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Decision Time

The Oil Kings are at a crossroads

The Edmonton Oil Kings recently completed a five-game road trip without a win. These results align with the Oil Kings over all performance; the Oil Kings are the worst team in the WHL in the WHL with a 5-12-2 record. These continually poor results indicate a need for the Oil Kings organization to make a substantial change. Chief among the possibilities are changes to the roster or behind the bench.

The Oil Kings are a young team with a great deal of potential. They have aa plethora of young players who lack WHL experience. They are a talented team who show flashes of brilliance but can’t sustain any sort of momentum. The Oil Kings also still lack the depth to be a competitive team.

The Oil Kings have several veteran players who might draw some attention from other teams. The Oil Kings may be able to turn a player like Trey Fix-Wolanksy into multiple players. Those players may be able to contribute more than a single star player is currently doing. The Oil Kings did something similar wen they traded Aaron Irving and Lane Bauer last season. Alternately, the Oil Kings could trade a star player and continue to stockpile picks and prospects for future seasons.

Either one of those options is better for the Oil Kings; the team can either fully commit to rebuilding this season or they can commit to being competitive this season. However, they need to be clear in their messaging. The Oil Kings can no longer walk between trying to be competitive this season and build for the future.

They need to pick one option and fully commit. If they continue to try and walk between the options, they risk being able to actualize neither.

The Oil Kings might also consider a change in their coaching staff. Taking control of the team in the 2014-2015 season, Steve Hamilton has lead the Oil Kings to two first round playoff exits and one year without a postseason. It looks like this year will be the second where the Oil Kings don’t participate in the postseason. The team seems to be getting worse the longer Hamilton is Head Coach – a worrisome trend.

Hamilton seems unable to change his approach despite limited success with it and the changes the Oil Kings have undergone since winning the Memorial Cup. The Oil Kings consistently look over matched in their games, but few changes occur. On a smaller level, the Oil Kings ineffectual power play is indicative of something which needs to be changed but has stagnated.

While a change in coaching may be detrimental in the short term, it could have a long term positive effect. Much like trading a star player, the Oil Kings could benefit from the change this season or in the coming seasons. A new coach – a new coaching style and different focus – might be just what is needed to maximize the potential of the talented young team the Oil Kings are building.

The Oil Kings organization has some difficult choices to make about their season. The Oil Kings have to decide how they want to move forward – will they try to salvage this season or will they focus on future seasons. Whatever they decide, the Oil Kings need to make the decision quickly.