Showing posts with label Dallas Eakins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dallas Eakins. Show all posts

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer questions in 'Oilerland'

As mentioned in my last blog, we will take some time today to discuss some questions that are out there in Oilerland. The questions range from great ones to ridiculous ones. I am no expert but will take the time to shoot off my views and perspective to you in the best way I know how, through Oilersjambalaya.

It may be a long time off of the ice for the Oilers but their fans feel it even more. At least the players got their pay cheques and can enjoy some rest but for fans of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club, it has been more of the same and every year they don't make the playoffs it gets more and more difficult to stomach and enjoy supporting.

Oilers fans carry a very broad spectrum of views. You have the fanatical 'were going to win the cup real soon' ones, to the 'this team sucks and will never win the cup' folks. In between you have the bandwagon jumpers and the casual 'ho-hum' we will see how it is going 20 games into the season fan.

Here are some interesting questions being asked about the Edmonton Oilers hockey club.

What is going to happen with picking up 1 more centerman for that pivot position?

There is a small % chance that MacT finds a last minute tryout for a centerman to come to training camp but likely it will be Lander, Arcobello and Draisaitl fighting it out for the final two spots on the club. The only way a decent centerman (one that is a shoe-in to play better then what they already got) comes into camp is if MacT can pull off a trade due to a team's restraints but more likely a third line centre who can occasionally fill in for a 2nd line. No sense bringing in another Boyd Gordon type player we already got him.

Will Ramsey make any difference with the Oilers coaching staff?

I find this question interesting as there are two frames of thought. We can say yes but then there are those who say the assistant coach has very little impact on the game. If that were true then we would have to argue that moving out Smith and Buchberger was not needed. Why? Cause if assistant coaches don't change the outcome of games why bother ever changing them? IMO, assistant coaches are more about team synergy. If the coaching team connects well and is in the same wheelhouse then it's a recipe for success and that is what the Oilers are looking for, the right chemistry. Yes, I think Ramsey brings to the team what Renney had brought and even more.

Can the Oilers make the playoffs this year?

Absolutely they can but will they? I do give them a 50/50 chance of making it happen but it will depend how they get out of the gate. It will require a 75% winning percentage over the first 20 games. So 15 wins and 5 losses? Yup! The consistency early on would be a morale boost and confidence booster and likely would show themselves they can win. Later in the season could prove difficult but if your winning 75% of the games 25% of the way into the season I doubt you fall below the 55% the rest of the way. That would give the Oilers a final record approximately about and 48-32-1-1. That would come to about 97 point season. That my friends is a playoff spot. Do I think it will happen? Nope, I suspect they come out with about 11 wins, 7 losses and 2 overtime losses giving them 24 points in their first 20 games. If they start at that % of winning only I would guess they pick up slightly as the season goes on and end up with a more likely record of 46-36-1-1. That would give them 93 points. That would put them right at the 7-10 place finish in the western conference.

What is the chances that the Oilers will be a lottery team again in 2015 when Conner McDavid is available?

Read last question and answer again. No way on God's green earth does Edmonton select the #1 overall pick this next year unless they traded for it and that will not be happening this year. Could they get lucky and draw his name still. Yes, but maybe a 2% chance it happens which means, nope!

Will and should Draisaitl make the Edmonton Oilers if they don't bring in another centre to compete for the 2nd and 3rd line spot?

Leon Draisaitl will and should make the Edmonton Oilers hockey club this season. Please don't keep giving me the he is too young and the Oilers are wasting his ELC and he needs more time to develop crap. If the Oilers had more high end centres in their organization then I would say yes he would be going back, however even bringing in a centre like Jordon Stall would still have Draisaitl fighting for a 3rd line role with Arcobello and Lander. Guess who wins in that scenario? Yeah, Draisaitl has stayed in North America to train and be ready in camp. He knows has development coaches who will be working on the area's of weakness in his game and has a leg up on most his competition already in his size and skill. As long as he can get 12-14 mins a game he will do fine. He already showed well the the WHC playing for Germany and handled himself like a man (wait, he is a man and is built like a pretty big man).

Can Bogdan Yakimov replace what Anton Lander was originally thought to bring to the Oilers club?

Very good question! As much as I always liked Lander, he may be moved to another team as a depth prospect real soon. This is his last year to make or break the Oilers. Yakimov has a ways to go to still catch up but his size and skill looks to be Bogdan's asset. 1 year development and I think we see Bogdan playing regularly for the Oilers franchise. Say goodbye to Lander and hello Yakimov! Yeah I believe he is the new replacement of hope as the Oilers future 3rd line centre. That is...for now anyway. If Bogdan is too play in that role for the Oilers it will be easy tell in how he competes and fares this season. a bad year development wise would derail that plan altogether. I know some players take more time to development but my 'gut' tells me we will know pretty quick if Yakimov is the real deal.

