MACT’S WORST MOVES, YEAR ONE

mact common7

This is the bookend article to “MacT’s Best Moves” which moved earlier in the week. Despite an overhaul in most areas, the results are the same for these Edmonton Oilers. A summer in the lottery is unacceptable and yet here we are. Which move was the worst?

DALLAS, DALLAS HE’S OUR MAN!

eakins common33

Hiring Dallas Eakins looked like a good idea at the time. The young Oilers would get a young coach dedicated to structure and discipline. The Ralph Krueger love-in was replaced by accountability and rigorous conditioning. And yet, we are one year in and hearing about practices being more intense in other markets, were are watching what has to be the worst power play in the history of organized anything, and the absolute downturn in the careers of a few sublime hockey talents.

Who on earth would do that to themselves on purpose?

“IF YOU HAVE TO ASK THE QUESTION”

dubnyk common1

Devan Dubnyk worked himself into a starting role with the Edmonton Oilers and cashed in under the Tambellini regime. New GM Craig MacTavish said last spring “Devan, the verdict is out on Devan. I’ve
always believed that when you’re assessing goaltenders, if you have to
ask the question you know the answer.”

MacTavish hired Jason LaBarbera to back him up and it became a major story in the Oilers freefall into the second division.

SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT!

Gazdic, Luke


As chronicled by Jason Strudwick earlier today at ON, the Oilers appear to be having team issues. If Struds article is true, then the Oilers are in more hell than a little bit. I have no way of knowing, and won’t presume to know, but Strudwick was part of that group not so long ago.

D-FENSE!

smid common

The bottom line here is that Edmonton has not improved defensively this season. At the starting gate, the club had Ference, Smid and Nick Schultz as the veterans, and will end the season with only Ference and a group of kids plus fringe players. Tonight, Edmonton’s defense was horribly inexperienced and bleeding chances is a nightly scene. This is not acceptable.

WHAT WAS THAT?

airplane flyby

Which is it? Goalie? The defense? The coach? The lack of support? The Edmonton Oilers have a plethora of candidates during the last year.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Tambellini is the reason we are in 29th not MacT.

    No other teams leading scorer was acquired for a 4th liner and 2nd round pick.

    No other team has acquired the league leader in save percentage for a 3rd round pick.

    He made a poor selection in hiring Eakins, but the teams playing better of late. If MacT keeps changing the culture of this team piece by piece the Oilers will finally turn the ship around.

    • dougtheslug

      Perron was maybe one of St. Louis top 9 forwards. He is currently the 25th ranked scorer in the NHL. The fact he is leading Oilers in scoring says more about the Oilers deplorable depth (after 6 top ten picks in the last 8 years, including 3 number one overall), and the regression in their stars’ development than it says about MacT’s brilliance.

      Be careful with small sample sizes. Scrivens had a good run. But his save percentage over his last 2 games is .885. I’d wait a minute or 2 before crowing about that trade. Next year at this time, a third round pick might just as easily look like a steal for LA.

      Saying MacT made a poor selection in hiring Eakins is kind of like saying the Titanic had a “poor” maiden voyage.

      The culture of the team is currently at the lowest ebb in 35 years. I am not holding my breath .

      • Ya, you stole my thunder about Scrivens, small sample sizes kill. The only thing we do know for sure is that SV % has to come down.

        How does he(MacTavish) get the pieces he need and maintianing the talent that cost the Oilers so dearly?

        I don’t see it happening next year or the year after, the Oilers just don’t have the players to dangle.

        I’ve been trashed a lot for this but I trade that pick, I also trade Peron, it’s the only two pieces that the Oilers have that anyone wants.

        To me, it’s easier finding a RW then it is to get a defensemen.

  • paul wodehouse

    Everyone is pissed off and rightly so. When you stop and really think about the downfall of this storied franchise, it boils down to :

    One rich pharmacy baron, drives this great franchise into the sewer.

  • Bucknuck

    Hate to break it to everyone but the Sabers are taking Ekblad and even if we win the lottery. I think we should trade it to the Sabers.

