The process that will turn a collection of gifted kids, failed prospects, journeymen and tired old men into a winner begins today. MacT would like to take a bulldozer to the rear end of this roster but you can’t fire everyone–someone has to run the cash register and someone has to clean up in aisle three.
MACT TO DO LIST
- Sign Sam Gagner to a multi-year deal that has begins with a number in the 4′s.
- Get Paajarvi signed and then find a role that suits him (suspect it’s 3line).
- Deal Hemsky for immediate help (even if its a checker).
- Deal Horcoff or slot him into the 3line job for which he is actually ideal.
- Find a 2line L who can complement Gagner-Yakupov with puck retrieval, blocking out the sun, etc
- Find a 3line C and L to play with Paajarvi
- Find a 4line C to play with Smyth/Brown
- Decide on Lander/Belanger or other for 13F (and 14F if they go with 7D).
- Top 4 defender (a genuinely effective one, no ‘almosts or sortas’)
- Better blue depth (MacT has done this with Belov, plus Klefbom/Fedun/Marincin)
- Backup goalie
- AHL #1/NHL #3 goalie
- Sign Paul Ranger
The one thing I truly believe is that Craig MacTavish will make better bets than Steve Tambellini. Why? Well, part of it has to do with his ability to sell the ‘Alberta advantage’ or whatever they’re calling it this week. A recent example is Anton Belov, a player coveted by several other teams (including Pittsburgh) and I do think we can give at least some credit to MacT for the Harvey the Hound news item yesterday.
The other part of it is this: I’m absolutely certain Craig MacTavish will aim higher. Good lord–and not to be cruel–but when you go to market in search of a legit NHL defenseman and return with a guy your divisional rival recently bought out well that’s not good, sir.
Let’s look at one of the positions of need–2line LW. The Oilers have (I believe) a possible option (Magnus Paajarvi) who may not bring enough lumber, and he was part of a very wobbly group last season in what can only be described as bizarro trio (Gagner-Paajarvi/Yakupov-Hemsky). If the Oilers go to market, how high can they fly?
If I’m looking for a complement to Gagner-Yakupov, I’d like a LW (you may want a center) who can work with those two and bring good possession numbers, have good to very good speed and be excellent at puck retrieval, standing in front of the net and being strong everywhere. It would be nice if he could win a faceoff but it isn’t a deal breaker.
Here’s my list of possibles from best to last:
- James Neal–Outstanding, probably out of range (asset cost)
- Dustin Penner–Possession stats are always good, he plays well with Gagner
- TJ Oshie–Buy low, he had an off-season but has been solid in the past
- Clarke MacArthur–A solid talent, UFA this summer
- Viktor Stalberg–An inexpensive option, effective against soft parade
- Matt Moulson–Foot speed the main concern
- Dainus Zubrus–Age is the major factor here
Your mileage may vary, and as mentioned maybe it’s a center coming in. The point is that when Edmonton had a challenge of the same importance in 2011 summer–a legit top 4D–they chose Cam Barker. That’s a poor bet leaving the station. I’m not an expert, but for me something happened to the Edmonton Oilers on the day Chris Pronger left town. They lost their way, they became an ‘aim low’ team, a team that either could not identify or could not convince quality players to join them.
All these number ones will help, but at some point an organization needs a man who’ll look the recruit in the eyes and sell him the vision. I sincerely believe that’s what we’re going to see this week. Finally, a vision. A plan. Not every bet will turn out, but every bet will have a chance.
As a draft nerd, I do have an appreciation for how boring some people find the NHL draft. My family tells me all the time, usually when I’m repeating the Jesse Niinimaki story to them (“yes Dad, we know, you went on the internet and couldn’t find anything on him and the men on tsn were speechless” and roll eyes) but there are some incredible things around the draft each season.
The 2010 entry draft had a possible bomb go off last night, as this appeared out of nowhere courtesy Canucks Army and hf boards. This may or may not be the Canucks final draft list, but let’s assume for the sake of argument it’s close to being the final draft for the draft. It LOOKS authentic based on what I’ve been told about teams and their lists: a tremendous amount of clutter, some stunning names up high and down low, and a few picks that border on crazy. Area scouts, saw him good, ‘Lyle, we haven’t taken a kid in Kenny’s territory since 1976 for Christ’s sake’ and ‘why did we bother to get a goalie scout if we’re not going to listen to the guy?’ are all in there.
One thing Oiler fans can take away is another opinion on their draft. Here’s the top end of the Oilers draft, with final number, the Bob Mckenzie number and then the Canucks list:
- Taylor Hall. Drafted #1, Bob McKenzie #1, Canucks #1
- Tyler Pitlick Drafted #31, Bob McKenzie #25, Canucks #47
- Martin Marincin Drafted #46, Bob McKenzie #71, Canucks #51
- Curtis Hamilton Drafted #48, Bob McKenzie #57, Canucks #54
- Ryan Martindale Drafted #61, Bob McKenzie #58, Canucks #65
I don’t know that there’s any great revelation here, but it’s interesting all the same. The one pick that appears destined to come out of the second and third round (Marincin) was not loved by McKenzie but the Oilers and Canucks liked him well enough to have him squarely in round two.
Bob McKenzie’s list is released today, the Oilers have been fairly risk averse over the years (with notable exceptions) in the top 75:
2008 Oilers draft
- Jordan Eberle selected #22 overall, ranked #29
2009 Oilers draft
- Magnus Paajarvi selected #10 overall, ranked #10
- Anton Lander selected #40 overall, ranked HM
- Troy Hesketh selected #71 overall, unranked
2010 Oilers draft
- Taylor Hall selected #1, ranked #1
- Tyler Pitlick selected #31, ranked #25
- Martin Marincin selected #56, ranked #71
- Curtis Hamilton selected #48, ranked 57
- Ryan Martindale selected #61, ranked 58
2011 Oilers draft
- Ryan Nugent Hopkins selected #1, ranked #1
- Oscar Klefbom selected #19, ranked #21
- David Musil selected #31, ranked #41
- Samu Perhonen selected #62, ranked #51
- Travis Ewanyk selected #74, ranked HM
2012 Oilers draft
- Nail Yakupov selected #1, ranked #1
- Mitchell Moroz selected #32, ranked #56
- Jujhar Khaira selected #63, not ranked
I think the Oilers may move down to the teens if there’s enough value there. Just a hunch. They have three picks in the top 60 but then they wait through the third and fourth rounds (a lot of value there) until they pick again.
THE LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
This morning at 10, the Lowdown with Lowetide will be on Team 1260. We’ll talk about the MacT media conference this afternoon, the week ahead and the draft. Scheduled to appear:
- Tyler Dellow from mc79 hockey. We’re going to talk about that LW spot open for the Oilers, what shot blocking can tell us about NHL teams, Harvey the Hound and Patrick Kane’s Conn Smythe.
- Ryan Batty from Copper and Blue. The Hemsky and Gagner rumors, the draft and the WHL, plus we’ll talk about draft coverage.
- Guy Flaming from the Pipeline Show. Final chance to ask the draft guru questions, send them in and I have a few of my own.
- Travis Yost from Hockey Buzz. Travis and I will discuss the Hemsky to Ottawa rumors and the week ahead.
Twitter @Lowetide_ or 10-1260 via text. Looking forward to it!