A Closer Look at Patrick O'Sullivan

While the Oilers examine their ability to fill a need at the top 3 left wing forward position, a few viable options exist within Edmonton's roster. Obviously the Oilers would like to improve on what is currently available, but should they not be able to; Tambellini, Quinn and Renney may have already discussed who might be playing along side Hemksy and Horcoff to start the season.

Tambellini saw something at the trade deadline last year he liked -- that being Patrick O'Sullivan. Drafted in the second round of the 2003 NHL entry draft at 56th overall by the Wild, O'Sullivan played his first season for their AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. He had a great season, scoring 47 goals, with a total of 93 points, breaking all Houston Aeros' rookie records. A nice start and strong showing of character for a youngster growing up with the shadow of an abusive father hanging over him.

Seemingly able to put all of that behind him, he began the 2006/2007 season with the Kings when he made his NHL debut on October 6, 2006, and became the first person from North Carolina to play in the NHL. O'Sullivan didn't really break out in L.A. until 2007/2008 until he played all 82 games, scored 22 goals and 31 helpers for 53 points. He played in all situations and showed his willingness to shoot the puck, leading the Kings with 220 shots taken that year.

Edmonton saw their first taste of him as an Oiler, when on March 4, 2009, O'Sullivan was traded by the Kings with Calgary's second-round pick to the Hurricanes for Justin Williams, then was traded by the Hurricanes along with a second-round pick to the Oilers for Erik Cole and a fifth-round pick. Cole being a UFA at the end of that year; the Oilers needed to move Cole for risk of losing him in the summer for nothing. By most accounts, it was a win trade for Edmonton as O'Sullivan was argueably the best player to change hands.

Before coming here from L.A. that year, O'Sullivan looked to be on pace for another good season, however; seemed to hit a block as tended to be the case for a lot of offensive minded players under Craig MacTavish. O'Sullivan did little to spark the team and they nose-dived out of a playoff spot as both he and the rest of the team struggled.

That said, I don't want to write him off just yet. O'Sullivan likes to shoot. A lot. He finished last season with 259 shots, which was 39 higher than the year before and 51 more times than anyone on the current Oilers roster that year. Shooting the puck has not exactly been the Oilers strong suit.

Hemsky is a known passer and play-maker and Horcoff, more known for his passing and two-way style than ability to finish plays will both require someone who can keep up, (O'Sullivan is a good skater), who can finish (he knows how to put the puck in the net), and more so than anything is willing to try to score. Even more, O'Sullivan may be a spark for a Shawn Horcoff, who at times was so heavily relied upon last year to be defensively responsible for his linemates, that his offense took a massive hit.

O'Sullivan is a well rounded forward, not afraid to play defense and get back into the play. His plus minus hasn't been stellar over his NHL career, but much of that can be contributed to his career being played in L.A, where goals against was a regularity.

Should the Oilers not be able to make a move this summer, look for a debate between Penner and O'Sullivan as starting LW. I expect to see Penner, but my vote goes to O'Sullivan. He makes more sense in his style of play and Penner fits well on the 2nd line, but first unit power play where I wouldn't expect his numbers to drop.


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Dueling Predictions...

I waited. Well at least as long as was possible and with little else left to talk about before I decided it not a bad idea to make some bold predictions about the upcoming season.

I suppose I could have talked about the rediculous attempt by the Edmonton Oilers to woo one Dany Heatley from his summer home in Kelowna with a DVD/Video about the complete awesomeness of Edmonton and what it's like to be a player here. I've reserved doing that for the time being, because I just don't feel the need to keep piling the poop on top of an already crappy situation.

Instead, the "Prof" who writes for us on a regular basis and I decided we'd compare some bold predictions. I'll let him make his, I'll comment and then finish with some of my own. We welcome you to agree or disagree.

Prof's Prediction #1 : Dustin Penner will have his highest goal-scoring season. He will score at least 30 goals and have 25 assists as a plus hockey player. Penner scored 29 goals with the Ducks, but he will top that this season. Perhaps, he will not be an Oiler – but wherever he goes, here or away, he will score at least 30 goals.

