Well, here it is everybody; Decision day 2010. Today is when we the faithful followers of the Oiler cult get to see what our future begins to look like. It is the monday after the draft and the sweet smell of hope has already been soured by the turgid stank of reality. At 5PM EST tonight, the team must make a decision about qualifying offers to a host of RFA players, while the countdown to deal with the dead weight hanging around Tambo's neck is reaching a critical point. As I write this, it is barely more than 2 hours away from qualification time and not a thing has come from Oiler land. Daryl Sutter has made a decision today by placing Ales (3 million Dollar Man) Kotalik on waivers. Jim Vandermeer, a steady, veteran D-Man is also on waivers. The $2.3 Million cap hit is an overpay for him, but he's worth looking into if he comes back on re-entry and is certainly better than Jason (future coach of the Edmonton Oilers) Strudwick, particularly with just a year left on his deal. Hell, even last year's ditherer, Dale Tallon, has been active in cutting some more Panther related bad contracts. As usual though, all is quiet on the western front. Mr. Dithers appears to be dithering again. Are we surprised? Maybe...On the other hand, meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Tambo 3.0 has done some very surprising and impressive things in the last few months on the job, most notably acquiring a legitimate 4C option for the Oilers and their wretched PK, axed the onion toting coach in favour of a man whose two best attributes are teaching kids systems play and making sulky Czech wingers perform to the best of their abilities, and drafted Taylor Hall, which may or may not turn out to be the wise choice long term but sure looks good right now. Oh, and that whole killing of the training staff and culling the minor league caching team from the team was at least a signal that perhaps he actually has the ability to make a decision. Yet still nothing.
The list of players that need QOs is long and feature the former future faces of the franchise, Sam(wise) Gagner, and Andrew (tradebait) Cogliano, not to mention former first round picks Marc Pouliot and Gilbert Brule, Mr. versatility Ryan Potulny, Theo (Wreck 'em) Peckham and some other players that this team may or may not need down the road, like their two young goalies. These are not players that we want to let walk away for nothing, particularly Gagner and Cogliano, though if somebody threw an offer sheet in his direction, I would definitely take the 1st and 3rd it would give the team back in return. By the way, still nothing...
Suddenly I get the feeling that Tambo 2.0 is back, or perhaps he never really left. The dithering seems to be on pace for the usual lack of action. The talk all off-season has been about getting tougher, about change, renewal and optimism, yet the indecision on such an important day leads me to believe that the more things change, the more they actually stay the same. The desire for strength, toughness and character has to come from the top as well as from within as a fluid, organic process. Leadership is a funny thing, particularly when the supposed leaders are characterized by their inability to make the tough choices. Why is Ethan Moreau still around? Why hasn't one or two of the dead weight contracts been placed on waivers or simply bought out? Why is it that with less than two hours from a deadline that cost Dale Tallon his job in Chicago last year over a major RFA snafu, it looks like the Oilers are headed towards a similar fate?
D is for decision, it is also for Dithers...it is also for Dumb...
UPDATE: Qualifying offers came in, about 20 minutes before the deadline. Currently the Oilers have 38 contracts signed or waiting to be signed by RFA players. Another curious move is the decision to merely qualify Gagner, opening him up to the possibility of an offer sheet come July 1st.
- The Oilers keep the first overall pick.
- IF the Oilers trade up to the top 15 picks and take Dylan McIrath or Brett Connolly, it is the beginning of the end. Kinda of like sleeping with your mother, and the Oilers have been incestuous with Niinimaki and Pouliot in the last decade. They should be looking for picks such as Gromley or Gudbranson if they get on of those early picks that TSN says could be traded. Or Camplell, Neiderreiter, or Granlund if they fall out of the top ten, and the Oilers get the number 15 overall pick.
- I would consider trading Penner(if we choose Hall) / Gagner (if we pick Segiun), Cogliano, Nash, Lander, plus any number of pieces of crap for real NHL players or first round draft picks. Those top ten picks that could be had will cost real talent to aquire, and I would love a real top pairing NHL defensemen coming to Edmonton. I would not trade Hemsky unless the deal was unreal, and one sided to the Oilers.
- The Oilers need to keep the 31st overall pick. This will be a first rounder that falls out of top thirty who will get a smaller entry-level deal. This hopefully will be a good pick that needs to help the Oilers in the next 4 to 5 years.
- I am still hoping the Oilers' move up from 48th instead of moving up in the first round. it will cost less, and there should be a few good players in the beginning of the second round. I am thinking another 4th should get this done, but I might trade a 3rd if Nemeth is still there. I doubt this will get done tonight, but maybe
1-TAYLOR HALL (Winger)
31- CALVIN PICKARD (Goalie)
48- JORDAN WEAL (Centre: 5'9" and 162 lbs.!)
61- MAX GARDINER (Left Wing)
73 (?)- MATT MACKENZIE (Defense)
"No. From now on, where oracles are concerned, I would not waste a second thought on any." (Oedipus Rex, 43)
Pittsburgh Penguins 2002-2006
2002- 1st (D*), 2nd (D), 3rd (C), 4th (D), 5th (LW, C, G), 6th (G), 7th (F), 8th (C*, D), 9 (G)
2003- 1st (G*), 2nd (C), 3rd (RW, LW*), 4th (D), 5th (LW), 6th (D), 7th (G, C), 8th (C), 9th (LW)
2004- 1st (F*), 2nd (F, D), 3rd (RW, C), 4th (C), 5th (D), 6th (RW), 7th (D, C), 8th (G), 9th (C)
2005- 1st (C*), 2nd (F), 3rd (D*), 4th (D), 5th (RW), 6th (D), 7th (C)
2006- 1st (C*), 2nd (D), 3rd (D), 5th (G), 7th (D)
'Players of Quality': Staal, Crosby, Letang, Malkin, Fleury, Carcillo, Whitney, Talbot
Notes: They managed to pick a player of quality in each of their 1st rounds, and between 2002-2004 they had at least one pick in each round and then continued to stock pile other picks. Other then their 1st round picks they added another three ‘Players of Quality’ outside the marquee round. Out of their 45 picks during the rebuild: 32% were Defensemen, 53% were Forwards, 28% were Centremen, and 15% were goaltenders. In total 17% of all picks became ‘Players of Quality’ and they averaged 9 picks per draft during their rebuild.
2002- 1st (D), 2nd (D*), 3rd (LW), 4th (RW), 5th (D), 6th (D), 7th (G), 8th (RW), 9th (RW*)
2003- 1st (D*), 2nd (G, D), 5th (D, C), 6th (C), 7th (G), 8th (D/F*), 9th (D, C)
2004- 1st (D*), 2nd (F*, LW, C, C), 3rd (LW), 4th (D, LW) 5th (RW, C), 6th (LW), 7th (F, RW, C), 8th (C, RW), 9th (RW)
2005- 1st (RW), 2nd (RW, RW), 3rd (F), 4th (D, F, RW), 5th (D), 6th (G, D), 7th (RW, C)
2006- 1st (F*), 2nd (RW, D), 3rd (C), 4th (D, G), 6th (C, C),7th (C)
2007- 1st (C*), 3rd (D), 5th (D), 6th (D, RW, D), 7th (D)
'Players of Quality': Kane, Toews, Bolland, Barker, Seabrook, Byfuglien, Keith, Burish
Notes: Between 2002 and 2004, The BlackHawks accumulated a large number of picks (averaged out more then one each round) and in each year they pick at least two ‘Players of Quality’. In four of their six, 1st round picks they choose ‘Players of Quality’, and added another 4 ‘Players of Quality’ outside the first round. Out of their 64 picks 33% were Defensemen, 61% were Forwards, 20% were Centres, and 6% were goalies. In total roughly 13% of their picks ended up as ‘Players of Quality’, and they averaged roughly 11 picks per year during their rebuild.
Washington Captials 2002- 2006
2002- 1st (D, LW*, RW*), 2nd (G), 3rd (D, C), 4th (LW, C), 5th (G), 6th (F), 7th (F), 8th (F), 9th (F)
2003- 1st (RW*), 3rd (RW), 4th (LW), 5th (C), 8th (C), 9th (RW)
2004- 1st (LW*, D, D*), 2nd (C, F), 3rd (D, D), 5th (D, F), 6th (F), 7th (RW), 8th (G), 9th (C)
2005- 1st (D, D), 4th (D, D), 5th (G), 6th (LW), 7th (D)
2006- 1st (C*, G*), 2nd (G, RW, D), 4th (LW, F), 5th (LW), 6th (C, C)
Total 49(13 D, 30 F, 9C, 6G)
'Players of Quality': Backstrom, Varlamov, Ovechkin, Green, Fehr, Semin, Gordon
Notes: In four of their five rebuilding years, the Caps added a ‘Player of Quality’ in the first round of the draft (and amazingly they added multiple ones in three of the five): but they did not draft one ‘Player of Quality’ outside the first round in their entire rebuild. During this period they had a total of 49 picks: 27% were Defensemen, 61% were forwards, 18% were Centres, and 12% where goaltenders. In total about 14% of these picks were ‘Players of Quality’ and they averaged close to 10 picks per year of the rebuild.
