A RATIONAL LITMUS TEST

The frustrating thing for me about the Oilers rebuild since 2010 is the distinct lack of success in the pro procurement department.

I guess maybe previous administrations spoiled us with signings like Steve Staios, but is it really to much to ask a pro sports organization to procure young talent that is available in order to add to the draft cluster?

Since 2010 spring–when “rebuild” became the watch word for the Oilers and the fanbase-Stu MacGregor’s crew have done terrific work at the draft table. How many ST moves since Taylor Hall was drafted have clearly helped the rebuild?

  1. Draft 2010: Dealt Riley Nash for the pick that turned into Martin Marincin.
  2. Trade Deadline 10-11: Dealt Dustin Penner to the left coast for D Colten Teubert and the pick that turned into D Oscar Klefbom.
  3. March 8, 2011: Signed college man Taylor Fedun.
  4. March 19, 2011: Signed college man Tanner House.
  5. March 31, 2011: Signed college man Hunter Tremblay.
  6. June 15, 2011: Signed Lennart Petrell and Antti Tyrvainen to contracts.
  7. June 26, 2011: Acquired Ryan Smyth for Colin Fraser.
  8. July 1, 2011: Sign Ben Eager, Cam Barker, Darcy Hordichuk, Eric Belanger.
  9. July 1, 2011: Acquired D Andy Sutton for D Kurtis Foster.
  10. July 1, 2011: Signed D Corey Potter.
  11. July 12, 2011: Oilers trade C Andrew Cogliano for a 2nd rd pick in 2013.
  12. February 27, 2012: Dealt D Tom Gilbert for D Nick Schultz.

I think we can give full credit to ST for the Carolina deal (#1) and the Smyth acquisition (I know Smyth traded himself here but let’s be more than fair). I’ll give him credit for acquiring a very good defensive prospect in Klefbom when he signs, but that seems to be dragging and isn’t completed yet.

I have two main problems with Steve Tambellini’s actions since the rebuild began: first, there’s very little effort being used to improve depth and perhaps catch lightning in a bottle. Blake Comeau would have been helpful, no? Brandon Yip? Grant Clitsome? I’m not saying these guys are the be all and end all, but when the ship is sinking it might be a plan to do something. That 4th line was a disaster, and guys like Yip (or Marc Pouliot) can be useful but when you’re trying to save Anton Lander it’s a tough job.

The second item is the Cam Barker signing. We’ve been down this road before, but for me it shows the lack of attention paid to the blue. We knew Ryan Whitney was injured and a question mark last summer, but there was no effort to protect the blue by adding another worthwhile hand.

The Oilers currently sit on defense with the following men able to fight a war: Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Nick Schultz and Andy Sutton. Ryan Whitney is the best of the group if healthy, but we can’t be sure.

Let’s play a little game:I will stop bitching about the Steve Tambellini contract extension if he can deliver this team an actual NHL defenseman this summer without subtracting from the group. I’ll even accept the kid Justin Schultz.

Surely that isn’t too much to ask. Right?

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59 Responses to "A RATIONAL LITMUS TEST"

  1. stevezie says:

    Well, Tambellini’ll give it a shot. I mean, it’s his job, right?

  2. Maverick says:

    Surely that isn’t too much to ask. Right?

    Agreed.

    If July 2nd, we are discussing the signing of Justin Schultz and the signing of one of the following (Barrett Jackman or Dennis Wideman or Matt Carle) and of course where in the lineup Yakupov will play then I would say Tambellini has made progress.

    If not, and nothing above happens except drafting Yakupov then the whole bitching should continue as well as the tighten of the noose around Tambellini’s neck. His job is on the line this summer, for real this time.

  3. Southern Oil says:

    Maverick:
    .His job is on the line this summer, for real this time.

    Does Katz know this as well? I wish we had some indication from Howard Hughes that he cared about the on ice product and not just the arena business.

  4. dulock says:

    I think the Oilers are trying to build their team by throwing everything against the wall and hoping something sticks. It’s hard to fix the holes when nobody good wants to come here cheaply so they want to fix as many as they can through drafting/getting lucky with a low cost FA. The goal isn’t to make the playoffs, it’s to win the cup. Yes, you have to make the playoffs to win it but you also have to have a pretty good team. Being 8th and getting smoked in the first round doesn’t make your team better.

  5. stevezie says:

    Southern Oil,

    There’s where I disagree with you. I don’t want more talk; everything we need to know is in the action taken.

  6. speeds says:

    We’ll see what they do with the D this summer. How do they address it? With a couple of top 4, but not top pair guys? Trading for a top pair guy?

    If they don’t spend big money on the D, is it reasonable to infer that they prefer allocating their money at F than on D (which i generally agree with as a strategy, FWIW)? Or just that the right big money D hasn’t become available/been interested in EDM?

  7. rich says:

    LT:

    1) It’s not too much to ask.
    2) Tambellini’s job is most certainly not on the line evidenced by the extension and how it was handled. Lowe and Katz are giving him all the cover in the world … for better or worse

    While the late 90′s and early 2000′s were not the glory days by any stretch, I do find myself wishing for the days when we could find a useful defenseman under a rock. The magic has disappeared and I would really like to know why that is. It seems that we’ve sent away far more usefull d-men over the last few years.

  8. Southern Oil says:

    stevezie,

    I believe Katz is a very smart and successful business man and knows how to run an organization. Rexall proves this. But if that is the case, how can he be running a ship that seems to be a giant CF at times in the hockey department? It doesn’t add up to me.

    I am willing to give Tambellini & Lowe another summer to see what they can do to fill out the roster. But based on past decisions by both men, I don’t have a lot of confidence that they will get it right this year when they didn’t in years past.

