The Iceberg: Women and Children First

The deck chairs have been shuffled. Stop the presses. Plan the parade.

Edmonton Oilers fans can be excused if they’re decidedly underwhelmed by the move GM Craig MacTavish made today in the wake of taking a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place Tuesday.

MacTavish sent two players who don’t belong in the NHL in the first place, failed reclamation project and noted giveaway machine Denis Grebeshkov and career minor leaguer Will Acton, the son of associate coach Keith Acton, to the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.

To fill those gaping holes, and another to be determined, MacTavish summoned three players who may or may not belong on the roster of an actual NHL team by recalling Tom Renney remnant Corey Potter, fourth-line centre Anton Lander and 21-year-old defenseman Martin Marincin.

All three could be in the line-up when Oilers toss the welcome mat and their 3-9-0 home record at the Colorado Avalanche, assuming the Avs show up in the wake of these moves, at Rexall Place Thursday.

This makes the Oilers better how? Let us count the ways.


There is potential upside to any move that rids the Oilers of a ham-and-egger like Acton and Grebeshkov, who convinced MacT that his high-risk-almost-no-reward routine was worth gambling on at age 30 after three seasons of a whole bunch of nothing in the KHL, but in this case, it’s, well, limited.

At 9-18-2 through 29 games, the Oilers aren’t going anywhere in terms of a playoff race, so plugging Lander into Acton’s spot does no harm and gives MacTavish and coach Dallas Eakins another look at a player who could fill a spot as the team’s fourth-line centre down the road. Fine.

If it’s Potter for Grebeshkov, again, fine. It’s one third-pairing defenseman for another. Neither one gets a sniff of anything but the popcorn in the press box on a team with anything resembling an NHL caliber blue line corps, but that’s not the case here – which is the real problem.

Marincin? Again, with the Oilers not needing to trouble themselves with a playoff race, there’s no harm in taking a look and seeing how he stacks up. If Marincin struggles, which he no doubt will, send him back down to OKC. I do wonder who gets a seat for Marincin to get in. Jeff Petry, please, or it could be Anton Belov. We’ll know by game time.

To understate the obvious, none of the players coming or going are game-breakers or difference-makers. MacTavish won’t find any of those in-house. Simply put, he needs better hockey players than he’ll find in Oklahoma City or Edmonton right now. This, we know.

Until that happens, it’s women and children first.


. . . I heard Jordan Eberle use the term "pissed off" at least twice in post-game interviews after the Phoenix game. For all his talent, it would be nice to see Eberle actually play like he’s pissed off. Just once.

. . . Who on this roster is going to take the job when Andrew Ference gets worn down by standing up for his teammates by himself? David Perron? No. I like Perron’s edge, but he’s a yapper and an agitator — a smirk-and-skate-away guy when it gets heavy.

. . . While the buzz about the possible addition of an experienced coach to Eakins staff has quieted down, something tells me the search for a guy who fits the bill is ongoing. Just a hunch, of course.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • A-Mc

    Here’s a question to Oilers Nation:

    Question: Would you trade Petry for a younger (~26) version of Ference? Assume contract terms are equal to one another. We’re talking Player for Player.

  • S cottV

    Dont know how MacT pulls it off, but if Bryz is for real and signs beyond this year – 1 very good d man and 1 impact centreman would make a huge difference for the Oilers re a playoff run next year.

    More presence at centre is a must. Look at our Pacific division rivals and who is in the middle on the first two rotations,

    San Jose – Thorton 6-4″ 235 / Couture 6-1″ 200
    Canucks – Sedin 6-2″ 190 / Kesler 6-2″ 200
    Anaheim – Getzlaf 6-4″ 224 / Bonino 6-1″ 190
    Kings – Kopitar 6-3″ 225 / Stoll 6-1″ 213
    Oilers – RNH 6-1″ 185 / Gagner 5-11″ 200

    Combination of tenure, skill, weight, reach, playing style, and Oilers just dont match up in the middle.

    Add – no push from the back with a legit 1D and the hole in the middle is even more of an issue and equates to spending too much time in the wrong end of the rink. RNH and Gagner are both awful in the d zone. RNH will get better in time but a 20 year old should not be a 1C. Arco is more of the same – not the answer in top 2 lines, for a legit run at the playoffs next year.