    We package up Gags and Yak for Myers and Stewart. Gags and Petry and swap pics if we win the lottery.

    We move Petry and maybe next years 1st for best dman we can get. Ek Larsen isn’t happening but maybe a mcdonaugh type.

    Then we draft Draisatl. Go after Bolland or Legwand on a two year deal to give Draisatl time to develop. Try to sign Boyle and another big winger for bottom six or even give Smytty one more year.

    Hall Nuge Stewart
    Perron Bolland Eberle
    Hendricks Gordon Pitlick
    Gazdic Boyle Smyth

    Mcdonaugh Schultz
    Myers marincin
    Ference klefbom

    Scrivens Fasth

  • Anton CP

    Just for fun, let’s review the past 7 years of draft picks:

    2007-Sam Gagner. Realistic analyze: even PK Subban and Jamie Benn were drafted in later rounds but PK’s attitude mix with Oilers management that it is very unlikely he will have the same success as he is in Montreal. Jamie Benn was drafted at 5th round so every one missed him. Also, don’t use Logan Couture as example. Anyone that play on the same team as Joe Thronton will be a star regardless. What went wrong with Gagner was simply that he did not spend a single day down in minor. The expectation from the very beginning with weak linemates never helped him to develop properly.

    2008-Jordan Eberle. Oilers did something right about him. Have him to play more in junior and minor which made him a better player.

    2009-Magnus Paajavi. Realistic analyze: ok, this is were it has gone wrong. Granted Paajavi is a good talent with size but he choose not to come over to North America to learn the game. Meanwhile Oilers should start looking into develop D and pass on Ryan Ellis. With all considered, it was a very weak draft with very few prospects actually play in NHL recently.

    2010-Taylor Hall. Well, either Hall or Seguin. Really not much of debate here.

    2011-RNH. To be honest, I was having a higher expectation with Couturier because he should be the C that Oilers need: big size and good sense on offensive end. At time that when Couturier value dropped that I thought it would be a good idea for Oilers to trade down and draft Couturier instead.

    2012-Nail Yakupov. It was a weak draft, Yakupov was a clear No.1. It was just another first overall pick that Oilers don’t need. With many D men available later that they kept Yak instead.

  • bazmagoo

    Outside of the Eakins hiring, MacT’s biggest mistakes all revolve around gambling on borderline NHL playes who aren’t panning out. Where would we be if Ryan Jones was Mason Raymond, if Jesse Joensuu was Mike Santorelli, if Anton Belov was Tom Gilbert, and if Denis Grebeshkov was Ron Hainsey? Just a few examples. 4.875 million for our signings, 4.45 million for the signings I cited and all on 1 year deals.

    Now a lot of that seems to be a bit of a guessing game to me and hindsight is obviously 20/20 so I don’t blame MacT for giving these players a shot. But I do blame him and the Oilers for the dollar value on these contracts. Borderline NHL players should be paid at league minimum or just above, not $1.5 million to bloody Grebeshkov! When was the last time we landed a value UFA who panned out? I can’t even think of 1 in the last 5 years. Our pro scouting department sucks and needs to be substantially better, hopefully MacT is the guy to turn this ship around before it sinks any further (if that’s even possible).

  • bazmagoo

    I think its fair to say Mac T has been listening to his uber-intelligent new age fitness guru coach al little too much.

    At least three if not four players were hires of Eakins, with Mac T rubber stamping these insane and stupid decisions.

    Once the shiny new toy boy goes back to Toronto or gets fired, Mac T will eventually start making decisions based on team needs……..listening to Eakins has set us back a year or two at least.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Perron, great trade.

    Gags, terrible value.

    Ference, terrible value.

    Gordon, good signing, slight overpay.

    Scribbles, good trade.

    Fasth, good trade.

    Hendricks, not bad.

    Smid trade, good return for a bad contract.

    Dubnyk dumb, good.

    Labarb dump, good.

    Schultz Sr. trade, good.

    Hemsky trade, tough market, ended up being Hemmer for Fasth. I’m satisfied.

