Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TAMBO TUESDAY: Renney is head coach a year earlier and the writing is on the wall for Hall

Didn’t see that coming.

On top of a new surprising coaching change for the Edmonton Oilers, the other news of the day was a deal between the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins

It was a move saw Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell for defenceman Dennis Wideman and Boston’s coveted 15th pick.

Earlier, I suggested the Oilers should and must get Boston’s 15th pick if they ever swapped for first and second. I guess I can throw that out the window.

There is, most likely, something that can be read from this trade. Horton is an upstart winger who has scored 20 or more goals in each of his last five seasons in the NHL.

And Taylor Hall is a winger, so something tells me general manager Dale Tallon is beginning to build his team for a guy like Tyler Seguin, a natural centreman.

Steve Tambellini also told reporters today that he knew that deal was going to happen after talking with Tallon.

So now, it appears, a hat has been tipped for the Oilers to pick Hall on Friday.


The Oilers have also made its third coaching change in three seasons — it was expected, but it was a year too early.  

Pat Quinn will take on a senior advisor role with the Edmonton Oilers while Tom Renney will take his place behind the bench.

Quinn was signed for two seasons as head coach of the Oilers and it was expected he would take on a more managerial role after that contract expired.

What I don’t get, and what a lot of fans probably don’t understand, is why make the coaching move now? Steve Tambellini was too vague on why the move was made a year early.

“We must have the right people in the right spots going forward,” said Tambellini during today’s news conference.

By the way, Renney has a lot of work to do. In five seasons coaching the Rangers, Renney’s team failed to make the playoffs twice and the crew never advanced to the second round.

And After finishing dead last as assistant with the Oilers, Renney says he will need to create a new attitude within the dressing room. That will be a tough task. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

OUTSIDE THE PATCH: Shut the hell up, Murray

Probably the worst thing to ever happen to the Ottawa Senators is, without a doubt, promoting Bryan Murray to the team’s general manager.

The guy can’t keep is stuttering lips shut, and because of that, some fans in Edmonton are more than likely suffering from a bad case of déjà vu going into the draft and free agency.

Fans have been put through a giant soap opera with the whole Dany Heatley saga last season thanks to Murray who dangled the disgruntled star forward to Steve Tambellini in exchange for Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid.

Back then it was a great deal and fans were buzzing about it. That, however, obviously came to a crashing halt thanks to Heatley who wanted nothing to do with Edmonton.

Looking back, I can’t say I blame Heatley for the mess. He was a player who did have a no-trade clause on his contract. Edmonton wasn’t on his list.

Murray told reporters he wanted to get a deal done of before July 1 and “the Oilers had the best offer on the table.” I’d say that was a pretty arrogant move on Murray’s part since he obviously defied Heatley’s no-trade clause.

Now Murray is feeding the media frenzy in Ottawa again by scrumming with reporters about the team’s star centre, Jason Spezza.

“He didn’t come in and say ‘I have to be traded,’” Murray said, explaining about his meeting with the forward who was frustrated after the team’s first round loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“He said he wouldn’t object to one. I said, ‘Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t happen. You’ve signed a long-term contract. We’ve committed to you. You’ve committed to us. We will look at everything that’s going on to help out hockey team, but I’m not going to make a bad trade.”

Comments like this from Murray make my blood boil, especially after last summer’s fiasco with Healtey.

And I don’t think there is a GM in the entire league that hangs out their own dirty laundry in front of the media like Murray.

Oh, and it gets better.

He talked about Anton Volchenkov who, apparently doesn’t want to re-sign in Ottawa and because of that, Murray is interested in a defenceman.

There’s been some talk that Murray has some interest in making a move for Sheldon Souray.

Let’s just hope Murray stays quiet this time around.

Friday, June 18, 2010

FORTUITOUS FRIDAY: Pisani, Seguin, Daum and a hankerin’ for some heroin beer

It’s quiet, too quiet as far as Fernando Pisani’s agent is concerned.

Pisani, who made $2.5 million this season, is set to reach free agency after July 1 and so far, that could happen since Oilers brass have not talked to him, reports Jim Matheson with the Edmonton Journal.

Pisani’s agent, Mark Witken, told the newspaper he’s also still waiting for a call.

Obviously, Pisani will have to agree to a pay cut, like somewhere around $1.3 million or less. It’s too bad since he was prolific in the 2006 NHL playoffs by scoring game winning goals.
He’s also battled through bad injuries and struggled through a possible career-ender: ulcerative colitis. You have to respect a player like that.

Unfortunately, if Pisani doesn’t bite on the pay cut, he’s gone.

Others who will probably hit free agency include Jason Strudwick, Aaron Johnson, Mike Comrie and Ryan Stone.

I’d expect Comrie will stay in Edmonton, or at least offered a deal, given he was a strong, two-way player when he was healthy. And the same can be said for Stone.

When it comes to the blueline, Steve Tambellini could be looking to others in the free agent market for some “minor” tweaking.

By the way, Tambo will more than likely begin to negotiate with the mentioned players after the draft since he will be making a deal or a few deals in Los Angeles next weekend.


