HOW MANY HOLES (UPDATED)

Back in late May, we talked about the holes in Edmonton’s roster and discussed what a strong summer might look like. How did it go for Steve Tambellini?

The original post and comments are here. During the period leading up to free agency, our discussions refined the list and we arrived at the following:

  1. A top pairing defenseman capable of delivering big minutes at evens and at least one of PK and PP. 20+ overall. Oilers did not address this area, although some may feel the positive news re: Ryan Whitney will suffice. A major item.
  2. A better Renney. Tom Renney is out, Ralph Krueger is in. Based on what we know, and the verbal from all corners, this appears to be a positive move. I expect we’ll see some form of the trap, especially when this young team is in a close game.
  3. Justin Schultz or similar. Won the Schultz race, incredibly. I know that old timey guys like me ramble on about this, but winning the day on Justin Schultz is historic for the Oilers. Crazy, man, crazy.
  4. A reasonable goaltending option for the Khabibulin free fall. I think Yann Danis is a suitable “replacement level” solution to the problem, and would suggest that the Oilers feel comfortable moving forward with their goaltending group. I know this is an area of worry for many, and the lack of quality behind Dubnyk is extremely likely to cost points. Anyone arguing the Oilers are not serious about making the second season in year three of the Hall era need only point to the goaltending position.
  5. An established 2-way winger to mentor the young players who will compete for bottom 6 roles (Lander, Hartikainen, Pitlick, etc). The Oilers quickly re-signed Lennart Petrell and haven’t looked at anyone else since then. I think they are making a mistake, but as this is a very under-reported area of need pretty much worldwide, I’ll assume that others feel Edmonton has enough in this area.
  6. Ryan Smyth or similar. Smyth did return, and possibly to the role mentioned in point #5. I don’t think he’ll be placed in the offensive situations of the past, but make no mistake: bringing back Smyth for such a young team was a key item.
  7. Get the rfa’s signed. Got ‘em all done, the major ones too. The Petry contract is extremely likely to be high value, the Gagner contract probably means he’s going to get squeezed by all of the other contracts that need to be signed in the next 12 months.

Steve Tambellini covered it all of but:

  1. The veteran defender
  2. The strong backup
  3. The 2-way winger (and that might be covered off by Smyth in a new role)

He did some good great things, and the club drafted Nail Yakupov.

One question remains: why did he stop?

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55 Responses to "HOW MANY HOLES (UPDATED)"

  1. WeridAl says:

    So LT you don’t think the lack of size at C and in the top 6 a major hole.

  2. PerryK says:

    WeridAl:
    So LT you don’t think the lack of size at C and in the top 6 a major hole.

    In the bottom 6 would be okay.
    The “value” contract that Belager (Triangle) has could be moved and Arnott signed. Pretty easy solution!

  3. Clay says:

    First of all LT, thanks again for the RE series – excellent reading as always, and it’s a real treat that helps with the hockey doldrums of summer.

    Regarding issue #1 – many have said it, including you, but I just don’t think it can be overstated how much of a risk it is to have faith in Whitney playing a leading role this year. At this point, I don’t even care if they land another top 4 guy before the season starts, they just need to bring in at least one more NHL defenseman.

    There’s still guys out there they could get on the cheap that would do the job, you could send them to OKC if Whitney turned out to be ok, and no one would cry if they were lost to waivers. Hell, I’d settle for Jim Vandermeer at this point – just someone who isn’t a question mark like Peckham or Potter or Teubert in regards to their established ability at the NHL level.

    Issue #4 – I was really hoping for more at the Goaler spot this summer too. Harding was the guy I was hoping for, but apparently he doesn’t mind being a career backup in Minny, so hell with him. Lindback would’ve been nice to get.

    Overall, I’m left with the impression this offseason that I was left with last year. Tambo has done enough “on paper” to satisfy the fanbase/critics that he’s improving the team and shooting for the playoffs. In reality, not very much has to go wrong for this team to be in the lottery again, and all Tambo has to do is shrug and say “Injuries! Who knew?!”, and he comes off looking like a victim of bad luck. Again.

  4. David S says:

    So if I read you right, Tambellini did everything except the three most important things on your list.

    Solid.

  5. Mr DeBakey says:

    Anyone arguing the Oilers are not serious about making the second season in year three of the Hall era need only point to the goaltending position.

    The Oilers remain closer to the Lottery than to the Play-Offs.
    This despite a fairly funky forward group.

    The size at center “problem” is dwarfed by the G and the D depth.

    David S nails it.

  6. Cactus says:

    WeridAl:
    So LT you don’t think the lack of size at C and in the top 6 a major hole.

    For the very last time, please read the following:

    http://oilersnation.com/2012/4/20/size-up-the-middle-can-nugent-hopkins-gagner-co-exist

    Size in your centre is NOT necessary for success.

