MacT talks analytics, free agency and the draft

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The Oilers are in the midst of another very important three-week stretch where Craig MacTavish will try to shape his roster so the Oilers can compete for a playoff spot instead of the first overall pick next season.

The free agent interview period starts Wednesday, the NHL entry draft is on Friday and free agency officially begins in ten days.

I spoke to MacTavish on TSN 1260 this week and he shared his thoughts on the draft, analytics, free agency and his plans for the next few weeks.

I enjoy interviewing MacTavish because he gives good answers, and he isn’t afraid to share his vision with the fans. We won’t all agree with what he has to say all the time, but I’d much rather interview someone who is willing to share their views and open himself up to people disagreeing with them, rather than saying nothing.

My thoughts are in italics.

Gregor:
When you fly the draft eligible players into Edmonton
and have a chance to sit down and talk, how intense is it? How much more do you
learn about them compared to the interview at the combine?

MacTavish: I find it very beneficial. I
think it’s an extremely valuable exercise for us to do as an organization and
you get way more from the player than you would in the 20 minute [NHL entry
draft combine] interview period. It’s pretty rehearsed I think in a lot of
ways, and pretty contrived in a very stark condition.

So we generally bring the kids in and then
we’ll take them for dinner, generally at one of our houses whether we go to
Daryl’s house or Sam Bennett we had over to my house last night. He was a very
impressive kid. Aaron Ekblad, we had dinner with him the night before on Monday.

I mean, it just, it really gives me a lot
of comfort knowing the personality better. I’d say it’s very helpful for us. We
have a couple more coming in, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl and we’re looking
forward to that. It’s very exciting, not to go on and on, but it’s a real
exciting time for all of the teams around the draft, because everybody is going
to improve their hockey club and there is a bevy of activity so it’s good fun.

***Draisaitl  was scheduled to fly in from Florida yesterday, but his flight got cancelled at the last moment. The Oilers will meet with him next week at the draft instead.***

Gregor: The Blue Jackets have a draft value chart. Do the Oilers have one?

MacTavish: Yes we do. It is very beneficial on draft day and it gives us a
value of what a draft pick’s value is based on past drafts.

Gregor:
When you’re looking at the history of the pick, I’m guessing there also cases
where Stu MacGregor is talking to you and maybe saying, ‘Craig I really like
this guy and I think that we should move up eights spots, or 10 spots for instance.
How much do you still have to go on the scouting rather than just the analytics
of that specific draft spot?

MacT: Well, I think the value is in the
amalgamation of both departments: your analytics department and your amateur
scouting department. That’s really the sweet spot in terms of evaluation of
players, there’s no question about that.

Stu MacGregor is a very progressive guy, a very
open-minded guy as is Dan. Analytics is used as it should be by Stu MacGregor
as part of the overall evaluation process and as a tool.

Gregor:
 When you look at the Pacific division with Anaheim, San Jose and LA who are all big and skilled. Do you have to draft to counter that or do
you draft with a plan that works for you in the hopes that they will have to
counter you in three of four years?

MacT: I think both are very true. You’re
only as good as the competition and our competition, [and] our division is
extremely strong. It’s much like when the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary
Flames were the strength to the league back in the ‘80s. We really feel like we
motivated each other and we were really very good for one another. And I think
that the same is true here, that obviously the strongest teams in the league
are really in our conference and specifically in our division.

We’ve got to build a team that’s capable of
competing and beating those types of teams. But, you know, there’s still plenty
of room for smaller guys. And our mandate, our drafting mandate has always been
to draft the player that’s going to have the most significant impact on his NHL
team over time.

And there are lots of guys that are less
than 6’4”, Sidney Crosby being one of them, who have pretty significant
impacts. Jordan Eberle being another, Taylor Hall is not 6’4” and has an
incredible impact on our game and in our future as does Nugent-Hopkins. That’s
really our mandate from an organization standpoint and to draft the players
that over time are going to have the greatest impact.

DEVELOPING THE DEFENCE

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Gregor: The other day you mentioned that you do not
what to rush your defencemen; [Darnell] Nurse, [Oscar] Kelfbom, [Martin]
Marincin.  Today you have Andrew Ference
signed and Jeff Petry and I guess Justin Schultz as veterans even though
Schultz doesn’t have a ton of experience. Do you need to find three of four
defencemen with experience, regardless of whether they are first, second or
third pairing guys, so you don’t have to rush the kids?

MacT: Well we’ve got Jeff Petry too that we
fully anticipate getting on a contract. But, yeah, it’s a primary focus of ours
that we want the competition at training camp.

We want Darnell Nurse to come in and he’s
not going to have a position by default, but he’s going to have to compete
strongly for position, as will Oscar and Marty Marinicin. All three of those
guys we’re hopeful will be in a real competitive environment come training
camp. We need to add a defenceman or two to create the competitiveness that we
want.

Gregor:
Do you feel you can get that better in free agency or is trade the best route?

MacT: Ah, I think right now, I think
they’re both… I mean I have my own thoughts on what I think is going to happen but,
I don’t really want to say too much other than that.

I will say that we’re actively involved in
the trade market and hopeful that we can do something going into the draft.

***I spoke to MacTavish on Wednesday and he foreshadowed the Nikitin trade with his last comment. I suspect the Oilers will be looking to add at least one, if not two, more defencemen with NHL experience in over the next ten days. I’m perplexed to why people think adding Nikitin is a bad move. All of his stats suggest he is a more than capable D-man, and he’s 28 years old and he’s only played 206 NHL games. He has room to improve. The harsh reality is the Oilers will need to develop their top-pairing defenders. Expecting them to trade for one is wishful thinking.***

Gregor:
Would that include the number three overall pick? Or are you very hesitant to
trade that high of a pick?

MacT: I’m very hesitant to trade it, but
it’s all about having a good assessment of value in terms of our situation. So
we are open-minded to listen to offers for our draft choice.

