Dallas Eakins will spend this week in Edmonton talking to Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger to see if they will be part of his coaching staff. He will also sit down with Craig MacTavish and get a sense of the roster, the strengths and weaknesses, and start planning for next season.

Eakins is very intense, he’s a fitness freak and when I spoke to him on my radio show yesterday afternoon, it was clear he is a man with a plan. He wants teams to fear the Oilers skill, their speed and their physicality. Of course, the latter hasn’t been a strength of the Oilers for years, and Eakins gave us some insight on how he plans to change that as well as they style and system his team will play next season.

Eakins was very direct with his responses, and he gave Ryan Rishaug and I a pretty clear insight into how he plans to make the Oilers competitive.

Jason Gregor: What do you see as the strengths of your new team, just based on the players you have and do you build around them or do you make them play your system?

Dallas Eakins: Well, it’s going to be a two-way street I think. Listen, I’m not going to take away much from these players where we never want to take away, especially with our young players, speed and skill and the way that they see the game.

A lot of these players have massive offensive upside. There will be a little bit more accountability with the puck, and firmly accountability without it. One should never take away from another. I don’t buy into the premise that when you play better defensively that your numbers suffer. You’re on offense when you have the puck and you are on defense when you don’t and those simple rules are going to be in effect.

What we need to do, is that we need to develop these guys a little bit further. We also need to get the right people around them who can not only complement them, but also teach them how to play and how to win in the NHL. So we have a lot going on here, but I’m certainly excited to get it going.

Ryan Rishaug: You talk about accountability, can you maybe just give us a little bit of a window into the type of accountability that you’ve had in the past?

Eakins: I will get to these players, individually and over time I will develop a relationship where I get to know them. This isn’t a sit down, me ask them a bunch of psychological questions, it’s a constant conversation that will probably start in my office, or by the coffee machine, or in the weight room, or on a bike, or wherever it may be. It’s through those conversations I find out what motivates them, inspires them, what their triggers are, how they respond.

I’ve had players where I knew that if I screamed at them quickly they responded right away. I’ve had players where I knew that if I screamed I would lose them in the game, or lose them for a week or two. And that’s not that you’re looking to be soft, or looking to play favourites, you don’t. All of these kids have been brought up differently, they’ve had different experiences, they have different personalities, and if you’re going to treat them all the same, then you’re doing your team a terrible disservice.

We’re going to treat them all the same, when it comes to work ethic and discipline and we’re going to treat them all differently when it comes to motivating and inspiring their personal goals.


Gregor: What are your thoughts on motivation? How much of it is on the coach, how much is on the player and how often do you need to initiate it?

Eakins: Well the balance is that you just feel it. It’s not a calculated thing where it’s ‘okay I’ve got to scream at this guy once every two days.’ There’s just a time for it and there is a time not to. I think if you get the right group together as a team, they will motivate each other. That’s the perfect scenario that they’re always holding each other accountable, not wanting to let down your teammates, disappoint a teammate, to show your team that you’re going to do everything or anything you can every night or any given day to get better.

Accountability is huge for a coach and it can’t just be with your bottom two lines.  There has got to be accountability right from your number one player right through the 23rd guy on your roster, and it’s got to be consistent, then the players catch on real quick. You don’t want it to be, ‘oh well he’s allowed to do that but I can’t,’ so that’s something that we have to work through. It’s something that the players have to understand, but I will have the rules in place on how we’re going to deal with it.

Rishaug: What’s your coaching philosophy on the role of the, not necessarily the nuclear heavy weight, but the aggressive player who can play, but also look out for the skill on the ice, and how do you employ those types of players?

Eakins: I still think that hockey is a game of fear, and before we even get to that part, I want other teams to fear our skills, fear our speed, and fear our physicality. Is there going to be fighting in hockey in the future? I believe that there will be. It’s a high contact sport, these guys are in each other’s faces. There’s a lot of testosterone out there and that is just going to lead to a fight.

I think that it’s important, especially with a young group, to have a certain level of toughness that these kids can continue to develop in a place of no fear. So I do have a place for it. I think that it’s an important part of the game, not the most important, but certainly I never ever want our team to be nervous or in fear and that’s something that we’ve got to go through as we add pieces to this.

Is it necessary to get a guy who just fights? Well maybe it isn’t. But maybe we can have some guys who are good checkers, who are good players, who can back it up as well. It will all depend on the roster spots, and what’s available and how we see the team makeup going forward.

