Oilers Still Don’t Seem to Get ‘It’
A full 18 months ago I wrote a piece about Edmonton. More specifically it was a piece about how top picks are all well and good, but without the appropriate direction and support within the franchise they might as well be for nothing.
Since then we’ve seen pretty much nothing change.
Ok – there might be a little bit of hyperbole at play there. The Oilers (finally) fired Steve Tambellini as General Manager, hired a new Head Coach and installed a Stanley Cup winner as Captain.
On the other side of that coin however is a General Manager promoted from within an already failing organisation, another missed post season and ongoing issues in their own end.
Craig MacTavish took up the mantle of GM with bold statements about making bold moves. If ditching Shawn Horcoff is his idea of a bold move, well, I think I’ll just let you make your own jokes…
It’s hard not to reiterate the point that MacTavish was already employed by the Oilers. The same Oilers that have missed seven(!!!) straight post seasons. How promoting from within was supposed to fix things I am not sure.
Hiring Dallas Eakins, one of the most celebrated minor league Coaches, was something of a ‘bold move’ I suppose. Eakins helped turn the Toronto Marlies around, despite taking some heat early in his tenure, but he is a ‘rookie’ in the NHL.
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Eakins though. Whilst he’s been given some great offensive tools, the same issues remain.
Whilst some question marks linger about the clubs depth at center, where they were left horribly exposed by injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner early on, the defence and goaltending remain the most glaring and egregious issues for the franchise to deal with.
They are tied for 2nd in goals scored in the West, but are rock bottom of the NHL in goals against. It doesn’t look like getting much better either.
I like Justin Schultz; I think he’ll pan out to be a good offensive D man. Equally I like Andrew Ference and Nick Schultz, and even Ladislav Smid. But honestly that feels like a young D man still learning his craft and three top 6 D men making up the teams top 4…
To top their defensive woes off, their goaltending has been flat out bad thus far. I’ve never been fully sold on Devan Dubnyk and Jason LaBarbera is a solid backup, but the Oilers need someone to be the guy right now.
Shaky goaltending and a defence doing its best impression of swiss cheese are a recipe for disaster. The worst part is – these aren’t new problems. It’s been this way for a while now and year in, year out Edmonton don’t seem to address it.
There’s now talk of trading Nail Yakupov (plus other components) to Buffalo for Thomas Vanek or Ryan Miller. Which is great until you factor in that neither play D, Miller has Edmonton as one of the 8 teams he doesn’t want to go to and both are UFAs in the summer so could just walk away anyway…
The likes of Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins may have been content to sign long term in Alberta for now; but if things carry on as they are, how long before they’re asking for a way out of this dumpster fire?
Because right now, that’s what this franchise is.