How Improved Are The Oilers.
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08-19-2013, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Think the most significant changes were improvements and came in the form of MacTavish replacing Tambellini and Eakins replacing Krueger. Since the Oilers clearly require an upgrade in their bottom-six forwards and behind the bench, having MacTavish take over GM duties to acquire these types of players made sense. Krueger obviously wasn't getting much accomplished as head coach and while he only had the reins for one season, I didn't see much urgency or "push back" from him as coach when the Oilers started to break down or were outplayed.
I don't believe they're a lock to make the playoffs based on the players MacTavish acquired. Gordon will *hopefully* improve the team in the faceoff circle and even if he skates on one leg, he's more effective than Belanger ever was. Ference was a wise pick-up - EDM has needed a veteran presence on the blue line since Souray and Whitney weren't exactly "professionals" during their tenure with the Oilers.
Joensuu is clearly a try-out for the team given the need for his size. A two-year deal worth less than $1M per isn't bad - hopefully he takes advantage of his opportunity. I liked the Perron acquisition based on his compete-level and I'm sure he'll be looked to as a leader on and off the ice. A little unsure of MacTavish seemingly trying to build depth on defense through Belov and the return of Grebeshkov. Still think a significant upgrade on the blue line is required in the area of more skilled and proven players.
From what I've heard and read about Eakins as head coach of the Marlies, I think we can all expect a far more competitive and feisty team. Krueger looked lost on the bench at so many times last year, whereas when I've watched Eakins, he doesn't appear to be without answers and has a clear strategy in place revolving around peak physical conditioning. Eakins is probably the right guy behind the bench for the team at this juncture since he's demonstrated consistency with younger players and has shown that he understands how to communicate and get the best out of players who have yet to reach their potential.
MacTavish still has some work to do, but the team has improved on paper and is likely tougher to play against. Can't say that the Oilers are "destined" to make the playoffs this season, but they're a lot closer than they were last year. Think they'll either finish 7th-10th, dependent on how they perform on-ice of course.
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