Not “Bold,” but solid

Edmonton Oilers fans have been waiting for rookie general manager Craig MacTavish to make some moves. He started yesterday by trading Captain Shawn Horcoff to the Dallas stars for Philip Larsen and an offensive zone faceoff win next season in Dallas.


It was time for Horcoff to move on. No one could ever question his professionalism and dedication to the Oilers. He is the consummate pro. After so many years of struggle for the Oilers he will get new energy in Dallas next season.

After being with the same team for so long Horcoff will be very uncomfortable with the move. Everything is new. New city, teammates, arena and travel. It will make him uncomfortable but that will provide him with jump. A change isn’t always good but in this case it is.

I expect Horcoff to have a strong season next year, but I am not talking about more points. He will be the strong center that Dallas needs. No longer will he be the lightning rod of attention for many unhappy Oiler fans. The difference between playing in the States and Canada is like night and day for attention from fans. I think Horcoff will enjoy the break.

Horcoff did many things in the community that were unknown. Having played with him though, I know of many. I wish him luck in the big D!

In the trade the Oilers pick up young Danish blue-liner Philip Larsen. His is only twenty-three years old. He is a slight young man that can move the puck. Is he a long term NHL’er? He should get a chance here to prove he is. He is a player that will move the puck up to the young group of Oilers forwards. That is what MacT said he wanted more of when he took over at GM.

This Morning

This morning once free agency got going MacTavish quickly moved to fill some holes in the line-up. He signed Andrew Ference, a d-man, who played last year with the Bruins. He got both Boyd Gordon, a centreman and Jason LaBarbera, a back-up goalie, out of Phoenix. These are not big, bold moves but there are a very solid start.

I felt the biggest issue for the Oilers was their overall ability to compete every night. They needed more players that give predictable effort and results from game to game. There were too many question marks in the lineup.

Andrew Ference brings experience, steadiness and a compete level to the Oilers. He will be the oldest dman on the team and will be able to mentor everyone in the group. He is a player that is not afraid to speak his mind in the dressing room. When he stands up and addresses the team he will have instant respect from the team because of his career so far.

I do not think he is a top pairing defencemen. He can easily slide into the Oilers second pairing. He is a western guy who played in the WHL. I think the Oilers need more of that. He is also very environmentally informed. Expect the Oilers to start recycling.

Boyd Gordon is also a WHL alum. I cannot tell you how important having more WHL’ers and western players is to a team that is in need of more competitiveness. He is a player with very little offensive upside but he will guide and teach some of the young developing players how to play the game the right way at the crucial times of the games. I would expect rookie head coach Dallas Eakins to use him first in PK situations and important defensive zone draws; think end of the game while protecting a lead.

Lastly the Oilers have brought in Jason LaBarbera to back up Devan Dubnyk. Labarbera has been a back-up all is career so he understands how to stay ready between infrequent starts. I have been told he is a very good guy in the dressing room which I think is very important. In my opinion a back-up goalie needs to be able to play the game but must also be part social director and comedian to entertain and relax the guys.

This signing sends a huge message of support to Dubnyk. There is no doubt whose net this is now. There is no one else for the team, or Dubnyk, to fall back on. This is a huge year for him. He must continue to prove that he is a starter in the NHL and the Oilers goalie moving forward. I will be very interested to watch how he steps up this year. I believe he is the goalie for the future but it isn’t me he needs to convince. He must convince the management and more importantly his teammates.

MacTavish still has a way to go to get his team set for the season. This is a good start today.

  • Rocket

    Beniot Pouliot signed for a one year 1.3mil. Not the greatest competor, but a 6’3 215 3rd line forward who can chip in 30 points woulda been nice. Could we not have done better?

  • G Money

    I have been reading these blogs for a while now and it seems as though most of you don’t understand a few things. Getting rid of Horcoff without having to pay any of his salary would have been BOLD enough, not to mention the fact that he got a young D and a Draft pick. for about a month now most of these people on blogs didn’t even think it was possible for us to trade Horcoff for a bag of pucks, not to mention not retaining ANY of his salary.

    Missing out on all these trades?? You think its all mac t’s fault that we don’t pick up bobby Ryan or Clarkson because he F’d up? Did you ever think that maybe they just didn’t want to play here? a team that has been in last place for years now, doesn’t sound to appealing to me.

    I think Mac T is doing great as GM and thank god he isnt listening to most of this crap that people are writing. Who are you to define what is Bold and Good. Nothing will ever be good enough.

  • Were any of these acquisitions our A or B options to begin with ? From that aspect I feel we did subpar . Will they as a group make us better than last year ? Once again debateable . So far I feel we are still not as good as last season with these replacements, and we are going into a tougher division next season and will have too be much better not just a tad better . They are lower talents than I was expecting and they did not come cheaply either , and I don’t think any was our first try option .

  • bazmagoo

    Ference and Gordon are great pick ups. Ference is a solid piece to add to our top 4 and Gordon is the 3rd line centre I wanted them to add. Can’t really see many others moves happening on d, unless it’s Nick Schultz moving out for some one bigger.

    Smid – Petry, Ference – J Schultz, Klefbom/Marincin/Belov – N Schultz looks like an improved top 6 to me. Ideally I’d like N Schultz to be more of a banger/bigger body but that’s just my opinion.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Good start for MacT today, we need to realize that all the FA’s don’t sign the first day.

    I’d love to see either Cooke or Grabovski come in to center the third line, and a few more lower cost big players to compete for a bottom six spot.

  • Stack Pad Save

    The day, so far, is a good day. It all helps.

    IMO, they still need a second and a third liner.

    D can always be more upgraded. Like Ference,though. A lot.

    Goalie situation looks good for the year. If Dubbie falters we’re pucked. But, I have faith the two can pull out a good season.

  • Rocket

    Im being realistic. The defence is better, we can go into the season knowing we got depth there, but right now we have 4 holes up front. I’ll give MacT time to get er done. We still need a top six forward if Hemsky is out. A third line 2 way forward since it might appear they are walking away possibly from Jones. And the 4rth line needs a center and and winger. Smytty will be doing his farewell tour. Brown is your 13th. The other two guys we picked up are tweeners.

  • Rocket

    Jason I think you nailed it with “compete level”.

    The players they brought in seem to have lots of it. Hopefully it rubs off on some other Oilers.

    MacT made some pretty good signings today. Just a little bit of TCB cleaning up Tambo’s mess.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Not impressed today, I think we missed out on a few “tough” players that could of been had. There is zero confidence in our goalies and it just got worst. MacT has little confidence in Dubnyk, exactly why he has tried to trade for Schnieder. This team looks like it has been patched together. So far MacT has done nothing to impress.. If the teams structure hasn’t changed drastically come September the fans will be all over MacT.

    Plus Struds, no one actually expects you to say anything bad about other players

    • Stack Pad Save

      Goaltending is not the biggest issue for the Oilers. Also there was no chance the Oilers had at upgrading the net.

      The 2 biggest holes remain a big 2nd line center and a top pairing d-man…After today and the draft I was hoping one of those holes would be filled.

      • Stack Pad Save

        I like Ference, but no confidence in Dubnyk $ Labarbra. Maybe it just because Dube has only really shown much in this past shortened season. We have now gone through Free agency and draft and NO BOLD moves.. MacT did it to himself.
        Also NO confidence in Sam as second line center. This team has a long way to go and many, many holes to fill. Trading Horcoff was good, but not bold and if he can trade Hemmer that would also be good, but not BOLD.
        Just my arm chair thoughts

        • G Money

          Completely agree with Cam. With Dubnyk now reassured that it is his net, what is going to push him? He too often appears lackadaisacal in his positioning when a bad goal is scored on him. On shootouts, I find he gets beaten to often. He does not have the desperation of a Grant Fuhr, a Luongo, a Kipper…he needs to more convincingly demonstrate that he will NOT give up on a play.

          I believe that the Boston Bruins’ backup might have been a nice and cheap option, but even more I would have aggressively gone after Emery (17-1 last season…are you kidding me?), and even consider a performance based contract (if possible for a goalie) and taken a deep flyer on Tim Thomas. At the very worst, Dubnyk would have been mentored by a Stanley Cup winner. As nice as LaBarb is, he is not Tim Thomas. We desperately and quickly need to make this team a contender so that our young Oilers can experience the taste of and develop the hunger for the playoffs. Remember when the Oilers lost to the Islanders in 82-83? Do you remember how hungry they were the next year. Point made.

  • Bonvie

    Mact did good today,very happy with signings and although a tad high on pay did not go overboard,ferrence and gordon will help,but can only hope he has a trade or 2 up his sleeve or this season will not be much better than last.

  • Bonvie

    Liked all the signings today – a good start. Would have preferred Khudobin instead of Labarbera but there’s always next year.

    I’m even happier though at what MacT didn’t do. Clarkson, clowe, Horton, Bozak, etc., etc. Sure we paid a little more than some of the new guys are probably worth, but it wasn’t a Leaf-style overpay and none of the terms are outlandish. I only see one deal I’m jealous of – Stalberg – but you can’t win them all.

    Some work to do still, but this is encouraging. Not hating the MacT era.

    • IfBruceLeeWasAnOiler

      I woulda like Kubodin too, but hes a vet of 21 NHL games. I think Labarbera is better. I rated off season goalies at Emery, Bryz, LB, Kubby. We got a darn good tender.

      • Stack Pad Save

        I think LaBarbra is hugely underrated as a back-up. Plus I think this keeps stability in the net behind Dubnyk … Which IMO will make him a better goalie.

  • IfBruceLeeWasAnOiler

    Im happy Oilers drop out on Clarkson we would have overpaid terribly, Also Clarkson going to get eaten up in Toronto, if he’s a flop we will never here the end of it from the rather leaf biased media (cough cough tsn)