Edmonton Oilers: Nine Things Regarding the Offseason

Nov 17, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson (5) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2015; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson (5) controls the puck against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Edmonton Oilers have not been far from my thoughts this Summer; really they haven’t. But as it so often happens to all of us, I’m sure, life has just been so busy I just haven’t been able to summon all of my thoughts together on this Oilers off-season…until now.

I have a day job, which sadly is not hockey-related, which has been extra busy. And my 15-year-old was recruited to play Provincial Bantam baseball a few weeks back (he’s a pretty good pitcher, in addition to a hard-core Edmonton Oilers fan), so I’ve been busy driving him to and from practices and games, too.

All that has left me with precious little time with which to talk about my favorite topic…the Edmonton Oilers. But finally, the unreasonable vitriol which has been boiling all over Twitter vis-a-vis Peter Chiarelli, Taylor Hall, the right shot D-man, etc., etc….

Well…it has finally caused me to stir from my languor.

9 Things:

9. When Peter Chiarelli said that Nail Yakupov had never asked HIM for a trade, that immediately told me that the G.M. has decided to manage this asset properly, which is to not deal it at least until it’s value had improved. How did so many people miss that? I mean…How obvious does the man need to be?

8. The Edmonton Oilers clearly expect Laurent Brossoit to win the back-up job by Christmas. That’s why they signed a bargain-basement back-up in Jonas Gustavsson, as opposed to someone more expensive. Look how tight the Oilers are to the cap now. Why blow what remains on a 15-20 game guy?

7. I was hoping Peter Chiarelli would keep all three centers. Those are difficult assets to acquire, especially three of this quality. It gives Head Coach Todd McLellan so many options next year. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is an excellent two-way center. Leon Draisaitl is the big, skilled center we haven’t had in a generation. And Connor McDavid… well, that doesn’t even need explaining.

6. Driving back into Edmonton on the Yellowhead today, I glanced to my left and saw the stunning Rogers Place gleaming in the July sun, and absolute jewel in our great city’s downtown core. Who again are the people who fought this and called it a mistake. Stand up and be counted, by god. You were wrong.

5. Trade Jordan Eberle? Why, for pity’s sake? He’s only your best Right Wing, at a position shallow depth-wise, and he’s the best (READ: Only) natural sniper on your team: A guy who’s #1, #2 and #3 skill is to put the puck in the net. If he scores 30+ this year with 97…will we really care how he back-checks? I won’t.

4. I believe many have underestimated how much better the Edmonton Oilers defence was going to be this year, before Peter Chiarelli ever set about improving it. Two reasons why I say so: 1) A healthy Oscar Klefbom has a great chance to be a top-pairing guy, and 2) With a full year of experience under his belt, I think Darnell Nurse is ready to take that next, big, intimidating step.

3. Milan Lucic. For years now, fans have been (quite rightly) bitching about how the Edmonton Oilers had too many similar-style players, and that the team needed to compete harder and show more grit. Then, when Peter Chiarelli goes out and gets the player who probably embodies those traits better than any other in the NHL, you complain about the money and the term? Man, you’re hard to please.

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2. I well remember Mark Fayne‘s first game as a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Here at long last (supposedly) was this shut-down D-man that we so desperately needed, and what does he do on his very first regular season shift: Get turned inside out, on one of the ugliest plays of the year. He’s never been forgiven. Based on that, I wonder what chance Adam Larsson has of escaping his first game as an Oiler without someone Tweet-ing “We got THAT for Taylor Hall“. Sigh.

1. Look, guys, if you’ve read my columns at all the last few years, then you’ll know that a much bigger Taylor Hall fan than me did not exist. I was thrilled with the combination of speed and power with which he would locomotive down the wing toward the opposition net. It was a damn thing of beauty. He was our best player for a very, very long time, and stuck with the program when most players would have wanted out. But here’s the thing…

It just wasn’t working.

This franchise has been spinning in the clay for over a decade now. And you know the definition of insanity, right? Keep doing the same thing over and over again, despite the fact it never works for you. This team needed to be re-built, re-formed, re-shaped into a team we haven’t tried yet, in the past 10 years. And if you ask anyone in the business world, they will tell you” If you want “change”, you don’t get it by nibbling around the edges.

It’s why, when confronted by their shareholders, huge companies often divest themselves of unprofitable divisions and slash their work-forces. Those workers usually aren’t bad at their jobs. It’s more likely that the company was busy doing the wrong things, and to right the ship…they need a new team with an expertise that matches their new business plan.

Could’ve the Edmonton Oilers gotten Kevin Shattenkirk for Taylor Hall? Probably. But if you’ve watched this team the past 10 years, did you really and truly believe that Shattenkirk, a 1st-pairing puck mover with 3rd-pairing defensive skills, was going to fix that? If so, you were dreaming in Technicolor.

Next: Edmonton Oilers: Why a Kevin Shattenkirk Trade Fell Through

I’ll miss Taylor Hall, every day. But I’m confident this bunch of Edmonton Oilers that I sit in my seats to play this October will be the best I’ve seen since 2006. And if Hallsy was the price we had to pay for that…well, then so be it.