During a NCAA recruit-like tour of Edmonton Thursday, Tyler Seguin says it would be a “win-win” situation if the Oilers drafted him.

Seguin appeared to be really savvy when it came to answering questions from the media, and that’s something surprising considering he’s only 18.

And Hall was the same way during his tour of the city last week.

Tambellini and company do have a tough decision to make, but those who read this blog already know how I feel about who the Oilers should draft.


Tambellini says he’s getting a flood of calls from teams interested in Edmonton’s top pick, and that includes Flordia GM Dale Tallon. Florida is rumoured to be offering up Nathon Horton and the Panthers do have the third overall pick. All I can say is good luck with that bad deal.

Letting go Rob Daum this week was also bad for the Oilers considering he coached an AHL franchise without Devon Dubnyk, or most of last season without Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham and Ryan Potulny. Daum deserves to be in the NHL and I’m betting he will be back somewhere in the league in three to four years.

And here’s a thought: Oiler fans paid big bucks to watch a last place team all season long at Rexall Place, and that includes dropping $8 for a plastic cup of beer. How about cutting a buck or two from the current beer cost next season to say, “thank you fans”?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WHEELIN' AND DEALIN': 2nd pick must include a 15th pick

The Oilers will obviously pick Tyler Seguin, but Steve Tambellini and company could make that decision after it swaps picks with Boston at the draft June 25.

By now that’s pretty much common knowledge.

Boston needs a player like Taylor Hall and GM Peter Chiarelli is the only one in the league who could dangle something in front of Tambo to successfully swap picks — say, possibly adding Boston’s 15th pick.

That’s a massive haul for the Oilers if they can swap it’s first pick for the second and 15th, and Chiarelli would more than likely bite on that kind of deal since Boston is, allegedly, desperate for Hall.

And the Bruins need to make a splash after a colossal letdown against the Philadelphia Flyers in this year’s playoffs.

There’s a few future prospects the Oilers could choose from after a deal like that, including skilled Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter, rugged defenseman Dylan McIlrath of the Moose Jaw Warriors, or two-way American defenseman Jonathon Merrill.

Niederreiter was the talk of the 2010 World Junior Championship with his 10 points in seven games and that included helping his Swiss team take down Russia in a 3-2 upset.

Then there’s McIlrath — a six-foot-four 17-year-old who is mean, physical, and he makes opposing puck carriers nervous. Scouts say puck carriers would dangle to the other side of the ice to avoid McIlrath.

Scouts compare Merrill to Jordan Leopold, a two-way defenseman who can make plays, along with doing some crashing and banging.

The Oilers have 10 selections at this year’s entry draft, including two picks in the second round. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

THE DEABTE IS OVER: Oilers must pick Seguin

Another big reason why I’ve been away from blogging is because I couldn’t get my head around the Tyler Seguin/Taylor Hall debate.

When the topic came up over a beer with some friends, I had a tough time trying to decide who the Oilers should draft June 25 in Los Angeles.

I’m first to admit this. I’ve flip-flopped like a fish out of water on this topic every week. In one week I thought it should be Hall only because the Oilers are in dire of a sniper who could put fans on the edge of their seats.

Then the next week I think it should be Seguin only because he’s the type of player that makes every player around him better.

Obviously, both players will be stars in the NHL and finally, it’s a discussion that gives fans of the copper and blue some hope.

But, as far as I’m concerned, after doing a lot of thinking, the debate is OFFICIALY over.


Seguin is the right player for the Edmonton Oilers for all the right reasons. Sure, he’s probably not leading other pundits’ scouting lists, or the right pick among Oilers fans.

Seguin, however, must be picked based on what the Oilers are looking for long-term.


Seguin had a less than stellar first half of his rookie season last year with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers — a team that picked him ninth overall in the league’s selection draft.

The rookie was regulated to the team’s fourth line under a coach who preferred to play veterans.

Siegen probably wasn’t happy about the move considering it was the first time he had ever played on the fourth line in his entire hockey career, but he didn’t complain about it.

Imagine if a move like that happened to Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, Sheldon Souray and some other Oiler pre-madonnas. Oh wait, that already happened a few times and fans heard all about it. I forgot that it’s an annual event in Edmonton.

But once Mike Vellucci was brought in as the Whaler’s head coach, Seguin was promoted to the team’s second line then the top-line where he quickly scored 16 goals and 43 points in the final 19 games that season.

For a player to emerge so strong that quickly shows that he leaves his ego at home. Fans in Edmonton have been begging for a player like Siegen for a long, long time.

Hall hasn’t really faced that much adversity throughout his hockey career compared to Seguin.

And unlike Hall, Seguin never made Canada’s World Junior team mostly because the squad was already loaded with talented and more experienced centremen. Remember, Seguin was only 17 during tryouts. Hall is older.

Obviously, with his determination, not making the World Juniors would become a distant memory once Seguin plays in the NHL.


There are more than a few reasons why Seguin is drawing comparisons to Steve Yzerman. He’s a natural, right-handed, two-way centreman who has an unbelievable playmaking ability — just like a former Detroit Red Wings captain.

