128

Now what?

So, with Peter Chiarelli rightfully sacked and shown the door by the Edmonton Oilers in the better-late-than-never department, an obvious question begs: Now what? That’s really a two-part question, the way I see it. First, what happens in the short-term? Second, what happens in the long-term? They are, it goes without saying, connected.

Specifically, can the immediate future include a push for the 2019 playoffs that doesn’t involve mortgaging the future and weakening a roster Chiarelli already watered down for what could be a one-and-done taste of the post-season? Can the organization put the Chiarelli era behind it without leaving whoever takes over from interim-GM Keith Gretzky and his front office committee in a deeper hole?

I say yes. Whether it’s somebody like Kelly McCrimmon or Bill Guerin or any of the other candidates being speculated about coming in to clean up Chiarelli’s mess, I think it’s possible. I think the Oilers, who stagger into the all-star break three points out of a wildcard spot in the Western Conference after three straight losses, can make a run without Chiarelli’s bungling as part of the process. No mortgage needed.

I know that sounds optimistic in the extreme to many of you and that’s completely understandable given the roller-coaster ride this season has been, but I think it’s do-able. The only caveat is that Gretzky and those around him don’t make the kind of boneheaded moves that got us here in the first place – Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome for Ryan Spooner comes to mind. The Oilers don’t need to make big deals to get into the playoffs, they just can’t afford to make any bad deals.

Here’s the way I see it.

THE NEW GUY

Oscar Klefbom has been out of the line-up so long, his return after the all-star break and bye week from a broken finger will almost be like getting a new player, and a top-pairing defenceman no less. In the 31 games Klefbom played, the Oilers were 17-12-2. In the 19 games he’s missed, the Oilers are 6-12-1. Neither mark rests solely with Klefbom of course, but there’s no getting around the impact his absence has had.

Without Klefbom and, for a time, Kris Russell, an already thin blueline group has been stretched beyond reasonable expectations in terms of having players like Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson play too many minutes and others like Kevin Gravel, Caleb Jones and Matt Benning play too high in the line-up. Nurse and Larsson, in particular, have worn down and struggled. Jones is going to be a player, but was forced into too many minutes.

Getting Klefbom back and up to speed doesn’t make this roster contenders for the Stanley Cup with all the holes up front, but he’s the team’s best puck-mover and he’ll help on the power play. Just as important, Klefbom re-sets the pecking order on the blueline. A top-four of Klefbom-Larsson and Nurse-Russell is a start in front of whoever rotates through the third pairing.

THE OLD GUY

Dec 13, 2018; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Ken Hitchcock talks to his players during a time against the Winnipeg Jets in the third period Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve got a lot of respect for Ken Hitchcock because I’ve seen him find a way to get the best out of the line-ups he’s had to work with dating back more than 30 years to his time with the Kamloops Blazers in the WHL. While Hitchcock is no magician, as the slide the Oilers endured after Klefbom went out shows, I don’t think we’ve seen his best work yet.

Hitchcock knows how he wants to play, but it takes time for any coach to figure out who fits where within any given scheme. As important, it takes time to figure out which buttons to push with different players to get what he’s looking for out of them. I believe he’ll get more out of Jesse Puljujarvi. I feel the same way about Milan Lucic. There’s a time to coach with the carrot and there’s times when you have to go to the stick. Hitchcock knows that as well as any coach I’ve ever seen.

That doesn’t make the roster as it stands today anything resembling stellar because that’s a long-term project, but for all of the faults and flaws at forward and on the blueline, the Oilers are three points out with 32 games remaining. Can Hitchcock squeeze more out of players not named Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins? I say yes.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Make no mistake, I’m not saying that firing Chiarelli means this team can or will turn on a dime. It’s likely going to take years to replace the talent that’s been bled out of the lineup. It’s going to take some time to build the kind of depth around McDavid it’ll take to become a legitimate contender no matter who ends up being the new GM.

In the big picture, it’s going to take a fundamental shift in philosophy at the top of this organization, namely from owner Daryl Katz, for any real change to take hold. Katz must rid the team of any interference or influence by those not working directly in hockey-ops, and it likely means swapping out some old friends who do. That’s a story for another day.

