I am an Oilers fan, I wasn’t born into it – I love supporting the home team and have chosen to be an Oiler fan. It is painful, exciting, frustrating and in 2006 – it was rewarding. I assume if you are reading any of the blogs on this website, you are also a fan, if not of the Oilers at the very least, you are a fan of hockey.
Devon Dubnyk’s dubious performance last night made me question more than ever the Oilers goaltending situation. For the most part, I have liked Dubnyk and thought that he was developing at a nice pace and I actually thought that this would be the year he rose to the challenge. It is a contract year for him and with a new system in front of him and a more solid D corps I really thought the massive backstop would rise to the occasion. We are only one game in, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. One text message I got last night from a friend who is a very accomplished Div. 16 Beer League goaltender summed it up nicely: “I feel like Dubnyk doesn’t battle. He’s just big.”
I am from the school of thought that this year will be better. I just don’t know how much better, but the good news is that there is plenty to hear about on the radio from fans and media alike. The biggest playoff challenge for the Oilers is going to be their division. Are they ready to compete with Vancouver? Are they ready to beat Anaheim? Can they manage a split with LA?
Sam Gagner signed a 3 year deal worth an average yearly salary of $4.8 million this past month and I reflected on this deal and I can only come up with one word: perfect. If Gagner didn’t want to be in Edmonton and see this rebuild to the end, he would have taken his one year arbitration and moved on after this season and taken his money. Swin wrote a brilliant article about the Gager haters and it really shed some light on what the Oilers really have in Gagner and what the alternatives are. 3 years is the perfect deal.
I have heard some fans complain that Boyd Gordon’s contract is too large at $3 million and that Ference’s 4 year deal is too long. Thanks, captains of obviousness – that is what happens when you fill the holes via free agency. If Ference’s term didn’t take him to retirement, he probably doesn’t come to Edmonton. I have heard Gordon’s game described by a former teammate as: the way the game is supposed to be played. Horc was too expensive at $5.5 and apparently his replacement is too expensive at $3. Is there something I am missing here? Who’s money is it anyway? Lots of people in Northern Alberta are overpaid, why shouldn’t some of the Oilers share in that good fortune. Until we are up against the cap, it doesn’t matter.
Madness. Is Mac T a mad genius or just mad? Does he have someone scouting the KHL non-stop? First, he signs a fairly unkown defenseman out of Omsk Avangard name Anton Belov. Regarded by some as the best defenseman in the KHL last year, this one makes some sense. On draft day, he trades down and takes a couple of mid round flyers in Yakimov and Slepyshev. As a new GM, I can understand him thinking out of the box. I have been supportive of the moves Mac T has made up until this point. But, Grebeshkov? Looking at his hockeydb I discovered he hasn’t scored a goal since 2010-2011 and was a -11 in 44 games last year while posting 8 points and 22 PIMS. What am I missing?
Mac T was on a local radio show/podcast this past week and basically said that he was happy with the roster going into the season and he felt the team was good enough to compete and they would see how good they are.
This does not surprise me at all. They Oilers have made some solid changes and the only things that really remain undone are signing Sam Gagner (which I foresee happening before arbitration) and moving Hemsky. In reality, the only reason that Hemsky “must go” is because Mac T committed to that action publically. I think that the rookie GM has learned his lesson and has remained fairly tight-lipped since the draft. If Hemsky is coming at opponents as a third line winger, secondary scoring should not be an issue. Hemsky’s cap hit is going to be difficult for many teams to swallow with the cap dropping this year so, this is going to be easier said than done this off-season.
So, Mac T traded Magnus Paajarvi for an actual top 6 hockey player. For the most part, reaction to the trade was positive from Oiler fans but, when I was listening to Dan Tencer’s show last night I heard multiple callers referring to the “risk” of trading Paajarvi. Multiple comments on social media and the web made comments like: “I’m worried about Perron’s head injuries” or “the Oilers have won the deal in the short term but we may lose the deal long term, what if, what if, what if…” The question of the unknown…
Well, MacT’s first draft day is in the books and it lacked the kind of excitement that many, if not all Oiler fans were salivating for. Personally, I was hoping more would get accomplished to improve the team and in fact, nothing was done to make the team better next year. Nurse should prove to be a solid NHLer for years to come, but those years will more than likely not begin this season.
The N.H.L. 2013 Entry Draft take place this Sunday and fans in Oilerville are bickering at each other more than two sisters do about whose turn it is to use the bathroom. Oiler GM Craig Mactavish will have a few options of who to pick with their seventh pick and it shocks me that people think he should use that pick to draft hulking defenseman Darnell Nurse.
In general, I try to keep a positive outlook on things. During the days leading up to and during the 2006 cup run, I had one mantra: BELIEVE. Unfortunately, when looking over the Oilers’ depth chart all I can think is: it’s just not the right mix. The pieces that Tambo brought in did not fit and the puzzle has too many of the same pieces and they don’t fit together. We were looking over the roster and one major thing stood out: half of our forwards have to go.