The Oilers are going to market with another long shopping list and some nice bags of gold that should bring a handsome return. One of the worries for fans is new GM Craig MacTavish’s lack of experience dealing with pirates one on one. NHL General Managers are a salty lot, used to pushing and swindling and the kind of behaviour that can get you arrested unless you’re in a private club of 30 and everyone agrees to the rules.
Case in point: Glen Sather and the NY Rangers. Slats showed this week that he can find a way to get his own way, as Alain Vigneault turned down Dallas at the last minute to take a job in Manhattan (which is probably a huge calling card for the Rangers). MacT held his own too last week, acquiring the best young star in the coaching ranks in Dallas Eakins. Most Oiler fans believe MacT can do the job, but they’ll feel a lot better after the first shipment arrives on time and intact.
The first time Kevin Lowe made a trade, he went to New York–the Island and Mike Milbury. Lowe sent Roman Hamrlik over for Eric Brewer, Josh Green and the pick that turned into Brad Winchester (this was the 2000 entry draft). Now, 13 years later, Craig MacTavish will go to market in search of a quality defenseman who is mobile, can make decisions and plays the left side.
His old coach and GM Glen Sather has Michael Del Zotto, a 22-year old defender who has all kinds of ability but took a small step backwards this past season. Should Del Zotto come available, he might be a perfect fit for the Oilers. Del Zotto would be an ideal add to that young group of blue that includes Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom and others.
Here’s the question: what if the price includes Sam Gagner, as suggested by this article? What if Slats asks after Smid and Paajarvi (obviously a bigger deal)? Del Zotto struggled down the stretch this past season and had off-season surgery–does that impact the decision?
It’s a tough decision to make. For me, I wouldn’t deal Gagner or Paajarvi or any of the young cluster, hoping instead for a deal that could be made for the 7th pick and prospects and or role players. Dreaming? Probably. However, I’d rather go a full season without filling the hole than pull the chute too soon on Gagner or Paajarvi. The Oilers and their fans have invested all the time and endured the growing pains, best to stay for the feature presentation.
New coach Dallas Eakins is going to need some help with things behind the bench this winter in Edmonton. A lot of folks have been suggesting Eakins needs to clean house, but for me the main issue is this: having someone to help with the in-game decision making. Line changes, matchups, identifying which lines or specific players are humming any given night. Eakins is a smart guy but Mike Babcock is a smart guy with experience and that makes a difference.
Derek King is apparently the right hand man for the new coach, so bring him in along with Mark Lamb or Paul Maurice. After that, I don’t really care if they keep Steve Smith and Kelly Buchberger–it doesn’t sound like they had much to do with in game management anyway.
I think MacT gets all that stuff, and suspect we’re going to see a veteran coach helping out behind the bench.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Today at 10am on Team 1260 we hit the air. Scheduled to appear:
- Tyler Dellow from mc79 hockey. We’ll talk about offense from offensive zone faceoffs, getting an experienced coach to help Dallas Eakins, and MacT in the boardroom.
- Sean Beissel from Donnan Hockey School. We’ll discuss training elite young athletes and the recent decision to ban checking for PeeWee level hockey.
- Travis Yost from HockeyBuzz. We’ll talk Phoenix moving, Senators award winners and the best coach in hockey.
- Michael Spiedel from Hockey Symposium. We’ll talk draft strategy, rfa offer sheets and map out MacT’s best options.
These are terrific guests, I hope you’ll send your questions and comments to 10-1260 or on twitter to @Lowetide_. The best questions are always yours.