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 


  • isense7en

    The ISS ranking came out today and Sam Rheinhart is listed number 1. He 6 feet and 185 lbs. Too small? How about Ekblad? 6’3.

    If the Oilers finish in the 29/30 position and they somehow win the lottery and pick first what in your mind is the right move to make.

    1. Make the pick
    2.Trade the pick for a proven player
    3.Trade the pick and a combination of players for the big fish.

    I for one would not trade the pick.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      Can you believe we are even talking 1st pick over all-AGAIN. This organization has got to rank as worst in history of NHL. This for sure has to be a barometer of Management. Really, until it changes from the top we will continue to be toilet bowl dwellers. Quite honestly I’m getting sick and tired of talking about this knowing nothing will change. Klowe will change coaches and managers but in fact he is the real cancer. He and current management can not asses and show any knowledge of assembling the right pieces for a winning team. Instead they throw huge dallars at players and then make them untradeable. Management has made such a mess of assembling the right mix and to compound the problem they over valuate and over pay their players.
      They really need to stop the insanity !

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

      It’s a mistake to speak in absolutes…..”would not trade the pick”…..

      You wouldn’t trade that pick for Sidney Crosby…..?

      All Oilers players ARE up for trade…..if the price is right!

  • Spoils

    we live in a bubble. We got first round picks, but we didn’t get a Sydney Crosby or a Wayne Gretzky.

    The guys are good and are going to be great, but we have SOOOOO much work to do.

    Can’t stop thinking about what a Pronger was able to deliver for us.

    Which #1D can we pluck from a team that needs scoring. We need someone who is 23-25, young but a true #1.

    Not really sure who I wouldn’t trade for that.

    Nurse and Klefbom are 2-4yrs away from dominating, if they make it. That is A LOT of losing.

    • Ducey

      Shattenkirk is a player I would be very interested in targeting, or even better Pietrangelo. Eberle is a solid two way player and under the Blues system could probably excel as a responsible two way player. A package cetnered around Eberle for Pietrangelo. I do it in a heartbeat.

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        “Eberle is a solid two way player…”

        Did I just read that right? WOW. Turn on the TV and watch a few games. He is the laziest guy on the ice most night when it comes to back-checking. Its usually either him or Yak.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Shattenkirk? Blues already have JayBo and Pietrangelo. maybe they could use Eberle? they might be losing UFA Steen at the end of the season and would need to replace him.

  • Zarny

    Good article. The problem with the Oilers rebuild is they are stuck on square 1 – draft skilled players.

    Regarding team identity it’s a bit of chicken and egg thing. You can have a vision in mind but I think Chiarelli nailed it…you have to work with what you have and what’s available.

    Bos are big, tough and skilled partly because Chara happened to be available that year. If Chara wasn’t available Bos might have a much different identity.

    Likewise, Anh and LA are built on size because that is what their core players like Getzlaf, Perry, Brown, Kopitar, etc are suited for. You can’t really build a team based on size with a core of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Crosby, Malkin, Toews and Kane.

    I think the key is that all contenders have the right mix of players. What your core group lacks you go out and get.

    I think MacT’s path forward is two-fold:

    1) Bold moves – the Oilers lack a couple of big pieces: a top pairing D or two, a 50-60 pt power F and an elite G.

    That’s literally 3-4 players and won’t be easy. The Oilers overall identity depends on who is available.

    2) Depth moves – In parallel to the bold moves, MacT needs to go out get what the Oilers lack: size, strength, experience and two-way playing ability. Basic NHL depth at all positions.

    The kids are young so get some NHL vets with solid 2-way games for the 3-4th line. Get a blueline that isn’t less experienced than the #1 draft picks.

    Gordon and Ference were good additions. Go get 8 more like them.

  • S cottV

    I really think the organization is haunted by it’s success in the 80’s, can’t let it go and will never be able to replicate it.

    Wayne – Mark and the “boys on the bus” were a special group of guys at a very different and long ago time.

    This gets in the way of picking an identity, that may be very different from its past, in order to win consistently and to be a contender.

    • reaperfunkss

      Need to clear out the glory days completely I think. A true new start. Other than Tambo all management of hockey has been directly tied to the 80’s. And I never got the impression that Tambo was anything but a puppet for lowe to hide behind.

      The glory days are completely irrelevant to this century and we need a whole new mindset at the top.

  • 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.

