BUILDING A WINNER

The Oilers, and specifically GM Craig MacTavish, must devise a plan on how to build a winner. It is clear the Oilers aren’t any closer to winning now than they were last year or the year before. The coaching carousel has led to instability and new systems which hasn’t helped, but the current roster is not built to win. I’m curious to know how MacTavish plans to build this team, so that eventually they become competitive sometime this decade.

There is no guaranteed path to success, but every successful franchise maintains some core values and a solid foundation.
Do the Oilers know what their foundation is?
Do they have core values?

MacTavish has only been in charge for eight months, so it is too early to say if his plan is working, but he has shown a willingness to share parts of his plan with his fan base. He wanted to make bold moves this past summer, and while some of his moves were solid, none of them registered very high on the "Bold" scale.

I believe the biggest challenge for MacTavish is to create an identity for the Oilers. They don’t have one, and they haven’t had one for years.

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Teams like Red Wings, Penguins, Blackhawks and Sharks are skilled and responsible defensively.

The Kings and Ducks are built on size.
The Canucks have skill, but they are chippy, chirpy and aggravating.
The Bruins are big, tough, rugged and skilled.

The great teams all possess different qualities of course, but most of them have one obvious trait.

Right now the Oilers identity seems to be based on youth, and that is not a recipe for success.

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CHIARELLI….

I had the chance to speak with Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli when the Bruins were in town last week, and we started off asking him about his philosophy on how to build a winning team? (my thoughts will be in italics)

Chiarelli: For me it’s about finding character guys and sometimes you have to sacrifice in other areas, other playing attributes, even skill. You can’t ignore skill; it’s a very important component of building a hockey team. I like to say to our scouts, ‘find character in skilled guys, they express their character in other ways, not traditionally, like a huge puck battle or a huge hit or those kinds of traditional ways you’re used to seeing. 

That’s really the common denominator. A sometimes guys that don’t buy in, you have to move guys like that and sometimes you have to sacrifice some skill for character. So that’s kind of what we try to do. Sometimes as a result of that we lose a little bit of speed and I always seem to be trying to find more speed, either in how we play or in personnel. So, we don’t have a magic formula, we just get good guys that want to play and compete hard, and have a good goalie. [Laughs] 

***He mentioned sometimes you have to sacrifice skill for character. You wonder if he was referring to Tyler Seguin, however, that philosophy is exactly what MacTavish will need to emulate in the not to distant future. It is evident that having a lot of offensive skill is great, but if you don’t have a good blueline or complementary players surrounding your skill, it is extremely difficult to win.***

Gregor: When you came over from Ottawa and took over, you signed free agent Zdeno Chara. You guys didn’t have instant success right away, but was your plan to build around him?  

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Chiarelli: I wanted a defensive pillar more or less. A dominant defensive player and then we were fortunate in Boston, and that certainly was no plan of mine, was that when [Tim] Thomas started hitting his peak later in his career. That gave us two significant defensive players, but following the first year I had to fire Dave Lewis, a very good defensive coach.

I was fortunate that Tim was hitting his peak, that Claude (Julien) was available and that we had one of the best defensive players in the league in Chara. So you have a large part of your team and concept already in place. Those were kind of our stepping stones. [Patrice] Bergeron was already there, a terrific two way player and so the two-way component, the character component was largely in place, or at least the majority of it was in place in the beginning years.

***Chiarelli is being very humble. Bringing in Chara solidified the foundation for this team. Without him, I doubt the Bruins become the dominant team we see today.*** 

Gregor: The Bruins have drafted many of your core guys in Bergeron, [Milan] Lucic, [Brad] Marchand and [David] Krejci,  but interestingly enough on your back end, aside from Dougie Hamilton, you built through trades and free agency. Was that by design, or is that just how it worked out. How come you seem to build your team forwards within the draft, but build your blueline through trades and free agency? 

Chiarelli: You have to draft well and use those pieces as either pieces in your team or pieces to acquire other pieces. I think when they dissect our team; you see a lot of the trades that we’ve made. A lot of the trades that we’ve made, we’ve either used draft picks or drafted players. We’ve had to draft well so that those players have some value.  

On the defensive side, I’m just going back over my head acquisitions after… [Dennis] Seidenberg is a player that we really tracked and wanted because of his hardness. And [Adam] McQuaid was an earlier trade, but you can say that we drafted him because he was still in junior when we got him.  

