Great Expectations

There has been some significant backlash from Edmonton Oilers fans, both here and elsewhere, following a draft that fell somewhat short of Craig MacTavish’s lofty goals going in. How much is justified?

Pre-Draft

When MacTavish was introduced as the new general manager of the Oilers, there was mixed reaction, which makes sense given his long history with Edmonton’s fans and the animosity many felt during his time as coach. He did say all the right things, though, and implicitly contrasted himself to predecessor Steve Tambellini with comments like this one:

I’m an impatient guy, and I bring that impatience to this situation. I think that we’re at the stage in terms of the cycle of our hockey club right now that we have to do some bold things. We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion. My sense, and my analysis from watching the team over the last number of months is much the same as a lot of people’s analysis of our team. We need greater depth, we’ve got a lot of great primary pieces.

Asked if there could be as many as eight new Oilers, MacTavish said, “I think that’s fair. There’s going to be some significant and meaningful change for sure.”

Comments in that vein all down the line, combined with media- (and, yes, blog-)driven hype and rumours served to push expectations sky high. Lots of players were available for the right offer. The Oilers were linked all over, to goalies and forwards and defencemen, and the feeling going in was that the Oilers would come out of the draft looking substantially different than when they entered it.

Dud

In the larger picture, it’s worth noting that such hype was particularly strong in Edmonton, but it wasn’t confined to the Oilers; lots of teams hoped to be able to do something at the draft. But in the grand scheme of things, the draft was a dud. Cory Schneider went to New Jersey for a fraction of the cost Vancouver would have charged Edmonton. Cal Clutterbuck went to Brooklyn at the cost of former fifth overall pick Nino Niederreiter. Andrej Sekera cost both a pretty good defenceman (Jamie McBain) and the 35th overall pick.

The best, and perhaps only, bargain of the day was likely San Jose’s acquisition of Tyler Kennedy for a second round draft pick.

Should the Oilers have given Vancouver their asking price for Schneider – reportedly the 7th overall, a second round pick and a young NHL-ready player? Should they have swapped Magnus Paajarvi for Cal Clutterbuck? I’d answer an emphatic ‘no’ to both, and that’s just how it is: the trade prices were too high to get anything done.

So, while superficially the draft was a dud, in this case “dud” was likely better than the alternative.

Reality

Unfortunately, this leaves Craig MacTavish in virtually the same place he entered the draft: in need of making significant changes to his hockey team. The defence and the bottom six needs to be overhauled. Players like Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff are still on the team; if Craig MacTavish has prioritized moving them than they still need to go (though at this point, it is fair to wonder if the Oilers really are best-served by moving them). The same is true in net, where Devan Dubnyk offers Edmonton a perfectly serviceable number one goalie in the prime of his career; the Oilers appear to want an elite goaltender and if that’s a priority for them they will need to find it somewhere else. The big left winger the team covets still needs to be found as well.

There is time to do these things, but the draft was expected to be a significant opportunity, and it is definitely a bad thing for the team that the opportunity turned out to be only a mirage. The next big step is free agency, and the post-free agency trades for teams that didn’t land their preferred targets. The Oilers can’t afford to go through those periods without making significant changes.

Recently around the Nation Network

The Oilers draft may have been quiet, but the Calgary Flames’ certainly was not. The decision to pass on Hunter Shinkaruk and instead pick Emile Poirier was widely critiqued, but the Flames’ 67th overall pick drew some negative attention, too:

After round 1, there isn’t much to talk about. Feaster failed to nab any other early-to-mid picks so it’s even more baffling that the organization decided to use their lone choice between 30-100 on man mountain Keegan Kanzig. The 6’7", 240+ pound defender, by all accounts, is a guy who can’t really skate, can’t handle the puck and has no offense to speak of. He was ranked in the 190’s amongst North American skaters by Central Scouting. Corey Pronman didn’t rank him in the top-100 either.

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • Oilers4ever

    Well hello Oilersnation!!! Guy takes a break away for a couple months and everyone (well almost everyone) is trying to rip Oilers mgmt a new you know what. 🙂

    I’ve read a lot of posts and lord knows I’ll tell you one thing we are all lucky for as Oilers fans. Our devotion and dedication to our team, whether the comments are uplifting or trying to rip new holes (as above mentioned) 🙂 I don’t care what fans of other teams say, Oilers fan are THE most devoted to their team.

    Anyways, I have to wonder about people who are calling for management’s heads because nothing happened of significance. Look I want some change as much as the next guy, but you don’t make a dumb arse trade if it guts your team and really doesn’t improve it. Take the 9th overall pick of NJ’s to the Canucks for the supposed “heir” to Marty Brodeur…. NOT! Schneider is a good goalie for sure, but is really that much better that Dubby? I am not that stats guy, I’ll leave that to JW, but I’ll bet my lunch money (which isn’t much tnankfully) that the overall numbers between Dubby and Schneider is not that far apart. So what has Schneider done for you lately? No Vezinas… No Cups. Tell me how he’s worth a 9 overall pick. Ridiculous. 7th would have been even worse.