What's your take on these questions? Where do you feel the Oilers are headed heading into this 2014/15 season? Give us your take or perspective even if it's different. It's a slow summer folks, we need something to discuss. If your reading this it means your still hungry for more hockey talk and if your not reading this....yeah exactly, no need to answer cause you didn't read the article anyway.

My next series of blogs we will start to look further into the prospects, 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series. In the meantime keep enjoying your summer and we will touch base soon again.

You can follow me on twitter for more information on prospects and hockey related news at

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Oilers - 'off season'

My deepest apologies to all our jambalaya followers on my long absence from writing. Needed some badly desperate rest from writing for awhile. In the meantime playing hockey has has been front and center.

Since the draft things have greatly slowed down when it comes to news happening in the Oilers camp. There are some questions that are being asked like 'will the Oilers make a trade to bring in another Centermen for training camp to compete'' or 'Shouldn't Draisaitl be sent back for another year in jr before starting his NHL Entry level contract?' Those are good questions and right now it is all speculation other then a few indicators that you can read from.

I will take some time in my next couple blogs covering those questions and others here at OilersJamabalaya. For the month of July I will take time to break down the Prospects 'In the System' of the Oilers. Those that are on the BUBBLE, PROSPECT or SUSPECT! The last few years I have taken the time to break down what is out there and where the players future lies.

Stick around and be sure to come back to check out my series of blogs as we walk through most of the prospects and where their potential lies and what their possible future holds.

Just for some fun let's look back to my analysis of some players at last years Oilers training Camp and what I wrote here at I will highlight in red a quick thought following …..

Unfortunately for Cam, this could be the beginning of the end. His off ice work while good, has not been great and his progress has been stalled while other potential players are about to supplant him if things don't change ASAP. My take on Abney will be, this is his final year to prove himself. He will either be traded or released at the end of season most likely. In the end, Abney was a great guy but being a great guy doesn't mean anything unless you have the skill set to go with it.

 Was hardly recognizable on the ice these past couple days but is that always a bad thing? It could turn out to be his best chance. Will be in a fight with Lander for that 4th line spot. Is not slotted into OKC's plans in their line combo's currently but that could change drastically should he falter in the opportunities given.
And he did falter.  Another worker on the ice but doesn't have the skill set to remain in a NHL lineup.

A decent showing with skilled players Yakupov and Omark could prove to be his best chance. His outcome from the game in Edmonton Saturday night could either elevate him into the opening night lineup or actually see him with a ticket back to OKC after a few pre-season games. Is currently slotted into the Barons #1 Centre slot and MacT has been very direct that he wants players to play in OKC around the same role they would play should they be playing for the Oilers. Maybe one line higher but no more. Arcobello continues to beat the odds. I am impressed with how well he has done. As much as people like to say his play dropped off as the season went on, they have not been following the facts that his position was changed from center to wing and on third and fourth line roles usually. I am happy with him more in a 2nd or 3rd line center role then players like UFA's Roy and others fans actually were wanting with experience. He is defensively responsible and being small has not affected his play yet. Give him one good size winger with some skill and speed and Arco can be free to do what he does best. I see him as a NHL player who continues to earn his chance. Likely not a long term player in Edmonton but a good stop gap?

Grows a stache like nobodies business but will that be enough. Will be the 13th or 14th forward going into the season. Plays exactly the game he knows how to play and knows how to use gamesmanship which is extremely important for the role he fills. In the end was not able to bring enough to the table for Edmonton but ends up in San Jose? Hmmm

Hits well, is relentless and has a scoring touch too. Did I mention he is a agitator and likes it too? The Oilers are very high on Chase and have been pleased with what he has shown them this camp so far. Not every jr player gets to play even in a scrimmage let alone game action. If he continues to develop this year back in jr, his path and future looks bright with the Oilers. And his path in jr last year was exceptional and even got the OKC call-up. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

Sick skills and looks to really have his shot back. His minor injury last season really hindered his shot. This year I would expect his shooting % goes back up. Will be interesting to see who he is paired with in the early regular season games. Injury to his wrist affected him somewhat this past season and it was noticeable with his accuracy. Likely a bounce back year.

