In mid-June, we took a long look at what might happen this summer to the Oilers roster and prospect list. I made several predictions, thinking alongside Craig MacTavish after years of watching him expertly manage his NHL roster. With a keen eye and thinking along with him, I set down the summer in measured, rational terms. The result? 

I could NOT have been more wrong! I could have TRIED but would not have been successful. It was truly a golden sombrero.

The predictions are here, let’s see how things went.

  1. Who will they take in the first round? My choice June 15: Sean Monahan My comments June 15: Oilers have three strong options. Deal up for Barkov, stay the course at 7 and select Monahan, Horvat or Nurse, or deal down in hopes Horvat is there (with Curtis Lazar as a possible backup plan). I think there are so many attractive options before Monahan that he slips to #7 and the Oilers grab him. Result: they selected Nurse, but it was very interesting to see and hear how close they were to taking Nichushkin.
  2. Who will help Dallas Eakins coach? June 15: The Oilers have to put together a coaching staff that can come together quickly, so my guess is that Eakins adds Derek King from his AHL staff and the Oilers keep Steve Smith from last year’s group. Mark Lamb completes the staff, with Kelly Buchberger moving to another role in the organization. Result: Oilers went with Keith Acton, an exceptional choice based o everything we read.
  3. How will they improve the defense? June 15: MacT has already added the Russian Belov and I believe the club will be active during the summer, too. We’ve already heard rumors about Paul Ranger, and I believe Edmonton will add Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin in a blockbuster deal. He’ll help form a top 6D that might go Tyutin-Petry, Smid-J Schultz, N Schultz-Belov and Paul Ranger. Result: Not close. They did add another Russian (Grebeshkov) but the big blueline addition was Andrew Ference as a free agent.
  4. What’s the ‘wow’ trade? June 15: I think the Howson connection sees Edmonton acquire Tyutin, L RJ Umberger and C Ryan Johansen from the Blue Jackets in exchange for Sam Gagner, Martin Marincin and Ales Hemsky. Result: It was Paajarvi and a 2nd for David Perron. Not a blockbuster, but a definite upgrade.
  5. Will they move Hall to center? June 15: No. I think the club will use Nuge, Johansen and two free agent signings/trades up the middle. I do not think Monahan makes the team under any circumstances. Among the candidates I can see arriving in Edmonton to play center: Alexander Burmistrov, Boyd Gordon. Result: Got Boyd Gordon correct, he’s an Oiler now and a nice add. As for Hall moving to center, no word yet.
  6. Who will the Oilers sign to backup Devan Dubnyk? June 15: I think the Oilers will find a way to trade for a suitable backup, perhaps Eddie Lack from Vancouver. I do like Jason Labarbera, but will guess that Ben Scrivens arrives in Edmonton in a summer trade. Result: I named LaBarbera, but close only counts in horseshoes.
  7. What will the top 2 lines look like in the fall? June 15: Nuge-Hall-Eberle with Johansen-Paajarvi/Umberger-Yakupov. The club may also attempt to sign a winger with size, but those guys are at a premium. Result: The top 6 is pretty clear, I think this is an outstanding group for the top two lines.
  8. How many of their own rfa’s does Edmonton sign? June 15: Only Paajarvi. Result: He was the one they sent away.
  9. Surprise opening night roster player? June 15: Ben Eager. Result: It could happen, we wait.
  10. What current roster player on another team has the best chance of being an Oiler in 13-14? June 15: Viktor Stalberg. Result: Miss.
  11. Where does Horcoff land? June 15: Detroit or Florida or Edmonton.Result: Should have guessed Dallas.
  12. Why do they trade Gagner? June 15: Money. Tambellini not getting a long term deal done cost the Oilers. He blew it, and now MacTavish doesn’t have enough coin. Result: Gagner signed. And a nice deal, too.
  13. Why did they let Hartikainen go to the KHL? June 15: Three things: he didn’t get a lot done (read: anything!) at even strength in the NHL, his conditioning wasn’t where it needed to be and he is not a natural PF–he’s not a mean player by nature. Result: Well, they signed another Finn with a very similar resume.


It was fun playing along with MacT this summer, he certainly threw a few curves during the last 45 days. What’s more important, the new GM added much needed depth to the blueline, another quality scorer on the wing, and got Sam Gagner under contract.

There’s plenty left to do, but the Oilers are as always: a work in progress.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    I think some of MacT’s “WOW” agenda, was beyond
    just doing a blockbuster trade… things, like
    replacing Kruger with Eakin, going public with moving Horcof and Hemsky [ although #83 still here for now ].