    I get that MacT said he’s going to make changes but you people who are jumping all over him need to settle down. Never once did he say these changes were all coming through the draft. You talk about Hemsky and Horcoff not being moved for picks you most of the MSM stuff I’ve read says Hemsky likely won’t go until at least the second week or so of July for any of the teams that missed out on guys like Horton, Vinny, etc.

    As far as I am concerned, MacT isn’t judged until AT LEAST after one full season at GM. He will make some changes this summer. He has to. As it stand now we really don’t have a third line. And we need a goalie so that will get addressed.

    Our cupboards were bare draft pick wise and we gained what, four or five picks? Yes people say after the first round everything goes to crap whether anything pans out. Tell that to the Red Wings who took Zetterberg and Datsyuk deep in the draft. Both will be in the HHOF guranteed. Who’s to say how those two Russian kids will turn out.

    And I do think that Eakins will make a difference. New coach, new system. I like what I’ve read that he’s going to have multiple styles of play used within one game. The Oilers have been FAR too predictable for how they play. Whether that is their breakout, the PP, etc. If Eakins can rotate multiple types of breakouts, attacks, etc in one game, teams will never be able to prepare for that. So I look forward to seeing how that goes.

    Bottom line, give this new mgmt team and coaching staff a chance to get things done. We all know certain players are going to be gone. Does it really matter if it happens June 28 or August 13 or whatever date before training camp starts that you want to throw out there? The way I see it there is no difference.

    I know people are tired of the ole “have patience” from the Oilers organization, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things will be different by the beginning of September, mark my words!

    Peace out all! Good to be back!

    • Tikkanese

      @ Oilers4ever “And I do think that Eakins will make a difference. New coach, new system. I like what I’ve read that he’s going to have multiple styles of play used within one game. The Oilers have been FAR too predictable for how they play. Whether that is their breakout, the PP, etc. If Eakins can rotate multiple types of breakouts, attacks, etc in one game, teams will never be able to prepare for that. So I look forward to seeing how that goes”

      Multiple styles of play used within one game?? What kind of BS is that from the Oilers. What?

      You mean he is going to utilise the NHS Adjusted-Hybrid exactly like Chicago has used it? To allow him the flexibility to project more and varied system strengths without dismantleing the Adjusted-Hybrid as the team already understands it? Because that is exactly how his last two pre-decessors were supposed to do things, I would say last three but Quinn didnt have full access to the NHS data the other two had, things were just developing when Quinn was here.

      Quinn understood the potential of the NHS and supported it publicly to some degree, he just didnt last long enough here to implement all of the data that was available then and that which was created after he left, but he did have the acumen as Sutter did in LA to immediatly recognise its potential and VALIDATE IT as no one from the Oilers has since.

      If Eakins can rotate multiple types of breakouts, attacks , ect in one game??? What?

      That is the cheeziest way I have ever heard the NHS adjustments impact on the Adjusted-Hybrid teams use described to date, utter BS .

      I guess no one can ask Dallas what system he will be using ha? That looks like a well planned smokescreen to me.

      This poor fella doesnt deserve it but he is being hit with a full-blown Integrity Test that his entire roster is watching go down ,right off the bat.

      If Dalls Eakins fails to mention the NHS and carries the charade of overt denial of source further AS HIS PREDECESSORS DID, I predict the same fate for him, in short order. The men before him were very good men, and had either fully implemented the available NHS data they would still be here.

      The NHS Adjusted-Hybrid is an evolution, it has already been mastered by the Hawks in the exact same way we must use it to optimise our roster, there is no secret there.

      Dallas Eakins will not change our System here at all, not one iota, he will simply try incorporating the NHS adjustments as he sees best. Dallas isnt bringing anything new to the table system-wise, he is a strong Intuitive input brought here to better utilise the NHS adjustments we failed to master the last few years. If anyone thinks the Oilers will go back a single step they are nuts, look at how far in the crap they are buried already?

      God forbid a video of the NHSs history ever hits the dam Oilers boards before they clear the air, lets please NOT see Dallas smeared here, he already had to whiff on meetings he had planned when we scooped him, he has already been tainted by the Darkside, as I am sure he needed to give an answer before he finished his prior obligations up{which is against his grain}, make a right now choice, you know thats how the dark-side works…. early indoctrination.

  • Oilers4ever

    Well hello Oilersnation!!! Guy takes a break away for a couple months and everyone (well almost everyone) is trying to rip Oilers mgmt a new you know what. 🙂

    I’ve read a lot of posts and lord knows I’ll tell you one thing we are all lucky for as Oilers fans. Our devotion and dedication to our team, whether the comments are uplifting or trying to rip new holes (as above mentioned) 🙂 I don’t care what fans of other teams say, Oilers fan are THE most devoted to their team.

    Anyways, I have to wonder about people who are calling for management’s heads because nothing happened of significance. Look I want some change as much as the next guy, but you don’t make a dumb arse trade if it guts your team and really doesn’t improve it. Take the 9th overall pick of NJ’s to the Canucks for the supposed “heir” to Marty Brodeur…. NOT! Schneider is a good goalie for sure, but is really that much better that Dubby? I am not that stats guy, I’ll leave that to JW, but I’ll bet my lunch money (which isn’t much tnankfully) that the overall numbers between Dubby and Schneider is not that far apart. So what has Schneider done for you lately? No Vezinas… No Cups. Tell me how he’s worth a 9 overall pick. Ridiculous. 7th would have been even worse.

