An Oiler Atrocity

oilers-lottery

Atrocity is a pretty strong word. Usually it’s reserved for
describing events involving death and destruction…or at least Justin Schultz’
own zone coverage. Using it to describe the possibility of Edmonton winning another
lottery is just a little over the top, but you can understand the sentiment a
bit.

Mike Brophy of The Hockey News wrote this piece about the
NHL preventing the Oilers from potentially winning another first overall pick
in the lottery at the end of this season. It’s an instant classic and it’s the
kind of reactionary thinking that probably lead to the greatest possibility of
Brophy’s nightmare scenario actually coming true to life: the NHL changing the rules so it was easier for teams 29-17 to win the top pick.

In any event, I thought it might be fun to go through it
piece by piece exploring its validity.

The NHL has done a nice job reducing the odds of winning
the draft lottery to limit the possibility of a team tanking in order to get
the first pick in the entry draft.

Now the league should take it a step further and change the
rules so that no team gets the No. 1 pick in consecutive years.

Failure should not be rewarded. And yet it is. And it might
be again.

There’s a lot going on here right at the beginning. Some of
it is accurate, some of it is strangely conceived.

To begin with, I agree with Brophy that the NHL has made
some good measures to ensure that teams aren’t being immediately rewarded for
tanking. When the Oilers were finishing dead last they had almost a coin flip’s
chance to keep the top prize and if not then they would only move down one
position.

Last season was a transition year for the NHL as they
re-weighted the lottery so that the 30th placed team only had a 20%
chance to hold onto that top pick. In many ways the Buffalo Sabres attempt to
lose at all costs, including trading all of their starting goaltenders and
replacing them with stoppers supporting terrible numbers, was the perfect
scenario for the NHL to prove tanking was not worth it. They finished dead last
and with an 80% chance to lose the lottery that’s exactly what happened.
Mission Accomplished, NHL.

The bizarre line is that “Failure should not be rewarded.”
This is, naturally, exactly what the NHL is doing with a lottery weighted
towards the worst teams. It ensures that bad teams can find the necessary
talent to eventually no longer be bad. In most markets bad hockey = bad
revenue. So ultimately the lottery is to ensure the viability of the clubs on
and off the ice.

The teams who do the worst in the standings have the best
chances of winning the lottery. That’s EXACTLY how it’s supposed to work.

The Edmonton Oilers are once again battling for last place
which would give them the greatest odds of winning this season’s lottery and
thereby selecting Auston Matthews.

This is an atrocity.

The Oilers have had the first pick in four of the past six drafts
and what good has it done them? Since 2009, the Oilers have not finished higher
than 21st – and that was in 2008-09. Since then they have finished 30th, 30th,
29th, 24th, 28th and 28th.

Tell me how you really feel, Broph.

Wins

Note that at the time of posting this piece the Oilers had
more Wins than Vancouver, Toronto, and Carolina. They have the same number of
points in the standings as Calgary, and their Goal Differential is 24th
in the NHL.

In addition to basic facts, the Oilers hired one of the best
coaches on the market, hired a respected GM, and displaced all of the people
who were in charge a year ago from decision making roles.

Taken in concert, the Oilers are not actually battling for
last place. They are 5 points out of 3rd in the Pacific, battling
key injuries, and staying more competitive in games than they have been in
years.

The question of what good the first overall picks have done
them is interesting. One of those picks is inside the top 3 LWs in the game
today, one is the team’s best 2-way player, and one is a generational talent
who has only barely started his NHL career. While he team is terrible it’s
pretty clear those picks are providing what little good the team has seen.

We’ll skip ahead a couple paragraphs that explain Edmonton picked
first a lot and get to him talking about McDavid joining the team.

McDavid Hurt

So McDavid – a generational player who will ultimately help
this bumbling franchise climb the standings, in spite of itself – goes to
Edmonton and joins Hall and Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov, as well as Darnell
Nurse (picked seventh in 2013) and Leon Draisaitl (third in 2014) and what
happens?

The Oilers still stink.

Okay, I get that McDavid is injured. But is a broken
clavicle on an 18-year-old really the reason why the Oilers are in last place
yet again? A team that has three other first overall picks from the past six
drafts and a bum collarbone on a teenaged hockey player sinks the ship?

Let’s just take this in. The Oilers got McDavid and somehow they
still blow, but they don’t really have McDavid because he’s injured, but that’s
not a big deal because he’s just an 18 year old anyway and how much impact
could he have?

