FRAMING THE ISSUE

paajarvi by rob ferguson

Magnus Paajarvi was taken in the 2009 Entry Draft, in a time before the Edmonton Oilers had decided on a full-on rebuild. As time rolls along, that selection and others have gained the reputation of being poor, or disappointing. Some have started to blame the No. 1 overall picks. A growing number of articles are being written these days about the Edmonton Oilers and their failed rebuild.

First, we need to establish a few things. I hope we can agree that the words ‘rebuild’ and ‘Oilers’ were connected by owner Daryl Katz during the dark days of the Pat Quinn season. Oil Change refers to it in year one of the episodes, crediting Katz with suggesting it and then following Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe in their lear jet as they visited Taylor and Tyler. The rebuild began in about January 2010.

Fair? I refer you to this article by Michael Traikos:

“Teams re-evaluating draft blueprint in wake of Oilers’ lack of success”

Mr. Traikos takes the following statement:

  • From 2010 to 2012, the Edmonton Oilers selected the top pick in the draft and still finished with the third-worst record last season.

If NHL teams reject the idea that high draft picks are helpful to winning, they do it at their own peril. Blaming the Oilers 28th overall finish on Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov ignores other, massive and potentially fatal organizational problems. Among them:

  • A management team that doesn’t understand the value of possession
  • Pursuit over things like “toughness” and “enforcement” over actual NHL players
  • Inability to recognize the truly shameful state of major portions of the roster
  • exasperating inability to build up the middle
  • trading actual NHL players like Hemsky and Smid
  • changing the head coach (almost) every season, but maintaining other elements of the staff

Hey, I’m all for punishing the Oilers for the Troy Hesketh pick and the Cam Abney selection, they were NOT good value and verbal spankings are warranted. However, there seems to be a theme that is developing that I’ll frame as “Taylor Hall can’t seem to get this done” and frankly I find it alarming.

I mean, really. It seems to me the Oilers haven’t given him much support since 2010. There’s your article. Millionaire hockey player sues for non-support.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

cool door

Mr. Traikos mentions the Oilers and the draft, and for me the 2006-09 drafts are fair game. I would respectfully point out that we need to follow the ‘5 year rule’ in regard to the 2010-13 editions. It was just a year ago when the 2010 Oilers draft was being called “Hall and that’s all” and now we’re talking about young Martin Marincin as a big piece of the future.

The Oilers are fair game, and their draft record too. Any time you need backup when raging against the Troy Hesketh and Cam Abney picks, call me—I’ll be there!

But the high picks, and the developing selections? No sale. The Edmonton Oilers 2013-14 were 28th DESPITE Hall, Nuge and Yakupov, in spite of a year long struggle between coach and players, goaltending that gave Northern Alberta nightmates, and on it goes.

Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov the problem? Come on. Come the hell on.

Note: Magnus Paajarvi’s Dad (Gunnar Svensson) will join us on Saturday Sports Extra, today at noon on TSN 1260. We’ll talk about the draft, and more. Hope you can tune in.

(Paajarvi photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

  • BlazingSaitls

    There is an insane amount of turnover in the NHL right now. Presidents, GM’s , director of operations, coaches; they are all extremely disposable atm and I don’t see quality filling the Void.

    I never thought I would say this but I don’t think its wise for the Oilers to tamper with management anymore. It is what it is.Maybe a couple new assistant coaches. Thats about it. See how all this league turnover settles and where Oilers are at next year.

    If Oilers are in the hunt for Connor McDavid, so be it. If Oilers climb back to 24th… so be it.

    Scotty Bowman couldn’t fix this mess.

    Oilernation is gonna have to tough out another year as fans and hope the Oil are competitive by the time the Kid’s contracts start drying up.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Tambo gets a lot of flack on here,but I would like to hear his side of the story,pretty sure he talked with all the management and scouts before making a trade.Has he ever been interviewed since his departure ?

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    ^not a chance in hell the egotistical “old boys club” are ever going to let an outsider tell old “6 rings” and the rest of the old boys how it should be done. it’ll never happen!!

  • hankthetank

    “Replacing push-ups, the push-pull station and seated medicine ball throw at this year’s event will be overhand pull-ups, single leg squat and a pro agility test.”

