all struggled at times this season (especially when playing with Ryan Whitney) but it would be a shock to see any of Justin Schultz, Ladislav Smid or Jeff Petry sent away. Nick Schultz is probably secure too, but with as many as 8 roster spots turned over that’s not a certainty. It should be mentioned that Mark Fistric had a solid year (as per the link) and Potter was miles from being the problem.

Can the Oilers add two veterans to Smid-Petry and Schultz’s? That’s a tall order.

THE ELUSIVE POWER FORWARD

The GM also spoke about three small skill forwards with duplicate skills not being able to get things done, and that can only mean a powerforward entering the picture. On a team that hasn’t had a real one since Billy Guerin, some media members feel Nathan Horton is a target.

  • Jim Matheson: I believe the Oilers will go hard after Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton, who is also an UFA.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

If Craig MacTavish can find a way to add Nathan Horton, a top 4 defender and some depth on the bottom 6 forwards, he’ll have accomplished something no Oiler GM has managed since 2006 spring: a balanced roster with enough quality and depth to have some real sustain during the long NHL season.

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Godspeed, Craig MacTavish. Godspeed.


    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      Prior to the last two years, in which he’s suffered two fairly serious concussions, his injury history wasn’t that bad.

      Still, you have to think that will hurt him in this summer’s contract negotiations. But who knows. This is the new NHL, where players are signing contacts in excess of $100M.

      • Ducey

        He has had a broken leg and shoulder surgery (so he has that out of the way) but the concussions really scare me.

        He only fought twice this year and he suffered a concussion in the second one. He will be a big body but he will need to play soft (no hitting or fighting) to stay in the lineup.

      • Tikkanese

        Yea I agree. Horton’s rep alone creates a lot of room out there plus the guy can flat out play. His stats don’t lie. Him or Clarkson would be a great addition. Or Iggy for that matter. Yes they are all RW though but it isn’t unheard of for guys to switch wings.

        • Tikkanese

          Ya, like Erik Cole when he played here…or Yakupov playing left wing…

          I do agree that some players could play on their off wing but I wouldn’t sign a guy based on that assumption. I don’t see how you can add a guy like iginla or horton and not move eberle or yakupov because any 4 of those players would not be playing on the 3rd line. Clarkson, however, could play on your 3rd line and should. Use him on the powerplay. Not worth 4+ million.

  • Crispy

    These “bold moves” MacT wants to make kind of scares me. I’d really like us to keep that #7 pick. We will be able to draft one of Monahan, Lindholm, or Nichushkin. If they don’t make the team (or are in the khl for now), that’s fine- we will need some value contracts, like ELC’s in the future when we”re contenders, and any one of those three would fit in nicely down the road. The only bold move including our #7 I’d like to see is if we could move up to take Barkov.

  • Word to the Bird

    In light of all the “pro” player moves that appear to be on the horizon i found his comment on Morey Gare and the Pro Scouting Dept to be the most disheartening. I dont see how they can be given a vote of confidence based on track record. And to say they are “diligent”?? How does diligence equate to competence? A monkey can diligently try to hammer a a square peg in a round hole all day long.

    • Tikkanese

      Lowetide If we are going after Horton would he not qualify for one of those contracts that are based on games played. The incentive kinda contracts where he reaches certain goals and gets paid accordingly. Basically a base contract plus incentives.Is that how it would come about? Term 2 years at 2.25 plus bonuses.Maybe topping out at 4 million.

  • Tikkanese

    Dubnyk good but not good enough to take us to new level as yet . He has problem handling the puck and feeding up to forwards for breakout possibilities . Not physical enough with intruding crease violators ? A work in progress still seems to be Mact.’s take . Upgrade potential ?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Many vets have some “splainin” to do when it comes to yr end meetings with MacTavish. Might want to make sure that trap door is still working Craig.

    Deadwood out, new blood/rookies in needs to continue. Horton’s only one chicken wing away from being on the shelf for a few months. Let someone else give him 5.5-6 a year for a few 35 game seasons. Rather have Clarkson.

      • Tikkanese

        You do realize all oiler fans are allowed to have an opinion right? They are also allowed to disagree with each other. You have absolutely ZERO right to question these “so-called” oiler fans simply because they don’t necessarily share your thoughts. Your always on here wanting posters to “stop bashing this and stop bashing that ” while you constantly “bash” ppl who disagree with. Get over yourself.

      • Cheap Shot Charlie

        Because most Oiler fans know something about hockey and know there is more then just putting up points. I dont thinkanyone would argue Gagner is a bad player, I think most would say he is a good scorer, but where the Oilers are at and with the makeup of their roster it doesn’t seem like Gagner fits (if the team truly wants to improve and balance) there are too many flaws in Gagners game (in relation to Oiler needs) to justify the contract he will be seeking.

        Flaws: Small, weak in the tough areas, poor defensively, horrible on face-offs.

        He is a gifted scorer but the Oilers would be better off getting something of value for him and signing Weiss for 3.5-4.0 then keeping Gagner. Weiss won’t be the scorer Gagner is but he would compliment the 2nd line with his skill set.

      • Word to the Bird

        If Gagner could play solid two way hockey, win a draw, and play with more sandpaper, then they’d keep him. Unfortunately, Sam’s ticket out of YEG comes in the form of a 12 year old boy named Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who in his rookie year beat Gagner’s career year. Gagner can be as good offensively as he wants, but RNH always will be favored.

