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CSI: Gare

We take a look at the player personnel moves during Gare's tenure as Head Pro Scout.

Tim Smith/Getty Images

Morey Gare is no longer the Head Pro Scout for the Edmonton Oilers.  Having served as a pro scout with the club since 2001, Gare was promoted to Head Pro Scout in September of 2008.  Since then, he’s been part of the groups behind signing free agent difference-makers like Ben Eager, Kurtis Foster, and Cam Barker.  Gare was in charge when the Oilers knowingly traded their best defenseman for Ryan Whitney’s feet, and has made a career of allowing the Oilers to make deals which usually see the best players heading out of town.  In truth, the time for change was long ago.  At last, it finally happened.

Back in 2011, Cult of Hockey writer David Staples hammered the Oilers’ pro scouting department for doing a lacklustre job.  I don’t see eye to eye with Staples on a few things Oilers - like what exactly is Justin Schultz - but here we’re in agreement: the Oilers pro scouting has left a lot to be desired.

Rather than try to quantify Gare’s work with some kind of metric, I decided instead to catalog all of the player personnel moves (free agency & trade) the Oilers have made since he took over as Head Pro Scout, and to let his work speak for itself.

2008-2009 Season

2008-2009 Season
Date Assets In: Assets Out:
06-Jun-08 Ryan Potulny - F Danny Syvret - D
29-Jun-08 Lubomir Visnovsky - D Jarret Stoll - F
Matt Greene - D
01-Jul-08 Erik Cole - F Joni Pitkanen - D
01-Jul-08 Gilbert Brule - F Raffi Torres - F
29-Jan-09 Dany Sabourin - G Mathieu Garon - G
Ryan Stone - F
2011 4th (Tobias Rieder) - F
04-Mar-09 Patrick O'Sullivan - F Erik Cole - F
2009 2nd (Jesse Blacker) - D 2009 5th (Matt Kennedy) - F
04-Mar-09 Ales Kotalik - F 2009 2nd (Jesse Blacker) - D
Jason Strudwick - D Curtis Glencross - F
Carl Corazzini - F Ryan Flinn - F
Marty Reasoner - F
Steve MacIntyre - F
Jesse Boulerice - F

The biggest acquisition of the 2008-2009 season was Lubomir Visnovsky.  Though it ultimately cost the Oilers two guys who would go on to win two cups in LA, Lubo was the real deal.  Unfortunately he would not remain in Edmonton for long.  One could argue that this acquisition is the high-water mark of Gare’s tenure as Head Pro Scout.  The Oilers also deemed a prime Joni Pitkanen was only worth a few months of Erik Cole before balking and settling on Patrick O’Sullivan instead.  2008-2009 also marked the first appearance of Oilers cult hero Steve MacIntyre after he was claimed on waivers.

2009-2010 Season

2009-2010 Season
Date Assets In: Assets Out:
27-Jun-09 2009 4th (Kyle Bigos) - D Kyle Brodziak - F
2009 5th (Olivier Roy) - G 2009 6th (Darcy Kuemper) - G
27-Jun-09 2010 6th (Drew Czerwonka) - F 2009 7th (Michael Sdao) - D
09-Jul-09 Future Considerations Tim Sestito - F
01-Mar-10 2010 2nd (Curtis Hamilton) - F Denis Grebeshkov - D
02-Mar-10 Matt Marquardt - F Cody Wild - D
03-Mar-10 Ryan Whitney - D Lubomir Visnovsky - D
2010 6th (Brandon Davidson) - D
03-Mar-10 Aaron Johnson - D Steve Staios - D
2011 3rd (Travis Ewanyk) - F
Nikolai Khabibulin - G Dwayne Roloson - G
Chris Minard - F Dany Sabourin - G
Matt Nickerson - D Ales Kotalik - F
Dean Arsene - D Mathieu Roy - D
Mike Comrie - F
Ryan Jones - F Rob Schremp - F
Steve MacIntyre - F

2009-2010 saw the Oilers dealing good players away like it was going out of style. Brodziak for a couple of late round (read: useless) draft picks. Visnovsky for Ryan Whitney, which might be defensible if it wasn’t already known that Ryan Whitney had chronic foot issues. Foot issues so bad that, outside of a brief period of high-level hockey when he first arrived, ultimately cost him his NHL career a couple of years later. And I’m still of the opinion that anyone who had a hand in signing Khabibulin to a four-year deal back then should have been fired on the spot.

