The Push

At this point, it seems all but certain that the 2013-14 season is done for the Oilers. The team is in a hole so deep in a conference so good that clawing back into a playoff spot is going to be an extremely difficult proposition. Given that, does it make sense to start the tank job and go for the best available pick?

Not on your life.


Rebuild has gotten to be an ugly word in Edmonton, but the idea is sound. The trouble is that the Oilers have only been able to execute one part of it.


"Withdrawal or backward motion" pretty much sums up the Edmonton Oilers post-Pronger. But that’s only half the battle.

Again from

Pick a definition; that’s the plan now. The Oilers need to construct a better NHL team. They need to establish, increase and/or strengthen their ability to compete with other clubs. They need to mold or form young players into championship-calibre professionals. And on and on it goes.

The Edmonton Oilers are masters of “re-.” They’ve got “re-“ down cold. It’s the whole “build” part of the word that was always going to be much, much more difficult and seems to have the organization flummoxed.

Tossing The Season

That’s why it’s important that general manager Craig MacTavish not toss his hands in the air and say ‘forget it, we’ll move the vets at the deadline and take the pick.’ That portion of the rebuild needs to be over. That’s not to say that pending free agents that aren’t in the plans can’t be let go at the deadline – just that the focus has to be on building the team for next year.

Draft picks are a long-term investment that, if they pay off at all, pay off years down the road. This isn’t a team that needs more draft picks. This isn’t a team that needs the highest possible first overall pick this summer.

The lone focus here, with this season already all but over, has to be on making the playoffs next season – and the best way to do that is to do everything possible to make and keep the team competitive this season. Even if that means picking 10th overall rather than in the top-five. 

  • TayLordBalls

    You want to build a team.

    Trade for Kulemin this will help Yakupov’s growth.

    Trade Eberle for Sean Couturier

    Begin the process of building a team.

        • DSF

          hey J.W,how about the fans give the oil a standing O tonight and cheer through out the game,lets see if we can kick start our team instead of leaving it to our incompetent managment team!lets make these guys feel like someone is behind them and turn this year around,I know they dont deserve it but lets rock the hell out of rexall tonight!

        • DSF

          I’d be very shocked if Philly would be willing to take on Eberle’s $6M cap hit given his production.

          And beyond that, their RW depth is Voracek, Simmonds, Downie and Reed.

          The Flyers already have a bigger, better version of Eberle in Voracek.

          Voracek outscored Eberle 46-37 last season.

          • Citizen David

            Wow. This is why you don’t have credibility. You say that Voracek is better that Eberle because in a 48 game season Voracek out scored him. When it’s pointed out that Eberle is beating him this year you say small sample size. How about full sample size: Eberle career PPG .799 Voracek .615

          • DSF

            How about this?:

            Cap hit:

            Voracek $4.25M

            Eberle $6M

            Teams in the NHL play in a cap environment.

            Or how about this?

            Voracek Corsi ON – +13.52

            Eberle CorsiON – +4.38

            Or how about this:


            Voracek 56.3% (10th best for RW in the NHL)

            Eberle 46.3% (60th best for RW in the NHL)

            Players that can take on tough competition and not get outscored are worth their weight in gold.

            Players that can score but get their heads caved in by the opposition, not so much.

          • Thumby

            I usually side with DSF logic but I wonder what Eberle advanced stats would look like with comparable defence men and goaltending as Voracek plays in front of?

          • DSF

            Phillies goaltending has been dreadful for years and, without Pronger, their D doesn’t scare anyone.

            Braden Coburn is pretty good but it’s pretty thin after that.

          • Thumby

            True, we’re comparing ugly ducklings here…

            I still think Philly’s D + G > Oiler’s D + G.

            Not to mention the quality of 2 way players at center Philly has vs. Edmonton…factor all that in and I think you’d agree Eberle would likely have better advanced stats all things being equal…

          • Citizen David

            I have no problem paying a 70+ point first line right winger 6 million. It would be nice it it were more of a bargain but it’s fine with me. 4.25 is not what I’d call a great deal for what Voracek does. 40 something’s points and good defensively. 2nd-3rd liner.

          • Citizen David

            Couldn’t we assume that a single truncated season is a small sample size?

