Welcome to the Oilers Panel.
On this weeks Oilers Panel, The Hockey Writers contributors will voice their opinions on; the future of Kevin Lowe, the future of the coaching staff and why eon Draisaitl is a name Oilers fans around the hockey world should know.
It’s been heavily debated in the media whether Kevin Lowe’s involvement with the Oilers should continue and whether he is at fault for the Oilers struggles over the past 14 seasons. Lowe, 55, was a former star defenseman for the club throughout the dynasty years and has spent all of his post-playing days in management with the Edmonton Oilers. Since taking over as general manager in the summer of 2000, Lowe has overseen some troubling years with the Oilers. Is there a solution to all this suffering amongst the Oilers fanbase?
Dallas Eakins was recently given a vote of confidence by general manager Craig MacTavish during his season-ending press conference in a state-of-the-union like address. Eakins will be returning as head coach of the Oilers for the 2014-15 season but does that mean the rest of his coaching staff is safe?
The Oilers will be holding the 3rd overall selection at the 2014 NHL Draft taking place this June in Philadelphia. There are some big names available including arguably the best defense prospect of the past decade in Aaron Ekblad who is favoured to go 1st overall to the draft lottery winners the Florida Panthers. From there forwards Sam Reinhart of the Kootney Ice and Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs are the next big names jockeying for the top draft spot. But is there another name Oilers fans should be watching for?
Leon Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders is a German forward with size and an amazing skill set that could be one of the better players of this draft, but will the Oilers pass on the opportunity to draft some skilled centers in Reinhart and Bennett?
Without further adieu, this weeks Oilers Panel.
Q: Should the Oilers make a leadership change and have Kevin Lowe resign or be relieved of his duties?
Shane Sander: (see article) Yes, the classy way to do this would be convincing Lowe to resign so he can save some face with the fan base. In any other organization be it hockey or business, if you oversee a lack of results over a five-year period, let alone eight, you are almost always relieved of your duties. Remember Lowe was the GM from 2000-2008 when the Oilers made the playoffs only three times. So in Lowe’s 16-year run with the Oilers organization, the Oilers have made the playoffs only three times. Three post-season runs in 16-year’s, let that sink in. Bring in former Hockey Canada executive Bob Nicholson
Time to breakup the old boys club in Edmonton and let Kevin Lowe, Buchberger, Chabot go. Time for Oilers to start new http://t.co/XwBkG6MJ1F
— Shane Sander (@SanderTHW) April 16, 2014
Marcy Dimichele: (see article) Whether or not Kevin Lowe is even the issue with this team is still up for debate, but it’s clear that the fanbase is growing tired of the state of the franchise under his leadership. How much of a hand in drafting and trading does Lowe actually have? How much is management the problem? They don’t play the games. But obviously, a culture change may be in order because anything would help at this point. Stop hiring former Oilers is my solution. Get some new blood in the there and completely change the mindset of this organization.
Carl Maloney: Ideally he would resign and retain a token consulting/advisory position, rather than being let go and save face. Lowe has meant a lot to the organization in many capacities for a long time. However, the numbers don’t lie and with him steering the ship it just hasn’t worked. There has been talk of a culture change with Eakins and MacTavish, however hard to institute when the leadership at the top has been there for 16 years.
Q: MacT announced Dallas Eakins will be back next season and hinted in his presser that he will sit with Eakins after the season to discuss changes to the coaching staff, what changes do you make?
Shane Sander: Clear the deck. They tried removing the guy at the helm of the ship several times before when they let Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Ralph Krueger go while keeping the supporting staff. Now it’s time to clear the supporting staff. Eakins needs a strong assistant, it’s apparent the only in house option is to bring up Todd Nelson from OKC who can more than well fill those shoes. Let Keith Acton, Kelly Buchburger and maybe even Steve Smith go. Even the goaltending staff should be re-evaluated in Fredric Chabot and Sylvain Rodrigue. How the Oilers let Bill Ranford slip through their fingers and go to be the goaltending coach with the LA Kings is beyond me.
Marcy Dimichele: The Oilers needs some consistency behind the bench, something the young core simply hasn’t had. One could argue how important coaching “systems” are in hockey, but the reality is that a constantly changing voice probably isn’t helping the development of these players. Either stay the course with Eakins and let him grow with the team, or hire Barry Trotz, someone with a ton of experience. No one more AHL guys, or coaches with no NHL track record.
Barry Trotz says Dubnyk has bad habits… http://t.co/peRQfsmZHl Not a glowing report for goaltending coach Chabot in Edmonton.
— Jason Gregor (@JasonGregor) January 22, 2014
Carl Maloney: Eakins is a good coach, albeit a young one, and should be given the opportunity to stay. There has been far too much turnover behind the bench and too many different directions being preached. If they are going to stick with Eakins, as MacTavish has indicated, one change they need to make is to bring in an experienced coach to help guide him and be someone he can lean on. Even good coaches need that support. Look at Pittsburgh who brought in Jacques Martin to aid Dan Bylsma.
Q: The Oilers are picking 3rd at the 2014 NHL Draft. Who do you take?
Shane Sander: Aaron Ekblad is a perfect fit as he would give the Oilers one-half of the future top-pairing alongside Darnell Nurse. Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom and Martin Marincin would be great second-pairing guys giving the Oilers a very good group long-term. Throw in Martin Gernat, Brandon Davidson and Dillon Simpson, the Oilers defense is all of a sudden their strong suit. If Ekblad isn’t available it’ll be because Florida would have taken him #1. Buffalo will most likely take Sam Reinhart #2, so the Oilers would keep the #3 and you take Bennett. Bennett’s playing style could be a mix between Jonathan Toews and Matt Duchene.
Marcy Dimichele: If Ekblad isn’t available, and he probably won’t be, I would go with Leon Draisaitl. He’s a bigger forward, something the Oilers don’t have a lot of. He projects to be a perfect second line centerman, and if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is your top-line guy, that’s a pretty good one-two punch. Bennett is a great player, but exactly what they already have in abundance. Time to add some muscle.
Carl Maloney: As with everyone else, if Aaron Ekblad is available it’s a no brainer and he should be an Oiler. However, if he is taken in the first two picks, my pick at #3 is Draisaitl. His combination of size and skill is hard to pass up and he slots in nicely as the future No.2 centre. Both Reinhart and Bennett, the two forwards ranked ahead of them, both project as No.2 centres as well, but the Oilers need some size, and they don’t sacrifice skill in Draisaitl.
— The Hockey Writers (@TheHockeyWriter) April 16, 2014
Next week the Oilers Panel will discuss the Sam Gagner, Nail Yakupov among others.
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Edmonton Oilers regular contributor providing insight on all things Oilers including club history, prospect profiles, trade breakdowns, and everything else in between. Check back regularly for new and exciting content. Follow on Twitter @SanderTHW.