I don’t know if it was planned out, but maybe we didn’t have those defensive players and out of necessity we had to look harder to find those types of players. You make due with what you have, you work hard and where you think you can find those players. Traditionally drafting and keeping those players is the ideal way, and every GM wants to do that, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

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***Chiarelli has moved Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin out of Boston. Those are two very skilled players, but the Bruins are still one of the best teams in the league. He isn’t afraid to make tough decisions.*** 

Brownlee: I’m wondering in the case of Chara was there some cross over between your time in Ottawa and Boston where you knew something specific about him, and were you feeling pretty good that he would become the dominant force he is? 

Chiarelli: I always go by the rule that, maybe I don’t always apply it, but I try to, that if you are going to sign guys to long terms and big amounts of money you want to know him. I worked in Ottawa and I was a part of the group that acquired Chara in a trade, so I know him very, very well, so certainly I felt comfortable recommending that we sign him. It turned out to be the right move.

***He had the luxury of knowing Chara personally before signing him, and I think it is fair to say that Steve Tambellini’s free agent track record was awful. MacTavish’s has been better, Ference and Gordon, but not perfect, and I think the Oilers need to do a better job when it comes to acquiring NHL veterans. 

Do the Oilers have an organizational philosophy? Do they know what type of players and people they want to bring in? Prior to MacTavish’s hiring it looked like they didn’t. I’m curious to see if MacTavish and Eakins will move out some players this season/summer who don’t fit with their plans. They will need to make some tough decisions, and start building a foundation, because right now there doesn’t seem to be one in place.***
 

Gregor: Jay Feaster being fired in Calgary might impact Boston because a lot of people are speculating about one of your right hand men, Jim Benning, Give us some insight on him. I know that you wouldn’t want to lose him, but most great organizations usually lose guys in those positions to other organizations. What’s his best asset in a management role? What has he done to help you guys out the most in Boston? 

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Chiarlelli: I’ll address is the first part of your question, and I think that’s a very accurate statement. It’s a compliment to us that they are calling on these guys and we have another one in Don Sweeney who is entirely capable of being a manager in this league. It attracts better younger people to our group. Specifically on Jim, it’s been a lot about gaining experience. He’s obviously an Edmonton boy and I went to school with his brother Mark, I know the Bennings very well.

He has an uncanny book of players. He sees players in a very good way for team building. He understands character, he understands projections, he’s spent a lot of time amateur scouting, he played a significant role in helping us to build our team, he understands how players fit, he understands that you’re not always going to get a perfect player.

That’s the most important thing that most managers know is that you are not ever going to get a perfect player. So you have to see where those assets are going to fit into your group. He is a very trusted component of our management group; I have a lot of respect for Jim. He’d be a good addition anywhere.

***Winning teams usually provide good people for other franchises. Many people believe Benning is ready to be a GM, and I won’t be surprised if he is a finalist for the next few jobs that become available.*** 

Brownlee: Peter, curious about what you would consider the kind of resume that makes for a successful GM. We have former players that go on and become GM. Some are successful, some are not. You have a law background, and with Ottawa you were an assistant GM for two years and spent five years as part of the front office. What part of your background do you feel has served you the best during your tenure as General Manager? 

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Chiarelli: I think just the ability to have experience in all facets of the game. Obviously I have a certain skill set that not every GM does, but I know a lot of GMs that can do what I do just as well by the legal side of it, meaning the problem solving we can see and all of that stuff.

My experience has just been contracts, arbitration, scouting and free agent signing and all of those things have given me the ability to have gain experience. I think that is very important. There is not one specific model that’s good. I know a lot of GMs that never had the education that I had, that are smarter than me. These guys have experience and they just have street smarts. I think you need to recognize your weakness, recognize your strength and work hard. For me the experience I’ve learned breaths patience, because you see things in history repeat themselves. 

WRAP UP…

It is obvious that Chiarelli likes big, heavy, skilled players, but he also wants guys who are strong two-way players. He admitted he’d like to inject some more speed into his lineup so expect him to do that before the trade deadline. As he said there is no perfect formula, but Chiarelli has built his team around Chara, and he brings in players who fit their style.