    And here, the very observant Bill Barnwell conclusively demonstrates that size anywhere in the roster is not necessary to win in the playoffs. In fact, in the post-lockout years SMALLER teams are more likely to win series than larger ones (when the difference was greater than 10 pounds on average):

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7986703/fast-small-vs-slow-big-ice

    If you’re still one of those people that are convinced that size is all important, read this.

    PerryK: In the bottom 6 would be okay.
    The “value” contract that Belager (Triangle) has could be moved and Arnott signed.Pretty easy solution!

    Arnott has been getting increasingly sheltered minutes and won’t help on the PK. That’s not a useful upgrade on Belanger.

  7. WeridAl says:

    Mr DeBakey,

    So you have no faith in Dubynk and J.Schultz.

  8. WeridAl says:

    you hav
    Cactus,

    Clearly you haven’t watched a Oiler game in the last couple of years, and yes size and grit in the top 6 does matter. Just had to watch the playoffs last year to see that.

  9. Cactus says:

    David S:
    So if I read you right, Tambellini did everything except the three most important things on your list.

    Solid.

    I know I’m probably just banging my head on a brick wall here, but we really need to drop the NHL 13 , videogame mentality to GMing here. Just because a team has a need does not mean it can simply be filled with a quick swap (and, having actually spent some time with the video game, EA is making such “easy trades” more difficult with every iteration).

    Let’s look at the three things left on Tambellini’s list:

    1. A veteran top-pairing defender.
    When did we start thinking that these guys were falling off trees? The only true top 2 defencemen this offseason just made $98M. The closest facimiles were guys like Wideman and Carle, both of whom are earning north of $5M per year for 2nd pairing skillsets (albeit with some good offensive ability). Teams aren’t lining up to give away these playerrs for Pitlick plus a 2nd and even if they were, the fact that teams like Detroit and Philly are in the hunt for more D help would drive up the price. I”d much rather Tambellini sit on what he has than deal Paajarvi and a 1st for Tyutin or some similarly insane deal.

    2. The strong backup.
    Again, the market isn’t exactly very good right now. Someone mentioned Lindback – he cost the LIghtning 3 draft picks, including 2 second rounders in this year’s draft. The Oilers weren’t about to destroy their draft when they were picking 1st overall (2nd in subsequent rounds). Bernier for a 1st + isn’t worth it.

    3. Two-way bottom 6 forward.
    LT, you’ve said it yourself: the OIlers have too many forwards. If they can’t offload some, this doesn’t work. Besides, I’d rather see if Paajarvi can continue his terrific Corsi results in the NHL. Get Smyth and Horcoff to tutor.

    Bottom-line: in none of these situations was there an easy or cheap fix (with the possible exception of a bottom 6 forward and I’d argue that’s actually not needed). I’d love to see a little more D and G help too, but let’s stop blaming Lowe/Tambellini for failing to pull of the impossible.

  10. Mr DeBakey says:

    So you have no faith in Dubynk and J.Schultz.

    I’m not counting on a rookie d-man. Call me crazy, I know.

    I believe Dubnyk is a decent NHLer.
    But every game featuring NK is guaranteed loss night.

  11. Cactus says:

    WeridAl:
    you hav
    Cactus,

    Clearly you haven’t watched a Oiler game in the last couple of years, and yes size and grit in the top 6 does matter. Just had to watch the playoffs last year to see that.

    So I present you with actual, verifiable results that clearly show that size has not been a deciding factor in team success and you reply “that’s not what you saw”? What other facts do you disagree with simply because it doesn’t fit with your established worldview? Is the sun now orbiting the earth?

    There’s plenty of grounds to have a reasonable debate about this. Please read the articles.

  12. Woodguy says:

    WeridAl,

    Clearly you haven’t watched a Oiler game in the last couple of years

    Can’t argue with that.

  13. justDOit says:

    Thanks Cactus. I agree 100% on both points.

  14. leadfarmer says:

    The reason he hasnt upgraded the other three spots is because we are closer to the lottery then playoffs. Defense was ridiculously expansive to aquire this summer and a good defenseman would bring us from 13 th to 10 th whiletaking us out of the lottery. There is a reason for the five year plan being called that and not the three year plan. I doubt they pick up anyone other than a depth defenweman this year, with the plan to address it next year, and make a run the following year, aka year 5.

    Any rumors on length and term on hallsy, I am hoping for 6 years at 5.5 but knowing the management team I am getting ready for 13 year 100 mil.

  15. Bar_Qu says:

    ST should at least be looking at this in terms of his own head, if he won’t look at it in terms of deviating from his 5 yr ‘plan’. Another lottery or near lottery finish and he’s out on his keester. Many here may spend a lot of time on underlying values and nuances of NHL teams, but the average fan looks at wins and losses, expects Eberle to increase his points total, sees Yak as a guaranteed Calder finalist, thinks Schultz will step in and be the second coming of Weber, etc, etc. And when these things do not happen (as is reasonable to expect they won’t) and the team finishes badly in the mind of the fanbase, then there will be a call for someone’s head. And the tepid re-signing of ST this year (no announcement, no fanfare or explanation of his achievements) should serve notice that it is his head being fitted for the platter.