Last year, we had the seventh pick but we
were in the same frame of mind going into the draft and really didn’t get
anything that was even remotely close to what I thought was fair value for that
pick. And this year, I’m receiving better offers, but obviously we haven’t got
an offer that’s been strong enough for us to move that pick as of yet.

But yeah, we’re prepared to move that if we
get something that’s maybe a little bit more immediate help and a long-term
solution as well. So we’re looking for players, mid 20s possibly at the oldest,
in terms of players that we acquire for that pick.

***This is good news. If the Oilers are going to improve, they can’t look for quick fixes and trade away youngsters for players close to 30. This team is still a few years away from being a legitimate playoff contender.***

Gregor:
Do team’s offers get better in the final few days leading up to the draft or if
you haven’t received a good offer by now, you’re likely not going to get one in
the final 24 hours.

MacT: Offers go up. The value of draft
choices is never greater than draft day. The value of draft choices is never
less than it is on trade deadline day. We’re expecting offers to increase, they
generally do.

Gregor:
You mentioned that mid-range 24 year old. If you’re making a trade, it has to
be one that’s going to help you through the next six or seven years, not just
the next two or three?

MacT: Yeah, that’s very true, very true. We
start every discussion with the same question, is this going to help us
ultimately win a championship? How’s this going to affect us? And one thing
that we’re not going to do is jeopardize that for a shorter term relief from
our current position. We feel like we’re acquiring and developing the assets
that are going to develop into guys that are capable of winning. We’re
obviously a long way away from that [where we] currently sit, but we’re getting
closer.

Gregor:
Do you need to be patient now? Do you find that you have to avoid that ‘ok
let’s make a move right away’ mentality, and is your situation a good test of
your patience?

MacT: Ah… that’s interesting; I’m not sure
how to answer that. I think my personal perspective is [that] I’ve got to
reconcile the value of these deals. And generally, the ones that come tantalizingly close to making, we have some pretty good discussions about, and
discuss the merits and the pluses and the minuses that would factor into
making this deal.

So it’s, I’m not patient. I want to win
quickly so patience would not be a word that I would use, trying to get better
as quickly as we possibly can, but every deal that we make has got to satisfy
those questions that I mentioned earlier about how it impacts on our ability to
win a championship.

FREE AGENT INTERVIEWS…

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Gregor:
This year you have the interview period five days leading up to free agency. For
the last few years Edmonton
has always been involved in free agency; you’ve signed a few UFAs every year.
How much different or easier will those five days of free agent interviews make
the process?

MacT: Well one thing that I know for sure
is that we’re going to get access to these players. They know our cap position,
the agents know our cap position and they know our situation of need. We’re
going to get access to these players because at the very least they’re going to
want us to try to run up the market. That’s my opinion and I think we’ll talk
to these players.

If you’re going to pick two or three teams,
we’re going to be one of them, I think. So we’ll get access and then it’s going
to come down to whether our situation suits the situational needs of the player
that we are trying to recruit and our ability to sell our situation.

And our ability to sell our situation is
very positive right now. Just to mention a few significant factors: The Alberta
advantage in terms of no provincial sales tax, it’s about a 10% advantage over
BC and over Ontario and New York, and many situations in the states. So that’s
a very significant factor because we’ve always got to remember that everybody,
especially the players, we’re all doing this professionally, so that’s a
significant factor.

The other factor is that we are an evolving
team. We’ve got an opportunity to get in at the bottom floor of something that
we feel and expect to be great. We’re going into a new building, and there’s an
energy amongst the Oilers. The fans are the best and most loyal fans certainly
in the league to continually fill our building through this rebuilding stage
that we’re in. The atmosphere that was here in 2006 when we went to the finals,
I mean it’s just an unbelievable place to play hockey.

So we’re going to have a good chance to
sell that, and I believe very strongly that our case is very compelling to most
players. I mean, it’s not going to get the guys that are doing it for a lifestyle
change, the guys that want 70 degrees and sunny in the middle of February,
we’re probably not going to get those guys, but we’ll have a chance to make an
enticing offer to players that are in it for upside in the game of hockey.

***MacTavish seems to have good understanding of how free agency will work, especially when your a team with a lot of cap space who is trying to improve. Many agents and players will just use you to up the price. The key is knowing which players are just using you and which ones would seriously consider you. You don’t want to get stuck escalating the price, only to have the player sign with you, unless you really want him. I’ve always felt free agency was very one-sided. It seems only the owners get accused of collusion, while we know the players/agents do it all the time.

When the Oilers sign a free agent, he will be overpaid. They all get overpaid in the few first weeks of free agency, either in term or dollars. The challenge is to limit how much you overpay the player.***

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Gregor:
I know that last year you were very close on the David Clarkson negotiations, but
he ended up choosing Toronto. He’s an Ontario guy and playing close to home is
something that will always come into play in free agency. Looking back on that
courtship, is there anything that you gained from that experience that maybe
you would do different in how you approach free agents?

MacT: No. I think our staff did an
outstanding job presenting our case to David and Brittney at the time. We were
up against a situation where David ultimately chose to go home where his dad
was a long time Leafs’ fan. It was difficult for us to lose that player at the
time, but that was one of the circumstances we couldn’t control.

And the other player that we really went
after hard was Danny Dekeyser out of Western Michigan. He turned out to be a
real good player in Detroit. Kevin Lowe and I drove from Chicago up to where he
played, I can’t remember the town, but where he played College Hockey at
Western Michigan. We had unbelievable dinner with Danny, told him all of the
pluses about the Edmonton Oilers, and gave him much the same pitch that we gave
Justin Schultz a year earlier. It was good, but then as Danny was showing us
out to the highway we were following him and on his license plate he had a Detroit
Red Wings license plate and we figured that that was not necessarily a good
sign. [Laughs]

***Ken Holland confirmed to me last year that the Oilers were very close to landing DeKeyser, and I think it is one of the few advantages the Oilers have in landing free agent defencemen. If you come to Edmonton you will have a great opportunity to play and get icetime. Players want to play, and they all believe they have the ability to perform well. So, if I’m Nikitin, I don’t see a better opportunity than in Edmonton to play top-four minutes and establish myself as a solid defender. He could sign a three-year deal, play well and then test the UFA market at 31 and still get a big contract.***

Gregor:
It is hard to combat playing for your favourite team I guess…(laughs)…

Anton
Stralman is soon-to-be an unrestricted free agent. He has unbelievable advanced
stats.  When he’s on the ice five-on-five
the Rangers score 55% of their goals, yet he only has like 13 points.