MacTavish won’t be able to build the Oilers to mirror the Bruins size and truculence, but he needs to have a vision and plan for the future and stick with it.

The Oilers need some stability within their organization. They need to find an identity, and they need to find players that fit what they want for the future. They can’t continue to build their team solely around small, skilled forwards. You obviously need skill within your lineup, but the Oilers need to recognize that no team wins with just skill, and the harsh reality is that the Oilers skilled players aren’t significantly better than the skilled players on the elite teams.

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The Oilers need more than just skill to win; they need to create an identity.

DAY 12…MONTH OF GIVING…

Big thanks to Larry for bidding and to the Eskimos for supplying Friday’s VIP package.

Today we have three packages up for grabs.

Package #1:

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  • An XBox One…Courtesy of Etelligent Solutions.
    It comes with: Console, Kinect sensor, wireless controller, one chat headset and wireless networking capability.

Package #2:

  • A $500 prepaid American Express gift card
  • A pair of Club seats (section 134, row 13) to the Oiler/Flames game on March 2nd.
  • Courtesy of the good people at Etelligent Solutions.

 PACKAGE #3

  • Four tickets in the Crystal Glass suite (main concourse) on January 21st.
  • Includes two parking passes and complimentary food and beverages.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go to Santas Anonymous.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 


      • Ducey

        One guy has 16 pts (he is on pace for 39 over 82 games). The other has 29 (he is on pace for 68).

        One guy has a had a career high of 27 pts one season. The other’s highest point total in a season was 76.

        I sure hope your real name isn’t MacTavish.

        • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

          I hate to speak out of turn, but if I could hazard a guess:

          One guy is a solid, defensively responsible, big, strong, affordable center. The Oilers desperately need depth at center and need bigger/defensively competent players.

          The other guy is a $6 million/year, undersized winger with sick hands but no grit or defensive awareness to his game. The Oilers already have too many of this type of player.

          That being said, and even if Eberle is a better player than Couturier, I honestly doubt that Philly would make this deal as they’d need help to get under the cap with Eberle’s $6 million salary.

          • Ducey

            Couturier is as you say. But he is more Boyd Gordon than an elite player.

            You don’t trade elite players for defensive players.

            Anyway, the notion that “the Oilers already have too many of this type of player” ignores the alternatives.

            Hemsky likely will be gone in 2 months. Gagner likely will not be around in 2 years.

            That leaves Eberle, Hall, Nuge and Yak. Even assuming they are the same (they are not). Thats hardly too many.

          • Randaman

            Not sure if this trade idea has been discussed but what about Eberle for Jordan Stall?
            Props for yes
            Give Stall some sick talent to play with and there’s your second line center/penalty killer

          • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

            I think we’re mostly on the same page. I agree that Hemsky’s gone at the deadline and if Gag’s play doesn’t turn around, then he shouldn’t be in the long term plans either. For the record, I do think that Couturier is more “elite player” then he is Boyd Gordon. I expect that as his career progresses, he’ll show more of the talent that had many scouts ranking him 1st overall early in his draft year. It’s still too soon to tell if his offensive game will round into form, but at some point the Oilers will have to trade elite skill for elite 2-way play to build a winner. In my opinion, acquiring size, functional toughness, and defensive ability exclusively via free-agency and the draft just isn’t feasible.

            Anyhow, as someone said above, I think a lot of Edmontonians overestimate their players. The point I was mainly trying to get at is that Eberle’s trade value as a 1-2nd line dangling winger who makes $6 million/year without having much of a 2 way game may not get the return that a lot of fans want right now. In a couple years when the cap goes up, Ebs might look like a hell of a bargain compared to a guy like Phil Kessel though…

    • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

      Why would Philly do this?

      Coburn has a modified NTC so he may not even want to come to Edmonton and with that deal Philly would be taking on about $5 million in salary.

      They’d be swapping about $5.5 million per year with Coburn and Couturier for about $9.5 million per year for Hemsky and Gags. Sure, a lottery pick (and maybe 1st overall) is a nice sweetener, but for a team that’s up against the cap, I don’t see how it makes sense unless Edmonton retained significant amounts of Gagner and/or Hemsky’s salaries.

  • Ducey

    The Bruins can have all the character, size and truculance they want, but if they don’t have Chara playing 30 minutes a night, they wouldn’t be nearly as successful.

