Oilers Rebuild Part Four: A New Hope

Sure, it's a cheesy title, but I must say, it's a pretty fitting description for what the Edmonton Oilers are currently going through. The Oilers, after seven seasons of no playoff hockey, and now a fourth year in the basement, are graced with the hope of new GM Craig MacTavish.

That's right friends, MacT is back to try and right the ship which is still in the depths of the ocean.

MacTavish was famous as Oilers coach for getting the most out of rosters that, quite frankly, were not very good. The one time he was handed a solid roster? MacT was a period away from a Stanley Cup championship....Then, well you know what happened.

MacT now inherits a mess left by BOTH Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini. Lowe tried to chase the big fish, and it failed most of the time. We all remember the Thomas Vanek offer-sheet, which thankfully was matched by the Sabres, and the Dustin Penner fiasco in the summer of 2007.

Lowe did land Souray, but failed at other major moves, including Michael Nylander, Marian Hossa, and Jaromir Jagr. Lowe had a team with overpaid, overrated, and lazy veterans. Guys like Ethan Moreau were running the show in Edmonton....That's not the recipe for success.

Lowe, as we all know gave Steve Tambellini the reigns, which would be a disaster. Tambi, after a summer of chasing Dany Heatley like his first crush, and signing Khabibulin to an outrageous contract, would end up starting the Oilers rebuild, and here we are today, about to enter year four.

The Oilers rebuild has brought some solid young players along. 2008 first round pick Jordan Eberle was developed the right way, and is a potential star. 2009 first rounder Magnus Paajarvi is another solid young asset, while the trio of first overall picks in Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov have superstar written all over them.

The rebuild also gave two defenders, Ladislav Smid and Jeff Petry, legit development time and have turned them into solid NHL players. It also convinced Justin Schultz, last year's prized UFA, to sign on with the club.

The rebuild did bring some hope too. Hope was at a high back on April the 3rd, remember the night the Oilers crushed the Flames 8-2 and were sitting in the 8th spot? It was nice, but the Oilers haven't won since, a six game stretch which has all but knocked them out. But hey, they played meaningful games in April right?

So what are we all angry about? The lack of progress? That's part of it. The lack of compete from the veterans on most nights? That's a huge part of it. The lack of a supporting cast and playoff hope? We have a winner!

The Edmonton Oilers, who were 30th, 30th, and then 29th, were supposed to make a big step this season. Instead? It's looking like another top five pick in Oil Country, and that is unacceptable for fans.

While the team's five game tear gave way to hope that this team truly was improved, we learned quickly that it was a mirage, and the Oilers were the same old team. As a result? Steve Tambellini paid the price on Monday, and a new hope was installed.

Craig MacTavish is that hope, and Oilers fans are now left to hope he delivers on his promises made Monday at the press conference.

The heavy lifting? That's been done. A very solid core is already in place, and one which is waiting for it's window to open. For that window to open however, the Oilers will need to make tough decisions and make a few pieces fit.

Craig MacTavish is a very good hockey guy, we know that. He's also a very smart guy too, and has many contacts around the league. The way he spoke on Monday? You just know the guy is looking towards the future and making this franchise relevant again. It will be a tough task, but the hope is starting to show.

MacT will need to fill some major holes. The Oilers need a top six power-froward with some real skill and size. They'll need a legit NHL top four defender, a veteran at that. They'll need some real bottom six guys too, actual NHL veterans with some wins under their belts.

The good news is that MacT, when he coached the Oilers, had some of the best third and fourth lines around, which is a huge area of need. His defenses were pretty solid too, and he played a major role in the deal that brought Pronger to Edmonton.

We know what the Oilers need. It looks so simple to all of us, the ones watching every night. Sadly, there never really was any hope that Tambellini could deliver those pieces, but with MacTavish at the helm now, there is a hope in us all that MacT will deliver. A new hope has been born.

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