Get Shorty

This is Jeff Tambellini. He’s been a point-per-game player in the AHL since leaving college in the summer of 2005. He’s had auditions with two of the NHL’s more “interesting” teams (LA and NYI) and he’s a player of interest if you believe there are quality NHLers stuck in the minors.

Looking at the AHL scoring list right now there are a few players ahead of Tambellini in the points race (Tambellini is 30gp, 19-17-36, -2) but none I can see with the track record at 23 years old.

Tied with Tambellini in the scoring race is Edmonton’s Rob Schremp, but I’d trade the Syracuse dandy for Tambellini (a Calgary boy who played bantam in Port Moody, BC and college for Michigan–he was a teammate of former Oiler prospect Dwight Helminen) straight up.


A few reasons: Tambellini’s draft day scouting report talked about his skating ability (“excellent skater, quick acceleration, quick off the mark”) and overall intelligence in game. He was described as undersized but willing to go into traffic areas. Hockey News quoted a scout as saying “He has come a long way from junior-A in BC to play at the level he played at (college), I like his speed and quickness. He uses it at both ends of the ice, especially when he pressures the defense.”

Tambellini scored at a 2.17ppg clip in the BCJHL at age 17, and then in 3 college seasons progressed overall (1.05, 0.69 and 1.36) before turning pro at 21 and scoring at a 1/1 rate in the AHL.

Since then, his seasons in the minors have looked like this:

  • Age 21 (56gp, 25-31-56) 1.00
  • Age 22 (50gp, 30-29-59) 1.18
  • Age 23 (30gp, 19-17-36) 1.20

I’m not going into any more detail in terms of math since Vic Ferrari already did it here. The Islanders are doing to Tambellini what the Yankees used to do to guys like Otis Nixon. Here’s a list of transactions for this guy in the calendar year 2007:

  • 13-Dec-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 02-Dec-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 12-Oct-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 08-Oct-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 03-Oct-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 24-Mar-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 13-Mar-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 10-Mar-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 27-Feb-07: Assigned to Bridgeport (AHL).
  • 01-Feb-07: Recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).

Tambellini is a natural left winger and appears to be behind Fedotenko, Bergenheim, Hilbert and Comeau on what looks like the most pedestrian LW depth chart on the planet but they must be doing something right since they’re in the heart of the Eastern conference playoff race.

I don’t have any idea about what the Islanders need but this is a guy who is 23, has earned the reputation of being a player who can help you even if he’s a little shy on scoring (with forechecking and intelligent play) and plays a position Edmonton could use a little help with in light of Raffi’s injury.

His contract is identical to Pouliot’s, meaning he is an rfa and at a crossroads this summer.

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13 Responses to "Get Shorty"

  1. Dennis says:

    Maybe I’m missing something here, and perhaps it’s obvious, but this whole swapping an “underacheiver/guy stuck in mud” for another of his perceived ilk doesn’t seem to be part of the Oilers MO. Then again, that’s probably what the Grebs trade was so maybe that’s my obvious missing deal:) but still, it’s not something the Oilers make a habit of.

    You mentioned the Nationals the other day and one thing the Nats nee Expos could always do was find relievers. It was uncanny. From the time I knew everything that was happening they were taking a chance on Wetteland and picking up a Tom Scott. And that’s how the Oilers found Fassero too because they moved him to the rotation. Later on, they picked up Scott Stewart from the Mets and Luis Ayala from Mexico and throughout many changes in GM’s, those fuckers can find relievers.

    Of course that team always almost always had a sub standard offense and always drafted talent ahead of guys that could hit the ball but still, they were awesome when it came to “garbage” picking.

    I’d deal off RS for Tambellini but I bet it’s something that’s never crossed the mind of the Oilers brass.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Dennis: There’s a couple of reasons I think it’s possible. First, since they just dealt Smyth last deadline to the Islanders they must have scouted the guy and second he would appear to be more of a “MacT type” than some of the other kids that are auditioning.

    People don’t like the phrase “MacT type” but I can never find a better phrase.

    MacT type=Pisani
    NOT MacT type=Nilsson

    I’m not ripping on Nilsson he has some ammo and is playing in some good (and bad) luck during this (2nd) long NHL audition.

    It’s just that most pure skill guys like Nilsson either skip the AHL altogether (Hemsky, Gagner) or they hang around the AHL long enough to pick up another pitch.

    I think Tambellini may be McGaffigan, and Nilsson looks like Youmans.

  3. Tyler says:

    It’s gonna be interesting to see if Nilsson ends up having the game to play in the NHL. He’s clearly the best option with 10/27 at the moment – Gagner is so out of his depth that I want to cry watching him – but I’m still not sure that he has quite enough offensive game to get it done.

    It’s funny, if I went and did a poll on HF to ask who was the better offensive player, Horcoff or Nilsson, I’m sure that the response would be Nilsson. I’m not at all sure that there’s evidence to back that up.

  4. Lowetide says:

    Tyler: If I had to make a bet today it would be that Nilsson won’t have a long NHL career, or at least it’ll be a career as a journeyman. Paladin. Somewhere between Bobby Sheehan and Cliff Ronning. One thing that impressed me watching him live at TC is how small he is, maybe 5-9.

    Of the forwards drafted 1-40+ in the 2003 draft, the ones who are not yet NHLers are:

    12th-Hugh Jessiman: PF in the AHL now and maybe breathing a little life into his career.