Gregor: The Edmonton Oilers haven’t been an overly physical team for quite some time. Do you think that you can make players more physical or do you have to go out and find more players who are naturally physical?

Eakins: I think you can have players who maybe it doesn’t come naturally to, to simply compete harder for the puck or finish their check on a regular basis. You are certainly not going to make a guy who doesn’t have it in their DNA, that meanness in their DNA, to go out and hammer on guys. It’s not going to happen.

We’ve had a couple of guys come through the Leaf organization where we tried to turn them into something that they weren’t, and I realised that you just can’t do it. It’s no different than taking a guy who is challenged skill wise, and bring him into your office and say, ‘hey we need 40 goals out of you.’ That’s not going to happen, he doesn’t have it in his DNA and it works the other way too.

So we do want to have a commitment from our players that they will compete hard, that will be nonnegotiable. They will finish their checks, always, but we are certainly going to have to build some nastiness in here around them.


Rishaug: Do you have a philosophy on continuity within your lines as a head coach?

Eakins: Well in the American League it’s different, you’ve always got guys going up, coming down; there’s always movement. Your lines are constantly changing. With the forward lines, I firmly believe in pairs. You usually find the third guy amongst a couple of guys who feed off of each other. You can insert or take away the third guy in the line and that’s how it usually goes. Hey, if a line is working and it’s working for a long time and it suddenly goes south, then we need to find out why it went south because it’s already been proven that it works.

So we’ll look for those pairs early. If we do find a line that’s clicking, we want to keep it fresh. But if for some reason, it does start to go south, there’s something else going on there because their skill level is the same, their fitness levels are the same, they’re all the same size, nothing has changed other than something isn’t working now. That’s something that’s up to the coaching staff to get in there and find that out.

On defense I like pairs that you really need to be comfortable with your partner and that’s a place where I do need to just get the six guys in there, especially the top-four where they know where each other are all of the time without looking or saying a word.

Gregor: What skillset do you need amongst your top-six defensemen? I know you need a mix, but will your onus be on guys who can move the puck?

Eakins: Well you need both. It’s one of those things where as a defenseman I always ask them, ‘what’s your position?’ and they say, ‘defense’ and I say ‘that’s right, the first job is to defend.’ We need that out of all of our defensemen. However, the way that the game is now with the quickness and the skill level, you’ve got to be able to skate. If you are challenged a little bit with your skating, you’ve got to have a firm handle on your angles and your limitations and you like guys that can handle the puck. Listen, one pass and we’re out, that’s the best way to kill these tenacious forechecks now.

We want guys that can put the puck on the tape. We don’t want to be a team that’s banging the puck out off of the glass all of the time, we want clean breakouts. And then, as always, if there is danger, and the other team has done a good job on a certain forecheck, and we can’t make a pass that we recognize the danger and we just get the puck out of our zone so that the forwards can get skating after it.

Rishaug: Would this opportunity in Edmonton be unique as far as coaching experience goes for you, given the amount of young, very high end, high draft pick talent offensive players that you have. Have you experienced that in any way, shape or form as a head coach before?

Eakins: No not as a head coach. You have your skilled guys, maybe you’ve got three of them at the American Hockey League level. The only place I was up front and close with it was when I was an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs and I was a part of a group that was coaching Mats Sundin and those types of guys.

So it’s certainly going to open a door to try to try some things differently, especially on the power play, odd man situations. The other side of this is if we can get some of the offensive guys, the guys who can see the offensive side very well, and we can get them very, very fit so that they can handle extra minutes. We also want them to learn that checking side of the game, so now they can be an offensive force when killing a penalty as well. There are a lot of things that you can do if you can get these guys playing on both sides of the puck. And that’s where the test is going to lie and it’s going to take some time to get this plan in place. I think that once the guys get comfortable with it, we can be a dangerous team, in all different kinds of ways.

Gregor: It might be too early for this, but many have wondered if moving Taylor Hall to centre would be smart. Do you think he can be just as dominant playing the wing as he could in the middle?

Eakins: It’s going to be one of these things, the first thing that I’m going to do, while I’m here this week, is to talk to our management, what they’ve seen, what Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger think. But I think that maybe the most important conversation comes between me and Taylor. I’ll ask him where is he the most comfortable, where does he think that he can be the most productive, and then we start working through it. I can’t tell you right now where he is going to play. But we will find that spot where he is comfortable at, that we’re comfortable at, and more importantly where he will befit his teammates and we will move forward with that plan.

