Is the Edmonton market’s focus on prospects contributing to Oilers losses?

Darnell Nurse

On Monday, the managing editor of SBNation’s Oilers website wrote a piece in which he explained that he would no longer be writing prospect profiles because doing so was perpetuating a “prospectophile” culture that excused the failings of the NHL team.

Is he right?

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The argument goes something like this: the Edmonton Oilers have sacrificed the present because of their all-consuming focus on the future. The club loses, but gets away with it because it has shiny prospects to distract the fans. The media covering the team shift to talking about prospects rather than blast the organization. The organization points to the prospects, and gets distracted from the things that matter in the here-and-now.

Derek Zona put it this way:

All of this serves as a giant distraction to the issues at hand, except rather than “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”, it’s “Pay no attention to the lack of player development, inability to acquire and keep NHL players, inability to successfully negotiate contracts, lack of defense, lack of centers and our mismanagement!” “Look over there at the shiny young players!” has become a way of life in Edmonton, so much so that there is a popular radio show and blog devoted solely on the next big thing.

I don’t see it as a theory that holds up to scrutiny.

The Silliness


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Let’s start by acknowledging how ridiculous it is to draw a line between the kind of fan attention to a team that is right and proper and beneficial and the kind that is wrong and damaging. Hockey is a professional sport; grown men swatting at a rubber disc with sticks. Like all sports, it’s capable of capturing imagination and showing human characters and abilities that transcend its inherent silliness, but like all sports it’s still inherently silly.

So to say, ‘I’m so serious about my NHL team winning and losing that I won’t deign to indulge in the process of tracking which prospects make it and how they do it and where they are now and you shouldn’t either’ is to forget that it’s all goofy. There’s nothing inherently more virtuous in cheering for the success or failure of a team than in cheering for the success or failure of an individual.

Personally, I can’t separate the two. It’s enjoyable for me to track the career progression of some pint-sized forward with incredible skill or some big, plodding defenceman trying to eke enough out of his limited abilities to make the show. It’s enjoyable for me to watch teams good, bad and mediocre improve their lot or win it all. All those individual stories, from the lowliest prospect all the way up to the greatest superstar are intertwined.

Others may disagree; they may feel that keeping track of that goalie playing 20 games in the AHL is totally irrelevant but that following the wins and losses of an NHL club is paramount. That’s their right; one of the great things about sport is that people can appreciate it in different ways. But it’s an arbitrary distinction, and I struggle to understand why anyone would attempt to enforce their view on others.

The Substance


Is Zona right, though? Is the willingness of Oilers fans to busy themselves with prospects a key reason why the team keeps struggling? I don’t see it; I think he’s confused cause and effect.

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There is a legitimate argument to be made that teams in real hockey markets don’t have the same incentives to win as teams in lesser ones. Those clubs can afford to be more patient with an underperforming coach or G.M. because their fans will tune out less readily and they can afford for more of them to become apathetic. For a team in a smaller market, any stretch of ineffectiveness could erode a fragile fanbase, so they have more incentive to act quickly to right the ship.

So far, so good. But here’s the thing: once one of those extremely popular teams starts struggling, its legion of fans don’t stop consuming hockey news. Prospects and the draft are the most relevant to a team with the assurance of a high pick, but if prospects didn’t exist fans would seek out something else – news on pending free agents, trade rumours, or even just more information on the team in the here-and-now (and as a guy who has written his share of pieces on the Oilers’ No. 5 defenceman in March of a ruined season, let me say that those pieces continue to bafflingly draw traffic). Do some people talk about the draft instead of moaning for the nth year in a row about the state of the team? Sure. Does it matter? I doubt it; teams respond to money well before they respond to moaning, and a guy not buying tickets because he’s watching Oklahoma City on the internet hurts more than a guy buying NHL tickets and booing loudly.

It’s also problematic to assert that people are willing to excuse n years of failure because someone like me writes about Ben Betker. Fans hope; if there aren’t prospects to hope in, people will hope that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins emerges or that Luke Gazdic steps up or that Andrew Ference rebounds. There’s always something to hope for if someone is willing to look hard enough for it. 

