Time for a Roster Shakeup

It’s my guess the Oilers are about three games from some kind of move, possibly a couple of callups and a (long overdue) trade to shore up a team that has too many kids.

That probably means they will stay the course and lose 2-1 games on rookie gaffes through game 82. I find it positively fascinating that the Oilers management continues to believe in several “low event offense, high event defense” kids while the rest of the Northwest division treats every shift like a playoff game.

Expansion teams often have to go with a bunch of unproven talent because they are, well, expansion teams. The Edmonton Oilers appear to have decided that having learned many lessons on the trail of the 05-06 season they would abandon all and play out their roster like rookie owners in Rotisserie League Baseball.

If you add up the probable career games played totals of the current Edmonton youth, it’s entirely likely to be impressive. However, the current NHL games played total of Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson, Tom Gilbert, Kyle Brodziak, Denis Grebeshkov, Zack Stortini, Ladislav Smid, Patrick Thoresen and Liam Reddox is 566 games. For 10 players.

I understand the Oilers have had injuries to veterans and have had to dip deeper into the minor leagues this season than most other teams. I don’t understand why they were unable to address the need for veterans when it became obvious Fernando wouldn’t be ready or even when Ethan blocked the least important shot in the history of the game. I also don’t understand why they have not had a sufficiently balanced defense since the day they traded Pronger.

Edmonton is halfway through the season and still evaluating. The Oilers are going to get some nice things out of this season: Tom Gilbert has been a joy, Cogliano and Gagner are showing tremendous potential and Brodziak seems to be a useful role player moving forward. Robert Nilsson might make it after all and Liam Reddox is a terribly interesting player.

If this were an expansion team I’d be thrilled with the progress. But this isn’t an expansion team. So why does management continue to act like it is? Why does Craig MacTavish play Smid and Grebeshkov instead of Tarnstrom?

Make a trade. Get better. Send a rookie to the pressbox. Today. It’s the right thing to do.

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23 Responses to "Time for a Roster Shakeup"

  1. Black Dog says:

    We’ve been waiting for nearly eighteen months for Lowe to address these holes, LT. I’m with you – something has to be done – but I think nothing does.

    What I don’t understand is what they are trying to do. If you are trying to win hockey games then play Tarnstrom and bring in Mike Johnson.

    If you want to develop kids then don’t sign Tarnstrom and Souray and don’t trade your first round pick.

    No plan.

  2. Santa Merda says:

    Right now we’re floating somewhere between trying to contend and trying to rebuild.

    I personally think we need to try to rebuild. Because no matter how hard we try, we can’t contend.

  3. Pat H says:

    santa merda: I imagine you heard Lowe on Oilers live. ‘Somewhere between trying to contend and trying to rebuild’ I think is a fair interpretation of what Lowe himself says is going on. In my mind, I think it’s necessary for him to view things this way, given that he spent 10 mill on 2 contracts for the next 5 years, and additionally gave up 3 draft picks in 2008. It’s hard to cite those things and then simultaneously say “rebuild” (though I’m NOT saying you don’t need vets, by the way). There seems to be a lack of direction. I don’t think any of us really know what’s going on, but I’m not convinced that Lowe knows either.

    LT: I share your frustration re: Grebeshkov. It’s not about saying he’s useless, it’s about saying we shouldn’t have signed him to the kind of deal he has. I think by now that even the least cynical person realizes that his 1-way deal has a lot to do with why he’s still here and why he continues to get icetime (as an aside, the 1-way deal was apparently what led to him being traded to begin with – Snow wouldn’t give him one). Personally, I find it ridiculous that a guy at the stage he is at could demand a 1-way deal. I’m quite sure that it hamstrings our ability to effectively develop him. Would he not benefit from some time in the minors?I suspect that Lowe fears a few things: 1. him getting picked up on waivers if he gets sent down, and/or 2. looking like a moron for paying a guy an NHL-level salary at the AHL level.

    Another thing is, Grebs only has a contract for this year. I doubt his one-way demand will change, so what is our intention? I suppose, given the fact that he’s here and playing half-way through the season, that we intend to keep him. In fact, I’d say that we’re closing in on the point where we MUST keep him. Why? Well if we DON’T intend to, I think it’s fair to ask two questions: 1.what the hell are we doing giving him NHL icetime when it will be of no benefit to our organization in the long run (WE won’t benefit from his experience if he’s on another team); and 2. in light of 1., we could be using some of that icetime to develop guys who actually have a future with this team.

  4. Lowetide says:

    pat H: That’s actually a concern of mine, too. What happens next fall when Taylor Chorney turns heads, or Bisaillon has a hot camp?

    We’re developing NHL players, but they can’t all play here and the kicker is I don’t know if most of these guys have increased their value to the point where they would bring something in return.

    Has Smid? If they sign Pitkanen and Gilbert, then it’s those two plus Staios and Souray moving forward.

    They love Matt Greene, so that’s 5. Add in Grebeshkov and Smid and we’re at the limit.

    Then the other thing is why on earth would you go another season with this blueline?