    The Perron and Ference were nice deals, and will help.

    I expected he would have done more to fix the bottom six and there is still a big hole at center [ unless Hall goes there], as Nuges won’t be back till December.

    Also curious the way he filled depth with the likes of Hamilton, and Acton and the prospects depth filled with a whole bunch of Russian kids,
    who may never see the light of our shores.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I think the Oilers do try Hall at center in the pre-season, as much as MacT raves about Miller, and the likes of Acrobello and Acton those 3 don’t have any nhl experience.

  • I gotta smile with ya on this blog LT…cause my predictions and hopes were a lot off base for myself.

    I see two more trade deals from the Oilers right now, IMO,…..amd they are #1) Hemsky being still traded soon to open some capspace up. I do not know where to at this point but he will not be a happy camper being on the outs (at 29 yrs old) with going down to the 3rd line for the most part of the year and…that he knows the team is not happy that this last yr of the contract is being at $5 mil per.

    #2)N. Schultz is the one who most likely should go in a trade now while with there being 10 guys ready for the NHL season presently for the Oilers. Yeah, I include Klefbom too, but then….even maybe include both Marancin and Fedun too, which then brings the training camp list to 12 guys ready to go….not 10 as has been advertised in the media.

    Last I wish to say that I suspect that Ryan Smyth will be brought along this season with less games…and yet still, but yet with class from the Oilers… for his yrs of hard work and service to the Oilers.

    I think MacT wants to get one more 3rd to 4th line good signed centre and one more big good winger with the trades of Hemsky and N. Schultz…but with Smyth, the Oilers will put him as much as can be so he does not tire out too much and he will rotate with Joensuu, Jones, Eager, Hamilton and Brown for playing time.

    IMO…#94 may not get into the League’s Hall of Fame once he is done with his contract and with the NHL for good…BUT, the Oilers should definitely recognize his number is jusitifed to go up to the top of Rexall anyways…

    I will say that I do hope that Ryan comes off with having his best season that he has had in the last while and that he rises to to the top one more time before saying goodbye to all..

  • Kevrock

    The summer of MacT has been imo a good one. This train wreck isn’t going to be turned around in one fell swoop. It is going to take MacT time and assets to get this team to a point where we are competing night in night out. The Perron deal is indicative of the kind of deals we’ll see more of in the near future. The Oilers are deep in defensive prospects and will probably see a couple moved in other deals to get the players they need. I like what has occurred so far and look forward to Penticton. The summer continues to be one of change.

  • Kevrock


    Yep I agree with ya that good changes have come forth with MacT at the helm of the Oilers now and what he has done so far in the short time frame thus far…has been finally a breath of fresh air.

    I see and also hope for just a bit more for this season based on everything noted at this time.

    Aside from the bigger type trade of Paajarvi/2nd rounder for Perron, there have been great new additions brought in but at the same time…none are of a huge sensation type blockbuster deal. But this is definitely still ok and great.

    I am hoping to learn more from the coming tourney in Penticton too and see what next happens either bfore or during training camp.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    And yet, LT, u still don’t mention how most people laughed at the thought of 8 new faces in the line up this year, opening night could have more than that.

  • LT, do you think MacT is done? I see a couple of potential fits to address the bottom 6:

    1) the Matherson hinted Hemsky for Gaustad deal, allowing Lander to start in the AHL and work his way into the league on the wing next year.

    2) a N.Schulz for Joel Ward deal that happens in training camp.

    Thoughts? Outside of the Gaustad contract, I don’t see a big problem here as they seem intent on moving Hemsky eventually and Schulz the senior won’t be back next year. Might as well do something crazy and address a need.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Damn right we don’t have balance. We are one skilled player away from being a figure skating team! I wonder where we would have finished if we played 82 games last year. David Staples wrote an article today saying we were the worst team in the league according to Vollman stats. Keep skakin and bakin Mac T and bring in more toughness!

  • Yes, MacT has definitely made some progress in improving the roster mostly through clearing out many of the non-factor players.

    The subtraction of Horcoff and the addition of Gordon can be viewed as somewhat positive in that Gordon is less expensive and younger. The addition of Perron for the price of Paajarvi looks good, for now. As is the addition of Ference (for free), but the terms aren’t particularly attractive. MacT has added an experienced NHL goalie in Labarbera to back up Dubnyk

    The promise of moving Hemsky hasn’t materialized, yet. And I think Gagner was an overpay and is overrated. There are an interesting bunch of “IFs” at D. There has to be some concern over the return of Nugent-Hopkins to his pre-injury performance and the lack of a real 2nd and 4th L centre.

