WHY DID WE HAVE ALL THESE KIDS, ANYWAY?

We’re almost 40 games in to this season, and the Edmonton Oilers are in a world of hurt. Nothing rhymes, the shooters aren’t shooting, the defenders aren’t defending, the goalies aren’t stopping anything, and the fans are increasingly indifferent. WHAT can Craig MacTavish do? Aside from rescinding the Smid trade, there are a few things he can do.

PROBLEMS!

  1. Too many kids! This one is obvious. If we name all of the Oilers with less than 200 games NHL experience (Nuge, Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Petry, Arcobello, Belov, Larsen, Potter, Joensuu, Gazdic) it’s almost half the roster.
  2. Too many kids in feature roles! Hell, Taylor Hall just passed 200 NHL games for crying out loud—and maybe that’s the best way to frame this issue—there are too many kids in important roles. The entire 1line lacks experience, the top pairing many nights is Belov-Petry and the veterans (Ference and Nick Schultz) are overwhelmed.

INDIFFERENCE

The smart move for Craig MacTavish should be ‘stay the course’ and wait for a trade that makes sense. However, fan rage is giving way to indifference, and that’s a very dangerous neighborhood for a sports franchise. I think the odds of Edmonton making a significant trade went way up last night, and the chances of seeing one of the gifted youngsters heading out of town rose with it.

Bold can be beautiful, but you better be right.

WHO’S GOING?

The 2014 1st rd pick, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry and any combination of that group. I don’t think they club moves Hall, Nuge or Eberle, and until last night would have included Yakupov on that list.

No longer. The die is cast.

WHO’S COMING IN?

Christian Ehrhoff, Brian Campbell, Dustin Byfgluien, a veteran defenseman who can play big minutes in all three disciplines.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

From the 2010 draft through MacT’s arrival as GM, the Oilers were basically running in place, gathering talent. This next move—the bold one—is going to send away a significant piece of tomorrow for some sunshine today.

And Craig MacTavish has to make that deal with 29 jackals. Next stop, Pottersville.

  • camdog

    Justin Schultz—, the college boy every team went after. What a great defenseman this young man is going to be. Who will be the lucky team to win this big prize?

    Dallas Eakins—- the coach of the Toronto Marlies that many other NHL teams were publicly chasing. This is a guy that was going to turn your team around. This is the guy that had the right attitude and formula for a winning culture. This is a highly sought after coach that so many were interested in acquiring. Who is the lucky team to land this big prize?

    It’s none other the Edmonton Oilers. Both duds. Both are a disaster in their role with the team. But hey, we got bragging rights–we got picked. Twice.

  • elpol

    If this team is ever, ever going to go forward in a positive way? Honestyly sorry to say but at least two of Nuge, Hall, Eberle, Schultz, Yakupov, Gagner, or Petry must go. Addition by subtraction. No other way will this collection of self-entitled kids even begin to get the message that they must be better or, they will be gone. Unfortunately, this requires management to have balls that they sorely lack. Imo, Lowe definitely stays until at least the off-season: Katz probably wouldn’t dream of embarrassing his man-crush who, don’t forget, is part of the Cdn. Olympic management team.

    This management group is so afraid of losing a trade, they appear they’d rather have a losing team than dare to do what is becoming uncomfortably obvious to many: These “super-kids” simply aren’t as good or have quite the potential as they insist we believe. The only possible exception in my mind might be Hall. Nobody has the shoulders to carry this team. Nobody can effectively boot these kids in the asses hard enough to wake them up. They ought to be good enough to simply compete just based on having been professional-trajectory hockey players, without the benefit of coaching. Yet, this group makes fence posts look intelligent most nights.

  • book¡e

    When people suggest that fans stop buying tickets, merchandise, beer and whatever else is on offer, I think they are forgetting a fundamental financial reality. As a business the Oilers are a ‘can’t fail’ operation for Katz. Suppose there were a concerted, organized or disorganized movement that lowered attendance by 10,20 or even 50%…..hell make it 70%. Mr. Katz would make an even greater windfall profit by either selling or moving the franchise and the NHL would be happy to oblige him. Moving the franchise to an American City with a much bigger potential TV audience would fit perfectly into the NHL’s strategic plan.
    As a business man Mr. Katz is perfectly well aware of this reality, yes? So really, other than appealing to Mr.K’s sense of loyalty to the community I don’t see how he can be pressured. And, given that the threat to move the franchise if the oilers didn’t get a new arena with substantial public investment has already been hinted at I wouldn’t count on that.