    15th-Robert Nilsson: One his second at-bat after an average rookie season at 20 on the Island.

    18th-Eric Fehr: Is he even playing this year? Hurt? Is it that back problem?

    22nd-Marc Pouliot: As God is my witness I thought turkeys could fly.

    25th-Anthony Stewart: I saw him play not long ago and he looked not bad, big guy who cycled the puck pretty well. They sent him down the next day.

    27th-Jeff Tambellini: Two-way winger knocking on the door. Still.

    32nd-Ryan Stone: Pegged as a third line center and looks like he’ll be exactly that if he makes it to the show.

    35th-Konstantin Glazachev: Skilled Russian with a good shot and skating issues. He’s scoring some in the RSL so you never know.

    36th-Vojtech Polak: Skilled, undersized skill Czech with skating issues. Not scoring like a scorer in the AHL currently.

    40th-Cory Urquhart: Older junior trumpeted around the 2003 draft by Habs fans as being Pouliot’s equal or better. Like it mattered.

    42nd-Peter Vrana: This might end up being a winner. Small, slight forward with speed, he’s equalled last season’s AHL point total in half the games so far this season.

    43rd-Josh Hennessy: An interesting player. Good speed, decent size, he was described on draft day as being a “poor man’s John Madden.” Numbers look decent in the AHL.

    Is Nilsson the best bet on this list? Does it matter?

  5. PunjabiOil says:

    I’m higher on Nilsson than you LT. I think he’s going to have a career in the NHL. A decent one. 2nd line plus increased PP time. 40-50 points, perhaps a career high of 60. He’s small, but not really weak defensively.

  6. RiversQ says:

    Lowetide said…
    Dennis: There’s a couple of reasons I think it’s possible. First, since they just dealt Smyth last deadline to the Islanders they must have scouted the guy and second he would appear to be more of a “MacT type” than some of the other kids that are auditioning.

    So why didn’t they get him in the first place with the Smyth deal?

    There are really only three answers:

    - The Oilers don’t rate him.

    - The Isles do rate him, but won’t play him.

    - Lowe never bothered to negotiate and just took Snow’s package because he had no time left. (This sounds ridiculous but based on Nolan’s comments just after the deadline and accounts of the Smyth negotiations, this is an outside possibility.)

    So basically, the only way the Oilers bother dealing is if the answer was ‘c’ and if it was ‘c’, then the Oilers are royally fucked with bad management anyway.

    Anyway, Tambellini seems like a player and that would be a nice pickup for the Oilers, if only because the odds seem pretty good. He’s far from a sure thing, but he’s got a better pedigree than most Oiler prospects.

  7. PunjabiOil says:

    RiversQ: here’s the Nolan interview referring to how the Islanders acquired Smyth

    Q: You’re back in the NHL now and your Islanders look primed to get back to the playoffs. How were you able to make a deal for Ryan Smyth?

    A: So many names were coming up, like Billy Guerin’s name came up. Then, all of a sudden, Ryan Smyth’s name came up. We put the same offer up to Edmonton that we had put up to other teams and they went for it. Give [Islanders GM] Garth Snow credit — he just stuck with it. When Garth called me at 3 o’clock and told me we got the deal done, I couldn’t believe he pulled that deal off.


    Although Burke did write on his blog, that Lowe called a few days before the deal, mentioning that he “might have trouble signing Smyth and acquiring Smyth would require a Tkachuk-esque offer”

  8. RiversQ says:

    Thanks PJO.

    This is the killer right here:

    We put the same offer up to Edmonton that we had put up to other teams and they went for it.

    They shopped that one around.

    I don’t think the Oilers got value for Smyth. I realize some people like Nilsson and it was just 30 games of Smyth, but you still have to wonder if he was properly shopped around. The evidence seems to suggest that Smyth was not put up for auction and the Oilers needed that.

  9. PunjabiOil says:

    Then, all of a sudden, Ryan Smyth’s name came up.

    ”All of a sudden”

    Of course who knows under what context Nolan is speaking in, but given Lowe’s history…

  10. PunjabiOil says:

    …c may just be correct, RiversQ.

  11. garnet says:

    As with Pronger and Comrie’s deals, it’s clear that Lowe deals in haste — often to the club’s detriment — once he has decided he wants a guy gone. The deal to acquire Pronger also may have come together pretty quick, to be fair.

    Speaking of AHLers, check out what Kings rookie prospect Teddy Purcell is doing. Not bad for an undrafted player. You’d hope we could get him for Roli if the Kings were close to a playoff position, but …

  12. Dennis says:

    Purcell’s a Newf but I don’t know a thing about him. My buddy mentioned his birthplace to me about a month ago and since then I’ve kept an eye on him but he wasn’t a guy we always read about like Slaney, Ryan, Druken, Cleary, Ryder, Clowe etc.

    Garnett: When Lowe really likes a guy and wants to give him a soft landing, we get screwed, ie Weight and Pronger. And then when he digs in his heels and gets a hate on for a guy, we also get screwed, ie Comrie and Smyth.

  13. Slipper says:

    Wasn’t Garth Snow voted top hockey manager or something? Cha-rist! That team looked pretty frigging hot against Buffalo last April.

    I know the anti-Lowe crowd has held that Nolan quote as a hole card all summer, but really? C’mon. I’m as dissatisfied with Lowe’s track record as the next guy, but not to the extent that I’ll faithfully accept that the media and hockey team out on Long Island do not give each other reach arounds just like the old boys club on Kingsway Avenue.

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