The nature of media has changed, and everything – not just hockey, not just sports – is covered in greater depth and with greater frequency than it was even 10 years ago. It’s tempting to conflate that increased coverage with the state of the Oilers, to claim that somehow the former impacted the latter. But this is correlation, not causation; the Oilers happened to go into a tailspin at the same time as the nature of hockey coverage changed dramatically. There’s no reason to believe those dramatic changes caused the Oilers’ failings any more than they caused the success of the Bruins or improved my performance at Diplomacy.

The team and media isn’t creating a market by talking about prospects. The market exists and it demands information about everything and if the team and the established media don’t provide it people will look elsewhere for it.


  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    If coverage affected the team, then the Montreal Canadians would be the worst team in hockey. instead, they were one of the top 4 teams in the league in last year’s playoffs.

  • Zarny

    You gotta admit the best thing the oilers have going for them is how exceedingly terrible they are and have been. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in management. The fact that KLowe is still employed will never cease to amaze me.

    • Zarny

      If it wasn’t for KLowe at the GM helm for a while, the Oilers wouldn’t have been in a position to get those number 1 draft picks. He really made the Oilers what they are today! LOL

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    @Serious Gord….there’s no pressure on management from Katz and that’s the problem….no accountability. until there is, the old boys club will continue to suffer no consequences whatsoever for lack of success.

    • ubermiguel

      I’ve mentioned it before on ON but I really think Katz is a big part of the problem mainly for the reason you mentioned. Until he can get over the hero-worship and hold the old boys accountable nothing will change.

  • Zarny

    I certainly agree Mr. Zona has confused cause with effect. The Oilers didn’t start losing because fans and media were focusing on prospects and the future. Fans and media focused on prospects and the future because the Oilers were losing. Truth be told, what fans and media focus on has little to no effect on a team’s performance.

    I think the real criticism is that Oiler management’s focus on prospects and the future, instead of the here and now, has contributed to the losses.

    People talk about 8 years out of the playoffs, but the Oilers were not abysmal from 2007-2009 finishing 25th, 19th and 21st. Now that certainly is not good, but it’s not the laughing stock of the league. And I think what is most important is they were consistently trying to get better. They were unsuccessful with UFA signings, the Vanek offer sheet and the Heatley trade, but the focus was on improving the team.

    That changed after the Oilers imploded to 30th place in 2010. They weren’t the first team to do so. Phi cratered from 9th to 30th in 2007. Col went from 10th to 28th in 2009 and from 12th to 29th in 2011. In 2012, Ana and Mtl both nose-dived from 9th and 14th to 25th and 28th respectively.

    The Oilers, however, reacted by doing something I’m not sure any team has ever done. They stopped trying to get better.

    The Oilers didn’t have to “rebuild” to draft Taylor Hall. He was the gift for an unplanned, horrific 2010 season. And it was reasonable to assume the Oilers would be in line for a few more high draft picks in years to come.

    However, instead of focusing on building a roster so that in 2-4 years the Oilers could be competitive with a few young prospects and a team that could support them Tambellini did the opposite. He took his foot off the gas and burned down the house. Oilers’ management became focused on a nondescript future date when Hall and some yet to be named draft picks would carry the team.

    The problem is no competitive team is led and carried exclusively by 18-22 y/o. There are certainly many young players on very good teams who make significant contributions; but they aren’t all the team has.

    When Pit won their Cup their young stars (Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, Letang etc) were the ONLY players under 28 y/o. And they weren’t relied on to play the heavy minutes. Chi, Bos and LA were no different. Toews, Kane, Doughty, Seguin didn’t carry their teams. They played significant roles but all were heavily supported by very good players in their prime.

    The Oilers, to date, have left their young players exposed and unsupported. And the results are what should have been expected. MacT’s additions of Perron, Ference, Gordon, Scrivens, Fasth, Fayne, Nikitin and Pouliot are the moves Tambellini should have been making starting in 2010.

    Instead, Tambo stuck his thumb up a** and added nothing while daydreaming about the future. It was undeniably the wrong approach and the reason losses have piled up.

    • Basshole39

      A good synopsis of the situation.

      However implying that Tambo was the sole architect of the time of troubles is an oversimplification. I’m sure the entire management team was aligned with the “plan”, even the ones still remaining with the organization.

