Asked to turn around a franchise buried deep in the second division for a generation, Craig MacTavish looks to make bold steps on his first draft day. Oilers Nation–tired of losing and watching the brilliant youth acclimate to it–awaits the turnaround. Based on yesterday’s rumors, this is one of the few days in organization history where "expect the unexpected" doesn’t quite cover it.


This is Lake Louise. In my 50+ years on the planet, I have not seen anything more beautiful in nature. I love to walk around the lake, and afterward grab a hot chocolate and a blanket and then watch the world watch Lake Louise. I’ve met people from Germany, Japan, America, hell you name it folks have come to Lake Louise to see this view. In my view, it’s perfect.

Craig MacTavish is about to put his stamp on the Edmonton Oilers, create his ideal, his version of what a winning team should look like when it’s complete. Based on his conversations with the fanbase, and based on yesterday’s explosive news about Cory Schneider, I think we know a few things:

  • MacT is as aggressive as we thought he might be
  • MacT is as devoted to keeping the puck out of the net as we thought he might be
  • MacT will leave no stone unturned
  • MacT will pursue players in their mid-20s to complete the roster
  • There a no mid-20s players available in this draft
  • The scouting department may have a lot of time on their hands today
  • We could see as many as five Oiler trades today
  • The Oilers are about to get a makeover
  • The only calm scene for Oiler fans today is the photo of Lake Louise


I had planned on giving you a list of possible Oilers at the draft today, but with the top three Oiler picks in play that seems pointless. What we can talk about is MacT’s vision of this team, why he believes they’ve failed in the past and how he plans to get them to the second season as soon as possible.

  1. BUILDING CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS UP THE MIDDLE: In every sport, the mantra ‘strength up the middle’ holds sway, and for good reason. As good as the Oilers teams of the early 1980s were, they didn’t win any Stanley’s until the defensive side of the game received more attention, and until Mark Messier moved to center. At the same time, a young blue arrived as established NHLers and the good times began to roll. I think the idea of acquiring Cory Schneider and Braydon Coburn this weekend speaks to this desire, and perhaps we’ll see the Oilers tell us Taylor Hall is moving to the middle (and Sam Gagner to the wing) as early as this week.
  2. EXPERIENCE IS VITAL: Importing Cory Schneider and Coburn is likely just the beginning of a large group of players who will be 25-30 years of age and have 200+ NHL games experience. We can add names like Cal Clutterbuck, Boyd Gordon, Paul Ranger, Viktor Stalberg, Andrew Cogliano, Scott Hartnell, Keith Yandle, Dustin Penner and Tom Gilbert into the mix as well: experienced men who are also young enough to hang around for a few years and help contribute to a brand new thing: winning hockey games.
  3. A LOT OF SAIL ON: Today, we may be saying goodbye to Shawn Horcoff, an Oiler since 2000 fall; Ales Hemsky, who wasn’t much behind him; the 7th, 37th and 56th overall picks, which not so long ago represented ultimate value for the Oilers and the fanbase; and a plethora of other spare parts and assets of varying degree. Today could be one of the truly historic days of player movement in NHL history based on what we’ve been told–and the Oilers are front and center.
  4. A PERIOD OF TRANSITION: When you have enormous turnover, there’s a time (often an entire season) of adjustment.  Expecting a quick turnaround is a bad idea no matter how many imports of value arrive. The new players will have to develop chemistry with the current Oilers deemed good enough to stay, and Oiler fans will have to adjust to their calendar being turned upside down: the biggest day of the year will no longer be draft day. That lesson may be learned in one day–today!


Based on what I’ve read, Craig MacTavish is so determined to create the current team in his own image that he is willing to overpay, to lose some deals, in an effort to improve areas he believes are badly in need of help. His vision is not our vision necessarily, and that fact is driven home by the Schneider deal (as rumored last night). It is entirely possible we’ll walk away from today believing the Oilers got less than 100 cents on the dollar, and it’s also possible they’ll be a better team as a matter of fact.


I think we have to acknowledge that what we’re hearing from New Jersey this weekend is a half bubble off plumb compared to expectations. This happens when a powerful personality enters a situation and goes about the business of improving it. Remember when Jacques Lemaire arrived in Montreal as coach? Guy Lafleur was the established on ice power for the Habs, but Lemaire shuffled the roster and a more defensive strategy was used, effectively ending Lafleur’s career in Montreal in about 20 games.

Craig MacTavish is doing some things we may find out of line with our own vision–it appears Devan Dubnyk is not the ‘goalie of the future’, and Nick Schultz is apparently about to get a teammate who does exactly what he does, and that checking line is going to be far more physical if Clutterbuck comes over from Minnesota.

This draft day will not be similar to the last ones. The impressive first round string that began with Sam Gagner and continued through Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov is very likely to be broken this afternoon–the Oilers are poised to trade their pick at #7 overall.

The Oilers have a unique draft strategy–acquire actual NHL players this afternoon. Expect the unexpected? More like "make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Also make sure your seat belt is correctly fastened."

And there may be some turbulence.

  • Spydyr

    the future is now ladies. if the oilers actually draft anyone before the third round today i’ll be pissed. these draft picks + under performing current players + prospects = need to equal players that are going to get the oilers into the playoffs next year. make it so mac t.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Will be a little disappointed to see Lowe, seated within an earshot of MacTavish at the Oilers table. Doesn’t he have other stuff he can be doing, like Presidential duties, serving drinks at the ON draft party at the Pint today?

  • Bucknuck

    Yep. I bet Hall Hates playing against Clutterbuck. That’s exactly why he should be on our team.