      • I have always argued that Gags showed more then enough upside to be our future 2nd line centre.

        This year he got enough points that his value will be very high. I think it is a major obstacle having neither of your top 2 centres able to win a draw. If we move him to the wing it leaves a hole at centre and still does nothing about the size of the top 6.

        I would certainly listen to offers and if you can get a power forward or draft a good #2 centre and get a top 4 dman for Gags I would say the time to trade him has come.

        I understand his value and even saw a huge increase in his compete level. He attempted to play with more fire and grit then anyone on the roster outside of Hall and Smid, but you have to trade value to recieve it back. This would get us a piece we are missing and keep the main core together.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    From MacTavish”
    “We had a lot of guys that the best they were going to be in any given game was a non-factor.”

    From Lowetide:
    “If you’re an Oiler forward who spent significant time in the bottom 6 and didn’t deliver offense, that’s an absolutely chilling statement.”

    Further from Lowetide:
    “From that list, we can be pretty certain about Horcoff, fairly certain about Smyth and Brown, and at least include Jones as a “possible” for this coming year.”

    Maybe Smyth, but why should we be pretty certain about Horcoff, Brown and Jones? They constitute half of the bottom six problem. Hanging onto any of these non-factors takes away from a balanced roster. And what about Petrell, Hartikainen, Belanger, Eager and Smithson? They are no better.

    On the whole, the Oiler veteran forwards were the non-factors alluded to by MacTavish.

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    I wasn’t surprised to hear MacT talk the way he did about Gagner.

    What was interesting is the possibility of moving Gagner to wing. For years now, we’ve debated where Gagner fits as a center on this team. Looks like Mac already has a very possible original solution.

    Moving Gagner to wing would be a small bold move that I applaud.

  • Word to the Bird

    I believe our biggest problem these past years is the notion of youth.

    On paper, it seems brilliant to have all young players because they will be good. But in the real NHL it just doesn’t work. Unless you’re Sidney Crosby, chances are you won’t have much consistency for scoring. And that was outlined more prominently this year than ever before. You want to know the difference between us and Chicago? They had established veteran talent along with the young kids to contribute as well.

    While our defense was indeed a concern, I think our real issue was consistency from our young forward group.

  • Crispy

    So if, and believe me it’s a big if, Monahan is still on the board (F#*% you Calgary), does anyone think we could package our first and Gagner to Philly for their first and Coturier? I mean they basically draft a replacement in Monahan while also getting a much more proven skilled centre in Gagner, who might even play better with some of the bigger forwards they have on that team, and we get a big tough second line centre.

    Then at 11, we could be free to draft one of the big mean remaining defencemen, Nichushkin if he’s fallen that for because of his “Russian Factor” (Coutier, Yak, Nichushkin = most awesome forward line to watch in all of hockey). Or it wouldn’t be such a reach to draft Gauthier which would give the Oilers something they haven’t had in a long time: Depth and size down the middle.

    Or alternatively, same first and Gagner package for Phoenix’s first and Yandle. Sure we leave a big gaping hole at second line centre, but we have that top pairing puck moving point machine on D, who isn’t over the hill and has a good contract. Plus we could still draft Gauthier and get what we need in a year to come.

    Does anyone think these deals are plausible or am I overvaluing Gagner?

    • Tikkanese

      Overpay…

      Couturier is nice player…but he wasn’t a first overall pick. His offence has not translated. He’s a bit of an enigma and gamble. Philly probably do it, cause your giving Gagner away for free.

  • Word to the Bird

    @LT

    Any chance Ryan O’Reilly is a person of interest for McT? Colorado just won the draft and will pick Seth Jones. Obviously they don’t want to pay O’Reilly the money he is making…how about a Gagner + pick for him?

  • 719

    Out- Ales Hemsky, Eric Belanger, Darcy Hordichuk, Theo Peckham, Lennart Petrell, Ryan Whitney, Ryan Smyth, Nikolai Khabibulin, Corey Potter, 2013 1st rounder,

    In- Oscar Klefbom, Nathan Horton, Brian Bickell,Kevin Shattenkirk,2013 3rd rounder, Matt Hendricks, Thomas Greiss, Brendan Smith, Kyle Chipchura

  • 719

    Watched all the post game interviews and after watching Hemmer comment, I’m actually going to be disappointed to see him go. Despite all his warts he seems to have that knack of showing up when it’s all on the line.

    Nothing more exciting than watching him make a team look stupid at full flight and then tucking the puck passed a goaltender while slamming into a goal post.

    Tough decisions….

  • 719

    He mentioned having 3 players of the same type on one line as something that doesn’t work. I don’t think they can move forward with Gags, Ebs & Hemsky all in the top 6. I’ll be sad to see Hemsky go – it’s been a pleasure to watch his skill.

    I think Hall would lose his mind if Ebs got traded, but as great a player as he is/will be (& I do like him) at $6M his might be the contract you aren’t too fond of in the future and he could likely garner a stud D in a trade. But wow you’d have to get that one 100% right.

  • Word to the Bird

    L.T. have you checked out Dark Horse Analytics?
    MacT referenced it in his recent After Hours interview on HNIC.

    He didn’t exactly exhaust the subject but I’m wondering if this is a statistical technique to forecast future performance of a player early in his minor hockey years(pre-draft) or existing pros with a history of statistics with which to work.

    The results seemed to impress the new GM. I wonder if the the Oil have used this system already.