Rishaug: What is your philosophy, and you may have touched on this a little bit, on your skilled players being a part of the penalty kill?

Eakins: Well yeah, if they can get good at it, and if they’re committed to it, I think that they should be out there. Your skilled guys, it’s a number of things going on. They’re usually the smartest guys on your team when it comes to reading plays, they can definitely do damage when they get the puck. Your skilled guys are usually guys who can really skate, so if you can teach them how to kill penalties or if they can get committed to doing some of this dirty work on a penalty kill, and it hurts blocking shots and sacrificing your body, then that can be a way for them to up their minutes.

Usually your skilled guys are making the most money, and if you’re making the most money you had better be playing the most minutes, because you’re earning that money. So that’s where I would like it to go. That being said, if we have other guys on the other lines that are excellent penalty killers and can get the job done, then we’ll stick with them. It’s certainly an opportunity to for a guy with skill to buy in a little bit more defensively to get some more ice time.

Rishaug: Dallas, just to clarify from the press conference today, as far as the rest of the coaching staff goes, are you looking to add an associate coach, and will you also be making the call on the other two assistants. Is that where it’s at right now?

Eakins: Well yeah, that’s where we left it and listen, I just got my feet on the ground here. So I’m going to talk to Kelly and I’m going to talk to Steve and find out where they’re at here as coaches, and how they see this going forward. We are definitely in a market here to add another coach, possibly someone with some NHL experience. It’s easy to say that, it’s a little bit harder to do but I’ve got to get the lay of the land here and see what works best for our team and what I deem best for our team. So there will be a bit of a process to this, but in the end we will make our decision and move forward.

Gregor: What will you look for in those coaches? What types of coaches do you want on your staff?

Eakins: Well number one, they’ve got to be great teachers. I need the assistants to be great teachers, they’ve got to have a real firm knowledge technically, tactically to adjust mid-game right during a shift. As encouraging as I can be, there are going to be times right where I’m going to light a fire under a player, and he may not like it and I’m going to need my assistants to swing back around and put out the fire and be a real positive force.

So there are a number of things going on there, and we’ve got to get the right mix. To be honest with you, I’ve got to find out about Kelly and Steve. They might be the best two assistant coaches in the National Hockey League and I’ve got to go in and see where they’re at, and how they fit. 


  • Eakins reminds me of MacTavish, which is likely a reason why he replaced Krueger. Eakins will be more demanding than Renney and Krueger, and that will likely be a good thing for this group of players. I believe they need to be challenged a bit more.
  • I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, unless MacTavish gives Eakins some better players, I doubt we will see a massive improvement from the Oilers. You can’t keep changing coaches and expect to win. The philosophy and demands of the team need to improve, and time will tell if MacTavish and Eakins are the right guys to make these changes. It is very early, but so far I’ve been impressed in how direct and decisive MacTavish has been, and I suspect we will see a new approach from Eakins when training camp starts in September.
  • Taylor Hall is a left winger. He is most comfortable there, and I predict after Eakins speaks with his leading scorer he will keep him on the wing. It is time to stop talking about moving Hall to the middle. He can dominate games on the wing, and that is where he will play next year.
  • Teemu Hartikainen’s decision to sign in the KHL and play for his former Finnish coach makes sense for him and the Oilers. Hartikainen needs to mature, and he needs to be more consistent if he ever hopes to play in the NHL. I know many love his size, but size means nothing if you don’t use it, and use it often. In order to make the NHL, and remain in the NHL, players need to be self-motivated. No coach can bring that out of you. They can enhance it, but the majority of motivation and drive comes from within, and at this point I haven’t seen it often enough in Hartikainen. He has the ability and skill to play in the NHL, but he can’t expect his coaches to constantly prod him to get him going. Hopefully for him and the Oilers, he finds that this year in the KHL.
  • The Stars signed Sergei Gonchar for two years at $5 million a year. Gonchar is 39 years old. I wonder how that will impact the market for Mark Streit? Streit turns 36 in December, but he’s averaged 0.67 points-per-game the past five seasons, and he’s an elite puck mover. Despite his defensive deficiencies, I expect he’ll get at least a 3-year deal and likely longer. Will the Oilers give him $15 million over 3 years? They might have to if they want to sign him.
  • The Blackhawks have been the best team all season, so I’ll stick with them and take them to win in 7 games.  


    • MKE

      I think you are better off to target a team who is in cap trouble.

