Dog days of summer meet reality

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July 15th begins a long six-week stretch for hockey fans. The euphoria of the draft and free agency has subsided and now many start to dissect how their team’s roster looks like. It is obvious the Oilers are light on proven NHL centres, but are you so desperate to add another centre that Derek Roy’s signing in Nashville upsets you?

I can understand being concerned about the Oilers current state of centre position, it is a valid concern, but if you think Roy is the answer, then the question must be.. Which centre can the Oilers add that won’t improve their team?

I never read an article or a comment that mentioned Roy is a player the Oilers should target leading into free agency, so why is he suddenly someone Craig MacTavish missed the boat on?

Roy is small, not physical and his production has declined drastically in the past three seasons.

In the past three years, Roy has produced 22-76-109 in 197 games. 0.55 points per game.

In that same time span, Sam Gagner scored 42-80-122 in 190 games. 0.64 points per game.

Roy is not considered a defensive stalwart, so how he is an improvement over Gagner? He is 31 and has slowed down the past three seasons, I’d wager that Marc Arcobello could produce the same as Roy and he’d come in much hungrier.

I’m not enamoured with Arcobello as the 2nd line centre, but I don’t see Roy as an obvious upgrade, and adding him just to add a veteran centre reeks of desperation. I would have preferred Olli Jokinen or David Legwand but the Oilers were unable to land them.

MacTavish started the off-season with a plethora of holes to fill, and it was unrealistic to expect he’d be able to fill all of them. He added some solid pieces, mainly veterans who have a reputation of knowing how to play solid defense, but so far he has been unable to acquire a proven 2nd line centre.

The biggest reason was because there wasn’t many on the market and very few teams are willing to trade legit 2nd line centres. If you want one, you need to develop them and that’s why the Oilers handling of Leon Draisaitl is ultra important.

If MacTavish is unable to add a bonafide 2nd line centre by training camp it will be a disappointment, but I can’t say his summer was a failure. Which Oilers assets are worth a legit 2nd line centre straight up? Nail Yakupov won’t get you a proven centre, neither will Jeff Petry, and that’s why I never expected MacTavish to get his 2nd line centre this summer.

Of course it is possible, but there is a major gap between possible and realistic. Legwand would have been a solid stop gap, but he wanted to play out east. He choose Ottawa over Edmonton, which shows he was more interested in geography than winning. The Senators aren’t that much better than the Oilers now that they lost Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.

RIBEIRO

As for Ribeiro, he is a proven scorer. However, he just got bought out by Arizona, who count every penny, because he wasn’t committed enough on and off the ice. It would have been a risk for the Oilers to bring him into their young dressing room, but they did consider it. If things went awry with veterans like Shane Doan and Derek Morris, what would happen in Edmonton?

Brian Sutherby played with Ribeiro.

“I would have been a little bit hesitant being the Oilers and bringing him in, and I say that respectfully. He is a fantastic player and was a good teammate. He is a different guy..He doesn’t look like your prototypical hockey player in how he dresses. He does get a bad rap due to that. He likes to have fun off the ice. He isn’t a rink rat. You won’t see him come to the rink and spend hours in the gym prior to warm up. However, he was always committed to winning. He has a lot of skill.

“He is a pretty quiet, reserved guy. On a team like the Oilers, I think you want your older players to be guys who are going to bring the team closer together, and Mike is a guy who does his own thing. You want your leaders to be rink rats and sending the right message all over the rink, whether it is nutrition, watching video or just being around the rink.

“In Dallas we had a  good leadership group and I never felt like he was an issue. He produced, but I believe he fits in better on a veteran team,” said Sutherby.

The Oilers did reach out to Ribeiro’s camp, and they were indeed interested, but his camp clearly choose Nashville. Ribeiro admitted at his press conference yesterday that his marital struggles impacted his off-ice issues last year. He was honest and upfront about a very personal situation saying he and his wife are still trying to work things out. I was also told his camp was a bit leery of being in a hockey crazed market right after what Don Maloney had said publicly.

He is trying to save his marriage and his children and wife are comfortable living in the USA and they are used to the school system, so you can understand why they elected not to come to Canada. I hope he gets his life in order, and I can see why both sides had some trepidation about making a deal.

The Oilers lack of centre depth is a major concern. MacTavish has made it known he’s looking for a centre. He’s talked to numerous teams, and I suspect a deal will happen, but it might not occur until early in the season.

I don’t see the Oilers as a playoff team. I truly hope I’m wrong, because we are all tired of watching a losing organization, but I do believe they’ve improved. The Oilers will be more competitive next season, but last April I didn’t expect them to jump up six spots in the west and make the playoffs, and three months later, even after upgrading his defence and wingers, I still believe that.