    • Bonvie

      I don’t think that moving the team is an option for Katz, but he will need to make some changes soon. Here’s why:

      Before that shiny new arena opens, he needs to get new commitments for his sky suites and luxury boxes. He needs to sell a couple thousand additional season tickets. And he undoubtedly plans to charge much more than he receives now.

      In order to spur sales, he will need to get buyers into a frothy lather. The only way that happens is if the team goes at least past the first round the season before the new arena opens.

      Also keep in mind that the arena deal with Northlands will expire two years before the new arena opens; that means Northlands is going to get all the revenue Katz gets now (other than ticket sales). Beer revenue, advertising revenue, conessions will all be lost.

      Starving for cash and with new revenue streams precariously tied to the on-ice product, Katz will absolutely need to have a serious contender on the ice. He has at most one more non-playoff season available to him, then he will have to do something to wash the stink off the franchise.

  • elpol

    Frankly, at least some of those names should be in the AHL earning their bones, learning, getting bigger and smarter.

    Learning one thing at a time is easier than trying to learn everything at once, but up in the NHL, they don’t have much choice. I don’t put this one on the kids.

    I put this one on management botching up their development in order to distract the fans from their abysmal record by showing off their newest, shiny high draft picks when they should have been in OKC learning the ropes.

  • Zarny

    Last night’s debacle was my Christmas gift to my sister and brother-in-law. Seemed like a good idea at the start of the season. So far I haven’t been banned from Christmas.

  • Zarny

    The sad thing is that if MacT had done his job this past summer and brought in more veterans and fewer gambles the pending trade would not have been necessary. Ray Shero once said something to the effect that the role of the GM on rebuilding teams is to surround the kids with vets that know what it takes to win. Perron, Ference and Gordon were in this ilk, but three guys is not surrounding. Bringing in Joensuu, Acton, Gadzic, Belov, and Arcobello just made the balance worse. What a mess.

  • Rdubb

    In all honesty, Edm does not need Campbell, but an Ehrhoff would be welcome, or even that big guy from the Peg?
    Should the Oilers deal for Byfgluien, than they should try and do a multi-player deal and get Kane too…
    Wouldn’t a Yak, Petry & the 2014 1st rounder get that deal done? If needed, toss in Hemmer and pay some of the remaining money owed to him?
    What do you think Lowetide? I’d really like to hear your opinion on my “potential” offer

    PS – you know how many FANS are turning against you because of your last name, @ least until he GETS THE AXE in the spring

  • Zarny

    The article is bang on but this isn’t new information. Nothing has really changed.

    Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yak and Schultz were young and inexperienced at the start of the season. Most of the 4th line literally had no NHL experience. The top 6 F have always been too much of the same and they’ve needed a top pairing D for quite awhile now. We knew all of this 38 game ago.

    It’s time to step back from the ledge and take a breath. It’s not the End of Days.

    The reality is from the 2010 draft to MacT’s arrival the Oilers really only gathered a handful of talented players. Last summer, MacT was able to add a few more pieces. At the trade deadline he needs to add a few more.

    Top of the needs list is a top pairing D. That trade probably still doesn’t happen till closer to the trade deadline.

    Perhaps beggars shouldn’t be choosers, but Brian Campbell doesn’t really solve a lot of problems. I’d rather see MacT go after someone with more defensive acumen who can play a physical game. Ryan McDonagh, Braydon Coburn, Dustin Byfgluien or Dan Girardi.

  • Rdubb

    The Oiler media and the fans are no different than the Oiler management. They expect the other teams to trade you their top players for Oiler garbage.

    We will get better but we will not trade Eberle, TH and RNH! What a joke. What a pathetic franchise!