      If Buffalo unloads like has been suggested..they would have a ton of cap room.

      A more desperate team would have a lower asking price.

      • Word to the Bird

        Myers value won’t be much lower than it is right now.

        You could attempt to fleece a team in cap trouble, but odds are other teams will be giving good offers because they’re desperate to get those players on their team.

        I’d be willing to bet that you could get Myers for cheaper than you’d get Edler or Hamhuis.

        Mind you, Philadelphia would be a team I would be interested in making a trade for, but if Briere and Bryz are bought out, they’re out of hot water.

          • Word to the Bird

            I wonder who is more willing to give up value. Edmonton has more assets in the form of prospects than Philly, and it seems doubtful that Holmgren is looking to trade roster players considering their kiddie pool depth. I think they will be in the market for UFA’s.

          • MKE

            I totally agree on philly. Ufa makes far more sense for them. I know you have to give up value to get value. But i dont want to part with ebs, hall, rnh, yak or schultz. If you could do a deal without including one of them im all for it. Im just not sure its possible.

          • Word to the Bird

            I believe Myers is not worth as much as the kids mentioned, with the exception of maybe Schultz. Obviously he’s not going anywhere though.

            If there is any year to go for the big time players it’s this year. As I said before, Myers had an offseason this year; heck he was a healthy scratch in a number of games. I think some package around the 7th overall could get it done. Gags and the 7th would be an overpay if you ask me.

          • MKE

            I totally agree. This is the year to go after top end defencemen via trade.

            If there was ever the perfect storm this would seem to be it.

            It depends how you value Gags. On the right team he could be a great piece. Buffalo has made it known they want to build down the middle.

          • Word to the Bird

            I don’t think it’s too out of the question. The Sabres don’t exactly have an embarrasment of riches up front. Maybe Myers and Stafford for Gagner, the 7th overall pick and Musil could do it?

          • MKE

            You are right, they don’t. I’d do that deal. I played with Stafford one summer and he’s someone I’d like on my team. Not crazy about his cap hit.

            Maybe I’m crazy, but I wonder if there is an even better deal out there.

            I wonder if….maybe….JUST MAYBE….you could get Alex Pietrangelo. I know its not likely at all. But I can’t help but wonder..

            If I could wish for one guy…he would be it.

  • MKE

    Sportsnet reporting Tortorella being interviewed by Gills. If that isn’t a train wreck waiting to happen I don’t know what is.

    Match made in heaven if you aren’t a Canucks fan. Those two are made for each other.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Now that! would be worth watching next season. To see it all come crashing down in Vancouver. Don’t know many other options they have, they’ve tried the nice guy thing with Vinault. Maybe it is time for a dictatorship kind of leader to push those guys to their limits.

      • MKE

        You could very well be right. But Tortorella doesnt relate well at all and if you can only play “dictator” its usually only effective for a short time. If at all

  • Benny Botts

    I am a guy that…if GM or coach…I would get by very well during any season and playoffs…with by winning games with the following type defence line team of #3 to #4 guys (four)and two #5’s…such as for example (to be all when in their prime ages):

    Yandle/Seabrook and Doughty…, Alzner and Tyutin/Shattenkirk/D. Keith…, and with say ….(Kevin Lowe or Hatcher, McSorley and/or R. Gregg)as my third type pairing.

    With these type guys…. I got very good offence and defence for skating/skillsnd excellent meannness/grit/toughness. I think Doughty is a decent #2 for any team and he is getting better as he grows older.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I really don’t get the hand-wringing over Hall at Center (pro or con).

    If he tries it through TC and it seems to work, great. If he does and it doesn’t work, great. If they decide not to bother, great.

    Regardless, MacT has a lot of work to do at C this off-season. esp. with Gagner’s contract up and Horcov headed out.

    Hall is a superstar. Having him kill at center would be nice, but it is hardly a panacea, nor do I see the question as some world-stopping distraction.

    As far as D… let’s face it we need better players and more of them. We all know this. Depth is far more important than some mythical #1 D.

    Success comes in all shapes and sizes and so do great hockey players. We need more creative thinking to build a winner than plug in a mythical #1 D.

    If MacT adds Ranger, on top of Belov he’ll be headed in the right direction. That would still leave work to do IMO and time for the bubble up… but it would be a nice start.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    When the Penguins won the cup Letang wasn’t as good as he is now. Also let’s name the Cup finalists, like NJD? or the Canucks? Who were their top D-men? Hamhuis and Salvador?