    If we are in a similar spot next summer, will he fire both men? At this point, I doubt it as I am operating on the assumption he wants to keep Lowe around since he is from the dynasty. Shoot if Mess was available, I would expect Katz to jump at the chance to bring him into the organization. I don’t think he has his eyes on the on ice product. Yet at least.

    I hope to hell I am wrong of course. I hope Lowe & Tambellini will hit numerous home runs this summer. We’ll see.

  9. Doug McLachlan says:

    This is not just a bitch and whine site, it’s supposed to be a numbers site so let me ask the following questions on Mr. Dithers.

    What are the organizational metrics we are going to use to measure his success?

    The Oilers finish has been abysmal. Agreed. But has the aquisition of free agent talent been been worse that the norm for GMs over a comprable period? How does one measure that other than how the Oilers stand in the standings?

    The OKC Barons seem to be an improved element of the organization, does Tambo get any credit for that? If so, other than their improvement in the AHL standings and playoff run, how do we want to measure this? Man games produced for the NHL club? How does one distinguish injury recalls from “forced their way to big club” recalls?

    The younglings have, as a group, developed as well or perhaps bettern than I would guage is not norm (and yes, MPS has been progressing slowly and Omark was a complete waste). Again, not sure how one measures that but my sense is that while we don’t credit Oiler brass (other than In Stu We Trust) with much we do conceed that the kids look better and brighter.

    There is variance when it comes to shooting percentage and save percentage and batting average. We acknowledge that even with all your psychological testing and combines that there is variance in scouting and draft picks. So is there some measure of value of FA acquisition to money expended that has been generated for NHL GMs? The big flop around Tambo’s neck being the Khabibulin signing, of course, but I’m wondering how we measure this and other moves in a more systematic fashion?

  10. Jordan says:

    Southern Oil,

    Success in business is making a lot of money.

    I think his sports entertainment franchise is a very successful business too.

  11. Rondo says:

    Peter Holland would be a very useful player for Edmonton. This is the type of player Tambellini should be looking for

  12. gd says:

    There is absolutely no way ST shouldn’t be able to convince a puck moving Dman that playing with the kids is not going to be good for someone’s career. I hope they have figured out who in the Garrison, Carle, Wideman, Kuba, Allen, Rosivlal crowd is the most desirable/attainable and go hard after that guy while everybody is chasing Suter. They should be able to outbid most of the teams with bad D as I’ve got to think most of them have to be conservative with the CBA uncertainty (ie. Colorado).

    Guys who should be reasonable trade targets include Martin (overpaid, but still played 23 min/gm on probably the best team in the league, played for B Sutter and could probably be had for a 3rd rd pick), Timmonen, Enstrom, Gunnersson, Streit (might be a good fit if Krueger is coach), Sekera, Leopold, Hjalmarsson, and Tyutin.

    If he can’t land two top 5 D this year than I will be really disappointed if he is still GM next spring. The time for patience is done. The difference between 23rd and 15th from a drafting point of view is negligible so they might as well go for it. ST makes this team competive next year and then the sell job to next year’s UFA like Weber, Staal, Getzlaf and Zajac gets easier, plus it should help get the kids’ RFA contracts done.

  13. Southern Oil says:

    Jordan:
    Southern Oil,

    Success in business is making a lot of money.

    I think his sports entertainment franchise is a very successful business too.

    I completely agree and for the record think that is a good thing. I don’t want his sports business losing money. But really at the end of the day, as a fan, I am more concerned about the on ice product. At this point in time, I am not sure how concerned Katz is with the running of the hockey department.

  14. Ribs says:

    Let’s play a little game:I will stop bitching about the Steve Tambellini contract extension if he can deliver this team an actual NHL defenseman this summer without subtracting from the group. I’ll even accept the kid Justin Schultz.
    Surely that isn’t too much to ask. Right?

    I like how the bar gets lower and lower every season.

    http://garfieldminusgarfield.net/post/23187635257/g-g-the-book

  15. bubbasnickey says:

    Maybe we’re witnessing the sports equivalent of The Producers? Ever thought of that?

  16. Moosemess says:

    The problem I have with judging Tambo harshly to date is that there are viable excuses behind many of his perceived flaws.

    1) Khabibulin signing. This is the glaring one, but there is much conjecture to support the assertion that Katz and Lowe were pushing for this much more than the supposed GM at the time. Given that Tambo’s primary mandate a year after the signing morphed towards purposely sucking and acquiring lottery picks, I would daresay this signing has actually worked remarkably well to satisfy that agenda.

    2) Pro player acquisition/contract overpays. This is a legitimate Catch 22 for Tambo. Whether it’s the dreadful performance of the team or the balmy location, Edmonton offers zero allure to the average pro athlete. It’s a nice fantasy to think that players will flock here for a chance at playing with Halls and Ebs, but the reality is they’ll only flock here when the team begins to resemble a legitimate Cup contender as evidenced by their performance on the ice. As a result of the above, Tambellini HAS to overpay to attract players here and when he does, he is criticized for not paying fair market value on contracts. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

    Because they choose to live here, I really don’t think the average Edmontonian truly appreciates the massive hurdle this creates for the Oiler brass. I know Katz didn’t get at it at first. If it helps, think of it in these terms: an employers wants to double your salary to attract you to his company but they’re based in Yemen. To the average NHL player, Edmonton IS Yemen.

    IMO, the best part of the decision to rebuild was the final realization that Edmonton and whale hunting do not mix. Building through the draft is the only viable and sustainable approach for this market. The Sens are probably our best comparable in this regard. Oh yeah, a glitzy new arena might help too. Whether the populace has the actual patience to hold fast to this model still remains to be seen.