    Hey, I agree there is no top-end talent out there on D at a reasonable price, but there is a couple of serviceable UFA guys who would help out a platoon-type D corps. That alone is a move that could be made right now to make the Oilers better. And I suspect there is a second-string goalie which could be pried away from his team by some prospects/draft picks. I actually think the bottom 6 is better off than before, simply by the way they could be deployed and my belief in a bounce-back for Belanger.

    I dunno, if I was in ST’s position, I would be looking out for number one instead of relying of all of the old friends from the eighties having my back.

  16. Ducey says:

    I agree with Cactus. The big free agent fish are not coming here (see Doan, Suter), the mid size free agent fish cost a fortune (see Garrison, Wideman), and the replacement level guys are no better than Sutton/ Potter/ Peckham.

    Plus, we have no idea what the Oilers have tried on the trade front (there have been rumours of them being after JBo at one point, they were after Doan before getting the PFO, and they are supposedly taking with Buffalo, but who knows?).

    It has also been a strange offseason with a lot of free agents still not signed, and trades (Ryan, JBo, Luongo) still not made.

    I think that until the CBA gets sorted out, a lot of teams are content to sit back and wait. There are still a lot of moves to be made, perhaps even by the Oilers.

    Anyway, it would be idiotic to give up a couple of valuable prospects (MPS, Marincin) just for some guy to fill the 3rd or 4th D spot for two seasons. A young goaltender costs a lot and there is no guarantee he will be any better than Bulin. If I was a fan of COL I’d much rather have Filip Forsberg and a 2nd than average goaltending from Valmarlov.

    Patience.

  17. bookje says:

    Are there any good backup options out there for reasonable that are better than Yan Danis?

    If not, then sticking with Khabi in the hopes he can carry 15-18 games this year might be a good plan (with Danis as a fallsafe if NK or DD go down to injury). Its not a formula to win the day, but it might be good enough for this year.

  18. Bar_Qu says:

    bookje,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Antero Nittymaki still a free agent? I know his career numbers aren’t great, but he wouldn’t be a bad back-up option, at least for a year anyway.

  19. VOR says:

    I’m with Ducey on this one. Patience.

    I believe we are seeing real progress and signs of a consistent strategy. There is a reasonable argument to be made that the Oilers stopped where they did because they are adhering to their overall vision. They truly believe they are building a team for the ages. So winning right now isn’t even on their radar regardless of whose job it costs.

    The problem is that the Oilers ultra-conservative strategy, however effective, is torturing their fanbase.

    From a fan standpoint it is easy to see where the holes are. It is much harder to fill those holes in the real world. Especially since it is apparent that the Oilers will not break up the core of the team. We just see the unfilled hole and criticize management without cutting them any slack for degree of difficulty.

    Each year people like Dave Staples and LT create to do lists for Oilers management and so far in the ST regime each year some (though never all) are addressed. The changes don’t lead to more wins and the fans get more crazy. That doesn’t change the fact that there is progress being made. Some day, and probably soon, that progress will start showing up in the win column.

    In the meantime, patience.

  20. Bar_Qu says:

    VOR,

    Do you think ‘patience’ is going to keep Tambo in his job for another year if the team finishes 26-29th in the league? Not bloody likely. Fans don’t buy patience, they pay for winning teams with exciting players. They think they have the winning players and nothing will placate them if the team falls. Especially with columnists in the spring pointing out the holes in the roster which existed this summer.

    Again, if ST wants to keep his job, he should go off the playbook and get a middling UFA D and sign some goalie, Nittymaki being my suggestion if available.

  21. Dipstick says:

    I expect that at the appropriate time, the team will push their payroll to the cap. That will happen when the brass ring is within reach. Right now the priority is developing the core players and not handcuffing themselves with bad contracts. The big blockbuster trades are neither necessary or prudent right now. Why blow out talent that will be needed three years in the future to make the team a borderline playoff prospect. Matching Calgary’s performance should not be a goal this season. Being a cup contender three to five years from now should be.

  22. russ99 says:

    I can get with being patient and assuming that some of the underperformers may play better under Krueger, and the additions of the rookies (pushing vets for jobs) will improve the overall roster.

    But what I can’t get with is bringing Hordichuk back when there are vastly better options on the FA market for a veteran player who could push their way into a third line role.

    Belanger/Horcoff, Hordichuk and Eager will need to be turned over into a decent defensive 3rd line eventually.

  23. gd says:

    I agree with the guys who say remember this is only year three on a five year plan, and am reasonably happy with the offseason. I had expected a top 4 Dman, but with the Schultz signing, the crazy contracts that Carle/Wideman got and the fact teams like Philly, Pitt, Det so desperately need D that the costs have gone way up I am okay with them not as long as they are comfortable that Whitney can play top 4 minutes/role. I thought they could get a guy like Methot for a 2nd rounder, but it took a 24 yr old top 9 power forward with 47pts, which tells me the market for D is crazy.