    You can win with a defense-by-committee. You don’t need an 8M D-man to win the cup, they help a lot, but you don’t NEED one.

      • Bucknuck


        You mean in game seven of the stanley cup finals, if you took the best player off of one team and gave that player to the other team it might have tipped the scales!?

        Say it ain’t so!!

        • Jofa

          No, that series was done a few minutes into Game 6. Everyone knew it, including the Canucks.

          FWIW, I had the Bruins in 5 that year and got into an argument with a very drunk Globe & Mail writer at a conference reception in Vancouver a couple of days before the series started. I told him Boston had more depth, better D, and better goaltending and that if Luongo did not steal a game or two the Bruins would have it done in 5. He spent the next 10 minutes telling me what an idiot I was and that the Nucks were going to take it fast. We all saw how that worked out. Good thing he is a business writer and does not have to write about hockey for a living.

          My only regret from that reception is that I let my kids decide if we would flip the autographed Linden Nucks jersey I got on eBay during the Cup Finals or not. They said no, and that was probably the peak for Nucks fans’ enthusiasm for a decade or so.

  • MKE

    Okay okay I saee the argument that Doughty is not a #2 type guy with LA…yet.

    Would I love to have Lindstrom, pronger, Suter or Weber on the Oil….Duh…yeah…bit quit trying to whine about getting what almost no one will ever get… Its a team not one player dudes…

    However, my good point is … that teams do not need to over spend on just one defenceman like Weber or Suter to get the cup and that it can take tough to griity players of #3 to #4 calbibre to do it together.

    Who cares if I chose the Oilers 1990 roster. That type 1990 defence roster…in its prime as of today…. would get any team into the playoffs and last into later rounds more so..if with the right forards.

    Its like when Dallas…with Sydor and Hatcher leading the way….were hard to win against and those two guys alone were not #1 or #2 type guys based on skills and skating alone.

    All I am saying is that MacT can put together a team of #3 and #4 guys (four) to move upward in the league.

    • Benny Botts

      Negative man, the oil will keep spinning their wheels in the bottom of the western conference if their dcore is full of #3,4,5 and. 6 dman. A number 1 or 2 is crucial with good depth to start winning today in the NHL.

      Also, you have to stop justifying your argument by pulling teams from 10-20 years ago…we both know the game is totally different now.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I do hope they get rid of Oilers assistant coaches. Get fresh eyes on the team, and start with a clean slate.

    I could be wrong but if he keeps Smith and Buchberger to appease Kevin Lowe Oilers are in trouble.

    I hope Eakins takes charge.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    To DSF and also those who thought I cant see a very good defence without a #1 or #2.

    One type Case in Point…The Oilers won their 1990 cup without a true or even close type #1 and/or a #2 in the lineup.

    The past defence rosterfor that 1990 cup…was of #3 to #7’s such as….Kevin Lowe, Steve Smith, Jeff Beukeboom, Randy Gregg, CVharlie huddy, Geoff Smith,Craig Muni and Reijo Ruotsalainen.

    The 2012 LA Kings have a #2 only in Doughty (like Coffey back in the 80’s…but all else are #3 to #6, the

    • Spydyr

      Did you watch those teams? The Oilers’ D might not have been the high scorers (although Smith had some good years and Reijo was purely an offensive blueliner), but based on what else was in the league at the time I would argue that Smith was a solid #2. If you don’t believe me, check out his stats on hockeydb.

    • Benny Botts

      You thinking Drew Doughty is a #2 in the NHL is what makes your argument invalid. Im sorry, put two screens up on your computer and put the oilers dcore even if they add a #3 or #4 like your saying and compare it to the kings dcore last year…..not even close man!!

      Come on

    • Benny Botts

      You thinking Drew Doughty is a #2 in the NHL is what makes your argument invalid. Im sorry, put two screens up on your computer and put the oilers dcore even if they add a #3 or #4 like your saying and compare it to the kings dcore last year…..not even close man!!

      Come on

    • DSF

      If you think Doughty is a #2 you don’t know your defensemen.

      If you have to go all the way back to 1990 (23 years ago) to prove your point…you’ve made my point.

    • Benny Botts

      You thinking Drew Doughty is a #2 in the NHL is what makes your argument invalid. Im sorry, put two screens up on your computer and put the oilers dcore even if they add a #3 or #4 like your saying and compare it to the kings dcore last year…..not even close man!!