Oilers Insider Prediction #1: Penner will score more goals this year than he has yet as an Oiler but won't reach 30. He won't be relegated to the fourth line as a punishment for looking lazy or disinterested, in fact he'll come out to a strong start with a new attitude under new coaching and be a go to guy for Quinn. The trade rumours won't bother him. He's dealt with worse from the fans already.

Prof's Prediction #2: Robert Nilsson is another young player who is ready to explode. Nilsson will have a break out season under the new coaching staff – and will have at least 50 points. He will be the scorer that he has shown signs of being and, while he will not be a vocal leader, he will be one of the Oilers’ scoring leaders.

Oilers Insider Prediction #2:Nilsson won't be an Oiler if the team is able to make a trade prior to opening night. Whether he's traded for a forward who fits better in the depth charts that he does who knows; but Nilsson finds himself the odd man out when Cogliano is discovered as the new wonder kid on the wing.

Prof's Prediction #3: Ryan Smyth will be back with the Oilers for the playoff run. He will be picked up at the trade deadline and will finish his season off with the Oilers. He will go on to play at least three more seasons and will have his number retired as an Oiler. He will become the next Oiler captain after Ethan Moreau who, sadly, will have another injury-plagued season.

Oilers Insider Predicition #3: That is some out of the box thinking, possibly wishful thinking, but a real stretch. With the trade to L.A. I think Ryan Smyth has found the home for which he will retire. It is my guess that Smyth has the injury plagued season and that while the Oilers could use a player of his style, they'll be glad they didn't spend $6 million plus to bring him back. Ryan Smyth will do wonders for a young team in L.A. as a leader even if he's hurt.

Prof's Prediction #4: The Oiler goaltending will take an unexpected turn, but will turn out better than expected at the present. This is a holding year, but one of the Oiler youngsters – and I am thinking it will be Devan Dubnyk – who will turn out to be one of the great NHL
goalies. Khababulin will be strong this year, and his play will keep the Oilers in games, but will give way to Deslauries toward the end of the season. Khababulin will turn out to be more of a leader than expected – and will show himself to have a great sense of humor. Roloson will labor in obscurity in New York and will himself move again at the trade deadline.

Oilers Insider Prediction #4: The best part about the Prof's above prediction here is that he made it prior to the Biron trade. He's bang on about Roloson, although I think Biron is the one who gets traded. I'll reserve judgement on Devan Dubnyk until next season when I think he gets his chance. It won't happen this year. Khabibulin will play well.

Prof's Prediction #5: Dany Heatley will NOT become an Oiler. In a fit of pique, Murray won’t trade Heatley until after the start of the season. Then, Ottawa will almost give him away after the season starts. With Heatley no longer in the picture, the Oilers will go with a youth movement, which will give many of the young players time to play. They will start off the season quickly, will fall on hard times, but will make a run and squeak into the playoffs.

Oilers Prediction #5: I agree that Heatley stays in Ottawa. I don't see how if they don't trade him to Edmonton, they can find another home for him -- especially in San Jose where he wants to play. I think Ottawa keeps him, he plays with Kovalev, gets 45 goals and all is forgotten in Senator's world. I do think the Oilers trade for a forward who once again isn't necessarily a top 3 (Zherdev) and he's moved in and out of that role.

Prof's Prediction #6: Oilers’ hockey – which has been more speed than skill – will be re-defined. The new coaching staff will put more priority on skill, which will allow some players who might have not yet shown themselves yet – say Lubomir Visnovsky or Tom Gilbert – to take different roles. Other players who will have much better seasons include Patrick O’Sullivan (who will come out of last year’s shell and will end up a fixture on the Oilers’ second line), Zack Stortini (who will become a fan favorite), Fernando Pisani (who will score 20 goals), and Gilbert Brule (who will score at least 12 goals and will start off the season strong).

Oilers Prediction #6: I think we too see some surprising performances from Oilers we didn't expect. O'Sullivan will lead the team in shots taken (assuming there is no Dany Heatley) and score 23 - 25 goals. Pisani, who is playing for another contract will stay healthy and score 20 and Visnovsky, playing the whole season will have 50 points plus. I say look for big things from Stortini, maybe as many as 12-15 garbage style goals and tons of penalty minutes.

