The wonderful baseball writer Bill James told the best procurement, development and deployment story I’ve ever heard in one of his Baseball Abstracts. It’s a great story and teaching tool for fans of any sport, and a valuable lesson for sports franchises. Procurement of talent is one thing, but getting productive years before saying goodbye is vital to an organization. How are the Oilers doing in this regard?

The James story surrounded a catcher named Darrell Porter. He was drafted by Milwaukee, who paid a high price (No. 4 overall) and spent several years developing him at the major league level. Now Porter had an interesting skill set. He was a catcher with some power, an ability to get on base via the walk and hit for poor-to-decent average. As a defensive player, Porter was a good handler of pitchers and that was considered a strength.

Now during these years Milwaukee was drafting and developing a lot of fine players and were impatient to improve overall. In 1976 the Brewers dealt Porter to Kansas City for less than one hundred cents on the dollar. At that point, the young catcher was less than the sum of his parts, but it became obvious as time went on that the Royals had gotten the better of the Brewers. Porter spent four productive seasons with George Brett before the St. Louis Cardinals signed him for a boatload of money in 1980.

The Brewers had drafted him with the golden draft chip, and the Royals enjoyed the heart of his career for less than full value. Even St. Louis won a championship with Porter, and in this way the lesson is learned: Don’t give up on your players too soon.

Darrell Porter career numbers


In recent years, the Oilers have been sending away players very early, and those players are beginning to put some definition into their career trajectory. Let’s run a few examples of Oilers draft picks sent away young:

  • Andrew Cogliano from the 2005 draft found a home in Anaheim and is enjoying a fine career. The Oilers received the draft pick that became Marco Roy.
  • Sam Gagner from the 2007 draft struggled last season after an awful injury and the organization turned the page on him. Teddy Purcell was the return.
  • Riley Nash, also from the 2007 draft, was sent away before he was signed. Nash is emerging as a useful center with size in Carolina, something Edmonton could use. The Oilers received the draft pick that turned into Martin Marincin in that exchange. 

Three players sent away early in their careers, and there’s every chance Edmonton will live to regret a couple of those deals as time rolls along. When discussing Jeff Petry’s demise in our city, perhaps the problem isn’t the player. Perhaps it’s something else.


Based on management’s verbal, youngsters Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom are a big part of the future. If we project those players onto the roster, how many of the other five defensive spots have already been spoken for?

  • Justin Schultz, signed for this season with a long-term deal to come
  • Mark Fayne, signed for this season plus three more at $3.625 million
  • Andrew Ference, signed for this season plus two more at $3.25 million
  • Nikita Nikitin, this and next season at $4.5 million

The Oilers are basically set. The four names here added to Nurse and Klefbom makes six, and it’s possible the Oilers not only send away Petry but eventually a youngster like Martin Marincin. Part of this is the rebuild, Edmonton has drafted a lot of young talent from 2010 forward and these kids are emerging.

There’s a real danger here for Edmonton. Reading the tea leaves, it looks to me as though the organization feels the keepers are Schultz and Klefbom, and the outsiders are Jeff Petry and Martin Marincin.

That isn’t obvious to everyone today, and this management group doesn’t have the kind of resume that lends itself to a confident endorsement.

Interesting days ahead for Craig MacTavish.

  • 1979

    The Fayne signing and overvaluing Schultz and shiny new things is what brings us to today. A sad state of affairs. Mac-T is showing a true weakness in his desire to do something brilliant. For example…the hiring of Eakins… the roster choices this season… etc… If the Oilers would just stop trying to hit the home run all the time and start simply trying to get on base and bat runs in, better results would follow.

  • james_dean

    Willis said it best this am on yoir show.

    Dont make emotional decicions with the roster.
    at least mac has shown that.

    as far as head n shoulders coach i think the jury is decided.

    • Serious Gord

      Hanging on to hemsky wasn’t emotional? playing his guy over matincin wasn’t emotional? Signing gagner – a personal favourite of his – wasn’t emotional (ditto not playing petry)? signing eakins on the spur of the moment wasn’t emotional?

      Seems to me most everything he does is out of either emotion or stubborness

  • justDOit

    Agree completely that the oilers have been terrible terrible terrible for developing talent for others. And on the inverse as well, not being opportunistic with acquisitions the other way. Save for maybe Perron I can’t think of anyone that stands out).
    But .. lets not start talking about Gagner as one that got away. Sort of discredits ourselves in any argument when we all were calling for his head less than a year ago.

  • ubermiguel

    I have decided that Eakins is a neurotic ,egotistical ,narcissistic person who as a coach has already lost the room .Which is quite amassing considering half of them where not here last year. Talked to a friend the other day who knows two of the recently departed Oilers very well they went on at length about how Eakins is a real jerk in the dressing room and they where sooooo happy to be out of here.