    If fact, you plunk Chara on the Oilers, and they are a playoff team.

  • Jason Gregor

    I think trading yak for Clarkson would be an awful idea.id rather pursue a more affordable steve ott, id pick up Clarkson for a 3rd or 2nd but not yak.

    I could see a trade like

    liles, Clarkson
    for
    jones, hemsky, 4th

  • Ducey

    Hall is not a leader type, nor the franchise player. He is best suited as the compliment. Eberle should be traded because his value is high and the guy is a more individual player than a team player. Nuge is a franchise player, he needs more time. Yak needs time. Schultz junior has no balls. He also pretends to be a d-man. Definitely use him as trade bait. The Oil should flip next years pick and get a no. 1 d-man or a big 2nd line center who is a 2 way player with a mean streak. Also see how Bryz plays overall and go from there. Then again Kevin Lowe still has a job with this team so I just wasted a few minutes of my life. BTW great article Gregor.

  • Sean17

    I love watching him, but Eberle is the one that has to go. He will net the biggest return. Also, he has never been a “winner” like Hall. Those Regina teams he was on were awful but, had some talent that should have overcome the shortcomings. But instead Eberle and Weal enjoyed great personal success but no team success. It’ll be the same as trading Kessel or Seguin. Not great on paper but, better on ice.

  • reaperfunkss

    Jason, I hate to keep contradicting you because I really enjoy you as a writer, and value many of your opinions. To say certain teams are bigger than others, is simply just wrong though. I can find an article from January of 2013 listing average team weight by James Mirtle. http://mirtle.blogspot.ca/2013/01/2013-nhl-teams-by-weight-height-and-age.html

    Anaheim 203.3
    Boston 200.0 (26th)
    Buffalo 203.1
    Calgary 195.5
    Carolina 200.5
    Chicago 203.0 (20th)
    Colorado 205.9
    Columbus 204.5
    Dallas 197.2
    Detroit 201.2
    Edmonton 203.8 (16th)
    Florida 201.2
    Los Angeles 209.7 (2nd)
    Minnesota 199.7
    Montreal 197.3
    Nashville 205.4
    New Jersey 204.5
    NY Islanders 200.3
    NY Rangers 206.1
    Ottawa 206.8
    Philadelphia 202.7
    Phoenix 204.2
    Pittsburgh 203.3
    San Jose 210.7 (1st)
    St. Louis 205.8
    Tampa Bay 206.2
    Toronto 204.8
    Vancouver 204.0
    Washington 208.0
    Winnipeg 207.3

    Average 203.5

    Some of your examples are right, SJ and BOS were the 2 heaviest teams in the league last year, and were successful. Teams 3,4,and 5 were WAS, WIN, and OTT which were unsuccessful. But I’m not going to come here and argue whether size means success as that is not the point.

    As of last year in this compilation, Oilers were 16th in the league in size. We were an average sized team in the league, of this, is pretty impressive since we are such a young team (in which young players take time to put on weight).

    You mention Chicago and Boston being big teams, but according to this, they are both a lighter team than the Oilers. I just find it interesting if a team has a couple big impactful players, that this heavily sway opinions of the entire team being an above average sized team.

    • Jason Gregor

      The problem with that it takes the average of the team, and it might even include the goalies.

      Look at the players who play the most in Edmonton, compared to LA, ST.L, SJ and Ana.

      The Oilers top line is small compared to all of those teams key star forwards.

      Look at the current Oilers blueline. Potter is the biggest, and he plays the smallest.

      Watch the Oilers in both ends. Watch how easily they get knocked off the puck in O zone, and how rarely they do that to opposing forwards in the D zone.

      I never said Chicago was big, I said they were skilled.

      Boston is bigger than the Oilers, and even their shorter players, Marchand, play big and hard.

      If you actually believe that size chart, then you should be even more annoyed at how soft the Oilers play, but to me that is a very misleading chart.

      None of the Oilers main minute eaters are big, except Petry, and he doesn’t play overly physical.

      You need to dive deeper into that and it is clear to see the Oilers don’t come close to matching up with SJ, LA, ST.L, Ana etc..

      • Ducey

        Gregor,

        Not trying to be argumentative, but did the Oiler’s lose last night because of a lack of size? The Ducks got three goals, all off bad reads defensively by the Oilers. Its not like some giant just plowed through the Oilers.