In a
case for someone like Stralman, would you break down on video very one of the
Ranger goals and find out why all of the analytics are great, but wonder how come
he’s not getting any points? How much video review is used when you are looking
at free agents?

MacT: Well the software is unbelievable
right now. I’ve got an adjoining room in my office that I can go in their very
quickly, pull up all of New York Rangers most recent games, or their whole
history last year and show all of the goals that Anton Stralman was on the ice
for in a matter of seconds.

So there’s lots of that analysis, but it’s
really simple, the software is quite incredible. Any player in the league that
I want to see play all of the shifts, I can pull up very quickly. So there’s a
lot of that as you talk about players and targets that you want to try to sign,
we’ll watch a lot of video.

Gregor: When free agency is over, I’d love to find out what Stralman is doing to be that impactful on the analytics side, but for some reason rarely gets points…

MacT: You know what, that’s what analytics
is all about, that’s it right there, that’s the value because it leads you to
ask the right questions like yours. And then you do the research and you dig in for possible outliers where
you can identify value before the rest of the group, (other teams) and that’s
not easy.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • bazmagoo

    I’m very happy MacT is the GM these days, I think he’s done an excellent job so far. He messed up talking too much about Horcoff and Hemsky, and his “bold” moves comment will likely never be lived down, but overall I think he’s done well and is only getting better. He’s learning from his mistakes, which is critical.

    Great interview Gregor, go Oilers!

  • Jason Gregor

    Jason Gregor, congratulations to that excellent interview. I am from Switzerland and would love to talk that close to Craig MacTavish. It’s interesting and fascinating how open-minded MacTavish does talk and gives us an indication of his plans.

    I understand that the Oilers target a promising player in its mid 20is if a trade for the 3rd pick does occur. However, the Oilers need veteran support in all areas. So I hope MacT does really walk the talk. What about Tyler Myers of Buffalo? Wouldn’t he fit the Bill?

    Looking forward to the next 15 days.

    • Jason Gregor

      Hope things are well in Switzerland and your country has recovered from yesterday’s soccer match.

      Myers would fit in that age category for MacTavish, but I don’t think they trade for him. They have depth on the blueline, they desperately need a centre.

      I doubt a team is willing to trade a very good mid 20s player for the #3, because no one knows how good that pick will be. Teams have a better sense of what a player will be at 23-24 years old, and if he is established I doubt they would move him for the #3.

      You never know, but I’d be very surprised if the Oilers find a trade that works to move the #3 overall pick.

      Every year the teams in the top five say they are open to offers, and rarely does a trade happen.

      The last time a team traded their top-five pick for an established player was when Philly traded Ruslan Fedotenko and two 2nd round picks (Tobias Stephen and Dan Spang) to Tampa Bay for the #4 pick and took Joni Pitkanen.

      That was in 2002. Since then teams have swapped picks from the top five, but no team has dealt their pick away for an actual NHL player.

      I don’t expect it to happen this year.

      In 2001…the Islanders traded #2 pick ( Sens took Jason Spezza) and Zdeno Chara to Ottawa for Alexie Yashin. Team trading pick got crushed.

      In 2000, Tampa Bay traded the 5th overall pick (Raffi Torres) to the Islanders for Kevin Weekes. Again team trading pick lost.

      It is extremely unlikely the Oilers will get a trade offer they would accept to move the #3 overall pick.

      • Oilers4ever

        Thanks Jason, the loss from Switzerland against France was tough to swallow. We will now hope for the game against Honduras. For what teams do you guys in Canada cheer in Brazil? England, USA, Australia?

        Back to the Oilers. I still hope they are able to acquire a Number-1 defensman. If not by trade, then in Free Agency. I know that teams rarely trade their top picks – your examples from the past confirm that. Just a thought: Do you think a trade with the Leafs could happen by sending the 3rd and Sam Gagner to Toronto for Phanoeuf and the 8th overall? Is that fair value or fabulous thinking?

        Players I would target in FA are both from Carolina: Ron Hainsey and Brett Bellemore. Which player could help us at Centre? As we all know, Kesler, Spezza and Thornton won’t come to Edmonton. Is Brad Richards an option?

        Who knows, there’s probably a name out there (or in MacT’s mind) which wasn’t named in rumours…

        • Jason Gregor

          Brad Richards is in latter stage of his career and slowing down. I don’t see him as answer in Edmonton.

          If they want another top centre they have to draft one with #3 pick, and then hopefully don’t rush his development.

          • I keep hearing this later stages mantra on players over the age of 30. This does not apply to all players. Sure he got benched in important game in the playoffs, but look at the regular season he had.

            Richards at our number 2C would immediately make the Oilers better.

            For that matter, so would Legwand. Can someone please explain to me how a 33 year ole 6″2 205lbs guy plying as a top line centre for Nashville, becomes a washed up forth line player in the span of a summer?

      • bazmagoo

        I think it’s super unlikely the Oilers trade the pick as well. We are most likely going to add an elite center to the prospect pool which, in my opinion, is our weakest position throughout the organization depth chart. So we really can’t go wrong adding a high end center prospect to the mix. Some will argue defense is our weak point, and there is no debating our NHL level defense has been abysmal in recent years and our weakest position, but our prospect pool on defense is actually pretty stacked right now.