    3) Trades. Unless you’re Sam Pollock, the goal here is to win more than you lose. In my estimation, Tambellini has done that. Visnovsky for Whitney seems like poor due diligence in hindsight, but for the most part Tambo has parlayed a roster of non-performers into a stable of legitimate prospects. Of course, although many trades cannot be fully evaluated until years after the fact (e.g. when Klefbom develops, after a full year of Schultz on the blueline, etc.), the faithful can be critical immediately after the fact, particularly when it’s one of their faves being traded (Gilbert, Penner, etc.).

    4) Player development. Whenever I see Tambellini getting criticized for the stalled development of an Omark, Paajarvi or Lander, it seems to me a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. The reality is Oklahoma has become a competitive and productive prospects pipeline under his watch and the BEST prospects at the pro level are tracking well.

    The GM does not manage the lineup on the ice. The GM does not lace up the skates. He provides the assets and the environment and it’s up to the coaches and players to seize the reins from there. On one hand, Tambo is criticized for not providing more veterans to shelter the kids, than on the other, he’s criticized when the kids don’t get enough Top 9 ice time. How is he supposed to accomplish both of those objectives simultaneously again? Fact – he won’t – this is what a rebuild is: committing to youth and staying the course while they inevitably make the mistakes that young players do. In the meantime, fans will always bitch that the players they like don’t play enough and they players they hate play too much.

    What’s particularly laughable is this assessment that because players like Fraser and Brule are finding modest roles on playoff teams, this somehow forms an indictment of Tambellini’s ability to assess talent. As if culling or signing marginal dime-a-dozen prospects is the difference between contending for the Cup or not. The Oilers NOW have a legitimate nucleus. We can piss and moan all we want because Omark didn’t play enough or Lander played too much, but how the Coach and the org manage the Matti Hagmans and Dave Hunters of this team is not nearly as important as how they are managing the potential Messier, Kurri and Anderson’s and on that front, they’re doing quite well. The cream will rise to the top. It always does and lest we forget the big picture, Omark was a 4th round flyer, nothing more.

    Oddly enough, the actions that I think Tambellini could be justly criticized for rarely seem to raise the real ire of the fanbase (the handling of Hemsky’s UFA status, keeping 3 goalies up, trading for injury prone players), at least not to the same extent that his failure to sign big name FAs does.

    Btw, at the time, it seemed to me that most felt the Barker signing was a low risk gamble, and exactly the kind of flyer that smart GMs should be taking at that stage in the rebuild. Now it’s proof that the GM is inept? I guess moving the goalposts is the best part about being an armchair GM.

  17. Bar_Qu says:

    NJ has demonstrated a team does not need a Doughty to have good defence corps. Going after those middle tier guys, some as suggested above, would make the D what it needs to be to compete. The bottom six is still the issue, and I don’t think the GM understands how to build one to make a Colin Fraser a valuable, competitive player (considering he is the same statistical guy in LA as he was in Edm; ditto for G. Brule).

    So I have hope for the D this summer, but none at all for the 3rd and 4th lines.

  18. Bar_Qu says:

    Moosemess,

    As the GM, you get credit, good or bad, for all the player acqusitions drafts and development done under your time with the nameplate on the desk. Don’t give ST a free pass for not doing his job just based on the fact that he works with KLowe. A good GM would have done none of those things you defend him for put in the same situation (well, likely fewer anyways). NK is indefensible in any light, and alone should be enough to be fired from any of the other 29 teams.

  19. Ducey says:

    Doug McLachlan,

    Good points.

    Fan reaction seems as simple minded as the Oilers finished 29th, therefore Tambo sucks. The defense sucks, the defense sucks, the goaltending sucks, the defense sucks.

    In reality, the team improved a lot. The PP finished 3rd, the PK was middle of the pack. The team finished 19th in GF, 23rd in GA, 23rd in GF/GA at -27. All of these were within a few goals of the playoff teams.

    I really believe that the notion they need to airlift in a bunch of defensemen is missing the point. They need to improve their GA and GF/GA. Arguably bringing in a coach that has a talent for this would be more useful than bringing in Garrison. Maybe a good coach could sort out Peckham’s coverage issues, get the forwards to provide better lane coverage and get the puck out of their zone.

    Does NJ have set of defensemen that are that much better than Edmonton’s? I am sure their fancy stats are better, but if they had played for the Oilers this season, would they have been?

    Is there a reason that the 4th lines of a lot of the playoff teams, full of no names, have been their best lines many nights?

    I think its less to do with personnel and more do with systems.

    Of course they could bring in some D AND get a coach to improve the team defense.

  20. spoiler says:

    In that Matheson article on the Tambi presser posted last night, Tambo said he had received no trade requests for the 1st overall that he could take to Kevin and Darryl.

    Based on that quote, I’d say our owner is “hands on” when it comes to pro procurement.

  21. stevezie says:

    Moosemess,

    I can clear up your final point, or at least my position. At the time I felt Barker was a low-risk (if slightly overpaid) gamble, and I still think so today. The mistake was treating that gamble like it was a sure thing. The defence was constructed so that Barker needed to be a quality top-four defender in order for it to succeed. Thank God Andy Sutton maintained his play from the year before or who knows how far we might have fallen.

    It’s no sin to take a flyer on a guy with some upside. Problem comes when that flyer is all that stands between you and destruction. What this team needed then, and needs now, is at least one more sure thing.

  22. Moosemess says:

    Bar Qu,

    Slats traded Miroslav Satan for Craig Millar and Barrie Moore.