      During the 2010 melt down, Stauffer often alluded to the “cathartic” experience that the Oil organization went through. Apparently a decision to start from scratch and build exclusively with young prospects.

      The reluctance of the current management to even (apparently) discuss moving a young talent/prospect for immediate help suggest they have not moved past this phase.

      • Zarny

        Let’s not beat around the bush here; we’re talking about Kevin Lowe.

        My intention wasn’t to absolve Kevin Lowe or anyone else from “Oiler management” of blame.

        Here is the thing though…the day to day task of improving the Oilers’ roster is not Kevin Lowe’s job. It hasn’t been Lowe’s job for over 6 six years now. It’s no different with Brian Burke in Calgary or John Davidson in Columbus or any other POHO. The job of acquiring players for the roster belongs to the General Manager.

        Was Lowe involved in the decision making process? Of course. And I’m sure Lowe, Katz, Tambellini et al were aligned on “the plan” to build through the draft.

        However, considering how active and aggressive Lowe was as a GM and how active MacT has been since becoming GM the argument that Tambellini was carrying out Lowe’s marching orders to do nothing simply doesn’t hold water.

        Tambellini was just really sh*tty at his job. And what Lowe should primarily be held accountable for during that time period is not firing Tambo sooner imo.

        I would add that whatever “cathartic” experience the Oilers’ organization went through the decision to start from scratch and build exclusively with young prospects was flat out misguided and wrong. Not a single team out there was built entirely through the draft with young prospects.

        • Serious Gord

          the red wings and the oilers of the 80s core were all one point prospects and developed form withiin.

          Edmonton needs to draft ,sorry but ufa go where the pussy tells them to go.

          • Zarny

            First, this is 2014 not the ’80s.

            Second, the core is not the team. 4-5 players don’t win a Stanley Cup.

            The Red Wings did draft Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Federov and Lidstrom. They then perennially added players like Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Dominik Hasek and Brian Rafalski to win Stanley Cups.

            The Oiler dynasties were lightening in a bottle in that their core was so good they only needed to add players like Ken Linseman, Mike Krushelnyski and Reijo Ruotsalainen to win Stanley Cups.

            LA drafted Kopitar, Brown, Doughty and Quick. They also traded for Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and last year’s Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams.

            Bos drafted Krejci, Lucic, Bergeron and Marchand. They traded for or signed Chara, Rask, Horton, Seidenberg and half their roster to win Stanley Cups.

            Chi drafted Toews, Kane, Bolland, Keith and Seabrook. They traded for or signed Hossa, Sharp, Campbell, Ladd, Oduya, Niemi, Sopul, Versteeg and others to win the Stanley Cup.

            Like I said, no team that wins the Stanley Cup was built entirely through the draft. They all acquired key players via UFA or trade.

          • Serious Gord

            Looking at the 84 oil as an example. The roster was made up of:

            8 amateur draftees (Messier, Anderson, Hunter, Kurri, Lowe, Coffey, Fuhr and Moog);

            2 expansion draftees (Fogolin and Lumley)

            1 WHA priority selection – Gretzky

            6 trades (McClelland, Linseman, Hughes, Lindstrom, Semenko, Kackson)


            4 Free Agents (Pouzar, Conacher, Gregg and Huddy).

            The stars of the team were the draftees give or take what you consider Gretzky. But almost the entire supporting cast were acquired by trade of FA. Of course FAs in 1980s and today re quite a different thing.

    • Basshole39

      I agreed with you until about here;

      “The problem is no competitive team is led and carried exclusively by 18-22 y/o. There are certainly many young players on very good teams who make significant contributions; but they aren’t all the team has”

      “When Pit won their Cup their young stars (Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury, Letang etc) were the ONLY players under 28 y/o. And they weren’t relied on to play the heavy minutes.”

      You listed their starting goalie, top 3 centers and one of there top defencemen. Sounds to me they were relied on pretty heavy. Malkin was the conn smythe winner as well, so in actual fact they were the reason they won.

      The only guy you listed I agree with is Seguin. There rest actually counter your point!

      • Zarny

        I disagree. By heavy minutes I’m referring to playing against the oppositions best players in all situations.

