by Lisa Brown on 01/16/14 at 12:41 AM ET
The Edmonton Oilers are far from finished making changes. As seen time and time again at various other times, by various other teams around the league, simply drafting high, and acquiring young talent is not enough to make a Stanley Cup team. Steve Tambellini was never quite able to pull the trigger and make moves to make the team take bigger steps, and while new GM Craig MacTavish is making moves, we won’t know if it will be enough for quite some time. Just like we will never know if former goaltender Devan Dubnyk could have had a better season if the team in front of him was even just a little bit better.
Four former Oilers, much has changes in only one year
Devan Dubnyk was not good enough for this Oilers team. While the team was struggling to score goals and create offense, they needed a goaltender who could do more than stand on his head, they needed a goaltender who could do the impossible, maybe even score a goal or two himself to keep the team in the game.
With a culmination of a lot of wrongs, the team just never seemed to get their start, until they were already eliminated from the playoffs. And at that point, it was only November.
Now, with the dawn of a new year, but far from a new season, the Oilers have begun to make roster moves. It’s true that Dubnyk could be a great goaltender. His numbers excluding his first stretch were quite good, even with a team whose give a damn just didn’t seem to be there most nights. But there were just too many inconsistent nights, too many poor goals for the Oilers’ brass to stick with Dubnyk. This was to be his year to prove that he could be the team’s starting goaltender. And while we still don’t know if he can be a night in and night out starting goaltender in the NHL, we do know that he can’t be for the Oilers.
In front of him, the Oilers need to add at the very least 2 more NHL defencemen. Martin Marincin has come in from the AHL and played extremely well for a defenceman just two years removed from the WHL, and of course there is the much anticipated Oscar Klefbom, but too many rookies, too soon, combined with the inconsistent and young D core the team already has would be a recipe for disaster. It would be a far better situation for the team to bring in more veteran D and ease the new rookies into the system. Better yet if they could get to winning a few games, and keep the young players away from the effects that a 15-29-5 record will bring.
Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and you would have to think at least one of Nail Yakupov and Jordan Eberle must be the names that MacT is using or considering to use as leverage, although far more players on the team roster are moveable. The only players that the team couldn’t possibly consider trading would be Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, everyone else you would have to think would be fair game, if the return was interesting enough.
The Oilers are still too much of the same player up front, and too easy to play against. The level of compete just isn’t there from all players, and the ones who do show their competitive side, players like Nail Yakupov are then players of interest to other teams, leaving the players who’s holes in their games are at this point in time, gaping. It won’t be easy to trade a player like Sam Gagner, given his contract and current season. While a broken jaw to start the season was a major setback, and he may have come back too soon, by this point in time, he has to show better hockey sense, he has to produce more for this team and he has to be better in his own end. With all of that in mind, you might find a desperate GM with injury holes on his roster, making a push for the playoffs. But more likely than not, the Oilers might not find a trading partner, and Gagner’s contract might become MacT’s biggest regret.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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