Recently, Bruce McCurdy had a look at the massive roster turnover of Craig MacTavish’s first year in the GM chair. The McCurdy article is here.
- McCurdy: Of the 23 players on the roster at this moment, nearly half (11) of them are new to the organization since that day. That’s not counting young players like Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom, and Anton Lander, youngsters who were already percolating within the org when MacTavish took command. So was a vet (Ryan Jones) he re-signed from the open market last summer. Just eight other players — core youngsters (in order of seniority) Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Jeff Petry, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz, along with franchise icon Ryan Smyth — remain on the big club from the Tambellini era.
McCurdy lists the positive additions (Gordon, Scrivens, Bryzgalov, Perron, Gazdic, Hendricks, Fasth); the ‘meh’ group (Ference, Joensuu, Belov) but doesn’t fully list the fail group (Fraser, Jones, Grebeshkov, Will Acton, Jason LaBarbera). Your mileage may vary, but I believe Bruce framed the issue nicely, and it gives us a place to step off into a conversation about missteps during the summer and the season.
As I see it, the Oilers problems were so great last summer they could not be addressed completely in one year. The problems included things that went back to 2011:
- Signing Cam Barker to help solve the blue. July 2011.
- Trading Tom Gilbert the moment Jeff Petry looked capable (why would an NHL team send away an effective two-way D for a stay at home player). Feb 2012.
Balance. Balance balance balance. The Edmonton Oilers are spending a generation out of balance, and seem to be completely happy to do it. Meanwhile, a strong and established team like Chicago was looking to add defensive depth as recently as this trade deadline in an effort to shore up the position.
Craig MacTavish sent away Ladislav Smid—it’s my belief that he felt the veteran was too one-dimensional for the money paid, or new coach Dallas Eakins didn’t see the value—and the blueline has been saved (to the extent anything has been saved this season) by the department of youth. The addition of Martin Marincin directly coincided with an uptick in team fortunes:
- On December 27, the Oilers were 12-24-3.
- They called Marincin to the NHL on Boxing day.
- Since then, the Oilers are 13-12-6.
Craig MacTavish has addressed some major issues on this Edmonton Oilers hockey team in year one. He’s also been helped by the scouting and development departments, with some of those later picks in 2010 and 2011 starting to impact in a positive way. The summer list includes D and C, but he appears to have solved the goaltending problem for now, and the last 17 games they are 10-4-3.
This is going to be an important summer for the Oilers. If MacTavish can address some of the team needs, and if the kids continue to develop, surely this club will contend for a playoff spot in 2014-15. Surely. The amount of time it has taken (Taylor Hall’s career begins with four wasted seasons) is criminal. I would respectfully submit the current GM had a big mess to clean up, made bigger by a crashing goaltender and an idiot in Vancouver.
The build is not over, and the job is not done. There are good signs. For me, it’s more important to win some games down the stretch than to tank for Ekblad. This organization has been losing too long, and has been bleeding for too long, to do anything but push hard to the end. They may not win five games in their last 12, but the club needs to play their hearts out with the best available lineup in all one dozen games.
Screw the draft slotting. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! It’s time to purge the ghost of the Cam Barker signing and breathe the clean air, take in the clear blue sky, and finally live with hope in our hearts again.
Surely it is finally time.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, TSN 1260, it’s going to be the wide world of sports! Scheduled to appear:
- Alan Hull, Copper and Blue. The Oilers win! We’ll talk about turning north, and the draft.
- Tim Fragle, GM/Coach of the Sherwood Park Crusaders. AJHL playoffs are heating up!
- Gord Graschuk, Little League Alberta. We’ll talk about baseball! Registration is on, and we’ll also talk about the growing number of Alberta and Canadian baseball players in pro ball.
- Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings. The OK are back in the playoffs, after another 50 win season. Reinhart has been a big part of that, and we’ll talk to him on the eve of his final spring in junior.
- Adam Francis, Raptors HQ. NCAA March madness and the Raptors exceptional season.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter.