I went into today hoping the Oilers would acquire Mark Streit, Ben Bishop, a 4line C for depth and if they had to add a physical winger let it be Glencross or Torres or someone like that (who could take/make a pass and add to the skill set).
The club acquired Jerred Smithson for a 4th rd pick to address center depth, and apparently tried to get Bishop out of Ottawa with Ryan Jones and a pick (rumored). I also know they wanted a physical winger, but was pleased they didn’t offer the winning bid on Raffi Torres (it would have taken a 2nd rd pick to get him).
Those are the positives.
The negatives? They didn’t unload any of the veteran UFA’s (Khabibulin, Jones, Whitney, Fistric) and still have 8 defensemen. I also worry they may be thinking of signing some of those UFA’s this summer. Finally, they didn’t make room for Hartikainen and I believe he’s earned the stretch run. Oh well, injuries will take care of it.
The major negative? The Oilers players and the fans deserve a better defense, a stronger 6-man unit who can stay away from 40-second shifts of carnage. If you look very hard you can actually see the problem:
Steve Tambellini’s press conference (I caught it in the car) runs at exact cross purposes with this graph. If we ever wanted to know if the Edmonton Oilers are in lock step with advanced stats, shame on us for not knowing now.
Smithson took a hammering in the comments section of my blog today, although I think it’s meant for Steve Tambellini. Smithson isn’t Jim Dowd, or Boyd Gordon, or any number of effective 4line centermen who roam the earth at any given time. Still, he’s a veteran who will allow Ryan Smyth to move over to his natural position and the Oilers to choose between Mike Brown and Lennart Petrell on the other wing. He cost a 4th rd pick, but that’s not exactly high cotton and I’d rather pay high for an expiring contract. Maybe Lander’s ready next fall, or maybe the Oilers will find a solution through free agency, but Smithson is a stop gap and that’s reflected in the price. Faceoffs, penalty kill, hell he’ll even make people happy because he has a large number of hits.
His CorsiRel is second last among Florida forwards, he has the toughest zone start and he’s delivering about as much 5×5/60 as Ryan Smyth this season. He’s good on faceoffs.
If you’re asking me to get angry at the Edmonton Oilers tonight, I’ll gladly do it. However, I’m going to start and end with the decision to keep Whitney and failure to launch on acquiring an upgrade to replace him. I began my post this morning “I’ve written more words about the blue than anything else on this blog, and when it comes to the Oilers the river leads to an ocean” and begin this evening wondering if there’s anything bigger than an ocean.
THE REAL PROBLEM
The real problem might be this: today’s events imply Steve Tambellini has the age old Oiler problem of not being able to part with his own additions. If Steve Tambellini can’t flush Nikolai Khabibulin and Ryan Whitney, we’re as doomed as doomed can be.
Oilers have to win tonight. They’re the better club and they could wake up tomorrow morning in a playoff spot. After these long months of bad nights, tonight could be a very good one for the Oilers and the fans.