The Edmonton Oilers are in a very poor position this morning. A cap team with a rabid fan base that has been taken for granted for awhile, the ownership has decided that inertia is the best response to a generation outside the second season.
We read (via Ottawa, no chance an Edmonton reporter would break this story) that Steve Tambellini has been trying to get something done in the trade market but it is tough out there.
The problem of course is that other teams had things they needed to address in the last 12 months and from what I can tell actually took action. Toronto has Kessel, San Jose has Heatley and on it goes.
I think the problem with the Oilers goes back to the Pronger trade and how Kevin Lowe used those Pronger assets and Pronger dollars. A veteran defense group with a wide range of skills (Pronger, Spacek, Tarnstrom, Smith, Staios, Bergeron, Greene) was replaced by a lesser group and it took quite awhile to construct the current group (Lubo, Souray, Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Smid, Staios, Strudwick) which lacks the “complete player” that was Pronger but is certainly playoff calibre.
I believe also that the problem goes back to the galling lack of veteran centermen. In fall 2007 the Oilers kept both Gagner and Cogliano, with only Horcoff, Stoll and Reasoner to give the team experience in the middle. Then they dumped Stoll and Reasoner!
Enough. Enough with the “we think these kids are going to turn the corner” and enough with acting like Oiler mangement is smarter than everyone else. If there’s one thing the last 3.5 years have shown it is that the 2006 team was more about value contracts from the old era advancing into the new era than any special knowledge or touch Kevin Lowe possessed in regard to contracts and procurement. What’s French for fluke?
I didn’t think Craig MacTavish was the problem, and based on the Pat Quinn experience that looks true. I don’t even want to debate that, it isn’t worth it. What I do want is a change, a rational long term view, an organization that knows what the hell it is doing.
As a fan, it is fun to watch teams being constructed and youth being developed. The Oilers at this point don’t appear to be doing either. The Oilers are giving at-bats to 5′s and 6′s with the hope that they turn into jacks and kings.
Here’s an idea: let’s compare the Andrew Cogliano development curve to the one enjoyed by Mason Raymond. We can excuse the Pouliot/Kesler curve due to injury, but what exactly are the Oilers doing wrong?
The answer of course is that they are hesitant to cut bait with some of the youth and they have too many kids with the same skill set breaking into the league while trying to find their way. I don’t remember the last time an organization tried to break in a Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson and Brule at the same time while adding Comrie and O’Sullivan to the (small) mix, but my bet is that those men had “Seals” written on their uniforms and were forced to do it by WHA raiding.
What’s the Oilers excuse? Arrogance. 2006 is a distant bell, and the Edmonton Oilers are porridge. Or poutine.