Waiting for Leftovers Part 1

With the more time that passes and little done from the Edmonton Oilers in terms of free agency, it seems more and more realistic that perhaps Steve Tambellini has decided to take a wait and see approach and scour like a dog at the dinner table for the leftovers from other teams.

Perhaps this isn't a bad strategy and it makes a lot of sense if we consider comments made by Tambellini in past interviews. I'm paraphrasing here of course, but his words were something to the effect, "we have to make more changes than just our coaches by examining what we have on this team." The Oilers GM has also made reference to the fact that grabbing players from free agency isn't easy when you have a full roster and little cap space.

With that said, it has become quite clear that other teams around the NHL have not taken the Tambellini approach. Teams like Calgary, Chicago, Philly, Boston (not so much because they signed anyone, but because their players are hitting contract years) all knew how close to the cap their respective teams were; but chose to make splashes regardless. They now have decisions to make.

So what happens to these teams? Well, they either bury salary in the minors and have to contend with the juggling of one-way vs two-way contracts, or they decide as a management group, which players are expendable and can be moved to other destinations.

This is where the Edmonton Oilers fit in.

No, this is not to say that Tambellini is waiting to pick up the leftovers that no other teams want. In fact, it's the opposite as a lot of teams will be forced to move players they wish they could keep, but struggle to fit into the cap.

Over the next week or so, we're going to examine all of those teams that the Oilers might want to keep their eyes on. We'll go alphabetically with the teams closest to the cap starting with the Boston Bruins.

* All cap numbers courtesy of Cap Central at Hockeybuzz.com.


In retrospect, Boston has done little wrong. Perhaps signing Michael Ryder last year may cost them a bit, but this year, they've only really signed players at discount prices since July 1st. That doesn't mean that they don't have hard decisions infront of them thanks to the status of some of the expired contracts on the team -- namely Phil Kessel.

According to cap central over at hockeybuzz, the Bruins are over the cap by $112,000. Signing Phil Kessel, which Peter Chiarelli GM of the Bruins said he wants to do, means an additional $5 million or so to the cap for Boston. Sure, Chiarelli doesn't deny that he's shopped Kessel, but if a trade can't be completed someone from the Bruins has to go.

Boston has an excess at the forward position and with some high ticket price tags. Savard, Kessel, Bergeron, Krejci, Ryder, Sturm and Kobasew all hold roster spots on the team and make an excess of $3 million per season with the exception of Kobasew at $2.3.

The question becomes, if they keep Kessel, do they package or dump two mid-level contracts or one high priced item to make room for the $5 million Kessel is likely asking. Let's examine some of their options.

David Krejci is young (23), just exploding as an offensive weapon (22g - 51a - 73 pts) and a steal at $3.75 if he continues to be a 70 plus point player. Boston won't move him, at least not in the place of Kessel's $5 million.

Michael Ryder is going to be a tough sell at $4 million so don't expect many takers. He's likely the Oilers version of a Dustin Penner. I'm almost certain, Edmonton wants to stay away from two of those style contracts.

Marco Sturm is a veteran at 31 and while a consistent 25 plus goal getter, likely not the first line LW answer the Oilers are looking for. His contract seems somewhat reasonable, and might fit in as well if not a tad better than Dustin Penner, so if other options don't exist for the Oilers... maybe. Boston can't solve cap problems trading a Penner for a Sturm, so it doesn't make a lot of sense. I'd rather keep Penner because of what he brings on the powerplay.

Chuck Kobasew makes for a nice 2nd line RW, but that's not really an area lacking for the Oilers. I suppose it can be argued the Oilers are as weak there as anywhere else outside of Ales Hemsky, but to me O'Sullivan or Cogliano deserve a shot their first. The Oilers must agree having let Kotalik go via free agency.

That leaves us with three viable options. Savard, Bergeron and pehaps Kessel, should Boston find themselves wanting to dump the $5 million or so in one clear shot. Any of these three options would solve the Bruins problems for the most part.

Marc Savard has proven himself to be a point a game player. Known more as a passer than a shooter, he tends to mesh well with many styles and if the coaches here can convince Hemsky and Penner to shoot more, Savard will do well in Edmonton. The catch is that Savard has a no trade clause and one year left on his current contract. Two things that don't bode well for the Oilers.

Patrice Bergeron is more a scorer than Savard but the big question mark is his abiility to stay healthy having missed sizeable portions of the past couple seasons with concussion problems. He didn't seem like the same Bergeron when he returned last year and at $4.75 million over 2 more years, may be considered a risk. He's also a smaller forward and Tambellini wasn't looking for someone who lacked grit. Is he willing to exchange that grit for pure skill?

My Pick If Boston is Our Trade Partner?

Phil Kessel...


Despite the latest from Peter Chiarelli, we know Kessel is available as trade bait. An RFA, removing Kessel from the Bruins need to sign him almost completely solves Boston of its cap problems without making more than that one change. He's got unbelievable skill and speed (which the Oilers like), the potential to pot you 30 goals a year as a winger or a center and is a cornerstone to build a team around on what will have to be a long term contract to keep him.

He gives Edmonton coaches the opporuntity to move Horcoff to 2nd line center or play Kessel on the wing on the first line. In fact, that may be a better fit for him as his face-off percentages are not terrific for a centre and that is an area Horcoff does well. On the wing, he would give the Oilers a legitimate threat night in and out on the first line.


Obtaining Kessel may involve moving a Gilbert or a Grebeshov and a couple draft picks along side taking more salary in return, seeing as Boston can't take much salary, but I can live with that knowing the excess we have on the blueline on the fact that Kessel is young and peice of the long term puzzle for the Oilers. Should we need to, and Boston be in a big enough bind, perhaps a Smid, Cogliano and a couple prospects or draft picks would do the trick.

As mentioned before, he's not the greatest face-off guy, but that can be over exaggerated and his skills can improve there. He's coming off of shoulder surgery, but well ahead of schedule and much like his cancer treatments, something he can put behind him and have a great career.

He does require a negotiation as he is an RFA, but this is someone the Oilers should be willilng to invest in.

Next up... Calgary


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