And that’s why in my eyes MacTavish can’t force a trade. He can’t give up too much just to fill an obvious void. If not making a deal right away means Arcobello and Anton Lander get more icetime than people expected, that is a better alternative than making a trade that will hurt the organization long-term.

I know it sucks to be patient, but I don’t see a better option at this juncture.

COACHING THOUGHTS…

  • The Oilers have two vacancies in their professional coaching ranks. The need a 3rd assistant coach on the Oilers, a guy who will watch the games from upstairs, and they need a head coach for their ECHL team in Bakersfield. Troy Mann was the head coach, but he got the head coaching job for Hershey in the AHL. Rocky Thompson is a candidate for both jobs.

    Thompson has been an assistant in OKC for the past four seasons. The players love his enthusiasm and he is very good at breaking down video and very good technically. For the past few seasons Thompson would split his time in the game watching from the pressbox, and then coming down for the third period and coaching from the bench.

    He has experience in picking up things from upstairs and relaying that information to the head coach.

    The Oilers need a young, players coach on their staff. Craig Ramsay is an excellent teacher, Keith Acton is a veteran coach, but he’s not a guy who will lighten the mood. Thompson is a very bright guy, but his attitude and demeanour would be a welcome addition on the staff. Every team needs an assistant who can relate to the players, and Thompson could fill that void. He has some youthful exuberance. I think he would be a great fit.

    Thompson still has a home in from Sherwood Park, so moving home would be an easy decision. He’s also a candidate to be the head coach in Bakersfield. Does he want to be a head coach and forge his own path, or work his way up the assistant ranks in the NHL?

    “I’m interested in both jobs,” Thompson told me yesterday. He did meet with Dallas Eakins during the prospect camp. “My goal is to be a head coach, but NHL jobs don’t come around every day. Both positions offer different challenges, but I think I’m ready for either one,” Thompson said.

    Look for Eakins to make a decision regarding his third assistant coach soon, and I expect Thompson will be hired.

  • I’m hearing the Oilers will bring back goaltending coach Freddie Chabot. Chabot will continue to work with Sylvain Rodrique, who the Oilers signed last summer to help with goaltending development and scouting.

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  • Craig1981

    As mentioned by Jason, the next six weeks, is the dry season for anything hockey. I hope you have some topics and ideas up your sleeve to give us something interesting to read. Keep those articles coming Jason.

    Derek Roy is not my favorite, but 1 year, at $1 million would have been a good addition for the Oil.

  • v4ance

    Can I make a helpful suggestion?

    Before you hit the “post” button reflect on what you have written.

    I call it a “moment of reflection”

    I understand it can get a little hectic and fast when you sign in, sign out, log in different name, agree with yourself, log out, visit another fan board, cut and paste, come back and try to get caught up.

    Take a breath. Your message will be more coherent.

  • v4ance

    While Roy and Ribeiro might not be world beaters, what they do provide is depth at a crucial position.

    Not only that, but C’s can move to wing a lot easier than wings can move to C.

    For

    • Numenius

      Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers 8m

      #Oilers appoint Rocky Thompson as an Assistant Coach. Rocky was AC with the @OKCBarons the past four season.

      Ask and you shall receive!

      Welcome on board, Rocky. All the best as you help to right this ship.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I for one feels that we should wait and give the 2C position to the players that are already within the Oilers system. You have great players, with so much potential who with more time and experience could turn into a hidden gem, which you are already have under contract.

    VS, Over paying a has-been, pissing off the players within the Oilers and Barons system and who are currently loyal and want stay and to play for Edmonton.

    I would be happier supporting the Oilers and Barons develop our “OWN” and from within that competition it creates, it would instil and build into a more positive Oiler / Barons culture. You out perform and compete, you play. Best players win.

    We all know that when you pay for sluts, the only pleasure your going to receive, is to get *ucked.

  • A-Mc

    The narrative for Arco early last season was that he was going to be far too small to work out in place of Gagner. But then he played, and we saw. He won faceoffs at a reasonable clip. He was defensively responsible, which was a drastic change over Gagner. He even threw hits, lots of them. The Point of a hit doesnt have to be to crush guys and wear them down (Like in the playoffs); the point of a hit can also be to temporarily displace an opposing player from a play and/or to knock them off the puck. Arco was able to do these things and when we all saw it, he earned a lot of fans!

    Sam Gagner came back (too early) and Arco was wrongfully demoted. He had to play with guys who weren’t offensively gifted and certainly weren’t ready for most of the passes thrown their way. With Gagner back, Arco was relegated to lower checking lines and essentially was beaten out by Gordon.