            Career stats:

            Eberle – 3 seasons, 0.80 ppg, -15 +/-
            Voracek – 5 seasons, 0.61 ppg, +5 +/-

            See what I did there? I provided two stats which tell a different story. Now I have no doubt you’ll assert that plus/minus is the superior measure, because it supports your opinion, but I think most any team would trade Voracek for Eberle straight-up. Vice versa? I doubt it.

      • reaperfunkss

        I actually think that is a good post.

        Kulemin – 6’1 225lbs on the LW adding some scoring and size to our top 9. Plays 2 ways.

        Couturier may not put up 80 points per year, but if he gets to 60 points and stops pucks from going in, sign me up.

        I would attempt to acquire both.

  • Big Cap

    With Eakins, MacT and Lowe setting the Oiler record for the fastest bombing of a season (beating their own previous record) I hope they continue to manage and play guys like Smyth, Eager, N. Schultz as much as possible while Eakins continues his blowhard views of how the young guys have to “earn it” and “learn the system”.

    With another season shot, Our young guys and future roster players should be playing in every situation possible. If not now, then when? When we are in the Conference Final??? PS – Nuge will be 35 years by then.

    Eakins has been the Biggest bust in the last 10 years, maybe since Jason Bonsignore. He’s demolished our once successful PP and PK, and implemented this ridiculous “swarm defense”. Tell us again how we will be the most fit team and the most ultra competitive unit in the league for all 60 minutes.

    PS – Thank you to both MacT and Lowe for Green Lighting this coaching hire.

    PPS – Katz, enjoy the Caribbean. See you in March when you get back to start hitting us season ticket holders up for next years deposit. Plus 6 percent increase, of coarse.

  • TayLordBalls

    just as an individual’s power is in the NOW and not tomorrow or yesterday…..

    the team is now – not in the past and not in the future.

    Oilers players – focus on today and you’ll be fine.

    As the great Bill Murray said: “What if there is no tomorrow – there wasn’t one today.”

    (Groundhog Day)

  • Reg Dunlop

    I think the concept of ‘rebuild’ started with local media. The team was woeful and media floated the idea that the oil was intentionally tanking to get higher draft picks to which oil mgmt. said, ‘uh…ya, rebuild, that’s what we are doing’. This situation is the result of incompetence only. There is no plan.

    Regardless, this is pro hockey, always play to win. Even though that concept cost us Monohan last year it earned us Nurse. Go oil.

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Get on Mact’s case for the scrimping of cap money on back end ! Until that vastly improves we will remain a cellar dweller and forwards won’t be able to progress properly .

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    BUFFALO FIRES THEIR COACH and GM after a crappy start….. PHILLY FIRES THEIR COACH after a crappy star….. and in EDMONTON ??? What do the Oilers do to shake things up??? They trade our grittiest D-man and bring in a goaltender that was absolutely IGNORED BY 29 other teams!!!

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Being a fan is like being an addict. We are all waiting for that great high but all we get is the cheap crap. And like real addiction, feeling bad is better than feeling nothing at all. Damn I wish I didn’t care so much.

  • Thumby


    My name is Roger from Vancouver. I need you to tell me if these proposals are crazy or if they are feasible. I sent you the proposal last year for Matt Duchene which you reasonably reasoned out…

    Here are my proposals:

    1. Trade to Philly – Hemsly, Gagner, N. Schultz, 2015 2nd and 3rd for Coburn, B. Schenn, Simmons

    as well as

    2. To Buffalo – Yakupov and J. Schultz, 2014 1st rd pick for Cody Hodgson and Tyler Meyers.

    Lines: Hall RNH SImmons

    Schenn Hodgson Ebs

    Perron Gordon Joensuu

    Smyth Arco Jones

    Defense: Coburn Meyers

    Ference Larsen

    Petry Belov

    The only reason i say J Schultz is we need a tougher D. Im liking Larsen and how he is jumping into the play a la J Schultz but still gets back on D.

    The second line may relive the magic of the WJC….

    Hallsie gets a guy that plays like him with the magician RNH that can feed those two…..

    AM I CRAZY JIM???!

    Please pass this to Mc T if you approve!