Did I get that right?

Arguments tend to work best if you don’t make a point then
immediately undermine it.

The next is one of my favourite parts though.

This is a team that, since 2008-09, has had three general
managers (Steve Tambellini, Craig MacTavish and Peter Chiarelli) and seven
coaches (Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, Dallas Eakins, MacTavish, Todd
Nelson and Scott McLellan).

Now there’s a formula for success.

The coaches and GMs were all good men with good intentions.
And yet the Oilers are still bottom dwellers. They have been handed opportunity
after opportunity to dig themselves out of their ever-deepening hole and they
are no further ahead than they were in 2010.

This is an incredible display of analysis.

snidely_whiplash

I think first we have to address the Elephant in the room.
Coach Scott McLellan is not a good man with good intentions. He is the evil
twin of Coach Todd McLellan and is constantly scheming of ways to ruin Todd’s
plans. While he is identical to Todd in every other way, he can be easily
spotted by his long and twisty moustache which he keeps finely waxed.

At any rate, the point he tries to make here is, I guess,
that Edmonton’s constant changing of the guard has really screwed up the
Rebuild. Also that these were swell guys who tried real hard but Edmonton was
hell bent on screwing it all up by playing musical chairs.

Glossing over the tenures of Tambellini and MacTavish with “(they)
were all good men with good intentions” is hilariously inadequate. Then failing
to connect the disastrous hiring of those men with the disastrous firings of
Renney and Krueger is equally insufficient. Plus who are we kidding by including
MacT as one of the team’s coaches during this time? The whole thing lacks even
the most undeveloped context possible.

Logically, though, the most dubious part of this comes with
his declaration that Drafting first has not put Edmonton ahead one step from
where they were in 2010. Do you remember how the team ended in 2009-2010? Well
if you don’t I have the boxscore from the game (a 7-2 loss). Look at the roster and tell me
we aren’t ahead.

Last Day 2010

Dean Arsene? Charles Linglet? Ryan Potulny? Patrick O’Sullivan?
It’s a miracle the Oilers didn’t lose every game 7-2 in 2009-2010.

Ok, so obviously the Oilers are further ahead of where they
were in 2010. BUT, let’s assume they weren’t any further ahead. Let’s assume
Broph was bang on with his assessment (in this fantasy world I’m also taller,
by the way). If the Oilers were indeed not any further ahead and indeed the
worst team in the NHL, isn’t the only process that could help them get better drafting
at or near the top of the order?

Wouldn’t it then make sense for Edmonton to get the pick so
they could indeed finally start to get better? I mean, denying such a truly atrocious
team any means to actually get better and stop being so poor on the ice would
only guarantee their failure. If the NHL decided that the Sabres have had too
many lottery picks and they blew it taking Eichel and Reinhart so now they can’t
pick in the lottery again, they might as well vote to just fold the franchise.

And now the Oilers may get another first pick? This should
not happen. The NHL must make teams work harder to earn the right to get the
first pick in the draft.

The Oilers recent history should be the impetus for change.
You get the first pick, continue to suck and your luck runs out.

How could a team work any harder to earn the right to pick
first? Be MORE terrible than everyone else? Because that sounds a lot like
tanking. And if Brophy doesn’t mean tanking then I have no clue what he means
by making teams work harder. I guess Bettman could run the bottom 5 GM’s
through a Wipeout-like obstacle course. That would be worth watching but I don’t
really see Chiarelli having any luck on the big balls.

wipeout

Building a champion is more than good drafting. It involves
developing players, making wise trades and building an organization players
aspire to join.

It is time to stop rewarding continuous failure.

Remember that time he said Tambo and MacT were good guys
with good intentions? Those were good times. Oh, I have no idea why I mentioned
those guys in relation to developing players, making good trades, and building
an organization.

No idea at all.

However, if it was time to stop rewarding failure I wouldn’t have
linked to Brophy’s post at the top.

  • Petrolero

    We’ve been irrelevant to the rest if the league for years, and we’re only relevant this year because we drafted McDavid and his injury is part of the discussion about why we’re this bad. Can’t wait til the day when we matter because we’re competitive.

  • Petrolero

    This team has been horrible, but Brophy’s article is proof he is a moron.

    The Edmonton Oilers have won THREE draft lotteries, not four. Their win in 2011 was because the NJ Devils won and moved up to 4th overall and selected Adam Larsson.