    FYI

  • The interviews on the Oiler site were interesting . Ekblad stands out as being far more confident and mature than the others we are looking at drafting . Doubt we will get him at NBR.3 , however . My opinion from those interviews seems to be a toss up between Bennett and Draisaitl , with the compete level of Bennett perhaps being the determining factor .

    The interview with Eakins (12 minutes) is interesting and shows how close Mact. and him are on where and what this club needs to go forward with . At least it appears they have a well thought out plan by interview . Eakins role in interviews was interesting seeing as he has seen little to nil of the players play personally . The media interview was also interesting and seems to point to those 3 as our target depending on what is drafted ahead of us .

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Terry Koshan @koshtorontosun ·
      Asked six scouts at the #NHL combine today who they would take first overall if it was their choice. Every one said Aaron Ekblad

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    You can spin this team’s abyssmal reputation any which way. The players are only part of the problem. We need to fire the owner and work your way down the organization from there. With Katz and Lowe making decisions I hold out no hope that things will change as long as these boobs are involved.

    Mact is all hat no cattle. What a bumbling dope.

  • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

    Wait, Bennett can’t do a pull up? If he can’t lift himself, how the hell is he going to go toe to toe with the 220+ pounders in our conference?

    And he just shrugged it off saying ‘my upper body isn’t my strong suit’? Am I overreacting here or what?

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      Not a reply to Jordan NH, but just a statement regarding Sam Bennett’s lack of chin-up prowess…

      I don’t know if I’m playing devil’s advocate or something, but given that Sam Bennet has perhaps the most hockey sense and best natural skill set of this draft’s prospects at centre… is his upper body strength really an issue?

      He is a very young, yet gritty player who seems to be dominating in juniors so far. If you were a team looking to draft a player, wouldn’t physical strength be the easiest issue of all to address?

      Just my thoughts, but designing a strength program for a prospect is probably a whole lot easier than teaching skill or hockey sense.

    • HockeyYoda

      As a former fitness fanatic who use to rip off 5 sets of ten pull ups before my workout, this boggles my mind. However, on the positive side. If he’s this good of a player before he can lift his own weight. Just think how much can can improve.

  • Young Oil

    Bennett didn’t place in the top 10 in any of the fitness tests in the combine. All the other people in the “top 4” were in the top 10 of at least two. He’s also had the longest layoff of the four, and the most time to train for the combine.

    I’m not saying I would be unhappy with the Oil drafting Bennett, all four of the top prospects will be great players, but if you look at his highlight packages, he rarely uses his body to produce offence. He uses his speed and takes advantage of the poor defensive coverage in junior. It’s just more of what we have in my opinion.

    So many people are saying that Bennett’s attitude and work ethic is so far superior to Draisaitl, yet Bennett’s last game was April 1, two months ago, and he hasn’t learned how to do a pull-up since then. Draisaitl has played over 100 games this season, and has gone to Europe and back playing (and succeeding) against men in the world championships very recently. He could have said no to doing the combine, but decided to, and showed very well.

    I’m not trying to put down Bennett, just trying to understand why the prevalent viewpoint around here is how Bennett is so hardworking, and Draisaitl is somewhat lazy. It’s bizarre.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    By the interview with Eakins it sounds as if Oilers have not ruled out taking a winger . Who might they be looking at or interested in there ? Virtanen , Dal Colle or Ritchie ? Media personnel were clear they felt Oilers were not interested in moving down in draft , but might be interested in moving up . Will we be exploring that option vigorously ?

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      likely Dal Colle. he apparently has “power forward” written all over him. if that’s true, then the Oilers could trade down with the Flames or Isles and maybe get an extra something out of it. Dal Colle likely isn’t going any higher than #5.

      • HockeyYoda

        If the Oil can’t get Ekblad or Reinhart. I for one are hoping they take Dal Colle. An elite shot, excellent play maker, and faster skater than Draisaitl. 6’2″ with room to grow. Also. Don’t overlook he’s younger than most of the draft eligible players. And at this age, if makes a difference.

  • The Last Big Bear

    In 2007, the Oilers had just come off of a 24th place season. They had turned over more than 3/4 of their roster from the cup run, mostly in exchange for picks, prospects, and younger players. They picked 3 times in the first round. During the subsequent season, 11 of their top 12 scorers were 25 or younger.