  5. Mr DeBakey says:

    Secondary scoring
    Second line

    I’ve mentioned that Reinprecht would be a good fit for the Oilers; he scores at a decent rate, has an OK contract and so forth.

    Who else?
    From Behind the Net I took the guys with similar G/60 and GFON/60 rates as Reinprecht.
    - subtracted the defensemen
    - subtracted the 4th liners with good rates [Adam Mair etc]
    - subtracted the Ducks & NW divisioners
    - subtracted the guys making more than $6,000,000 [Thornton, Vanek]
    - subtracted the Oiler [Hemsky]

    and am left with [and their Goals/60]:
    Erik Cole 0.87
    Zach Parise 0.87
    David Legwand 0.85
    JP Dumont 0.89
    Vernon Fiddler 0.89
    Matthew Stajan 0.84
    Mike Fisher 0.90
    Marian Hossa 0.84
    Chris Higgins 0.85
    Brian Gionta 0.86
    Lee Stempniak 0.85
    Steve Reinprecht 0.84
    Maxim Afinogenov 0.82
    Jeff Halpern 0.87
    Glen Metropolit 0.82
    Steve Bernier 0.81
    Jussi Jokinen 0.95

    That was fun
    But I’m not sure how useful
    That Fiddler is a bargain

  6. rickibear says:

    Pat h: Can we think of any examples were they brought a D man in for one year (via trade)and then did not extend him. He d ja think it is possible?

  7. Lowetide says:

    My Mom lives in a seniors apartment with maybe 40-50 other people (mostly women) and the nature of people’s busy lives is that they don’t get a ton of visitors every week (hey I’m not saint in this regard, just stating facts).

    One of the residents is Vernon Fiddler’s grandma. He visits her more often than I visit my Mom, and he lives in Nashville 7 months a year.

    I’m an ass.

  8. rickibear says:

    Mr. Debakey: The expiring contract trade is big in the NBA. Based on the binding nature of nhl contracts we hopefully will start to see more older player for expiring contract and a low pick trades. I would think Knuble would be a nice target on a Philly team that needs to free up money to sign the likes of Carter, Upshall, and Smith.

    We can hope.

  9. jon says:

    Just because Kevin Lowe does not follow the same logic that us fans do (see nylander, penner) I think that if, and based on his inability to make a move that is a big if, he makes a move it is for Marian Hossa.

    If ATL is out of it in 2-3 weeks and ATL realizes that Hossa wants too much. Look for our prosect shelf to be emptied to bring hossa here.
    By the way, I know he is a right wing but K.lowe does not follow the same logic as we do.

    Take care

  10. Pat H says:


    Point taken, and I admit that I’m perhaps more fearful than I should be. But with this organization, you honestly just never know. I mean, you cite Hejda as the one example. All else being equal, Hejda is a heck of a lot more attractive to me right now than Grebeshkov, yet clearly Lowe felt that Hejda was expendable.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m being too much of a worrywart over this. Maybe he’ll stay after all, though I can’t see how we’d cave in to a longer deal that remains a 1-way deal. He’s just not good enough to demand that yet.

  11. rickibear says:

    Pat: When I read these sites and try to think of the dynamics of the nature of the current CBA. It just goes on and on.

    The teams in the first two years slowly buying to their cap.

    KLowes RFA offer forcing more money to be bound up in the potential of youth.
    Therefore it should bring down the money for the over thirty 2nd line player.

    The need for teams to free up cap space to sign the younger rfa’s of equal talent and more potential than the players on there team.
    I just sighted M. Knuble as an example.

    The UFA dynamics of a greater travel schedule for Eastern conference teams when we go to a home/away interconfrence schedule.

    You also see in the NBA the dumping of back end draft picks for cap freindly bench players that would fit a roll. Do we start to see 4th to 7th picks go for guys who fit your 3rd to 4th line in a very cap freindly way.

    The CBA will be over before the cycle of this new system is complete.

  12. Ribs says:

    It’s my guess the Oilers are about three games from some kind of move, possibly a couple of callups and a (long overdue) trade to shore up a team that has too many kids.

    Did we get a new GM for X-Mas this year? Lowe sits on his hands until the deadline from what I can remember of him.

    So who will be available February 26th?

    Martin St.Louis – Rumoured to go to Dallas for Turco… St.Louis with a No Trade Clause.

    Marion Hossa – Rumours of trading him if or when Atlanta misses the playoffs….UFA at the end of the year and will command $6M+ next season.

    Vinny Lecavalier – Rumoured along with St.Louis and Richards to be moved if the Bolts can’t find a way to win with one line of forwards….Of the three forwards, Lecavalier is the only one without a No Trade Clause…But he’s one of if not the best player playing the game right now. Not likely to be moved.

    Michael Ryder – Rumoured to be moved because of his poor play this season….Is UFA at the end of the year and is currently making $2.95M.

    Glen Murray – Rumoured to be moved after a slow start to the season but has picked up his game lately… Makes $4.150M this season and is UFA when it’s done.