    We won’t know about rookie head coach Eakins and his associate coach Acton until we see them in action. Will player development improve?

    Are there more changes to come? Or will MacT be satisfied with what he has and risks the team becoming a train wreck and misses the playoffs for the 8th consecutive time?

    Lots to think about in the meantime.

  • Kevrock

    That movie scene totally scared me away from obscenely hot women..If it seems to good to be true it probably is. Speaking of which why isn’t Weber an Oiler yet!?!

  • MacT has accomplished a lot. I would have liked more size and nastiness brought in, but everyone knows if those players have skill as well they are very hard to attain.

    Our D will be very interesting to watch this year. Lots of skill, not a lot of toughness. I still see emsky being traded either for a Centre or bottom 6 winger with size.

    Looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.

    • Yes, he built the worst bottom six forwards group in the NHL, even worse than the Tambo group. He signed every bottom pairing defenceman he could find but ignored the needs at the top of the defensive group. And he set up a media circus around Hemsky for the fall, because the team needs distractions. And he didn’t have the balls to change his failed assistant coaches.

      Busy summer, but impact on the results, probably not much.

      • The worst bottom six in the NHL?

        Gordon is an improvement on Horcoff IMO. Hemsky is a better option than every previous bottom six guy we had. Joensuu is a wild card so who knows. Petrell was a one trick pony, he could kill penalties. No matter who ends up as the 4C they will almost certainly be better than,Belanger. If Jones bounces back from his eye injury we could see another 15 goals from a 11min/game guy.

        The bottom six is still awful, but definitely better, and definitely not the worst in the NHL.

        Our top end defencemen weren’t improved upon. That sucks. But that’s also one of the hardest things to do. I know MacT said he’s done but there are still teams in Cap trouble so let’s wait and see.

        Picking Nurse was a good start and hopefully next year he makes it. Jultz is still kind of an unknown, as is Klefbom. Although it seems likely that klef plays in the AHL this year.

        our top six is better. Our bottom six is slightly better. Our depth on D is much better.
        our biggest holes are at the #1-2 d spot, and the 4C spot. Now we wait…

  • YFC Prez

    Still can’t believe they retained Buchberger and Smith. You fire the coach (twice) because the results suck, but retain the two assistants? Only in Edmonton.

  • YFC Prez

    I’ve seen From dusk till dawn only twice now, but have seen that Selma Hayek snake dance at least a dozen.

    #rewind button

    I’m pleased with Mac T….very pleased. Just hoping for one more move for some center depth. RNH being injured with the current line-up down the middle will be disastrous to start the season.

  • oilslick

    I am impressed with what MacT has done so far this summer is there still more to do?…Absolutely but that being said it takes to dance and to my knowledge their are no stats kept on near trades or almost signings. I think Craig is doing what he can to improve the team but like most GM’s now is taking a wait & see approach as we get closer to training camp/pre-season..I love all the just sign this player or player talk on this site as if it was that easy as if their were no other “variables” in play. I love this team as much as anybody here but patience grasshopper…patience.

  • YFC Prez

    The need for mean has not been addressed. We have a much better hockey club, especially on defense. The forwards ( bottom six) have been very carefully chosen, in spite of appearances. There must be something to Hamilton and Acton that Mac T was willing to gamble on……..we all know that every new coach wants to have a hand in selecting his warriors. Let’s hope he is correct.

    We still need mean and if Eager can play within Eakins system, we may have that player too. I would still like to see another big mean player to keep other teams from targeting our skill.

  • YFC Prez

    McT isn’t done yet . Still expect a waiver wire pick ; another UFA pick or a trade . There is still 6 weeks to go but yes some nice additions but more important ridding the team of deadwood and a lot of it .Habby , Whit ,Belanger, Pettrell ,Horc(not deadwood but contract was) Smithson ,Peckham,let alone Tuebert , Plante. That’s a lot of housecleaning .

  • oilslick

    Why has Yak been gifted the 2nd line RW spot over Hemsky? Has he earned it? Is there no chance in this world #83 can win that position? Is it because we are afraid that Yak will sulk and defecate to the khl? Is there a spot on the top 6 for 83 if RNH is a late starter or are we going to waste his talent (and value) playing him on the 3rd line?

  • Klefbom, Belov, Nurse, and Joensuu are all complete question marks.

    Sure it’s fair to assume Klefbom goes to OKC, Nurse back to the O, Belov as a #7 D and Joensuu as a #13 forward… But who knows how the summer training is going for these guys and we could see some pleasant surprises