    I feel the way to build a D, if you don’t have a Weber-like guy is hopefully have 5 top 4 Dmen, plus 3 reasonable 6th men for depth. As long as Whitney is healthy, I think we are there with the Schultzs’, Smid, Petry and Whitney. I also think Potter is being underrated and is solid as 6-7 Dman, and between him, Sutton, Peckham and Teubert we are at worse a little below average on the depth side.

    I like the Kreuger signing as it at least tries to change something and acknowledge that things weren’t completely acceptable from last year. I would have loved to see them try Cooper, but at least Ralph is a more creative choice than Sutter. I feel if he doesn’t work out that some elite coach like Vignault, Tippett, Babcock, Quenville or McClellan will be available sometime in the next two years.

    I think patience for one more year is acceptable as 2013-14 is the “make-it or break-it” year. The fact that teams like the Stars, Flames and Ducks have done some short term gain, long term pain moves might hurt our standings this year, but will be good news for us in a couple of years (Anaheim is on the hook for a 38 yr old Sourey for $3.6Mill). The teams acknowledged to have had the best offseasons are the Wild, Hurricane and Rangers and other than them I think the Oilers have had a top 5 offseason. Personally I think the next five years of Schultz/Yak>the next five years Suter/Parise.

    My hope for this year is solid improvement, figure out if DD is a top 20 starter, let Klefbom develop for one more year in SEL, getting Hall/Eb signed to reasonable long term contracts and eventually find someone effecitve wtih more size/grit for the Forwards.

    I also hope Katz is engaged enough to determine who needs to stay and who should go in upper management.

  24. JorgeR04 says:

    I just had a nightmarish thought….

    What If Dubnyk goes down for an extended amount of time? This team cannot win more then 20% of their games with a Khabi/Danis combination can they?

    Also, someone mentioned EA’s NHL 13 and how its not as easy to make trades in real life. I also know that if you have two failed seasons in a row, your ass as GM is canned. What is Tambo’s record?

  25. TheOtherJohn says:

    Highly respect Jon Willis and all of his prolific work but the table he lists of centres makes the point that he is trying to rebut. Firstly Sam Gagner is not 5’10 or 5’11″ and 195 lbs. He is 5’9″ and 180-185. Worse, he is not physical, at all. Nor is he particularly strong on the puck. If the Oilers played any one of those teams our undersized centers would not shut down their centers and we would get no offense from our third line center . Now some, maybe even Willis, will say that RNH and Gagner are similar in size to Zetterburg, Datsyuk and Peca. That is accurate. Its just the Oiler centers do not play bigger than their size. Do not think that will change.Peca would, in a 7 game hgame series, blow up each of RNH and Gagner at least once each!

    Size matters. That will manifest itself when we play a large team in the playoffs that has good size bodies at cennter. We will lose and everyone will say geez who knew? Most good playoff teams have big bodies in their line up that can play. The Oilers have Sutton and Peckham if we dress them both Any idea what kind of trouble LAK centers would give RNH,Gagner and Horcoff(SH replacement)? Vcr’s centers? Pittsburgh’s?

    Now as to patience: if not now, when? FFS

    Ducey and Danny were advocating patience 2 years ago. Did not agree with them then and it is now 2 bleepin years later and we still are not filling in holes. We are relying on the kids getting better, Yak and J Schultz having real good rookie years, the vets performace not sliding and Dubnyk improving. Oh yeah and Whitney getting noticeably healthier. Possible? Sure. Llikely? No

    Next thing everyone will say is: yeah but look at all the kids in the pipeline. Yup: but (law of averages) only some of them will pan out. Some of them will be slow to develop (Plante, Tuebert) and at the point in time that we will be paying Hall, Eberle, RNH, Yak, Smid, Petry and J Schultz real money. Payroll management will become a HUGE issue. Or does everyone the Chicago experience (thin roster) is not connected to the salary cap. Course n/w/s that we are really really bad at salary cap management now, when it matters we will become really good at it then.

    How does that work in any of your lives?

  26. Moosemess says:

    Is there any possibility that Katz and/or other owners will address the Salary Cap / Keeping the Core Together issue through asset deals on the side (real estate, stock, endorsements, racehorses, lol)? Possibly Chicago ownership was SO compliant with the cap because the profits line their pockets. What if an owner was more disposed to building a dynasty at any cost?

    This is the thing that I find most amusing about the CBA talks is that every few years the league convenes to put the thumbscrews to the players while insisting they need more restrictions to protect them from themselves.

    The key to retaining players in a salary cap system is ensuring A) The team is Cup competitive & B) The players and their wags don’t pine for sunnier climes. I think the money issue can always be satisfied provided those two boxes are ticked for the player.

