The trade deadline has passed, meaning it has essentially been a year since Craig MacTavish made his final move as GM of the Edmonton Oilers. It’s clear to see why he doesn’t have a job anymore, but after taking a closer look, maybe he doesn’t deserve all the hate he gets. He did make some moves that paid off for the Oilers and have benefited the franchise.
Let’s start with what went terribly wrong for MacT during his tenure as GM:
The Eakins Love Affair
Ralph Krueger had this team playing some very good hockey, and all of the sudden he was canned for a stud AHL coach who was supposed to be great with developing players. He wasn’t, clearly, and this decision by MacT and management would set the Oilers back further then we will ever know.
The Nikitin Debacle
When the Oilers acquired the rights to Nikita Nikitin for a 5th round pick from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the general thought was that they were getting a depth defender to play their 3rd pairing. Not a bad move. Then came the contract.
2 years at 4.5 million per season. They paid him like he was an established top 4 d-man and he was about as far away from that as one could be. This was bad. But it didn’t really cost the Oilers much, just some cap space.
Challenging Justin Schultz and not giving Jeff Petry a new deal was a huge mistake and now it has the Oilers desperately looking for a top 4 defender, one similar to Jeff Petry. Schultz was a tire fire since getting the contract and has since been run out of town. A brutal example of asset mismanagement by MacTavish, that is still haunting the Oilers.
On the bright side, this gave Oilers fans a memorable sound bite with the whole “Norris potential” thing.
Those were some pretty big mistakes. But notice these all came from coaching, free agent signing and asset management. When it came to making trades, MacTavish made some really good decisions and now current Oilers management are reaping the benefits of those deals.
Perron In-Perron Out
The deal to bring in forward David Perron from the St. Louis Blues was a really good move. The Oilers got a top 6 forward and had to give up failed prospect Magnus Paajarvi and a 2nd round pick. Perron gave them a few good years and when it was time to move on, MacT cashed in again landing a 1st Round Pick, which was used by Peter Chiarelli to land Griffin Reinhart.
Getting a top 6 forward and then essentially flipping him for a young, future top 6 defender. Really solid trading by MacT.
Attempting to Solve The Crease
Although it didn’t work, MacT made a very strong effort to solve their problems between the pipes. Using only draft picks to bring in two young, highly sought after goalies looked like a very solid strategy.
In the end, Viktor Fasth (acquired for a 3rd and a 5th round pick) just didn’t work out. But Ben Scrivens was another example of an asset used by future management. Chiarelli was able to flip him for a rather effective top 9 forward in Zack Kassian.
Actually Solving The Crease
Ladislav Smid and Olivier Roy in exchange for Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit. A move that, at the time, was criticized heavily. The Oilers were getting rid of a reliable defender to bring in an unproven former Oil King. Great.
But now Brossoit has proven himself in the AHL for a few years and is regarded as one of the top goaltending prospects in the game and, despite his recent struggles, is looking more and more like the goalie of the future in Edmonton. Chiarelli may have solved the crease for now, but MacT could have given the Oilers their future #1.
At The End of The Day
Mactavish probably made as many good moves as he did bad. The big difference being that the bad moves were very bad, and the repercussions were immediate. The good moves took some time to develop or it took his successor Peter Chiarelli some time to cash in those assets.
The way I look at it, if Peter Chiarelli’s goal is to fix this team, MacTavish should be grabbing the assist on the play.
How do you view MacTavish’s time as the Oilers GM? Let me know!