SIMPLE, YET DIFFICULT…

It is simple to see what Craig Mactavish needs to do, but it will be difficult to achieve; Get Better Players.

We can spend hours breaking down Dallas Eakins’ system, goaltending, the powerplay or a plethora of other issues, but it always comes back to the same problem; a lineup lacking in NHL talent.

MacTavish didn’t build this roster, but he is the man in charge moving forward and he needs to start adding players, especially defenceman, instead of shipping them out for future prospects. The Oilers can’t afford to give away any more proven NHL players for another prospect or draft pick. They have enough young players, they need experience, size and most importantly some more talent on the blueline.

The harsh reality is that opposing forwards don’t fear anyone on the Oilers blueline. Andrew Ference is the only one who is hard to play against. None of the remaining D-men will make a forward pay the price in front of the net or in the corner. The Oilers can’t expect Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse to be that type of D-man next season. If they do, then you can expect their playoff drought to extend to nine seasons.

The onus is on MacTavish to recognize this and do his best to rectify it. Find another trading partner like the St.Louis Blues, a team willing to part with an experienced veteran player for a younger, cheaper talent, and pull the trigger.

Everyone knows the Oilers aren’t making the playoffs, but they currently have over $7 million in cap space so they can afford to take on some salary to make a deal work. MacTavish has already stated he’d be willing to move the 2014 first round pick, so we know he understands the need to inject experience rather than youth into his organization.

A team looking to acquire that pick will likely wait until the season is over and they know exactly what draft spot they are getting. If you traded the Oilers a solid player today for that pick, the value of the pick would decrease by June. I don’t see that pick being moved until closer to the draft.

If MacTavish wants to improve his roster over the next few months, I see the following pieces as the most likely options to move:

Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky. They could move Jeff Petry, but they don’t have much depth on the backend, so he wouldn’t be my first choice.

Hemsky is a pending UFA, so he will garner the smallest return, however, he will have value at the deadline and his cap hit will be more manageable around the March 5th deadline.

Gagner needs to play better to increase his value. The Oilers and Gagner supposedly have an unofficial no-movement clause, however, this is a business and if a deal comes along that makes sense, I don’t see why MacTavish wouldn’t pull the trigger.

Yakupov will garner the most interest, and while there is some risk in moving a former #1 overall pick, there will also be significant interest in him because of his draft status. If you want a good player in return, you need to be willing to give up something.

I don’t see Yakupov being a foundation piece of the Oilers; they already have forwards who will be that guy. They need to use him to try and acquire a solid piece to their blueline.

Regardless of who or when MacTavish makes a move, it is apparent this group of players simply isn’t good enough to win. 

QUICK HITS….

  • I’m glad James Neal got suspended. His knee on Brad Marchand was incredibly cheap, and he deserved five games. Kneeing a guy in the head is gutless, not to mention idiotic.
     
  • Shawn Thornton has always been an honest player, prior to going after Orpik. What I found crazy about that play, is that we see guys punching one another with gloves on all the time and rarely do they get injured. It doesn’t excuse Thornton for what he did, he deserves to be suspended, likely at least ten games, but every NHL player I spoke with regarding the incident was surprised Orpik was injured that bad from that gloved punch.
     
  • It is time Dallas Eakins sends a message to someone in his top-nine. The Oilers had way too many turnovers at the Flames blueline on Saturday, and many of them came from blind pass attempts, rather than putting the puck deep in the zone. The Oilers are entering game 32; the coach can’t allow those types of plays to continue without consequences.
     
  • Martin Marincin has been good in his two games. He’s averaged over 15 minutes a game, got some PP time and he’s been sheltered properly. I’d play him again on Tuesday, but I’d be cautious of keeping him here all season. A small taste of the NHL should motivate him even more when he returns to the AHL, and especally during the off-season where he needs to work on getting stronger.
     
  • Bryzgalov practiced today as did Richard Bachman. Bachman will head to OKC the minute he is cleared to play, and it sounds like Bryzgalov is close to being cleared to play. Both Bryzgalov and Dubnyk are UFAs at the end of the year, and their play in the final 50 games should decide if either, both or none of them will be re-signed.
     
  • With three weeks remaining in the NFL season my Miami Dolphins are in the wild card mix. I’m surprised, considering their horrendous GM, but with games remaining against the Patriots, Bills and Jets, they have a very good chance of making it. 
     
  • Tyler Pitlick is heading back to OKC. He hasn’t played a game since October 26th. Once he gets back in game shape, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him recalled in January.
     
