OILERS: CHANGES COMING

Before Craig MacTavish had his final press conference, it was clear to everyone that the Oilers would need to make some major changes this summer. The GM agreed, and he said that having eight new faces next year would be reasonable.

MacTavish went on to explain the weaknesses he sees with his current lineup.

"We want more toughness, more meat in our lineup and more depth. We need our core players to be better without the puck, and be better defensively. We lack the real structure in our game that you need to have success. We need to address that and get better with that group," started MacTavish.

"We have to add some specific role players. In today’s NHL you have to be a threat to score at some point, even marginally. We had a lot of guys who really… the best they were going to be in any given game was a non-factor. There wasn’t a lot of upside for our role players to significantly help us. But, the few times that they did, we ended up winning those games. We have to get more impact out of our bottom-six forwards, so we will try to improve that."

I like that MacTavish was blunt and to the point, and although he didn’t name names it is pretty clear who he was talking about. Of course those bottom lines need to improve, but the bigger changes need to come on the blueline and with a change of attitude in the top-six.

"From our defensive perspective we need more footspeed. To play a style that best suits the skill-set that we have, we need to be able to move the puck quicker. We got to have defencemen that skate up into open ice and try to open the ice up for our forwards.

"We need depth. The good thing is we don’t need to add the high-end skill. We need the complimentary pieces. I know those are easier to come by, I know they are still difficult, but they are easier to acquire than high-end skill. Our elite skilled players have to play a better game away from the puck. If we can get those two things; the lineup complimented by some acquisitions and the guys that we have improve from their experience we’ll be better," continued MacTavish.

COACHING

Many have questioned Ralph Krueger, and the main criticism seems to be that he isn’t enough of a hard ass. That might be true, but I don’t see how anyone could have expected him to get much more from this lineup. MacTavish said this about his coaches.

"Ralph and I will get together this week. We will discuss a myriad of things. There are some concerns I have and some questions for Ralph, and I’m sure he has some for me. We can’t continually point the finger at the coach in this process. We’ve gone through four coaches in the last five years. My sense is to give the coaching staff greater tools to do their job moving forward."

There will be at least one move within the coaching staff. MacTavish will want a 3rd assistant coach, but I also believe there will be some lengthy discussions whether they bring in two new assistants and make a change to the current staff.

SAM GAGNER

Gagner had the best season of his career. MacTavish is a big supporter of Gagner’s off-ice contributions as much as his on-ice play.

"Sam had an unbelievable year. We will be in discussions with Sam’s agent and see where that goes. Sam has really developed into a leader here. He’s a guy who has developed into the type of character that we want. That is going to be important when I’m making decisions (on personnel) is that we have the type of culture in that room.

"I would way rather take a marginal step backwards and have the culture that we want, because I know it will be more impactful going forward. We’ve had a few years of…It’s just been too much of a circus in there (dressing room)."

You will never be able to track/calculate how important team chemistry is. If you don’t believe it is part of a winning team, then you likely have never played on one. Of course you need good players to win, but it is easy to see the negative attitudes of players emerge when a team is losing. Based on what I’ve seen and after listening to MacTavish, it is clear they need a few more positive role models and more guys who are mentally tough.

ONUS ON THE BEST PLAYERS

In a perfect scenario MacTavish will acquire some veteran players who are not only good on the ice, but also can be strong leaders in the room. Guys who will challenge the young kids to reach their potential.

No one doubts that the Oilers’ young players have loads of talent, however, it was refreshing to hear the GM admit that this team simply doesn’t work hard enough. We can breakdown the game with our eyes and the stats, but many times the game is decided strictly by those who are willing to outwork the opposition.

"I do think as a group we are a bit naive to how hard you have to work to have successs," said MacTavish. "

"I’ve said this many times to the group since I took over; all the productivity is in that last five percent of effort, that’s where all the productivity is. Ninety percent of your goals are in that last five percent of effort.

"I know that from playing the game myself. Amazingly when you got more reckless, worked harder, went to the tougher areas and were more committed how much more lucky you got. We need more from our group in there and they need to recognize that it is tough to have success at this level. I little more effort, responsibility and maturity along with some more beef in the lineup will go a long ways."

