A message to the impatient fan…

By , December 29, 2010 11:53 am
Quite possibly the most crass picture we have had here, but it gave me a chuckle.

Quite possibly the most crass picture we have had here, but it gave me a chuckle.

Click here for Canada vs. Norway GDT

So I know there’s been some talk lately here and elsewhere about the state of the team. We currently sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. We have the worst penalty-kill in the league at 72.3%, and one of the worst powerplays in the league (25th) at 15.6%.

However, some things need to be brought up again, so it’s time for a rant…

The average age of this team is 25.7. If you exclude the fossil we have in net, and the players that weren’t dressed last night, that gets us down to an average age of 24 for the skaters last night. Not to mention we were cut down to 5 defensemen after Ryan Whitney left the game early. Our top six last night consisted of: Gagner, Hall, Eberle, Penner, Cogliano and Hemsky… they have an average age of 23 years, and an average of under 3 years of experience. News flash… it’s an inexperienced team. Mistakes will happen. Mistakes will happen from Omark… they’ll happen from Hall… they’ll happen from Eberle. They’ll even come from the “veteran” d-men in Whitney and Gilbert who have 6 and 4 years experience, respectively (and thus why I quoted veteran).

I am a little surprised that the powerplay isn’t better than 25th. But when you fight for possession as much as we do each game, I guess that’ll make it hard for the powerplay to click. The same can be said for the penalty kill. It’s obvious that this team needs someone who can win draws and take a regular PK shift, other than Horcoff who looks to be a regular in the infirmary now. Which brings me to my next point…

The team had been playing without (arguably) their two best veteran forwards for a while, having lost Horcoff and Hemsky. This has put more pressure on young kids to succeed, and I think they’ve handled it well, all things considered. Eberle (22 pts) and Hall (21 pts) aren’t far behind the rookie scoring lead (Skinner at 26pts). Paajarvi has been coming along slowly so far, but his opportunity (read: linemates) hasn’t been as good, and we’re starting to see signs of him being a good player.

My thoughts are that this team is a few minor tweaks from being a much better team. This has been my belief for several years now. It is possible that Tambellini has been dropping birds out of his nest this year to see if they could fly. I think the answer to that is yes, but they aren’t enough to carry the team on their own. Our goaltending has been extremely suspect (fault Tambellini there, for sure). Add to that, I have been of the opinion for a while (as have a large portion of the Oilers fan base) that we need a bottom-six centerman who win draws with authority as well as play a solid penalty-kill shift. In addition, we need a defensive stalwart on the blueline… a shutdown d-man, as they are known.

But you know what… these 3 things are generally quite easy to find in the off-season, around July 1st… or even in a trade. They’re not rare commodities. This team is made up of rare commodities… future 30 or 40 goal scorers or perhaps 90+ point players.

It is for this reason that I believe Tambellini is on another collision course for the bottom of the standings this year… intentionally. It’s a tough thing to do while trying not to look like a complete fool. Do we need to do it again this year? I’m not so sure on that. There are some great prospects out there though. Just getting a taste of the top-4 this year will almost guarantee that you walk away with a superb player.

I don’t think necessarily that Tambellini had his heart completely set on tanking from the get go. But I think that he and Renney were of the mind that they would give the ball to the kids again this year and let them run with it. FULL on this year. This is going to be their team soon. We’ve seen a really good taste of what they can do, as I don’t think many would say they have been the problem here. Truth be told, I think the problem with this team has been it’s lack of depth and character and grit in the positions usually held by 4th liners, in addition to the goaltending question mark and lack of solid shutdown d-man.

On the note of the shutdown d-man though, Peckham has done a pretty wonderful job of coming out of nowhere and winning most fans over. He’s already suprassed his combined number of games from previous seasons (31) in this season. So that is a reminder of how inexperienced he is, yet he is doing a fantastic job so far. I hate to pick on them specifically, but Vandermeer and Strudwick wouldn’t be shutdown d-men on 29 other teams in the league, yet that has been the role they were thrust into here too.

