David Poile vs. Edmonton's Management Team

Bruce Bennett

David Poile was backed into a corner and came out smelling like a rose. The Oilers' management team will be used to fertilize that rose.

The Nashville Predators traded veteran forward and longtime Predator Martin Erat today along with Michael Latta to Washington for Filip Forsberg. The trade was a surprise - Erat wasn't talked about as being a player on the trading block, and although Nashville has slowly slipped out of the playoff picture, the Preds weren't supposed to be big sellers at the deadline except for Scott Hannan.

The reason for the trade hit during David Poile's press conference:

For David Poile, it was a small challenge when measured against the issues he's faced in his tenure as General Manager of the Preds. Consider that a limited budget, the bright lights of Moscow and Paul Holmgren have cost Poile approximately as much talent as Steve Tambellini has been able to draft in his tenure in Edmonton: Ryan Suter, Alex Radulov, Cody Franson, Dan Hamhuis, and Marek Zidlicky. Cast against that background, a trade request from one of his top-six forwards is a walk in the park. And while Poile has made a few strange decisions - a first round pick for Paul Gaustad and a $3.25 million per year contract for Gaustad - normally he recovers from his losses. And he did the same today.

Poile's trade and return was tremendous. He flipped Erat to Washington, ridding himself of the $6 million he still owed Erat on the last two years of his contract. He'll use that money to pay Patric Hornqvist, who is a restricted free agent this summer. Hornqvist will probably land a deal with a cap hit similar to Erat's $4.5 million. He'll plug Filip Forsberg, guy who plays like Magnus Paajarvi, but scores far more often. His NHLE in the Eliteserien this season was ~40 points. Forsberg is the Predators 4th or 5th-best forward next season and gives them a goal-scorer who should eclipse Erat's 19 goals / 82 average.

It also gives Poile a chance to hit free agency and grab some bargain players who can rescue the Preds' bottom six. Add a couple of guys who can hold their own, rather than get their own shoved in, and the Preds are a more competitive team. Contrast David Poile's action in the face of a trade demand with those of the Edmonton management team.

The Oilers lack actual NHL defenders and effective bottom line forwards. So what did Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish do to close that three-point gap? They traded for an ineffective bottom line forward and stood pat on defense.

The Oilers are tracking about 3 full-season points behind the St. Louis Blues for 8th place and St. Louis traded for Jay Bouwmeester to bolster an already excellent blue line. The Oilers lack actual NHL defenders and effective bottom line forwards. So what did Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish do to close that three-point gap? They traded for an ineffective bottom line forward and stood pat on defense. In an embarrassing overpay, they traded a 4th round draft pick for Jerred Smithson, a 4th-line centre who was last effective, as a fourth liner mind you, two years ago. Prior to doing so, they passed on Adam Hall, Jussi Jokinen and Mike Santorelli on waivers. Those three players are all better than Smithson and were all available for free. Why did they covet Smithson and pay too much for him? Playoff faceoffs, and no, I'm not joking.

They also stood pat on defense because they're delusional. Refer back to Tambellini's comments here. Ryan Whitney passes the puck well, but that's the only thing he does well. Follow Tyler's links: when he's on the ice - the Oilers are worse than when he's not. His teammates are worse with him than without him. He can't pivot anymore and he can't defend his own end. If Tambellini received offers for Whitney and turned them down, it was a terrible decision and horrible mismanagement of his assets.

While David Poile is getting the best of a trade in which his player asked for the trade, the Oilers' management crew has traded a 4th round pick for a face puncher and another 4th round pick for a playoff faceoff centre. Things may look bleak for Preds fans this season, but they haven't even reached the base of the mountain of bleak. The Preds succeed because of mostly careful and intelligent management. The Oilers will have to succeed in the face of careless and inept management.

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