I don't get it. I don't. Add today's lack of results to the growing stack of disappointments for Oilers fans. The team went into the draft weekend knowing they had to acquire at least one immediate Top 4 defenseman. They also had a number of lame players to deal for any return...anything...it didn't matter if it was a 7th round draft pick. They needed to go.
What did Oilers management do all weekend? Seriously. I know they went to the draft to draft players, but they have Stu MacGregor for that. What the hell was the rest of the Oilers management team doing? Playing Angry Birds?
It sounds like Oilers management almost screwed up the obvious Yakupov pick, too. I am hearing little bits of information suggesting Oilers management weren't the ones who picked Nail Yakupov; Daryl Katz did. Management wanted a defenseman, but Oilers owner Katz was the person who decided the matter for the team. If this is true, hats off to him. Sometimes the owner needs to be the owner when the employees stop doing their jobs. I wonder how Katz is at acquiring defenseman?
So why didn't Oilers GM Steve Tambellini acquire a defenseman? A range of reasons:
- Whenever the Oilers call someone to ask about a D man, other teams immediately ask for one of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and now, Nail Yakupov. The Four Oilmen are untouchables, especially if the owner says they are. Anyone knocking this concept should keep in mind these four kids are the marketing face of the franchise, and are literally worth millions in revenue. Yakupov stole the show the week of the draft, and that type of personality keeps fans come to games not only in Edmonton, but league-wide.
- Teams were offering up deals for Sam Gagner, but like I said a few days ago, the Oilers don't really want to deal him unless they have a quality #2 center coming in from somewhere to replace him. Shawn Horcoff is no Top 6 forward (everyone knows this), and Eric Belanger is death on a stick. It's either Gagner on Line 2, or move Hall to center. And I'm not sure moving Hall to center is in the best interests of the team.
- Sadly and obviously, the trade market for Ales Hemsky still isn't there. I'm sure the Oilers received offers, but they were likely more the type the Dallas Stars received for Mike Riberio (a 2nd round pick and unproven youngster Cody Eakin). The Oilers could likely acquire a D man for Hemsky, but he's not going to be of good enough quality to improve the team significantly. Think someone like Andrej Sekera.
- I think some of this comes down to the Oilers management team being completely unwilling to make a mistake. Funny how that works: The team is making a mistake by not being willing to make a mistake. Worded another way, the Oilers are unwilling to move any quality prospects like Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen, Tyler Pitlick, David Musil, Martin Marincin and so on for the sake of acquiring an immediate player. Keep in mind the Oilers have some quality prospects, but prospects are just prospects. It could take a moving a few, combined with perhaps the addition of a draft pick, to acquire any defenseman of significance. It could be a deal that makes the GM look terrible five years from now, when those young prospects are putting up huge numbers and the defenseman traded for is gone.
Steve Tambellini will make it sound like teams are overvaluing their own players, but he needs some sort of excuse to explain his own poor job performance. Obviously Top 4 D-men are in demand, and other teams know it. They aren't going to cough up anyone of quality without receiving a quality return. That's the way this works. You give something; you get something.