        When Pit won the Cup, Letang was not one of their top defensemen. Sergei Gonchar led the team in TOI. He played 3 min more than anyone. Rob Scuderi, Hall Gill and Brooks Orpik all played more minutes than Kris Letang and played against better competion. The 2 D who played against the opposition best players were Scuderi and Gill not Letang. For most of the season and the playoffs Letang was a 2nd or 3rd pairing D who also played on the PP.

        Crosby and Malkin were certainly significant contributors. As I said, many young players on very good teams make significant contributions.

        If you look at player usage however, Crosby’s offensive zone start % was 56.8 and his quality of competition was only 0.432. To put that in perspective, Crosby’s quality of competition was only slightly better than Yakupov’s 0.390 last year. He wasn’t playing against the opposition’s best players and he was getting a significant offensive zone push. That contrasts to last year where Crosby’s QoC was 1.054.

        Malkin’s offensive zone start % in 2009 was 63.7. He played against better competition that Crosby but almost always in an offensive situation.. To put that in perspective, Yakupov’s offensive zone start % last year was 63.9. Even while winning the Conn Smythe Malkin was sheltered from playing the tough minutes.

        Toews and Kane aren’t much different during Chi Cup win in 2010. Kane’s offensive zone start % was 67.4 and his QoC was only 0.662. He was more sheltered than Yakupov last year. Toews played against much better competition but started in the offensive zone 58.8% of the time. The 2 F who played against the best competition were David Bolland and Troy Brouwer.

        Like I said, many young players on very good teams make significant contributions, but they don’t carry the teams by themselves.

        • Basshole39

          The stats you listed are basically what any good coach does, set your best players up against weaker opposition to take advantage of the situation and win the game.

          I just want to be clear though. I don’t care what stats you have, when a guy wins the conn smythe trophy it means you were relied on and delivered when your team needed it.

          Oh and what about Staal who was younger than Crosby and Malkin. Is that the guy who played the toughest opposition?

          If you were to look at the stats for Detroits top players I would be more than willing to bet that their zone starts would also lean more to the offensive side.

          • Zarny

            So basically no matter what the stats say you’ll just go with your biased opinion. Gotcha.

            I just want to be clear though. I stated quite clearly that many young players on very good teams make significant contributions. I would call winning the Conn Smythe fairly significant.

            My point was simply that good teams like Pit, Chi, LA etc were not carried to Stanley Cups solely by their young players nor did those young players play the toughest minutes. Their rosters were/are littered with quality veterans in their prime; many of whom took on the more difficult match-ups against the opposition’s best players so that the young skilled players were set up for success.

            Edmonton has not done this. Hall and Nuge have led the Oilers in QoC the last 2 years in their 3-4th and 2-3rd seasons respectively. As I previously mentioned, at that age Crosby was playing against much easier competition.

            Oh and that Staal brother…no he didn’t play against the opponent’s toughest opposition either. He did get tougher zone starts and just like Crosby and Malkin made significant contributions to the Cup win. But Staal’s QoC was the same as Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy’s in 2009.

            Regarding Detroit’s top players..Datsyuk’s off zone start % last year was 56.4 but Zetterberg’s was only 48.9. The previous year they both got a significant off zone start push. In 2010-11 however, both had off zone start % well below 50%. So you would win or lose that bet depending on the year.

            Oh and no, the stats I listed are not what any good coach does. When Crosby was 21 he was matched up against weaker competition. Today, he plays against the best competition. Anze Kopitar? Plays against the best players in the game. When he was younger he played against much weaker competition. Ryan Getzlaf? Corey Perry? Yep…play against the best players in the game. Jonathan Toews? Played against very good competition during the 2010 Cup win but plays against even better competition now that he’s older.

          • Basshole39

            I am curious, are those zone start and competition stats for the playoffs, what site do you go to find them?(this is a serious question)

            I am gonna have to see it for myself.

  • Dan 1919

    Points to Ponder:

    When the Montreal Canadiens had their 100th anniversary year and trotted out their homage to the Legends of Hockey every home game it had a detrimental affect on the young team.

    At some point in time MacT will have to trade away one or more of their franchise prospects to improve the team in a big way, not by adding marginal NHL players like he did again this summer. Some of the additions will improve the team but some may not – like Eric Belanger who was a dud for 2 years with the Oilers. A couple of them will need to ‘up’ their games with the Oilers and not regress.

