Here is Lowetides’ wish list (or really the basic things all fans can see that the Oilers need) and I am going to base my grading on it. So, folks are pretty excited about the Oilers’ haul over the last week . . . I’d say they are. Me: not so much. Is this a step in the right direction? Yes, but it is a small step.
Interlocutor: Bloody Hell!! What do you mean? How can the Oily Brass make a forward play, but it is not a long enough ball for you? Fuck’n twit.
Well, the Oilers finally started to get ‘actual’ NHL players, but the problem is that not enough of them are NHL players or they play the wrong position.
Interlocutor: You whine like a babe without his mother’s tit about getting a checking centre that can win draws and once you do you complain. Fuck’n Oilers Fans are worst then those c*nts in East London that support the Blues.
Well, I am not complaining about Éric Bélanger; I think that he is a good pick up, even if the term is one year too long (but alas we were bound to over pay in some way). That is a good deal (might I say great deal if it was completed about two years ago) . . . with Bélanger we get a six-foot centre that can kill penalties and has 53.9% faceoff percent over his career. The thing is that I do not give extra points to Tambo for this signing: he scores a C+ since it is something he needed to do (answering one question right on a tests does not guarantee an A, but just keeps you score going in the right direction). Now if Tambo would have found a bigger centre or one with some more offensive (plus the PK and Faceoff ability) he would have got some extra bonus points, but those players really aren’t available this year.
Interlocutor: What about Arnott? Or are you still mad about the shit that he said during his first tour in E-ville?
Arnott does not have the faceoff ability that the Oil need and Bélanger can provide so he is not really in the same camp, but I would have loved to watch that big frame skate around with Omark and Pääjärvi. But on to the second point: truculence . . .
Interlocutor: Now you got to be chuffed about this. Bob's your uncle: we got two hooligans!!
I like the Ben Eager signing, I really do (especially since it means that the beloved SMac never sets his feet on the ice at Rexall again). Eager is one of these ‘actual’ NHL players we have been looking for: he can skate (hence make a few big hits on the forecheck and he can stand up for his team mates). His contract is one year too long (similar to Bélanger) but it is really not that much at 1.1 Million: hence could be bought out, traded, or hide in the minors if we need to. The other side of the truculence is not so good: Darcy Hordichuk. Well he has the ability to give a good quote—an element sorely lacking since the departures of Pens and Marty Sakic—I just don’t think he is a real NHL player. A good AHL player for sure, and better then I could have ever dreamed of being? Yes, so if he is good in the room and doesn’t play every night he should be fine . . . he is an o.k. 13th man and paid like one at that (under a million on a one year deal).
So Tambo has only scored two out of five. Bélanger is a player that we desperately needed, so he gets a point there. Eager and Hordichuck are an up grade over SMac/Stortini/JFJ, and Tambo earns another point there . . . but not any bonus points since these pick ups are one-dimensional: a defensive-only centre and some fists that can skate. There is nothing over and above the basic answers to these questions.
Interlocutor: But you got to admit that transferring for the Mullet-Man’s rights was cracking!
Yes, Tambo trading for Ryan Smyth was an excellent move, but one that fell into his lap. I am not going to bitch about the fact that we tried to sell the Kings some damaged gods, cause I’d think they would do the same to us (given the chance). Symth is the biggest part of the up grade, imo. He really gives Renney options: he is a player that can play the toughs, can PK, and can help on the PP. Beauty! But again no bonus points: Fraser could have been put in the AHL if everyone beat him out (and would have made that team better) or been a 13th forward . . . it is not really addition by subtraction—but it does clear up one contract space, I guess, so that is some kind of silver lining. If Tambo signed either Smytty or Hemsky to an extension at reasonable dollars (say the former at 2 years at 2 Million a season & the latter to maybe 5 years deal with about a 27 million dollar overall payday), I’d have given him extra points here too.
Interlocutor: Claiming the Smyth deal was jammy is a little wankery. Tambo has done a good, if not great, job filling three o’ the five conditions . . . that is 66% in my books or a pass and you have not even got to the Defense Men . . . you a mug to think that he can’t ‘pass’ this test.
Well, I have been complaining about the lack of ‘actual’ NHL defensemen for a while now: come to think about it, complaining about Dman is basically a full time occupation over here at this blog. Do I think Tambo fixed this today? NO!