    For instance, could the league say anything if Taylor Hall signed a playing contract under market value on the heels of signing a rich endorsement contract with the Rexall Group that essentially made up the difference? The J Schultz signing gives me hope that Oil ownership/mgmt are already learning how to swim in the murky waters.

  27. vishcosity says:

    Bar_Qu:

    I dunno, if I was in ST’s position, I would be looking out for number one instead of relying of all of the old friends from the eighties having my back.

    If I were in ST’s position, I would probably do whatever Katz wants. If Katz wants wins when the stadium is built, I would most certainly not be selling future parts for the illusion of being competitive now. Instead, I would probably be trying to get my hands on either Jones or McKinnon. And maybe bribing Getzlaf.

    I suspect ST is not too worried about what fans think when they’re busy forming a line to buy season tickets.

  28. Ducey says:

    Bar_Qu: VOR, Do you think ‘patience’ is going to keep Tambo in his job for another year if the team finishes 26-29th in the league? Not bloody likely. Fans don’t buy patience, they pay for winning teams with exciting players. They think they have the winning players and nothing will placate them if the team falls. Especially with columnists in the spring pointing out the holes in the roster which existed this summer.Again, if ST wants to keep his job, he should go off the playbook and get a middling UFA D and sign some goalie, Nittymaki being my suggestion if available.

    So, to summarize, you would like your GM to worry about his job first, the longterm health of the team second. Further you figure that bringing in a 4/5 defenceman and a goalie who struggled in the AHL last year after having an .896 save % in 2010-11 is going to save his job.

    I’ll have to disagree.

  29. Cactus says:

    Bar_Qu:
    VOR,

    Again, if ST wants to keep his job, he should go off the playbook and get a middling UFA D and sign some goalie, Nittymaki being my suggestion if available.

    While I agree with you that Tambellini’s job is at stake without notable improvement, you’re suggesting that he should something just for the sake of doing something. I have yet to see a good, realistic suggestion for how the Oilers could have improved their defence without an overpay in dollars or assets. But since you were good enough to give an example of a goaltender, let’s look at that:

    Antero Niittymaki, 2011-12: 13GP, 4W, 8L, 3.60 GAA, .877 SV%

    These are not good numbers. Made worse when you think about the fact that they’re AHL numbers, not NHL ones. In contrast, here’s what the Oilers have:

    Yann Danis, 2011-12: 43GP, 26W, 14L, 2OTL, 2.07 GAA, .924 SV%

    This isn’t just a trend last year, but it’s been that way for a few years. Niittymaki hasn’t posted a plus .900 SV% since 2009-10 and even then, it was an unspectacular .909.

    I want to see the Oilers win now and make the playoffs this year. However, I’m not willing to screw up the cap or deal away strong prospects to do so. There’s nothing to stop a deal being made during the season if the team is doing well but is clearly missing only one piece.

  30. Cactus says:

    TheOtherJohn,

    Both Willis and Barnwell have much larger samples than Datsyuk and Peca. Talking about Gagner not playing “big” enough is the worst kind of “saw him good/bad”.

    Here’s the mistake you and others are making. Your mind is doing something like this:

    1. The OIlers are, based on the standings and other statistics, a bad team.
    2. Many people, especially in the popular media say that having big players is important because small players aren’t tough enough/lose too many puck battles. This is said so many times that it becomes accepted wisdom.
    3. Sam Gagner and other small players seem to lose dozens upon dozens of puck battles every year.
    4. Therefore, the Oilers are a bad team because Gagner is too small and can’t win the battles.

    This is a natural, very humarn approach but it hinges on observation bias reinforcing unjustified theory (small players lose battles).

    Think about it: during a season, how many puck battles will the average top 6 forward engage in? I have no idea, so I’m going to assume it’s at least 300 which would work out to about 4 real struggles per game (minus games lost to injuries). If these are anything like faceoffs, then the best players win about 60% of these, while the average is 50-50.

    Assuming these numbers are reasonable, that means that someone like Gagner, even if he’s average, is liable to lose approximately 150 puck battles EVERY YEAR. If you’re already convinced that small players are poor for this, there will be plenty of evidence to confirm this even if the aggregate data says it’s not a factor.

    Until someone does more work on this, we’ve got to go with the data we have and that says that smaller teams aren’t at any noticeable disadvantage. This kind of superstition belongs in ghost stories, not reasonable analysis. Skill wins, not size.

  31. BrazilianOil says:

    Bar_Qu,

    if ST make his decisions based in keep or loose his job, bad for the Oilers. He needs to do the best for the time. We all agree that the team needs some improvment to compet but IMO will be a mistake burn young assets for imediatly help wich make a better team right now but not enough to run to the cup and create weakness when the kids will be ready.

    Do you think is a good idea trade now guys like Magnus, hartikainen etc. For a veterans D and bottom 6 forwards?