      Come on

  • Word to the Bird

    The more I think about it, the more I think MacT will have to be creative with his trades. It seems obvious to say but NONE of the Fab 5 should be traded. Look at the Blackhawks, they have 2 scoring lines that can be league standard first lines. The Oilers should strive for that offensive core. I think the #7 pick has to be traded in order to acquire that long awaited defenseman, and some prospects should hit the road in favor of NHL veteran d-men, and not a bunch of useless plugs either. Ball’s in your court MacT

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Man, talk about fighting a losing battle. Having to treat every player different, depending on each players emotional state. Looks to me like the players still hold the keys to the asylum in this hockey town. With this being Dallas’ first NHL gig as a coach, i’m sure there will be an extended learning curve for Eakins as well. Can’t do much about it now, but a calm on the surface, mad as hell beneath it guy like Dave Tippett wouldn’t offer these kids an olive branch/excuse like Eakins appears to have already.

    Oilers should buy 3 ping pong tables for the dressing room this coming season. Eakins may have to trash 2 of them to raise the expectation level. I’m sure if guys like Horc and Hemsky are still here, they would walk all over this guy. Been the same old mumbo jumbo from every new coach here these last 6 yrs.

    Certainly don’t get that, holy frigg things are going to be different with this guy, vibe from his initial intros.

    • Word to the Bird

      Wow, you seem to think you have him pegged. I’m not sure what “excuse” you think Eakins has given the players, cause to me it sounds like he will have a much higher standard of accountability, competitiveness and preparedness. Eakins doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that feels the need to be liked by his players, like Renney and Krueger. I like his intensity and he focus on fitness. Aside from that I think everyone will have to reserve judgement until training camp opens, cause unless you’ve watched a bunch of Marlies games I doubt you know him as well as you think you do.

        • MKE

          I don’t believe that Tippett would be able to best use the offensive weapons the Oilers have.

          He’s a good coach. Im just not sure Tippett would have been the best fit here.

          Just my opinion.

          I also believe that this is why Eakins will also bring in an associate coach and a couple new assistants.

          You are only as strong as your weakest link

  • Bucknuck

    I think a lot of the Streit hubbub might have revolved around Krueger coaching him at one point (am I wrong?). If that was indeed so, I would expect that the change in coach might have scuttled that. Especially the move to a defense-first coaching approach for defensemen.

    I don’t mind, since Streit is made of glass and that last thing the Oilers need is an expensive player that is always hurt.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I am pretty sure you are right and that they are connected via the Swiss national team.

      Regarding Streit, I view the frequent mention of him in the same way expressed by Lowetide – i.e. that the Oil could use a Streit-type Dman, though it does not necessarily have to be Streit. “Streit” is often cited as a shorthand to indicate the player type rather than the individual.

    • Benny Botts

      2006-07 Montreal Canadiens NHL 76 10 26 36 14 -5 2007-08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 81 13 49 62 28 -6 2008-09 New York Islanders NHL 74 16 40 56 62 6 — — — — —
      2009-10 New York Islanders NHL 82 11 38 49 48 1 — — — — —
      2011-12 New York Islanders NHL 82 7 40 47 4627
      2012-13 New York Islanders NHL 48 6 21 27 22 -14

      76,81,74,82,82,48. Call me crazy, but that looks like some decently healthy years.

      Whether its Eakins or Krueger as coach, Steit is a huge up-grade to this dcore!

          • Bucknuck

            But you’re right – one season does not make a trend. You just remember those crappy picks because it grinds at you all year… I hate that. It’s like the year I picked Straka and he got nine whole points because of a busted leg. I had to look at that “9” in my number two slot all year long. Or the year I picked Hemsky and he busted his shoulders up.


  • Eddie Shore

    Hey dudes I am not saying the Oil cant go for top 1/2 guys on defence…I am only stating that trying for guys for like Weber or Suter or a younger Pronger….at stupid money….to lead alone on defence with aint gonna cut it….if the pother are not top 3 to 5 types.

    If ya read it right I did not say that belov, N. Schultz, potter, Peckham, Petry are great players etc, they are what they are.

    As for my ranking the Oilers’ defence now… individually…it is those in the hockey world business that projected those type ratings and
    not me.

    A defence team with four top 3/4 guys and two top 4/6 guys is an excellent type defence.

