When Craig MacTavish was named the new general manager of the Edmonton Oilers in April, he called himself an “impatient guy” prepared to do “bold things” in order to “move the team forward in a rapid fashion.”
The Oilers, without a playoff appearance since 2006, have certainly made changes under his watch. New players include David Perron, Andrew Ference, and Boyd Gordon. They also have a new coach in Dallas Eakins.
Whether any of those moves, or the moves as a whole, qualifies as “bold” is a matter for debate. Some would look at all the turnover and say yes. Others thought the club might do something even bigger, like trade one of its many talented, young forwards — see: Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Jordan Eberle, and Sam Gagner — for help in other areas.
The back end, for example, remains a major question mark, with much depending on the continued development of Justin Schultz, 23, and Jeff Petry, 25.
“We’ve got a lot of depth on the back end now. It’s going to provide for a lot of competition. Everyone, including myself, has got to come ready to camp to make this team. It’s going to make us better,” Schultz said recently. “I’ve been training hard the last couple of months, enjoying my time off. I’m really excited for the season to come here. I’ve had enough of summer. I’m ready to go.”
So too will goalie Devan Dubnyk need to make strides. The 27-year-old had good numbers in 2013 (.920 save percentage), with only five other netminders in the NHL being forced to make more saves.
BUT…if the Oilers don’t break their playoff drought this season, MacTavish might feel the need to get really bold.