SOULSHINE SOMETIME?

kidline common

Edmonton Oilers fans are used to disappointment. Every day since 2006 summer has been a death march into the abyss, with the Entry Draft (once a hopeful time) serving as a reminder that progress is for other cities, other teams. This weekend, as we say goodbye to Ryan Smyth, it might be time to ask a question: WHEN do the good times roll?

ABOUT LOSS, LOSS AND MORE LOSS

Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season, the Oilers have chased away veterans Ladislav Smid, Ales Hemsky and now Ryan Smyth retires. These are veteran men, who were here for the losses but also contributed mightily to protecting the kids these years.

Replacing them? Youth (Klefbom, Marincin, others) veterans who bring more grit but less actual ability (Hendricks, Fraser) and some AHL prospects/suspects.

Right now the Oilers look like a dog’s breakfast, but that’s not unusual for losing teams at this time of year. The question I have is: who are these men—Smid, Hemsky, Smyth, soon Gagner—going to be replaced by?

AIM HIGHER!

If we assume that the Oilers consider themselves set in certain areas (1line, Perron, Gordon, Hendricks) up front and at least comfortable entering next season with a lot of youth on the blue (Marincin, Klefbom, Schultz to go with Ference and Petry) and the current goalies (Scrivens, Fasth) what can we reasonably expect them to add?

Well, I think the list goes like this:

  • A veteran two-way center. We’ll call him Martin Hanzal for lack of a better example.
  • At least one veteran winger to go with Gordon-Hendricks. I’m thinking Winnik or Moss, but both would be just fine.
  • A legit top 4 defenseman for the current group. If he ends up being Ron Hainsey instead of Andrei Markov, then so be it. However, this team needs a veteran hand to help Ference with all these youngsters learning the game.

IS THAT ENOUGH?

That’s another question I’d like answered. Seems to me the organization is fairly happy to progress slowly, spending another season developing. Craig MacTavish has been interviewed a couple of times this week, including one time on national television, and the sense I’m getting is that they may be willing to roll with Marincin-Petry, Klefbom-Schultz next year as two of their three pairings.

If that’s the case, this team MUST improve depth at center—by a lot! If you’re bringing in Stastny or Hanzal then Arcobello might be fine at 4line C, but if the add is a more questionable two-way type then we’re dancing the same damn jig next winter.

SOULSHINE

If we’re about to see a summer of Josh Bailey, Matt Greene, Aaron Ekblad and Daniel Winnik, that’s not going to be enough. I’m thinking a word from last summer—bold—sounds even better this season.

The Edmonton Oilers said goodbye to Ryan Smyth today. Let’s make this the day we insist Edmonton’s management make a concerted effort to turn north, find balance and work for a better day. 

If Taylor Hall ends up spending his career in the second division like Ryan Smyth, it’ll be a damn crime and that’s for sure.

  • Rusty Patenaude

    Throwing out names of “the” player we need is senseless. So too is projecting who exactly will stay. The Oilers have some obvious holes to fill. I doubt that these holes can all be plugged sufficiently to turn the team into a playoff contender next season.

    What Is clear to me is that the names being tossed around (Gagner for Bailey fro example) are unlikely. These are the musings of guys who don’t have to actually do a deal, I ignore them. Gagner may be traded. He may be traded as part of a bigger deal. The Oilers strength in terms of assets is young defencemen. IF we are fortunate enough to draft Ekblad, it is clear to me that the path to a larger two way center will run through a team who covets one or more of those young d-men and quite possibly Gagner too.

    Who knows? Maybe one of the “untouchable” young core will be part of a package bringing back a player in his prime who can bring some much needed mass up front.

    But so much of this depends on who the Oilers draft and what direction other teams decide to go.

    I just hope the Oilers conclude some transactions which change the chemistry of the team (adding a larger skilled player up front and possibly a veteran role model on d) without having to pay too much to acquire these things.

    Another Perronesqe acquisition or two is needed. You know, getting a player who is just about to transcend what he had previously achieved. Way back when we seemed to wander into those deals all the time…Marty McSorely, Jari Kurri, Bill Ranford, Doug Weight…

    I guess my point is the key deal isn’t usually the one we expect, the key deal is the one that brings in a player who is just about to go super-nova and we acquire him for very little.