    On a good note, MacT did vastly improve his goaltending this past season.

  • Nomad787

    Like it or not , Oiler management a huge success on the bottom line – filled building , profits and new complex on the horizon . This despite a hockey club that’s not very good but usually entertaining . Depends on how you measure success in an entertainment industry .

      • BobbyCanuck

        Were you entertained by the other teams handing us a licking ? Look , if fans pull out in mass we run the distinct risk of having franchised moved (relocated) or lose team altogether . Even if we are not that good , we still have the option to see those teams that are good live here rather than somewhere else . Katz wants a winning club as much as anyone , if not more so . The tide should change .

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      The fact that the Oil sell out every night and are a financial success has nothing to do with current management. This city is blessed to have crazed and dedicated hockey fans who are loyal to this team regardless of managements ineptness. To say management has been successful is insulting. The reason for sellout is simply that this city has the most committed fans in this sport. If it was any other city the fans would have abandoned a team and its management for putting such a shijtty product on the ice for so many years. As many have said “only in Edmonton” in reference to Kblowe even having a job. Any other owner (who wasn’t a nerd with a man crush on his hockey idols) would have punted Kblowes ass a long time ago. My patience with this management has run out long ago. To say they are a huge success is the stupidest thing ever. If Kblowe truly knows a thing about winning (as a hockey manager / executive) lets fricken see it. Rather than insult the fans through the media with his arrogance how about rewarding us with a respectable team? Rather than just going to the games we could actually enjoy them and leave happy for a change.

  • Nomad787

    I would love to hear what Lowetide thinks about that Zona article. As he is the one who leads the charge towards the rosy light of future dawn without paying as much attention to the dark and depressing present.

  • BobbyCanuck

    Ed in Edmonton wrote…’The reluctance of the current management to even (apparently) discuss moving a young talent/prospect for immediate help suggest they have not moved past this phase’

    Notice how the collective collectively freaks out when trading one of our golden children is ever brought up.

    Do not understand why…

    RNH is one body check away from ending his career

    Eberle may never learn how to play defense

    Hall, lets just not talk about trading him

    Forget Yak, his tenure in Edmonton will be over sometime this season.

    Oilers Management has done a masterful job (with the help of Edmonton media)of selling the hope for the future…this hope is essential to the psychology of the human condition.

    I have never heard a parent tell a kid, ‘well son, you ain’t that bright, perhaps this job at MacDonalds is the pinnacle of your earning power’

    More often than not what the kid hears is ‘You can become anything you want, the world is your oyster’

    Where would we be without hope? A little gerbil spinning on the wheel, looking but never tasting that carrot of happiness our boss is saying means a raise, or a promotion, or more meaningful work, etc.

    I deal with it by starting to cheer for the other team around half way through the game. Because I can only handle watching the Oilers bumble around for about half an hour

    I am certain that Katz wants a winner, but he wants it on his terms, which is fine, it’s his team. He wants to win the Cup with his friends from the Glory Days, nothing wrong with that.

    I have to be certain about the above, because if that is not the case than Katz is truly going about it all wrong:

    Fact: Season tickets are always sold out, with a waiting line, Katz spends to the cap or at least is willing too.

    If Katz did not care, he would spend to the floor, and realize an additional $20-30M/yr in profit. Katz knows the fans would support the Oilers regardless of performance.If the fans stopped supporting, he will use the tried and true tactic of threatening to re-locate, and the building would yet again be sold out for the foreseeable future. If I was the owner this is exactly what I would do until there was a hit on my bottom line, then perhaps I would try to improve the team, or get the media to convince the fans to re-anti up because “THERE IS HOPE FOR THE FUTURE”. Whichever works on filling the area

    The media would keep pumping the future, because investigative journalism is not really a strong point concerning sports journalists (Except Willis, cause you know, he wrote this article).

    In this society all we have is one vote, and one wallet. If either is used unwisely, the results will not be to your liking.

  • 2004Z06

    The fact that fans come out in droves every year to celebrate picking in the top 5 combined with a sellout every game and a season ticket holder waiting list speaks volumes about how focused this city is on shiny new prospects and the promise of a better future.