Had his good and bad moments playing in the centre pivot position. It will take time to adjust but Hall is a world class player and at the very worst it is highly likely he will fill the team need better by playing centre for up to 5 games then playing left wing and leaving this team extremely weak down the middle. RNH has confidence in Taylor, why shouldn't we? Taylor is learning what needs to be done in that centre pivot spot from good mentors in his coach Action and RNH himself. If we all recall, he did mention last year if the team did try him at centre he didn't want it to be a 2 or 3 game stint but given some time to really try it out. My guess? He will play a minimum of 10 games at centre and then be evaluated after that. It was a failure and Hall himself seemed relived after they moved him back to wing. IMO the center experiment is over and we won't see Hall in the pivot position again. It does not appear to be his calling card, Imagine his season if he started at LW at the beginning.

Time is running out for Curtis and his injuries have likely been his greatest downfall to really exhibiting what his true value is to the Oilers. His off ice work was said to have improved last development camp but now we missed seeing what progress could have taken place by, no on ice action. If not this year, then the next Curtis will likely be on the outside looking in. Only thing that saves him is a big year in OKC IMO. Well he didn't have the big year but did get resigned for another. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

A big tough, determined player that Dallas Eakins really appreciates has brought him to Edmonton on the basis he will push the bottom 6 forwards and or at worst play the power forward role in OKC, Most likely in the end will be a call up for bottom 6 winger role in Edmonton this season. Injuries limited any late season call-up but early on Ryan lacked the speed needed to compete in the NHL. Once again this year may get a cup of coffee in the NHL but that is the most he is likely to get in the NHL.

Will be monitored very closely this year and Oilers want to be cautious with him but are excited about his future with the organization. Debate is on if he reports to OKC or ends up in WHL with Everett. Likely he goes to WHL but some of that decision will be who gets assigned to OKC with other players from camp, bets are he goes to WHL. Didn't have a stellar year in the WHL in points but definitely also struggled through some injury. Progressed as season went on and had a good short stint to end the year in OKC. Looked good at evaluation camp and is ready to prove himself in OKC this year. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

Anton is pencilled into a 2nd line role in OKC to open the season but only Lander can change that destiny. Concerns are more about his confidence and Oilers would like to see him less concerned with points and more on just playing the same game, shift in and shift out. If he finds his game in pre-season, he starts in Edmonton, if not, other options are considered. Started weak but produced his best season in the AHL. Got himself in a position to challenge again at this years Oilers camp. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

His all around game is coming around but it looks more and more everyday he will have to decide to become a role player in a 4th or 3rd line tops role. Would be great if he accepted he may not have the Hockey sense to be a elite skill guy at pro level. Is pencilled in as 3rd line centre in OKC to start the year. Ended up being flushed, it was only a matter of time. Skill never showed at the minor pro level.

While the last regime was not happy with what they saw in Omark, this new regime is very happy with his potential. Dallas has great respect for his skills and wants to provide a prime opportunity for him to show himself well. It is still a win-win for both sides no matter how this comes down. If Linus can show even just ok, defensively he will get a shot, if he shows what he did in the past without the puck, he won't be in Edmonton past the pre-season games. OKC would be happy with 1 more year of Omark and when the year is completed he is a UFA who can go and try his own luck. I wouldn't count Omark out and don't forget, it's not his toughness that is in question, it is his ability to cover his defensive role. Linus never covered that role well. Was flushed eventually and even Buffalo a team lacking scoring flushed him too. His NHL Career is over just like Schremp. A player with tons of offensive prowess but no defensive ability to know what to do when not with the puck.

Perron is a interesting player. this guy has a lot of Yakupov in him when it comes to life and the game of hockey. He almost eats, breaths and lives hockey. Really love the fact he lines up so perfectly on his off wing just like Yakupov. If these two can have some chemistry, it may provide for some interesting hockey. David has no concerns going to the tough area's of the ice and does not mind some rough play.  Perron appears to really like the red carpet treatment he has received and you can tell by his actions he loves he is in hockey country. Perron was the player by season's end he ended up making MacT look good in his shrewd business deals. MacT landed a couple more later but David really seemed to find his spot here in Edmonton. Was one of the better stories in another bad season of hockey.

Like so many before him, Tyler is about to fall off the face of the hockey world really quick, if he can not be consistent with his play. Almost makes you wonder what happened somewhere. Was there something others knew that made him available at 31st OV at the draft. I think the injuries and confidence is what has stalled his major growth. He still has time to prove himself to the Oilers brass but time is starting to run out. He needs a strong year in OKC if he stands to even have a fighting chance. Will likely only get 1 or 2 pre-season games and then get assigned to OKC. Pitlick is so close but needs to overcome these injuries he keeps falling prey too. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

Roy has looked good to date but at scrimmage on a line with speed and against bigger, quicker players he has realized pretty quick, he isn't in the CHL anymore. Marco has performed above expectations and a good showing back in Jr should go a long way into his growth development. There look to be some high praises of his game with oilers brass. Big injury last year slowed down his growth but is looking to make up for lost time this year. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

