a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Saturday, 13 December 2014

12/13/14 The Breaking Point

Make it stop.

Are we really expected to just sit back and watch the rest of this season circle the drain with nothing being done? The coach isn't getting fired, the GM isn't getting fired, and they're not making any helpful, no-brainer additions like Lander, Chipchura or Marincin. How on earth is this possible? Has the obsession with the draft really reached this level of fanaticism?

Only seven players that have suited up for the Oilers this year are holdovers from the time when Steve Tambellini was running this thing: Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, Yakupov, Petry, Schultz and Arcobello. The rest of the roster has been swapped out for new blood. That's why you shouldn't buy the argument that MacTavish hasn't been on the job that long. We're coming up on two years of MacT at the helm, his fingerprints are all over the team and the results have been more of the same.

Almost all of the players that could be traded or let go have been. MacTavish has his choices in every position not occupied by a first overall pick. His choices have been wrong.

The points the team has chosen to emphasize are so baffling that it's bordering on the bizarre. Even with Joensuu gone, the Oilers are spending $16,462,500 on the left wing - 25% of their cap expenditure! That's given them one of, if not the best left wing in the NHL, but it's also hopelessly unbalanced. It's great to have Hall, Perron, Pouliot, Hendricks and Gazdic but only if you trade one of them (Perron) in the off season for help up the middle. A $4 million third-line left winger is not what this team needed, despite how well Pouliot has performed when healthy.

But MacTavish is only willing to trade players when their value is low: Gagner, Hemsky, Horcoff, Smid, Dubnyk, and hell even Paajarvi was coming off of two down years when he was moved. Word is that the GM is trying to move Yakupov now that his value has tanked, and Petry will soon be transformed into a couple of draft picks. You can't improve a team that way.

As much as I didn't like to, I've been talking about trading Jordan Eberle and balancing out the roster and payroll since 2012. The Oilers are strong on the wing, which makes trading a winger the logical conclusion. Drafting a player like Nail Yakupov makes that argument even stronger. Yakupov was by all accounts the best player available, and if the Oilers had traded fellow right-winger Eberle for help on the backend there would have been no reason to worry about picking Ryan Murray.

Instead, the Oilers grip their assets so tightly that they suck all the life out of them and then cast them aside. It's happening right now with Petry and Perron and Yakupov and finally even Jordan Eberle, who is on pace for just 17 goals. 

By trading underachievers for draft picks, overpaid castoffs and young assets, the Oilers continue to behave like a rebuilding team. That's why they keep getting the results of a rebuilding team.

Oilers fans deserve a management team that has the courage to make moves that will finally bring balance to the roster. What we're getting instead of that is a group that is willing to stand pat and lose for the rest of the year, only to have a shot at another young phenom, another hope, another player to throw in over his head.

What does a guy gotta do to get fired around here?

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