2010-2011 Season

2010-2011 Season
Date Assets In: Assets Out:
24-Jun-10 Colin Fraser - F 2010 6th (Mirko Hofflin) - F
26-Jun-10 2010 2nd (Martin Marincin) - D Riley Nash - F
26-Jun-10 2010 7th (Kellen Jones) - F 2011 6th (David Broll) - F
30-Jun-10 Jim Vandermeer - D Patrick O'Sullivan - F
28-Feb-11 Kevin Montgomery - D Shawn Belle - D
28-Feb-11 Colten Teubert - D Dustin Penner - F
2011 1st (Oscar Klefbom) - D
2012 3rd (Daniil Zharkov) - F
Kurtis Foster - D Robert Nilsson - F
Rechard Petiot - D Charles Linglet - F
Steve MacIntyre - F Chris Minard - F
Alexandre Giroux - F Ryan Stone - F
Brad Moran - F Vyacheslav Trukhno - F
Ben Ondrus - F Marc-Antoine Pouliot - F
Shawn Belle - D Dean Arsene - F
Gregory Stweart - F Fernando Pisani - F
Martin Gerber - G Aaron Johnson - D
Taylor Fedun - D Mike Comrie - F
Tanner House - F Ryan Potulny - F
Hunter Tremblay - F
Mark Arcobello - F
Ethan Moreau - F

In 2010-2011 the Oilers dabbled in exterior design with great success, shuffling deck chairs with the deftness of a Vila, a Taylor, or a Borland.  It was impressive stuff.  Additions like Colin Fraser, Jim Vandermeer and Kurtis Foster headlined another uninspiring season of personnel moves.  The Oilers did turn Riley Nash into Martin Marincin though, and for me that’s a win.  The problem is that it’s the only win.

2011-2012 Season

2011-2012 Season
Date Assets In: Assets Out:
26-Jun-11 Ryan Smyth - F Colin Fraser - F
2012 7th (Dmitri Sinitsyn) - D
01-Jul-11 Andy Sutton - D Kurtis Foster - D
12-Jul-11 2013 2nd (Marco Roy) - F Andrew Cogliano - F
16-Feb-12 Bryan Rodney - D Ryan O'Marra - C
27-Feb-12 Nick Schultz - D Tom Gilbert - D
Lennart Petrell - F Brad Moran - F
Antti Tyrvainen - F Liam Reddox - F
Ben Eager - F Jim Vandermeer - D
Darcy Hordichuk - F Sheldon Souray - D
Cam Barker - D Richard Petiot - D
Eric Belanger - D Alexandre Giroux - F
Corey Potter - D Zack Stortini - F
Josh Green - F J.F. Jacques - F
Yann Danis - G Jeff Deslauriers - G
Ryan Keller - F Martin Gerber - G
Steve MacIntyre - F
Taylor Chorney - D Taylor Chorney - D
Gilbert Brule - D

Looking back at 2011-2012 I admit I was very happy with the return of Ryan Smyth.  That it cost mere peanuts and some cap space was a bonus.  Sutton for Foster was a wash at worst, but Cogliano for Marco Roy is looking like a massive mistake at present.  I still maintain that Tom Gilbert for Nick Schultz was an atrocious deal for the Oilers.  Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk, and Eric Belanger were the ‘big name’ UFA signings this year, and none of them were able to affect the team in any meaningful way during their time here.

