Sharks 11.24.14

If there was any confusion about the kind of help that other NHL general managers might be willing to offer Craig MacTavish as his Oilers work their way toward yet another first overall draft pick, Jim Matheson came along on Monday and cleared it up.

Friends Like These


Matheson’s column centres primarily around the St. Louis Blues and their interest in Jordan Eberle. Matheson notes that the Blues would certainly have interest in Eberle, and might be willing to offer Patrik Berglund plus in exchange. It wouldn’t be a one-for-one deal, of course, both because Eberle has more value and because the Blues would need Edmonton to take on more salary. Maybe the Oilers could take Steve Ott’s $2.6 million deal, too.

And hey, if that’s not appealing, there’s always Montreal, who Matheson suggests might be open to trading the pint-sized David Desharnais in a deal for David Perron because they could always bump Alex Galchenyuk back to the middle.

We talk a lot about dealing from a position of weakness without spelling out exactly what that means. What it means is Matheson’s column. It means offers like mediocre third-line centre, a bad contract and some loose change for Eberle. It means that flawed centre who isn’t really in the plans for a guy like Perron. It means bad deals.

Burden to Bear

Craig MacTavish10

But then, this is Craig MacTavish’s own fault.

There were centres on the market in the summer – imperfect fits to be sure, though I doubt Nashville has any complaints about what it’s gotten from Mike Ribeiro – and the Oilers turned their nose up until it was too late. At the press conference announcing Justin Schultz’s one-year contract late in August, MacTavish offered the following rationale:

When you look at our depth chart, I understand and certainly agree with that position having the most question marks. I think the onus is going to be on this current group of players to show an ability to be competitive for a playoff position. The onus is going to be on Arcobello, Anton Lander, Leon Driasaitl to show that they’re ready to play. If our team is competitive and we still have a hole or a question mark in those positions, then as the season goes on we get more information, there may be a potential to deploy some of our future assets to fill that current need. That would be something that we would be interested [in doing]. The onus is on this group of players to prove, much like the group of players did in 2006 when we needed some goaltending.

That this batch of players has not shown an ability to compete for a playoff position is a monumental understatement. The trio at centre that MacTavish was counting on have all been found wanting; Lander had a bad camp and was dispatched to the minors, Draisaitl’s getting played even though he’s clearly not up to the task set out before him and Arcobello is one slot higher on the depth chart than he should be because he’s all that’s left.

And, surprise surprise, it turns out that adding centres during the year is tough to do.

Craig MacTavish needs to make a trade; the season is probably already gone but the bleeding needs to be stopped. At the same time, he has limited assets and really can’t afford to do something stupid (like trading Eberle for anything centered on Patrik Berglund). He’s in an ugly corner, and needs to find a way out.

What’s the answer? To make a trade for a centre without getting crushed in the exchange. It’s going to be brutally tough to do, but that’s the situation that the Oilers’ management group has put itself in.


  • The Oilers are only trading from weakness if they are trying to save this season or otherwise get a quick fix to their biggest holes. On the other hand, if MacT uses the next 3 months to find homes for players that the Oilers wish they had never signed, with no expectations on the return, the Oilers could make some trades from strength.

  • pkam

    I love MacT because he is not afraid to make a deal……….but that also concerns me.

    Imagine how lucky we are not landing David Clarkson? I want improvement at centre but let’s face it, no one will give us anything of value without a massive overpay on our part.

    I think a smart GM waits until the trade dead line before making a major trade. Drafting for need is our only secure option.

    I know I will get trashed for this view, but there are 30 very bright GM out their licking their chops!

  • pkam

    I think I might just take a year off, as that’s what the Oilers appear to be doing again. Mac T is eating crow right now with no good outs. I’m sure he’s starting to think, “well, it’s not like we were going to make the play offs anyway, better I don’t trade from a position of weakness, and maybe finish the year with a generational talent, then I can finally make the trades for the players I need.”

