Centres of Attention

The apologists are out in force. MacT could not have possibly landed another veteran centre because:

  1. None of them would have agreed to come to Edmonton
  2. None of them would have been better than Leon, Marcobello or (heaven forbid) Baby Nuge
  3. The Oilers would have had to give up assets to acquire one
  4. Derek Roy was the only option

So let’s just call bullshit right here and right now.

But first, let’s take a look at what centre depth actually looks like.


When Carlos Santana picks up a guitar, a blind man in an underground bunker would immediately know who is playing.  A sublime talent. The Patrick Kane of the music world.

And then there is Eric Clapton. I’d like to think of an NHL comparable but there really isn’t one. For those of us old enough to remember, Clapton is like Johnny Unitas, the best QB ever to play the game.

He’s a musical surgeon with the “calmest feet” in the game…a man who can play with anyone anytime and come out a winner.

Of course, 2 elite centres will only take you so far so, the wise GM will also look at his bottom 6.


A couple of minutes into the ZZ Top piece, Eric Clapton reveals why he chose the Texas rockers to close the Crossroads Guitar Festival…worth a listen.

Before moving on, I would like to take a moment for a special FUCK YOU to Lowetide poster DELOOPER who not only has maligned my taste in music but has identified himself as just another apologist:

Ahem, hockey, yes… Did MacTavish have much options in the way of acquiring centres over the summer? It sounds like he was pretty heavily constrained. It’s hard to say if there were any suitable centres out there that would have negotiated well with him. I don’t recall everything that happened this summer (had too many other things going on) but it seemed like there was no clear homerun trades to be made at centre.

This one is for you Sparky.

Clap, clap.


So, we’ve learned you can’t sing with a clarinet in your mouth.

But what have we learned about acquiring centres to play on an NHL team?

A couple of days ago, we heard from Jim Nill.

“If you want to be one of the elite teams, you have to have it,” Nill said of elite center depth. “I came from Detroit, we always had it. It was Yzerman-Fedorov, Zetterberg-Datsyuk. You look at the other teams that are winning on our side now, you need to have two elite centermen. We knew that was a little bit of a weakness on our team


What part of this doesn’t MacT understand?

Hopkins has some potential but, on a good team, he is nowhere near a #1C and on some, like BOS, LAK, ANA, SJS, he’s not even a top 6 C. Not even close.

And yet MacT is willing to go into another season with the weakest C depth in the league.

What the Oilers do have is a surplus of 4-7 D men…about 2 dozen by my count and yet the apologists don’t want to give anything up to acquire the most critical team need.

Good grief.

Jeff Petry and whatever else it takes to Dallas for Cody Eakin.





11 thoughts on “Centres of Attention

  1. I agree that we definitely have a gap at center and MACT hasn’t done enough to address it.

    What would you have done in his place? What centers would you have signed? Or would have traded for?


    1. The Oilers have an over abundance of D prospects and, even so, MacT acquired 2 more veterans so he would obviously be dealing from a position of organizational strength. If you ask “what would Dean Lombardi do?”, I have little doubt he would move 1 or more of those prospects or a young veteran (Petry?) to address his most pressing need. He would need to target a team with excess centre depth who need help on the blue line…like, say Dallas.

      The Stars have 7! NHL centres on their roster including Seguin, Spezza, Horcoff, Fiddler, Gabutt, Sceviour and RFA Cody Eakin who remains without a contract and then also have a couple of high end C prospects in Radek Faksa and Jason Dickinson.

      Obviously MacT would have to make it worthwhile for Nill to move one but I’m sure he would for the right return.

      I would have targeted Cody Eakin who could fill in as a #2C until Leon is ready and then move back to #3C.

      Centre depth of Hopkins, Leon, Eakin and Gordon looks pretty good going forward.

      And, of course, there are also other teams loaded at C.


  2. I guess the real question is whether an Oiler’s team with Eakin minus Petry is better than an Oilers team with Acrobello and Petry. Is the gap between Eakin and Acrobello greater than the loss of Petry. I lean towards no.

    I would preferred they sign someone for depth which it sounds like they tried Jokien and Riberio. Wonder if that was a money issue, a term issue or just a bad fit for the player.

    Or that they go all in on Spezza like player (Spezza being a bad option based on contract)

    What does it take to get Eric Staal out of Carolina?

    Feels like right now there on the cusp of having enough assets to make that kind of move with out digging a new hole.

    Love to know how hard it is to make a trade now in the NHL (seems like it) and how hard it is to sign players cause its seems like you could risk a Petry if you could sign say Derek Morris.

    Anyways, interesting post


    1. Jim Nill doesn’t seem to have any problem making trades. Perhaps it’s because he has a clear vision of what it makes to take to build a winner.

      I think you need to look at this from another viewpoint…what would happen to the Oilers season if Hopkins were injured?

      What would happen if Petry was injured.

      I would think the first scenario would be catastrophic while the second would be an opportunity for a young defenseman.


      1. I completely see the risk however I don’t think it’s anymore mitigated with Eakin-like centre than say Arcobello.

        That’s why I prefer the free agent approach as you keep your current depth but add insurance.

        I don’t see MacT as being indecisive and he has openly stated that centre is a problem he wanted to fix. Curious to why he couldn’t get a deal to happen.

        Also to really mitigate the risk of losing Hopkins you really need a level above an Eakin which should be LD at some point but not today.

        Just a comment but I’m not a big fan of the “GM-x did such and such, why didn’t ours do such and such”. It ignores the reality that not all things are equal or known and reduces the debate to a level of proving negatives that may or may not happen.

        Jim Nill may have done X really doesn’t mean anything other than Jim Nill did X.

        Just my two cents.


  3. Gotta say Andrew that I agree with you here.

    Perhaps something will happen before November.

    Enjoying your blog.

    Disagree with a bunch, but liking it a lot.

    Well done sir.


    1. I agree that we have a hole at centre but I think to effectively fill that whole above and beyond what we currently have to actually improve the roster probably costs more than what is available.

      I also suspect what is currently available is pretty limited or not greater than what the oilers have plus the investment to get it.

      Hopefully that made sense.


  4. What is currently available is very likely directly related to what you’re prepared to give up to get it.

    There are several teams who have far more centres than they can employ at the position.

    The Oilers have a glut of mid level defensemen and won’t be able to develop and deploy their D prospects effectively unless they make some room.

    They may well wait another 2-3 seasons to “see what they have” but while Rome burns they are burning valuable years off the careers and contracts of their best young players.

    This will NOT work.


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