    The Florida Panthers have won 4 (sort of; read on). They won in 2014 selecting Ekblad; they won in 2002 and 2003 and swapped picks both times to slide down to 3rd overall (and all they have to show for it is Mikael Samuelson); and they would’ve won in 1998, allowing them to pick Vincent Lecavalier, had they not traded their 1st pick for Viktor Kozlov.

    So before picking Aaron Ekblad they had shots at 1st overall three times and all they have to show for it is Mikael Samuelson and Viktor Kozlov.

    Are they still allowed to win the NHL lottery or should we ban them too?

    So who out of the 2015 draft lottery field deserved to win McDavid?

    The Sabres who had been ACTIVELY tanking by dealing starting goalies without a backup plan so they could finish as low as possible?

    The Coyotes who are bleeding a small town bankrupt and contributing nothing financially to the league?

    The Leafs who were in the playoffs till about December until they up and quit on the season?

    The Hurricanes who have been as bad as the Oilers since 2006, minus a miracle run in 2009?

    Colorado? They’ve had top 2 picks in 3 of the previous 6 drafts to 2015, including generational talent McKinnon.

    Can’t be Florida if Edmonton’s not allowed to pick 1st overall.

    LA Kings would’ve been in the playoffs if they could stay clean and sober and not beat up women – would Brophy make a case for them?

    Bruins? They got their good luck in the form of Sequin and Hamilton and dealt them both away.

    That leaves Devils, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Sharks and Stars in your draft lottery field.

    Everyone else doesn’t deserve it, I guess. Good luck with coming up with a system that’s fair and equitable.

  • Petrolero

    I read that article but it’s kind of tough for a bad team to get better when good UFA’s rarely want to sign and everyone has Edmonton on their “no” move list. The NHL can suck it. It’s not entirely managements fault.

  • Kevwan

    Brophy should be mad at the NHL not the Oilers. The lottery system doesn’t work.

    The draft lottery system should be scrapped. It was put into place to prevent teams from tanking. Now multiple teams tank just to improve their chances at a better pick.

    Brophy is right that the Oilers don’t “deserve” 4 #1 picks. They finished last twice so they “deserve” 2.

    The team that needs and “deserves” Mathews will be the worst team in the League. A 20% chance is not enough.

  • Petrolero

    Its sad “The Hockey News”, has such bias writers. Brophy and Richardson ( hockey rumors) have such a jaded view that you know the only team the xare about is the make beliefs.

  • Armchair_Gm

    Of course sad sack oiler fans dont agree with the article. They have been getting fed the same batch of lies for years. Since we drafted hall they have been comparing this rebuild to.the ones that took place in chicago/La/Pittsburgh never taking into consideration those are american cities that Nhl players want to play for. Would a gonchar sign here? Hossa in his prime? Nope. This team isnt even willing to move that pick because it might be another top five pick..Its disgusting. Oiler fans arent going to.like this but it doesnt matter who you draft at the end of the day top end free agents arent going to come here and guys dont Want to be traded here.

  • THRNHJE

    The night of the draft I am going to phone my sister in T.O. and have her hold her phone outside her window. I will be listening for the sounds of heads exploding at TSN, Sports-net and CBC if the Oilers somehow end up winning the lottery. As Jackie Gleason used to say.’ How sweet it is …”

    I am hopeful this does not occur. Once the injured players return and with solid coaching and goaltending the Oil could close ground on some teams rather quickly. They could achieve some level of respectability by seasons end. Here’s hoping.

    With a win against Buffalo Sunday they could potentially leapfrog over 5 teams. That’s what 2 pts. can do for a team.

  • Armchair_Gm

    My Lai was an atrocity. 9/11 was an atrocity. The Oilers picking first again might be unfair,or picking 3rd and getting the best player,like Drai is from his draft year(Should wehave to give him back?) But atrocity seem like Toronto hyperbole to me. Would they be happy and shut the f up if we just let them have the cup one year?

  • Armchair_Gm

    The lottery win which brought us McD is one of the bright spots for me, going all the way back to the 7th game of the SCF on ’06. Needless to say it has been quite a ride. When I look at all the needless drama since the Katz era began… and the list is long, I say if this is atrocity then bring it on.

    Brophy and other myopic, self-entitled Trawna-focused media can kiss my rosy red…

    If they want to criticize other organizations for inept management or outright foppery by design then he need only venture into his own backyard. His magnificent Leafs accompanied by Buffalo and Arizona tried to tank and couln’t even get that right. The Oil under Nelson continued to try and win. A case could be made that the Oilers winning the right to select McD is more just than any of those teams who made a farce of the draft.