    That is the very blueprint of rebuilding. Pretending otherwise is just a poor attempt at rationalization after the fact.

    If this happened in another city, and they insisted that it wasn’t a rebuild, you would rightly call them delusional.

    The article may as well have been entitled “Re-framing the issue to make things not look so bad by pretending that the entire rebuild around Hemsky, Smid, Penner, Cogliano, and Gagner, never happened at all.”

  • The Last Big Bear

    Don’t really put too much stock into the combine, but Sam Bennett unable to do a pull up is shocking. He has a world class trainer who looks bad to me after this.

    I should understand it if he was using his arms before and the lactic acid built up and had nothing, but that does not seem to be the case. This story has legs and arms too.

  • Young Oil

    Ok a trainer who is world class that trains Sidney Crosby and Sam Bennett knows what is involved in the combine. . He had time to workout out , since his team lost in the playoffs early. 1 pull-up is quite easy especially if you practise for a couple days or so, for a non athlete. This guy is a professional athlete that is average height and lean. Unless this was an injury he did not want to talk about this is beyond belief and I believe this will push him down in the draft.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Timing is everything when it comes to the draft. Outside of Ekblad, it’s certainly a weak lineup up for grabs this summer. The third selection this year is a huge step backwards compared to other years.

    Keep Gagner, ride out another year to try and hitch your wagon to a winner in Connor MacDavid. We thought the arrogance was bad now, just imagine how bad it would get if they started winning again…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Well, if there ever was any real doubt outside Edmonton about the rebuild it should be laid to rest after Michael Traikos’ article in the National Post. Not only have Katz, Lowe, Mact and Eakins embarassed and humiliated Oiler fans, they are also a national disgrace and league-wide laughing-stock.

    Enjoy your season tickets…suckers.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Well said. This had nothing to do with the first overalls, and everything to do with the incompetence of Lowe, Tambelini and MacT.

    Btw, trading Smid and Hemsky in and of itself want bad, it was trading them for magic beans that was bad. Good NHL teams trade NHL players, but get real NHL players in return. And the ones they get back Hemsky fill a hole in the roster.

  • HockeyYoda

    Building a base expediently thru the draft . Hypothetical : we offer up our 3rd to Calgary and get Glencross as a bonus . Then we offer up 4th to N.Y.I. for another player . We do that for 5 rounds and still maintain NBR.9 , but with 5 NHL’ers to boot . Beats overpaying UFA’s , etc.. I wonder what new NHL base we might acquire this way ?

  • HockeyYoda

    If we can draft down and get a second round draft choice and still land a player like Vartinanen,……I would be good with this.

    Not having a second or third round draft choice will hurt our abilities to make deals at the draft. I’m thinking that there is no way in hell Eakins can lift his team for the upcoming season and that Mac T need to start planning for the 2015 draft…….the draft the pundits say will be the richest draft in 20 years.

    Up until the time we draft a player of consequence we should watch the gong show called the Edmonton Oilers.

  • Zarny

    The major disconnect is the time required to “rebuild”. Chicago, LA, StL were terrible for a long time. They did not rebuild in 3-4 years. Their core players are drafted 5 years apart. Keith in 2002; Kane in 2007. Carter and Richards in 2003; Doughty in 2008. Backes in 2003; Pietrangelo in 2008. For the Oilers that would be Hall and whoever gets selected this year. They didn’t compete for the Cup for 8-10 years after starting. Even Bos didn’t win the Cup until 5 years after acquiring Chara who was already in his prime.

    Pit was able to win only 4 years after drafting Crosby. They took the opposite approach to Edm. Young players were the exception; only 8 players were younger than 28. Their D core relied on 30+ y/o vets like Gill and Scuderi not kids like Letang. There is a lesson there for MacT.

    If a draft pick prior to Hall, say Gagner or Hemsky or Petry, had progressed to building block status the Oilers would be further ahead.

    Or if Tambo had signed or traded for even one useful player. Alas, 4 years and not a single player Tambo acquired actually contributed to the rebuild. He couldn’t even find 3rd and 4th line players let alone top 6 F or top 4 D.

