What is Craig MacTavish doing? Either give Todd Nelson the reigns, or don't. This two-headed monster is now just bizarre. It's not translating into wins, as if that really matters, and one presumes that it's keeping MacT from the big-picture type work that the team desperately needs. Is it going to take a win to get the GM out from behind the bench? Why? Why does that matter?
If it's a win that MacTavish is trying to squeeze out of this group, then he's badly exposing how unqualified he is as a general manager. Why? Because if winning matters, a smart hockey person wouldn't construct or deploy the lineup this way.
Brad Hunt, for one glaring example, is not an NHL player. No amount of stubborn force-feeding of minutes (another 19 to go along with a minus-3 against Calgary on HNIC) is going to change that. Simple. Obvious to anyone.
So is it about tanking, then? If that's the case, why not just hand the team over to Nelson and get to scouting the World Juniors? Lowetide pointed out at his blog that if the team doesn't trust the scouts they'd better have the GM watching.
No matter which direction the team is actually attempting to go, they're currently going about it the wrong way. It's funny, really, how wrongly this organization conducts itself without seeing it.
In other news:
Who knew how deeply the lack of center depth was going to cut? Just ask Nail Yakupov. The guy is averaging twelve and a half minutes of ice time at even strength, most often with Draisaitl and Arcobello. Is it any wonder that he isn't scoring?
Ever since MacTavish and Eakins took over the message to this kid has been that he can't be trusted. Ah, yes. If Nail Yakupov was going to be good at anything in the NHL, it was being defensively sound. That's just simply not the player they drafted. That doesn't make him a bad player, it makes the organization bad for not recognizing that he's a scoring winger who needs two quality linemates to free him up to do his best work.
I know everyone says "but he's a first overall pick! He should be making the players around him better!", but guess what? That's not the player the Oilers drafted. He's a scoring winger - that's it, that's all - so use him like one. There's no shame in it.
- For those sick of the negativity, I really do wish there was some good news to write about, but there just isn't. The way the team is conducting itself is now totally indefensible. The Oilers are on pace for their worst season ever and nothing is being done differently except for one of the most unusual coaching changes ever. What was the point of changing the coach if you're going to use the team in more-or-less the same way?