        I expect that any of those goals could have been prevented by more experience and better defensive play.

        Its the same story most games.

          • Ducey

            I am suggesting that size is not the simple answer to what the problem is.

            The get bigger, more “character”, more truculant crowd sees these as the simple answer. As with most things, there is some complexity involved.

            If the Oilers added Chris Letang, Zach Parise and Erik Karlsson to the lineup they would get smaller and less gritty but would be a pretty good team. Agree?

            The Bruins have an elite defender who eats massive minutes against other teams best players in the most important situations. In fact, their group in their Cup year wasn’t that big either. They had guys like Seguin, Krejci, Marchand, Savard, Kelly, Campbell all play prominant roles. Their defence had Ference and Seidenberg who are hardly killers.

            The Oilers need to add some more size and grit to be an elite team, but size isn’t keeping them from being a playoff team. Its inexperience, no defensive conscience and a lack of goaltending.

          • Jason Gregor

            Savard never played in their Cup run, Seguin dressed for 13 of 25 games.

            Please show me one player on the Oilers who plays hard like Marchand? He doesn’t play small.

            Seidenberg is extremely hard to play against. Stop focusing on height and weight. It is comical that you think the Bruins weren’t a big team. No one said the Oilers need every player to be big, but then NEED SOME..IT is a fact. It is obvious when they play. If you don’t see this, then I truly question what games you have been watching and how you assess a team.

            Campbell plays aggressive. That is playing big. IT ISN’T JUST ABOUT SIZE.

            And you forgot to mention that the Bruins had:
            Chara, Boychuk, McQuaid, Lucic, Horton, Bergeron, Thornton, Ryder…Big, heavy players. Some who played physical, and others who lean on you.

            Please tell me how the Oilers could add those three players (Parise, Karlsson, Letang) and still maintain their core group? It wouldn’t happen, so it isn’t a realistic argument.

            Your insistence to believe that the Oilers only need more skill to win is incorrect. All their players are the same, they don’t need more of the same.

            The teams that win have skill, but they have size and toughness. The Oilers have none of the latter, and their skill is not as good as the elite teams. The Oilers have no dominant two-way forwards in their top six. Cup winning teams do.

            Keep believing the Oilers can win with just skill. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            Jason….some fans will never be convinced that playing big matters…..they honestly believe that Sam Gagner plays big for his size. They don’t get the difference between the physicality of Sam Gagner vs a Peter Foresberg. Samwise is 5’11” tall and 202 lbs…..Forsberg was 6′ tall and 205 lbs……Forsberg was one of the hardest guys in the NHL to separate from the puck….Samwise rarely wins a puck battle and spends an inordinate amount of time on his knees or butt.

            Forsberg played big.

            There’s the old saying in NHL circles….big and skilled beats small and skilled.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            Funny fact from the 2011 finals (since we are talking about the Bruins)…

            The Canucks were actually the bigger team. (I know its counterintuitive based on how we all remember that series, but go back and check the lineup sheets if you don’t believe me)

            Only by a couple of pounds and half an inch on average, but keep in mind that Chara was skewing the Bruins’ average all by himself, lol

            Like you said, its not just BEING big, its PLAYING big.

          • reaperfunkss

            Keep believing the Oilers can win with this management group. It hasn’t happened and it won’t happen.

            Good point gregor just replace your last 2 sentences with my first 2.

            EDIT Actually don’t replace them just add mine

      • That is a fair enough point, but it would be nice if clarified when you were writing. You can’t clarify the Oilers as a small team as that is simply wrong. If you want to say the Oilers top 6 is small, you probably have a point.

        My question is, the Oilers top line, or top 3 players, let’s just say it’s Hopkins(180lbs), Hall(201lbs), Eberle(180lbs). So you are implying we need to get rid of one of these. Let’s assume Eberle or RNH because they are undersized. So which one do we get rid of, and what kind of return are you expecting to get?

        It’s just people want to say let’s get bigger without subtracting. Is it just not politically correct for you to come out in an article and say “WE NEED TO GET RID OF HOPKINS OR EBERLE TO WIN?” Is that not really possible for you to say being so close to the team?