    Without a #1 type guy like weber/Suter/pronger etc, I can justifiably see an Oilers’ team being very strong with of four very good type #3/4’s with two top #5’s who would get to the cup with the right forwards…such as for example:

    Top 2/3 player (aka – Streit/Alzner type)- Klefbom,…
    J. Schultz – (Seabrook/Doughty/D. Keith type)…
    Smid – (Fedor Tyutin/Wisnieski/Bogozian type…)

    Extra’s for the Oil then easily could be Petry/Belov

    When the Oil won those cups they did not always have a super top #1…for 3 yrs alone..(84 to 87) Coffey was always rated/considered just a top type #2 (even as Bobby Orr rated being a #1 always) and after him… were always five – type top 4 to 6 guys like Fogolin, Huddy, Gregg, McSorley, Muni, Beukeboom, Steve Smith.

    Being that with salary caps teams have to watch out…and the Oilers will be having several high income forward players for yrs…our top 3/4 and two top 5/6 defenceman togather is very strong so guys…dont jump the gun on what I wrote.

  • Benny Botts

    @ Gregor

    Jason, I think the oil will make a big push for steit in the off season. But IMO this d core will still be lacking much needed physicality and competitivness.

    Schultz-Streit(if signed)

    To me that 7 is not going to win in the NHL, where do you see some changes happening? Small or big? Does moving petry and something else as a package for a top tier dman make sense?

    Thanks Jason

  • Benny Botts

    To Ryan2…or anyone else on the issue of defenceman…

    The Oilers do not need a top 1-2 defenceman and five 5/6 type….they can win with four top 2/3/4 defenceman…

    Smid is a four (defence spcialist), Petry is a 3/4 offensive type, J. Schultz is a 2/3 type, while the rest that are here left are of N. Schultz (5/6), Belov (5 to 7), Peckham (7/8), Potter (7/8).

    Klefbom wil be a top 2/3 soon, Marancin is a 2/3 in the near future, Gernat is a future top 3/4 and fedun/Davidson/Musil are probable 5 to 7 types.

    The Oil only need now to have a top 3 type veteran who will mentor both J. Schultz and Klefbom….and lead the rest into battle. That type guy can be of such like Yandle, Alzner or Streit…be it the price for those 3 do not exceed 5 mil a yr.

    • DSF

      You value the current Oilers’ d-men too highly.

      Nick Schultz is a 6/7 on any playoff team – in fact, he was basically already that when Minny traded him to us.

      Potter and Peckham are not NHL d-men on a playoff team.

      Belov has not proven that he can play in the NHL yet, let alone in a bottom pairing role. I would prefer to see him start in the AHL, adjust to the smaller ice surface, then earn his playing time in the NHL.

      Smid is a 4/5 – I like what he brings to the table but his hockey sense is limited. I agree with you on Petry being a 3/4, but this is where J. Schultz is right now as well.

      There is no sense in listing Klefbom, Marincin, Gernat, etc. (unless Musil can learn to skate he will not make it) as they are all 2 (Marincin, Kelfbom) to 4 (Gernat et al.) years away from maybe cracking the line up. The Oilers will likely rush them, but the smarter thing to do would be to have them spend more time developing in the AHL and chasing stop gaps for the big club. Let them learn the game and earn their playing time. It is a foreign concept for the Oilers, but seems to work for the playoff teams.

      So, that leaves the Oilers still 3 starters short of a blue line. This is a tall task for one off-season and looking at the current UFA crop I do not see MacT being able to make much improvement. The only way to shore up the blueline is to trade a top young forward, but looking at the lack of center (and arguably forward) depth in the minors this is a bit risky as well. It is funny to see after being bottom feeders for 4 years, but it goes to show how little talent was actually acquired during the Prendergast regime………

      • Ducey

        You are not paying attention.

        The Oilers just need to make the playoffs.

        Lots of teams do that without a “true” #1 D. For example, the Canucks.

        In a few years the Oilers will have either developed someone or can trade for one.

        If the Oilers can install a better defensive system, we might be surprised at how good the D becomes.

      • MKE

        You are a coward. You come and make these bogus statements and these bogus predictions and you are wrong ALL THE TIME.

        Yet you act like your s*it dont stink.

        You can’t pick and choose the examples based on what helps your argument.

        Carolina won a cup without a true number 1.


        Even if it doesn’t fit your desired reality.

