EDMONTON - Craig MacTavish defended his job as Oilers general manager Friday as he addressed Edmonton's struggles through 26 games this season. MacTavish specifically talked up how much of the roster he has turned over since becoming GM after the 2013 season. Here's a look at the players who have come and gone under MacTavish's watch:
Who's gone: Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk
Who's new: Viktor Fasth and Ben Scrivens
Who's stayed: No one
Khabibulin was at the tail end of his career and left as an unrestricted free agent. Dubnyk was traded to the Predators for forward Matt Hendricks. In-season free agent Ilya Bryzgalov was a stopgap who turned into some value in a trade before the 2014 deadline. Fasth cost a third- and a fifth-round pick in a deal with the Ducks, while Scrivens cost a third-rounder. Goaltending has been one of the biggest problems for the Oilers, with Fasth and Scrivens combining for the worst save percentage in the NHL at .885.
Who's gone: Ladislav Smid, Nick Schultz, Corey Potter, Mark Fistric, Ryan Whitney and Theo Peckham
Who's new: Andrew Ference, Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin, Keith Aulie
Who's stayed: Justin Schultz, Jeff Petry
MacTavish didn't exactly inherit a bang-up blue-line, and one player who was considered of value (Smid) was sent to the Flames to clear cap space for Bryzgalov last season. Ference was named captain after signing a US$13-million, four-year deal in the summer of 2013. Fayne signed this past summer, and MacTavish said he likes what the veteran has brought. Nikitin's rights only cost a fifth-round pick in a deal with the Blue Jackets, but he hasn't lived up to expectations created by a $9-million, two-year deal. MacTavish inherited prospects Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom and even Schultz. Upon signing Schultz to a $3.675-million, one-year contract last summer, MacTavish said he believed he had "Norris Trophy potential." Schultz has struggled and was even a healthy scratch for one game.
Who's gone: Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Jones, Magnus Paajarvi, Mike Brown, Eric Belanger, Jerred Smithson, Anton Lander, Ryan Smyth
Who's new: David Perron, Benoit Pouliot, Matt Hendricks, Boyd Gordon, Leon Draisaitl, Teddy Purcell, Steven Pinizzotto, Luke Gadzic
Who's stayed: Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov
The Oilers' core remains in tact, built from first-round draft picks before MacTavish was hired. He defended that core Friday, saying he didn't believe it needed to be rooted out but instead needed more time to develop. Yakupov shouldn't be considered part of that core, which really is Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. MacTavish's first major move was to send Paajarvi to the Blues for Perron, and it's hard to argue with that deal. It was a smart one. MacTavish hoped to add top-nine forwards so that Hendricks and Gordon could play where they're more suited on the fourth line, but there are still gaps, mainly at centre. The Oilers kept Draisaitl, the No. 3 pick in June's draft, around instead of sending him back to junior, but he's not the answer there. MacTavish said the cost of getting a top-two centre wasn't worth it, and given Edmonton's current plight, it's certainly not worth it this season.
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