    Your devoted and humble fan in Vancouver,

    • 1. Earthworm Jim?

      2. I doubt Philly goes for that deal, though nuttier things have happened. As much as the Oilers value size and strength, the Flyers positively worship it.

      3. I’d personally rather have Yakupov on my NHL team than Cody Hodgson, and not by only a little bit. I’m not wild about either Justin Schultz or Tyler Myers, but only one have them hasn’t been signed to a boat anchor contract yet and that guy is Schultz. I wouldn’t make that swap 2-for-2 as Edmonton, let alone toss in a 2014 first.

    • Cubro

      I don’t mind this but really? Larsen over Schultz? He was – 3 vs Chicago in a game in which he had three points. 2 of those goals he left guys all alone in the slot. I think Schultz has better offensive flair and is already better than Larsen defensively.

      I think yak gagner nschultz+ a third rounder gets that deal done

      • TayLordBalls

        I premised this on we have to give something to get something. Please don’t get me wrong…i love J. Schultz but we need attitude and size on our d core. If my trades go well have all the offensive flair up front with the balance of (less flair w/ Larsen) and mean big guys defending.

        I don’t want to off load great young players like Gags, Yak, Schultz but we are to easy “to play against” and nobody fears dip see doodling in our end.

        The clincher is i put this in NHL 14 and both Philly and Buff took the trade…and the team is awesome to play with….hahahaha!

  • oilfan in yyc

    I can’t stop (weeping, chuckling) over the angst season ticket holders are going through.Tanking the season in November. What a joke this organization has become.

  • G Money

    JW, you’ve well summarized the Tambo years. He got the ‘backward’ part right, three #1 picks, yay, but not the ‘build’ part.

    Strategically – and of course, some of this is the gift of hindsight, but lots of it was known beforehand and done poorly or not done at all – I think the template of a ‘proper’ rebuild would be to fill in the top part of your team with high drafts, the bulk of your team on the cheap through the draft, and sign key veterans at key positions to fill in the rest.

    Ideally, the veterans are in place when the team – i.e. the lottery picks have matured – is ready to contend.

    The Oilers have the #1 picks alright, but the rest of the depth was never developed.

    This requires some measure of optimization in timing too. Defenseman develop slowest, so you want a pile of them in the system right at the start of your rebuild process so they’re maturing when you finally contend. The Oilers have that, but started too late and now those guys won’t be properly ready to help until years from now.

    To summarize:

    – Rebuild means trade away veterans for as many prospects and picks as possible, tank, and collect lottery picks for say five years to build the cheap(ish) high end skill that is otherwise way too expensive to buy or trade for

    – Draft a ton of defenders with mid/late picks early in the rebuild so some are ready to go when the rebuild finishes

    – Draft a ton of high-risk skill with late picks later in the rebuild to fill out the rest of your roster

    – Sign veterans to add stability and depth to your roster late in the rebuild

    – The only part Tambo got right was the tanking part. And here we are today.

  • TayLordBalls

    true oiler fans will tough it out-if you look hard enough positives abound-the “kids” are now young men playing in a mans league, if any group of young players are learning at the school of hard knocks its this group-bogdan yakimov, darnell nurse, oscar klefbom, marc olivier roy, jujhar khaira, greg chase, all positives-I truly believe this is our deepest and darkest moment-I argue bull sh*% to anyone who says that a team loses to learn-do you really think RNH or Taylor Hall got to where they are by accepting loss? Mac T has assets to make not only the bold moves but the right moves to bring Stanley back to Jasper Ave! Then all will be well with KLowe(and I will change my moniker!!)-GO OILERS! Bandwagoners off now please!

  • oilfan in yyc

    Saw yesterday Fedun got sent down and they brought back Potter?

    Is this one of those where Potter finished his conditioning stints and he has to come back up, or did they just send a bad message to Fedun. Fedun been so-so defensively, but has contributed to the offence. Anyone got some perspective?

  • oilfan in yyc

    Willis…glad someone said it. It’s time we start building real NHL players. All this potential is making me sick. It’d be nice to add Edblad to Nurse and Klefbom and the rest of the dmen, but right now the only guy able to teach them how to play on a night to night basis is Petry, and I think he’s still just figuring it out. Smid would have been nice to keep for the young guys. No doubt we needed a goalie prospect, and our goaltending needed an upgrade, but let’s focus on real players going forward.