Prof's Prediction #7: Robbie Schremp and Jordan Eberle will also make the big team. Eberle will struggle, ala Sam Gagner has for two years, but Schremp will be reborn under new coaching and will become a leader on the Power Play – which will improve dramatically. This will be Steve Staios’ last season as an Oiler. He will retire after this year – if he makes the year – and become an Oiler scout.

Oilers Insider Prediction #7: Schremp does alright, but not here. He'll not be re-signed and get moved as part of a package deal to another team where he will play, but never to the potential everyone was expecting. Eberle is one more year from making the team and we'll know more where he fits once Gagner's and Cogliano's contracts are either completed or they are moved. I agree regarding Staois, and will be surprised if he's not traded part way through the season to clear cap space.


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Shedding Some Light on Biron

More news has come down about why exactly Martin Biron chose to sign with the New York Islanders. Here is what we know according to a beat reporter out of Long Island...

1) The Islanders have some concern that DiPietro won't be available for the start of the season and wanted a better one-two punch than Dwayne Roloson and Scott Munroe. This was the original tandem set to start the Islanders season and GM Garth Snow, knowing they hadn't done much else in free agency to add toughness, defense or offense besides Tavares, thought a more reliable start/backup core made sense.

2) The big reason for Biron's addition however isn't the one-two punch we referenced in item #1, but more that Snow is looking into the future knowing that somewhere at some time in the regular season a team will come knocking for a more established goalie. Biron's $1.4 million price tag is extremely attractive and this gives the NYI some leverage in a trade for either Biron or Roloson at some point later.

3) Biron and Roloson share the same agent. When Biron was unable to aquire the long term big time payday he was hoping for, they contacted Garth Snow and put this whole deal together. Long story short, this deal was not available to any other team besides the NYI. Biron is hoping to land somewhere else and prove he's worth the dollar value he's asking, thus resigning a long term deal with whatever team picks him up in a trade.

4) The NYI have no intention of keeping Biron around for the long haul. Both the Islanders and Biron understand this and was a principal factor of the deal. New York has approximately 5 goalies in their system they intend not to move excluding Biron. They drafted two this year. This is nothing but a temporary stop gap while DiPietro is out.

For Oiler fans, perhaps a small sigh of relief is worth breathing. Tambellini was not comparing salaries to goaltenders, nor apples to oranges when he signed Khabibulin instead of Biron.

We can all still argue that Biron is better than Khabibulin or visa versa, but we now seem to know for certain that is wasn't $1.4 million (Biron) vs $3.75 million (Khabibulin). It sounds like Khabibulin was the cheaper of the two options when the Oilers inquired.


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How Exactly Did This Happen?

The answer? Greed.

It was announced Wednesday that Martin Biron had signed with the New York Islanders a one year $1.4 million contract. And immediately the rumours began.

Citing the major ball dropping by the Oilers and demanding the removal of Steve Tambellini as Oiler GM, fans flocked to message boards and comment boxes everywhere voicing their opinions. How could the Oilers just sit by and let Martin Biron sign with NYI for considerably less than what the Oilers offered and signed Khabibulin for?

Consider the logic of the argument.

To compare the statistics of these two netminders after finding out the differences in their salaries is completely irrelevant. When Edmonton inquired about securing the services of Biron (which we know they did), the final going rate ($1.4 million), was not something the Oilers had available to them. Had they, the Oilers would have jumped all over that like a fat kid on a snickers.

Even if Biron turned out to be not who the Oilers were hoping for in the bigger scheme of things, at $1.4 million; that price tag would have allowed Edmonton the opporunity to make other moves, adding other pieces; which could have included another established goaltender. Very much a risk the Oilers would have been more than willing to take.

Forget for a second that Khabibulin is likely overpaid. Many of us will argue he is. My argument is that his overpayment has nothing to do with Biron's total underpayment.

This situation is nothing but the result of a greedy and non-elite level goaltender who didn't understand the law of supply and demand. In a goalie flooded market, if Biron hasn't been hit in the head with a crash course of basic economics, being forced to sign on as a third string goalie on a non-playoff team; ought to wake him up to the reality of the business world.