Edmonton Oilers 2007 - Present
2007- 1st (F*, D, C), 4th (F), 5th (C), 6th (F)
2008- 1st (C), 4th (D), 5th (LW), 6th (C), 7th (D)
2009- 1st (LW), 2nd (C), 3rd (D, RW), 4th (D, RW), 5th (G)
2010- 1st (?), 2nd (?, ?), 3rd (?), 4th (?), 5th (?), 6th (?, ?, ?), 7th (?)
Notes: It is quite difficult to assess if most, or if any, of the Oilers’ picks will become ‘Players of Quality’. The only one we know of is Sam Gagner, and there is a bunch of potential in there (Eberle and MPS need to become this type of player for the Oilers). Of their 18 players draft so far; 28% have been defensemen, 67% have been forwards, 28% have been a pure centre, and 6% have been a goalie. Interestingly the Oilers have only averaged 6 picks per year during this part of the rebuild.
Percentage of the Number of Players taken by Position
- In the beginning of each of the three examples of a team in a successful rebuild, have stock piled picks in their first couple of years, and they drafted a lot of players with these. The Oilers did not do this: the lack of 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2007 and 2008 is a shocking difference between the Oilers and the other three teams drafting strategies. It is near the end of the draft that teams stop going with the shotgun approach and focus their sniper rifle on specific players: I guess once you got a full stable of prospects it is easier to trade up at the draft. The Oilers have seem to do this in reverse order, to fill out the key race horses first (but they might not have done this) and then add a bunch of fillies and colts and hoping one is a surprise thoroughbred.
- Goalies. Both Pittsburgh and Washington drafted their goalies of the future in the frist round (Fleury and Varlamov), while Chicago did not draft a goalie of quality during the rebuild. Reflecting this is that Chicago used about 50% less draft picks on goalies then the other two teams. Edmonton is tracking closely to the Chicago model, so don't expect us to draft the goalie that will be our future starter this year either (unless we get him in the late round of one of these drafts).
- While people tend to point to Duncan Keith as an example of a not first round pick that is instrumental to the rebuild process, most 'players of quality' were drafted in the first round. Of the 23 'players of quality' identified, 16 of them were drafted in the first round and only 7 in the later rounds. Chicago had an even split of 4 in the first round and 4 in the later rounds; Pittsburgh had 5 in the first round and 3 in the other rounds; while Washington pick all 7 of their 'players of quality' in the first round and none in the later rounds. While the Oilers are going to need to pick up a couple 'players of quality' in the later rounds, it puts even more pressure on the need for our first round picks to develop (especially Plante or Nash).
- I can't take watching this team continue to suck! Seriously, all you in E-ville have a support structure with your friends to cheer for another lottery pick, while the rest of the diaspora have to put up with the mocking that comes with loving the worst team in the league. Our co-workers and friends have 82 time a year to mock us (well maybe 60 times since the Oilers will win a few games).
- I had to live through the early nineties, with my little brother cheering for Mario and the Penguins, and I can not take another year out of the playoffs. I do not want to watch the Oilers finish last or finish 9th in the West. We can not continue this lack of the playoffs any longer, it is embarrassing! Finishing last would be even more embarrassing to me at least. Now on to some hockey reasons:
- We need to get some of the young'ens some playoff experience! Gagner, Smid, Cogliano (if he is here next year), Gilbert, and Brule have never played an NHL playoff game. While I agree that this core is still a couple years away from completing in the playoffs, it would be a good idea to allow these players a taste of what is expected of them in advance.
- Making the playoffs would be beneficial to convince players to sign or re-sign here. Over and over, the mantra has been that good players (and possibly elite players) will only sign here if we are winning. I think that means more then one year in a row. So making the playoffs after being the worst team in the league seems like a good place to start. Plus players such as Penner and Hemsky will be more likely to resign if they do not think the team is an absolute cluster fuck. Making the Playoffs while rebuilding (and developing the players we already have) makes us more likely to resign and sign veterans when the core comes into its own.
- The new guys (aka MPS, Eberle, and the 1st overall pick). While I do not think these players should be on the Oilers next year (but in the AHL or OHL, plus a cup of coffee in the show), I have a feeling that all of them will see significant time with the big club. I do not think bring these players up in a losing atmosphere is good idea. What ever team these young'ens are on should have a chase of making the playoffs (if that is the AHL team or the NHL team). Not playing on a crappy team is beneficial to there development, and those that argue differently are false prophets!