  • The OKC Barons have had 41 different players in their lineup, including 7 different goalies, yet the Barons are only one point out of the playoffs. With Bachman and LaBarbera close to being sent down, along with Pitlick’s re-assignment today, the Barons should make a push for the playoffs over the next few months.

DAY SEVEN…MONTH OF GIVING...

On Friday we raised another $2,900 for our Derks Menswear package and the Oilers/Flames tickets. Thanks to Dan and Raja for their generous bids.

Today’s package… THE VIP Experience…

  • Pair of Edmonton Rush season tickets. Gold seats, lower bowl.
  • A behind the scenes tour during one home game. You’ll meet the coaches, players and the cheer team.
  • You and a friend will go on a road trip with the Rush to Calgary for a regular season game. You will travel with the team, stay at the team hotel, go to the game and have dinner with team owner, Bruce Urban. You will be invited to the after party as well.
  • You will get a meet and greet with UFC champion Georges St.Pierre on January 11th in Edmonton.

    You can bid today between 2-6 p.m. by calling 780.444.1260 or 1.800.243.1945. All the proceeds will go towards Santas Anonymous.
     

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Young Oil

    To me, there’s no way I’m trading the first round pick. It’s very likely going to be top 5, and that’s something that you can spend on getting a future quality two way 2nd line center (Draisaitl for example). If you trade it, you get pennies on the dollar.

    • Jason Gregor

      I understand that, but if you could get a player like Jeff Carter, CBJ gave up #7 pick and Voracek for him, I would do that.

      Oilers need veteran guys.

      I will look at legit options and write about it in the future, Draisaitl is a good prospect, but he is just a prospect, no guarantee he becomes a solid two-way NHL centre.

      Oilers need to start acquiring guarantees, not potential.

  • S cottV

    Agree with JG – Gagner, Yak and Hemsky to be used as trade bait.

    Yak because he still has a #1 pick aura about him and would generate a lot of box office interest in certain markets, to use as leverage.

    Would also add J Schultz and a first round draft pick to that mix. His offensive up side will still attract interest and leverage but the longer you watch this guy – like we have, the more you start to doubt that he will ever really become a reliable player.

    In return, a solid 2C and a first pairing d man.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    Trade this player and a pick for that player.. I never see any names coming back in these Mock trades… Ebrele and a pick for who? who is out there that we can get??

  • Young Oil

    I’m not saying we should do this, but what could Gagner and Justin Schultz get us in a trade? If it could get us a top 2 Dman and a tough to play against 3rd liner that might be worth looking into IMO. Two of our biggest defensive liabilities moved for two defensively responsible players could help a lot.

    I know Schultz is still learning the NHL game, and I love him as an offensive threat, but if we could get Tyutin and Jenner for him and Gags I’d do it in a second.

  • D'oh-ilers

    I’d really like to see what it would take to get Giroux out of Philly. Holmgren is known for brash moves like that, and it seems almost every player is available at the right price.

    With Philly having such a terrible season, I wonder if Eberle and a 1st round is enough to get him. Then Gagner could move over to whichever wing he was needed, and both Yak and a cheaper Hemmer could play on the right side in the top nine.

    That would finally give us the one two punch down the centre we’ve been missing. With Gordon, Arcebello, and Lander as some nice 2 way depth options.

    It still doesn’t land us our much needed defence. But Giroux, Nuge as our one and two would be incredible. With that duo down the middle, maybe a free agent would be willing to head our way.

  • Management needs to address the faithful, Yet again, but this time with more specific’s in mind. Like being a contender when the new arena opens or making the playoffs’ before the last season at Rexall. Something, anything, let us know what the franchise’s new re-build, or re-build 2.0 or rest button (whatever you wanna call it) plans are.

    Being left in the dark, with no clue when to expect winning, is driving everyone but me crazy.

    I knew before this season started that this Oiler team was still 2-3 years away, so I’m doing my best to enjoy the development of the team. What IS driving me crazy, is the faithful’s negativity and lack of patience (especially after loses). This will only lead to more, letting NHL players go for more magic beans.

  • Spoils

    Nash, NYR, NJD, Flor, PHI, Buf have the worst G/G stats.

    Nashville has Weber and Jones. Maybe they would part with Josi?

    What about Del Zotto or McDonaugh in NYR?

    These teams need offence. Maybe we could package something up like our 1st rd pick, Hemsky, some cap space for D.

    Could you get Brodin for Yak?

  • Why is it always yakupov as the kid to trade? He’s the only one with a physical edge and that elusive 1 shot scorer, not to mention his current value is the lowest it will ever be in his career! I’d trade ebs first everyday of the week, I’d argue ebs value will never be higher

    • Jason Gregor

      He has four goals this year, and all of them are on the PP.

