It’s easy to create parallels between Steve Tambellini’s disastrous 2011 summer and MacT’s 2014 edition. Cam Barker was a bad signing but Niki Nikitin might be worse and that’s a fact. Niki Khabibulin might have been injured a lot but he could goaler. If we’re honest about this, Craig MacTavish may not be in any way superior to Tambellini or post 2006 Kevin Lowe. That’s a surprise to me, I thought he would be better.
Has MacT done some good work? Yes. I think the additions of Boyd Gordon, Andrew Ference, David Perron, Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne, Matt Hendricks, Teddy Purcell have given the team several “actual NHL players” to go with the gifted kids. I think the drafting of Darnell Nurse, Leon Draisaitl and Bogdan Yakimov and the acquisition of Laurent Brossoit have addressed ‘up the middle’ concerns in short order.
I think he chose the right coach (seriously, I think Eakins is going to be an excellent coach) and this Nelson fellow may also be a good NHL coach.
Where did MacT go wrong? Here’s what I think I think:
- Ben Scrivens has not been able to handle the load as Edmonton’s starting goalie. They’re going to spend assets and money getting a Niemi. I’m not sure it’s wise but have no good ideas to offer. The payment will be dear.
- Niki Nikitin was a horrible investment.
- He got stubborn on his centers.
Will he get another chance this summer? Yes. It’s Edmonton after all and nothing about this year suggests Daryl Katz has plans to make enormous changes. I think Stu MacGregor and Morey Gare might be in peril but very much doubt it goes deeper. Is it wise to give MacT another year? I’m not sure either way. I do think we’ll get our answer in the new year, with decisions on Jeff Petry, Nail Yakupov and others on the way.
THE 15 BEST PLAYERS IN THE 2015 DRAFT
- (1) C Connor McDavid, Erie Otters (OHL) Once in a decade talent
- (2) C Jack Eichel, Boston U (NCAA) Legit No. 1 overall talent most years with a wide range of skills.
- (3) C Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (OHL) 6.03, approaching 2 points-per-game in world’s best jr league.
- (5) D Zach Werenski, Michigan (NCAA). Sound defender with outstanding offensive ability. Quality in all three zones
- (4) D Noah Hanifin, Boston College (NCAA) Complete talent, maybe a little shy offensively.
- (6) C Nick Merkley, Kelowna (WHL). Powerful skater with plus playmaking ability. Crazy offensive season.
- (7) C Mitch Marner, London Knights (OHL) Tremendous skater, very skilled. Undersized. Trending.
- (8) D Oliver Kylington, Farjestad (SEL) 6.0, 174. Two-way defender with terrific speed and an across the board skill set.
- (11) D Ivan Provorov, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) Across the board skills and taking a step forward in draft year.
- (9) C Pavel Zacha, Sarnia Sting (OHL) Huge forward with skill, work ethic and ability along the wall.
- (10) C Mathew Barzal, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) Intelligent offensive player with exceptional passing ability and speed.
- (NR) C Jansen Harkins, Prince George Cougars (WHL) Two-way center with emerging offense. Intelligent.
- (NR) D Jeremy Roy, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL) Quality two-way defender. Smart player.
- (NR) R Daniel Sprong, Charlettown Islanders (QMJHL) Dynamic scorer, excellent skater.
- (NR) L Lawson Crouse, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL). Big, big winger with some skill. The new Lucic hopeful?
ABOUT LAST NIGHT
I don’t have much to say about last night’s game. Of course good teams don’t give up three goal leads but this isn’t a good team. Todd Nelson didn’t change goaltenders but other than that I can’t really say much about his handling of the team. Sure you can point to Andrew Ference in OT but an NHL coach will go with a veteran blue most of the time and I understand the sentiment. The porous defense on both sides (goalie included) made for an exciting game and it was nice to see the Oilers fill the other net a little.
What else is there to say? Oilers regular season games are the least important in the league. Have been for years. If you really want to find something important to watch, you might try to identify the players on Rexall ice last night playing their final NHL games. NO team in the league has been as effective in ending careers as this one, from Robert Nilsson to Eric Belanger to Jesse Joensuu.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! We’ll have some cheer at 10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. We’ll talk about teams that appear to be separating from the pack.
- Travis Yost, TSN. Buffalo Bills! Woo-hoo! Also Oilers and Senators.
- Dennis King, Oilogosphere Icon. We’ll talk about Christmas in NL, the Oilers giving out presents and more.
- Corey Pronman, ESPN. A WJ primer and I’ll ask about some of these draft prospects.
10-1260 text @Lowetide_ on twitter. Feel free to post questions for Pronman or any of my other guests. See you on the radio!