Model No. 1: Tanking in Edmonton (2009 ~ Now)
If you can explain tanking without mentioning our dear Edmonton Oilers, I applaud you greatly. The Great Tank for the Great Connor McDavid has flourished to become the backbone of the central dogma #TankNation.
Top-Five Picks of Significance
- Connor McDavid, First Overall (2015)
- Leon Draisaitl, Third Overall (2014)
- Nail Yakupov, First Overall (2012)
- Ryan Nugent-Hokpins, First Overall (2011)
- Taylor Hall, First Overall (2010)
Other notes of significance
- Edmonton has not appeared in the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season.
- In the ensuing 10 seasons, six coaches have coached the Oilers. Including current coach Todd McLellan, note that the Oilers have cut ties with Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger, and Dallas Eakins.
- McDavid has 24 points in 20 games this year. That is equivalent to 98 points in 82 games.
- The Oilers have sold out at home ever since 2006.
Tanking in Edmonton: Utmost Patience
Marvelous is the fact that Edmonton has sold out every game despite their seemingly life-long tanking. You can’t but feel sorry for these fans, until you realize how lucky they have been to get these ridiculously draft picks, lucky enough to get a McDavid thanks to the lottery. So what about their tank?
No veteran presence can be found on the Oilers’ lineup. 36-year-old Andrew Ference and 34-year-old Matt Hendricks have less than 10 points between them this season, and no other player in Edmonton is over 30-years-old.
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Edmonton’s failure serves to prove that even when a team is tanking or coming out of the tanking phase, it needs to retain a certain level of veteran presence on the roster.
Building around the defence could need some veteran presence, too. Ference has played just six games this season, and the rest of the blueline is composed of solely of players in their 20’s. This is even bigger a problem when 28-year-old Cam Talbot is the number one netminder in town.
Balanced Drafting would have solved the defensive woes. As one can see above, the Oilers have drafted in the top three consistently in the past six years, four times with the very first pick. At all times, they have drafted forwards.
So who were the defencemen that the Oilers had chance to draft, aside from Darnell Nurse at seventh overall in 2013? The latest draft has a valid excuse — anyone in any organization would have picked McDavid over the top defencemen of the draft, Noah Hanafin and Ivan Provorov.
The 2014 draft was a missed chance with another valid excuse, as Aaron Ekblad was picked first overall.
But in 2012, Ryan Murray was available as a top option. In 2011, Dougie Hamilton and Adam Larsson were also top options that were picked in the top ten. In 2010, Erik Gudbranson and Cam Fowler were available.
Maybe in defence of the Oilers, notice how the top defencemen when the Oilers had the top picks before the addition of Draisaitl and McDavid. But the case for Murray still looks strong in my opinion, to have been drafted over Nail Yakupov.
Next: Model No. 2: Tanking in Chicago