  32. Bruce McCurdy says:

    leadfarmer: knowing the management team I am getting ready for 13 year 100 mil.

    You talking about the management team that hasn’t signed a single player for longer than 3 years, above $5 MM a year, or above $10 MM total contract value since Nikolai Khabibulin over three years ago? Or are you talking about that imaginary management team that frequents your nightmares? Because it doesn’t seem to me that you (or we for that matter) really know the management team.

  33. Mr DeBakey says:

    OIlers management is doing a fine job.
    No long-term, pricey contracts.
    Plenty of Top-10 draft picks.
    Canning bad coaches.

    Where are my shades?

  34. TheOtherJohn says:

    Cactuis

    On the teams listed by Willis who is Sam Gagner checking and outscoring? on Vancouver? Pittsburgh? Chicago? Boston? LAK? And if RNH has Kesler or Staal or Richards/Stoll checking him, it makes for a very very tough series for him.. But because we have an undersized group of forwards and especially centers….. size does not matter. I expect, with our current cionfiguration, the first time the Oil face a team in the playoffs with large centers we are shocked how it works out

    I look at Willis’ ON article and think it reinforces that you need size or tenacity to be successful in the playoffs. Or we can keep telling ourselves that Sam Gagner is just like Peca and Datsyuk, just younger

    Bruce

    It is not a stretch to expect an overpay.We have spent over $50 m a year for each of the last 3 years and ended up DFL,DFL and 29th.

  35. PhrankLee says:

    I think he is keeping the 7 M in cap to address the goalie issue later in the fall. After the fall. I know my buddy Mark in Ottawa thinks it’s to buy back Gilbert at twice the price…

  36. Ducey says:

    Mr DeBakey: Where are my shades?

    Pulled down tight?

  37. Bar_Qu says:

    To clarify, I’m not advocating a big overpay for any D or G, merely suggesting a signing of UFAs. Nittymaki seemed the best UFA G, but I didn’t look too hard.

    Also, I’m not suggesting ST sell out the future to save his skin (a skin he seems blessedly happy to lose) but I’m surprised he isn’t a little more proactive to make the team better. Good grief, Rosival is hardly more injury prone than Whitney, and a late August offer wouldn’t have to be more than a year. Rosival is worth more risk than Cam freakin’ Barker, right? I just don’t think the rest of the management have any qualm about kicking him to the curb 3/4 of the way through the season if the team underperforms in the eyes of the fanbase and MSM.

    My thoughts are entirely consistent with my stated belief that ST is over his head, poorly qualified to be a GM and a lousy hockey team manager. Any of the other 29 GMs would have done anything different in the last 3 yrs and gotten better results. I don’t care if its netted the team 3 firsts overall. I want to see my team be competitive and I think they could be this year simply by signing one of the D who are still available for the price of a contract.

  38. commonfan14 says:

    TheOtherJohn: That will manifest itself when we play a large team in the playoffs that has good size bodies at cennter.

    This is true. It totally sucked when we lost to the Sharks in ’06 because “Average” Shawn Horcoff couldn’t do a thing against “Jumbo” Joe Thornton.

  39. TheOtherJohn says:

    CF14

    Our top three centers in the 06 playoff were Horcoff, Peca and Stoll.2 of whom were good sized tough centers and the 3rd was a very very physical player.

    Jumbo Joe Thornton might also be the softest big man in the last 15 years. So how would Gagner do against the centers on LAK? Jumbo Joe? Vancouver? Pittsburgh? in the playoffs where people finish checks

    Our top 3 centers on the glory Oiler teams was Gretzky, Messier and MacT. Again, 2 good sized centers and Gretzky.and lots of size & grit throughout lineup

  40. VOR says:

    Bar-Qu,

    As vishcosity pointed out GMs don’t work for fans. They work for owners. As long as fans buy tickets owners are happy. Additionally, Katz has made it clear that he wants to build Boys on the Bus version 2 and that this doesn’t happen over night.

    We don’t know what the targets are in house but it seems likely it is much more complicated than immediate wins and loses.

    I recommend patience because essentially the Oilers have done a full scale tear down and begun a rebuild. They said themselves it was a five year process of which we are seeing year four about to start.

  41. spoiler says:

    Don’t know how Boston won a Cup with Bergeron, Krejci, Kelly and Campbell down the middle.

  42. Ribs says:

    Just for fun…

    Horcoff, Stoll, Peca combined Height – 17ft 13inches
    Horcoff, Gagner, Nuge combined Height – 17ft 13inches

    Horcoff, Stoll, Peca combined Weight – 603lbs
    Horcoff, Gagner, Nuge combined Weight – 577lbs

    Maybe we can get Nuge beefed up 26lbs to even things out for ya. Then would you be happy? Such a silly discussion.

  43. Lowetide says:

    spoiler:
    Don’t know how Boston won a Cup with Bergeron, Krejci, Kelly and Campbell down the middle.