  • Will

    Huh, an entire interview and nothing really important was said. Mac T, the general manager of a hockey club, has a good understanding of how free agency works. He wants to get value for a trade involving the third overall pick. He watches a lot of video.

    The best point in this interview was Gregor’s about why and how Nikitin might just get signed to a non ridiculous contract. Hi agent makes it sound like its all about term and dollars, but maybe, just maybe, he might want to get some play time. The same reason highly sought after free agent Justin Schultz decided to sign? What kind of crazy nonsense is this?

  • Spydyr

    All this hype and speculation is just fodder for the sports media. This year will be just as underwhelming as the last. After an anti-climactic draft, MacTavish, followed by the pundit chorus, we say that there just wasn’t the right moves out there and that things will open up come free agency; during free agency MacTavish will likely sign a couple plugs and call the roster a fix; these few moves, along with the possibility that there’ll be a big trade before or during the preseason once the teams ‘assess their rosters’, will renew hope among an emotionally invested fanbase, and then boom! …. last place in the West again. After that more people will swear off the team, jerseys will be thrown on the ice, and Jonathan Willis will complain how it’s all Tambelinni’s fault.

    The moves required to turn the team around are the ones MacTavish would consider too risk to take. In the case of the Oilers being too conservative is worse than being too risky.

    • Jason Gregor

      Please let us know what these MOVES are that need to be made to turn the team around.

      Be specific.

      The Oilers are 8 players away from being competitive, but share with us these moves that will end the agony. Everyone in Edmonton is sick of the losing so I’m sure all of the Nation would appreciate your can’t-miss-trades.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        I know you’re just kidding but I’ll take a crack at this anyway. I have spent far too many hours on capgeek to waste all of my armchair gm experience. Here is 8 moves with options.

        #1 RH shut down dman- trade for Boychuck maybe Joensuu and Gernat get this done?
        or sign(over-pay) Stralman, Greene, or Robidas.

        #2 Lh puck-moving top d-man- trade for Ehrhoff. Buf has had interest in Gagner last year. I think Sam, plus a mid level prospect, higher pick, and eating a bit of salary gets this done.
        or sign (overpay) Markov, Pitkanen, or Maybe Boyle.

        #3- 3rd line center- I like Fiddler for this because he is an awesome agitator and he is from Edm as well.
        Or get bigger and over-pay for Brian Boyle. Steve Ott maybe.

        #4- 3rd line winger- Sign Booth, Downie, Winnik, Morrow, Stepniak.

        #5- 3rd line winger#2 Arcobello or Lander should be able to fill this role.

        #6- 6/7 dman. this shouldn’t be a hard one to fill. if we sign Nikitin he would bump marincin to the Ahl and give us a solid call-up so the depth guy will only be required to play while we wait for him/klefbom to get to town. I honestly couldn’t care less if Larsen or Fraser get signed for this spot. Won’t dress more than 10 games anyway.

        #7- Top6 Center. This is the hardest one to nail but at least there is a lot of options. Ideally it would be a 1c so RNH can ease into the role instead of this sink or swim approach we seem to have him doing. This move will take some time because everyone is going to be waiting to see what happens with Kesler, Spezza, Stastny, etc. Those 3 guys aren’t coming here.
        – I like Grabovski the best for this role because he is a two way guy and he is Russian. Yakupov should not be tossed aside. We have a player there and he needs to be developed with guys like Grabo and Perron. Grabo would be worth the over-pay for that reason.
        If he can’t be bought then there is other options in Legwand, Brad Richards, Bolland, Jokinen, Or my next 2 favorite options….
        Mike Cammalleri: heart and soul guy that can play center. Just as much of a defensive liability as Gags but can be counted on for at least 20 goals and at least 50 points. I think he would have great chemistry with Perron. It helps that we know he is willing to live in AB as well.
        Mike Santorelli: Had an amazing season in Vancouver that was disrupted by injury. not very durable but he is very committed to making an NHL career work out for himself. He could be bought at a bargain.

        #8 Re-sign Gazdic. he can sit in the press box when we play faster teams and suit up when we play the teams that dress enforcers. He is well liked in the room and gives our smaller skilled guys a bit more confidence just knowing he is there. Also Pitlick needs a contract. If he can stay healthy he will be an NHL player

        Opening day line-up

        Hall-Nuge-Ebs
        Perron-Grabo-Yak
        Booth-Fiddler-Arco
        Hendrix-Gordo-Piniz
        Gazdic-Lander

        Ehrhoff-Petry
        Ference-Boychuk
        Nikitin or Marincin-Schultz
        Larsen or Fraser or who cares. It’s almost better having a guy you don’t care to develop so you can not have to worry about rotating anyone out of the line-up. Marincin or KlefBOMB would be the injury fill-in guys anyway.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Nice try, Gregor: get me to list some controversial players and play armchair GM as a way to discredit my overall point. I’m not going to bite.

        I don’t have all the answers. I know there is no silver bullet to the Oilers’ problems – as I’ve myself argued — and I’m sure being a GM is hard work and that MacTavish is more informed of the Oilers’ situation than some lowly outside observer. But one doesn’t need to be a carpenter to appreciate a fine crafted armoire.

        What I do know is that the Oilers will have to do a hellova lot more to improve the team than acquire marginal pieces like Nikitin and follow the ‘defence by committee’ approach that was tried and failed last year.

        Wake me up when something consequential happens…

        • Jason Gregor

          Your original points stated MacT wouldn’t make any major trades at the draft, but then you don’t share what these great trades should be. Excellent job of carving a guy, but not backing up your point with anything of substance.

          The fact is the Oilers have a lot of work to do to improve this team. He won’t fix all the problems in one three-week span. If Nikitin is better than what they have, which he is, then it is a good move. Nikitin alone won’t solve the problems of the Oilers, but expecting the GM to wave a magic wand and make a #1 D-man appear is wishful thinking.