  • paul wodehouse

    …Tuesday’s draft is maybe critical eh? given the panthers play cbus tonite and oilers get the canuckles…a team who has nothing to prove and surely won’t show that they need to prove anything… they should do a foldola but this oiler team MUST be better at the art of the tank and lose haplessly…pleeease!!!
    … if oilers win and cbus beat the panthers oilers sacrifice 4.6 % odds from 2nd last to 3rd last in the lottery and *uckup a chance for numero uno overall A G A I N !!!

    I wanna see oilers take the big german leon and have the kid START next year at Rexall…

    seth jones went much later last year to the surprise of all the pundits who thought he was going one overall …so ekblad may go late …MacT SHOW SOME BOLD SMARTS ! ! !

    • paul wodehouse

      No Thanks. 34 year old with a $4.5 mil cap hit, who has never played a complete season in his career.
      15 pts this year in 57 games. Another version of
      Clarkson. More smoke than fire.

      Also has a NTC, and who would trade the beachs of Florida for the snowbanks of Edmonton @ age 34.

  • Serious Gord

    I am willing to ignore all of the problems with this team for one night. I hope the current team can find it within themselves to pull out one game for Smytty. I also would love to see Smyth break the PP goal record too. As much as I liked Glenn Anderson as a kid, he was no Ryan Smyth. For the first time in a while I’m excited to go to the game tonight!

    Turning to the future. To get good quick,I think the Oilers need to draft Leon Draisaitl and move Gagner . Eckblad is an enticing pick if he is available but the Oilers D needs to be good now not two or three years from now. Eckblad will play next year for sure, I’m just not sure slamming him on the blue line with the pot roasts we call defencemen will end well. Seth Jones made the jump this year but was on a team with Shea Weber.

    We then try to move one of the kids to get a legit Dman to help now. I like Andrew Ference but he can’t do it all himself with the young d prospects.
    Not an enviable position to be in but MacT has addressed some issues this season so his job this summer will be a tiny bit easier. I just want a season where I can watch a game in March and find that the Oilers are legit playoff contenders.

  • paul wodehouse

    Just how were the Oilers successful in making us a worse club this year than even last year ? Who is most responsible for this ? The negatives obviously outweigh any positives . If you can’t figure out the negatives , then you stand little chance of correcting them .

    • Dan 1919

      Like everyone else I must be an expert too but here are my thoughts to get better. Far and away 6 rings has to go before anything will really happen, I certainly agree with the regression this year and am convinced we would have been better with Kruger even with the goaltending collapse.I don’t believe Eakins is the right answer but he needs 2 new assistants, once that is done and if we are out of it by November next year it will be pretty clear he’s not an NHL coach. Ensure Todd Nelson stays in the organization either behind the bench here as an assistant or well paid to develop the kids on the farm , in my mind he has done very well there. Long term I think we’re a long way away and this will have to be rebuilt thru the draft and using the farm system to grow the players, never again should we throw our draft picks into the fire without some seasoning at a pro level. Lastly I doubt we’ll ever get much help via free agency until we ourselves get better with players that have grown and learned here and this becomes a better destination, great fans here but too long a history of mismanagement.

    • Dan 1919

      Not that anything is justified or resolved from this, but IMO the Oilers were just lucky there was under 50 games last year. The way they were finishing out as the season ended I think last year’s very mild success was more of just an illusion.

    • Visually McDavid

      The problem with this team is that there supposed stars, are too lazy and refuse to compete for the puck, and play responsible defence. All they care about is getting points,. If they continue to sell the public that these players are the future, then i am afraid the oilers will continue to struggle. they arent kids anymore either, Hall and eberle going into there 5th season next and nuge his 4th. Look at the hawks and avs, there young stars bought into a team system, and have had results. Its all about results, oilers before there 3 in a row 1st round picks worst team in league, 4 years later they are still the worst team in the west. Even the flames are a lot better than the oilers now, and it shouldnt be.

  • "Frank the dog"

    2013-14. The lost season. 2014-15 should be more of the same until Eakins is mercifully fired 25 games into the season and another season lost. Book it.

    • Serious Gord

      I agree and would add that the goaltending will disappoint; Lowe will remain; and because Lowe stays in place – one or more of the young stars will want out and no FAs of quality will want anything to do with the oil.