    I strongly believe that the fan base’s failure to impact the profitability of this team has directly resulted a lack of urgency to improve.

    Keep writing those cheques folks!

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      ^i’d rather keep supporting a loser and sell the place out every year no matter how bad the team is, like Leaf fans do, then spend a winter in this city without the Oilers. i like and support the Oil Kings, but it’s just not the same as NHL hockey! we’ll get better eventually, i have faith in MacT (only).

    • Basshole39

      And has also provided the option to be able to take in an NHL in this fine city still.

      Thats your answer stop going and all will improve!! Ask Atlanta Twice how that works, ask Minnisota once how that works! That is how you run the Oilers out of town never to return.


      Its ok though we can just change this to Oil Kings nation and all will be well!

      • 2004Z06

        This is Edmonton not Atlanta. This market is the 6th highest grossing market in the NHL. Anyone that thinks Bettman is allowing the Oilers to leave this market is a fool!

        The Oilers are not going anywhere if the fans boycott a few games or the season ticket holder base declines, but it does send a message to ownership that the sale of hope is no longer the business plan.

        If by some catastrophic event the Oilers were moved, an NHL team would be back here within months. It is that important to the league.

        Lay off the melodrama. It has been widely reported that the biggest fear of ownership is fan indifference.

        Let me ask you a question? If Sportsnet broadcast 1 home game wherein only 10,000 seats were filled, do you not think a clear message would be sent to Katz? My god man Toronto and Vancouver fans had 2 coaches and a GM axed in a matter of one week and they haven’t suffered one tenth of the frustration that we have over the last 8 years.

        And for the record, I support Mac T completely, but to say that the fans have nothing to do with this extended run of ineptitude is asinine.

        • Basshole39

          First you made it sound like we just stop going all together, and no I do not believe one or 2 games at 2/3 capacity will make any difference at all. We are talking about a billionaire with his toy.

          If they move it would be more along the lines of the Winnipeg hiatus not months, who’s being foodlish now.

          Am I the only one who remembers all the talk about how this team is going to be torn down and rebuilt through the draft?

          It takes years to do that. Chi 7 years, Pits 6 years. If you get impatient and give up now you end up like the Islanders or Florida just perpetually rebuilding.

          I for one have tempered expectations of how long this rebuild will actually take and am fully prepared knowing that it should put us in contention for a decade when we get there. Until we get there I am still going to go to games and cheer on my Oilers, I will boo on occassion, but I am not going to get bent out of shape because I have unrealistic expectations!

          • 2004Z06

            I fully supported and understood the concept of a rebuild. While it can be debated when the “official” rebuild started, what cannot be debated is the lack of progress under current ownership.

            I am not expecting a Stanley Cup, but I am expecting continuous improvement. This team has shown no progress and has in fact regressed in many areas.

            I would offer we may already be in the same conversation as the Islanders and Florida.

            I also disagree with your Winnipeg comparison. Winnipeg did not have a brand new state of the art arena being built, nor did they have a comparable fan base in numbers as the Oilers when they left.

            Appreciate your opinion though…even with the snide comments thrown in.

  • Basshole39

    honestly I think we can not blame anything but how hard it is get free agents.

    The oilers need to have to talk about prospects and up and comers because furture is the only way the oilers can be successful.

    Honestly the blame should go to mike sinllinger since he is the head of player development.

    Oilers doubt the futre but forget you got to work and get the future better development in the AHL..but they have to rush the player because of not being successful in FA market

    It all comes down to the city of edmonton being cold for big name talet to come here.

    It will only become better when the management realize that they have to overpay big time to get the elite.

  • Serious Gord

    If you go to Young stars tournament in Penticton,B.C-insinc you can watch Oilers and others games in full , back to when Hopkins and Landers first came on . Just hit Watch now for game you wish to watch , even though it says to try later . Van and Edmonton game was 7-2 Oilers , while Cal and Edm was 4-3 Flames ,and Oilers 2-0 over Winnipeg . Guess who was behind Vanc. bench – less .

  • Spoils

    is he right? NO

    the caveliers traded two #1s to get players that will be good today. they did this because lebron is good now.