QUICK HITS

  • I think it is great that NBA player Jason Collins won’t have to live a lie anymore. I couldn’t imagine how difficult that would be. However, I’m amazed that some want to compare him to Jackie Robinson. In my opinion they aren’t close. First off all, Collins isn’t currently playing. His season is over, and he is a 34-year-old free agent journeyman. There is no guarantee he’ll play next season. I hope he does, but when he does, I doubt he endures the same hatred that Robinson did.

    And that is a good thing, it shows that many in society don’t care about the sexual orientation of a professional player. Personally, I don’t have any issues if a player is heterosexual or homosexual. I just hope he plays next season, because if he doesn’t, then he’s essentially another former player who "came out" after retirement. I doubt he came out just to be "the first active gay player," so I’m sure he doesn’t care either way, but part of me wonders if the straight community/news outlets are trying to glorify his story. He only played 38 games last year, and when you look at his age (34) and his minutes played (10/game) there is a reasonable chance he might not play.

    I’m not trying to downplay what Collins did. I applaud him, because it a lot of guts to come out publicly. I have friends who struggled to even come out to their family,  so I can only imagine how scary it would be to tell the world. However, I think the comparisons to Jackie Robinson are unfair to both men.
     

  • I’m a sucker for punishment so here are my first round NHL picks.
    In the west: Blackhawks, Kings, Ducks and Sharks. In the East: Penguins, Bruins, Senators and Capitals.
     
  • I’ll take the Penguins and Kings in the final, and the Kings win in 6 and repeat. Feel free to pick the exact opposite. You’ll likely have better luck.
     
  • Speaking of the playoffs, here is a different type of playoff pool. Usually, we go into a pool pick the players on the teams we think will win, but if the lose, we usually lose interest. This pool is about picking winners. The more correct picks you get the more you win. Awesome. Enter here. Good luck.

 RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

  • Space Dad

    A lot of the negative comments (of which there are many ) show the frustration of fans with the players , management and owner with this rebuild process , and it’s lack of positive results . Even media has joined in the assault to varying degrees .

  • paul wodehouse

    …i’m thinking that same thing madjam…if MacT fixes things and the squad makes the playoffs next year Kevins’head is outta the noose…otherwise maybe even the indestructible Kevin Lowe makes his exit…

  • Citizen David

    Everything MacT was saying about the type of player the Oilers want – speed, depth scoring, defensive responsibility, assertiveness, hardworking passion, describes Lazar perfectly. Only catch is he’s 2-4 years away. But good teams keep the cupboards stocked to the good times keep a-rolling.

  • Citizen David

    So then who actually is in charge of the junior draft? I thought it was Stu MacGregor’s call. The last person I want to see putting his fngerprints on the junior draft is Lowe or the invisible owner. Lowe wanted to draft his own son until the son said thank you… ‘No’.

    Point made. Lowe’s incompetence continues to give me nightmares. I know it is old news but this organization will continue to fail with him at the helm. His puppet GM hire isn’t fooling anybody. I still hope MacT succeeds inspite of his boss. MacT’s forthright assessment of the team as refreshing.

    Bye, bye Ben and Eric.

  • I would love to see the Oilers put a package together to try to get Barkov. Hemsky and our 1st would be my pitch to get to the 4th spot.

    Otherwise I would cross the fingers that Monahan is still available at 7. If he isn’t I would probably try to trade the pic for immediate help

  • I think the timing is right for the Oilers to move the 7th overall for a player. Our biggest needs are a top flight, puck moving defenseman and a either a strong 2 way centre (2nd line) or a big winger with skill (2nd line). Gagner requires a big winger or he needs to move to the wing. This will resolve the second line woes. Do you think a player and the 7th pick can get us Seguin? Doubtful. Johansen from Columbus might be more reasonable. Would you do it for Yandle? One of the NYR studs? Sather loves these kinds of deals.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Why is Johansen’s name still thrown out there so much? He’s not doing a great job at cracking a Columbus roster that is not exactly stacked with elite forwards.

    I don’t think you’re any worse off today getting Nichushkin, Barkov or Monahan over Johansen.

