Eakins says Oilers need to add ‘some veteran leadership’

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“We need to supplement this group with probably some veteran leadership, some guys that can make plays, and not so much a toughness aspect, but guys that are going to win battles in this conference.”

Edmonton Oilers fans have heard this sort of thing before. And they heard it again Wednesday from head coach Dallas Eakins (around the 7:00 mark of the video below):

Eakins may be right, but it’s not really what the Oilers were still supposed to be saying at this point in the rebuild, which has been going on for quite some time now.

Yesterday, PHT readers voted Edmonton as Canada’s most disappointing team. Which when you consider all the other strong candidates says a lot about how far below expectations the Oilers have fallen this season.

Ultimately, the personnel decisions will be up to general manager Craig MacTavish, who we always like to note promised to do “bold things” when he was hired in April.

Exactly what kind of “veteran leadership” MacTavish could go out and get (if he agrees with his coach on that need) is the big question. It’s not a particularly strong free-agent crop, and while a player like Ryan Callahan would seem to fit the description of what Eakins would like to add, convincing players — especially an American like Callahan who’s spent his entire NHL career in the East — to move to Edmonton isn’t always easy. (Not without overpaying.)

If it’s a trade that MacTavish needs to make in order to bolster the roster, well, certainly the Oilers have some interesting chips to play there. (And why we’d love to tap his phone for any calls he makes to Nashville this summer.)