    Hall – RNH – Ebs – Yak – Nurse – Klefbom – Schultz – Neon – Marincin

    form the core of this team. they should peak as a unit in a few years. We should make trades, develop prospects, and draft accordingly. to ensure our team peaks around this core.

    so – covering prospects is really interesting to me.

    What’s up with Khaira, Chase, Moroz, Yakimov, Simpson?

    What does the 2015 class look like – lots of size? forwards versus d? is it deep? etc.

    these are interesting stories because they are relevant to our chances to win Stanley.

    and that is the point.

  • Spoils

    One of the best articles I’ve read in a while Jon. Thanks for the good read. No disrespect to Zona but we may have over thought the hell outta things to come up with that article.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    I think we really became an organization when we hired mac-t. for the last 6 or 7 years we’ve watched our gms trade any player of value for pretty much nothing. the rest of the time they were just sitting on their hands waiting for the kids to become good players. We really look like we’re headed in the right direction and we can say our team looks better than it has since 05-06. my optimism is only from watching mac-t work his magic and kats buying us an echl team. prospects are great but we have never developed them. i think we finally have a solid team in the ahl to develop our guys and the echl team will help too.

    i dont think fans focusing on prospects makes our team worse. these guys want to win. eventually we will see guys like getzlaf,perry,thornton,marleau,d/h sedin and even guys on the kings begin to go downhill. when they do, the oilers will be hitting their prime.

    as for calgary, i think theyre at the stage we were at where we thought gags,cogliano and nilson was a sick top line. monahan is their gagner. blind optimism.

    the future is bright for us and dark for most teams. prospects will help us make trades for rentals down the road and to fill in positions cheaply.

    • Serious Gord

      I really don’t get why so many oil fans think MacT was some kind of turning point – that he will be a good GM.

      Based on what?

      He has had zero experience at any level being GM.

      Nowhere in his adult career has he been a negotiator or contract designer.

      The only card I have ever heard played that many point to is that he has an MBA.

      But that is played by people who do not know the difference between an Executive MBA which is what MAct has and a REAL MBA that is far more intense and far harder to even be accepted into.

      He may indeed become an decent GM. The evidence so far is at the very best inconclusive. But to flatly say that “I think we really became an organization when we hired mac-t.” is completely without basis and thus merit.

      If anything the lack of a corporate search process and that he is solidly in the old boy camp and top ranking FOKK would indicate that ABSOLUTELY nothing has changed.

  • Zarny


    The site I used was Hockey Abstract. It is Rob Vollman’s site and IMO the best site to get player usage charts.

    Now that Extraskater is down and are also good sources for statistics.

    And if anyone know of any others I’d love to hear about them.

  • Serious Gord


    I highly doubt hockey wives are besides themselves to move to Detroit. It’s not exactly a nice city or area. Almost quite the opposite, actually, even though it has improved a little bit.

    My point is that it’s not always up to the wife. I can guarantee you any player will put his foot down and tell them to go back to the you-know-where if the team were a legitimate Cup contender. The only time the wife might have a bigger say in things is when the player doesn’t have the option of playing on a Cup contender and has to choose the best of the rest/best of his offers. Then it’s happy wife, happy life.

    • Serious Gord

      You have obviously never been to Michigan. Saying that that area is a mess based on the city of Detroit is to say Southern California is a mess based on what you see in east LA.

      The off ice conditions for players and their families are far far better for them in michagan than they are in EDM.

      Especially now that they are in the east.

      • PlayDirty

        Seriously Gord, Naky did not mention Michigan, only Detroit and area which remains a graveyard of shutdown factories and smaller businesses. Yes you can find nice big shacks at a significant discount but that is because economic vibe there is totally depressing compared to most other cities.

  • 2004Z06

    Anahiem is one hell of a better place to live than Detroit, which was my example/point. And no, to your other point, Edmonton wasn’t a Cup contender. We were a Cinderella team who performed above all expectations as the 8th seed that barely limped into the playoffs with the help of some great deadline acquisitions. We certainly were nowhere near the level of the current annually great teams like Boston, LA, Chicago, etc.

  • Serious Gord

    Its been 5 months since Oilers played a game, and 8 long years since they played meaningful games in the spring. You have to write about something in the meantime. Prospects have more interest than C and D grade UFA;s.