    The 1st overall draft picks are not the problem. The problem is when they drafted Hall they stopped trying to get better every year. Or at least that is the appearance. The Oilers approach seemed to be do nothing until the draft picks matured. If so “the plan” was flawed from the beginning. Or maybe the pro scouting was just that bad or it was impossible to lure better players to the NHL’s Siberia.

    Regardless, three 1st overall draft picks is not a rebuild. You need the other 18 players and the Oilers are ~ 10-12 short. That’s the problem.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      You need the other 18 players and the Oilers are ~ 10-12 short. That’s the problem.

      ———————————————————————

      Still feel swapping that 3rd out for one player who’ll even arguably make a difference next season, is the answer?

      I find it exciting. Real purposeful change where it matters may be upon them soon. Someone needs to embarrass this organization publically. The national media will do just fine. Lowe can’t control them like he can all these local MSM types. Ferraros, It’s going to get worse, before it gets better finally has a meaning/target.

      • Wax Man Riley

        No.

        Just no.

        Quit typing this, it will make no difference.

        No 18 year old throwing laptops, no public media figure calling out the anti-braintrust, no prominent political figure is going to call out Katz and Lowe et al.

        Jersey being thrown on national TV? Did nothing.

        Souray being Souray? Did nothing.

        Chris and Lauren? Did nothing.

        Dany Heatly? Did nothing.

        Comments about Dubnyk?

        Comments about up-tempo practices?

        Nylander?

        Vanek?

        Public embarrassment is beyond this team, look at the standings for the last 8 years. This outside influence that you suggest is something of comic books and HBO movies.

        You know what will help? REAL NHL PLAYERS! See my above post. All of that public embarrassment contributed to the above names, and on FAs coming here.

        • Quicksilver ballet

          No. You might be comfortable with all that losing/embarrassment, but I’m not. It might be acceptable to you. I’m just not into that forcing myself to like the only game in town, no matter how bad it’ll be. But you keep up with the quitting mindset if that’s what’s working for you.

          • You keep right on with your “Fire Lowe dammit!!” this and your “Incompetent management!!!” that. I’m sure they’ll all be duly noted and acted upon right away. In fact, if I were you I’d be waiting by my phone for Daryl Katz to call to discuss how to fix things. Don’t worry if it takes a while, I bet he’s just on another line right now and will be contacting you right away.

            This fallacy that if you scream loud enough on the right online social channels you’ll have a HUGE impact on the team is laughable. The Oilers are a massive financial success. They care little (if at all) for online commentary and soap boxers. They’ll do things their way, when they want to, as they see fit.

            The Wax Man is right. Quit acting like you have any say at all, or that any amount of online protestation makes you an influencer. You aren’t. Just stop.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Sorry, I missed that David.

            Could you please retype that message. I’ll pretend to give a darn if you do. You’re not a Shepherd, I’m not one of the few sheep you can influence with your jibberish.

      • Zarny

        It’s an interesting argument you make. That the player you can draft 3rd overall is so valuable he can be a pillar in a rebuild but is worth nothing in a trade but “fool’s gold”. Sure lol.

        Yes, plan A should be to trade the pick. I would look to package the pick with a player and/or prospect(s) to bring back 2-3 players closer to their prime that would make a difference sooner.

        It’s a weak draft year though; which is why many teams are rumored to be shopping their picks including 1st overall. There will be some very good players but the risk of losing a real difference maker is low. That obviously drives the market down. Plan B is to use the pick if the right trade can’t be made.

        Your idea of control is questionable; given the extensive number of articles by numerous sources pointing out what’s wrong with the Oilers.

        The Oilers have been embarrassed publicly by high profile players, national media and opposing GM’s on several occasions. Unfortunately for you, they won’t be tarred and feathered at high noon or whatever you dream of.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I would draft Bennett if I were the Oilers , upper body strength is pretty easy to acquire if you are motivated. Strength is a skill. The kid is raw and he dominated the OHL.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    The ‘rebuild’ is merely clever marketing.