Here and now, I believe the Oilers can make the playoffs this season without sacrificing the future before a new GM takes a swing at things down the road. That’s certainly not the end-game, but it sure would be a pleasant distraction along the way after the monotony of misery fans around here have endured for a dozen years.

NATION DRAFTS

The rules of this draft are simple, as always. After signing up (***FOR FREE!***) using your email, we’ll give you boxes of players and it will be up to you to select a name from each box until you’ve put together a super crew that can contend for a Nation Drafts championship. Seems easy, right? That’s because it IS easy.

The Prizes:

  • First Prize: $2500 pre-paid Visa
  • Second Prize: $1500 pre-paid Visa
  • Third Prize: $1000 pre-paid Visa

With that big ol’ hockey brain of yours, this here draft should be a breeze. Unless, of course, you’re scared of failure and the resulting ridicule… You’re not scared, are you? No, I didn’t think so. Sign up HERE.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • The Off Ice

    Now what? Continue to clean house and bring in competent management.Try and find better players to support Connor before his frustration turns to exasperation. Lower ticket and concession prices in an attempt to atone. But none of this will happen because Oilers.

  • Oilers2017

    Well said, Robin…should be an interesting push to the playoffs/off-season for once. I can’t believe we still have a legitimate chance for the the playoffs with all the chaos around this team! (which is a nice change)

  • TruthHurts98

    Drinking the Nicholson koolaid? Playoffs? Delusional much? They are 13th and will me more than 5 points out by the time they play again. 0% chance of making the show. The rot in this organization runs deep from Nicholson and Katz all the way down to the pro scouts. Clean house now, not later!

      • Derzie

        You can say that but the word defy the statement. Your piece reads like Chiarelli was the cancer and now that he has been removed, the healing can begin. I would wager that not one of his moves was without old boy direction. Not veto. Not approval. Direction. Anyone with an understanding of the NHL today would have stopped every move he made. What you are saying is that the OBC are not complicit but are oblivious/stupid. Which is it? Evidence suggests both.

    • FlamesFan27

      sportsclubstats has their chances of the playoffs at 9.8%. hockey-reference has it at 15.8%. They are not quite done yet, but man did they ever blow an opportunity with that January schedule. It seemed like they were playing with 100 lb weights on their backs. I’m not sure if the GM firing will change that or not. Somehow, they have to relax and just play.

    • Hemmercules

      I agree. With their roster a tank job shouldn’t be too tough anyway. I sincerely hope they just play it smart the next 3 years. Minimal moves, draft and develop. They have been rushing things for 12 years, time to do things the right way. Cant free agent and waiver wire your way to the top of the league. Dark times ahead until they can dump some dead weight and develop some defensemen and wingers.

      • If they actually consider tanking then Hitch will burn Rogers Place to the ground and Connor will probably demand a trade this summer.
        “Hey Daryl, what do you think of going all in on Taylor Hall?
        “Hey Daryl, I think that kid Hopkins down in Red Deer would compliment what youth we have here very well”
        “Hey Daryl, that Kakko kid looks good. I think he’s the missing piece”
        Tanking got us into this mess and it’s most certainly not going to get us out. It’s what’s lead to this culture of losing.”Awww we’re 10pts out of the playoffs in December, time to trade everybody and try again next year”
        Then when that prospect we tanked for doesn’t win the Hart trophy the Edmonton journal will talk about how we need to trade them for “immediate help”(Draisaitl, Nurse, Klefbom, Hall, Eberle, Nuge, and Gagner were all subject to trade rumours at some time). When management isn’t all in on winning then how can we expect players to?

        • Hemmercules

          Like I said, they won’t have to tank on purpose. Chia hand built a team that can easily tank while still trying to win. Look at the only good players on this team in the last 10 years, all the result of tanking. Obviously there’s some guys that were brought in over the years but those are very few and far between.

          Mcd would never request a trade, you now he’s probably thinking it sometimes though.

  • BobbyCanuck

    In the big picture, it’s going to take a fundamental shift in philosophy at the top of this organization….

    A shift in the philosophy that a 30 yr old with 27 NHL games played DOES NOT deserves a $4.5M/yr over 4 yrs contact?

