Are the Oilers and Blackhawks Talking?

Despite the fact that there were some 14 games in the NHL, only a couple relevant things happened on Wednesday night if your an Oilers fan.

First, is that the Oilers lost a stinker 3-1 vs the L.A. Kings. We knew they'd need to be stronger than they were against Phoenix. They weren't, so they lost.

The other possibly relevant news if you're an Oiler fan is that Marian Hossa returned to the Blackhawks and made a splash.

You may be asking why that might be relevant. If so, here's my theory.

Rumors are all over the place that Chicago is poised to make a move or two to clear cap space to get Kane, Toews and Keith all signed to the long-term contracts coming their way. To do so, Brent Sopel and Patrick Sharp have been brought up as possibles on the way out.

Marian Hossa coming back and playing well gives the Blackhawks a green light to make a move.

Brent Sopel would be Chicago's obvious first choice, but that all depends on possible takers. When it comes to Patrick Sharp, there are plenty of NHL teams that would jump on that train. I would include Edmonton in that list.

One such other team has been rumored to be the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is being reported that while other teams would have interest in Sharp (including Edmonton), Burke would make a strong push in an attempt to land a first line one-two punch with Phil Kessel. Burke would be right in assuming that Sharp and Kessel together would immediately bolster the Maple Leafs first line.

In return, Burke might be willing to part with Alexei Ponikarovsky. For all intensive purposes, Ponikarovsky could be gone from Toronto next season as a pending UFA. So, while Burke will undoubtedly attempt to land a bigger fish if he's unsuccessful in his bid to get Patrick Sharp, he might as well move Ponikarovsky now if he intends not to keep him.

Ponikarovsky, would solve the cap issues for Chicago as it allows the Blackhawks to shed enough salary to sign all three big name players. What it doesn't do, is leave room to re-sign Ponikarovsky long-term, which means he could be flipped for younger contract expiring talent, prospects or picks. Edmonton has those to give.

One rumor has Edmonton willing to part with Cogliano and a pick for the big goal scoring left winger.

While I'd do so for Patrick Sharp in a heartbeat, Ponikarovsky begs to ask a few more questions and might not be a move I'd jump into quickly if I'm Tambellini.

The positives are that Ponikarovsky is a big left winger. At 6 ft and 220 lbs, he offers goal scoring that Edmonton lacks outside of Dustin Penner who has size. In 22 games so far this season, Ponikarovsky has 8 goals and 3 assists for 11 points. Not great when you consider his total point production, but pretty good for goals as he's on pace to hit 30 markers this year.

Add to that, is that Ponikarovsky leads Toronto in hits with 45. That would put him second behind only JF Jacques on the Oilers.

He's also second in Toronto with time on ice on the powerplay. It's no secret the Oilers could use some assistance in that area. Relying on Dustin Penner every night to be that presence in the goal crease can be taxing.

The most obvious plus, is that Ponikarovsky is a career 20 goal scorer. He's reliable in that area and the Oilers need reliable goal scorers.

The downside, is that Ponikarovsky doesn't address the Oilers faceoff needs. The thing is, I'm not convinced the Oilers care.

All signs leads to the Oilers seeing that with 3 or 4 players right near the 50 percent rate in the dot, Edmonton centers on this team (including Penner whose been undeniably strong for a winger in faceoffs) are capable of handling the load.

The other problem, is that Ponikarovsky (while not similar in play, but more in terms of contract status and perceived value) reminds me of Ales Kotalik.

The Oilers can use him now, but will they keep him? If they don't intend to, because he'll expect a $3 million contract, why move Cogliano to obtain him?

While the possibility exists that this is all wild speculation and just another team added to the many rumored to be in on any action Chicago chooses to take, I don't mind the idea of either Sharp or Ponikarovsky.

If it's Ponikarovsky, I'd be more hesitant on who goes the other way. When it comes to Sharp, I'd move almost anyone.

2 comments:

I think the Hawks will do everything they can to keep Sharp. Not only is he a good player, but he's the team prankster and extremely popular among his teammates.

Anonymous
November 26, 2009 at 2:37 AM comment-delete

God please no Ponikarovsky! The guy is one of the softer big men in the league. There is a reason the leafs continue to suck. And he's a big contributor. If Tambo trades for him, I will puke.

November 26, 2009 at 8:46 AM comment-delete

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