    They didn’t. The NHL had to take the Stanley away, because their centermen were too short. Quite sad, actually.

  44. Cactus says:

    TheOtherJohn,

    If you`re arguing that 23 year old Gagner and 18 year old RNH aren`t ready to face the best centres the Western Conference has to offer and come out ahead, I’d completely agree. Unfortunately, there’s little to be done about that except give it some time and allow them to develop and grow. Gagner with good linemates (Penner, Hemsky, Hall) comes out ahead of tough opposition.

    If you’re arguing that RNH and Gagner can’t beat these players because they’re too small, then I’d like to see some evidence beyond your personal observations. I’ve shown you my hand and it says that I’m winning this argument.

    In either event, I don’t really see how there’s a simple fix. If there’s a skill gap, I don’t know what you’d have to give up to get a #2 centre better and bigger than Gagner, but I guarantee it wouldn’t be cheap.

    Bar_Qu,

    Vor’s basically said it: I don’t know how other GMs would improve on an explicit tear-down rebuild. You may not like intentional suckage, but if that’s what the owner wants, that’s what you get. If that’s too much for you, stop watching until the Oilers are good – as a fan, you have no other recourse.

  45. Bar_Qu says:

    Cactus,

    VOR,

    Yeah, sure, I’m not patient. I have a son entering grade one who was born the night Edmonton beat SJ in game 4. That summer the rebuild began and I haven’t seen winning hockey since. By my count that makes this year 6. But I keep watching and purchasing merchandise (or have it purchased for me) – it is my lot as a fan. Thank goodness I haven’t been shelling out tens of thousands for the privilege of watching it live; my heart goes out to those poor(er) fans.

    Apologists for the management team that ‘built’ those fantastic teams urge me to be patient with them as they craft another losing season, even though it isn’t necessary. Oooh-kay. I can’t change the (losing) past, I accept with rejoicing the bounty of good young players currently with the team and in the AHL/juniors, I just wish there was some understanding that there is no reason to not make a push this year.

    I’m not suggesting the team has to sell out the future to make the playoffs, but there are some incremental changes which can be made – the UFA D being the first step. And as there are already too many players for the roster, a trade of the present for the future couldn’t hurt either (I’m looking at you, Mr. Peckman).

  46. Lowetide says:

    My son was in grade 6 in 2006. He graduated in June.

  47. Cactus says:

    Bar_Qu,

    I’m not in favour of another losing season either. I want playoffs and wins now. However, as I and others have said, we’re not willing to trade a prime asset for a #4 (at best) d-man) or a bad contract that might screw up cap management.

    I suppose my problem with your position is this: I don’t see an easy way to acquire the two things that will make this team better: a top 2 defenceman and a better goaltender. There’s probably more hope for a goalie but from what I’ve looked at, the options are either too expensive (Bernier) or not really an improvement over even Yann Danis (Niittymaki). As for a defenceman, maybe they’ll make an offer to a Roszival or a Hannan, (assuming both are healthy) but that requires that: they’d be willing to come to Edmonton. Even then, do you honestly believe that either is the difference between playoffs and not?

    When we move beyond the understandable anger and frustration that we’re all feeling, all that’s left is to approach these matters rationally. It’s rational to want improvement. It’s irrational to want it at any cost and it’s also irrational to expect GMs to conjure up quality players out of nothing.

  48. Bar_Qu says:

    Cactus,

    I agree there is no way to reasonably acquire a top 2 D, but I believe the Oilers can have a pretty strong D corps with a bunch of 4s and 5s. That’s what I think Rosival is and how he can improve the D.

  49. TheOtherJohn says:

    I have no difficulty with Nuge’s size. I fully expect Nuge will grow another inch and physically will be similar to Gretzky: tall and slender. Worked out very very well for him. Of course behind him the Oilers had the 6’2″ 210 lb Messier and 6′ 200 lb MacT in the 3rd slot ……… 25 years later we actually have smaller centers on our roster. .Fortunately today’s player is the same freakin size as they were 25 years ago.

    Its going to be fun to watch the next Oiler playoff run in two or three or four years to to see how the “size does not matter ” theory works out.

    A players height has got nothing to do with the argument. Nothing. You either need good size or you need to be physical. B Trottier was 5′ 10″ and his height was never an issue. Nor do I think he would have any difficulty checking whichever of LAK centers you wanted him to play against today. Terry Ruskowski was not a tall player but played plenty physical. Peca and Datsyuk are not heavy but they play very very hard on the puck. No difficulty playing big centers. Boston …..height of their centers??? Brad Marchand is short but is he is a very physical player. He would relish playing the Kings big centers, Kesler, whoever and would also have a large team behind him. The Bruins were typically doing the running, they were not being run.