2012-2013 Season

2012-2013 Season
Date Assets In: Assets Out:
14-Jan-13 Mark Fistric - D 2013 3rd (Niklas Hansson) - D
04-Mar-13 Mike Brown - F 2014 4th (Nicholas Magyar) - F
29-Mar-13 Kale Kessy - F Tobias Rieder - F
02-Apr-13 Garrett Stafford - D Dane Byers - F
03-Apr-13 Jerred Smithson - F 2013 4th (Matt Buckles) - F
Justin Schultz - D Taylor Chorney - D
Dane Byers - F Hunter Tremblay - F
Adnrew Miller - F Ryan Keller - F
Anton Belov - D Linus Omark - F
Cam Barker - D
Niko Hovinen - G

The 2012-2013 season was Tambellini’s last, and he did everything he could to fade to black without much more than a whimper.  His big acquisition at trade deadline day epitomized perfectly the man affectionately known as Mr. Dithers, as Jerred Smithson was again no more than a bit-part player, one who was never going to make a real difference in Edmonton.  The signing of highly-touted UFA Justin Schultz was a feather in the Oilers’ cap, however.  But hey, it can’t hurt when Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey make your cold calls for you.

2013-2014 Season

2013-2014 Season
Date Assets In: Assets Out:
30-Jun-13 2013 2nd (William Carrier) - F 2013 2nd (Valentin Zykov) - F
2013 3rd (Anton Slepyshev) - F
2013 4th (Kyle Platzer) - F
30-Jun-13 2013 3rd (Bogdan Yakimov) - F 2013 2nd (William Carrier) - F
2013 4th (Jackson Houck) - F
2013 4th (Aidan Muir) - F
05-Jul-13 Philip Larsen - D Shawn Horcoff - F
2016 7th (TBD)
06-Jul-13 Lee Moffie - D Kyle Bigos - D
10-Jul-13 David Perron - F Magnus Paajarvi - F
2014 2nd (Ivan Barbashev) - F
2015 4th (TBD)
21-Oct-13 2014 4th (Zachary Nagelvoort) - G Mike Brown
08-Nov-13 Roman Horak - F Ladislav Smid - D
Laurent Brossoit - G Olivier Roy - G
14-Dec-13 Future Considerations Jason LaBarbera - G
19-Dec-13 2014 6th (Conditional - TBD) Linus Omark
15-Jan-14 Matt Hendricks - F Devan Dubnyk - G
15-Jan-14 Ben Scrivens - G 2014 3rd (Dominic Turgeon) - F
17-Jan-14 Steve Pinizzotto - F Ryan Martindale - F
31-Jan-14 Mark Fraser - D Teemu Hartikainen - F
Cameron Abney - F
04-Mar-14 2014 4th (William Lagesson) - D Ilya Bryzgalov - G
04-Mar-14 Viktor Fasth - G 2014 5th (Matthew Berkovitz) - D
2015 3rd (TBD)
05-Mar-14 2014 5th (Liam Coughlin) - F Ales Hemsky
2015 3rd (TBD)
25-Jun-14 Nikita Nikitin - D 2014 5th (Tyler Bird) - F
Andrew Ference - D Garrett Stafford - D
Boyd Gordon - F Yann Danis - G
Jason LaBarbera - G Nikolai Khabibulin - G
Will Acton - F Eric Belanger - F
Ryan Hamilton - F Alex Plante - F
Jesse Joensuu - F Theo Peckham - D
Richard Bachman - G Philippe Cornet - F
Brad Hunt - D Lennart Petrell - F
Denis Grebeshkov - D Mark Fistric - D
Ilya Bryzgalov - G Chris VandeVelde - F
Jordan Oesterle - D Ryan Whitney - D
Iiro Pakarinen - F
Steve MacIntyre Corey Potter
Luke Gazdic

This season marked the beginning of the Craig MacTavish era, but still featured Morey Gare reprising his role as Head Pro Scout.  Fans in Oil Country were excited about the fresh perspective in the front office, and MacTavish’s first presser made me feel feelings I’m still embarrassed to talk about today.  Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for MacTavish to show himself to be incompetent in a different, and possibly even more damaging, way than his predecessor.

