SUN Hockey Pool

The Oil doctor is in

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

EDMONTON -- They're bad, they know they're bad and everyone knows why they're bad.

So piling on at this point doesn't do anyone any good.

What the organization needs now is some constructive advice, areas within the franchise they might want to examine and improve moving forward.

So here it goes:

OWNERSHIP

The Oilers are worse, not better, since Daryl Katz took over. His arrival marked the end of a management style they weren't half bad at -- small ball -- and got them thinking about the kind of home-run, chequebook, buy-a-winner approach that never works.

Kevin Lowe was a very good GM when he had to count the EIG's pennies. When money was no object, the roof fell in.

So don't worry about spending $80 million on a Heatley or Hossa, sink that money instead into scouting and development and make Edmonton's No.1 focus growing and keeping their own stars, not overpaying for someone else's.

MANAGEMENT

This is a last-place hockey team with a first-place payroll. Enough said.

Clean house. However you have to do it. Fast. Your kids are learning how to be losers.

And when you are rebuilding, under no circumstances should you ever have more than three forwards under six-feet tall. EVER.

And if you do have three, all three MUST be pretty close to point-per-game guys.

You currently have six -- half of your entire forward depth chart is under six-feet -- and none of them are scoring.

Vancouver has two, and one of them is Rick Rypien, who can beat anyone on your team.

Two skill lines, one grind/checking line, one tough/energy line. The model is as old as the league.

Figure it out.

COACHING

You've been blessed with a luxury few teams have ever been able to enjoy: a 32-game exhibition season. Almost half a year of live-fire situations where it doesn't matter a lick whether you win or lose.

All you have to do is find the answers to every single question about every single player in the lineup.

Give Andrew Cogliano 30 games on one of the first two lines and the No.1 power-play unit and see if he's a legit top six forward. Find the chemistry and position that suit Patrick O'Sullivan best so you don't run him through the blender again next year. See if Tom Gilbert can be the power-play QB of tomorrow. Be 100% certain that Marc Pouliot is or isn't a guy you want to build a team around.

This is a golden opportunity. Is there somebody in the AHL who might surprise? Get him up and play him lots. If you have to sit two or three veterans in the press box every night, do it. They had their chance.

SCOUTS

Stop drafting safe, two-way players who "think the game" really well. Third-liners grow on trees, and you can teach a chimp to kill penalties.

It's the high-end elite talent that Edmonton never seems to get. Go for the home run on every single pick, and if just one of them turns out, he can change a team's future -- think Zetterberg and Datsyuk. On his best day, Riley Nash isn't a difference-maker.

Look at the Wings; they draft their stars and get their role-players off the open market. Edmonton drafts role-players and tries getting stars on the open market.

Who do you think is right?

DEVELOPMENT

The Oilers didn't even bother having a farm team for a few years, which makes you wonder how much stock they put in player development.

In today's NHL you must build from within. A strong feeder system is way more important than throwing money at UFAs, so why not treat it as such?

The Springfield Falcons are worse than the Oilers. Find out why and fix it.

And be patient with the prospects. Rushing teenagers to the NHL is risky business. Give them a great AHL program, with great facilities and great coaching, start teaching them the same system the Oilers use and give them time.

The scouts take a lot of heat for the busted picks, but what a team does with a kid after they pick him can make or break him.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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