    He also traded Jimmy Carson and Kevin McClelland for Adam Graves, Joe Murphy, Petr Klima and Jeff Sharples.

    One bad transaction does not a GM make.

  23. Moosemess says:

    Stevezie, that’s a valid conclusion to draw IF the Oil can be reasonably expected to acquire top-tier FAs and IF they truly expected to not be in lottery country again last year. I’m not sure either of those is the case however. The org is saying outwardly they expected to do better last year, but in the same breath they just signed the architect of the 29th place finish to a re-extension. That tells me everything about the org’s true expectations for last year. They WANTED to suck last year. The tenor of the conversation does seem to be changing now however, and I do think it’s fair to increase the glare of the spotlight on Tambo from this day forward.

  24. prairieschooner says:

    There are so many holes on the Oilers back end that it will be easy for Tambi to significantly upgrade tha back end.
    At this point in the rebuild he can go for it.
    Improvement in previous years could have pushed us out of a lottery position

  25. Captain Obvious says:

    stevezie:
    Moosemess,

    I can clear up your final point, or at least my position. At the time I felt Barker was a low-risk (if slightly overpaid) gamble, and I still think so today. The mistake was treating that gamble like it was a sure thing. The defence was constructed so that Barker needed to be a quality top-four defender in order for it to succeed. Thank God Andy Sutton maintained his play from the year before or who knows how far we might have fallen.

    It’s no sin to take a flyer on a guy with some upside. Problem comes when that flyer is all that stands between you and destruction.What this team needed then, and needs now, is at least one more sure thing.

    The problem with the Barker deal is that there was no upside because the deal was for too much money. Even if Barker had turned out to be decent the Oilers wouldn’t have been able to qualify him at a fair price.

    Barker at $1M is a gamble with upside. Barker at $2 M + is not.

    In this way the Barker signing is paradigmatic of what is bad about Tambellini. He doesn’t pay attention to the details and throws value away at the margins with almost every transaction.

    The only times he doesn’t do this is when he takes players he doesn’t really want anyway, like Hemsky and Smyth. Then he plays hardball. I wish he played hardball all the time.

  26. bookje says:

    spoiler:
    In that Matheson article on the Tambi presser posted last night, Tambo said he had received no trade requests for the 1st overall that he could take to Kevin and Darryl.

    Based on that quote, I’d say our owner is “hands on” when it comes to pro procurement.

    As I understand it, pretty much any trade of a significant asset (franchise player, First Overall, Goalie, etc.) is cleared by owners on pretty much any team in the league. Even if it’s almost an automatic approval, you would need to get clearance for a decision of that magnitude.

  27. Moosemess says:

    Captain Obvious,

    The common denominator and the key to the two ‘hardball’ examples you cite (Hemsky and Smyth) are the lack of bargaining positioning held by the players themselves and not any supposed bias held by Tambellini. Hemsky left Tambo no trade cache through a combination of poor production and injury concerns. Smyth reduced his market options to one. If anything, the Hemsky contract was a vast overpay but what can the GM do when his young phenom is lobbying to keep the glass vase and the vase has virtually nil trade value anyway?

    With the likes of Sutton, Barker, Belanger and Eager however, the bargaining power lies with the player. Unless of course, you want to operate under the delusion that a last place team 3k from the arctic circle is the preferred destination of choice for marginal NHLers playing out the string? And with the exception of Belanger, whose signing Renney lobbied for, that is exactly what these players were. Stopgaps to carry the team through the suck.

    This is precisely why the Smyth contract is dragging on now. Smyth’s play is on the wane and he’s zero threat to go elsewhere. The only way you don’t squeeze the player in that scenario is if you’re a bleeding heart that forgot you’re running a business under a salary cap.

  28. Wes Mantooth-11 says:

    He absolutely has to do something meaningful for the team. Not just a marginal gain but a leap, like playoffs type leap! Anything less then that is completely unacceptable anymore.

    Make a splash at the draft, Draft #1 go after another top 10

    LT

    As far as J.Schultz, why the hell has he not offered a 3rd rounder or Omark even to Anaheim?

    Unless Tambellini already knows he won’t sign here? But how would he?

    At least he would know what he needs after he drafts Yakupov.

  29. Traktor says:

    Cam Barker signed for 1 year, finished the year Even, and is now a free agent.

    Eric Belanger signed for 3 years, finished the year -13, and has 2 years left on his contract.

    You guys have an open book test and still fail.

    Its quite sad, actually.

  30. Cactus says:

    Captain Obvious: The problem with the Barker deal is that there was no upside because the deal was for too much money.Even if Barker had turned out to be decent the Oilers wouldn’t have been able to qualify him at a fair price.

    Barker at $1M is a gamble with upside.Barker at $2 M + is not.

    In this way the Barker signing is paradigmatic of what is bad about Tambellini.He doesn’t pay attention to the details and throws value away at the margins with almost every transaction.

    The only times he doesn’t do this is when he takes players he doesn’t really want anyway, like Hemsky and Smyth.Then he plays hardball.I wish he played hardball all the time.

    This is quite simply, wrong. Barker, being on a one year deal and as a former high pick could be reasonably signed to a little extra money for a single year. Both Hemsky and Smyth were in negotiations for multi-year accords. In the case of Smyth, he’s a 35+ contract so extra care has to be taken as there is less recourse for the team if he suddenly falls off. If Tambellini really screws up these deals, it could adversely impact the budget next year when he has to get new contracts done for Hall, Eberle and MPS. This is an example of good GMing.

  31. Cactus says:

    Wes Mantooth-11,

    Because a 3rd round pick is a huge price to pay to get a week of exclusive negotiations with a player who has no incentive to sign with you prior to his UFA period. If it’s a 7th, then I think we’re in the ballpark.