For me, Peak MacT reached its zenith early – Perron for Paajarvi+ still stands out as a shrewd move, and the gambles on guys like Anton Belov (technically shown in the previous year due to date signed, but a MacT signing nonetheless) and Andrew Miller were encouraging.  Then he signed Andrew Ference to term and gave him a NMC.  He backed that up with gems like Horcoff for Larsen, the Smid deal (which, at the time, appeared to be far worse than it ultimately ended up being), his handling of Devan Dubnyk (a Vezina finalist this year), Hartikainen+ for Mark Fraser, and getting peanuts for Ales Hemsky - not even honey roasted ones.  Worst.  These moves all flew in the face of the tough talk and that brilliant first press conference.  Fans were getting nervous.  I mean, after Tambellini, it couldn’t get worse, could it?

Well, the Oilers doubled down on dumb when they gave up an actual asset for the exclusive negotiating rights to Nikita Nikitin.  You’d think that alone would be enough to get all involved fired, but wait – there’s more.  They picked up Steve MacIntyre on waivers.  Again.  Then MacIntyre got hurt, so they went and picked up the next best thing – a younger MacIntyre.  Awesome.   Oh and lest we forget – this season market the beginning of the end for Jeff Petry as an Oiler.  No big deal.

2014-2015 Season

2014-2015 Season
29-Jun-14 Teddy Purcell - F Sam Gagner - F
20-Nov-14 Kellan Lain - F Will Acton - F
Derek Roy - F Marc Arcobello - F
Rob Klinkhammer - F David Perron - F
2015 1st (TBD)
2015 2nd (TBD) Jeff Petry - F
2015 4th (Conditional - TBD)
Mark Fayne - D Denis Grebeshkov - D
Benoit Pouliot - F Philip Larsen - D
Keith Aulie - F Taylor Fedun - D
Eetu Laurikainen - G Ben Eager - F
Ryan Jones - F
Matt Fraser - F

2014-2015 saw the Oilers sign the two biggest UFAs they’ve acquired in a while in Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot.  Fayne and Pouliot were both solid NHL veterans with good track records, and proved to be good additions to the team, with actual NHL talent for a change.  Teddy Purcell is probably overpaid, but is an actual NHL player too.  There’s some work here that I can get behind.  Of course, the Oilers undid all that by signing Keith Aulie, trading Perron for Rob Klinkhammer, and then bungled the Jeff Petry situation.  A player the Oilers identified as not good enough for a contract with term, who Montreal - a better team than the Oilers to begin with - just locked up for the next six years.


All in all, there’s not a lot to like here.  I think even if I were being generous, I could count the good moves on two hands.  At most.  During this period, the Oilers suffered through arguably the two most damaging GMs in franchise history, and there was one constant – Morey Gare.  Under Tambellini, the Oilers identified fringe players as guys who could make a difference.  Under MacTavish that continued, but they also failed to assess their own talent and ushered some good players out of town for pennies on the dollar.  Jeff Petry cost less than Kimmo Timonen did at the trade deadline this year.  Think about that.  Morey Gare might not have been the man signing off on these deals, but he certainly seems more like part of the problem than part of the solution.

Perhaps I’m being a bit unfair to Morey.  Without sufficient access to know for sure, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much influence he had over these moves.  But, I do think it’s logical enough to assume that the Head Pro Scout had at least some influence over player personnel decisions, and the results speak for themselves.  Sadly.

That it took this long for him to lose his job only reinforces the idea that the Oilers were indeed an Old Boys Club, one so devoted to its own people that even gross incompetence for years on end wasn’t enough to get fired.  But we knew this, and that's why I have time for the argument that Connor McDavid might already be one of, if not the, most important figures in franchise history.  Before the Draft Lottery, I was convinced I would be an old man before the Oilers would make these kinds of changes.  That it would take years, or decades even.  That so much has changed in just two months is truly remarkable - dare I say incredible - and I can’t help but wonder if it would have happened this way, or at all, if the Oilers were picking third or fourth on Friday.

Lucky for us, they're picking at one - and everything's different now.  Happy McDavid Day.