    One can suggest that management is hiding behind the prospect of building a team with young players.In reality the “elephant in the room” is the prolonged rebuild period, and not prospects.

    Katz purchased the team, opened his big wallet to Grade A UFA,s [ Heatlys ,Nylanders etc]and quickly found out these types didn’t want Edmonton, mainly because they wanted to play with contenders.

    Full circle to plan “B”, build with prospects.
    Tambelini just didn’t know how to do it.

  • Serious Gord

    Just a thumb up to you and other bloggers.

    We now have access to all sorts of information on the Oiler’s (and other teams) rather than what is mostly ‘canned information’ that comes from the beat reporters in The Journal and Sun that have a concern about a loss of access to the teams.

    And if Derek Zona decides to stop writing about things that interest readers, I’m sure he’ll see a reduction in the market.

    Anyway, as a reader it sure is nice to have options.

  • Serious Gord

    This is still Tams team , and he is responsible for our core of youth . The only significant piece MacT. has bought on board to date is Perron . I repeat significant . Even MacT.’s drafts have yet to crack the lineup , and that may continue this year . MacT. has quite a way to go before he passes the good that Tams left our team with . At the rate of only one significant addition a year , our climb to playoffs could be a few years away yet . How many significant additions will this year provide , if any ? Changes have to be productive not status quo or reductions .

    • Serious Gord

      dubnyk wasn’t important?

      how about gagner?

      and no action on 1/2 c and 1/2 d?

      Take a look at the top two lines at forward and def and in net this season compared to when tambellini was around. There has been huge change already. this is mact’s/klowes team.

    • Zarny

      Yes in many ways this still is Tambo’s team.

      The gaping holes at C are because of Tambo.

      The lack of size in the top 6 F is because of Tambo.

      The lack of depth in G and the need to go get Scrivens and Fasth last year was because of Tambo.

      The abysmal blueline last year is because of Tambo.

      The dearth of NHL caliber players on the 4th line last year was because of Tambo.

      The reality is the ONLY thing Tambellini accomplished during his reign of error was drafting three #1 picks overall. And it’s arguable he got 1-2 of those 3 picks wrong.

      Everything and everyone else Tambellini brought in failed. He is possibly the worst GM in the history of the NHL…including Mike Milbury.

      • Zarny

        Gaping holes at center after Mact. rid us of Horcoff and Gagner (flip flop of MacT.’s if you remember ) for Landers and Arco . Hemsky for Purcell is another downgrade . Since when did Tams become the whipping boy for Grebs ,Ference Belov , Larsen and Fraser just to name a few ? Goaltending may not be any better with two backups to be honest . Your giving Tams a lot of credit for doing what MacT. done to this club . Was Hendriks , Pinzotto , Gazdik and Gordon all Mact. acquisitions and not Tams ? All I was saying is the good that is still on squad is basically what Tams has left us beyond Perron so far .

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Great response.

    Derek Zona is a blowhard, and has made many false assertions over the years. So in addition to his arrogance, it is assumptions of knowledge that do not exist that loses him credibility.

    We fought wholeheartedly over his assertions about the way that several Oilers who were injured were managed by the team. My central theme was that he was making a lot of assertions for someone with no medical knowledge about the actions of a team with access to medical expertise, that he did not perform physical assessments or have access to knowledge about symptoms that the team doctors and trainers did, and that in particular, his expectations of the team’s approach to concussion were correct in the here and now, but could not be applied to an older era when the medical knowledge had yet to surface to support the management. His responses were childish and ignorant, the equivalent of “I know you are, but what am I?” When I did not back down, he cowered away and blocked me from posting further.

    As a result, even though I think Alan Hull and Scott and a couple others have valuable insights, I decided to ignore the site and not pay any attention to the thoughts of people like Derek Zona, lest I make his perspectives on anything Oilers related any more relevant to those who are interested in the team. I suggest others do the same.

    • Serious Gord

      I find it funny the guy ca be so critical of Oilers management while failing so miserably at blog management. Results (based on the volume of discussion on articles and quantity of articles posted) suggest the site has gone severely downhill since he put on the GM hat.

  • Basshole39

    Really, do you have any facts to support your theory?

    And no he wasn’t right, he has a theory as do I so if you do not like it don’t read it and then it will be just like I did shut up!