    Nice article Robin, but Burger Bob is just as much as the problem as Chia, and now Burger Boy says they the want to find a GM that fits the culture of the Oilers?

    A culture that has seen the once proud brand called the Edmonton Oilers sink so far down that we are the laughing stock of the NHL?

    So nothing is going to change, ever, until Katz changes his mind about the OBC?

    Katz: ‘Revenue is great, we are one of the 8 teams that generate positive cash flow! Problem? I see no problem!

    Lovely, just lovely, thanks for letting me vent

    • Ramskull

      It’s funny how so many people have bought this billionaire narrative that 23 of 31 teams lose money on a sport that sees billions in revenue. Plus 100’s of millions in incidental revenues that don’t show on a teams income statement due to it not being included in the bargaining agreement.

  • The future never comes

    I think now we’ve seen that Hitch isn’t even able to hold these guys to playing a solid 60. They seem to only be capable of playing good for 20 minutes after the games already out of reach. Second, I would bet my last dollar they wont make playoffs, nothing about this team shows they have it, we also know now McD and Drai can’t carry over 3000 pounds of other coasting humans.

    • That 8-1-1 stretch basically took everything. He’s squeezed the bottle from this lineup soo much that there’s nothing left. This is an AHL roster with 3 good forwards and one complete defensemen who can’t even stay healthy. I wouldn’t be shocked if we lost every game from now till #82

      • Johnny Zylon

        I agree. This team has the potential to set an NHL record for longest losing streak of all time. Nothing tells me they won’t. We will see jerseys on the ice before long. I hope I’m wrong but it just seems inevitable.

  • Homer

    The oilers under Katz ownership is sub .500 team and a complete OBC. Maybe my patience is just worn out but I can’t see them recovering from this fiasco quickly and the thought of Gretzky taking over as GM terrifies me as the red wine summit group is surly to blame

  • Goaltender Interference

    I don’t disagree – with the benefit of being in the Pacific Division there’s an outside chance the Oilers will make the show this year. McDavid could probably drag them there on his effort alone.

    I wouldn’t expect them to get past the first round though. Given the schizophrenic nature of the team right now it’s hard to believe that the group would be able to put forward a consistent four game effort to clinch a round.

    Nor should the goalposts be set at merely attaining the playoffs. Fans want their team back from the inept management corps that’s reduced the logo to the laughingstock of the sports world. If Katz thinks fans are satisfied with seeing Chiarelli shown the door he better think again.

  • Serious Gord

    I hope that the new POHO+GM demands the right to hire and fire whoever he wants in the hockey ops. If he can’t get that level of power/autonomy then he is doomed.

    Equalizing for games played EDM is 3 points out (and would need four to take the spot). That is only a pathetic 84 points. But there are five other teams to leap over.

    No question that Klefbom if healthy and able to get back quickly to his former form could get the team into the playoffs so they can be annihilated by Calgary or Winnipeg. It’s not worth dealing any of the future just for that privilege.

    As for Hitchcock- of late he seems to be showing the erratic tendencies that got him punted from other teams Employment. Rob brown ably described the silly line juggling that went on in the last game.

    Hitch might be a good friend to some and fun to listen to, but he’s last month’s man not yesterday’s. Sure he might have a fun little stretch the next few months like Casey Stengel in his last season but he needs to be gone before it’s warm enough to swim in pigeon lake.

    • AJ88

      Actually agree with you on Hitch, their top players have all been drafted for their offensive abilities not playing a trap like game. Time for new vision that is more aligned with today’s game. I have made the same remarks before McLellan was hired. Hopefully they hire a manager that is more in touch with the present game and is allowed to make the necessary changes that are required.

  • camdog

    I just hope Keith isn’t listening to the guys that didn’t think Jeff Petry was a top 4 d-man and that Griffin Reinhart was going to be a really good NHL d-man. I don’t know how Keith is supposed to make a trade to help the team when the ones giving him advice are incompetent?

  • CMG30

    I agree Robin, klefbom is a key player if this group is to turn it around. Like it or not, Klef brings so much to the table that it’s amazing to still hear people dump on him.

    After that, it’s a matter of finding bits and pieces discarded by some other teams clueless GM.

  • rooster

    I hope they choose a new GM from outside of the organization. Prior to the new GM being given full autonomy over hockey operations they need to clean out the entire “Leadership Group”. The Leadership Group should consist of the new GM and who they want in the room with them. That’s it. The rot in the organization IS the existing “Leadership Group”.

        • rooster

          What i’m getting at is the Owner needs to go completely hands off. People whispering in his ear, or the “suggestions” to the GM from the owner or people close to the owner of what they would like done needs to stop. The only people who should have ANY input on hockey operations is the GM, Head of Hockey Ops and who they decide should be in the decision group. Run it like a proper sports organization. That way if things still don’t work you fire all those people and try again. Instead of this firing the GM, and Coach again but keeping all the same voices in the room. MacT, and Howson should be gone full stop. Any of the other dynasty boys should probably have zero input unless the new GM chooses to bring them in as a voice. And only if they choose to do so without the owner “suggesting” that they would really like to have said persons voice heard. Again back to owner needs to go completely hands off.

    • SSB1963

      Our last two GM’s have been from outside the organization! How did that work out? I don’t care if it comes from within, just make dam sure he is the right one.

  • madjam

    Oilers not that far out of playoff picture when defence is healthy , which it has not been for half a season . Can not blame Chia for that totally . However, there appears to be a riff in the locker room that has many players under achieving , or perhaps lack of leadership and accountability on part of players . My first move would be to rid the burden on team by dealing somehow or even buying out Lucic . Seems like he wanted to be dealt even before season started . Second move would be to see market interest in Puljujarvi and/ or Yamamoto .

    • Glencontrolurstik

      Call me optimistic, but hear me out. We have seen such a Jeckle & Hyde team this year that we can win against other good teams (Jets, Sharks, Sabres etc) and lose miserably against basement dwellers (LA, Detroit).
      etc….) We as fans have known the main issue all along & it seems we were all “preaching to the choir” about how this team has been built over the last few years. The new coach has alluded to this constantly “we’ve got what we have & we’ll work as hard as we can with what we got” paraphrasing of course, but we’ve all heard that sentiment…
      The fans see it, so how much more intense do you think the players see it, the coach… If you’re a skilled player on the Oilers & you don’t have the team-mates that can accentuate your talents, it gets old really fast… You’re a coach, that’s trying to prove your worth, do your job, uphold your contract & keep your reputation. You’re given players that when released, can’t even get picked up by another team. Players that are barely into their 20’s with little to no size and experience getting top line minutes… As we have told each other for years, the GM is the issue here. We are “preaching to the choir.”
      I believe the players took it upon themselves to get this GM fired. By pointing out to the leagues fans and writers, the shortcomings. What better way to do that than to tank against the bottom feeding teams. Constantly showing no heart & drive.
      That’s my theory, McDavid has recently gone on record by saying that “he would not throw his team-mates under the bus.” Ray Farrero also quoted him some time ago by saying that “he had trouble playing with many of the younger forwards on this team, because they had no idea where to be on the ice”. The players have shown an indifferent attitude, in order to get changes to the H.R. department. That’s my take. After the Allstar break I think that we’ll see a different attitude. The different team will come slowly, as the moves are made. But (as Sather used to say) “now that the cancerous arm is severed the body has a chance to thrive”. Say what you want about OBC, I don’t disagree, but I think Hitch has the wherewithall to stand up to them, let’s hope a new GM does too.

  • Dapper Dan 3099

    Now What? I’d say years of wandering the desert….. I’m at a point where I have absolutely ZERO confidence in anyone in this organization being able to fix this mess anytime soon…..

    I’ve been a fan of this team for a long time, and I’m the kind of fan that the team winning or losing will likely impact my mood for the rest of the night…. my wife doesn’t like being around me when they lose… I’m not saying this is a good thing or that I’m proud of it, but I cant help how passionate I am about my sports (and I’m sure Im not the only one)

    This organization has been the worst run organization in pro-sports for so long…long before Chia…. and has caused me so much grief, its become comical now……Coach after coach, GM after GM being fired…..yet the thing that never changes is the people that decide how to “run” this franchise. We have press conference after press conference to tell the fans there is a “plan”…. it doesn’t take a MENSA member to realize, hey maybe the problem is the guys that have been here the WHOLE TIME this organization has been a joke…. the same guys that are having countless press conferences about how we’re going to fix stuff…….again…..properly this time….

    So why would anything change this time? Whats that whole definition of insanity thing, about doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results?

    So if I have any faith this will ever get fixed, would technically make me insane then too.

    I’m at a point where I’m sooooooo fed up with this crap that I will patiently wait for Connor to be moved to another team (praying its not Toronto), so that I can finally follow a good franchise and actually may see him win a cup or two…. sorry for the long rant

    • rooster

      I do think one day it will be fixed. The 80s crew is getting older now…eventually their voices will dissapear. Just means another 40 years of this is all.

  • DoubleDIon

    The good news for you sad sacks is that no one seems to want the last 3 playoff spots in the West. When I look objectively you have as good a shot as anyone. Need some depth. A couple of Lee Stempniak types (3rd line decent players) you give up a 3rd and 4th rounder for.

    Was listening to Burke on Fan960 this morning and he stated as fact that Chiarelli was pressured into the Reinhardt trade by “people in the organization.” Interesting.

    • Darcy yaceyko

      I knew it!!!!! Just like when Tambellini was here. Kevin Lowe and Mac t made those deals and Steve had to answer for it. But this time around Lowe and and Craig has no influence on this GM. Ya right. Daryl sell the team and first of all fire BOB get rid of all these leeches that are employed on the senior staff

    • camdog

      Trade was made in the off season. When PC and Keith Gretzky were in Boston, Griffin Reinhart was not on their radar. I doubt they even watched him play. The guys that watched him play are still on the Oilers payroll. At that time the Oilers were trying to get all Oil Kings players that they could get their hands on. At least half a dozen players in total…

        • Kevwan

          For one thing I could care less if you like me or the Oilers

          For another ask yourself who could possibly be less connected to the Oilers OBC management than Burke. He and Lowe hate each other. How would Burke now this info on Reinhart?

        • Kevwan

          I feel likewise about the Flames.

          You guys (flamers) come on here (Oilersnation) with your cowtown agendas and perspectives . When I tell you to beat it because they’re idiotic (like this Burke story) you get indignant.

          You come on here and call us “sad sacks” and then call me out when I tell you to beat it? Your arrogance is amazing.

    • That falls on Peter for letting the 2 guys he replaced to wander into his office, he came from a stanley cup winning organization so he should most certainly know better. Kevin Lowe is that one older sibling who can’t seem to let go and chases you even after you’ve moved out. If I were the GM of the Oilers I would’ve put ankle bracelets on MacT and Lowe and make sure they’re not within a 15km radius of the hockey operations office.

  • Hockeytalkguy

    Ok, I am going to throw this out there. All you posters will think i am delusional but here goes. Is it possible that the players were pi$$ed that Chia traded Caggiula & Strome? After what came back in the trade that didn’t help at all, the players backed off on the effort & compete level? How can you look like world beaters in stretches & then in others look like you couldn’t beat a AAA midget team? To further my point, the last game against Detroit, Bobby Burger said he let Chia go after the 2nd period. Why did the oil dominate that 3rd period, (shots 17-3) after stinking out the first 2 periods? Did the players know Chia was going to get dusted, my feeling is they did. Had Koskinin not let in that stinker in the 3rd the oil get at least 1pt and perhaps 2. Go ahead, start laughing and trashing away.

  • Darcy yaceyko

    Well I just want to send a shout out to the Oiler Brass on ruining this team because of their own selfishness. Want to send a big thank you to Daryl Katz and employing all his Pals who really have no experience on how to manage a team, develop players ect. It’s really encouraging to me to turn on the sports channels just to listen to them speak of what the fans have known for years, from J.R’s comment to Ray Ferraro’s Take on the team. Maybe if we had a media in edmonton who had some balls we could if had this rectified years ago. But the fans were told to be patient. I do not believe any self respecting GM will come here because I’m sure that person will be told that here is your senior staff and you will have to consult them. I liked Rays comment on what has to happen in Edmonton, basically start with a whole new staff. I’m sure it won’t happen because of the egos on that team, so the fans will continue to suffer. And oh ya I’m calling for BOB to resign.

    • Towers-of-dub

      In fairness, Kevin Lowe was the GM before Daryl Katz acquired the team, and operating on a limited budget, was able to ice a hard working team, capable of competing every night. Teams that showed some kind of togetherness. However it happened, he put together a team that went to game 7 of a stanley cup final, before Katz took over. You can’t say Kevin Lowe had no experience as a GM.

        • Redbird62

          A tire fire in game 7 of the finals. And Pronger left for reasons that had nothing to do with the team itself. Lowe’s big mistake was not getting enough in return for Pronger. This was followed up by the mishandling of the Ryan Smyth negotiations (who still came back here later) and the treatment of Souray when he was hurt (who happily had signed here as a free agent). And how did he luck out in getting Pronger? He also snagged guys like Peca, Samsanov and Roloson to build that team that was full merit for getting to that final.

          • Pronger, most money and most term offered, anyone can do that, same for Souray, who was a little less than happy when he found out how they operate(and still do right up until today). Peca left, Samsanov left, Radek Dvorak left, even Dick Tarnstrom left. Then when Rollie wanted money and term he was gone as well, replaced by a broken Bulin wall who got more money and the same term Rollie was looking for and was well past his prime. He handled Smitty terribly, and blew the Comrie for Perry trade, because he did not understand that you cant claw bonus money back. Head office having to contact the Oilers to explain how waivers work, having head office explain to them why you cant sign Vladimir Checkov. All fireable offenses and proof he has no clue whatsoever. If he knows so much about winning, when is he going to share that info with the other guys who are not involved in hockey ops? Again other than Edmonton, the media is calling this a colossal failure and laying it right at the feet of the OBC, as it should be. Yeah, Lowe had 1 good year and about 15 bad ones, so by all means , let us keep him forever.

        • SSB1963

          Lucked out with pronger? He was a free agent ffs! As for escaping here it is on record at his wife didn’t want to come her, and if that is the case why the hell did the player sign the contract?! That is on the player!

          • Redbird62

            Trainreck (sic) who can’t even spell his name right seems to think he can rewrite history too. St. Louis actually offered Pronger more, $7.22 per season, but ultimately could not afford him, because they had also made big offers to Tkachuk and Weight, so they traded him to the Oilers for Brewer and two others. While he was a technically a free agent, Pronger was not free to go anywhere he wanted immediately in the post strike period. With the Oilers having his rights, he signed the $6.3 million / year deal rashly with the Oilers without really checking with his wife which he soon started to regret. He did not sign with the intention of not honoring it. I am not denying that Kevin Lowe had a big part in screwing up this organization in a big way post 2006, but he had done a good job up until then.

    • I only listened or read media reports from Edmonton media (LAPDOGS) during the day, get home to find out the jig is up. Almost all media reports outside YEG are exposing these frauds for exactly what they are, to the surprise of no one. RB, I am shocked you are swallowing this BS, kool aid , whatever you want to call it. Now what? It is what the fans have been saying for years, fire them all. Props to Robert Tychkowski for his article exposing the fundamental rot in the organization(not that that is really news to anyone, but he had the b*lls to put it in print) Firing Chia changes nothing, they will probably hire Tikkanen to see what is going on with the water. Propaganda Adolph himself would be proud of.

      • @REDBIRD62. He had no intention of staying, I suppose you believe someone broke into his house and burned his baby’s crib as well? Also you do not know my gender. And that is the correct spelling for something not really associated with a train, but it is great for arthritis relief and also fits the theme of this never ending gong show. Pay attention, other than Edmonton MSM, the entire hockey world is laughing at this franchise and deservedly so. Anybody who supports keeping Lowe and his minions, get ready for another DOD.

      • Randaman

        I don’t like the Hitler slant but other than that, spot on. The Oilers are the true laughing stock of the sports world. Not just the NHL but the entire sports world!

  • Sparky Blue

    Playoffs doubtful. On their last win in Vancouver they were 1 point back of the wild card and only had to beat out one team, Minnesota. Since then Arizona, Anahiem, Vancouver, and last night St Louis have passes them in the standings. They have now to get by five teams and it is unlikely all of them will have a worse record than the Oil over the last 30 odd games of the season.

  • JasonY

    Just listening to Nicholson’s media avail yesterday. I am starting to question his ability as his assessment of team is totally off. He put the onus on failure on the “character” in the lockerroom. He reasoned that the reason for failure was character as the team has shown the team can get on a hot tear. This is baffling to me. IMO, I think his assessment is completely wrong. The primary concern is lack of talent and depth. He downplayed it. Any team even if you’re at the bottom of the league can get on a hot run for a period of time, but it’s the quality of talent. McDavid even himself has said it’s the lack of talent. This has been the issue. In our top 6, we only have Draisatl, Nuge and McDavid. That used to be complimented with Hall, Maroon and Eberle. Now, we have a borderline 2nd winger in Chaisson who’s been on a hot tear this year. But I am not as optimistic about his future, starting next season. That is it! We are asking too much of Khaira who I think is a good 3rd line winger. Everyone is playing out of position. The bottom six, there is no other identifiable consistently 3rd line winger aside from Khaira (but he’s on the 2nd line now). Pulijiaarvi is an inconsistent, mid-to-bottom 3rd line winger at the moment. (He is also playing out of position, being promoted to 2nd or 1st line) He belongs to be in the AHL and this team is ruining him. Kassian is a 4th line winger. Brodziak is for sure an AHLer. Lucic is mostly a 4th line/AHL tweener. This team lacks talent. Asking an AHL cast to support 3 superstars is not lack of character. It’s lack of talent!

  • That’s pretty optimistic, Robin.

    With 32 games left at 49 points, to reach 91 points to squeak into a wildcard spot, the Oilers need:

    42 points in 32 games (1.31 ppg).

    With Klefbom: 17-12-2 = 36 points in 21 games (1.71 ppg).
    Without Klefbom: 6-12-1 = 7 points in 19 games (.368 ppg).

    So Klefbom will need to get them from .368 to 1.31 ppg.

    Now, it’s not just Klefbom, it’s that other defensemen aren’t playing too high in the lineup and in their natural habitat and minutes.

  • ed from edmonton

    I just checked one of the sports book sites and they have the Oil playoff chances at about 10 percent. That seems about right. RB is being very optimistic. Hitch is a great story, especially in Edmonton, but his recent record tells us why he was retired at the start of the year.

    So what happens next? I don’t know. But I would advise the new GM to jettison MacT and Howson if for no other reason than the optics. It would certainly buy him some time.

  • Gravis82

    Bill geurin?

    I stopped reading right there.

    How many gm candidates out there, and what are the chances that Geurin is the best?

    Probably not

    If he’s hired, it’s because there is a relationship there. Wrong move

    You can’t be serious.

    My goodness, the fans will eat him alive.

    Need someone who is a career manager and strategic thinker…not a former player

  • Axe

    I think now a few important things need to happen: 1. Need to assess this team and try to figure out these locker room and chemistry issues that have been brought up over the last week (players not being on the same page etc).. This is obviously contributing to the Jekyll and Hyde team we have seen this year… Now some (myself included) used to blame that on TM and his coaching staff.. But the fact that even Hitch hasn’t been able to deal with tells me this is a deep rooted problem.. Probably one that has to do with character..Change some “A” s around if need be.. The second thing that needs to happen is to mitigate some of the damage done by PC by some careful shedding of salary cap if possible and to give the incoming new GM some breathing room (Spooner, manning etc..) guys like Lucic and sekera will need to be dealt with in offseason by new GM.. and the third thing is send pulujaarvi to minors as well for rest of season.. Last off stay steadfast in your refusal to sacrifice future for a short term solution.. As much as I would love to see them in the playoffs I am happy trading that for a real long term fix that guarantees future years of success and true contending..

  • Only move I would do this deadline is to unload Talbot for anything. Keep what little assets and chips we have left and give the next GM and POHO something to work with. I wouldn’t even touch or think about guys like Bouchard, Yamamoto, Bear, Jones, Maksimov, Benson, Marody, and Hebig, let them stay away from the drama here to focus on their development. I also think that any of our draft picks within 3 years should be off limits(whatever picks Peter didn’t trade that is). The prospect pipeline will be huge for us within the coming years, the absence of one from was part of the reason we’re in this mess. Imo the best route to go is to hire Hunter or McCrimmon as GM and an outsider as POHO. Hunter and McCrimmon have junior hockey backgrounds and actually know how to consistently develop young players which would be a great fit. Getting someone else as POHO would also help because it would shorten the plate for our next GM and it would add somebody in between Daryl Katz and the GM and another voice in the hockey side to tell Daryl to keep his hands off the team. Most importantly I’d can the entire OBC and send them on a long vacation to the Bahamas so they never come back. In other words run a professional sports franchise like it’s supposed to…..

  • slats-west

    “In the big picture, it’s going to take a fundamental shift in philosophy at the top of this organization, namely from owner Daryl Katz, for any real change to take hold. Katz must rid the team of any interference or influence by those not working directly in hockey-ops, and it likely means swapping out some old friends who do, That’s a story for another day.”
    I’m curious as to why that is a story for another day? Why not now. If that is the biggest impediment to moving forward then why not discuss today. If it is there then it’s been there for sometime since Katz bought the club so we must have lots of examples of the impediment – No? So why are we waiting?

    I have a lot of issues with Nicholson and his management of this whole situation. Not sharing any blame for one. He may be the problem? I have an issue with your contention Robin that this team has enough, yet there are so many players who are passengers to the Big 4 (97,29, 93 and 25) and not enough participants- many who have no real track record of success to be a part of playoff team (19, 44, 97, 56, 16, etc). So how can they all of the sudden flip the switch? How will they do this? A 10 day break cures all? Oscar Klefom cures the whole D? (I know you said he’s not solely responsible but then you kind of hinted he is a big part when you thru up Oilers record with and with out him.)

    IF you’re going on a run and IF you don’t want to move any major parts then we need our best talented players here now. That would mean bring back Jones and I would offer bringing back Bouchard. I would be trading #44 and perhaps Chia-son. Why the latter? Because he has value and we paid nothing for him. It also seems any big body, whose quick and can go to the net and McDavid will find him. #16 could do this easily and provide protection for McDavid when the interference gets going.

    So let’s turn #39 into something we dont have – puck moving defenceman.

    • It is not a story for another day, it is a story you will never see on here. I thought the bloggers were different from MSM, starting to realize not so much. Defending this group is hilarious. Pretending there is a chance for playoffs this year? Perhaps Katz owns Oilers Nation as well?

  • VK63

    Watch that CEO press conference from yesterday and marvel at this organization. That was the prepared effort from the guy in charge regarding a rather monumental event in the organizations lifespan.

    Something in the water.

    Imagine Shanahan, Sean Henry, Steve Griggs or Mark Chipman offering that conference up as a credible “state of the franchise” address.

    I know what I would do.
    Will Darryl?

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I am not drinking Kool aid. But I think the West wildcard is wide open. 3 points can be erased quickly with a few game streak or 2.

    I don’t care what team in the league a person cheers for, if they lost 3 of their top 4 defensemen (77,2,4) for pretty much half the season, they would not be in a playoff position.

    As Ruben stated, getting best defenseman back is an immediate boost. I agree 100% that Darnell was playing too much and he wore down at the end of that home stand.
    I don’t mind the top 4 of 77-6, 4-25 at all.
    Allows the bottom pair to not have to be forced more minutes than they can handle.

    If the Oilers could maybe add a player or two at the deadline who knows how this might turn out.

    • Hemmercules

      Quick fixes at the trade deadline to scrape into the playoffs and likely get punted in the first round. You cant seriously think the Oilers defence, goaltending and secondary scoring is good enough to compete with top tier playoff teams. Adding anyone of substance at the deadline will cost valuable picks and prospects and for what? So Katz can get a little extra coin out of a couple playoff games and Bobby Nicks can claim they have a good team because they made the show. After letting Chia carry on for so long I fear what Booby and Keith might try at the ready deadline, probably set the team back even further for a few playoff games.

    • Derzie

      3 points out means “get 4 points more than the best of every other team in contention for the spot by the end of the season”. With 5 or more teams in the mix, that translates into at least .600 hockey. That’s what 3 points means. Not a small streak. .600+ the rest of the way.