Honestly, upon tweeting about the scrimmages, I was not trying to follow Yakupov very much but anytime he is on the ice, he draws the attention of every fan too him. He has become the newest darling of the fans and girls are going crazy over this cute Russian. His game seems to even have another step since last season and with some confidence behind him the limits are endless. There is no way this organization will be even considering a trade of this player unless something were to breakdown in their relationship. Nail's best game is when he is confident and given opportunities to rise to the occasion. One thing that was noticeable in the scrimmage is his relentless pursuit of the puck when the other team had it. Let's hope that spills over to the early pre-season games and becomes a contagious habit. The relationship with coach did break down and then the off ice things affected IMO the on-ice. Appears ready to make up for a poor sophomore season with training back in Edmonton last July and working out with some of the prospects already.

Some MSM have pencilled him as the 7th or even 8th d-man in the depth chart, not so sure the Coaches and scouts agree. They are very high on his physical battle for pucks, his passing ability and his skating and see him suited well for the NHL. Just too bad his struggles with Visa have been a pain. Was a bust and his physical play summed limited to a every 6th game basis. In the end he cost himself a job in the NHL.

The Oilers are very high on this prospect and will be following his Jr season closely. There are already plans in place to make sure he gets everything he needs to development to the best of his ability. Not sure it's everyone who see's Ben this important but some who are directly involved with him do and he will be given every opportunity to show his A game to this organization. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

It is amazing to see the growth in hi game. He is a battler but I don't know if he will ever see much time in the NHL but he continues to defy the odds. At the very worst he is a solid D-man for the AHL. Some of the development staff see nothing but bright future for this young player. Will discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

It appears there may be more to Denis coming back to the Oilers then just as a extra d-man. Between his NHL experience, his Russian language and his off ice personality and teachable character, it appears he may be the new mentor they wanted in town with Yakupov to keep the transition smoother with Khabby gone. Don't doubt Khabby's influence that aided Yakupov through the transitions early on. A total fail on Dennis part. Was a step behind and in the end was a gamble that never paid off.

Tyler is a battler and he likely will get over this but right now he is in for a tough season moving forward. He is the first one to tell you his head is not in the game like it was a couple years ago. Turning pro can do that to you against the next elite level of hockey players. I would still give him 2 more seasons to see if he can continue to develop the mental side of the game. There is no concerns with his athleticism or his positioning, it's all upstairs and that takes time to work on. Another rough year but let's discuss him more in our 'Bubble, Prospect or Suspect' series coming.

Jason is one of those Goalies who is adjusting to the new leg pad size. Didn't know about the change this year? Between the top of the knee and the highest point of the leg in the inner groin area, you have have your pad cover 55% of the area. The rule changed this year to 45%. This means Jason lost 1.5 inches on the length of his pad and it will affect the '5 hole' no matter how you look at it. Lots of confidence in Jason being able to run a string of even p to 10 games in a row if needed. Is considered a high quality back up goalie. Another bust and that was not expected. He should have been a capable backup. Maybe the pad change really hurt him? Who knows but his career is likely finished in the NHL.

Next blog will be up this weekend discussing the question Oilers fans everywhere want to hear. Hopefully I may  be able to give a few decent thoughts and inside information to help either answer or stir up those questions many people are asking. Check back soon

In the meantime and in between time that's it for another edition of OilersJamabalaya hockey.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

What possible changes exist in the Oilers coaching staff?

According to MacT Eakins is going nowhere. I have been very open about my thoughts on Eakins and what this team needs to do. Problem is? It doesn't matter what I think, it matters what MacT thinks and right now he has backed his coach 100%. MacT is going to run with Eakins, if he turns out to be incapable of bringing this team up to par in the playoff race next season, Eakins will be gone and MacT likely will only have one last coaching choice to make the team a success. For that to happen would mean another season (Year 5 of the rebuild) will have been wasted and this whole team will be blown up.

I know lots of fans and media alike think Lowe and others are totally safe and this team's ownership is a old boys club but he is still a businessmen. MacT is only 1 year and a bit on the job and has replaced only 1 coach. He will get 2 swings at it if he has too. However saying all that, it is very unlikely that will happen unless Eakins starts next season like he did last. Eakins came across last off-season like the 'Lone Ranger' riding his white horse and how he was the 'man' who would be better then the previous regime of head coaches. He came across to many of us as smug, arrogant and self-righteous. He made claims that you play bad, you watch from the press box. Did he follow through with that equally among all his players? Nope! Not at all.