        • DSF

          “The Buffalo News blog Sports Ink does a feature called “Today in Buffalo Sports History”. On Monday they talked about the Sabres 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in game three of the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals. The victory gave the Sabres a two games to one lead in the series but Henrik Tallinder broke his arm and joined Teppo Numminen and Dmitri Kalinin on the injured list for the Sabres. Jay McKee joined them on the injured list before game seven and the Sabres played that game without four of their regular defensemen.”

          Imagine how the Chicago Blackhawks would have done against LA if they were missing Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy.

    • Benny Botts

      You will get killed in the NHL with this defensive core. Just look at the d cores in our division next year. The defense you have listed will get killed!

    • Benny Botts

      You rank these guys like an overall meter on an EA sports game. It’s horribly base and frankly a stupid way to build a defence core. If you’re saying we can win with a deep defensive core that is devoid of a top NHL defender, fine, but then going ahead and saying the upcoming kids who haven’t played a single NHL game in their lives are going to be top two and three guys is ridiculous.

      If these kids were that good, they’d already be here. I tend to think the role of defence is slightly more difficult than you are giving credit for. Personally, I think defence is the area that needs to most upgrades and changes. I really like guys like Smid, Petry, J Schultz and Nick Schultz. But they aren’t getting the job done. If one of them has to go to make room for a few more guys who can get it done then so be it. I would love to see three new faces on defence this year, and keep our prospects developing in the minors until they aren’t just ready to fill a spot on the Oilers Blue, but to make an impact on the team.

  • Word to the Bird

    Eakins sounds interesting, but as Jason stated, unless there is a major improvement in the roster then he will struggle. The current roster is very poorly constructed, especially on D. Right now they are 3 d-men short of a NHL blueline, and none of the three existing D (Petry, Smid, JSchultz) are a #1. While there appears to be some blueline depth coming in the system, it is still 2 to 3 years away. Looking at the current UFA crop, it is slim pickings for blueline help as well.

    Up front, once Horcoff is traded the team is lacking a solid #2, #3, and #4 centerman (Gagner is not a solid #2 in my opinion). You could argue that the lack of depth up the middle is more of an issue than the blueline, but if the D is upgraded it can help to mask this deficiency more than the other way around (strong C and weak D).

  • Benny Botts

    I enjoy eakins the more I read about him and of what he means and says….great interview JG. I believe now that Eakins is gonna be the best coach fit for the Oil in a long time…maybe in the mold of a young Sather and also MacT as of 2007.

    I really like his thoughts and determination for defence and toughness…as also his stance on skill and offence. But now with defence being a huge non-negoptiable issue with competing every day/night, I see a stronger defence than in yrs….even before getting one to two more new players this yr, aside from klefbom/Belov.

    This is gonna add ten to fifteen more points top the Oilers alone next season (example is 7 wins plus an OT game)if goaltending keeps improving.

    From the now average 74 pts that would put the Oil at 89….so offence will have to add 4 to 5 more wins to the totals for sure.

    97 to 99 pts…with a strong/proper complete team (bottom six/two top six wingers, one more top 4 defenceman and 1 excellent other goalie) that competes hard is not improbable for this Oilers team. With eakins now here (as opposed to just Krueger/Bucky/Smith), I can see guys like Eager (if he stays) having to really play and put out each game.

    A type bottom six guy like Ryan Jones (if he is re-signed) will be given far more stricter rules/responsibility to do what has to be done.

    Good choice MacT to get Eakins so now please complete the team the right way this summer… I also want to add I think one or both of Bucky/Smith are now gone and that Acton, Maurice and/or derek King aree coming to the Oilers…very good new coach choices in my mind.

  • Word to the Bird

    Good interview. From what I’ve seen stats wise Eakins looks like he’ll need some help running the power play. Since Kelly and Steve have been around for Renny and Krueger, who both put together a really strong power play each year, perhaps the two coaches stay on simply because they know how to roll an effective Oiler special team. Combine that with Eakins’ excellent PK record, and that could be a goal differential of 15 on the year. He also has strong 5 on 5 stats, which should improve naturally on the team by virtue of Yak playing RW from the start, and the top line not being so snake bitten early on.

    My prediction for next year is a goal differential of plus 12.

  • I’m with you, Gregor. There is no reason the Oilers should be trying Hall at Center. They have a #1 Center in RNH who is already very good at his job and he’s 20. They have MAYBE a need for the 2C but why would they put Hall on the 2nd line.

    He’s a LW, let him play LW. Brent Burns was an OK Defenseman, but the second you put him back to his natural position he looks amazing.

    Let’s not muck about with Hall’s natural position