Not “Bold,” but solid

Edmonton Oilers fans have been waiting for rookie general manager Craig MacTavish to make some moves. He started yesterday by trading Captain Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas stars for Philip Larsen and an offensive zone faceoff win next season in Dallas.


It was time for Horcoff to move on. No one could ever question his professionalism and dedication to the Oilers. He is the consummate pro. After so many years of struggle for the Oilers he will get new energy in Dallas next season.

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After being with the same team for so long Horcoff will be very uncomfortable with the move. Everything is new. New city, teammates, arena and travel. It will make him uncomfortable but that will provide him with jump. A change isn’t always good but in this case it is.

I expect Horcoff to have a strong season next year, but I am not talking about more points. He will be the strong center that Dallas needs. No longer will he be the lightning rod of attention for many unhappy Oiler fans. The difference between playing in the States and Canada is like night and day for attention from fans. I think Horcoff will enjoy the break.

Horcoff did many things in the community that were unknown. Having played with him though, I know of many. I wish him luck in the big D!

In the trade the Oilers pick up young Danish blue-liner Philip Larsen. His is only twenty-three years old. He is a slight young man that can move the puck. Is he a long term NHL’er? He should get a chance here to prove he is. He is a player that will move the puck up to the young group of Oilers forwards. That is what MacT said he wanted more of when he took over at GM.

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This Morning

This morning once free agency got going MacTavish quickly moved to fill some holes in the line-up. He signed Andrew Ference, a d-man, who played last year with the Bruins. He got both Boyd Gordon, a centreman and Jason LaBarbera, a back-up goalie, out of Phoenix. These are not big, bold moves but there are a very solid start.

I felt the biggest issue for the Oilers was their overall ability to compete every night. They needed more players that give predictable effort and results from game to game. There were too many question marks in the lineup.

Andrew Ference brings experience, steadiness and a compete level to the Oilers. He will be the oldest dman on the team and will be able to mentor everyone in the group. He is a player that is not afraid to speak his mind in the dressing room. When he stands up and addresses the team he will have instant respect from the team because of his career so far.

I do not think he is a top pairing defencemen. He can easily slide into the Oilers second pairing. He is a western guy who played in the WHL. I think the Oilers need more of that. He is also very environmentally informed. Expect the Oilers to start recycling.

Boyd Gordon is also a WHL alum. I cannot tell you how important having more WHL’ers and western players is to a team that is in need of more competitiveness. He is a player with very little offensive upside but he will guide and teach some of the young developing players how to play the game the right way at the crucial times of the games. I would expect rookie head coach Dallas Eakins to use him first in PK situations and important defensive zone draws; think end of the game while protecting a lead.

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Lastly the Oilers have brought in Jason LaBarbera to back up Devan Dubnyk. Labarbera has been a back-up all is career so he understands how to stay ready between infrequent starts. I have been told he is a very good guy in the dressing room which I think is very important. In my opinion a back-up goalie needs to be able to play the game but must also be part social director and comedian to entertain and relax the guys.

This signing sends a huge message of support to Dubnyk. There is no doubt whose net this is now. There is no one else for the team, or Dubnyk, to fall back on. This is a huge year for him. He must continue to prove that he is a starter in the NHL and the Oilers goalie moving forward. I will be very interested to watch how he steps up this year. I believe he is the goalie for the future but it isn’t me he needs to convince. He must convince the management and more importantly his teammates.

MacTavish still has a way to go to get his team set for the season. This is a good start today.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    I doubt it… which is why Clarkson is not an Oiler now. They probably offered a shorter term as to not relive the horcoff situation.

    I am quite happy with these signings… need a couple more top end guys and the Oilers could actually have a chance at the playoffs next year

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Thought from the beginning that David might be using Edmontons interest in him to help drive up the price. Can’t say that my feelings have changed by his actions. Oh well, big deal. Hope the Leafs get two solid yrs out of him before he’s deemed overpaid.

    Hope Craig can get in on some Grabovski. Lotsa passion in that fellow after hearing his exit comments from Toronto. Had it wrong all these yrs on Carlyle. Thought his first name was Randy Carlyle, not Pucking Carlyle.

    Who knew…

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    You got to trade talent to get talent, we just signed cheap 3rd stringers players, nobody who can help us make a serious push to the playoffs next year, all we hear is how bright the future is for the Oilers and to be reminded that we are entering Year 4 now of our 5 to 7 year rebuild master plan. Another top 5 pick next year.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Stanley Cup Champions sign Nikolai Khabibulin. Finally a decent team/set of blueliners to play behind. His unfortunate incarceration with our Oilers is officially over.