He said no favouritism yet he showed it by scratching Yakupov for his poor play on the ice but not other elite players who were constantly causing Oilers games with poor defensive play. Who else was scratched for bad play last year other then Yakupov? Petry! Yup, that's it! No others. Granted, Hall and even Eberle while struggling earlier on, at least they were putting pucks in the net and contributing to goals for the team. What about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who I do believe in and believe is a excellent player) and Sam Gagner? What about Andrew Ference? Oh, yes, Andrew while a awesome guy and person made so many blunders out there at bad times but he's the captain and Eakins was not going to bench him. Some thing went wrong between Eakins and Yakupov and for Nail's part, after the debacle with his agent Larionov, Yakupov showed great character and said the right things on and off the ice. When it comes to putting in the work, Nail is no slacker. Enough with Nail as this is not about him but more about the way Eakins coached and taught him and used him and others.

No matter if I like it or not, Eakins is here to stay. I predict he has till the trade deadline next year to keep his job secure. If the Oilers are already out of the playoff race by trade deadline, Eakins will go (it happens, see what happened in Vancouver?). What will happen with the start of next year? Well, it's all speculation anyway but some things simple deduction will make it easier to read into the 'hockey leaves'.

Keith Action;
Not sure what Keith really brought to the table last year that really helped Eakins and if he did, we would never know what. There are many coaches who could do a much better job then Keith especially since there are so many technical coaches who can add to what this team needs. Action was a good soldier but we all know what happens to good soldiers. They are expendable! I can't see Action going anywhere this off-season as Eakins selected him but really IMO he needs replaced with more experience and a coach with a better resume. Keith likely stays.

Steve Smith;
This is a choice that many people behind the scenes believe was MacTavish's decision. MacT loves Smith and believes he has brought good success to the development of the defence. MacT likely chalks up the poor defensive play early in the season to Eakins running with his 'swarm' philosophy in the NHL. MacT stated Eakins was learning on the job and likely believes it was a mistake learned. Unless all the coaches are cleared out under Eakins, Steve is in Edmonton at least one more year working with the defence.

Kelly Buchberger;
This is the most puzzling of all the coaches decisions. Ever since his selection to coach the Springfield Falcons in the AHL, Kelly has not proven anything he adds to anyone other then someone above him I suppose. He did not look good as a head coach in the AHL and certainly not showed anything to us fans or the players that his coaching ability is better then others out there. The fact that he keeps lasting through head coaches is what scares me of the legitimacy of his coaching ability. It really makes no sense. While I see the other two coaches maybe staying on to start the year, I really question if Kelly is back to start the year as a assistant coach. Possibly let go and moved into a scouting area or player development or some fancy named position? Call it a hunch but I think we won't see Buchberger in the same role starting next season.

Fred Chabot;
Things really went wrong for Chabot when Barry Trotz let out his concerns with Devan Dubynk upon a couple games playing in Nashville. Those words resonated around the NHL, so you have to believe they were heard and examined closely within the Oilers management. I have seen a lot of Chabot's work with development of the Goalies over the years. He works hard and seems to train well on the technical tools they need to practice and work on. Some may just say the players given to him are not good enough. Goalies are a different breed and a Goalie coach is actually much more like a head coach when it comes to the goaltending position. The coach himself does little for the Goalie but the Goaltending coach is the one who prepares, teaches and trains and gets into the psychology of a goalies mind. Saying that,, there are not many great goaltending coaches and when you find one, you run with him. Rumours persist Fuhr one day returning to Edmonton but for now that is still speculation. I tend to see Chabot on his way out.

Next article we will discuss and look into what possibly is going to happen with the forwards on the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.

In the meantime, and in between time, that's it for another edition of Oilers hockey!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dallas Eakins and Todd Nelson to trade positions?

Ok, before i am crucified for starting a ridiculous rumour and everybody starts freaking out, let me explain. Is it even possible that the Oilers organization could actually flip these two coaches? I have searched the Internet and tried to find if this rumour has been swirling anywhere. I did not come up with this idea on my own. In fact, last night after speaking with someone who is a little more in the know, I started to examine the thought of this as a potential possibility. This is someone that has been involved in hockey for sometime (including the coaching fraternity). There is a lot of reasons why this makes no sense at all and lots of reasons why this could be a really good idea. I am not stating this as a legitimate rumour but wanting to at least examine this closer.

Let's examine the pros and cons and the information that has occurred over the last couple years before just tossing this possibility aside.

Jonathan Willis has a interesting read on OKC Barons bench Boss Todd Nelson

While I agree with Jonathan that adding Nelson to the current staff could be a good thing, Todd Nelson himself in a article written by Ryan Dittrick would prefer Head Coaching in the AHL to being a assistant in the NHL as he has already been a assistant coach with the Atlanta Thrashers.