    Arco earned lots of respect last year and i have a reasonable amount of optimism that he can be a 2c stop gap for this season. Long term i would like someone bigger (LD?) but i’m certainly comfortable with giving him an honest shot to prove himself this year.

  • Spydyr

    I don’t expect any more trades for MacT until September when some of the teams that are over or pushing the cap need to make some space. One of those teams will panic and unload a good depth centre for a draft choice. Until then, don’t worry, be happy.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Whenever I hear Rocky Thompsons name I think of NHL ’03. He was 40 overall and couldnt even accept a pass but was the best fighter in the game.

    Makes me chuckle every time

  • A-Mc

    I am going off the chart for the “pressbox” coach ….

    Dave Hakstol, head coach at UND for 9 years, with a 225-111-33 record and an Alberta boy.

    NCAA coaches have huge credibility to recruit players, plan practices and break down a game.

    We have cleared out “the boys on the bus” from the bench, lets continue to add new dimensions to the coaching team.

  • CMG30

    I’m on board with the point in the article that the Oilers are improved but not enough to be a true playoff contender yet. Other than maybe a Malkin, I don’t see a new 2C as being enough to change that.

    Internal help is ultimately the answer but that’s still a few years away so any incoming center will be of the 1-2y bridge type. Because of this I just can’t see it making long term sense for the Oilers to trade a bunch of valuable assets for the sake of a temporary patch especially if it means opening holes elsewhere in the roster. If some other GM loses their mind and throws away a viable player then great! But what are the chances of that happening now that Tambi is no longer a GM in this league?

    Maybe once the season starts some GM will decide they need to make a change but as things stand now I see Arcobello as roughly equivalent to the other realistic options out there.

    • The Last Big Bear

      Interesting comment, especially the implying Malkin would come in as a 2C. Malkin would immediately be the Oilers 1C and probably best overall player. Interesting in the way that teams and fans love the concept of drafting the BPA at the draft with the idea that they can later balance out the team’s needs through trades, e.g. Oilers now heavy with D prospect but needing Centers. Unfortunately we tend to fall in love with our own picks and have a very hard time even thinking of trading a young/unproven prospect even if it benefits the team. The idea that RNH is the 1C (over, hypothetically, Malkin) is the same thinking. But really, its all relative to what else you have on the team…

  • CMG30

    If the Oilers want to fill the centre spot with a budding centre not quite there yet, but looking like they are ready to breakout, perhaps they should look to Calgary and make a deal swapping one of their D prospects which would fill a need on both teams. Calgary has a glut of young prospect centers, including:
    Granlund
    Reinhart
    Arnold
    Knight

    Might even be willing to let go of Stajan, though a bit early i.e. the current game plan…

    Don’t really want to give up on any of these, but unlike most of the posters here, realize you have to give up something to get something. Calgary needs some more good D prospects, so e.g. Klefbom, Marincin other etc…? might fit the bill.

    PS: Seeing as most of the posters here base everything on points, don’t expect good response… oh well, wandering in the desert is fun. Right?

  • Wax Man Riley

    I used to like Oilersnation because the people that commented were educated hockey fans.

    Now it seems so many think running a hockey club is like playing NHL 14.

    lol trade Petry and a 2nd for Courtourier?

    Brad Richards signed with a cup contender for $2M… MacT didn’t even make the phone call!

    Legwand signed in Ottawa! MacT just sat on his hands and didn’t even call his agent!

    Just go out and get a #1D without trading any of our good players! I’m sure Klefbom and a 3rd rounder would do it! MacT refuses to call Nashville and trade for Weber though!

    It’s getting pretty tough to comment here any more.

  • Marshall Law

    Nutrition, JG …

    Okay, I’ll bite. What evidence do we have, if any, that Oilers are taking “nutrition” serious?

    Any stories I hear haven’t convinced me. And I’m not going to be fooled into thinking a multimillion dollar operation must be doing this.

    Saw article of how Chris Stewart consulted a specialist last summer and discovered his mom’s goto recipes were detrimental to his performance.

    Hear good things coming out of Gary Robert’s camp for Stamkos, completely revamped diet.

    And Oil???

  • Jason Gregor

    Please would all of the negative commenters who slammed Jen Scrivens when Ben was signed issue a HUGE apology. This lady has become a huge asset to the “Oilers’ ladies” AND to the Hockey Foundation – not only that, she suited up to be goalie at the road hockey game today – WOW, what an asset to the team AND the city. Jen, you are a STAR.