  • G Money

    Struds uses the term “solid”.

    I think the more apt descriptor is “workmanlike”. Which is precisely the kind of person MacT is.

    I have now real beefs with what he’s done so far, but I also think nothing so far could be characterized as daring or inspired or… Bold. Compare that to the Seguin trade and several other moves made by other GMs.

    Time has yet to run out between now and the first game of the 2013-14 season so we may yet see something that sparkles and makes oil fans talk for weeks/months/years – not days – about it.

    And Trading hemsky for a similar but different level of talent is not going to cut it. The big dog play is going to require gagner.

  • Zarny

    Solid moves are better than stupid moves. It’s always about the right player for the right price.

    I like what Clarkson has done in NJ. However, he’s 29, was undrafted and didn’t produce until he was 27 playing with Parise and Kovalchuk.

    The points-per-game peak age in the NHL is 25. At best, Clarkson has another 2-3 years and he’s back on the 3/4th line. And I won’t be surprised if he never finds the success he had in NJ’s system again.

    Labarbera is a good backup. I think Khudobin or Emery are better but as long as Dubnyk stays healthy Labarbera should be solid for 20 starts. MacT should be checking to see what Buf wants for Miller.

    I like Ference as an upgrade to the 4-7 D. If you expect more he’s going to disappoint. Gordon is an excellent signing to upgrade for 3/4th line C.

    More needs to be done. Prying Coburn out of Phi should be priority #1. I’d also see what they want for Couturier. With the UFA frenzy over Hemsky’s value should go up. Jagr would be a great addition for 3rd line minutes and PP. His puck possession skills are invaluable.

  • Gotta laugh at how some people can view some of today’s moves by MacT as disappointment and yet all who know hockey do know the new players today are support to help the kids and team move upward.

    Who the Hell promised the Oilers were gonna win the Stanley Cup this coming year? They said it would take 5 yrs to rebuild from 2009 and that it would be from kids gorwing before our eyes mainly because thats the way to do it right. Hey out there….this is yr number 4 and so be patient people…

    The ones who whine now and again… keep forgetting that the new guys now are here for of stronger defence, depth, and mentorship…. they come from other winning higher standing teams… and they are to help/support the Oilers’ super kids who are getting more better, more bigger, more experienced, more productive, etc.

    Can anyone on here say with absoluteness that Gordon is not an improvement over Belanger? not as good as Horcoff?

    Can anyone say that LaBarbera is worse than Khabby was these 4 yrs? How about that Ference is worse than Whitney was this yr? or Fistric? or Peckham?

    They can help the kids to doing wht the kids do best and that is to keep scoring goals and pts more so like within the top four teams of this league do each yr..

    Yeah I am talking the new guys we got today to help out Ebs, Hall (next Captain), RNH, Yak, J. Schultz, then Klefbom, then Marancin, Petry, etc, to Nurse…

  • Oh yeah I also forgot nto tell the many whiner outs there that it is not possibly ineptitude on behalf of MacT or KLowe or the Oilers..

    Did ya hear some of the players today…even between the lines???

    “I don’t want to play in a real hockey city:

    “I want over $5 to $6 mmil a yr for 7 to 8 yrs with NMC or NTC”

    “I want to stay in the east and not play in the west”

    And one more thing…Calgary, LA, San Jose, Phoenix, Vancouver or Anaheim won’t trade their better to best players to the Oilers cause they play in the same damn division!!!!!!

    So people please begin to think before complaining against the Oilers and MacT for what was just one day of deals so far…

    • Agree 100%,is everyone forgetting that our defense core in 3 to 4 years should look really good if properly developed, until then Oiler management is going to try to add one or two more solid d-men and getting a 1-2 will be very difficult. All free agents are an overpay but at least Ference brings it every night,sticks up for his team mates and by the way is a fitness fanatic so no one knows how long he will be effective.It was also great to see the class Mac T had when describing the Clarkson choice of Toronto.

  • So far macT has done exactly what he said he would do, Bold is having the balls to make the moves available to him, changing the coach when he didnt like how it was shaping up, trading the Captain, let it be known players where available, signing vital pieces to the puzzle, This team is improved enough right now to make the playoffs

  • I to also hold out hope for the Coburn deal. Adding him to play with Schultz Jr. would give us defense depth we haven’t had in years.

    Has anybody heard what the Brunner camp is asking for? If were going for skill, a third line of Paajarvi,Gordon and Brunner would look pretty good.