To further add to Ryan's interview with Todd Nelson. Robert TychKowski also quoted Todd nelson but only after he was not selected for the Oilers Head Job. In this interview he speaks about opportunity and it does not sound like a coach who wants to take a couple years as a assistant coach in the NHL for only a maybe position.

Where does that leave us since MacT has gone on record as saying Dallas Eakins is not going away? Terry Jones reports on this.

Mike Baldwin, a reporter in OKC when interviewing Todd Nelson himself, quoted much of the same as our local guys except does mention the possibility in a couple years as working as a assistant coach.

Enough on the articles written. What are some common threads we are hearing or seeing on this team and around the city of Edmonton and in behind closed doors that leaks still seem to come out from?

What do we know? Dallas Eakins has seen this team's Powerplay drop significantly with a even better team this season then the previous. The team has dropped significantly in the standings looking to have taken a step backwards once again. We also know Barons head coach Nelson has continually had to deal with his best players being called up to Edmonton and at crucial times in the season. With the Oilers it seems just when their is a push for the AHL playoffs each year, they end up with a string of injuries or Nelson contends with those injuries on his AHL team. Bottom line? Nelson has an established track record with 50% of the Oilers NHL team and is known to be well respected and liked among them all.

You always hear rumours that can not really be substantiated. The young players party too much! The players have tuned out Dallas Eakins and do not respect him to get the best out of their game. The argument you hear to that is the NHL player is a professional and needs to be self motivated and shouldn't need a coach to pull the best out of him.

My take? I am sure Dallas is a wonderful person and even a really good coach. I just don't think that he is the right coach. From the moment he walked into this job, we heard how he was going to change this team. Their fitness level was too be intensified and their compete level was to be through the roof. In fact he really did IMO come off as arrogant and rude and his comments insinuated to me he was saying the last couple coach's did not demand that or couldn't teach that. Also he didn't really seem to know the players well enough of who has brought what to this organization with their gifts and talents. Even his systems play were truly flawed that he insisted would work and gave the reasons why.

Has Dallas learned on the fly? Absolutely and while I do think it's time we just quit firing coaches, I really did disagree we should have fired Ralph at all. Renney before him was a firing that happened to save Tambo's job for the following season. Tamby made Renney his scapegoat!

My take now? It's a tough decision to make and a tough pill for MacT to swallow if he were to replace his head coach but IMO if we are to bring in a young up and coming coach from the AHL, it should be from within the organization not from another one. At least we know what we have from within and it does look good.

Could Nelson accept a Assistant job? It's possible, anything is possible. If Todd does come in as assistant, you know at least a couple assistants are on their way out. What is most likely? I think Chabot and Bucky are on their way out.

However, what if Todd nelson were to take the Head Coaching job of the Edmonton Oilers should it be offered by MacT? What would happen with Dallas Eakins and the remaining part of his contract? The scoop I was told is Dallas gets sent to OKC to take on the Barons. I can hear some people right now saying 'no way!' Dallas didn't come to Edmonton to return back to the AHL. Maybe not but he also didn't perform and to me doesn't sound like a guy who is very accountable for his many mistakes as a rookie head coach. What happens to a player who under performs? He loses his job outright or gets demoted. They are paying Dallas so sending him to hone his skills within their AHL team isn't the end of the world. Eakins benches players when they under perform maybe it's time to do the same?

Not for a minute do I claim to know what WILL happen but this rumour could have some validity to it but only time will tell. In the meantime and in between time, that's it…for another edition of 'Oilers Jambalaya"

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Where do the Oilers go from here?

The Edmonton Oilers season has gone down the toilet in a big way and we are looking at one of, if not the worst season record in the history of the organization. There is no way to spin this thing and nothing I can say here will change. This city (Edmonton) and Oilers fans worldwide have found places to cast blame and some seem like good possibilities but many of those places they are looking to cast blame I do not believe are the reason for the poor results on the ice.

Let's walk through some of the possibilities that are ailing the Edmonton Oilers and possible solutions that could be made to see improvement this year and the year's to follow.

Possible Problems:

1) President Kevin Lowe;
While I agree that Lowe should be made accountable for the mess that is the Oilers, he is not. There has been no repercussion for his bad decisions or lack thereof. On the other hand other then just making people feel good, do we really believe this team improves if he is fired or let go? Nope! It's about time we stop looking at Lowe as the problem. The past may be his fault, heck even where we are now. If we have to let MacT go cause he fails as a GM then that would be Lowe's fault for 2 bad GM hires and that should fall on him. Until then? Exactly, let's look for a different on ice reason for a lack of results with this skilled of a team

2) GM Craig MacTavish;
How can we blame MacT for this? Because he hired Eakins is the reason we have tanked? Maybe, but since very little growth occurred with the other coaches I highly doubt it would have added more then another 5 wins in the old win column. In fact MacT has not even been in his job a year and took over a disaster of a rebuild. Sure he has made some errors as fans like to point out, but if we are all honest, the current state of affairs of this team is not MacT. He doesn't have much time to stand pat that is for sure. He has to make at least 2 big moves still to even see the Oilers become a playoff team IMO.