  • Ducey

    Rubbish.
    Look no further than to fire the two assclown assistant coaches. Then you’ll see a world of positives. The solution is sometimes so simple.
    Can’t do much about Lowe. I guess he won’t go…

    • Jason Gregor

      Bang on . Funny how Tambi was allowed to fire the training staff but Eakins can’t pick is own assistants because they are 6 Rings and MacT ‘s boys. Maybe I’m wrong but isn’t it the role of assistants to help implement systems , to teach and develop . Dumb and Dumber must be so good at their jobs they outlast numerous head coaches . And it’s always their names front and Center when other teams need a head coach .

      Pair of charity cases. Give Eakins the tools to succeed not a pair of Tools. And get some NHL players in here.

  • Gregor those are excellent questions, I would love to hear Mac T’s responses??

    I will say that the vision articulated by Klowe are well documented and he stated some years ago, that the new rules of the NHL ( interference, clutching, grabbing) were going to usher in smaller, faster, players. He has mentioned that large hockey players will no longer command the attention at draft time.

    Fast forward to today, and it seems that skill/speed is something that we still follow, whereas Stanely Cup contending teams have gone after skill/size. There are very few hockey players that have all three skill/speed/size.

    In my mind we are still fixated on smaller faster players and until this focus changes………no amount of core values/vision will change things.

    These clowns will never admit to a vision, because they have none! In spite of the fact most people like Mac T, ( myself included) he is still learning on the job.

    Talk about vision ( and not afraid to state it clearly) ask Brian Burke, like him or not that man has a vision!!

    • Alsker

      What makes you think next year will be any different? MacT has stated the core group are not up for trade, Gags has his NMC, so what changes? Free agency will bring us midlevel over paid NHLers here for the coin only. “To infibuild and beyond”!!

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Well I expect (desperately hope?) MacT will make some moves in the off season to acquire some actual NHL players. Which would hopefully move them out of the bottom 3, which would eliminate any chance of winning the lottery, thereby eliminating them from the McDavid sweepstakes. I don’t expect a massive leap forward, but just enough to screw themselves out of the wunderkid.

        Kinda like what happened with Mackinnon.

  • 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

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Gregor

    I would love to see a similar article with MAcT as the interview-ee. It’s interesting and disturbing that you can get an in depth interview with the Boston GM, but we never get anything of substance from the Oil brass.

  • I tried it at home

    Im sitting watching the Detroit Lions on MNF. It occured to me that I had been working with some Detroit travel cards when Matt Millen was announced as fired as their GM. I still remember how they acted like Santa hsd just dropped by. God knows its such a better team now.It would be ironic if anyone from Detroit was around if/when Ol’ 6 rings get cut. Hey, how many rings did Millen have?

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

    What worries me the most is MacT’s comment about J Schultz being as good as anyone on this team!! I already watched Marc-Andre Bergeron play, and i wasnt impressed

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Is having a new GM and Coach just another excuse for our cellar dweller club ? Yes, I.m afraid it is . We have had enough results to recognize this is another futile attempt for our club to become competitive in the new NHL Specifically , all the top 4 draftees along with Schultz , Gagner , Smyth and Hemsky . I don’t buy that we will get upper NHL level with the fab4-5 as they think they will . Results say/show they won’t . Over pays on Gordon and Ference look to be premature at this time , and Ference will likely be done before we get competitive .

  • I can’t see the Oilers getting rid of any of the kids, as a GM of a franchise that has the worst 5×5 team offence is paramount, getting rid of offence for defence is just re-arranging the deck chairs.

    I honestly cannot see the Oilers selling low on any of the kids. Looking around the league I can’t see too many #1 defensemen that would be on the block ether.

    It all leads me to believe the reason the Oilers have done only minor mid season dumps and deals is the obvious.

    They may deal the 1st overall, but got a gut feeling the Oilers are going Whale hunting this year!

    I honestly think the Oilers are going to be ultra aggressive during the opening hours of UFA season.

    If they don’t get a # 1 goalie, a top pairing defensemen and tough hard skill players then you will see the Oilers start trading some of the kids.

    Even after they secure some of these UFA’s I would still wager some kids being shipped out.

    Odds on favourite would be Gagner & Yakupov.

    • Crackenbury

      Go look at the FA list of defensemen and tell me who you think we should sign. Beyond Phaneuf and Boyle(36years old). Both will be resigned. Who on that list would you sign. I see only one. Lovejoy from Anaheim.

