Mark Spector had a very interesting article up in the last sports cycle about the future of Steve Tambellini and Tom Renney. Today I spoke to various Oiler fans and observers and can say with authority this is once again a house divided. Some blame Steve Tambellini, others blame Tom Renney.
What is fair? Who should go and who should stay?
Steve Tambellini has been on the job since July 31, 2008. This was after the drafting of Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle. His first trade of note came in January of 2009: Mathieu Garon for G Dany Sabourin, R Ryan Stone and the 4th rd pick in 2011 that became Tobias Rieder.
He fired Craig MacTavish, hired and fired Pat Quinn and hired Tom Renney. He traded for Dany Heatley but it didn’t take, he signed Nikolai Khabibulin to a long gone contract and he traded Dustin Penner for Colten Teubert and Oscar Klefbom. Tambellini didn’t trade Sheldon Souray but he did send him to Hershey. He traded Kyle Brodziak and walked Marc Pouliot. Rob Schremp left via waivers.
Steve Tambellini has watched over a strong amateur procurement department and on his watch the Oilers have drafted Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with their first round picks. Tambellini’s time as Oilers GM has seen the minor league Barons blossom and that team appears to be prospect rich (you never know).
Steve Tambellini signed Cam Barker as a strong option for the defense.
Tom Renney knew real NHL success before coming to Edmonton. He was coach of a solid to spectacular NY Ranger team that wom a couple of playoff series. He coached legends like Alex Mogilny, Esa Tikkanen, Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden, Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan and that goalie Henrik Lundqvist (who he should have brought here with him).
So far Renney has been a mentor and teacher, with a little line matching thrown in this season and of course he’s used TOI as a hammer. I don’t think there are three things Tom Renney has done that are so far out of normal that the average fan would notice. However, he has:
been unable to find a spot for Magnus Paajarvi, heretofore thought of as a part of the future
been unable to find a spot for the entirely useful Linus Omark (although injury has played a part here)
shown a strong preference for Anton Lander despite a lack of evidence that the young man is performing at a high level in his current role.
been unable to hold together a porous defense with binder twine and old lace.
been unable to find a way to work Devan Dubnyk effectively into the lineup.
On the other hand they enjoyed an 8-2-2 start, he stood by the Russian and refused to flush Petrell and the special teams are wonderful compared to the past. He doesn’t have the horses, but the Oilers are improved in GF-GA season over season (193-269 -76 a year ago and 112-121 -9 this season).
What do I think? I think the Oilers will shuffle things over the summer. Tom Renney stays, Stu MacGregor gains more power over the draft and Steve Tambellini devotes time to the AHL, overseeing Mike Sillinger’s development efforts and the the pro scouting department. Kevin Lowe remains in the current job and they bring someone in to represent as GM. The Oilers add to the think tank just as Detroit did with Ken Holland, Jim Devellano, Jim Nill and others.
Who is the next Oilers GM? I don’t know, but damned if Woodguy didn’t bring up an interesting name over coffee today. What do you think the Oilers will do this year in the front office?