3) Head Coach Dallas Eakins; 
MacT, Quinn, Renney, Kruger and now Eakins and we think this all falls on Eakins. I did not like what i thought sounded like arrogance when he first came in but in recent interviews he sounds a little more humbled and I for one, don't see changing head coaches as a way of improving. It's a decision that needs to be followed through for 2 full seasons.

4) Assistant Coaches Buchberger and Smith:
I like both as people and as players in their day but don't see how they add more then another assistant coach would who is real good at their job and come with a top end resume. Could it be they have been trained by bad mentoring? It's time to move on here and hire someone with a proven track record who has had success at their level of coaching.

5) Goaltending;
Has been and continues to be a problem for a long time. It's time the Oilers get a goalie who can steal a game every 10-12 games. Someone who can have a Save % of at least .915 and not let in soft goals at times when they break the back of the team's momentum. A clutch save at the right time is more important then just a save. btw…contrary to most people's thoughts with goalies, there is no goalie who we can get (or afford) that is on top of the world when we get him. You need to take a chance on a Goalie who may need to re-establish himself sometimes.

6) Defence;
As upset as some may be here, you can't bring in elite talent without paying through the ceiling with your young forwards who are considered untouchable to Oiler fans. The future is shaping up well and defencemen always take time to develop. My preference is still to get Ekblad in the draft and let him get 1 extra year in jr before bringing him up. In the meantime Klefbom has more time to develop (he will come around IMO) Marincin and Gernat in the minors and let's not forget Nurse.

7) Team is too small and not gritty enough;
While I agree we need to get bigger and or tougher, what does that mean? Ever watch Crosby? What about Nathan MacKinnon this year? Some of you Oiler fans really like Perron's game. I could walk through at least 15 other NHL players easily who are tough to play against yet they are not extremely tall or over 200 lbs. So what does bigger or tougher mean? Is it height or weight? I think what people mean is they can protect the puck, not get tossed around when they get hit and can win the battles in the corners coming out with the puck on most occasions.

Having said all that, none of us really know the answer and if we really believe we are smarter then the professionals we need to give our head a shake. But since this is only a blog and we like to discuss these kind of things let me take a stab at where I think the Oilers should go from here…

Stay the course and do not trade the pick;
My preference would be to draft in order if they are available when the Oilers step up to the podium, Ekblad, Reinhart or Sam Bennett. Should the Oilers draft out of the top 3 then Drasaitl would be next. It's likely we will be drafting top 3 in June. Drafting one of the other of Reinhart 1st or Bennett allows us to draft for a 2nd line center for the future as well. Don't be deceived, Reinhart will not be pushed around at 6'1 even though he is 185 lbs about. He would be a perfect fit IMO on that second line but i would send him back to jr for 1 more year before bringing him in full-time even though I believe he will be ready this next year.

Trade Yakupov;
I absolutely do not personally want to send him packing but something tells me his game will not fit what the Oilers are building. The trade with a top quality prospect and or pick for a top end defencemen or big center who can fill in the #2 line spot. I realize some may think his value is low but it's just a sophomore jinx some may say. Most the other players taken high in his draft year are not faring much better and it is rumoured that many GM's actually believe that Edmonton does not handle their development well with some of their players. His value is high out there on the market and this summer will be a good time to explore what the options are.

Try to resign Scrivens and get a solid UFA #1 Goalie or make a trade for one;
This will not be easy but let's hope the Oilers can somehow convince someone who hits the market July 1st that coming to Edmonton will be where they can excel. Until this can happen the Oilers will always muddle around in the middle of the pack at best.

Trade 2 defence prospects for a 3-4 d-man;
We are stock piling some d-men and eventually something will have to break. The Oilers can land a few different defencemen as a possibility but truth is a player in the ability of a Petry can be had it will mean the Oilers will have to give something good up (other then their 1st round draft pick or Nurse).

The players I do not even consider to move unless someone goes crazy and overpays are the following;
Taylor Hall / Ryan Nugent-Hopkins / David Perron / Darnell Nurse / Justin Schultz / Jeff Petry. Everyone else is available for the right deal if it means we improve the team. I love many of the other players as well but you will have to pay a high price if you want to bring in a franchise type player who can take this team over that bump in the road.

