The Best and Worst of Steve Tambellini

It's been a "rocky" start for Tambellini as Oilers' GM.

Every Oiler fan should now know that Steve Tambellini was given a contract extension this past Wednesday. Naturally, Tambellini’s extension has been a hot topic on the Oilogosphere. Bloggers who have written on the topic include Jonathan Willis of Oilers Nation, Tyler Dellow of, Allan Mitchell of, Ryan Batty of The Copper and Blue, David Staples of The Cult of Hockey, and our own Jeff Chapman.

Tambellini was hired as GM on July 31, 2008. In his five seasons as GM, the Oilers have finished eleventh, fifteenth, fifteenth, and fourteenth in the fifteen-team Western Conference. No matter how you try to spin it, that’s not very good.

This week I took a look at all of Tambellin’s player transactions. (By the way, Tambellini himself was traded twice during his NHL career. In 1981, he was traded by the Islanders to the Rockies with Chico Resch for Mike McEwen. And in 1982, he was traded by the Devils to the Flames with Joel Quennville  for Mel Bridgman and Phil Russell.)

After taking a look at Tambellini’s transactions, I decided to make a list of his best and worst moves. Here’s the list.

Tambellini’s Best

  • June 26, 2010: Acquired a 2010 second round pick (#46-Martin Marincin) from the Hurricanes for Riley Nash. Nash looks like a dud, and Marincin is considered by many to be the Oilers’ second best defensive prospect.
  • Feb. 28, 2011: Acquired Colten Teubert, a 2011 first round pick (#19-Oscar Klefbom), and a 2012 third round pick from the Kings for Dustin Penner. Penner has been great in this year’s playoffs, but Klefbom looks like he’ll be at least a top-4 defenceman.
  • June 26, 2011: Acquired Ryan Smyth from the Kings for Colin Fraser and a 2012 seventh round pick. Yes, Tambellini critics will say that Smyth himself orchestrated this trade, but Tambellini deserves some credit for not giving up much in the deal.
  • July 1, 2011: Singed unrestricted free agent Corey Potter to a 1-year, two-way contract. Potter had a magical start with the Oilers, but he didn’t seem the same after getting injured.
  • Feb. 24, 2012: Re-signed Ales Hemsky to a 2-year contract extension. Everyone thought the Oilers would trade Hemsky. But when it became clear that the Oilers weren’t going to get full value in a trade, they decided to extend Hemsky’s contract.

 Tambellini’s Worst

  • March 4, 2009: Acquired Patrick O’Sullivan and a second round pick (#58-Jesse Blacker) from the Hurricanes for Erik Cole and a 2009 fifth round pick (#130-Matt Kennedy). O’Sullivan was arguably the worst forward in Oilers history. Cole scored 35 goals for Montreal this season.
  • July 1, 2009: Signed unrestricted free agent Nikolai Khabibulin to a 4-year, $15 million contract. He’s been the Oilers’ MVP, right?
  • July 2, 2010: Waived Sheldon Souray. The Sheldon Souray ordeal should have been handled better by Tambellini. 
  • July 1, 2011: Signed unrestricted free agent Cam Barker to a 1-year, $2.25 million contract. On the plus side, it was only a 1-year contract.
  • Feb. 27, 2012: Acquired Nick Schultz from the Wild for Tom Gilbert. Schultz is a fine player, but Tambellini should have found a way to acquire a defenceman without giving up one of his best defencemen.

Did I miss any? Don’t agree? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

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