    Nuge signing, too early. After this year, I wonder whether not he would’ve selected less.

    Eakins, disaster. The Oil need to divorce themselves from this arrangement, pronto.

    MacT’s tenure, questionable. He’s done a lot of good, but some serious bad to match.

    • Serious Gord

      You forget what he didnt do – dump dubnyk and trade gagner are two things.

      Hendricks and the two backup goalies have been acquired far too recently to pass judgement.

      • Admiral Ackbar

        100% agreed.

        Hendricks is a total moot point.

        Goalie situation was too little too late but this lineup wasn’t going to win anything anyway.

        Gags’ contract shouldn’t have existed in the first place. I’d have in on the team at $3mil. He only needs to be traded now that he’s not only ineffective and unfordable.

  • Bucknuck

    I can’t get over everyone slamming Eakins. LIke they slammed Kreuger, and Renney, and Quinn, and MacT. Do you see a friggin pattern here!?

    The problem is the players, not the coach.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      Making Yak accountable while not making Ebs.

      Consistently playing this 1-3-1 PP.

      The fiasco swarm defense.

      The hot air he blew up all of our a$$es at the season’s start about hard work on defense.

      Eakins has done a lot bad, and not much good. Stop looking at trends and look at the actual evidence.

    • Batfink

      Bucky, I posted this in an article earlier last month to Gregor. He didn’t reply, but I got a lot of props and no trashes. The point is this:

      Your assumption that the team needs continuity in coaching is correct. However, the flaw in your thinking is that each coach hired must, de facto, be better than the last one, ‘cos he got fired, right? Wrong. It is statistically possible to hire five bad coaches in a row. It is possible that Renney was the coach we need now. It is possible that Eakins will be a good NHL coach for a different team. But here’s the thing; just because four coaches were fired before him shouldn’t make Eakins immune to criticism or censure. Just like most people in their everyday jobs, results do that.

      • Bucknuck

        Basically anyone who says “the team sucks and everyone responsible should be fired” gets props right now. If someone says something positive they get trashed. As fans we are all pissed off and sick of waiting. I get it.

        I also haven’t liked his handling of Arcobello, or Yakupov, or the stinky powerplay. And why the hell can’t he put the kid line back together. WTF. I get it.

        But I also see a team that has been winning more than it has been losing lately. A team playing .500 hockey since the halfway point of the season. I’ve seen Yakupov (finally) showing some defensive acumen, and getting time on the first line as a result.

        So if the team is playing better as the season goes on and the games are getting harder, could some of that be because of the coach? Goaltending has to account for a lot of it, but if you use that reason for all the winning, then you have to point at that for all the losing earlier on. You can’t have it both ways.

        If this team closed out the last half of the season winning more games than they lose, then I don’t see how you can justify getting rid of Eakins.

        • Serious Gord

          “…But I also see a team that has been winning more than it has been losing lately. A team playing .500 hockey since the halfway point of the season….”

          Let’s see how they do the rest of the season. I’m putting them at 4 and 12.

          • Bucknuck

            If that is how they finish, then I might just hop on the “blame the coach” bandwagon. But I don’t think so.

            Eakins has made me shake my head more than a few times this season, but after going 4-14-2 in their first twenty, they’ve actually been mediocre the rest of the way (19-22-7), which is a big improvement from crappy a$$ poor, which we have seen for seven years.

            They have 14 games left, and I figure they’ll go 6-6-2.

            We’ll see.

        • Bucknuck

          I think your statement is valid. I think this will happen naturally as the goalies cannot sustain their save percentage. So either the team sustains .500 hockey by playing better. Or as the save percentage comes back to earth the losses start piling up. They have a very difficult last 10 so we shall see in that regard.

          I don’t think it matters however in regards to Eakins. My guess is there will be 1 or 2 changes to assistant coaches and Eakins will be given next year to turn thsi around. If 1/2 way through next season this continues maybe he’s gone then? Admittedly a lot of that is guesswork but i just don’t think MacT et al are ready to turn in the towel on his choice as head coach.