    Patrick Marleau – Rumoured to be going to the Flames and is having a poor season….makes $6.3M for this season and next. Sharks GM has repeatedly denied any intention to make any major changes to his club but may be forced to make some moves if the Sharks can’t get it together.

    Olli Jokinen – Rumoured to be moved for a long time now…Making over $5M for the next 2 years.

    These seem to be the big names that are being thrown around and I doubt most of them will be going anywhere… but you never know. It’s also unlikely the Oilers have enough assets to get any of them.

    I’ll try to wrangle up a better list if I get some time with some lower tier guys that may be available.

  13. Santa Merda says:

    There aren’t a lot of people we CAN trade at this point. Our rookies are too promising, our veterans are too few and far between to even consider losing one.

    What if we traded Schremp, maybe another minor leaguer (JFJ?) for someone older and more experienced. Schremp seems to be pretty popular with publications like The Hockey News, maybe a team without as many rookies or future players would be happy to take him?

    He’s currently leading the Falcons in points with 34, and has a +/- of -2. For someone who wants to be a future impact player with the Oil, that’s not a good record when playing in the AHL.

  14. Dennis says:

    Lain, why is it that I HAVE to get over Pronger/Smid yet you’re allowed to live in your dreamland where Lowe makes trades that actually BENEFITS the Oilers;)

    BTW, just back from spending xmas with my mother, ie she turned 74 in Aug, and I’m disappointed that you don’t visit your mom more often.

    So, here’s how we can solve this: Every Sat you wake up and feel like blogging about your hopes and dreams of Lowe making a trade, instead, hope in your car and go see your Mom:)

    Finally, because we can tie in the Tarnstrom as HS thing to this proposed shakeup, I’m halfway through the 3-2 loss in Chi, ie I taped it while I was away, visiting my mother;) and, outside of an early penalty, I can’t see any reason why he was HS instead of 37 or 5. It’s not that the guy is playing poorly because he certainly isn’t.

    Overall, it’s clear that Lowe’s totally flying by the seat of his pants. There’s enough kids playing everyday that you can see he’s once again duped the masses into pining for three years down the road and yet he’s tied up so much money on vet D that he’s paying one of them to sit while Smid turns our stomachs on a nightly basis.

    BTW, I’ll agree that if we sign 77 and 25, which we totally should, BTW, then we should look to deal Smid. And I think we should do it before everyone figures out that he’s more Eric Brewer than Shea Weber.

    Finally, I hate to be preachy here, but you should honestly visit your mother more. My grandparents raised me and I doubt I would’ve had much of a life without them agreeing to do so and my dad passed seven years ago at the age of 72 and since them I’d had an even greater appreciation of family. You should be more like Vernon Fiddler:)

  15. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: I am suitably shamed. Expect nothing on the blog next Saturday morning. :-)

  16. Dennis says:

    Lain, look at it this way. Your Mom will undoubtedly feel joy if you visit her, so that’s one plus.

    Meanwhile, if you decide to stay home and post things about Lowe making trades, that will anger one of your longtime readers.

    So, it’s win-win:)

  17. Lowetide says:

    Oh don’t worry, Dennis. I’ll email you from her house. :-)

  18. Bruce says:

    re: Lowe sitting on his hands, some people see this a little differently:


    I don’t see much happening in the way of significant trades around the league all season, and don’t expect to until the deadline. Unless you want to sign, say, Jason Allison to fix the powerplay, most moves will come within the organization. At least tonight there’s only two experienced wingers on the shelf. Hopefully Moreau’s return will cause a team-wide energy boost in a similar manner as Pisani’s did.

  19. PunjabiOil says:

    So, here’s how we can solve this: Every Sat you wake up and feel like blogging about your hopes and dreams of Lowe making a trade, instead, hope in your car and go see your Mom:)


    Dennis has a good point though. Very good point.

  20. Dennis says:

    Lain: I would expect nothing less;)

  21. Bank Shot says:

    By the way, I know he is a right wing but K.lowe does not follow the same logic as we do.

    Who cares. A Horcoff-Hossa combination would give the Oilers a legitimate first line, and Hemsky could carry the second.

    The Oilers would actually have scoring depth, and they would win some games without the D-core having to be flawless.

  22. Aaron says:

    It always boggles my mind that Grebesh-cough keeps getting the minutes he does. He does show some flashes of potential but when you have a guy like Tarnstrom doing nothing!???

    I wonder what kind of forward Grebeshkov would be … maybe all his turnovers wouldn’t be 2 on 1s then!?

  23. PDO says:

    Know what’d be cool? If we had about $5,400,000 cap space instead of Sheldon Souray and a NMC, and we could talk about bringing in someone from a Tampa Bay team that has a worse record than us.

    Wouldn’t it?

    We could say something like Stoll, Smid, Roli and god knows what else, for one of the big 3… and actually think it was possible!

    Ditto Atlanta and Hossa.

    But nope… we got Slapshot! here for the next 5 years, and a team that has less consistency than Oprah’s waistline.

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