          I’m not defending MacTavish, I’m pointing out the harsh realities of where this team is at. If you expect them to improve in one year, you will be disappointed. It will take at least three years to fix all the screw ups they made during the past five years.

          • Zarny

            I’m only holding MacTavish to the standards he set himself (i.e. “Bold moves”). My point is that thus far MacTavish has underdelivered and the marginal moves he has made, and will likely make this summer, are nowhere near enough to lift the team out of the basement. Now on the other hand, if he traded for Phaneuf or Byfuglien, or players of that magnitude, then perhaps we’ll see a difference.

            Also, I never said Nikitin would be bad. Maybe he’ll be a great addition. But like I said, they’ll have to reach higher, much higher, if the Oilers are to leave the basement.

          • Jason Gregor

            No reason to rush, and if he doesn’t sign it costs the Oilers nothing. Very few teams will offer Nikitin better opportunity to play and decent money.

            That being said, Oilers can’t overpay for a guy who is top-four for a year and then likely a 3rd pairing guy.

        • nuge2drai

          Oiler Domination To Follow

          Was clearing 28+ mil in cap space this year consequential?

          What about adding Perron for a guy named Magnus?

          Was solidifying the goaltending for late picks enough to get you out of bed?

          How about adding valuable peices to the bottom 6 like Gordan and Hendricks?

          I guess anything short of trading for Weber or Crosby is considered useless moves for some fans.

          You can’t blame MacT for the roster he inherited imo.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Is ‘improving’ the team from 24th overall to 28th overall consequential?

            You say “he cleared cap space”, as if that’s a good thing. The Oilers have that cap space because they only have ONE full-time NHL defenceman signed for next year. Having cap space because there are no NHL players signed to your team is not a good thing, it is a bad thing.

            Perron for MPS was a great trade. I won’t try to take that away.

            We’ll see how solid the goaltending is. I know Scrivens is like the second coming of Christ on this site, but despite a hot start he finished the season with pretty much exactly league-average sv%. How solid can you declare a goalie to be when he doesn’t even have one season as a starter?

            Congrats MacT, you managed to add two 4th line defensive role players, neither of whom have ever scored 10 goals in a season, and it only cost $4.9m with term. High-five.

            Instead of asking for Crosby and Weber, I bet a lot of fans would be happy to set the bar at “not getting worse”.

            You can’t blame MacT for what he inherited, but the team has been, and is now, worse than it was when he inherited it.

            He may change that, but results talk, and he hasn’t shown the results yet.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            Yes the team went from 28-24, but you can hardly blame MacT for the implosion of Dubnyk.

            After MacT solidified the goaltending the team played above .500 hockey.

            He cleared 28+ in cap space- that is awfully impressive. Until you give him a chance to spend the cap I think its pretty ridiculous to criticize him for that.

            With the addition of Perron, Scrivens, Fasth, Gordan, Hendricks, and Ference I think most of us can see the team is getting better not worse.

            We could add Nikitin, Boychuk and a couple solid bottom six players with size and still have a ton of cap left.

            This team is getting better- the #3 pick is going to be a great player as well- how about some positivity when there is clearly positive things happening.

          • Spydyr

            “but you can hardly blame MacT for the implosion of Dubnyk.”

            Yes, you most certainly can.He seen the deficiency tried to remedy it and failed miserable.LaBarbera was the best he could do,come on man.The rest is history.

            Why does everyone says it was Perron for PRV there was a little thing called a second round pick in there too a very high one.How about we just cool our heels a few years and see how that pick turns out before calling it the deal of the year.

          • How about we just cool our heels a few years and see how that pick turns out before calling it the deal of the year.

            This line of thinking frustrates me a great deal. The value of the pick is the value of the possibility of selecting a real player. It has zero to do with how the selected player turns out.

            If the pick has a 5% chance of turning into an NHL player then the value is that of a 5% chance at a player, not whatever the pick becomes.

          • Spydyr

            IMO it has everything to do with the player selected as that is the player you received in the deal.

            The pick is just a commodity to be exchanged for a player at a latter date.

          • Only with the benefit of hindsight.

            By that logic if you traded me you first round pick for my sixth rounder but by fluke I got the better player then I was the winner of the trade.

            Yet if tomorrow we made that deal you would be universally declared the winner with no waiting to see at all.

          • Sorensenator

            He didn’t see the entire deficiency until Dubnyk played like complete garbage for the first 20 games. He knew Devon was not a full time starter quite yet, however Dubnyk’s numbers improved every year up until this season; he looked like he had a future.

            MacT has not been perfect we all know this, but he hasn’t been terrible like many suggest.

            Armchair GM’s crack me up, I bet most of you couldn’t even stand up in front of a crowd of media without having a panic attack.

          • Spydyr

            So your excuse for Mac-T is he was not very good at player assessment.OK then, not something I look for in a top notch GM’s

            Funny, I made the call on Dubnyk a couple years ago.Look back if you like, it is all in past comments.

          • Spydyr

            I am sure that if we looked back at your predictions from a couple of years ago, then we would see that you make some really stupid calls also. You seem like the guy who shoots 110 in golf but only remembers his one nice shot, and thinks he had a good round.

          • Spydyr

            So your response is If I looked back I would see some really stupid calls.You have no facts just 100% conjecture.

            Please look back and show some really stupid calls I made.Oh.yeah I made the right call on Gagner years ago and was not sold on the Eakins hire either.

            No one is perfect everyone makes mistakes but you have no backing to your claims.

          • Spydyr

            I think the timing of what happened played into his decision making. Did he recognize or foresee that Dubnyk might not cut it as a starter? I’d say yes considering how hard he tried to pick up Schneider. Dubnyks implosion at the start of the season could not of been expected to be as bad as it was. Call it the swarm, call it the bottom of the league D, new goalie equipment.. etc. It was a disaster no one disputes that. But the team simply wasn’t on its final pieces to take a run at the Cup. And it went downhill so early that realistically 6 weeks into the season there was literally no hope of making playoffs. I think MacT did well considering the circumstances.

            Of all the things wrong with this team. I don’t think MacT is one of them.

          • Spydyr

            Neither do I but I don’t think he is the second coming of Sam Pollack either.

            The Eakins hire and the way the whole situation was handled really bothers me.Along with “bold moves”and speaking up about his upcoming moves before making them.

          • OilPain

            I agree he did not start out the greatest. Those were errors on his part. Some might say he lays out his intentions too clearly and gives away too much info for other GM’s. But for some reason when I hear him articulate his ideas in quite a bit of detail. It just seems like sensible thinking? Not to compare him to Tambo but what a difference when you listen to them speak. At any rate i don’t know at this point just how adept he is at the position. I know that even the best GM’s have made mistakes before. So my sense is if he can learn and make adjustments and adapt then he has the potential. I don’t personally feel he has had enough time at the position to get a read on MacT as a GM but I get the sense this next few weeks we are going to know a lot more about his abilities.

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            When did the wheels fall off the bus for this historic proud franchise…

            What some fans don’t realize is that actually happened when MacT left the Oilers organization.

            When MacT was coach, no matter how bad the team, no matter the lack of talent the Oilers were always competitive and they always played with heart.

            I for one am glad he’s back, and I can finally start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

            I’ve always felt we needed a legitimate second line Center- and after this draft we will finally have one.

            The rest the silver fox will take care of.

          • a lg dubl dubl

            You’re criticizing the cook before the main course is even prepared. Give the guy a chance, he added players at about an 80% success rate last year and I expect him to continue that trend. He shot himself in the foot when he used the word bold. I guess he thought it would be easier than it is. Pretty sure he has already done more to improve this team than the last guy did in his whole tenure. I’m not disappointed yet and I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say that.

          • The Last Big Bear

            80% success rate?? Where did you pull those stats from? That’s not even close man. Please refer to this link and tell me where 80% is success.

            http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/teams/edmonton-oilers/transactions.html

            Allow me to expand..these are all trades or contract signings from 06/11/2013 to 04/02/2014

            Jesse Joensus – Bust
            Will Acton – Bust
            Philip Larsen – Bust
            Ference – decent
            Boyd Gordon – decent
            Jason LaBarbera – Bust
            Ryan Jones – Bust
            Richard Bachman – B word
            Perron – Excellent
            Grebeshkov – Bust
            Sam Gagner – Bust
            Jujhar Khaira – not NHL competent, Bust
            Linus Omark – Bust
            Ben Scrivens – still questions, but decent so far
            Mark Fraser – Bust
            Bryzgalov – Bust
            Victor Fasth – see Scrivens
            Hemsky – sold for a 5th rd and 3rd rd pick, Bust

            I’d say 5 out of 18 moves were decent. Not anywhere close to 80%..

          • The Last Big Bear

            How was Bryz a bust???????

            Did you expect Kharia to be the next Crosby???

            80% of these players came in and did what was expected. I count maybe 3 or 4 complete fails but none of them have a salary of more than 1.5m. Hemsky was not sold for two draft picks… a few weeks of his contract was sold for those picks. He is just as available to us now as he is to 29 other teams. I don’t think your knowledge of the business of hockey is anywhere close to what you think it is. Educate

          • Quicksilver ballet

            So your saying that if we sign guys for 1.5 million or less and they are busts then that is a success? And I’m the one that needs to educate?

            Is Bryz still here? Did we sign him? How long was he here for? How did he play? Bust, bust, bustyofferson.

            And how is hockey knowledge measurable? By making armchair trades that never ever happen? How does that prove anything? Is there a standardized test out there I’m not aware of?

            Bold is the Pronger deal that Lowe made. Until MacT makes a major move similar I won’t be content.

          • The Last Big Bear

            Then go hit the bricks and play on the freeway because I hate to tell you this but those trades RARELY HAPPEN. Oh I know you will come back with some bs comment but tell me how many times has a team acquired a real franchise player in a trade ? c’mon let’s hear it, the last one that happened was Joe Thornton.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Bryz was the best available at the time. When something better(long-term) came along he moved him.

            Hockey moves are always going to be a series of gambles. Some work, some don’t. The only bad move of Mac’s that we are currently stuck with, is Joensuu. And he might still turn out. Everything else he did either improved the team, cost very little in assets, or cost Katz some money. Not YOU money, Katz.

            How long was Pronger here for? What do we have to show for him now? Pronger worked out because he was the last piece of a puzzle that at the time was pretty much put together.

            I’m not saying Mac is a great GM by any means. If you look at his rookie season as a GM, he’s done pretty damn good with what he inherited from Tambo. Teams don’t become Stanley cup contenders overnight.

            What exactly would you say were MacT’s top 5 huge mistakes? I can think of some dumb things he’s said but he hasn’t said anything half as dumb as “6 rings” or “teir 2 fans”

          • Jason Gregor

            Pronger and Peca were not enough to get us into the playoffs . and Lowe had to make at least 2 major moves just so we could make playoffs. Pronger was one of many , and you might argue the first , but certainly not the last . We had a mass exodus of players the year after from which we have yet to recover . MacT. inherited a promising 24th place team from Tams , and was barely able to have his team make 28th . That’s not progression nor for praise . He”ll have to do a lot better this season , or we will fall back even further , which is hard to do I know . How many of MacT. moves contributed to us doing better ? None of consequence as we fell to 28th and could have very easily been 29 th .

          • The Last Big Bear

            Will Acton=who cares 2 way deal for a 4th liner
            Philip Larsen = Again cheap 1 year didn’t break the bank
            Ference = Agreed
            Boyd Gordon= Decent? Try awesome. We would be drafting 1st overall without him. Don’t kid yourself.
            Khaira-Was a college “draft”(SMB’s responsible for this player) pick 2 years ago?? This will be an NHL player I promise you that.