    • Serious Gord

      really??? as I stated earlier the kids are now young men learning to play in a mans league-if you look at most teams they shelter and groom them in the ahl until they are 21-its sad that the majority of the posters agree that RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov are destroying the organization-trash me all you want but it is obvious that your anger outweighs logic, glad you guys aren’t in charge

      • oilfan in yyc

        Most organizations don’t shelter first overall picks in the AHL until they are 21, first overalls immediately make it to the NHL the majority of the time.

      • Toro

        Wow, how long have you lived in Edmonton son? Get a grip and do some research! The boys on the bus are the management of this team who used to play on this team. It is really hard to blame the kids for this mess!!

  • oilfan in yyc

    That’s why more then ever its time to get new direction. Katz needs to come outta his cave and change the culture of loosing.

    The Yak mess shows how bad it is that Larionov feels compelled to fly to Edmonton to get their ____ straight. Yak getting thrown under a bus. Sure he’s sucked and needs to grow a pair, but so does MacT and Klowe.

    I would never expect this coming from Klowe or MacT but an apology to the extent of this mess would be nice. Take some ownership. And Eakins needs to stop preaching accountability and start actually showing it. Bench your vets, or play Yak when he screws up.

    • Lowe But Now High Expectations

      Since Willis is doing a grammar lesson in his article… LOOSING is not a word. Losing is.

      As Oiler fans we should at least know how to spell LOSING properly.

      Just sayin

      • TayLordBalls

        As a literate person of reasonable intelligence, you should know ending your post with “just sayin” is redundant and unflattering.

        just sayin.

        it is what it is

  • oilfan in yyc

    Every time I see a picture or shot of the Oilers bench I can’t help but think of the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen”. Do they really need 3 assistants on the bench giving a multitude of directions?

    • oilfan in yyc

      It’s what the Oilers are good at: adding unending layers of coaches, VP’s, directors, advisors, consultants, and presidents to the hockey operations department. They are innovators in superfluous corporate bloat.

  • oilfan in yyc

    Lafontaine new president of hockey operations in Buffalo (thanks Oilers for bringing this idiotic title into vogue). Regier out. Ted Nolan in as coach.

    • Zarny

      Hate to break it to you but Kevin Lowe was not the first President of Hockey Operations?

      Not even close. The Oilers had no part in bringing that title into vogue.

      • Serious Gord

        I didn’t say first. But tell us, who are the men with the title “president of hockey operations” who got that title prior to Lowe?

        John Davidson maybe. I seem to remember he started out with the President title of the Blues. JD became P. of hockey with the Blue Jackets after Lowe.

        Neely is President. Lou Lam is president. Robitaille is ‘President of Business operations’ (also ridiculous) while Lombardi is just President.

        So explain to us how “the Oilers had no part in bringing that title into vogue.”

          • Citizen David

            Burke was the vp/GM from what I remember. My point is the head of hockey operations should be the GM.

            Whether you want to call them GM/chairman of hockey, or GM/Grand Marshall of hockey operations, or whatever, doesn’t really matter to me. But it is ridiculous to have a layer of management above GM WITHIN the hockey operations department.

            If these teams were traded on an exchange, they would have market caps of around 200 million. They are small businesses. Having department ‘presidents’ is ridiculous. This isn’t General Electric.

            There is no need to have Lowe’s position in the organization, other than Katz’ desire to avoid firing his buddy when he removed him from the GM’s job.

          • DSF

            Actually, the position appears to have been created in Detroit although they call it Senior Vice President.

            Jim Devellano was the first individual hired by owners Mike and Marian Ilitch after purchasing the Red Wings in June, 1982.

            He was the team’s general manager for eight seasons before ascending to his current position as senior vice-president on July 13, 1990.

    • Serious Gord

      Regeir apparently was/is best friends with the owner. Many in buffalo didn’t think it was possible that he wild be fired.

      Katz take note.

      And Jonathan, part if he building should include firing the POHO, do you agree?

