Where are MacTavish’s “bold moves” for Oilers?

So... when are we going to see Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish's bold moves? (CP)

We’re back with another edition of “Here’s What I Want To Know,” and this time the Edmonton Oilers will be the target. The Twitter response was exceptional, so let’s get to your questions:

Mattola (@canucksrepublic) submits:

Call it a rookie mistake. At his opening press conference as a GM, Craig MacTavish uttered this quote: “I’m an impatient guy, and I bring that impatience to this situation. We’re at the stage… that we have to do some bold things. We have to expose ourselves to some semblance of risk, to try and move the team forward in a rapid fashion.”

That was April 15, 2013, and that sentiment boiled down to the two-word doctrine “bold moves” that has dogged MacTavish’s time as GM. The truth is, MacTavish has been one of the busiest GMs in hockey on the trade front. What is also true, however, is he quickly learned that the only assets he had to deliver on the “bold” front were players like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. Or a first-round draft pick, which keeps coming in at a level that’s too good to trade.

The truth is, MacTavish’s team has not progressed to a point where a “bold” move would put them in Cup contention. And only then does it seem worthwhile to part with the asset described above.


The issue with “The Swarm” was never goaltending, per se. Of course, goaltending as poor as what Edmonton received last season undermined every plan, right across the board.

An NHL coach told me last year that executing “The Swarm” is predicated on stopping the cycle. A defenceman (or centre) has to pin his man, causing the puck movement to cease. Then the support zeroes in on the puck and the defensive plan takes shape.

The problem? Edmonton’s defensive personnel was not stout enough to stop the cycle. Eakins had the wrong people for his system, and that became clear soon enough. Call it another rookie mistake. I doubt if they’ll return to that plan this year, despite the additions of Mark Fayne and Nikita Nikitin, two much needed NHL D-men signed by MacTavish.


Experience tells us that there are precious few significant trades made before the new year. So it’s 95 percent certain Edmonton won’t be able to find a legit No. 2 centre on the trade market before January.

It says here Anton Lander will never be the long-term answer as a No. 2 centre. He still needs to take a big step to be a No. 3 or 4. Mark Arcobello, on the other hand, has the skills to fill that No. 2 spot, but his size (5-foot-8, 166 lb.) decrees he is a stopgap solution, no more, no less. Clearly, 6-foot-2, 204 lbs. rookie Leon Draisaitl is the long-term answer, but he doesn’t even turn 19 until Oct. 27.

This is the last spot in the Edmonton rebuild where MacTavish doesn’t have enough legit NHL players to fill the roster. He’ll go with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, Boyd Gordon, Arcobello and either Lander or Will Acton as a spare, and they’ll protect Draisaitl as much as possible until he grows into the role.


Funny, funny…

Edmonton will take a significant step this season as far as being competitive with the top teams—even the most sarcastic among you would admit that the roster is superior to what it was 12 months ago. Nikitin and Fayne are two legit NHL defencemen who weren’t here a year ago. Benoit Pouliot and Teddy Purcell are both bigger body depth players that the Oilers lacked. And the tandem of Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth, although not preferable to having one grade A, top-10 NHL goalie, is much, much more stable than what Edmonton opened last season with.

So, they are better. Now Nail Yakupov has to take a step. So does Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle. One of Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom must grab a spot on the roster and not let go, while it is time for Jeff Petry to prove he’s a core player, and worthy of a long-term deal.

If they played in the East, I might pick Edmonton as a dark horse for eighth. But they don’t, and the leap from 14th to eighth out West is too great. Put Edmonton down for 10th in the West. Playoffs next year.


Oh Steve, you are a true card. Anyhow, the parades traditionally wind down Jasper Ave., and even though the last one in 1990 seems like eons ago, go across the country and count how many have been held in any other cities. (Answer: One, in Montreal, 1993.)

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