The Biggest Ups and Downs of the Edmonton Oilers' 2013 Offseason
Things were not working in Edmonton, and as the team once again failed to take the next step in the rebuilding process and make the playoffs, changes were ultimately necessary.
Enter Craig MacTavish, who immediately said all the right things entering the offseason, and while perhaps he wasn’t able to deliver on some of his statements, the Oilers do look to be a more competitive franchise entering the 2013-14 season.
Here are the biggest ups and downs of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2013 offseason.
Up: Drafting Darnell Nurse
The Oilers had the opportunity to draft another talented forward when gifted Russian playmaker Valeri Nichushkin slipped down the board, but instead they opted to draft Darnell Nurse, the promising, big-bodied defenseman from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
While Nurse may be a couple years away from actually making the NHL squad, the Oilers are finally stocking up some depth on the blue line so that they will not have to rush the player along to make the team and can allow him to progress in the AHL and become acclimated to the professional grade.
Nurse fills an organizational need, and though his talent is raw, he could potentially develop into the franchise defenseman the Oilers have so desperately coveted.
Up: Hiring Dallas Eakins
Dallas Eakins did wonders for the Toronto Marlies, the farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and was one of the premier names available to those teams in the market for a new head coach. Luring Eakins to Edmonton is huge for the Oilers franchise.
Eakins is credited for helping a young star like Nazim Kadri take the next step in his career and should also be able to have a similar impact on the young forwards in Edmonton.
The Oilers haven’t been kind to head coaches over the past few seasons, so hopefully Eakins can settle in and help lead the Oilers to the postseason.
Split: Naming Craig MacTavish the New GM
Craig MacTavish was a strong player and a very capable head coach for the Edmonton Oilers, and with his hockey knowledge, he could very well be a great GM for the team. But the reaction was split when he was named new as the new GM for the club.
The Oilers have been viewed as somewhat of an old boys' club, hiring former players who are perhaps not the best options for the club. So when MacTavish was named as new general manager in relatively quick fashion after the release of Steve Tambellini, opinions were split.
Down: MacTavish’s Bold Moves
Craig MacTavish said all the right things during his opening press conference after being named the new GM for the Edmonton Oilers.
Having such intricate knowledge of the Oilers team, MacTavish let it be known that he was an impatient guy who wasn’t afraid to make a bold move in order to help the franchise progress.
MacTavish was able to add a few supplementary pieces to the roster in Edmonton, but he failed to lure any marquee free agents to Edmonton (which is probably for the best considering the significant over-payments required to do so). So his failure to make a bold move and the lack of significant additions have got be viewed as low points in the offseason.
Up: Roster Moves
Perhaps the biggest high point for the Oilers' offseason has to be the roster moves they were able to execute.
This started with unloading incumbent captain Shawn Horcoff and his large contract to Dallas and being able to acquire anything in return. Horcoff was a strong captain for the Oilers, but in order to spark a culture change, it was necessary to move him on.
Though Edmonton wasn’t able to land one of the bigger free agents during the offseason, the additions of Andrew Ference, Jason LaBarbera and Boyd Gordon were very strong, if underrated additions.
Ference will be a strong influence on the back end and could help anchor the Oilers blue line. Though his contract may be one year too long, Ference is a proven winner and will be an addition to the team.
Boyd Gordon is also a very underrated addition and should fill the hole left by the departure of Shawn Horcoff. Gordon will be an asset on the penalty kill and will end up taking many significant faceoffs for the Oilers going forward.