  32. bendelson says:

    Traktor,

    Both signings were near-complete failures.

    Barker didn’t improve the D at all.
    Belanger had some positives that were in the end crushed by the negatives in his overall game.

    It is sad.

  33. Ducey says:

    As far as J.Schultz, why the hell has he not offered a 3rd rounder or Omark even to Anaheim?

    The rumours are that he is all but signed in Toronto to play with his buddy, Jake Gardiner. So much so, that ANA is considering filing tampering charges.

    If they trade with ANA, they step into ANA’s shoes. What can EDM then offer that ANA can’t? More snow in the winters?

    The question is why the hell would he offer Omark or even a 3rd rounder.

  34. Ducey says:

    I wonder what people think of COL signing David Jones to a 4 yr $16 million contract today. If I recall the critics were saying Tambo was an idiot to sign Ryan Jones to a 2 year $3 million contract.

    David Jones Age 29 72 GP 20 goals 17 A 37 pts 32 PIM 14.71 sht% 85 hits

    Ryan Jones Age 27 79 GP 17 G 16 A 33 pts 42 PIM 12.41 sht% 119 hits

    I don’t have access to the fancy stats. D Jones had 40+ pts the year before preceeded by 4 season wiped out by injury. R Jones had 25 pts 2 yrs ago.

    David Jones is likely a slightly better player, but I think Ryan Jones contract looks like a deal.

  35. DSF says:

    Moosemess:
    Captain Obvious,

    The common denominator and the key to the two ‘hardball’ examples you cite (Hemsky and Smyth) are the lack of bargaining positioning held by the players themselves and not any supposed bias held by Tambellini.Hemsky left Tambo no trade cache through a combination of poor production and injury concerns. Smyth reduced his market options to one. If anything, the Hemsky contract was a vast overpay but what can the GM do when his young phenom is lobbying to keep the glass vase and the vase has virtually nil trade value anyway?

    With the likes of Sutton, Barker, Belanger and Eager however, the bargaining power lies with the player. Unless of course, you want to operate under the delusion that a last place team 3k from the arctic circle is the preferred destination of choice for marginal NHLers playing out the string? And with the exception of Belanger, whose signing Renney lobbied for, that is exactly what these players were. Stopgaps to carry the team through the suck.

    This is precisely why the Smyth contract is dragging on now. Smyth’s play is on the wane and he’s zero threat to go elsewhere. The only way you don’t squeeze the player in that scenario is if you’re a bleeding heart that forgot you’re running a business under a salary cap.

    You are pre-supposing that Tambellini uses leverage (or lack thereof) in contract negotiations when there is a mountain of evidence that he has no grasp of that concept.

    Khabibulin, Barker, Sutton, Potter and even Hemsky had little to no leverage when he signed or re-signed them and he paid above market value for all of them.

    Khabibulin is, of course, Exhibit “A” but there was no valid reason to pay Barker $2.25M when he was bought out by Minny and passed over by any number of other teams.

    Likewise, Sutton. How many teams in the league pay $1.75M for a #7 defenseman?

    There also was no rational explanation for signing Potter to a two year deal when he did…what leverage did Potter have?

    Is there likely to be a better defenseman available in the offseason for the same money?

    I’d wager the answer is yes.

  36. Jonathan Willis says:

    Traktor,

    And that’s Traktor voting for plus/minus as the one measure that tells us every single thing we need to know about a player, as well as insisting that everyone around him is a fool for failing to realize it.

    Seriously; re-read it. That’s his comment.

  37. spoiler says:

    bookje: As I understand it, pretty much any trade of a significant asset (franchise player, First Overall, Goalie, etc.) is cleared by owners on pretty much any team in the league.Even if it’s almost an automatic approval, you would need to get clearance for a decision of that magnitude.

    Thank you. After 40 years of following this game, providing me with your obvious insider authority on the matter comes as a wondrous boon. Perhaps you can spoonfeed me some more pablum later?

  38. spoiler says:

    Jonathan Willis:
    Traktor,

    And that’s Traktor voting for plus/minus as the one measure that tells us every single thing we need to know about a player, as well as insisting that everyone around him is a fool for failing to realize it.

    Seriously; re-read it.That’s his comment.

    I’ve seriously re-read it several times and I can’t see any statement about +/- being the one measure that tells us every single thing we know about a player.

    Sorry, I think you’re seriously going over-the-top here.

  39. bookje says:

    spoiler: Thank you. After 40 years of following this game, providing me with your obvious insider authority on the matter comes as a wondrous boon. Perhaps you can spoonfeed me some more pablum later?

    Sorry, I forgot that you are really really old and have trouble remembering that you just made a statement (that I was responding to) suggesting that you didn’t quite understand the normal dynamic between owners and GMs.

    I’ll leave the pablum feeding to your nurse.

  40. Woodguy says:

    Ducey,

    I really believe that the notion they need to airlift in a bunch of defensemen is missing the point. They need to improve their GA and GF/GA.

    Everyone in world knows they need to upgrade the Dmen.

    Even Doug McLean knows it.

    Hell, Strudwick was talking about it on the radio today at lunch, and he played with almost all these guys. (Struds says they need two top 4, I agree)

    The best way to improve your GF and GA is to improve your roster. Coaching only goes so far, and as much as I didn’t care for Renney, and change in coach doesn’t make Peckman into an Actual NHL player overnight, or even ever in many cases.

    Does NJ have set of defensemen that are that much better than Edmonton’s? I am sure their fancy stats are better, but if they had played for the Oilers this season, would they have been?