  • Ravo

    Please for the love of god dont re-post my long posts.

    That was a reply to The Beaker.

    To reply to you,yes it is bottom feeding if you repeatedly and consistantly go to the same online sources and scab the data as opposed to headhunting the cretive catalyst and subbinng out the work and allowing the Oilers to acess ALL of the data from the SOURCE.

    Who are you trying to kid?

    And pal if you are the source of the data being skimmed from cyber-space in a chronological and historic manner you bloody well know it.

    What the hell do you think the the data comes from, nowhere?Each piece of data darkhorse or anyone takes from cyberspace comes from SOMEONE SOMEWHERE,this is a fact,that is called the SOURCE.Every source can be validated.If the source decides to shut the hell up them Darkhorse can take and repackage their intellectual property as they wish but if that source decides to speak up they can dam well do so and they can PROVE their history.

    Why do you think Mac-T twice tacticlly spouted off in the media the propoganda admitting that the Oilers hired a company that “scrapes up’data from the internet,the Oilers are trying to distance themselves from the fact they themselves acessed and utilised this exact data a full year beore darkhorse was even on the scene,rejected it,suppressed it,then realised they screwed up and found a creative way to again acess this data without validating the source,they laundered the data through darkhorse and recieved a bill of sale but they are still refusing to validate source ,they are useing darkhorse to cover up their mismanagment of the NHS data given to them freely 3 yrs ago.The exact data LA utilised to help them win a Cup the Oilers should have been winning.

    More importantly why do you think mac-T is getting needled about the types of Analytic resources he uses by media types?Because the entire dam league knows the dynamic situation.They are letting mac-T hang himself.And he is going for it hook line and sinker.

    Everyone uses stats based resources people,but other NHL teams have recognised and identified specific dynamic things the Oilers have been doing recently as being VALUABLE and they have been seeking out the source,for christsakes they already know we cant operate these valuable tactics ourselves,but teams like Chicago and St.Louis and LA have had no problems incorporating the same things we freaking choke on.

    Those teams dont question the source they accept the results, the Oilers who ALWAYS follow a results based path instead got into a pissing contest they were going to lose from day one with moma2 and the NHS, I am an Intuit and they cant find another one like me,I can kick them in the Crown Royal Bag till the cows come home,and they cant do a dam thing about it.I have the market cornered so to speak.

    They have never faced a force of nature like that that they need badly but that will not kiss their srase,the last one they tangled with was also an Albertan Sheldon Souray,ha ha ha,I was shot in the leg in his Hometown Elk Point in a grungy old Hotel when I was a Rigger in my youth.They tried to do to me what they did to Souray,but I had experience already and used the Souray Solution on them,i immediatly went all in and challenged them to a results based integrity and truth contest then told them to kiss my arse and walked away a winner.Some people believe in 100% in what they do and dont react well to being bullied. It doesnt reduce their value when assets like this walk,it just distances them from people who lack integrity,and increases their value down the road.

  • blueorangekoolaid

    I love DSF getting a rise out of everyone. I guess all 29 teams are draft failures for passing on Datsyuk and Zetterberg? Or what about all 30 teams passing on St. Louis? I’m not the biggest Gagner fan out there but 2nd most points for his draft class is pretty good I’d say. Does he have deficiencies? Absolutely. Does he also have skill? Absolutely. Funny how playing with consistently better players all year helped his offensive numbers go up. He may never learn the defensive side of the game which is an issue but he wasn’t drafted to be a 3rd line shut down center.

    • blueorangekoolaid

      Nice overview of the Gagner topic.

      One thing is certain,and that is that mac-T is speaking about a known quantity when he projects potential wing duty for Sam Gagner.Mac-T knows what he can do from there,and he has witnessed Sams evolution firsthand,it is a compliment to be defined in any way by a man with mac-Ts acumen.

      Gagner hsnt been regularly playing with our top wingers,so we dont know what he could do from that position, I hope we see him get a chance to play from the #1 slot before we commit him to the wing, I believe he would outproduce Nuge consistantly at this stage of the game,we havent seen this opportunity for Sam much yet.

      Wow,he is second in his draft year,how far behind is he and who owns the bragging rights?