Sometimes, you just want to shout.
I was never inclined to give Steve Tambellini the benefit of the doubt. When the organization that knew him best passed him up as general manager in favour of a mediocre agent, well, that said something to me. But I'm always happy to be proven wrong.
So far, though, I look like a genius. What can't this guy screw up? What can Steve Tambellini possibly get right in this world? The catastrophically imbecilic Nikolai Khabibulin signing? The complete clusterbeep that was the Oilers' roster from day one? The closest things we've had to pleasant surprises - Ryan Potulny, Sam Gagner, and Gilbert Brule - were all Kevin Lowe moves.
Remember when we panned Kevin Lowe? I wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of Kevin Lowe these days.
And the latest. Denis Grebeshkov for a second-round pick. To the Nashville Predators, a team rocketing up the NHL standings. It's inconceivable that this pick will be earlier than fifty-fifth overall in the shallowest draft year for some time. Essentially, we gave Denis Grebeshkov away. Gave him away.
My god, have you looked at our blueline lately? Jason Strudwick has played a prominent role! We've recalled Theo Peckham and Jim Corsi's bitch Taylor Chorney! Any time you're doing that, you're in trouble. And then we're getting rid of the only guys who's been healthy and anything resembling effective for damned close to nothing? In what universe does this any amount of sense? How can any thinking person condone this trade?
Let's remind ourselves of what Denis Grebeshkov is. He's a restricted free agent, which is probably going to be the excuse trotted out by the front office: oh, we were stupid enough to give Nikolai Khabibulin a terrible contract, so it made sense for us to light Denis Grebeshkov on fire. He's no holy hell on the blue line, with a +/- differential of 0.11: better than average for the Oilers but not fantastic. His shots against per sixty is 32.8, which is Andrew Cogliano territory. He's not a superstar, let's be honest.
But he's played 47 games, which for an Oiler defenseman makes him a positive iron man. He plays with stiffs and against better players, ranking near the top of the team in QUALCOMP and around the bottom in QUALTEAM. This is also his worst season as an Oiler: last year, in admittedly somewhat better circumstances, he allowed only 27.3 shots per sixty. $3.1 million per year was an overpay, but his restricted free agency at the end of the year was a boon in that regard: you better believe that number could come down.
But with nineteen points so far this year, Grebeshkov was one of the only Oilers defensemen with even a passing acquaintance with offense. He is, unlike Edmonton's other halfway-decent defensemen, young enough to be part of a good team in the future. He's nobody's idea of an All-Star, but he's all right.
There was no reason not to keep Grebeshkov! None! If it takes us five years to relentlessly rebuild, well, then, by god, Grebeshkov will be 30 and just on the tail-end of his prime in time to contribute to a winning team! He presumably won't be that expensive and, with restricted free agency on the horizon, the Oilers hold all the cards unless somebody makes him an offer sheet (and if somebody made him an offer sheet then we'd get a lot more than a second-rounder for our trouble). If we were going to trade him, the return should bear that in mind: there aren't a lot of useful pieces on this roster but Grebeshkov was one of them.
Nope. Late second-rounder. Thanks, Tambellini. Thanks a bunch.
But, hey, at least we get to watch Taylor Chorney some more. You remember Taylor Chorney, don't you? The guy who got worked like a speed bag and who inexplicably got run out onto the worst penalty kill in history with Jason Strudwick all the time? And Theo Peckham, who has managed the frankly remarkable feat of being the worst Oiler in shots for per sixty (16.5) and shots against per sixty (44.4).
And the return of a late second round pick? Wayne Simmonds, the Midnight Meat Train himself, went 61st overall in 2007! It's practically like we traded for Wayne Simmonds! Of course, the 55-60 picks in 2007 were T.J. Galiardi, Akim Aliu, Mike Hoeffel, Nick Spaling, Drew Schiestel, and Ruslan Bashkirov. In 2006, they were Denis Bodrov, Mike Weber, Alexander Vasyunov, Codey Burki, and Jesse Joensuu. In 2005 it got even better: Adam McQuaid, Marc-Andre Cliche, Matt Kassian, Nate Hagemo, Pier-Olivier Pelletier, and the deceptively named T.J. Fast.
When the Oilers sent out Marc-Andre Bergeron and a third-rounder for Grebeshkov, it was acclaimed as a steal of a deal. We would be better off clicking undo on that trade and taking Marc-Andre Bergeron back. Think about that.
Here's the remarkable thing. It might get worse. You've heard the rumours? We're supposed to be giving up Sheldon Souray for a package centred around Wade Redden. Or Lubomir Visnovsky for Brad Marchand and a draft pick. There's a very real possibility that, by this time next week, Jason Strudwick will be our third-best defenseman. I mean actually our third best defenseman, not just Pat Quinn thinking he's our third-best defenseman.
This isn't a rebuild. This is a fire sale. The way Steve Tambellini is going, the 2010-11 Edmonton Oilers could be the worst team in NHL history.