Andy Sutton basically replaces Jim Vandermeer: an over-paid veteran that is physical but on the downside of their career. So losing a player type like Vandermeer and replacing it with Sutton is a wash. There is no upgrade here, as we still have an old seventh defenseman (actually we have three 7th Dmen: Sutton, Petry, and Peckham . . . only one should be in the line up each night if the Oilers are looking to win but we got at least two dressed for each match as it stands).
Interlocutor: Fuck’n Wanker. Do you think getting real blue liners is as easy as going for a pull on a pub-crawl? They tossed of Foster to sunny California and pick up a former #4 overall section as well . . . what do you think about that? It has got to be worth a mark in your grading.
I would rather have Foster than Sutton: both had terrible seasons last year, and while Sutton can hit Foster should be able to score more this year—both are brutally in their own defensive zone if their numbers from last year tell us anything. This just comes down to age: Foster is younger, hence more likely to rebound, and Sutton was basically what we hope Peckham will turn into.
Cam Barker is slow and has been terrible since going to the Twin Cities. I hope he can turn it around this year, but look at the signing (2.25 Million for one year, and then Barker is an RFA). I guess it is good to get him when he is still a RFA, we have his rights if he turns around this season but that is an expensive contract to qualify. The problem is that Barker’s top end, for this season, is basically a number four defenseman, or the weaker link on a second pairing. That is what Smid is!! I am unconvinced that Barker is an ‘actual’ NHL defender that can play in the top four at even-strength: he has the pedigree but not the track record . . . I wonder which most GMs would rather have.
Overall, Tambo added two bottom pairing Dmen and traded away one. That is a crowded bottom end of a roster with Barker, Smid, Sutton, Peckham, and Petry. All of them should be battling for playing time on the bottom pairing, with maybe two (Smid & Barker) having the ability to take some second paring minutes if someone gets hurt. The Oil still have one of the weakest bluelines in the entire league, if Tambo wanted to score points, with me, here he would have need to add at least one top 4 Dman but maybe two ‘actual’ NHL players to get full marks. Signing Harry Potter to a two-way deal helps out OKC, but does nothing for the NHL depth. The addition of Sutton & Barker, and the subtraction of Foster give him 0.25 out of 1 for me. This brings Tambo’s total score to 3.25 out of 5.
Interlocutor: I think your demands are a little up-market for the team that plays in the Siberia of Canada. What is the last question that Tambo has to answer?
Goaltending! Nothing on that front.
Interlocutor: OK, I’ll agree with you there (but who knows . . . maybe the Boozen’ Wall will play like he once did or Double D might step into his own). Either way 3.25 out of 5 is 65% . . . that is a good grade from my grade school days.
Well, I am a Teaching Assistant for the last couple years, and I told all my students that 66% is average. They always get mad about this, since they were all eighty plus students in high school and now in uni they are getting sixties. But they were above average in high school but now they are only average at university. Same as Tambo: if he was in Hockey Canada or the CHL then maybe fixing three of the five holes in your line up would be considered great, but this is the big leagues so GM are expected to ace all the question or at least get above 75% if they want a real ‘pass’ in my books.
Fixing the truculence problem should not be that hard . . . it is like having a few multiple choice questions on the test . . . even if you just guess you should be able to get the right answer about 25% of the time and these questions are not that difficult (they just test if you read the textbook). Dealing with the defensive centre is a must for a team like the Oilers. In the past Tambo didn’t even attempt to answer the question, or, last year, maybe Fraser was just like writing down everything you know for a short answer but never getting to the root of the question. Having Smyth fall into your lap is similar to having the one question that actually interests you show up on the test: you never studied for this one since it was the only time you did not fall asleep in class. Finding real NHL Dmen is the hardest thing to do—the essay question at the end of the test. I guess Tambo gets part marks for drawing up an outline, but he never actually wrote anything down in full sentences. Lastly, Tambo forgot to answer the question about the ‘tenders. I started to run after him shouting that they did not finish the test, but Tambo—like most students—just kept walking away to get to the pub a little early. Overall, Tambo gets a pass or an average mark for Free Agency and Trades this week. Maybe he’ll get a few more marks in the future (if Barker or Sutton really steps up) or if the Nuge wins the Calder trophy. I have marked good students down before and I will again in the future, but most of the time it is for their own good.