      Those who think some team out there is going to give up a 1-2 dman for Yakupov or Eberle are dearly mistaken.

      This is a painful process folks and it is not going to improve until the Oilers draft the players they need to fill those roles.

      Don’t let Gregor fill your head with visions of trades for players that other teams need as badly as we do. This isn’t Lets make a deal. The real world doesn’t see a GM trade a NHL player with size and grit and scoring ability for one that does not have size and grit.

      Until the Oilers can begin to identify and bring in those types of players we’ll be spinning our wheels.

      We had a shot at Courtier.We choose elsewise. The jury is still out. But when you look at the 2014 draft the number 1 rated player is comparable to RNH.6ft 185.Skilled. Is that the guy we want to draft? Or do we trade down to get a bigger less skilled player? Which has the bigger longterm value?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I go hard after Subban, if Montreal feels they cant afford his 7 mil contract. He just reminds me of Pronger just not as tall.

    1st pick, Shultz jr, and prospect for Subban

    Eberle or Yak and a prospect for Kane(or somebody like him)

    The Oilers have roughly 35mil going into next season, time to spend MacT.

    I thought Gagner had a NMC after this season. does that kick in July 1 or at the beginning of next season? Anyone?

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

        This idea got 8 trashes and no props……which is interesting because it shows just how much Oilers fans are prospect junkies like Lowetide is. We put more value in “potential” than we do in a young Norris Trophy winner.

        This is very telling. I doubt that Montreal makes that deal today. It might come down to what spot/ number the pick is and who’s available with that pick.

        • Crackenbury

          I make that trade if I’m in position to make a push for the cup. No way I make it today with the Oilers near the bottom. Giving up way too much for a good, but not franchise player that won’t change much in the short term. By the time the Oilers are contenders Nurse is potentially as good as Subban, not to mention still having a top 3 pick from this years draft and J Shultz.

          I’d rather see some of the current top 6 move out. The current mix will never work together and the returns should be equivalent skill players, only with a different skill set.

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

            Respectfully, this is exactly the “prospect junkie” attitude that I’m talking about. PK Subban is a Norris trophy Winner…at a very young age. Darnel Nurse may or may not be a top pairing NHL Dman. Right now Nurse is getting booed in his home rink in the Mighty Soo…….there are no garauntees….and a lot of people on this site overvalue Oiler prospects. Klefbom is another example…..a year ago if you read this site or Lowtides articles Klefbom was a lock to make the big club this year and would probably be a top paring Dman in his second NHL season…right now he’s struggling big time in the AHL.

            And…Justin Scultz is right now a borderline bust. Of course it’s too soon to give up on him…but there is not a lot there to be optimistic about regarding him being anything more than an average defensemen who plays the powerplay.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      you wouldn’t want a kid like Hall for Subban? Kool-Aid or not Id be hard pressed to say no.

      Closest player the Canadiens have that plays like Hall is Gionta, he’s 35

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      This is utter nonsense. I’m not one of those guys that thinks Petry, Hemsky and Omark is an enticing package, but Taylor Hall will bring any team in the league to the table. It’d likely take Hall+, but he could get you a #1 D. The fact that this post has 7 likes is also nonsense.

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

        Realistically, Hall plus the expected lottery pick from this upcoming draft could get any Dman not already locked into a longterm NTC deal. (i.e. No Chara or Suter, but basically anyone else including Weber)

        IMHO, from an outside perspective (Canucks fan), that trade *could* realistically happen in real life, not just on message boards… but only if there is a housecleaning in upper management as well.

        Otherwise I can’t see them essentially admitting that they screwed up the rebuild so bad that the need to trade the face of the franchise and start over.

  • Rick Stroppel

    REALITY CHECK

    The NHL record for missing the playoffs is ten years in a row. Happened in Florida, a city with zero hockey history and absolutely minimal fan support. Missing the playoffs this year makes eight years for Edmonton. We are currently 28 out of 30 teams with very little possibility of improving significantly, let alone making the playoffs.

    This past summer some reporters had the temerity to ask Kevin Lowe a couple of hard questions. He responded with a hissy fit. One of the many dumb things he said was “half of the teams in the NHL would trade their roster for ours”. If that is true, why are we third last?