I know many of you will have varying opinions on this. Shoot away at your suggestions or thoughts. It's all subjective anyway but nothing wrong with voicing our thoughts or idea's or opinions. What's your thought's? You see things different or are you thinking along the same lines? What about Oilers management? What do you think they are actually going to do?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tyler Pitlick Earns One More Shot, As Do Others

Coach Dallas Eakins had high praise when talking about Tyler Pitlick after tonight's 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. 

Pitlick had a team high 6 hits and he played a very sound and solid game. He really stood out tonight and added a beautiful assist to the mix. With 15:13 of playing time, he made every minute count. Good on him considering he's pretty much has been a wash so far in his short Oilers career. I don't know where this version came from, but I like it. 

Jesse Joensuu also had a good game. He scored his third goal of the preseason because he drove to the net and really played a hard fought game. He's also earning the coaches praise.

Anton Belov makes good choices. He just seems really smart with the puck and I'm really starting to like him. I really liked his quick release with the puck and he picked up an assist due to that. I'd imagine he looks even better in another game or two. Good signing so far. 

After the blunder by Dubnyk, he was solid. No reason to knock him. Accidents happen and that goal against was just that. A mistake. No big deal. He was great for the rest of the game, just not that 2 seconds of it. 

Will Acton and Taylor Fedun both had decent games as well. Acton scored the game winner and Fedun played a real calm and cool defensive game. Both will get another chance to impress. 

Mark Arcobello had a team high 5 shots and played well enough. I'm not convinced he's done enough for a roster spot, but he sure is putting in a effort to do so. 

Boyd Gordon was 67% on faceoffs. That in my opinion, was all he really did tonight. I expected him to be better. 

Phil Larsen had a good game. He had 5 blocked shots and picked up an assist. He's making a very strong case to make the team too. Tough decisions for coach Eakins. 

Maybe Yakupov needs a night off? He's played in every game and tonight he looked like he could use a rest. Mind you, he was playing with Omark (bad tonight) and Gordon (so-so). 

The one guy who did blow it? Linus Omark. In a game where he needed to be a factor, he wasn't. Not even playing with Yakupov. I fear he may have blown his last chance and once again he will be with the Barons. 

In a game where guys needed to step up, some did, and some didn't. 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Is Andrew Ference the right Captain, right now?

I will make this post short and sweet. For weeks now we have heard speculation that Andrew Ference is going to be the captain on a intern basis until one of our young stars steps up and is ready to take the reigns. My question is, 'Is Ference the right Captain?'

Not trying to sound insensitive to all he has done or who he is, Andrew is one of the last people who I would put in as captain and here are my reasons why....

1) He may be a fitness warrior but so was Horcoff and was he the right captain? Some will say yes, I would argue that he was the most experienced for the job after Ethan was done and not much else was a option at the time.

2) Speaking of experience, what experience does he have with his teammates as a veteran? Sure he is a veteran to the league but not to Edmonton and it's not like he is respected already as a Edmonton Oiler. I understand picking a veteran of the league on a team that is real young and there is no leaders but is not leadership what our young stars have been developing?

3) What does a captain do? It's not just on ice and locker room stuff, it's the intangibles. Does he know our city, will he organize events on behalf of our team players? How could he? He doesn't know enough about our culture or team. (Not that our culture has been great but it is improving)

4) Sure he appears good right now as a on ice player but media likes have penciled him in as a top 2 d-man on the Oilers and question is..can he even perform at that level skill wise? Maybe, maybe not! We won't know until the season moves into full swing. Why take a chance on naming your captain when he may stink out the joint or be a d-man that fans make their new scape goat? (He may do all right in the end , we won't know until halfway through a season even.

5) Lastly, why name a captain who is only a stop gap? If your going to name your captain and he is here now, make that decision to crown him when the time is right. I think IMO it is not beneficial to name a good leader a captain just because of that personality. I highly doubt Ference plays better or this team plays better because a 'C' goes on his jersey.

My suggestion you ask? I think you alternate your captain and wait to name him by Dallas seeing who will step up to the plate by the new year. Let's see who really shines in that all around leadership role. I would not be surprised if Gagner were to be picked but it would be the wrong decision IMO. For my monies worth I would pick Eberle still,  as Hall is not always a calm factor out there on the ice like a captain should be (In tradition anyway) but Hall sure appears like he wants the job and looks determined to take this team by the horns and run with it. Not sure why but I get this feeling that Eberle may one day be that key trading piece the Oilers trade out of town but let's hope my gut is wrong. I think the answer is in the writing and Dallas has it pencilled in as Hall! 

Question though 'Is Andrew Ference the right Captain, right now?'

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