        • I agreed with some of that but basically the Oilers winning streak here is smoke and mirrors a whole lot of luck and wicked goaltending.

          The Oilers are bucking the trend here, outshot, out played, PP is a train wreck, players arguing with each other, it’s a cluster but for some reason the Oilers have won.

          I can’t see how you keep a coach that regressed a team and most of its players in almost every category.

          In Eakins case there was no where else to go but up, doesn’t mean because they had a better winning percentage in the last half that it was actually a resectable winning percentage, just better then the first half.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I never was a total believer in Dubnyk, but the start of this season wasn’t very easy on him. Combined with the worst defense in the league and our rookie AHL coach swarm system, he was facing 5x more grade A scoring chances a night. Not to mention his usual one or two softies he normally let in. But to be fair this was the perfect storm not many mediocre goalies in the league could have overcome.

    • Serious Gord

      There is some strength in your argument until you look and see that Nashville waived his ass. He is not a starting or even second string goalie on pretty much every other team in the league. MacT was wrong to think he would work – it is safe to say that he undervalues the need for a top flight goalie – as does Lowe and Katz.

      • Bryzarro World

        Mac T did try as soon as he was hired to upgrade the goal tending and unfortunately for everyone Gillis’s camp let it leak out at the draft.
        I am wondering what “top flight” goaltender would sign as a free agent here or wouldn’t have Edmonton on his NT list.
        The only way for this team to get great goaltenders is the way he is trying that is taking a chance with unproven ones with sound fundamentals that were not going to get the opportunity to be a #1 where they were playing.

  • Rick Stroppel

    A CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTION RE EAKINS

    In “Animal House”, Dean Wormer put Delta on double-secret probation.

    The Alberta PC Party just put Alison Redford on double-secret probation.

    The Oilers should put Eakins on double-secret probation.

    “One more mistake, one more slip-up, and you’re FINISHED at Faber!”

  • bazmagoo

    Well if there is ever a concern about what it takes to win, you know who to talk with. Someone mentioned this in the comments, but I think Brian Burke’s comments have proven to be 100% accurate. Fire Lowe!

  • BLAKPOO

    I object to the picture of Luke Gazdic in the “Team Issues” section of this article. I hardly think the only guy that stands up for everyone is the problem.

    • Bryzarro World

      I agree with you completely,I am so tired of the “stats” crew spending so much time and negative print on role players that know their role
      instead of the real problems of coaching and a team that has been built to not succeed by overpaying high draft picks that except for one named Taylor tries to earn his paycheck.

  • Anton CP

    The boldest move that MacT can do during draft day is by shipping the top pick away. Ideally, trade it to Nashville for Roman Josi and lower pick. Preds are so jam-packed on blueline that they have so few forwards. With lower pick that Oilers can still select the beast RW Nick Ritchie (6’3″,230 lbs!!!).

  • Bryzarro World

    I am surprised MacT’s riverboat gambling isn’t on the list.

    He bet that there were real NHL players amongst Acton, Joensuu, Hamilton, Grebeshkov, Belov, Larsen, and the coming off injury Jones. For this session to be a success at least three of those had to play well above there established level of success and contribute in as meaningful rule in the NHL.

    That is completely nuts.

  • Bryzarro World

    Is there a precedent for 2 of 3 1st overall picks being busts? ( Nuge and Yak ). You have to wonder if it was just bad luck to get the 1st pick in their draft years or if the inept management has forever ruined these young talents. Only Hall has looked anything like an elite player in the NHL. Ekblad please!!!!

  • Anton CP

    How about the fact that we started the year with one legitimate NHL centerman in Boyd Gordon. Gagner and RNH were injured, and Lander was and still is unproven.

    The fact that we didnt start the year with depth at center past a 3rd line center (at his best) is also unacceptable.

    That, along with the worst defense ever assembled in professional hockey, and a goaltending tandem that couldnt stop a beach-ball, it was obvious from day one that we would be a lottery team.

    Its why i gave up my season tickets before game 1 of the season. And this summer will determine if i get rid of them for good.