    I consider myself a loyal fan, but this whole situation is getting out of hand. McTavish is facing a terrible dilemma. If he makes the miracle trade for a proven #1 goalie or “stud” defenceman, he has to give up significant current (and possibly future) assets. Given the state of this team, probably all that does for this year is elevate us into the “twilight zone” ie no playoffs and no lottery pick either. On the other hand, I am sensing profound frustration from fans, and also from some of the more important players on this team. If this goes on much longer, Taylor Hall is going to ask for a trade faster than you can say “Rick Nash”. Yakupov has the obvious option of the KHL. Free agents will avoid the “Islanders of the west” like the plague.

    IMHO, for the sake of the fans, and for the long-term health of the franchise, McTavish has to start making the “bold moves” he so brashly promised not so long ago.

  • CMG30

    I have no issues with the Oilers drafting small skilled forwards if they are the best available at the time because they should have the best chance of delivering value in the future.

    Having said that, I fully expect that you will move some or all of those guys for the players you really need.

  • Gret99zky

    All this talk about winning the lottery?

    Even the last place team only has a 1 in 4 chance of picking first overall.

    I doubt very much the Oilers will be in a position to get the pick they want once this abortion of a season finally ends.

    MacT is not going to be able to draft his way out of this mess.

    The high end UFA’s are not coming to join this **** show.

    Trading for a more balanced roster is the only way.

    Without a bonafide #1 dman this team is doomed for all eternity.

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

    Philosophies are nice, but in the end, the Oilers need to improve their scouting, especially with later draft rounds or undrafted players.

    Even if the players aren’t pieces that fit into your philosophy, they can become valuable trade assets for players that are.

    Players drafted in the first round aren’t free – they cost the pick which is itself quite valuable. RNH is an asset today, but the 2011 #1 draft pick was a valuable asset then.

    Using the Canucks as an example – Ryan Stanton, Chris Tanev, and Eddie Lack are all vital parts of this year’s team – 2 young, reliable D-men and a good backup goaltender. Those are things that the Oilers hurt for – arguably Edmonton needs those players more than another high draft pick.

    It’s fine to talk about the qualities that the GM is looking for, but it’s really about finding and developing good hockey players.

    Speaking of development, is it a good idea for so many of these young players to skip the AHL and go straight from playing in the OHL or WHL to being crushed by the likes of the Kings or Sharks?

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

    The only trade that might work with the Flyers would be Eberle for the Schenn bros,it would cost the Flyers the $1.5m in cap difference but Braden in an RFA,Luke is not playing up to his paycheck but at least he is big & physical and could turn into a solid #3 shut down with some maturity.

  • Zarny

    On November 3, 2013, as we turned our clocks back from daylight savings time, @Fake Oilers GM tweeted:

    “Attention fans: don’t forget to turn your Edmonton Oilers rebuild clocks back 4 years.”

    I thought it was hilarious, but I wasn’t taking it seriously at the time. I was still hopelessly deluded. I have now lost all hope, and now I realize that the above tweet is about right.

    The Tambo years, aided and abetted of course by KLowe, are now being revealed as utterly disastrous. The Oilers braintrust clearly were operating under the assumption that because Pittsburgh and Chicago sucked for a few years, drafted elite players as a result, and then won Stanley cups, that all that was necessary was to tank, draft first overall, and voila, plan the parade. I’m convinced that is as far as they were looking. They forgot that Chicago was drafting and developing elite dmen, and Pittsburgh had a generational talent that wasn’t going to be coming around every draft. And it takes more to build a winner than skilled forwards.

    So here we are. Back to the beginning. Maybe an NHL dman in Nurse. But is he Duncan Keith? Brent Seabrook? We all know how unpredictable defensemen develop. Look at out great Swedish hope, Oscar Klefbom. 23 games in the AHL, 3 assists, -11. Not exactly looking like Kris Letang. Or even Marc Giordano.

    I guess I should have known the Oilers brass had no plan, when I remember Tambo’s spit-eating grin when the Oilers won the lottery 2 years ago. Brian Burke looked angry he was even there, like he was vowing he would never occupy that chair again. Tambo looked as happy as a pig in slop, like it had taken some kind of skill on his part.

    Maybe MacT can do something over the next 5 years. Maybe not. But the rebuild didn’t start 4 years ago or 6 or 2. It starts now.

      • barry.moore23

        QSB, Why, in the name of all that is holy, can i not stop caring ?? Is there something wrong with me ?? Can’t wait to see my Oilers play in St. Louis early March. This time it will be different …….

        Peace from Illinois.