    • Generational talent, every first overall pick has that potential to be a generational talent and its up to the teams that draft them to help them become that. It can be the organization giving the hype like the pens did with Crosby or having management giving them a supporting cast of coach’s and veteran players.
      To think McDavid is going to change anything is just dumb, whats he going to do, oh maybe go into the room and start saying what he thinks they should do to win or is he just going to out skate the big teams in the west with his under developed muscles and lack of NHL experience.

    • I am tired of seeing McDavid be called a “generational” talent. A generation is approximately 30 years, perhaps 20 years in hockey terms. Are you saying that he is the best 18 year old player in the last 20-30 years? Sidney Crosby was only drafted in 2005….10 years ago!!! What about Tavares or Stamkos or Malkin or Datsyuk?

      McDavid is good, possibly even great but he will not fix the Oilers and I am tired of waiting on the draft. Fix issues when they exist with these “assets” that have been accumulated already.

  • Zarny

    There was no confusion. Brian Burke’s line about GMs throwing anvils at you is well-known. At this point, MacT should focus at other GMs getting anvils chucked at their heads – Dallas, Colorado, Phi, Arizona, etc.

    When people asked before the season “why should Edm get a 2C when they drafted Draisaitl”? The answer was to make sure the season doesn’t turn into a tire fire…that’s why. Whatever potential this team had, it will be a lesser version now that the atmosphere has turned toxic again.

    “When the team is competitive…there may be an option to fill that current need?”

    That quote, that mentality, really strikes to the a** backwards logic of the Oilers rebuild. The reality is that until that current need is filled the team won’t be competitive. Full stop.

    Oilers’ management is plagued by a delusion that 4-5 talented young players surrounded by junk will “be competitive”. That will never happen. 4-5 players, no matter how good they are, will not win. If your strategy is to wait until the team is “competitive” to fill obvious needs you will fail.

    The only evidence you need are the 2 teams who have won 4 of the last 5 Stanley Cups. Both teams were really bad for a very long time.

    Chicago finished 26th overall in 2006-07 with Keith (23), Seabrook (21), Sharp (25), Byfuglien (21), Bickell (20) as well as Vrbata (25), Bolland (20), Parenteau (23), Wisniewski (22) and Havlat (25).

    LA finished 26th overall in 2008-09 with Kopitar (21), Brown (24), Frolov (26), Stoll (26), Doughty (19), Simmonds (20), Purcell (23), Greene (25), Johnson (22), Williams (27) and Jonathan Quick (23) in net.

    The problem wasn’t their core players couldn’t win. The teams overall simply weren’t good enough. Their rosters had too many holes to be competitive.

    The Oilers are no different. The problem isn’t that Hall, Nuge, Eberle etc can’t win. The roster simply still has too many holes for the team to be competitive. Fix the holes and Bob’s your uncle…not the other way around.

    Of course, as MacT is finding out, fixing holes is a lot easier in June/July than it is in November when anvils are being chucked at your head.

    • DoubleDIon

      But you thought the Oilers would be a borderline playoff team this year. I remember you said they would finish way higher than the Flames.

      You thought the same thing management did and are just now revising your opinion. Really it should be people who called it before the season who make posts like that… *Snarky grin*

      • Zarny

        Umm no.

        I said the Oilers had no hope of making the playoffs this year. I said I thought they would finish somewhere between 20-26th. I suspect even with no moves the current team will finish at the low end of that range by the end of 82 games.

        I did think they would finish higher than the Flames and I was wrong.

        I repeatedly said over the summer that the Oilers should trade for a 2C and additional help on D for exactly the reasons I stated above – until you fill obvious needs the team won’t be competitive. And that included moving assets like Marincin, Klefbom, Eberle, Yakupov or draft picks.

        I said I liked the additions of Fayne and Pouliot in the off-season but that they might not doing anything to move the needle up the standings.

        My opinion has not been revised I’m afraid.