In a somewhat surprising move, coming in the final weeks of the regular season, the Edmonton Oilers have fired GM Steve Tambellini. He will be replaced by Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations Craig MacTavish.
Steve Tambellini was brought on as GM of the Oilers in July, 2008, after narrowly missing the playoffs by thee points. Tambellini continued on as GM throughout some of the worst years that Edmonton has seen. The poor finishes year after year did, however, result in the Oilers being on the receiving end of three consecutive number one overall picks in the draft.
Tambellini and his team used their number one picks to appropriately rebuild the Oilers franchise. In 2010, they began by choosing Taylor Hall, who has started to blossom into a great NHL player. They followed that up with the selection of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who had an incredible rookie campaign with the Oilers, but struggled a bit to begin his second season. Nail Yakupov was the latest addition to the Oilers squad, chosen first overall in 2012. The Oilers even managed to land highly coveted free agent defenseman Jeff Schultz under Tambellini.
Much of the hard work has been done for MacTavish, but there is still plenty to do. The Oilers had high hopes for the shortened 2013 season, but currently sit in 12th place in the Western Conference. They will likely miss the playoffs once again, and earn another high draft pick.
Replacing MacTavish as SVP of Hockey Operations will be former Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson. It’s not exactly a winning formula in the management department, but the Oilers have a tremendous core to build off of.
Next season, with another year of experience under their belts, the young Oilers squad should be ready to make a run at a playoff spot. If they continue to fail with a growing core, the Oilers might have to look to replace their coach once again.
What are your thoughts on this change in Edmonton? Did you expect the Oilers to replace Tambellini this season? Are you happy with MacTavish taking over, and do you think he can help lead this team to success? Share your thoughts in the comments below.