    Brophy’s comments along with all of the sour-puss talking heads in Trawna are born out of pure hypocrisy.

    Looks good on you boys. Maybe we can do it to you again…heaven forbid.

  • MorningOwl

    Clearly, the league needs to limit the number of 1 overall picks to 1 in a five year rolling window, same for 2nd and 3rd…

    The Oilers have effectively screwed up the entire league by wrecking the draft through perpetual incompetence, and the league needs to do something about it.

    Such great fans, such a pathetic franchise. Oilers are getting what they truly deserve.

    • Semi

      Why do they need to limit it when we have 4 and still are not a playoff club ? There is no guarantee the first overalls will make club that much better . The drafting makes or helps the bad clubs at least become more competitive with rest of league . as that is what it is designed for .

  • The Soup Fascist

    The Oilers Management and organization has been atrocious for the last decade. Tough to argue that.

    They now have completely overhauled the management and coaching staff. We will see where they end up.

    BUT, to hear any guff about how bad the Oilers have been from a Leaf-centric writer or moronic Flames fans is beyond the pot calling the kettle black. The Mike Brophy and “Jeff of the Day from his Mom’s Basement in Lethbridge” types of the world, have plenty to keep them busy worrying about their own sad sack organizations.

    For the love of God, somebody please call 911 and send Brophy a Whaaambulance.

  • CMG30

    When the Oilers beat Boston the other night I watched the game at a dive in Brockville, Ontario (don’t ask, I got work here)
    Naturally, I totally lost it when the Oilers won. I asked the guy at the next table (with whom I’d had a prior chat) for a high five. My response was a look of disgust and a “I f*#&ng hate the Oilers!” then he stormed out.
    This is the kind of treatment you get out east people… The media fuels it, it’s garbage.

  • Jordan88

    The salt is real.

    Lets fast forward to the year 2020 and read some news headlines:

    “Leafs still no cup in site, Toronto media still crying about McDavid, Dion Phaneuf can finally cut his own meat on his plate.”

    Yawn, this “news piece” ranks up there with the Ottawa news piece calling the Eskimo’s team name disrespectful.

  • Oilers4ever

    Never gave two you know what’s for what Brophy has ever had to say. He’s an egotistical baboon who 9 times out of 10 doesn’t have his crap straight to back up his facts. Seriously… Thinking Eakins was a good coach meaning well. Tambo a good GM meaning well. And the Oilers players overall not better since 2010? Keeping drinking the green koolaid Brophy. The stuff they keep feeding you Toronto fans thinking Babcock is going to bring the Maple Laughs to the promised land. Oilers will win a cup again long before TO ever does…

  • Jordan88

    Loved how Brophy complained about how unfair getting the first pick year after year was then explained why getting the first pick doesnt help your team… real solid argument! I’m sure the NHL will be hiring him immediately to make the draft less atrocious from now on.

  • Señor Frijoles

    I don’t disagree with your point at large, and Brophy is crazy, but I would still be okay with a lottery system that weighted against your odds for a year or two if you won it one year. I get that the league wants parity, but that 3rd first overall pick in a row was pretty lucky. It is indeed an embarrassment of riches.

  • supra steve

    Honestly, I’m confident that if it were the Leafs or the Flames, or any other club…you all would be getting sick and tired of seeing the same result at the conclusion of each season. The league should intervene NOW with a rule to prohibit repeated first overall picks in a specified number of seasons/years.

  • supra steve

    Taylor Hall is a great offensive talent but is he really in the top 3 for left wing in the league? Others at the position Oveckin, Benn, Sedin, Rick Nash, Zetterberg, Sharp, Gaudreau, Pacioretty. All of these players are great and on any night can be interchangeable as the best.

  • Zarny

    I don’t think it’s worth parsing the details of Brophy’s article.

    It’s not a critical analysis. He starts and ends with “30th place” and spends a lot of words reciting a google search of Olier draft picks and complaining their results in standings haven’t changed.

    Atrocity is click bait because nothing he says is new, unique or provocative.

    I’m not going to get butthurt over the sentiment the Oilers shouldn’t draft 1st overall again. It’s true, they shouldn’t. And not because the NHL changes a rule.

  • 94 93 28 6

    The funniest part is that Toronto Sports Media literally GAVE us McDavid after they pumped Eakins tires till they blew.

    The Oilers finished 23rd prior to the hiring of Eakins, they were trending upward.