  • reaperfunkss

    I have one question:
    WTF are everyone here chasing their collective oilers fan tail WHEN the problem lays right in front of them: KEITH ACTON, KELLY BUCHBERGER, STEVE SMITH & FREDERIC CHABOT. They are THE problem. Promote Todd Nelson and let Eakins hire his OWN guys.
    Also, PURGE upper management now: RICK CARRIERE
    Sr. Director of Player Development – a clear FAIL! SCOTT HOWSON Sr. Vice President, Hockey Operations, AND… KEVIN LOWE President, Hockey Operations.

      • camdog

        Well in that case, please do enlighten us on what exactly are THE problem(s), sir. Since everything has been attempted; as we can witness the lunacy of trading first picks for first picks, etc as seen on this blog AND considering that we are with coach #5 since year 8 of the rebuild, please go on and do tell us all in your infinite wisdom: WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

        • ugh. I wasnt going to comment today but here goes.

          Gregor literally just wrote an entire article on what the problem is. The problem is a team that doesnt have the right players.

          What Fresh Mess meant was that the assistant coaches may be A problem but the best bloody assistant coaches in the league cant turn this team around to make this roster elite. If you believe they could then you need to stop sniffing things under your kitchen sink.

          I dont agree with Fresh Mess often really but too many people are thinking with their hearts instead of their heads when it comes to this team.

          Just like firing Kevin Lowe might feel good, and he may deserve it but it wont do a thing to change this team in the next few years.

          *or at least thats what i think Fresh Mess meant to say. Sorry if i just put words in your mouth.

      • Sean17

        It’s not just the assistant coaches.

        However, after reading this article, it’s apparent that the coaching/management we have is not up to par with with “good” organizations.

        When I think of it – has either Smith or Buchberger ever been mentioned as a head coach candidate ever?

        Has MacT, Lowe, Howson, Eakins ever won anything at the coaching/management level?

        Being on winning hockey teams as players counts for something, but not nearly as much as knowing how the NHL works on the other side of the plexiglass.

        We complain about the players not being good enough, but it is this management team and these coaches that have put together the roster/systems, etc.

        Gregor is absolutely right when he suggests that the Oilers have to move out 1 or 2 of the young kids and bring in pieces that are needed.

        The only concern I have is whether or not management and coaching staff will be able to make the right moves.

        Judging by past history, I am not holding my breath…

        • reaperfunkss

          Dead On.

          We all know that firing Lowe will not make this team a winner today or even next year. It will take time to undo the damage. Luckily there is some young potential that can be molded, traded whatever. They are assets of some value.

          This organization can no longer afford the decisions lowe makes. So firing him sends the message that this team will now be held accountable for their decisions.

          Bring in an experienced voice to oversee and that person can make all the decsions on who to keep and who to fire.

          There are so many holes and we all see them, and naturally we prioritize what we think should be dealt with first be it on ice, coaching or middle management. But the Position lowe holds is responsible for all those weaknesses. He put the people in place and most have been wrong decisions. His win lose record is all that matters and it is horrendous for a person with a 13 year tenure.

          I heard a teaser on 1260 yesterday during lowetides time i think, that 1st tier fans were saying they were not going to renew after this year. Hope that was true.

          yes i know they will be snapped up by the waiting list however at least ownership will directly see dissatisfaction in the main revenue stream.

    • Zarny

      Again…utterly ridiculous.

      The problem does lay in front you:

      1) Ference, Petry, N. Schultz, J. Schultz, Larsen, Belov, Potter…etc.

      None of them are a 1-2D. None of them are good enough to play 25 min per game against the best F in the game. For half of them the debate is whether they are even good enough to play in the NHL.

      2) Gazdic, Acton, Lander, Jones, Joensuu

      They are AHL caliber players and have less experience than the kids we drafted 2 years ago.

      3) Smyth and Hemsky

      Smitty is older than Moses and Hemsky plays the exact same soft game with the same defensive liabilities as every top 6 F.

      4) Dubnyk – When the pressure was on he let in beach balls for all of October. When the game is tight he lets in soft goals from the blueline.

      5) Every single top 6 F is smaller than the average NHL forward. They all play the exact same game, get the exact same scoring chances, score the exact same type of goals, have the exact same type of defensive liabilities and get shutdown by the exact same type of game plan.

      That’s the problem. Not ph*cking Keith Acton, Kelly Buchberger, Steve Smith or Frederic Chabot. That is literally the dumbest thing I’ve ever read.

      The game is played on the ice. By players. And as a team, the Oilers players simply are not good enough.