    • camdog

      I’m sure lots of players didn’t like Bowman in Detroit. The difference is when you play for a coach and organization that makes clearly dumb decisions and perpetually loses then you are soooooo happy to be out of there. And none of us could blame them.

  • ubermiguel

    Were past the point of changing a few players or a coach to make this team click. We don’t need to change our defense, we don’t need to change our coach…we need to change our identity…our entire thought process on how hockey is played

  • Ever the Optimist

    ok this is nothing but pathetic ….

    I am now off to go buy a gallon of paint and a cat grass patch. This way i can watch paint dry and grass grow rather than the sorry excuse that passes for hockey.

    but to be honest I think i will begin to cheer for calgary (spit) before i watch another oiler game this year. Adieu until next year maybe.

  • Serious Gord

    Gagner should have been traded 18 to 24 months SOONER not kept on and signed for far too much money.

    Riley Nash is playing barely at an NHL level on a team that is arguably worse than EDM. Marincin has a chance to be much better.

    The moral that Lowetide is espousing is a false one. Sometimes you move players too soon, sometimes you move them too late. What takes discipline is to make your decisions in as coldly calculating and unemotional fashion as possible – not playing favourites like MacT and Eakins are doing – and once the decision is made, move on. Don’t look back and second guess, but rather learn from your successes and your mistakes.

    The problem with emotional people like Lowe and Mact and Eakins is that they overstate their successes and ignore/forget their mistakes.

  • camdog

    As a die hard oiler fan who wants nothing more than for this team to be a yearly contender, I’m hoping for them to get off to a 0-29-1 start. Another loss tonight would be a step in the right direction. I could only assume that such a pathetic display would finally convince Katz that Lowe’s vision of a team is terribly outdated. It would give his replacement the rest of the year to asses and make the necessary changes to finally right this ship.

      • hitchikerforajax

        This is Lowes’ team & why he is still around, is beyond me. The picks he made over the last 6 yrs. or so , have been crazy. Until Katz, starts changing this team, from to bottom, this team is going to brutal for yrs to come.

    • hitchikerforajax

      You’re crazy. I’m sick of knowing we wont make the playoffs by mid-november. I used to wish we’d make the playoffs, lately, I’m aiming lower, I want them to at least be in the hunt for the playoffs at game 41… apparently they can’t even do that

  • hitchikerforajax

    Watching the defence mistakes tonite, is disgusting. The “captain”, Ference, has been for all 4 goals & his partner Petry on for 3. Same mistakes as last yr, so it tells me either these player don’t get it, or Eakins, isn’t coaching, properly. Either way, this is going to be a long, painful yr. I forgot, the goalies aren’t making any saves. This team has to change & fast, or the Oiler won’t have any fans left!!!

  • hitchikerforajax

    Wow is that the Nail (Yakupov) to the coffin for Eakins?

    Oilers scored 4 (good enough to win most games) but wait they allowed 7 goals against, so they lost the game.

    LA Kings struggling scoring goals but pumped 6 goals last night game vs Oilers.

    Tonight Coyotes Boedker never had hat trick before, he scored 3 goals vs Oilers.

    Wow what happened to Swarming defence Eakins talked about last year?

    Fire this clown please bring in a real coach.

    I m drowning in a bar in Toronto here, I m a big fan but I can’t take it any more.

  • hitchikerforajax

    The REALLY sad part is, we can no longer poke fun at the Harold Ballard Lafs! That says something. I still feel we are suffering because of the previous management but, we have been shown repeatedly that Lowe doesn’t have a clue.
    I remember a piece done last year I think by Brownlee maybe all about how Lowe had such a huge compete level and wanted the team to be great again. Well, that’s awesome but the Jamacian Bobsled team has HUGE compete too, however at this level compete is only good if accompanied by SKILL and KNOWLEDGE!!!!
    Just for the record there IS a question about Lowe’s knowledge of winning, it is VERY apparent his knowledge comes from watching the best forwards ever and one of the best money goalies ever play around him. Not from personal knowledge of how to do it.
    Sorry, I love Micheal Jordan too but wouldn’t let him manage my college team. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses and stick to your strengths. Very obvious EGO runs Lowes lack of self-awareness!!
    I’ve been a fan of this team since I was 10 and I’m now 41. Somebody gonna call me a bandwagon fan come on over here and say it!!!!
    THIS SUCKS !!!

  • hitchikerforajax

    They need to shake up their core. The core is too weak as a whole. Talented individuals but they need more muscle in their top end players. I’d be willing to part with Eberle and or Shultz.