Let me preface this article by saying that I'm an admitted glass-half-full kind of guy when it comes to the Oilers, and by extension their management (except Lowe, he drives me crazy). Along with a great many others, my patience for Steve Tambellini recently came to an end, and I felt compelled to say so in the comments section of our fearless leader's article at the C&B that dealt with Tambellini finally losing the brightsiders. As a former member of that group I felt it was particularly poignant, although the decay of my confidence began one year ago with the Tom Gilbert trade.
With a different perspective on things, I decided to look at all of the players who Steve Tambellini has added during his tenure (excluding the draft) that played at least one game for the Edmonton Oilers. Taken as a whole, this list is perhaps one of the most damning condemnations of the Oilers GM.
That's 29 players, and of those it could be said that only one - Justin Schultz - was a meaningful add that will help the Oilers in the long term. Fifteen of these players (marked with an asterisk) are still in the organization, which can't really be counted as a positive. Nick Schultz is probably the second-best name on the list, but the price the Oilers paid to get him was a player who would currently be their number one defenseman. Ryan Whitney probably should have been more highly regarded than Nick Schultz, but unfortunately we all know how that has worked out.
Whitney is the only defenseman on the list who could be considered a top four guy at the time he was acquired, and it took another top four defender to get him. Unless you count Ales Kotalik and Patrick O'Sullivan (suppress laughter) there isn't a top six forward on the list either. Dany Heatley was the closest that Tambellini has come. There's a number one goalie, though. Nikolai Khabibulin has helped the Oilers get a whack of number ones.
As with any general manager's work, it's impossible to universally pan all of these additions, but what they show is string of ineptitude when it comes to adding impact players. Oilers management has been totally dependent on the draft for that area, and subsequently tossed their draft picks into the fire.
Aside from Justin Schultz the defense has seen lateral movement at best, and significant downgrades at worst. It's the same story in goal. Who knows where the forwards would be if Tambellini weren't due for his own episode of The Lottery Changed My Life. A big 28-year-old center who can win faceoffs and play a strong all-around game is a nice thing to dream about, but they're just so darn hard to find.
What this list really shows is how much Oilers management has been masking their ineptitude with shiny new toys from the draft. In a market that actually cares about things like the draft combine and ISS rankings, that's not so hard to understand. But there's nothing in Tambellini's record to show that he knows how to identify and add the pieces to push a team over the top.