How Is A "Rebuild" Defined?

Rebuilt & built were in a boat, built fell out...Photo by Jerome Miron, via US Presswire

Josh L's recent article about the Dallas Stars' makeover has touched off an interesting debate between my esteemed colleague Mr. Reynolds and Josh. In it, Josh posits that the Stars have rebuilt their team and franchise, much like the Oilers have, but that the Stars have done it without tanking and finishing last repeatedly, as the Oilers have. His take:

"The Dallas Stars have been in a weird state of limbo for four years now. They've been one of those tweener mediocre teams since their last playoff berth after a decade of sustained success. Those teams generally have two directions they can go to get their franchises back on track. They can either tank and rack up the lottery picks or rebuild on the fly.

I used to lean towards the tankers. The closest thing I ever came to witnessing a full rebuild firsthand was the Stars dropping into the bottom five to draft Ric Jackman in 1996, and he had absolutely nothing to do with the immediate transformation of the franchise the following year. Needless to say, my thoughts on the topic weren't fully vetted."

Scott took issue with this:

"I am having a bit of trouble seeing this as rebuilding though. Or at least, I'm having trouble seeing how this "rebuilding" differs from what any good team tries to do.

So, aside from a change in ownership, are there any similarities between the two teams?

Let's go back to 2006-07, when the Edmonton truly began:

Edmonton Oilers
2006-07
2011-12
C Horcoff
C Horcoff
C Nedved
C Gagner
C Stoll
C Nugent-Hopkins
C Reasoner
C Belanger
F Winchester
F Hall
F Sykora
F Eberle
F Pisani
F Smyth
F Lupul
F Yakupov
F Torres
F Jones
F Hemsky
F Hemsky
F Petersen
F Eager
F Thoresen
F Petrell
D Smith
D Petry
D Smid
D Smid
D Greene
D Schultz
D Staios
D Whitney
D Tjarnqvist
D Schultz
D Hejda
D Sutton
G Roloson
G Khabubilin
G Markkanen
G Dubnyk

Three players that pre-rebuild roster remain on the post-rebuild roster. How does that compare to the Dallas Stars?

Dallas Stars
2006-07
2011-12
C Modano
C Benn
C Halpern
C Roy
C Ribeiro
C Fiddler
C Barnes
C Wandell
F Lehtinen
F Ryder
F Nagy
F Jagr
F Hagman
F Whitney
F Jokinen
F Vincour
F Miettinen
F Eakin
F Eriksson
F Eriksson
F Morrow
F Morrow
F Lindros
F Petersen
D Zubov
D Goligoski
D Boucher
D Fistric
D Norstrom
D Rome
D Sydor
D Larsen
D Daley
D Daley
D Robidas
D Robidas
G Turco
G Lehtonen
G Smith
G

Though the Stars would play in the Western Conference finals in 2007-08, just four players remain from that 2006-07 team.

Maybe you're an Oilers fan and don't believe the rebuild started when Ryan Smyth was traded. Maybe you believe it started when the Oilers spent to the cap and finished last in the league. And maybe it's not fair to compare the Stars' 06-07 roster because they did make the final four just a year later. Let's compare the two rosters from the end of 2009-10:

Edmonton Oilers
2009-10 2011-12
C Horcoff C Horcoff
C Gagner C Gagner
C Cogliano C Nugent-Hopkins
C Potulny C Belanger
F Penner F Hall
F O'Sullivan F Eberle
F Penner F Smyth
F Moreau F Yakupov
F Jones F Jones
F Hemsky F Hemsky
F Brule F Eager
F Nilsson F Petrell
D Gilbert D Petry
D Smid D Smid
D Souray D Schultz
D Whitney D Whitney
D Strudwick D Schultz
D Chorney D Sutton
G Khabubilin G Khabubilin
G Deslauriers G Dubnyk

Seven players remain. This could be eight players as Devan Dubnyk was certainly part of the Oilers goaltending future at the end of that season. Those seven/eight players include five top-of-the-roster forwards and defensemen (Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ladislav Smid, Ryan Whitney).

Dallas Stars
2009-10
2011-12
C Benn
C Benn
C Richards
C Roy
C Ribeiro
C Fiddler
C Wandell
C Wandell
F Lehtinen
F Ryder
F Neal
F Jagr
F Modano
F Whitney
F Ott
F Vincour
F Brunnstrom
F Eakin
F Eriksson
F Eriksson
F Morrow
F Morrow
F Petersen
F Petersen
D Skrastins
D Goligoski
D Fistric
D Fistric
D Grossman
D Rome
D Niskanen
D Larsen
D Daley
D Daley
D Robidas
D Robidas
G Turco
G
G Lehtonen
G Lehtonen

Nine players remain, and of those nine, five are top-of-the-roster forwards and defensemen (Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Brenden Morrow, Trevor Daley, Stephane Robidas).

So while the Stars have certainly "been one of those tweener mediocre teams since their last playoff berth after a decade of sustained success." and haven't gone to the bottom of the barrel like the Oilers, the Stars have rebuilt just as much of their team as the Oilers have over both distinct time frames.

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