Where is Hockey’s Theo Epstein?

In his interview with Bob Stauffer this week, Oilers owner Daryl Katz mentioned the Chicago Blackhawks as an example of building with youth. With respect, youth (like the elderly) come in all shapes, sizes and ability. A glance at the Hawks at any point since they started building for the future in earnest tells us the team’s procurement department was adding some pretty strong elements.

I’ve chosen summer 2004 for the Hawks for two reasons: the club added elite elements (Toews, Kane) in the drafts following and that might be where the Oilers are at this time (about to add an elite element). It also shows the Hawks had a strong club before adding these players.

The parent club (03-04) had some nice young talent: Tuomo Ruutu, Travis Moen, Anton Babchuk, Craig Anderson. However, the real gems in the organization were bubbling under at that time (Seabrook, Duncan Keith) was still emerging. It was not obvious Keith was going to be Keith (he was ranked 19th, after all) and I think we can agree the Hawks got lucky with him. Summer 2004 the key elements of the current Hawks team weren’t terribly obvious. Some strong drafts helped a lot.

  • 2004: Cam Barker, Dave Bolland
  • 2005: Niklas Hjalmarsson
  • 2006: Jonathan Toews
  • 2007: Patrick Kane

The elusive items are those 2006-2007 draft lottery moments and the Oilers will need to write a good script (and get lucky) to have similar success. They’ll need quality free agent signings, good trades and a little luck at the draft. I honestly think the draft is the least of their troubles. They already have a nice group of talent (Gagner, MPS, Eberle) up front and may get lucky with a Petry at some point down the line.

The problem becomes using all of that talent properly. We have some evidence that several of the Oilers younger players (Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Cogliano) have gone backwards under the current coaching regime and there’s little evidence Steve Tambellini is the best man to give this roster balance, depth and color.

It’s becoming painfully obvious that in a time when Oilers fans need vision at the top we have another edition of the old boys club. Does Steve Tambellini have the vision to make this happen? Stu (Magnificent Bastard) MacGregor is laying down a nice foundation through the draft, but the General Manager’s chair does not inspire confidence at this time.

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