Seguin would also never hesitate to shoot when he sees an opportunity — cough, pay attention Hemsky, cough. The six-foot-one centreman did finish his OHL season tied for first (with Hall) with 106 points (48 goals and 58 assists).

Seguin is probably the type of player Kevin Lowe thought of when he signed Shawn Horcoff to his lucrative, yet ridiculous contract.

Horcoff was paid to be that type of player that could do it all — win faceoffs, score plenty of goals by taking passes from Hemsky, and clamping down defensively when his team needs him.

Obviously, Horcoff’s contract appears to be a mistake and the centre position is something the Oilers have a huge hole in the short term and the long term. And Sam Gagner isn’t quite up to snuff when it comes to his faceoff abilities.

Drafting Hall, for obvious reasons, wouldn’t be the right fit in Edmonton based on what the Oilers need. Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Linus Omark, and Jordan Eberle are wingers.

Riley Nash, a 21st pick by the Oilers in the 2007 NHL entry draft, has reportedly had it with the organization over being told to play in Cornell this season. If that’s the case, Nash won’t be around and he’s a centreman.


Speaking of Yzerman, Seguin does have an ability to lead.

During his 19-game offensive surge in his rookie season, Seguin played on the Whalers’ first line with Chris Terry and Matt Caria. When the pair left the squad at the end of the season, critics said Seguin would struggle.

Boy, were they wrong.

Seguin led his team into the playoffs with no first round prospects. He obviously has the ability to make his teammates around him better, as mentioned before.

Hall, on the other hand, had a load of talented weapons on his Windsor Spitfires team, including Cam Fowler.

A player like Seguin is someone the Oilers need and if things go well after two or three seasons, Seguin is an obvious choice as the team’s captain.

By the way, Yzerman was only 21 when he was given the “C.”


Hall is a terrific player, and obviously he will be a huge star in the NHL. However, Hall is not a great fit for Edmonton.

Drafting Hall would serve only one thing: it would be a public relations Band-Aid. Fans are pissed this season, as they have been since Chris Pronger wanted out of town after the “run” in 2006.

With no solid centreman to complement Horcoff, or visa-versa, the Oilers will still be a pathetic hockey team even after Hall is drafted.

The debate is done, son.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A buyout or two will happen before June 30

Daryl Katz will soon have a lot in common with American TV network NBC. 

The network spent tens of millions in cash — wastefully, I might add — to buyout TV talk show star Conan O’Brien and his Team Coco. Possibly, it was a polite way to replace him with old-school late-night host Jay Leno, but it wasn’t the right move.

Yup, O’Brien got screwed, and Leno is, well, Leno. But good things did happen for Team Coco. O’Brien is hosting a late-night talk show on another network and everyone lived happily ever after.

The story, on the other hand for the Edmonton Oilers, will take a new twist beginning tomorrow for a two-week long drama.

Sometime between tomorrow and June 30, Steve Tambellini could go to Daryl Katz and beg him to sign off three gigantic cheques to buyout a trio of forwards who have been absolutely dismal. That trio is none other than captain Ethan Moreau, Patrick O’Sullivan and Robert Nilsson.

And just like NBC, a big buyout is a waste of money for the Oilers because it was management who agreed to sign Patrick O’Sullivan to $2.95 million, or signing Nilsson to $2 million after being hot for one half of a season. Thank you, Kevin Lowe.

Expect a buyout or two to happen during or after the NHL Entry Draft June 25. Tambo will try to make a trade to dump O’Sullivan or Nilsson at the draft, but that won’t happen.

On the other hand, Toronto might bite on O’Sullivan simply because the Leafs are in dire need of forwards, but that’s a very, very long shot.


Keep in mind, buying out both of those contracts will shave close to $5 million off the cap and odds are Moreau and his $2 million salary will be traded for a third or fourth round draft pick to a contending team that’s desperate for some grit. Now there’s an easy salary dump.

A team like the Boston Bruins might consider taking on a player like Moreau, especially after blowing a three game series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Final.

The Flyers physically dominated the injury-plagued Bruins, and a player like Moreau could have been a difference, especially on the penalty kill. 

And after Boston drafts Taylor Hall (yup, that’s a blog post I’m working on for tomorrow), Moreau would be a great third or fourth line addition in Beantown.

Or there’s the Washington Capitals, a team that was in dire need of leadership in Game 7 of the opening round of the playoffs against the Montreal Canadians.

With the three contracts gone, the Oilers have plenty of cushion room when it comes to next season’s salary cap, so long term, they can afford to keep their young stars by signing them to long-term contracts. That’s if Tambo and Katz are smart about it.

By the way, go Team Coco.


The Oil Patch is back!!

That's right. The Oil Patch is back.

You know how it is. Working, going to school, watching Chicago's run to win the Stanley Cup. Let's just say, I've been busy.

Now, with some time on my hands, get ready for some titillating chit-chat from your truly about the NHL's greatest franchise, the Edmonton Oilers.