    The strength of the hockey club is centred in high skill wingers – Hall, Eberle, Perron, Yakupov, Hemsky. On a team that struggles to play in the offensive zone, high end wingers are not going to produce at max potential. Wingers can certainly contribute to forward zone play but the lions share of this process comes from the back end and from the centreman.

    This @ss backwards imbalance is the biggest fault of Exec management re the 8 year rebuild. How do you let yourself be so shallow in goal, in the middle and in the back end – with 8 years to put the pieces together?

    • Puck JammeR!

      Size would be nice, but I think Chicago knocking off Boston in the SCF last year proved that skill can beat grit. The Oilers’ identity that they are trying to emulate is Chicago’s. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it per se. They do need a Duncan Keith though. Possession teams need a possession Dman. And they need to up their compete-level. Toews is not a big guy but he wins puck battles through a combination of skill and willpower.

  • oilerjed

    Anyone wonder if Maricin was called up instead of Fedun so he could be showcased? His name always seems to come up when talking pitch ins for trades.
    Vancouver is looking for scoring, any chance they take Hemsky off our hands for the rest of the year? They have one or two nhl ready dmen in their system.

  • oilerjed

    The Oilers are a terrible hockey team and will continue to be so until they address their terrible defence. All 4-6 dman playing as 1-4 dman. Until MacT addresses this, the oilers will be a bottom feeding team

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Pardon my interest for sure!

    Oiler Holes that we should be discussing:

    1. Defence. #1 and #2 positions are vacant and have been since Vishnovsky left. Petry and Schultz Jr. can’t fill in these spots. Belov & Ference are fine at 3-4 but should be 5-6.

    2. Coaching – players of all sizes can play bigger than they already are. This current coaching staff cannot motivate it’s players enough.

    3. Credibility on the 4th line. This is the smallest of all the issues but is important in the playoffs.

    4. Desperation. This comes to coaching and player personalities. Yak shows this but hasn’t yet learned to translate it into on-ice success.

    5. Goaltending. We have yet to see if Bryz can do it but Dub should be a backup. He’d be good at that.

    6. Sam Gagner – he’s redundant with Nuge & Arco in the lineup. Arco has a more complete game and costs MUCH less. Trade him before the NTC kicks in.

    7. Management. Enough Kool-Aid for the masses. Enough 4th line tweaks. This team needs the Defense and Goaltending to be dealt with. The rest of the year is garbage-time so now is the time to make ‘bold’ moves. Either that or wait til the trade-deadline to increase the perceived value of our assets.

    If the Oilers intend on being a cap-team, there will be plenty of room to add a top Dman and keep all the kids, if we want to.

    • Joe Mamma

      1. I think the only real option out there is Erhoff for a real top pairing guy. Is he the solution? I doubt it, but most other moves are pipe dreams without trading the core. Erhoff can probably be had for prospects and picks, although we may need to dump some salary for this season. And as you said, we will have the cap space to absorb his deal next year as the cap will be going up, and with the new tv deal some are pegging the cap to peak in the 90mil range eventually.

      2. I think Eakins is in over his head. My first preference would be to can him now, but if they really are set on him, then at least bring in a veteran associate. Would love to see new assitants too, but we all know how that ends.

      3. Meh. Small potatoes, relatively speaking.

      4. I don’t know what the coach can do here. I think we need more veteran leadership. And please don’t say Smyth and Hemsky are vets. I mean vets that actually know how to win.

      5. Think we’re stuck with what we have for now. Let’s hope Bryz can at least be a serviceable #1.

      6. Oh lord, please trade this guy before we are stuck with him. If there is a handshake deal not to do it before his NTC kicks in, then I think they have to seriously weigh the optics of breaking said deal, or being saddled with him and his ugly contract. Knife straight in the back gets my vote.

      7. Gordon and Perron were great moves. Gagner, Garbagekov, and Labarbera were terrible moves. I’d say MacT is sitting even or slightly in the negatives, and with all his promises in the off-season, that’s just not good enough. I think he needs to make a splash, preferably before christmas, or the natives will go from restless to disinterested in a hurry. The stands are already starting to get thinner, and I have visions of the early 90’s if things don’t improve before long. He can’t wait for the deadline. They need help now.

      • Admiral Ackbar

        Completely agree with you about Gags. The intangible con of breaking a verbal agreement needs to be weighed. I’m sure Gags wouldn’t mind going to a winning team anyway.