So that said.. again.. I think this is Tambellini’s mess, so to speak… but I think it’s hard to see that what he’s doing is actually turning this team around in a very patient manner. We can get near the top and stay there briefly or we can get near the top and savor it for a long time like the Penguins likely will. That is going to take a lot of time and work though. It’s going to take a lot of patience from the fans too.

So my recommendation is that instead of pointing out every flaw in this team, or every time a young player screws up… sit back and just enjoy a glimpse into the future. Enjoy the great plays that Hall and Eberle make with each other. Enjoy the superb hitting clinic Peckham puts on. Enjoy Paajarvi and Omark’s creativity. Enjoy the solid efforts of callups such as Belle and Petry. These guys are the future of the team. We’re still stuck in a transitional phase though.. so things are going to be a bit rough. But forget how you used to watch games in the past. Look for the promising points and focus on those. The rough points will be ironed out. And in due time, when Tambellini feels it is the right time, he’ll fill in the blanks on this team and right the ship. It looks like this isn’t likely the year though, unfortunately. But the experience our young kids have had so far will go a long way in convincing management that they’ll soon have to focus on the glue players rather than acquiring more assets. This isn’t the Maple Leafs or the Calgary Flames… we’re doing it right… don’t worry. Patience!

15 Responses to “A message to the impatient fan…”

  1. Haboiler says:

    Fantastic write up Racki! We are seeing something growing here and with those pieces you spoke about more success is around the corner. Oiler fans need a tough skin these days and not be ripping on everyone whenever there is an error. Tambi needs to make some deals and I think we will see this start to trickle down sooner rather than later and some decisions made on Cogs, Brule and even Omark not to even mention JFJ, Stortini and SMAC.

    Good times are ahead. Try to enjoy the effort and when its not there look for the brilliance that shows up most games.

  2. Racki says:

    Yah you are right, decisions need to be made on those guys. Just by the lack of consistent ice time the 4th line names mentioned are getting, I’d say they all could easily be on the outs.

    The Oil need to find some guys who can play regular shifts and be solid on the ice. I think Stortini used to be that kind of player, so he has to find it again. I’ve all but given up on Jacques, and well… MacIntyre is a one trick pony (but don’t tell him I said that!). MacIntyre is OK to keep around though, so long as he isn’t stealing a job from an important role player. As for Cogs and Brule… oi…. I think we’ve ruined them, to be honest.

  3. Haboiler says:

    Yes I have lost my patience with Cogs and Brule. Only one I’d keep is SMAC or Stortini but not both. I’d rather have Carcillo next year causing some crap as at least he can play a bit (as crazy as Carcillo sounds). I see Omark as trade bait as well seeing as if he isn’t on the team next year he has that out in his contract to go back to SEL. Probably as part of some sort of package.

  4. chucker says:

    Pretty much bang on Racki. (I just wanted to say bang)

    The lack of moves bringing in any players that we knew would help pretty much showed it was a development year. Most of us recognized this especially with the deep top 10 in this year’s upcoming draft. It would seem silly to miss out.

    Bringing in Vandermeer, re-signing Struds, no moves of any other significance coming in, and jettisoning all the old grumpy vets, signalled two things.

    1) A new culture is being started and it’s all about the kids.
    2) Don’t expect a winning team just yet in year 1.45 of a rebuild.

    Vandermeer and Struds are both gone at the deadline or year end. Look for a guy to come up and a guy to get signed. A real NHL defender.

    More decisions will be made on our current line up sooner or later. Cogs, Brule, JFJ, Storitni, Smac and Fraser are all guys who could be dealt although I like the way Fraser has fit in. If his F/O percentages change, he stays. Some will likely stay, but not all.

    Summertime will also bring a Belanger/Malholtra type. They know it, but they are making darn sure not to make the mistake of trading anyone away who may be able to do the job. It seems painfully obvious to us, but after the Stoll/Reasoner botches, I’ll give them some rope on not wanting to get burned again.

    I think if you take this year for what it is, and in my view, it’s a year for development and watching the kids with an eye on the draft; then you won’t go bipOiler.