    Zidlicky 570 NHL gp
    Tallinder 589 NHL gp
    Salvador 692 NHL gp
    Volchenkov 557 NHL gp
    Greene 347 NHL gp

    There’s their vets. Some long in the tooth, but that’s a D group with a lot of experience playing tough minutes.

    Their two young guys this year were:

    Adam Larsson
    Mark Fanye

    Fayne is like their Petry or Justin Shultz.

    Last year was his 1st NHL season after finishing 4 years of university. You know who Larsson is.

    Shultz might be the only one I take in my top 4 from the Oilers if I get to pick from both teams to make up my D.

    Smid is close and Petry will get there in a couple of years, but yeah, two pretty different rosters.

  41. Mr DeBakey says:

    Sorry, I think you’re seriously going over-the-top here.

    Seriously?
    A smidge, maybe.

    That’s because we all know Belanger is soft, too.

  42. Jonathan Willis says:

    spoiler,

    I’m sorry, what other reason am I missing for Belanger being a worse player than Barker?

  43. Moosemess says:

    Hmm, Justin Schultz can choose one of 30 teams/markets to play in, many of which are legitimate Cup contenders, many more of which offer better weather and quality of life outside the rink, and Tambellini’s a failure if he doesn’t sign him?

    Apparently some folks were sleeping during the supply & demand section of the courseware.

    I would argue the contrary. If Tambellini were to secure the services of this player, he’s not just a competent GM, he’s clearly a Paladin with 18 charisma and 97 hit points.

  44. Traktor says:

    Belanger was a worse signing than Barker.

    I knew that at the time, and given that Barker is now a UFA while we are stuck with 2 more years of Eric Belanger it should be obvious for rest of the Willis types.

    That might be giving Jonathan too much credit though.

  45. LoDog says:

    The Oilers moved into the time to win and get complimentary players mode with the Gilbert trade. For the life of me I don’t get the Gilbert love by some here. He was the whipping boy for years, gets traded and all of sudden he was the best dman on the planet. Schultz will help this team lower goals against, which is what they really need.

    On the going through Lowe and Katz thing. Is there an owner in the league that would let a GM trade the top assets without giving the OK. I think not. Think Feaster can trade Iginla without it? Can Poile trade Weber without the owners approval?

  46. Cactus says:

    Traktor,

    All right, I’ll bite. Other than plus/minus, what do the underlying numbers tell us (among players with more than 10 games):

    Corsi Rel
    Barker: -4.0
    Belanger: -4.1

    QualTeam
    Barker: 0.036 (6th and best among d-men)
    Belanger: -0.083 (16th)

    QualComp
    Barker: -0.108 (20th)
    Belanger: -0.104 (19th)

    Zone Start
    Barker: 47.5%
    Belanger: 43.2%

    Neilson Scoring Chance Plus Minus (Courtesy of Cult of Hockey):
    Barker: -1.42 (worse than all other regular D except Peckham)
    Belanger: 0.55 (Behind all other regular Cs, including Lander and all wingers but Hordichuk)

    In the words of LT, what does it all mean?

    Obviously, there’s a certain amount of apples to oranges here trying to compare defence numbers to a forward (I could break this down further with a little more time), but it’s clear these were both unperforming players last year. They both faced relatively easy competition and didn’t get the job done. The only slight advantages to Belanger were that Barker had a much better team on the ice with him and the fact that Barker got killed in scoring chance errors, while Belanger seemed to be just above water.

    Based on Belanger’s track record, there wasn’t a strong reason to believe this would happen. Based on Barker’s history, there was. Barker can be easily jettisoned, but I don’t think we can pile on Tambellini and co. for Belanger given his positive history.

  47. rickithebear says:

    bendelson: Belanger had some positives that were in the end crushed by the negatives in his overall game.
    It is sad.

    Jesus man!

    Belanger playing lower 4th line comp w/ 4th line teamates in a 40-45% zone start situation the average ev production should be .75EVP/60

    Belanger was .64.
    For his 11 minutes per night
    He was short 1.5.5EVpoints for the season, from being the average.

    Defensively he should be yeilding 2.42GA/60.belanger was 2.63
    he gave up 3 more goals for the year than he should have.
    so relative to the average for his situation he was -4.5 Goals in even play for the year.

    Belanger was top 15 for centers on the Pk and gave up 4.18GA/60 well below the 6.00GA/60 league average. he played 2.39 PKTOI/60. so he was 5.7G better than the average for the season.

    Eric belanger was a better than average player given his situations.

    All we ask of players is they be better than the average player for what they are asked to do.
    Belanger was!

  48. slopitch says:

    I think the only litmus test for Tambellini is how much improved the Oilers are a year from now. If he can sign a ufa to fair dollar and term who can contribute then good on him. But this hasn’t happened for 20 years of me being an Oilers fan. With the investment in picks and development over the past 3 years its likely a better and cheaper option comes internally like it did with Petry last year. Is Peckham, Teubert or Plant capable of taking the next step over the summer? We dont know. On the other hand, signings, trades, pro-scouting are a critical piece of the job description. The Oilers need to be more active and better here.

    If he drafts Yakapov, signs Smyth and Schultz (or equivalent) I’ll be happy. We have the depth to add via trade during the season if the D is still shambles. Oilers should be within range of playoffs next year if Hall can recover (fully) before xmas and failing to attempt to improve to me is a failing grade.

  49. Wes Mantooth-11 says:

    Ducey,

    You have absolutely know idea that tampering is involved at all and to insinuate is completely erroneous!

    By your logic Anaheim is just going to sit there let the kid leave for nothing then HOPE they can file tampering charges!

    Omark leaves the Oilers for nothing in return if the Oilers don’t deal him before the season.

    Give your head a shake dude!