        I like the addition of Gordo, Perron, Belov & Ference. Gags, Grebers, Nuge’s contract (though I don’t mind the player, it was too early a contract, they could’ve signed him for less now given his fallible performance) & Labarbera are horrific dealings. MacT should be holding his head.

        I’d still look at moving a core member for a Dman. You’ve got to give up something to receive quality in return.

  • A-Mc

    We have a number of Pending UFA’s this summer. below are the guys i think the team will let go:

    Smyth (2.25M/yr)
    Hemsky (5M/yr)
    Potter (775k/yr)
    Labarbara (1M/yr)
    Grebeshkov (1.5M/yr)
    Eager (1.1M/yr)
    Stevie Mac (625k/yr)
    Omark (600k/yr)

    Total: $12.85 Million in cap space.

    I think they’ll re-sign Dubnyk, if they don’t trade him, for a lesser value than his current (3.5M/yr). And i think they’ll try to re-sign Bryz (if his play continues to be pretty decent) on a bridge contract type thing. I could almost see these 2 swapping salaries so we’ll call it a wash.

    So that means we’ll have a solid $12.85M extra over what we currently have + Cap increases, to spend on UFA’s. This summer could be the summer we spend $$ to buy a UFA or two.

    I’m going to take a look at what UFA’s are potentially available this summer.

    • Johnnydapunk

      I’m also thinking there is a lot that could go over the summer, quite a few RFA’s as well that could be up for debate. It’s sad to be looking up potential summer signings before the Christmas lights are even up, but I guess you can only say Fire 6Rings, Fire MacT, Fire Eakins, blow everything up so many times.

      All I am hoping for which I doubt will happen but I like surprises, is to see some major trade or firing to get excited over, something more then this pointing the deck chairs to the North or South as Brownlee has referred to.

      Meh, whatever happens, happens I guess.

  • Bucknuck

    Boy – everyone is freaking out. I did that when they lost 5-0 to the wings. The season is over. They have been winning more than they have been losing lately, so lets see the progression. Let’s see how they come back after being burned by the Blue Jackets.

    Bad D and Goaltending screwed the Oil AGAIN. We all know the weaknesses, and so does MacT. I think that there will be a solution in place before next season, and it remains to be seen if it works or not. Or if it stays healthy or not.

    For now, deck chairs moving around is fine, but by next season I want to see something happen to fix the #1 D and Goaltending problems. The Perron trade was a good example of getting rid of what we don’t need and bringing in what we do (feisty players). This should be fun. Relax.

  • pkam

    They have been a horrible team for so many years now. Nothing really changes.

    Senior management thinks it knows how to win. Look at the results

    If I was an Owner I would try to win. The machine has been broken for years.

  • ValleyviewSports

    Schultzes, if they are in fact playing together will probably get the most minutes… and will have to both have the best games of their careers if we hope to need less than 5 goals to win.

    • Joe Mamma

      yep, right on the money. what a little difference those additions made… ACTUALLY I thought potter and marincin looked like two of the better d-man last night, and lander seemed to play pretty well also.

      yep, what a sinking ship, with a new coach and pretty much the youngest team in the league we can only beat the Av’s (who were 19-6-0) by a score of 8-2.

      eat it all u crybabies who think you know hockey, don’t think there will be room for you in the cup parade

  • Joe Mamma

    Showing pushback is more important then a PP once in awhile because when you don’t guys like Garbut are allstars.

    The Ference comment is a top 10 dumnest comment on thr site cause the fundemental issue of yhis team is pushback not size. Chicago verses Boston was classic David verses Goliath last year. How many skilled .players threw hits againsy Boston. So when Ference stands up and sends a message hes doing what he is suppose to do. Two powerplays woopty ding.

    Ference is a 4/5, That is what his role was in Boston. We dissect every player when mistake.happen. Yes he overpaid, yes the he should not be captain, but hes a legit NHL defencemen we are lucky to have.

    Those wanting to trade Eberle. Guys producing and were ragdolling him. He has a good plus minus, a good corsi relative to the teams overall position is putting up decent two way play. Hate to see this team without him or Perron. 

    This team has two many TO machines in Hall, Yak, Hemsky, Gagner. To me thats where the issue. Not saying you trade all of them, but you can’t have so many one dimensional players with holes defensively.