      Watch Yakupov closely, he doesn’t think the game great. He shoots the puck hard, but he is not as great a goal scorer as some think. IMO.

      He doesn’t put himself in great shooting positions often enough.

      • This I get! his history tells us he can score, what I would like to know, is how he can score last season and put himself in good position, but this year he seems to be all over the map?

        I have to believe the kid is bloody confused, there has to be some kind of disconnect between Yakupov and Eakins because he sure wasn’t that awful with Ralph! (Same coaching staff)

        I agree he was out of position at times last season and wasn’t strong in his own end, but this year he just seemed to regress, I don’t believe it’s a maturity issue ether, I honestly believe he has no clue as to what the coaches expect, so you’re seeing a kid trying everything and anything out there and it just goes from bad to worse?

        The kids try is on him, which from everything I read is top notch, the kid on the ice is the coaches, if he’s not thinking the game right and is out of position then coaches have to work with him to get him there.

        From what I’m seeing there seems to be no corrective action taken on a lot of Oilers, not just Yakupov.

        • OilClog

          How about a disconnect with our illustrious assistant coaches … Smith and Buchberger.

          They do a lot of the on ice coaching…not a lot of success with this team since they been chewing gum behind the bench. Not a lot of destiny for anyone , with these two clowns on board.

  • srbuhr

    I think we have to get over any player should be off limits. To get great talent we have to offer something. Really I can’t see Sam and Nail really getting us much without the 2014 pick included. Hall may actually get a dman and maybe he will learn how to play a complete game and haunt us for years. Regardless spare parts will get us more spare parts and the team has more then enough of those.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    I wonder if our 2014 first round and Eberle would net us the type of player our blueline so desprately needs.

    Yes, it might be a bit of an overpay, but at this point with so much burgeoning talent up front and only a silver-lining on the horizon in Nurse, we can afford it.

    I suggest Eberle simply because he’s had longer to prove his trade value (unlike Yakupov), and I think you’d be hard pressed to say he has more upside than Hall or Nuge.

    If you can get the kind of d-man we need back for less, then all the better.

    • oilerjed

      I agree, while at the moment Yak is a bit of a train wreck. With some defensive coaching you could very realistically end up with a forward who hits skates with a rocket of a shot. We have yet to see what this kid can really do. Ebs, IMO, is what he is. Which is pretty damn good player but soft soft soft and we have that covered in spades. He should be able to get some GMs attention when his name is put out there.

    • Bucknuck

      considering where the Oil are in the standings, I believe that first round pick should have some significant value. Adding a first line winger shouldn’t be necessary. Yakupov, Gagner or Hemsky should add enough value to make a deal work.

      I’d hate to lose Ebs, Hall or Nuge. At this point I don’t think Perron should be touched either. Some players are part of the solution going forward.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Wandering in the desert…..still.

    What goes around, comes around for Marchand and Orpik. Nice to see some player policing still in place. This is exactly the type of policing the Oilers need right now. Puck the code/rules, don’t just sit and watch another one of your brothers go down, do something, take a suspension and earn a reputation, show you’re a team/family for Christmas sake. If you think what happened last weekend was wrong, watch ping pong you bunch of sissies.

    With Weber on the move soon, I’d back up the truck and see if there’s anything Poile wants. If he’s not available, hunker down for another difficult few years. Maybe the Oilers will grow one of their own in the next 5 yrs. Weber or bust. Yak, Gags, Hemsky, even throw in next summers first if you have to. That would surely beat sucking for another 3 years. Just like the Oilers will never go anywhere without a couple top pairing blueliners, The Preds will never go anywhere with that top 9 group of forwards.

    • Zarny

      There is zero chance Weber is on the move soon. Zero.

      If you want to know why…go look at how much Nsh has paid him and how many games he has actually played under his new contract.

      It’s not going to happen.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        The money he’s been paid to date is in the past. Maybe that ownership group in Nashville would look favourably to getting out from underneath the remaining 82 million due over the remainder of that deal, no? Is there an echo in here, yes, 82 million dahlahs (a lot of cash to a small market team heavily dependant on revenue sharing) Zarny.

        With Jossi, and now Seth Jones, maybe that’s an option to help address their abysmal top 9 forward group.

        If #99 can be traded, so can #6. Organizations often change their minds/direction, and rather quickly these days I’m sure. You’re opinion is no different than the pre August 8th 1988 talk there Zarny. Some trades don’t need to make sense. It could be just not wanting to be house poor anymore.