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Tambellini Says "We have a few extra forwards right now"

Oilers' fans typically know the off-season as a time to bite your fingernails and cringe every time you hear breaking news of a free agent signing. Why? Well for the past few years Oilers' management has tended to hunt big name UFAs, willing to pay what these players are hoping to sign for and sometimes even more. The summer of Hossa is not so far removed from our memories.

So how did we know this summer would be different? Well, honestly, we didn't. Most fans were quite vocal, saying that they wanted a full rebuild, but what would the second summer of Steve bring? So far Tambellini has made a couple of good UFA signings, some trades, and most people would say, an excellent buy out. What can we expect before the start of training camp? We received some answers in an interview with Bob Stauffer on Oilers Lunch on Wednesday August 26th.

Steve Tambellini spoke first on Sheldon Souray: "Our intention is still [the same]; we're trying to find some way where we can make a trade, some sort of scenario that can help another hockey club and its been difficult to do." Tambellini added, "We have some time, obviously, before camp. People are getting probably more focused on rosters and things like that as we're getting closer to camp. Hopefully prior to camp we can get something done." This was encouraging. Tambellini sounds very positive and leads me to believe that the trade Souray has requested is the only option being considered at this time. Sadly, though, it still leads to the conclusion that this will not be an easy to trade to make. There are a lot of "older" NHLers on the market right now looking for homes; several have already left for the KHL, and others are looking in that direction. What are the odds of Souray being moved in that environment? If you're a pessimist, you likely aren't feeling too happy right now. But we're Oilers' fans! The glass is always at least half full! Right?

Next, Stuaffer asked about the remaining UFAs: "It's not that you don't like some players, it's that you don't have the room or the money or the roster spot." He goes on to say, "We have a few extra forwards right now." Most fans will take that statement at face value and agree. I definitely see that point of view, but it also got me wondering about Comrie and even back to the Souray trade. Will this place further limits on a potential Souray trade? If Tambellini's options are for another forward - and there could be a couple of less-than-desirable bodies coming back - would the trade idea be shut down right away? I realize that Tambellini is likely not looking to do a lot of three way deals or complicate matters too much, but I wonder if an unhappy Souray is better than adding another forward? I wouldn't think that would be the case.

My other thoughts focus on the direction this team is heading. As some people have said, we may have too many players. But that doesn't say anything about the quality of their game, or their stage of development. Tambellini went on to speak about this current group of players: "We need to take care of what the Oilers do as far as making people better and drafting and scouting." Tambellini says that he wants to see current Oilers improve, then other changes will be made accordingly. To me this means that this year in the rebuilding process will be a great opportunity to watch the magic happen, to give the players some ice time, some training, and see where the holes remain for future improvements.

As Tambellini continued to comment on the current players, Stauffer brought up leadership and how some of the previous veterans no longer remain with the club. Tambellini said, "You can teach people the type of leadership qualities and what to look for and that, but you really can't force it." The Oilers' organization is expecting more leadership from veterans like Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid, "but we also think its time for guys like (Sam) Gagner to show up." Tambellini goes on to explain that he wants players to be "prepared to work every day, not just when its easy, not just 'when I feel right'; it's every day. That’s leadership, that’s what we’re looking for." This part speaks volumes to me. After a year like last year, I think that Tambellini and the rest of the Oilers' organization are looking to see which players have grown from the experience and are ready to move on. I'd like to think that this is another reason why Tambellini isn't looking for other players. The fractures that may have existed in the locker room need to be repaired and relationships need to be developed with new players. I think that Tambellini believes that he has enough building blocks at this point to start laying the foundation for a winning hockey club for years to come. Will we see true leaders step up this year? Will we see the professionalism that Tambellini speaks of? I hope so. If not, that doesn't leave one with much hope for the future, now does it?

Take it at face value and believe that the Oilers are in full rebuild, are not looking for new players, and that there is no panic for wins or the playoffs this year, or you can figure that there may still be a few surprises to come before training camp. Either way, it was nice to hear something from our GM as we try to figure out if we like his style of management or not. Personally, so far I can get behind Tambellini's moves and decisions, the decision not to bring in new players especially.

The attached poll idea is complements of our new columnist at The Copper & Blue, Jaysen Knight, a character you will surely grow to know and love.