            Notice nothing in your list hand-cuffs the Oilers in the future necessarily. Every GM has the meh minor deals which are low risk, low cost, shots in the dark. MacT just as any GM will be defined and judged ultimately on his big time trades and deals. 1.5 years is too early to make a call on him. Especially when they were focused on development and clearing Cap space. However, the veil is about to be lifted big time. This next 3-4 weeks are going to be a critical moment for MacT and ultimately the Oilers. I reserve judgement until then.

          • The Last Big Bear

            If we want to talk about hit-to-miss ratio, l think we should be addressing things like a patently retarded offer he made to David Clarkson, tossing Smid away for a teenage goalie and kid who’s in the KHL now, paying $4.9m for a pair of gritty 4th liners, being completely unable to acquire NHL-level defencemen by any means.

            Before the season, when asked if Dubyk was the right goalie, he said “If you have to ask the question, you already know the answer.”

            At the time, I commented here that this is exactly the kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that benefits nobody. MacT threw his starting goalie under the bus in the national media, saying that he’s not good enough to be the starter, and yet started the season with Dubnyk in net anyways. Oh Dubnyk struggled? Shocking. The GM said the goalies not good enough to be starterr, started him anyways because he couldn’t replace him, and the goalie struggled. I’m shocked. This is my shocked face.

            😐

            Some people think the Oilers poor finish is not Eakins’ fault. Ok. Who thinks that the Oilers would have finished WORSE with a different coach? Honestly? Who is going to honestly stand up and say “With Kreuger or AV, or someone else, the Oilers would have finished worse than 28th.” ?

            The main course isn’t finished yet, but there are plenty of questionable smells coming from the kitchen. Perron was an excellent appetiser, but that will be of little comfort if the GM serves up a big steaming turd.

          • Oilers4ever

            I’d rather have a GM that makes a few mistakes and gets it right in the end than a guy that is so scared to make the wrong move, that he makes no move. Being, the wrong move.

            Screw all you haterz, I’m going to get myself a MacT jersey….. and throw it on the ice…..JK. never

            Collini OUT!

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Labarbera was a bad gamble that in the end didn’t cost us much but he learned from it and got us a couple of much better ‘gambles’ in Scrivens and Fasth.

            I think Fasth was a solid move.

            Grebeshkov was another failure but it was a gamble that cost us next to nothing.

            Belov did exactly what he was brought in to do, he was a depth guy with the potential to do more. I think he could have worked out well if circumstances were different.

            Horak was great, did you see him play?

            Fraser was a depth guy that came in and did what he was brought in to do and we traded the rights of a player that will never play in the NHL to get him.

            Joensuu sucked, I admit it. I actually hope he goes away in as a throw in in a trade.

            Hamilton and Acton were Ahl players… were they not good Ahl players?

            Ference was another solid move

            Larsen was what came back when MacT made the Horcoff contract ‘go away’. Really solid move

            You forgot Bryz. Solid

            You forgot getting rid of Dubnyk’s contract and getting a mean checker in Hendricks. Solid

            You forgot signing Gordon. Solid.

            How about Pinizotto. Solid

            Perron. Epic value in that move.

            What about the Gazdic waiver pickup? Was that not solid?

            Scrivens?

            Labarbera, Grebeshkov, and Joensuu are all fails. The rest were all solid moves for one reason or another. None of them except Perron and Scrivens were home runs but wtf do you expect? No other GM made more moves than Mac last year. He has worked his tail off to fix all the messed up problems Tambo left him with.

            Let me ask you this, How many of his mistakes are we stuck with today?

          • Oilers4ever

            Narrow minded of you to miss Scrivens, Perron, Hendricks and Ference dont you think? Without those guys we’re picking 1st overall again. While I agree nothing majorly bold happened (although the Perron trade robbed the Blues blind), he did inherit a team from a crap GM in Tambi who buried this team for years. If you think that can be fixed in one full season I seriously question your level of hockey knowledge. Just sayin….

          • nuge2drai

            Oiler Domination To Follow

            I think the 80% he’s referring to is the players brought in that are CURRENTLY still on the roster:

            Perron, Scrivens, Fasth, Gordan, Hendricks, Ference, Gazdic, Arcobello

            You would recognize these players as the only ones who give a sht each night other than Hall.

            Almost all the grit and character on the Oilers roster comes from the players MacT brought in this year.

    • Dan 1919

      You’re right, the time to get back in the NHL is now. This 8 year drafting phase needs to stop this offseason. Nikitin addition is welcomed if it pans out but he alone will not bring the Oilers anywhere near the playoffs.

      They need to be the reckless team this offseason. Go after Stastny or B.Richards, overpay them and make the rest of the league puke. Overpay Boyle, he’s old and small and would be the Oilers best defenceman…

      Get two or three of these guys in here and they probably still won’t make the playoffs but they’ll at least be 8th-10th, then you have somewhere to build from next summer, and maybe don’t land on everyone’s no-trade list.

      Take a look at the current Oiler roster http://www.capgeek.com/oilers/
      It’s sad, Hall is a star, Ebs’ is a good complement player to a star on the first or second line, RNH is developing trying to solidify himself as a top two centre. Perron is a top six forward. Other than that there are some great players but let’s face it, that roster is nothing close to playoff contending… and a few rookie D-men next year won’t help the cause.

      Go big this offseason, let the fans know this is no longer acceptable…

      • v4ance

        No no no!

        Reckless UFA spending = Toronto Maple Leafs = cap hell

        Stay the course. Make reasonable gambles on trades. Overpay on a few key youngish UFAs who will still be contributing if we’re a cup contender in 2-4 years but not too much overpay(Grabo, Kulemin, Nikitin). Don’t rush prospects to NHL before they are ready. Scout and draft well. Rinse and repeat.