    I get that MacT said he’s going to make changes but you people who are jumping all over him need to settle down. Never once did he say these changes were all coming through the draft. You talk about Hemsky and Horcoff not being moved for picks you most of the MSM stuff I’ve read says Hemsky likely won’t go until at least the second week or so of July for any of the teams that missed out on guys like Horton, Vinny, etc.

    As far as I am concerned, MacT isn’t judged until AT LEAST after one full season at GM. He will make some changes this summer. He has to. As it stand now we really don’t have a third line. And we need a goalie so that will get addressed.

    Our cupboards were bare draft pick wise and we gained what, four or five picks? Yes people say after the first round everything goes to crap whether anything pans out. Tell that to the Red Wings who took Zetterberg and Datsyuk deep in the draft. Both will be in the HHOF guranteed. Who’s to say how those two Russian kids will turn out.

    And I do think that Eakins will make a difference. New coach, new system. I like what I’ve read that he’s going to have multiple styles of play used within one game. The Oilers have been FAR too predictable for how they play. Whether that is their breakout, the PP, etc. If Eakins can rotate multiple types of breakouts, attacks, etc in one game, teams will never be able to prepare for that. So I look forward to seeing how that goes.

    Bottom line, give this new mgmt team and coaching staff a chance to get things done. We all know certain players are going to be gone. Does it really matter if it happens June 28 or August 13 or whatever date before training camp starts that you want to throw out there? The way I see it there is no difference.

    I know people are tired of the ole “have patience” from the Oilers organization, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Things will be different by the beginning of September, mark my words!

    Peace out all! Good to be back!

    • nuge2drai

      Oiler Domination To Follow

      Why are our cupboards bare? We have been rebuilding for 7 years. We have built the core and future with the last 7 years of trading players for picks.

      We can now package prospects and future draft picks for depth to help the core.

      I agree oiler fans are the most passionate about their team. How about we get rewarded for once, maybe with some actual trades or signings that improve the team. That would be nice.

      • nuge2drai

        Oiler Domination To Follow

        Seguin would be the best bold move any oiler could ask for.

        Well realistic move, we all know Weber would be the best move ever.

        I would start the convo with 2014 first rounder, Paarajvi and Marincin and see what else needs to be added.

        Future Oilers Roster

        Hall Hopkins Yakupov

        ____ Seguin Eberle

        J Shultz Nurse

        Klefbom Petry

  • magisterrex

    Oilers have built their top 5 forwards by playing young men before they were ready, but MAYBE we will enjoy the fruit of all the experience those young men have earned.

    Could we do that with our third line?
    MPS, Lander, Pitlick would give us lots of speed and hard work.

    Lets give them the needed time to grow into the roles

  • Some of you guys really underrate Anton Belov. He will be excellent for the Oilers!
    Last season he was the best D in the KHL which level isn’t that far from the NHL.

    If he is able to play out his full potential also on the small ice, he definitly has the potential to be a #1#2 D-man after maybe one year.
    His skating ability is very impressive and he is a very good puck mover that can also play physical.

    P.S.: And now get Clarkson!

    (Sorry for possible language errors;))

  • Quicksilver ballet

    .OILERS BOTTOM LINE YOU CAN PLAY THAT SKILL GAME AND BRAG ABOUT ALL THAT SPEED.BUT IF YOU CANNOT PLAY THAT AGRESIVE STYLE IN THE WEST IT IS GONNA BE A LONG YEAR ONCE AGAIN.ALSO NEED A DOSE OF COMPETE AND A STRONG VOICE TO LIGHT A SPARK.CURRENT CAPTAIN HAS LOST A STEP AND HIS COMPETE HAS GONE SOUTH.

  • 2004Z06

    I work with Seguin’s cousin. I had reservations about him the year he was drafted based on his interview. Apparently my reservations were/are accurate. His own cousin says he is a spoiled, arrogant brat. Seems Chiarelli is seeing the same personality. I may like his abilities, but his attitude could be toxic. Pass!

  • 2004Z06

    Well!!!!….Seguin getting berated on focus and attitude issues from Chiarelli does come out surprising, especially with the kid being made available for trade issues.

    That does bring down his stock value for atraqde a bit now… if his attitude and focus are a problem then Eakins and/or Acton would eat this kid for snacks before breakfast.

    As an Oiler fan his skill would be great as a 2nd line centre but doubts are creeping in as to whether the Oilers should go get him or not.

    I want one who gets paid very well (Seguin now at $5.75 mil) but one who earns that rich contract each and every day… not needing a spoiled bad attitude kid… I don’t know’

    His alleged attitude and bad work ethics would not be good for the kids or the rest of the Oilers team

  • Tikkanese

    Petry a #1 D-man?!? What do you people honestly see in his game?

    I see an average defenceman at best. He’s soft. He doesn’t bring any offense. He’s an average skater and passer. I don’t see much compete out of him. Am I missing something?