SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers plan to beef up

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:30 PM ET

The Oilers need to get tougher next season, especially if they add a young rookie or two. They don’t want Jordan Eberle or Tyler Seguin getting pounded every night, so they’ll be in the market for a heavyweight.

It won’t be a Derek Boogaard type, though. Pat Quinn, in throwing away Steve MacIntyre earlier this season, has shown he has no use for a guy who does nothing but police.

“We want to make sure we have people who can play,” said Oilers GM Steve Tambellini. “Our coaching staff’s philosophy is they don’t want to see a player who comes out for a minute and a half, two minutes, to make his presence known by a fight. We need to be aware of the fact we were short at times in that department, but we want to make sure people can play.”

EBERLE SHOULD BE READY ... As for whether he needs to hunt down a couple of top six forwards or thinks that Jordan Eberle and whoever they pick first can step right in and fill the bill, Tambellini said Eberle is definitely in the plans.

“I think Jordan is going to have a good chance to play,” he said. “He still has to come and show he can do that, but when I watch him he just seems to find ways to figure it out and have success.

“He’s not the biggest guy, he’s not the fastest guy, he’s not the most explosive guy, but the package, the intelligence and the hockey sense are elite.

“He’s going to be a good part. Whether it’s coming in September or November I’m not sure. If those kids are ready I’d love to see them.”

If not, he’s plenty cool with sending them to Oklahoma for as long as it takes.

“A lot of it is going to be dependent on if they’re ready to play. Let’s just make sure that they’re ready. There’s nothing wrong with that (AHL) step.”

PICK OF THE LITTER ... Every team with the first pick has to listen to an avalanche of offers, some of them semi-legitimate, most of them from teams trying to play them for a sucker.

Tambellini expects his phone will be ringing off the hook between now and June 25, but can’t envision giving away coveted first choice.

“I’m sure there are 29 other managers who have wonderful ideas how they’re going to make my team better,” he said.

There is extreme pressure in getting this one right, but it’s better than picking second and hoping the other guys got it wrong.

“You want to be in control. You want to put your scouts through that process and make them make a decision and determine who is better now, who is going to be better later.”

GOODBYE GOALIE ... Either Devan Dubnyk or Jeff Deslauriers will be gone by next fall. “I may have to lose one of them,” said Tambellini. “I don’t want to jump into the season with a three goaltending situation. We’re going to make a decision about moving one.”

He says it won’t be Nikolai Khabibulin.

HE SAID IT ... “I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to do things right here, to take charge of our people first, the drafting, the acquisition, the culture. We have to do a better job of that. I have to put in place that machine that gets people here who by the time they get here are proud to be an Oiler. They can’t wait to step on the ice with that logo.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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