When one thinks of rebuild, one thinks of the Edmonton Oilers. Well, mostly. A rebuild in a hockey franchise occurs when said team isn’t satisfied with its current roster and is looking to shift to a younger core around which to build its potential championship winning team. The Edmonton Oilers of the NHL are one of those teams. Having one five Stanley Cups only enriches the Oilers’ history, but it, too, adds pressure on the modern day team.
“The fans and the players that have been there in the past, and the success that they had, that’s the standard by which those guys are measured“ said Ryan Jones. “However many Stanley Cups they have there, if you don’t make the playoffs, it’s a disappointment. Once you get to the playoffs, if you don’t win the Stanley Cup, it’s a disappointment again. At this point, the fans would take the playoffs, but it’s a high standard in that town“
Hence the rebuild.
“That rebuild word.. I’ve always hated it, even when I was there“ said Jones. “It just means that you’re giving up on that year. Rebuild, they’ve used it for a few years and it was almost a right off for that current year. They need to get away from that. They’re not rebuilding anything anymore. The organisation has so much history, it’s won so many games, they don’t have to rebuild much, they just have to find a way to win hockey games. Confidence is a lot in that locker room, the group of guys that they have there have lost a lot of hockey games together. It’s going to change, it has to change. It’s just a matter of when and who’s going to be there for it“
One might think, though, Edmonton has had a genuine lot of very promising draft picks, so how come they’re last? To name a few, in 2007 Sam Gagner was drafted 6th overall, in 2008 Jordan Eberle was drafted 22nd overall, then follows Edmonton series of picking first overall for three straight years with Taylor Hall in 2010, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2011 and Nail Yakupov in 2012. During the past two drafts, Edmonton drafted Darnell Nurse 7th overall (2013) and Leon Draisaitl third overall (2014). Right, so really now, how come they’re last?
“If I knew, I’d be making a lot of money“ said Jones. “They don’t have the right dynamic. Whatever that dynamic is, they just don’t have it right now. I think, McTavish, the GM, he promised the fans bold moves I don’t think he’s done. With the way the team is going right now, he’s going to have to make some tough decisions and the team is probably going to look very different after the Trade Deadline this year. It’s just what’s going to have to happen“
Connor McDavid is a name that has echoed through the hockey world for some time now. It too, probably, will echo through the BB&T Centre in Sunrise, Florida when one very fortunate team with the first overall pick will take the stage to draft their player of choice. Therefore, many teams are engaging in a tank battle to perhaps be the lucky ones to draft first overall. One of those teams are, surprise surprise, the Edmonton Oilers.
“I watched some highlights of him at the World Juniors“ said Jones. “I mean, Edmonton’s proof that first overall picks aren’t always going to come in and turn an organisation around. Maybe they tank for him and have five first overall picks, but it still might not be the dynamic they need to win hockey games“
Right. So what exactly is wrong with Edmonton, asks a curious hockey world.
“I honestly have no clue“ said Jones. “You know, I was there for five years and I still don’t really have an answer. There’s smarter people than me trying to figure it out. I don’t know. They have a lot of skill and talent, but for whatever reason they just can’t find a way to win“
Ryan Jones has been in the NHL since 2008. Drafted in 2004 111th overall by the Minnesota Wild, it took Jones four years with Miami University in Ohio until he got a crack at the AHL level with the Houston Aeros. After an 87 game stint with the Nashville Predators from 2008/09 to 2009/10, the team in Nashville has placed him on waivers and then the team in Edmonton claimed him off of them. Jones has been with the Oilers franchise until 2013/14, and during his five seasons with the team, he scored 72 points, of which 40 were goals in 247 games, while his NHL totals are 334 games and 54 goals out of 100 points. A free agent during the summer of 2014, Jones signed a PTO with the Vancouver Canucks’ farm team, the Utica Comets. His tenure with the Comets was five games long, during which he recorded an assist. Following the release from his PTO, Jones took his skill set overseas and set up shop with the Kölner Haie of the DEL. He then later on extended his contract with the Haie until 2017.
When we spoke to him back in December, he hasn’t completely adapted.
“A little bit“ said Jones. “I think it’s been 12 games now so I’ve kind of gotten used to the bigger ice. There’s a little bit more room to make a play here and there. It’s still hockey, the fundamentals of the game are pretty much the exact same. It’s just that here you have a little bit more time and space“
To one it may have seemed like the DEL was similar to the NHL. Ryan Jones begged to differ.
“No, opposite. Less skating and more physical in the NHL and more skating and less physical here. Just because you have so much more space. It’s harder to finish a check because the boards are so much wider. In the NHL, the game’s enclosed. Guys are a little bit faster, so there’s not as much time and space, just a lot more physical confrontation“ concluded Jones.
ED Note: The Oilers aren’t really looking like a different team after the trade deadline.