  50. Moosemess says:

    DSF: You are pre-supposing that Tambellini uses leverage (or lack thereof) in contract negotiations when there is a mountain of evidence that he has no grasp of that concept.

    Khabibulin, Barker, Sutton, Potter and even Hemsky had little to no leverage when he signed or re-signed them and he paid above market value for all of them.

    Khabibulin is, of course, Exhibit “A” but there was no valid reason to pay Barker $2.25M when he was bought out by Minny and passed over by any number of other teams.

    Likewise, Sutton. How many teams in the league pay $1.75M for a #7 defenseman?

    There also was no rational explanation for signing Potter to a two year deal when he did…what leverage did Potter have?

    Is there likely to be a better defenseman available in the offseason for the same money?

    I’d wager the answer is yes.

    Again, you’re arguing for market value contracts when I’ve already made the argument that Edmonton is an undesirable market and can naturally be expected to overpay as a result.

    You claim there’s a mountain of evidence to support the claim that Tambellini doesn’t use the leverage at his disposal. Am I to assume the contract figures cited represent the totality of this ‘mountain?’ Given the fact that we’re in no way privy to the other offers players are considering or the tenor of the negotiations themselves, this seems a case of tailoring evidence to support a hypothesis instead of the other way around. Yes, Tambellin overpays, but as to the root cause of that behavior, I highly doubt we’ll ever possess enough inside information to definitively assess why that is. And let’s be fair, there are numerous factors involved. Sometimes GMs reward players with a fat contract after years of outperforming a bargain contract. Sometimes the owner’s ego drives the negotiation (e.g. Kovalchuk, Leino). Sometimes the player and his agent are simply intractable and the GM cuts a less than optimal deal because he has the salary cap room.

    My take is the Oil were the poster children for bad contracts under Lowe with Horcoff, Pisani and Moreau’s deals being the obvious examples. They seem FAR more prudent under Tambellini with the majority of the signings.

  51. bendelson says:

    rickithebear,

    So you believe Belanger had a good year?

    OK.

    I can’t wait to see him during an off year.

  52. Jordan says:

    bookje: Sorry, I forgot that you are really really old and have trouble remembering that you just made a statement (that I was responding to) suggesting that you didn’t quite understand the normal dynamic between owners and GMs.

    I’ll leave the pablum feeding to your nurse.

    Hey guys, be sensitive. There’s actually old people on these boards. If you’ve ever been to a nursing home, you’d know there’s etiquette when it comes to these things.

    If you have a nurse who is going to spoon feed you pablum, you need to share both.

    How else do you think LT gets those great pictures that make watching this sad sack team bearable?

    Woodguy,

    New Jersey is a great comparable to use, because they don’t have a clear #1 and are succeeding with a by committee D corp.

    I’d suggest that while you could conceivably hope that Smid and Petry could continue to devleop, planning out the team assuming that they will this coming season is a piss poor plan. Planning for them to be 2nd pairing makes a lot of sense, but that means you have to find two first pairing players. I think that N. Schultz could work in a top 4 role, but don’t know that it’s a good plan to bank on him there either. Whitney’s a 3r pairing PP specialist until he gets his feet back, and Sutton’s a great #7. Peckhams been sub replacement, and the farm boys aren’t there. Yet.

    If you want a depth chart with depth, I think the plan has to be to find two top 4 guys, and one really should to be a top 2 guy.

    Lots of people will of course start asking questions about what you do with those guys if Smid and Petry do develop, and the young guys we have on the farm and across the sea continue to elevate their game. “They need to be in the NHL now! We don’t have enough spots” will be the lamented cry that people imagine.

    IF that were to happen…. it’s a good problem to have, no? Pick the best ones, trade the others, and win many cups.

    IF that doesn’t happen… wouldn’t it be nice to have a competitive team?

    Carle would be a nice piece to add for nothing but money. based on age and ability. If he’s not in the cards, I’d like to see a couple of short term overpays to people like Hannan, Stuart, Rozsival or Jackman – get them in, see what they can do, see if they like it here, and go from there.

    If this ship doesn’t get righted on the back end, it won’t matter how the kids are actually developing – they’ll get sick of losing, just like we are.

  53. spoiler says:

    Jonathan Willis: spoiler, I’m sorry, what other reason am I missing for Belanger being a worse player than Barker?

    I have no idea, as he didn’t say. Ask Traktor.

    But he also didn’t say what you represented. When I read a statement by someone that is somewhat limited in its scope, I don’t assume that is all they know or believe (like Bookje did above) and then represent it as such. And if I have any questions about it, I ask, or qualify my response. Or I provide a defense against their point rather than making a disparaging attack (especially one based on assumptions).

  54. spoiler says:

    Jonathan Willis,

    By the way, I thought your article on “What would it take for the Leafs to land” both Sarnia Sting-ers, was one of your best ever. Print-worthy even. I can’t say that on ON, so I am glad you’re here today.

  55. DSF says:

    Jordan: Hey guys, be sensitive.There’s actually old people on these boards.If you’ve ever been to a nursing home, you’d know there’s etiquette when it comes to these things.

    If you have a nurse who is going to spoon feed you pablum, you need to share both.

    How else do you think LT gets those great pictures that make watching this sad sack team bearable?

    Woodguy,

    New Jersey is a great comparable to use, because they don’t have a clear #1and are succeeding with a by committee D corp.

    I’d suggest that while you could conceivably hope that Smid and Petry could continue to devleop, planning out the team assuming that they will this coming season is a piss poor plan.Planning for them to be 2nd pairing makes a lot of sense, but that means you have to find two first pairing players.I think that N. Schultz could work in a top 4 role, but don’t know that it’s a good plan to bank on him there either.Whitney’s a 3r pairing PP specialist until he gets his feet back, and Sutton’s a great #7.Peckhams been sub replacement, and the farm boys aren’t there.Yet.