    Katz and co. announced a rebuild and began selling fans the ‘Oil change’ only after the team tanked in 2009. It was a way of putting their best foot forward and giving fans something to hope for in order to ensure the continued high demand for tickets. Since then, Oilers management have been flying by the seat of their pants, making it up on the go. When they don’t meet their goals, they simply move the goal posts. Katz tells us the ‘rebuild’ began in 2010 when they drafted Hall, but soon they’ll tell us the ‘rebuild’ actually began with MacTavish, and so on and so forth. It’s a clever trick: by continually moving the goals posts, management can buy themselves more time and absolve themselves of failure.

    In reality the Oilers have been ‘rebuilding’ since 2006, albeit they didn’t start branding it as an ‘Oil change’ until 2010.

    Trying to draw parallels between the Oilers and the Blackhawks, Penguins, or Kings is a fools paradise. Doing so only fuels the notion that by losing enough, they will be destined to follow in the path of the recent Stanley cup winners. Instead, the Oilers will continue to flounder because of the gross imcompetance and hubris of upper management.

    • Zarny

      Yes cold hard truth they were rebuilding in 2007, I forgot that rebuilding entailed big fish hunting like Hossa and Heatly, I forgot rebuilding meant signing Vanek and Penner to offer sheets, but you use big words so you must know it all. Also ignore the fact the Pens had 5 top 5 picks and Hawks had 4 in the top 7, oh I know you will spout off about fuelling notion or some other “intelligent argument”

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Wow lots of scouts on this board. How can you make a valid opinion if you have not spent a reasonable amount of time watching these kids play. Bennett has been unfairly slammed for a perceived weakness and do you think anyone will remember when in ten years he is a NHL star? Anyone remember a skinny 165lb kid named Gretz making big burly NHLers look stupid.

  • BlazingSaitls

    11 of the 11 critical players in the Chicago cup run (top GD forwards and D; Goalie) were from draft picks 5-13 years before there cup win and 5 uFA’s

    Campbell +11 UFA 2009
    Sharp +10 traded for 2006 3RD RD
    Hjarlmasson +9 2005 4th rd
    Seabrook +8 2003 1st round
    Hossa +7 UFA 2009
    Sopel +7 resigned UFA
    Bolland +6 2004 2nd rd
    Versteeg +4 trade esulting from 1998 pick
    Ladd +4 from 2001 1rd (ruutu)
    Kieth +2 2002 2nd
    koepeky +2 UFA 2009
    Niemi UFA 2009

    what do we have from 2007 or Before
    Petry and Gagner.

    From Pocklington/fraser and EIG/Pendergast
    Petry and Gagner.
    Hemsky macT unloaded for picks and Dubnyk for Hendricks

    while Chicago was out of the playoffs for 9 of 11 years and had a veteran base for Kane (-2) and toews(-1)

    we have Petry and Gagner before 2008.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I can’t believe Bennett could not do 1 pull-up. Only way I can explain it is he tanked deliberately . So he would be picked later. I know it sounds crazy but 1 pull-up come-on.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I am of two minds here. If we draft Bennet, little Nuge will have someone to push around. If we draft a winger, we can move Taylor Hall to centre and then draft McDavid. I see this as a win/win!

    As for mgmt. being targeted as the reason for the poor on-ice performance, last time I checked they are not lacing up the skates. Heartless and gutless performances by the young guns is why we continue to suckle. Oh wait, I forgot. That extra training time (when the players with pride were representing Canada) will lead us to the promised land.

    One more item. Gretz had no problem competing as a slender teen so Bennet could also survive the NHL. News flash. Today’s NHL defenders can skate backwards.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Taylor Hall to centre. Didn’t that happen last year for the first 20 games, but you are correct. It may place the Oilers in line to draft McDavid.

      Also contributing to this disaster was the team’s new head coach. Talk about suckle!

      And MacT wasn’t much help either with his promises of BOLD actions in bringing real NHL players onto the roster, other than Perron.

      And as for Gretz, he always had a shotgun rider on his line.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Oilers gave up our second and third round picks this year because the brainthrust figured we did not require many more prospects going into this season – rightly or wrongly .This was supposed to be the season they added NHL talent to the lineup . So far little has been done to that effect . will they try to get those picks back in draft ? I doubt it now as it seems to contradict what they had planned for the upcoming season .They could gut our NHL players more and get them back , but that seems rather fruitless .