    I honestly can’t remember a time in franchise history, other than the early 80’s (we used to wear an onion in our belt, because that was the style at the time…) when the organization had so much talent and the future looked so good. I’m just lovin’ it.

  5. Steve-O says:

    Uh, did anyone else see Bob McKenzie’s tweet just now? Whitney’s injury to be measured in months and not weeks.

    Edit: And that pic made me laugh.

  6. Racki says:

    Chucker: LOL@simpsons reference…

    Anyways, development year. That pretty much sums it up. Not a “tank year” per se. Not a “we’re trying for the playoffs year”… but a development year. They do what they can to ensure the kids develop properly and that is that. If the team succeeds while doing so.. great.. if not.. well, it doesn’t matter.

    Steve-O: Fuuuuuuuuuuck (on Whitney news).

  7. chucker says:

    Well, the draft status should not be in doubt now. I guess good news for Petry.

    Worst episode ever. Rest assured that I will be on the internet in minutes registering my disgust throughout the world. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=simpsons+comic+book+guy&aq=1

  8. Bostonoiler says:

    Racki, lol, as bad as it is, I laughed a little at the picture. I feel bad now. Anyway, I think your dead on here. Great write-up and I think you are right. I’d like a big defensive prospect in the draft this season if we cant get a center. I also agree with Chuck that we will get a Malhotra/Belanger type player this summer. Development year sums it up well. We will see if they fill these glue player roles this summer like you mentioned, because those players are sitting out there in July. Again, good write-up man. Hoping you are right on Tambi fixing the holes in the off-season.

  9. John says:

    I can definitely agree with most of what Racki says, the needs & holes WILL get filled… eventually. Just gets hard to stay optomistic & cheery about “the future” when the team is working on 4 or 5 straight losses & the deficencies are as plain to the eye as Broomhilda’s worts lol!

    There are going to be some good opportunities for guys like Omark, Omarra, Petry, Belle, maybe Plante, etc. to prove if they deserve regular roster spots next year or are expendable. This development & fleshing out of the future roster is what I’m more interested in than the obvious home runs in Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, etc.

  10. dawgtoy says:

    That pic is just wrong. Epic disasters IMHO are both Colin Fraser and Kurtis Foster, waste of roster positions at this point that could be better used for player development. Can we end the Foster on point PP idea, he’s terrible!

  11. Racki says:

    Agreed on Foster. Failed experiment, unfortunately. The thing is, I had at least hope that he would be good offensively. He’s average offensively, at best so far, from what I’ve seen. Good shot though, but it just isn’t working. Defensively.. well that’s where it gets bad. Ugly… horrid. Certainly not worth the risk defensively to keep him for gain on offense.

    It’s too bad Whitney got hurt, as that crushes our powerplay. That leaves it now to Gilbert and Petry as the blueliners with ability to work a powerplay.

  12. dawgtoy says:

    Development must now be paramount given the injuries to Whitney and Horc. Call up Plante and Reddox, play Omark and O’Marra and give them real time opportunities to learn and develop, and give team management time to assess what they have in these players. Pääjärvi might need some time on the farm to play big minutes on the first line and power play and just completely get used to playing the North American style of hockey. In a nutshell, players on the cusp must be given opportunity to play, in order to evaluate what they have to offer given the injuries and where we now place in the standings. It’s a rebuild afterall

  13. Racki says:

    Poor OKC is screwed. lol

    I would like to see some call ups too though. Either Belle or Plante would be good. And yah, I’d like to see Reddox here to push Fraser for a job.

  14. dawgtoy says:

    When will this Jacques experiment end?

  15. Racki says:

    Right now neither Stortini or MacIntyre or Jacques are really making a case for themselves. Stortini is likely the best of the 3, but also has to be better. I think he has a chance of recovering what he once was though. He’s a hard worker… just in a big funk.

    As for Reddox.. I’d love to see Reddox with Jones and Stortini. Why the fuck not, right? “Make it happen, Renney”

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