    If you want a depth chart with depth, I think the plan has to be to find two top 4 guys, and one really should to be a top 2 guy.

    Lots of people will of course start asking questions about what you do with those guys if Smid and Petry do develop, and the young guys we have on the farm and across the sea continue to elevate their game.“They need to be in the NHL now!We don’t have enough spots” will be the lamented cry that people imagine.

    IF that were to happen…. it’s a good problem to have, no?Pick the best ones, trade the others, and win many cups.

    IF that doesn’t happen… wouldn’t it be nice to have a competitive team?

    Carle would be a nice piece to add for nothing but money. based on age and ability.If he’s not in the cards, I’d like to see a couple of short term overpays to people like Hannan, Stuart, Rozsival or Jackman – get them in, see what they can do, see if they like it here, and go from there.

    If this ship doesn’t get righted on the back end, it won’t matter how the kids are actually developing – they’ll get sick of losing, just like we are.

    The last team to win a cup without a true #1 stud defenseman was the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and I think we can agree that was an aberration.

    In assessing the Oilers defense ask yourself where their best two defensemen would slot in on a contending team like LA.

    I would wager Smid and Petry would both be bottom pairing.

    The rest would be in Manchester.

  56. Mr DeBakey says:

    I would wager Smid and Petry would both be bottom pairing.

    The rest would be in Manchester.

    Greene is better than Schultz?
    He’s really improved.
    Like Magic

  57. DSF says:

    Mr DeBakey:
    I would wager Smid and Petry would both be bottom pairing.


    The rest would be in Manchester.

    Greene is better than Schultz?
    He’s really improved.
    Like Magic

    Yes. Yes he has.

    In the playoffs…18GP…4P…+7…71 hits…22 blocked shots.

    I’ll remind you that’s against Vancouver, Nashville, Phoenix and NJ.

    Not exactly the Sisters of the Poor.

    Shultz, by comparison, needed 82 games to score 7 points, …-12…83 hits…and 165 blocked shots.

    Greene spent 3:03/G on the PK in the regular season…Shultz only spent 2:25

    Shultz faced slightly more difficult competition but I expect if you were to propose a trade of Shultz for Greene to Lombardi, he would say thanks, but no thanks.

    Since both are 29 with identical cap hits, I can’t see any way Shultz would supplant Greene.

  58. DeadmanWaking says:

    Moosemess: You’re pooping into a stiff psychological headwind. I try not to comment on it more than twice a year.

    Scientists Find Truth in Mad Scientist Stereotype

    people with psychosis do not filter stimuli as well as others without the disorder, meaning that they’re able to ponder contradictory ideas simultaneously and gain insight into loose associations that the general unconscious brain wouldn’t even consider worthy of sending to consciousness

    I think this was stated a bit too narrowly. The fact of the matter is that the majority cognitive style is to resolve contention rather than embrace it. We have one piece of information–lack of effective FA signings–to solve for two free parameters: the homely-team surcharge in Merrickville vs Mudville management incompetence level. To further complicate matters, the objectives of the fan base (winning seasons) is not in perfect alignment with the objectives of ownership, where we again face a hidden variable in Katz’s inner-swoonage re celebrity vs profit.

    One can solve for pretty much all the observed evidence by making two assumptions: 1) the FA surcharge has been pretty ugly for recent seasons and 2) Katz values his coin purse more than merely sucking less. Yeah, another million bucks out of Katz’s purse could have turned Barker into something useful, but it wouldn’t have got the team into the playoffs and there would have been no revenues generated in compensation. I have the sense that merely sucking less wasn’t Katz’s sweet spot. The Tambi two-step seems to confirm this.

    This causes immense cognitive dissonance among the fan base who actually suffer through watching the games. Just about any other viable interpretation is preferred to mitigate the visceral pain. Human nature 101. Due to the paucity of details on actual numbers discussed and rejected by Mr Dithers, there’s a bounty of alternative views to choose among, none of which can be refuted out of hand. Certain voices here feel little compunction about choosing freely among the cornucopia of irrefutable views however it turns their crank. More sober voices–and there are many here–feel a twinge of shame energizing over free variables.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. Just one more tiny axiom alleviates the shame reflex: that good players playing on bad teams become bad players. Argal, lack of sucking less now directly clears the bar on management incompetence. Now even the sober-minded can join the chant. I think there is a tranche of player where losing too much is not a good development input (phenoms not included). I don’t think we presently have too many of these sulking Swedes so whatever setback we experienced there has been more than offset by obtaining our third successive holy-crap magic bean. Some say no harm, no foul. Are we judging on outcome or style?

    Of course, the solution where management actually is incompetent fits the available information just fine, and is far more palatable to those who sit in front of the tube and endure the games.

    If it really has been a matter of ugly FA surcharges as the team energizes on training-blade potential, the corner will be turned briskly when the time is right. That could be as late as next summer, but with the number of slots requiring drastic measures that would create a nasty traffic jam, and one suspects Tambi hates traffic jams even more than he loves doing nothing at all. So I’m personally expecting a top-shelf addition over the next six months.

  59. The Best and Worst of Steve Tambellini - Oil On Whyte - An Edmonton Oilers Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More says:

    [...] have written on the topic include Jonathan Willis of Oilers Nation, Tyler Dellow of mc79hockey.com, Allan Mitchell of lowetide.ca, Ryan Batty of The Copper and Blue, David Staples of The Cult of Hockey, and our own Jeff [...]

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