        • reaperfunkss

          I think people are missing the point here when size comes up. I don’t want to put words in his mouth but I think Gregor’s point is look at our team as a whole. Yes, average size wise we’re probably in the middle of the league. But who on our team plays with any physicality? Usually players with size = more physical play but we also know there are plenty of exceptions (Penner and Paajarvi anyone). Then you look at a guy like Perron, who is not a big guy by any definition yet he has the ability to get under the skin of other teams. That should be the point here. We don’t need coke machines to hit everything that moves, but we need more players who will push back, aren’t afraid of going into the boards or pushing an opposing player into them. We don’t need more weight, we need guys who use whatever size they have to push back.

        • Jason Gregor

          I’ve said for over a year they need to get rid of one of the four kids, and likely 89 and others. This isn’t new for me.

          The Oilers play small. Size and weight doesn’t mean they use it.

          Arcobello is the smallest forward on the team and likely the most aggressive on the forecheck.

          I’ve been saying it and writing it for years. The Oilers minute eaters are small, and they play small. They have no size on their backend.

          The Oilers have no forwards in their top-six who are over 200 pounds or 6’2″. It seems pretty obvious that they aren’t big enough, so I don’t feel it is necessary to state that every time.

    • isense7en

      Yes, but that doesnt change the fact that the oil are soft as butter out there. Finish a(@*#&@ check, clear out the front of the net,drive to the net instead of t-dragging or forcing a pass to the middle, and start standing up for your teammates.

    • Zarny

      You can’t be serious? Average team weights? Good grief, you completely miss the point.

      The game isn’t played by 12 players of average weight and height. When it comes down to it the game is nothing but a series of 1 on 1 match-ups.

      It’s not about weight. “Size” is a euphemism. It’s about diversity. It’s about the ability to be effective in different ways. It’s about being able to score in different ways.

      The Oilers don’t play an average weight of 200 lbs in Bos. They play Milan Lucic. He’s 6’4″ 220 lbs and if he doesn’t have a step on the D he can say ph*ck it, drop his shoulder and go nuclear through the crease.

      Anh, LA, Chi and SJ…they have guys like Getzlaf, Perry, Carter, Bickell, Thornton. They are all 6’3″ or 6’4″ 230 lbs. They can play physical against D like Chara and Weber. They can drive the slot and score goals in ways and in areas that not a single top 6 F Oiler can.

      Every single top 6 F Oiler is smaller than the average NHL forward. They are literally the same type of player; all between 5’11”-6’1″ and none weigh more than 205 lbs.

      Sure some skate a bit faster, shoot a bit harder or have a niftier toe drag…whatever. They all play the same way. They all score the same type of goals on the same type of chances. They all get shutdown by the exact same game plan.

      That alone necessitates swapping out 1-2 players in the top 6 F. The Oilers will never, ever play for the Stanley Cup with the current top 6 F because they’d never win 4 playoff series with them.

      Add to it the fact that the Oilers are not going to get a top pairing D or elite G for middle of the road prospects and 1st round draft picks. One of the kids will need to be included and that’s fine. We have 4 of them.

  • Jason Gregor

    Step away from the ledge folks.
    We need three things: a number 1 d-man, some top 6 grit and better goaltending.

    So trade the top 10 pick we have this year for the best availble d-man, get the top 6 vet grit via best available UFA.

    Bottom 6 grit can be signed or traded for fairly easily, don’t trade a potenital 40 goal scorer for a guy cause he’s tall.

    Resign Bryz, or look for other best available UFA. Scout Europe like mad for some 1b goalies.

    If all else fails trade Yakupov next fall for a #1 dman or a goalie package.

    Our first line is 5-8 years away from their prime, so either be patient or go crazy…

    • Spydyr

      “Our first line is 5-8 years away from their prime, so either be patient or go crazy…”

      Teows won his first cup at 22 Crosby was younger.Your argument for waiting eight more years is asinine.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      People forget the main key in that UFA comment, the Oilers will get no quality UFA’s to sign here. They will get the old fringe UFA’s like Andrew Ference and that is all. The Oilers will be unable to improve their team via UFA so only way to do it is trade key pieces. Only two names that cannot be dealt are RNH and Taylor Hall, the rest are up for the right price. Oh ya that 34 year old fringe UFA Ference cant be moved either because some how he got a NTC