    Schneider may have made more saves than Dubnyk, but I would bet that the shot quality on those saves was not the “alone in the slot” or “breakaway” variety nearly as often as Dubnyk. The Oil have been terrible on Defense and Dubnyk still managed to give the team the ability to win. I am not convinced Schneider is an upgrade.

    Letang – Nobody on the team should earn more than Hall. That said… he’s tempting, but at what cost. Would prefer Yandle.

    Cobourn – The guys a rock. Jason Smith with more offence. I cannot believe he’s in play, but since he is, get him… please.

    If the oilers don’t make a pick, but add players like Cobourn, Clutterbuck, and Yandle. I would consider it a good day.

  • Spydyr

    I’m thinking that Mac T might get his hands tide by Schneider deal. That chip has to fall before the other deals. I could see Edmonton sending Dubnyk to the flyers in the Coburn deal if the aquire Schneider. So my worry is that they spin there tires and loose out on other deals as they try to get a deal done with Van.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Had a dream last night. MacTavish signed Lecavilier for 8 mill per. Craig, then flipped him moments later for Seguin and Marchand.

    Maybe this is why the Oilers are even thinking of getting involved with this whole Schnieder thing. Maybe MacT’s simply going to flip him again. Doesn’t make sense for the Canucks to trade him within their division.

  • Bucknuck

    I am not sure how we can say MacT is aggressive yet when he hasn’t actually done anything but fire a head coach, which is like an annual event with the Oilers. Signing belov is not aggressive.

    The apparent obsession with goaltending is worrisome when it is the least of the Oilers problems right now. The rumours around the Oilers also seem to focus on players with or are asking for high priced contact, not players on value deals. There are lots of warning signs so far.

    We will see how it plays out, but so far what I am getting makes me nervous.

    Go get kulikov, Gordon, Goc, MacArthur, Stalberg and Khudobin. Draft Lindholm or Monahan. That would be impressive work.

  • Bucknuck

    considering that every media person in the know seems amazed by how hard MacT is pushing for deals, I am getting tired of the “he hasn’t done anything yet” and “how can you say he’s aggressive” comments. NO ONE has done anything yet. It takes two. When it blows up I am sure there will be plenty of Oilers moves.

    He’s in the mix, which is better than Tambo already.

    • Bucknuck

      Yes, it seems MacT is in the mix. If we believe TSN rumours, MacT is prepared to pay big for Schneider, just what this roster really needs. No centres, not #1 or #2 D, not complementary players for the core. A goaltender, no less.

      I hope the rumour proves to be incorrect. Otherwise we have shock and awe, not bold and smart.

      How does the Kool-Aid taste so far?

      • Tetsutsu

        All we can hope is that the rumour is false. Getting a goalie solidifies goaltending, so would signing Emery, Bryz, Kuboudin. Schneider is unproven. Walking away from today with a goalie, no 7th overall core piece, or center we will be continue to toil. And to give Vancouver life and hope is the most sickening. I miss Tambo. I hope its all smoke.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I pray you are not toying with us. If anyone can break up the losing culture it is MacT. Fire up the guillotine and pass the Koolaid. I’m ready to enter the choppy waters ahead if even a small part of the teams needs are put in place today.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Agreed…I will take some of that Koolaid. In MacT we beleive. He said it didn’t matter what he said, only what he did, today will be the start.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Amen to that!

      Having that much tied up in only 3 players (starting in 2014-2015), has to force their hand with some other areas. James Neal might be available, or perhaps even Brandon Sutter. Rather take a chance on MA Fluery than Schneider.

      • Bucknuck

        I would expect the price (asset – not salary) would be a lot lower on Fleury. Not too excited about him either, but I agree.

        The Pens are gonna have to tighten their belts…

  • Tetsutsu

    If everyone is expecting massive deals just today, prepare to be disappointed. I see one or two Oiler trades. Maybe even minor ones. Trades will come, but it will filter out over the summer.


    If it were Hall, RNH and Yak’s draft years were this year, where would you draft them among the big three this year?

    My list would be this:

    1) Hall
    2) McKinnon
    3) Drouin
    4) RNH
    5) Yakupov
    6) Jones (Mainly because of more risk because he’s defense)

  • Tetsutsu

    MacT is in the talk talk talk mode right now and since the past two weeks and so I am not going to agree he has been pushing for deals just yet, but I do think he has been aggressive to talk with all other teams. Yep…when a deal is done then i will say how much he was pushing for the type deal that was then announced…if any is made by the way…

    Now…Cory Schneider coming here would likely push Dubnyk out the door but…Schneider did not do anything worthwhile in the first round to make me (if GM of the Oilers) to want to do this type deal. I say keep Dubnyk and seek out another back up rather than sell too much for Schneider.

    However, then again schneider may have been just not in the groove this year which can happen to any player. This is a very good debate. But…I can’t believe that Gillis would trade this player to anyone in the same new division.

    I have just read that Seguin may be available and if so, this is the kid the Oilers should make a big deal for…if he is healthy with a hip issue. The Oilers then can definitely move Gagner in another type package deal and go for a top defenceman.

  • Tetsutsu

    MAKE A TRADE ALL READY,HELL GET THE PILLSBURY DOUGH BOY,JUST DONT PULL A TAMBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bucknuck

    Let the other GMs overpay for so-so to above average players. I agree with those saying we should pull a Tambo and just draft 7th. If you can swing a second Horcoff, do it. Otherwise, I hope I hear crickets at the Oiler table today.

  • bizgriz

    If D. Nurse is available @ #7 use the pick, and please no recycle of Penner and Cogs. If we get a deal for Coburn, it should only require giving up one of the 2nd round picks, not the first.