And it's too bad. By shooting himself in the foot, Biron has inadvertantly grazed Steve Tambellini and dragged him into the same category of greedy and ignorant business dummies Biron now finds himself.

Many fans will argue that the Oilers GM should have waited out the other 11 or so teams who signed goalies this summer, effectively grabbing the best bargain available knowing prices would drop. To the credit of that argument, prices would have. But who's to say that Biron at $1.4 million would have been the last one standing and the Oilers wouldnt have ended up with an Andrew Raycroft.

We often hear about the players association getting upset with NHL players who discount their fair market value more than an acceptable amount to stay with a team that couldn't otherwise pay the going rate. One has to wonder why no one speaks up when a player perceives his value to be four times what it actually should be, especially when that player gets brought back to reality the hard way and is forced to settle for four times less than it is.

This is a big ouch to Biron and to some fans, the Oilers. No one will walk away without a boo-boo.


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Waiting for the Left Overs - Detroit Red Wings

Known as one of the best teams in the NHL over the past 5 or 6 years, and on the verge of being called a "dynasty" the Detroit Red Wings have taken a hit in the past three weeks in terms of returning players. Granted, they are still a popular pick to finish first in the Western Conference, but remain extremely close to the ceiling in terms of salary cap, which can't bode well for a team looking to stay on top.

The loss of Marian Hossa, (possibly) Jiri Hudler and Mikael Samuelsson is bound to cause offensive depth issues for a team widely known as the deepest in hockey and the loss of a proven back-up goalie in Ty Conklin leaves way for a team of netminders that is questionable. (we say this knowing that Osgood has proven how valueable he is, but never seems to get a fair shake).

Detroit seems to have a variety of contracts that are not advantageous to move. Superstars like Zetterberg and Datsyuk are not going anywhere no matter what you offer Detroit. Both players are the cornerstone of that team and have contracts that will see them stay Wings until 2013 at the earliest. Neither player makes $7 million which shouldn't concern the Red Wings even when the cap falls. Good position to be in concerning your superstars.

Franzen and Fillpula are growing steadily in value and decent cap hits for what they bring. While neither might be considered untouchable, they might be close. Franzen has established himself as the next true power forward for the Red Wings and Fillpula is no joke at $3 million per season.

Lidstrom and Rafalksi make-up the backbone of their blueline, with Kronwall a close second and likely the future on their top pair when a Lidstrom chooses to reduce his role, take a paycut or move on at the end of this season. (I see the second of those three options as more likely).

The rest of the team seems to either play distinct roles on the team or make under $1 million each and it will have to stay that way to Detroit to remain under the cap. Both factors are extremely important to the team considering what they lost in terms of free agency this summer and wanting to keep the depth. Daniel Cleary is the perfect example having been invited to the 2010 Olympic tryouts.

For me however, a name that peaks my interest in a guy like Tomas Holmstrom. For the right swap, Detroit might be willing to move him knowing that Franzen has helped reduce both his role and importance to the team and is quickly taking over as the go-to power forward.

As reported by MrNorrisTrophy from Winging It In Mowtown, "far be it from me asserting that Holmstrom has hit the end of the road, rather an assertion that he has been out performed by his country mate and will likely see a reduced role in the future because of Franzen's performance. Holmstrom has fallen off slightly in recent seasons from injury and lack of production but could be ushering the way for the new big threat in Hockeytown. "

This could be a perfect opportunity for the Oilers. Holmstrom finds his strength in the style of game a Ryan Smyth used to play. Hard nosed, irritating in front of the net hockey contributing garbage goals. Edmonton has missed that type of player since Smyth was traded at the deadline for what seems to be the exact opposite in a Robert Nilsson.

Holmstrom has been hit by the injury bug as of late, but when healthy he's a shoe in for 20-30 goals on the left wing, contributes significantly to the powerplay and can add that team toughness the Oilers are looking for. So too, with one year left on this current deal and a $2.25 million dollar cap hit, he provides a lot of what Smyth did at about 1/3 the price tag.

