We get to see the new and improved
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes at Rexall Place tonight. Okay, other than a new name, not much has really changed with the Yotes. Unfortunately, in some ways you can say the same thing about the Edmonton Oilers.
Just when it looks like they’ve made some progress, they seem to take a step back.
Craig MacTavish has improved the defence and goaltending compared to this time last year, but since he took over, the centre position is weaker. They used to have Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Today, RNH is older and more mature, but the #2 and #3 centre positions are major question marks.
Also, just when it looked like the Oilers had realized they don’t need to overpay young, unproven players, and signed Vladimir Tkachev to a very good three-year entry level deal worth an average of $575,000, it turns out he wasn’t eligible to receive a contract.
There is no debate that Tkachev was a longshot to ever play in the NHL, due to his current size, however, he displayed top-end skill so he was worth the risk. But hours after the Oilers looked good by signing him, they looked equally bad, if not worse, by not knowing the CBA. It turns out Tkachev wasn’t eligible to sign an NHL contract because he didn’t play a full season in the CHL last year.
Craig MacTavish explained what happened.
“There’s a subsection in the CBA that defines prior season. When we
looked at it, it looked like Vlad fulfilled all the criteria to sign a
Standard Player’s Contract,” MacTavish began. “He went through the draft
— 30 teams had a chance to draft him — and he played the prior season
in North America, which he did in Moncton.
“But when you go down two paragraphs further, in another subsection
of article 8, it defines ‘prior season’ as a complete season. Vlad had
played some games in the KHL and that went unnoticed,” said MacTavish on the Oilers website.
Many teams have made paperwork errors or oversights over the years, but when a team like Chicago does it, people don’t frown on it as much, because they are successful. The Oilers haven’t been in the playoffs since 2006, and management has made numerous bad decisions since then.
The optics don’t look good. It must be difficult for Oilers fans to trust that management has the wherewithal to make the necessary moves to improve the team, when they witness errors like this. The only difference this time is that MacTavish didn’t get defensive or make excuses. “We missed it,” said the GM.
Rollie Hedges is Tkachev’s agent, and he missed it too. “I spoke with the agent and he read the clause and then stopped reading after it looked like he was eligible,” said MacTavish. The agent should have done a better job as well. Tkachev will be disappointed, because if he has a good year and gets drafted there is no guarantee he will be offered a ECL from his new club. He likely will, but it isn’t guaranteed.
Losing out on Tkachev might not be a huge loss, but that shouldn’t be the focus of the Oilers. The organization needs to do a better job of understanding the CBA.
Some have suggested the NHL should have notified the Oilers. Why? There is a mechanism in place so these types of things don’t happen: the CBA. The Oilers management has to read it, learn it and memorize it. It is their job.
I understand mistakes happen, we’ve all made them, but it seems the Oilers continue to make them. That has to stop.
Thank gawd the preseason is almost over. It is way too long and nothing more than a money grab for the owners. The players don’t get paid, the games are watered down with non-NHL talent and there is simply too many games. Veterans only need three or four games to get ready.
No one can accurately gauge if newcomers are ready to compete in the NHL when they are playing lineups filled with junior, ECHL and AHL players. Is Bogdan Yakimov ready for the NHL? I’d still lean towards no, because I haven’t seen him play a full NHL roster. He can clearly hold his own, and in many cases dominate AHL and junior players, but he hasn’t been given the opportunity to show he is ready for the NHL because the rosters in the preseason are anything but NHL caliber.
It would be better for the players, fans and coaches if we had fewer preseason games. Players like Yakimov would have a better chance to showcase their skills against NHL players, thus giving the coaches a more accurate analysis of their play.
Dallas Eakins, and most NHL coaches will still lean towards a player like Marc Arcobello because they’ve seen him play versus NHL players. I’m not saying it is right, but it is basic human nature. We go with what we know and trust, and one or two good preseason games rarely changes that.
Every player I’ve spoken to agrees there are too many preseason games. Six would suffice. Too bad the NHLPA didn’t address this during the last CBA, because it won’t change anytime soon.
Nail Yakupov came into camp in great shape with a good attitude. He is noticeably happier and more upbeat, but he wants to score. He, like many vets, is still waiting for his first preseason goal, but it won’t come tonight. It could come tomorrow when he skates with Taylor Hall and Nugent-Hopkins.
Hall and RNH have looked really good thus far, especially Nugent-Hopkins, so putting Yakupov with them should boost his confidence, but we will have to wait until tomorrow to see that trio.
Tonight we will see:
Teddy Purcell needs to get going. He has barely shown a pulse thus far. Some veterans can sleep walk through the preseason and crank it up in the regular season, but you’d think Purcell would want to impress his new coach and teammates. The pace will pick up as we see more NHL players on the ice, and tonight’s lineup is the most NHL-ready squad we’ve seen, so that might help Purcell.
Is Dallas Eakins sending a subtle message to Arcobello? Gordon is playing with the skilled guys tonight, while Arcobello plays with two guys auditioning for the same 4th line RW spot. Arcobello is another guy who needs to play with some more urgency.
I like that Eakins has Pitlick, Joenssu and Pinizzotto in the lineup. They all know they are battling for one spot, so we will see who wants the job the most. Pitlick is the best skater, but Pinizzotto has been very physical and responsible in his own zone thus far. Joensuu was very good in Saskatoon, but he’ll need another strong showing to beat out those two.
Marincin needs to find his form from last season. He has had a slow start in the preseason, and he needs to play better. Klefbom has had a good start, and he adjusted better to the right side, but he’ll be on his usual left side tonight.
Again, I like that Eakins has the three guys who are battling for one left defence position — Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom — all in the same lineup. Competition is healthy, and these guys know what spots are available, so we will see who elevates their play.
It will be fun watching how they play and comparing their styles.
Fasth played well on Monday and Scrivens needs to match him. Fasth will play tomorrow and Scrivens starts the final preseason game on Saturday. I believe whoever plays the best this week will be the starter for the season opener next Thursday.
Sam Gagner will not dress, but Devan Dubnyk will start in goal. You know he will be fired up to have a good game, but if he lets in a softie something tells me the fans will let him know about it.
- No surprises on yesterday’s cuts. Ewanyk, Moroz, Oesterle, Simpson and Miller were not going to make the team, but some of them could be Oilers in the future. Ewanyk is becoming a faceoff specialist, who kills penalties and plays gritty. He might be Boyd Gordon’s replacement in a few years. Moroz is the one to watch. He has decent skill, but he needs to find some consistent intensity. Todd Nelson hinted yesterday that Moroz will get a look alongside NHL veteran Jason Williams in OKC. The Oilers will give him every opportunity to succeed, but it will be up to him to take advantage of it.
- The rule regarding Tkachev’s eligibility is in the CBA, so there is no debating that the Oilers missed it. However, I wonder why the rule exist? Tkachev came over late because the Russian Federation took so long granting him his release, so why should he be punished for that? If they change the rule, I doubt we will see numerous European players rushing to the CHL for the 2nd half of the season, then pray they don’t get drafted just so they can sign an ELC. I don’t see why the rule is in place.
- Thanks to all who posted in my annual Cherish your Father article. It was very much appreciated. You guys and gals are great.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers continue their preseason home dominance with a 3-2 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Schultz scores again. He remains hot in the preseason.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Boyd Gordon scores, and instantly someone will suggest he should be a top-three centre. Even though his career high in goals is 8, that still puts him ahead of the other guys competing for a top-three spot. The Nation silently weeps knowing they need a miracle season from a few centres to be in the running for a playoff spot.
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