      That will make a record-tying nine years out of the playoffs and all most more depressing – still no change in POHO going into the tenth year…

    • Serious Gord

      Until drastic changes are made, this team will be the same old song, for the next few years. every april we hear the same excuses etc, Lowe must go, Mactavish must go, the whole scouting staff too, nothing about this franchise should be spared,

  • "Frank the dog"

    The sad fact is that the EIG consistently iced better teams with less money and iced the second best team in the NHL when the cap first levelled the ice.

    One of the major reasons that the EIG dropped their objection to the Katz offer, was his pretense that he would put $100M of his own money into the new arena. He omitted to tell them that he would do this by paying the rent after he had scooped all the income from everything that happened in the arena.

    It’s not 6 rings, folks. He’s just the public order taker.

  • Rusty Patenaude

    What is going to change next year?

    A) We will probably change 4 players or 17% of the line up

    1-2 players added via trade … Probably exiting Gagner and another

    1-2 Free Agent than will help the bottom pairing or bottom 6

    1 Top 3 18 year old

    Subtract, Gagner, Hemsky, Smid, Smyth

    B) 7-9 players will have to be better than 2013/14 or 39% of line up
    RNH, Ebs, Yak, Shultz, Petry, Klefbom, Marcincin, Fasth, Belov

    C) 5-6 player will have to have similar good seasons or 26% the line up
    Hall, Perron, Gordon, Ference, Scrivens, Hendricks

    D) 1-2 players wiil have graduate from OKC/Jrs to the Oilers or 8% of the line up
    Pitlick, Lander, Musil, Nurse, Yakomov, Karhji (sp)

    Over all we NEED the coaching staff to get 11-13 players or 56% of the line up

    How confident are you that the coaching staff will make over half the team better, I have very little cofidence in this coaching staff.

  • Dan 1919

    The Oilers only have one option this year; use the tools they’ve got to build a good team, that doesn’t mean they have to sell the farm either.

    If they go into next year with this young D group expecting to win the only functional step left for this team will be for Hall to ask for a trade at the deadline. I’m afraid it’s the only way Katz will get the message that this culture of losing that KLowe is selling is not acceptable or realistic.

    Good teams are built, not simply granted because we suck for 9 years. For these reasons I really hope Mac-T is not afraid to trade an asset for ATLEAST one top four d-man this offseason.

    They only have next year left to turn this thing around before the wheels completely fall off this franchise with trades being demanded and people being publicly called out.

  • Chainsawz

    I find it sad some fans have become so accustomed to losing that challenging for a Cup comes second to getting a high draft pick.

    But I will admit the more successful teams in the league tend to hang on to their first round picks and assess afterwards.

    Instead of moving the pick, it may be time to cash in on one of the young defensemen (plus a roster forward), especially if we end up with Ekblad.

  • Spydyr

    Love #94 so this is no relection on him. Don’t players normally retire after the season is over. Do you think that Klowe and MacT orchastrated this retirement annoucement to deflect some of the frustration from another horrible season. Instead of throwing sweaters on the ice after tonights game fans will be using their sweater sleeves to wipe away tears from their face.
    When the game is over tonight people will be focused on Ryan and not the idiots that run this circus.
    Pretty smart Klowe

    • Serious Gord

      Bingo!!

      Smyth’s announcement just prior to the last home game is entirely done to avoid an ugly end to the game if the Canucks are kicking the oils butt.

      More fan manipulation. Bet they don’t announce the 50/50 until the last minute left warning…

  • Spydyr

    This is too funny. The so called smartest man in the room is making noises that having both Marincin and Klefbom in the line up with Schultz is a good idea for next year.

    That is complete lunacy. If he is the smartest man in the room, then the combined iq of the rest the folks the room can’t be much bigger than shoe my size.

    There is a part of me that hopes that is exactly what happens because that is exactly the team MacT fans deserve – one that headed right back the lottery. I mean, this is as man that took a Tambo team and actually made it worse in both CF% and FF% against the west. How incompetent do you have to be to make a team worse than a Tambo team?

    Unfortunately I think another lottery finish will cost the team Hall. I can’t see him putting up with it again.

    • Randaman

      Possible scenario; picking first or second again next year. Two Generational players available that are both centres.

      Hall would not go anywhere if this happens! He’s not stupid.