      • It depends on what Lowe’s precise role has been these last few years.

        If Lowe’s been pulling the strings, absolutely he should wear this.

        If Lowe’s been in other roles – overseeing the broader organization (the Barons, the Oil Kings, etc.) – and not been involved in the day-to-day of the Oilers, I don’t think he should be fired for the sins of Steve Tambellini.

        • match16

          Come on Jonathan, Tambelini was Lowes ticket to
          “Goatscapedome’. Besides the buck stops with Lowe.

          If he’s not involved day to day, maybe he should be… he appears to be in the spotlight in the Oil Change segments… Seems to be lurking in the press box with Howson and MacT.

          He’s in charge of the Oilers as much as he is of the Barons, and Oil Kings.

        • match16

          Come on Jonathan, Tambelini was Lowes ticket to
          “Goatscapedome’. Besides the buck stops with Lowe.

          If he’s not involved day to day, maybe he should be… he appears to be in the spotlight in the Oil Change segments… Seems to be lurking in the press box with Howson and MacT.

          He’s in charge of the Oilers as much as he is of the Barons, and Oil Kings.

        • Positive Ray of Sunshine


          If Lowe hired Tambo to run things then turned a blind eye and allowed him to make terrible decisions with impunity for several seasons while the culture of losing got further and further ingrained into the organization, wouldn’t that be far worse than making the bad decisions yourself? Such apathy from a senior executive would be absolutely intolerable in any business. Katz isn’t stupid. He knows that. Of course Lowe was pulling the strings. His plan all along was to tank a few seasons and build TBOTB-2.0 and win a bunch of Cups all over again. After rejections from Pronger, Heatley, Vanek et. al., it isn’t hard to see why it seemed like his only option to build a winner. Good plan, but it comes with serious risk of creating a losing culture, which it has (**in an early candidate for understatement of the century). If I was Katz, it would have also come with a time limit. From the outcry of the fans (both types), I would say that limit has been reached, if not exceeded.

        • Fatbob24

          So the only case you can envisage Lowe being fired is if it is somehow proved that he forced Tambellini to make poor moves?

          Will Lowe ever be accountable for anything?

          Here’s a separate question for you Jonathan:

          Do you think MacTavish would have been hired if he was not personally close with Kevin Lowe and Daryl Katz?

        • Serious Gord

          It is undeniable that Lowe has been involved:

          Hired and kept tamby (no formal search)

          Brought in MacT then fired tamby and replaced him with MacT (no formal search)

          Was in the interview of Eakins. Obviously was okay with MacT abrogating the search process and firing Krueger.

          All of the above plus became lightning rod with his six rings interview.

          So stop hiding behind the equivocation and make a BOLD statement.

        • Hockey Problems 101

          What is the best way to tell the team and it’s fans that the recent history of the club is unacceptable ?. You punt the “reason” we’re in this mess in the first place. If the kids on the team see the ship being run astray with no accountability at the top, how can anybody preach accountability to the players, it seems like lip service. The fact is that the team has been brutal for years and in this, the year we were to see an improvement, we see regression. Clear out the top and send the message that “incompetence” will NOT be tolerated.

          ANYMORE !!

        • reaperfunkss

          Even if Lowe isnt making the Oiler decisions (Although he travel with mact and mess on a scouting/trade mission so apparently he is heavily involved in the day to day) He is the man responsible for the Hockey operations and the Hockey operations have been a catastrophe. Tambo’s sins were basically not being a friend of Katz

          • camdog

            Of course Lowe has been pulling some strings, but how many strings, nobody knows.

            Craig Mactavish knew he was going to be hired GM 2-3 years ago, long before Tambelini was even fired. As soon as he was re-hired as an advisor most people knew this was happening. There was never a search for a GM…I would love for somebody to question Lowe on when he decided to make Mact the GM?

          • The Funky Chicken Has Left The Building

            More like vaseline – let’s just fast forward to April and get this rerun over with…’Team Toe Drag’ is still no where near a playoff spot and will make minor trades at deadline, then go on minor winning streak to end season, get a top ten draft pick, and this time replace assistant coaches.
            The only way to break this cycle is to remove Kevin Lowe.
            ….and as a feel good move replace Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer.