Alright, listen up, people. Our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive’s name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him. -Deputy Marshall Samuel Gerard, The Fugitive
The Edmonton Oilers under new GM Craig MacTavish are going to attempt a massive transition: from promise to prime. For an organization that has not had success–and let’s face it the post-lockout Oilers have been the proverbial sisters of the poor–the climb from bad to average can take forever. I’ve mentioned the Jimmy Devellano book a million times, but in those pages is the story of a bad club climbing inch by inch and step by step out of the cellar and finally finding the range (14 years after drafting Yzerman).
I keep trying to marry the current roster with what it’ll look like when its successful, and it seems to easy. Add the 2000-01 third and fourth lines to the top 2lines currently and you’re good to go (that would be Nuge-Hall-Eberle, Gagner-Paajarvi-Yakupov from today and Marchant-Moreau-Grier and Murray-Cleary-Laraque from a dozen years ago) up front–and you know MacT put that team together with Kevin Lowe so they would seem to have a good shot at doing it.
History tells us that these things take time. Craig MacTavish is a smart guy–I think he’s the smartest guy in Oilers management since Sather and truly believe he has many of the things required to do the job–but the list of ‘things to do’ is enormous this year. If he can make all these moves and form a team that makes the second season in one summer, he’ll deserve the GM of the year award and he’ll get it. I do think we should pause for a moment and think about how many pieces need to be put in place, and to allow for the fact that not all of the ‘bets’ he makes will work out.
- Sign Sam Gagner to a multi-year deal that has begins with a number in the 4’s.
- Get Paajarvi signed and then find a role that suits him (suspect it’s 3line).
- Deal Hemsky for immediate help (even if its a checker).
- Deal Horcoff or slot him into the 3line job for which he is actually ideal.
- Find a 2line L who can complement Gagner-Yakupov with puck retrieval, blocking out the sun, etc)
- Find a 3line C and L to play with Paajarvi
- Find a 4line C to play with Smyth/Brown
- Decide on Lander/Belanger or other for 13F (or 14F if they go with 7D).
- Top 4 defender (a genuinely effective one, no ‘almosts or sortas’)
- Better blue depth (MacT has done this with Belov, plus Klefbom/Fedun/Marincin)
- Backup goalie
- AHL #1/NHL #3 goalie
- Sign Paul Ranger
On the eve of this summer exploding, I think we should take a moment and think about the size of the boulder MacT will be pushing up that very steep hill to the playoffs. It’s no longer Everest, but it’s still a very big mountain.