      I say stay the course because unless you are ready to actually make the play-offs next year which is not going to happen unless you are dillusional.
      Draft Draissaiti this year and let them all grow together no matter where they finish next year. The D will be looking pretty good in a couple years.

      We are not going for the cup so what the hell is the rush. Lowe and Katz have this all planned. No? Think about it…

      • Randaman

        Further to my previous,

        Gags value is almost nil as is Yak’s. MacT is not going to move Nuge or Eberle so what pieces do we have to offer for that illusive #2 D we all covet? That’s right, NONE!

        Klefbom & Marcinin have showed well. Yes they makes mistakes but so does every youngster learning the toughest position in the league. I really feel Nurse will surprise everybody and make this team next year! My thoughts.

        We should pass on Ekblad and take Draisaiti. If we end up as a lottery team next year then so be it. We have come this far now, why panic when the play-offs are not achievable anyway. If Gagner can have a better year next year that leaves Draisaiti on the third line to learn the game. If not McDavid or Eikel will be in our sights. I hate losing too but one more year of development for both the AHL team and the big club will go a longer way long term!

        No, my name is not Kevin. LOL

          • Randaman

            Not really, I’m just as frustrated as most but any additions made by MacT this summer are not getting us to the play-offs anyway.

            I do not see the sense in just making the play-offs. When we get there I want them to do damage, big damage!

            Big picture folks, big picture…

  • Gret99zky

    It might just make sick, sad sense that, now that our heart and soul in the form of a mullet is gone, the man who deserves a cup the most, we turn things around and start winning.

    Nah, nevermind, probably not.

  • Gret99zky

    Note to hockey fans everywhere:

    The term “in the lottery” or “lottery team” has changed its definition.

    Any team not qualifying for the playoffs takes part in the draft lottery.

    30 place team = 25% of winning.

    17 place team = 0.05% of winning.

    Thank you. Drive safely.

  • Zarny

    It’s not complicated.

    The good times will roll when MacT builds a team beyond 3-4 20-22 y/o.

    No team rebuilds entirely through the draft. When the Oilers started their “rebuild” by drafting Taylor Hall there should have been a desperation to acquire the right type of veteran players to support them and mentor them.

    Instead, Tambo acquired nothing. Literally. Not a single player he brought in is part of the solution.

    The Oilers have assets. Yak, Eberle, Nuge, Schultz, Kelfbom, Marincin, a lottery pick this year, a 1st round pick next year.

    If MacT uses those assets to acquire the players the Oilers need this summer they will improve next year.

    If he makes no trades and uses the pick on Ekblad or Bennett or Draisaitl the Oilers will suck for another 3-5 years.

    Contenders are built around 24-30 y/o, not 19-22 y/o.

    • Bucknuck

      MacT has been the most active GM in the league, so I don’t expect him to sit on his hands. The players he has been picking up are 24 or older so I think he agrees with you.

      • Serious Gord

        all pygmy trades – 3/4 liners only

        When he actually trades or trades for a 1/2 player he can be considered to be working in an nhl cpacity – so far he’s an ahler (a step he skipped so maybe its not surprising)

      • Serious Gord

        Being active only matters if it improves the team. Whether you look at the whole season or just latter segments (since Jan 1 or last 20 games) this team’s chances for percent and Fenwick for percent are worse than last year, west vs west.

        That’s right folks, all of MacT’s moves have led to a team that has performed worse than a Tambo team, and one that had no training camp to boot.

        Just think about that. Worse than an Tambo team. How incompetent do you have to be to pull that off?

  • Serious Gord

    I play hockey with a bunch of Canadian fans and they say NO to subban. These guys watch all the games. One second he is the best player in the ice the next he is garbage. Taking a big chance if we actually acquire this guy.

    • Zarny

      Young Norris Trophy Winner. It is a fact Norris winners are never flashes in the pan. They remain competitive for a long time.

      Subban fits the Oilers age cluster.
      Has a track record of success.
      Has matured in the past two season.
      Is just now ENTERING a defense men’s prime years.

      He should be a target.
      Offer sheet him for 6 years at 7 million per.
      it’ll cost 3 1st rounders.

      But they could wind up being Riley Nash, Alex Plante, Cam Barker, MPS, Colten Teubert, Gilbert Brule. All 1st round selections the Oilers have employed that are no longer in the NHL.

      *I know MPS and Nash still go up and down. Neither has met there Draft bet.