    • With all the buy outs, trade block rumours and free agents, and teams already up against the cap, I actually don’t think it will be too hard for Mac T to make some significant moves this summer.

      Thorton, Spezza, and Kelser all look to be on the move. Granted none will come here, but all those teams they are going to, will need to make some room to absorb their contract, which also takes them out of the running for players like Richards, Stasny, and Legwand, Boyle, Grabovski, and Bolland. That’s a lot of centres on the market in some capacity.

      As for defence, well, there’s a few options out there as well. I would be pleased with Nikitin and Boychuck. Both vets, both big, both with a good range of skills, both opposite sides positionally, and both would help mentor all the young up and coming guys.

      • Jason Gregor

        I agree, when I heard Richards got bought out I thought those is good for Edm. Not necessarily because we would get him but because a flooded market of centers in free agency gives us a better shot at landing a top6 center. Mac should be driving up the prices, either we get the guy or we eat up cap space around the league making Edmonton the only place to go. Not going to make friends around the league but nobody would blame him for trying to get the piece he needs

  • @ Quicksilver

    It’s really difficult to tell if your a TROLL or just a disgruntled fan? You do make some good point’s every now and again… but most of the time your just negative for the sake of being negative.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      30th, 30th, 29th, 24th and 28th* place finishes tend to do that to a fanbase. Is this is the type of anti dynasty this current generation of fans deserve?

      4 first overalls in a 6 year span, perhaps.

      • 84, 85, 87, 88, 90 I’m sorry if you weren’t alive to enjoy the glory years, but I was a kid back then and it was awesome! The Oilers were historically good and now their historically bad. That’s just the way it goes..sometime she goes, sometimes she doesn’t.

        The Oilers have arguably the best young core group in the league. Practice a little patience, let the Cask mature and reap the rewards once it does. All the this pain and suffering will be long forgotten.

        In the mean time grow up and deal with it.

        • Jason Gregor

          1066, 1492, 1776, 1918.
          Now THOSE were glory years.
          And just as buried in the history books as the Oilers’ Cup wins.
          Keep on dreamin’ the dream, deluded Oiler fan.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        So you’re definitely going for quantity vs quality when it comes to your comments. I have a hard time trying to figure out if you are just really young and stupid, a complete troll just trying to get a rise out of everyone all the time, or just plain stupid. Which is it?

  • D

    If MacT’s primary metric for player deals is “will it help win a championship”, this is good news. After all these years of losing, please don’t squander the team’s assets just for short term fixes.

  • Joy S. Lee

    The thing I like about MacT is he seems to have a vision for the team. He made his share of mistakes in Year 1 but I think overall acquisitions like Scrivens, Fasth, Perron, Gordon and Hendricks were good signings/trades. Ferrence is the one signing I’m not a big fan of but I expect him to continue to make this roster better. I think the Oil will be in a much better spot to start this year compared to last year.

    • a lg dubl dubl

      Hall won’t hit his prime for 2 more years and he is going to be the one to lead this team out of the wilderness. A great contract, playing hockey for a living with his pals what a great opportunity for a young rising star he must be ecstatic about life.

    • Jason Gregor

      He has six years remaining. I’m pretty sure he is happy making $6 million.

      I have no idea why people think young kids should all get to win and have success instantly.

      Go look at Joe Sakic, Mario Lemieux and other stars early years. They were on crappy teams, but they didn’t shrivel up and die.

      And that was when the league had 21 teams and it was easier to make the playoffs, and they still stunk.

      You can hate that the Oilers lose all the time, I get that, but many top picks take years to have success. It isn’t instantaneous for all of them. The great ones persevere and get better because of it.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    When will the nightmare end. Same ship different year.

    Hope it’s not just lip service, but it appears as though Craig is open to the fact Nurse could very well make the roster next season. Let these guys get their minutes in during the next 3/4 years on the outside looking in.

    If Eakins loses the first exhibition game. Is it too early to fire him…..before they waste another whole season under his poor leadership?. Can’t take another year watching him throw his own players under the bus. his job is to put these kids in a position to succeed, not point fingers at the players for his 28th place finish.

    • Sorensenator

      It is quite the opposite, Mac T would rather see his young defensemen develop properly in junior or the AHL before being ready to play on the big club.

      Marincin is an exception, he will be 23 this year and was not out of place in his first partial season.

    • PlayDirty

      Seriously man – I have a lot more tolerance for you than most but you are clearly looking to find the most negative spin on anything that is said and trying to provoke the masses. MacT isn’t promising anything here – he’s really got the same perspective of most people on here…. there’s no secret there. There’s no need to make things out to be any worse than they are. You were reasonable for a while but really turned back into a twit recently.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I apologize Ty. I’ll try and curtail the spitting into the wind routine. Sometimes the passion in our veins turns to poison, unfortunately. I wasn’t like this at all during the 80’s and 90’s. This prolonged funk we’re in has just tipped the scales for me somewhat.

        If I didn’t try to Bob and Doug MacKenzie it up a little, i would find the entertainment here a little too boring. Where else can Oilers fans go to vent/put the boots to each other and not require medical attention?

        I’ll try and step out of my glass case of emotion and be a little more Zarny like. I’ll try it for two weeks and see how it goes.

        Hey look, 44 Chicken sells beer now too.

    • Reds

      It’s okay you’re still dreaming of McDavid and the 2016 pick and the 2017 pick.

      Clearly, MacT shouldn’t do anything to accomplish this. Now that’s the nightmare.

      And trade Taylor Hall? What the hell? He’s not even in his prime how are they wasting him?

      • Quicksilver ballet

        His words say one thing. His actions say another.

        The constant over promising and under delivering, continues under MacTavish. You can’t prove that isn’t happening here.

        • Dude – I am tired of Oiler fans always finding the bad in a situation. Tambo won’t talk and now MacT talks too much and then there is the fire the coach clowns. Do us a favour and shut the f-up as it will he intolerable over the next couple weeks as its a fun times not your period.