  50. David S says:

    The veteran defender
    The strong backup
    The 2-way winger

    THESE were LT’s three things that Tambellini has’t addressed. Nowhere do I see “top pairing D” or “Gonna Be Jonathan Quick In Two Years”. I maintain that reasonable moves are all that’s needed to get into playoff CONTENTION. Hell, at this point it’s all you can expect. And I’m OK with that. To me it’s vitally important we get our young core exposed to playoff hockey asap. You guys seem to forget that the Boys On The Bus group needed to be butt kicked in the first round to truly understand what it took to win.

    Nobody here can tell me there’s aren’t any reasonable upgrades out there for the likes of Eager, Hordichuk, and Belanger. Upgrading those three guys alone would have been a significant summer for us. Other teams seem to be able to make reasonable moves. If we’re not tanking developing again this year, then what’s the excuse this time?

  51. DSF says:

    TheOtherJohn:
    I have no difficulty with Nuge’s size. I fully expect Nuge will grow another inch and physically will be similar to Gretzky: tall and slender. Worked out very very well for him. Of course behind him the Oilers had the 6’2″ 210 lb Messier and 6′ 200 lb MacT in the 3rd slot ……… 25 years later we actually have smaller centers on our roster. .Fortunately today’s player is the same freakin size as they were 25 years ago.

    Its going to be fun to watch the next Oiler playoff runin two or three or four years to to see how the“size does not matter ” theory works out.

    A players height has got nothing to do with the argument. Nothing. You either need good size or you need to bephysical. B Trottier was 5′ 10″ and his height was never an issue. Nor do I think he would have any difficulty checking whichever of LAK centers you wanted him to play against today. TerryRuskowski was not a tall player but played plenty physical.Peca and Datsyuk are not heavy but they play very very hard on the puck. No difficulty playing big centers. Boston …..height of their centers??? Brad Marchand is short but is he is a very physical player. He would relish playing the Kings big centers, Kesler, whoever and would also have a large team behind him.The Bruins weretypically doing the running, they were not being run.

    Exactly.

    You’re either the hammer or the nail.

    The Oilers have the nail nailed.

  52. Bruce McCurdy says:

    TheOtherJohn,

    TheOtherJohn: Bruce
    It is not a stretch to expect an overpay.We have spent over $50 m a year for each of the last 3 years and ended up DFL,DFL and 29th.

    In the immortal words of Tonto, “Waddya mean ‘we’, white man?”

    I dunno about you, but I haven’t spent a dime. :D

  53. leadfarmer says:

    Bruce McCurdy,

    No I am talking about the management team that created this entire mess that the team is in, and the only ones to pay for it is the coaches during that time. This is not one or two mistakes they made. I”ll start with:
    1. Horcoff contract especially after major surgery.
    2. Khabbi contract.
    3. Souray fiasco
    4. Trading Cole for POS
    5. Building a team of redundancy of Nielson, Cogs, Gagner, POS while other teams were getting bigger.
    6. Smyth trade

    They haven’t been signing anyone for more than 2 years for cap flexibility, but that will change soon.

  54. Dominoiler says:

    In regards to Gagner and ‘size at centre’, I think people intentionally leave out crosby as a comp because he is such a freak (great skill and very solid physically, for size).. arnt they the same height (and only 5lbs diff, as of last year – nhl.com).. if gagner can continue to develop physically, including his skating, (He’s only 22, as LT would say) then why cant he improve in this aspect of his game w the addition of some old man muscle.. he may not develop as quick as crosby, but who here is to say that he cant continue to work his tail off along a similar development path?!..

    But, if he never gets close to 50% on faceoffs then he will remain a liability in that respect..
    (Gagner finished with a 47.6 FO%, up from 43.8, and 47.4 before that.. not sure if 47.5% cuts it)

  55. FastOil says:

    Size isn’t the issue. Skating is. Yes it’s better to have bigger players if they are as good, but they are rare and expensive.

    Most of the Oilers who struggle and have some talent have skating issues IMO. Knighttown has at times mentioned specifics with Cogliano and Pajaarvi – blazing fast with mediocre edges. I’m not a skating expert but it makes sense to me. In today’s game it is hard to be effective and have skating deficiencies.

    Gagner to me seems to have acceleration and/or edge issues. Though not blazing “fast” Smyth, Eberle and RNH are fluid skaters who change direction easily and quickly, so they are effective – Eberle’s “changing angles” LT often mentions. They can beat people in close or on the boards, even stay on their feet!

    Gagner not so much. If I was him I’d lay off the weights and live at Serdachny’s house in the summer. Strength and size aren’t the issues for him as I see it. Let’s not forget the math already likes Gagner and he’s still young, especially for a centre to be good not named Toews or Crosby. Could be worse.

    RH D is a bigger problem this year, the biggest to me. The team has no proven RH player there, although I think Petry will be good. N Schultz can play it but I think there is a trade off defensively as Krueger mentioned about the forwards.

    Someone in the playoffs (can’t remember sorry) mentioned beating a favoured team and the key being all LH D playing on the right, they just kept dumping it there and forechecking hard. Potter needs to have a very good year.

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