This allows Edmonton to take a risk on a first line LW (he can always move in and out of that role with Penner), split or take most of the PP time, and the Oilers are not locked in to a contract past a year that the cap might decrease significantly.

If I'm Edmonton and waiting for the left overs, I'm making a phone call to Ken Holland in Detroit to see if they have any interest in some cap relief and moving Mr. Holmstrom.


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Grebeshkov signs 1 year, $3.15M deal to avoid arbitration

As reported by TSN...

The Edmonton Oilers have signed restricted free agent defenceman Denis Grebeshkov to a one-year contract worth $3.15 million.

The signing avoids salary arbitration between the Russian defender and the club.

Last season the 25-year-old scored seven goals and 32 assists for 39 points in 72 games.
Grebeshkov made his way to Edmonton in 2007, via a trade with the New York Islanders in exchange for Marc-Andre Bergeron and a third round selection in 2008.

Originally drafted 18th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Grebeshkov has played in 176 games over four NHL seasons with Los Angeles, New York and Edmonton, talling 10 goals and 53 assists, as well as 80 penalty minutes.

To me this smells of uncertainty on the part of Denis Grebeshkov. The Oilers, who were obviously interested in keeping the offensive defenseman for longer than one year sign Grebs at $3.15 million for just this next season? Grebeshkov who was set to hit arbitration must have taken a look at his case and decided that his numbers were worth less than what he was going to get by settling early. Either that or he is unsure he'd like to stay in Edmonton for the long haul as the Oilers would have been granted a two year contract based on an abitrator decision.

For the Oilers it introduces a few questions. Do they hang on to Grebeshkov for the one year possibly letting him go at the end of the season when the cap decreases? Or do they trade him at some point to help fill their need for a top six (hopefully top three) forward.

Fans who wanted to see Grebeshkov remain an Oiler will likely be mixed in their reaction. How does this only happen for one year will be one side, while the Oilers will likely be happy with the amount and the fact that it gives the Oilers some cap relief at the end of the season, keeping him only if he proves for one more season to be an offensive defenseman of the future, on the other.


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Can Dany Heatley Go To San Jose?

And we thought we had cap issues here in Edmonton.

San Jose, more so than any other team, is in serious trouble to start this upcoming season. While other teams like Calgary, Chicago or Ottawa are near or over the cap and require moving players to clear space, San Jose finds themselves in the unenviable position of being short a full roster; with no cap space to add a single player.

According to capgeek.com, the Sharks have seven defensemen ready to play in 2009/2010. So far, so good. But that's where the good news stops. San Jose has only ten signed forwards and one goalie under contract and ready to start the year. Just to have four lines with three players per line, means San Jose needs twelve forwards not ten. Not to mention that every team dresses and extra 13th forward. Oh yeah... and they'll require a back-up goalie.

Even worse, San Jose has a whopping $217,503 ($899,000 according to nhlnumbers.com) in cap space left to fill those four holes. That's less than the league minimum of one NHL player in one case and the minimum of two NHL players in another. The math doesn't quite compute.

Then how in the heck can Dany Heatley be the discussion of trade rumours to San Jose? After all, from most accounts, if Heatley doesn't come to Edmonton and doesn't stay in Ottawa, he's going to San Jose... or so many seem to think.

No matter how you slice a trade involving Dany Heatley between San Jose and Ottawa, every option we can find puts one of these teams over the cap and San Jose still doesn't have enough depth to dress a full roster going into this season. In fact, there is not a single forward on the Sharks roster who makes more than Heatley, which means practically any additional salary San Jose takes on (which can only be $899,000 in the best case being nhlnumbers.com) puts the Sharks over the cap.

The only option, is a massive salary dump on the part of San Jose. We already know how close to impossible that seems to be in todays NHL and for the Sharks, it leaves them with an even smaller professional roster than they currently have.

Let's look at a few examples to prove our theory.

If a one for one trade, (say Patrick Marleau for Dany Heatley) San Jose still only has 10 forwards, but are over the cap. Oh yeah... and they'd still need a back-up goalie.

If a forward and a defenseman combo, (say Marleau and Christian Ehrhoff for Heatley) that relieves San Jose of $1.9 million in cap space, but still leaves them with 10 forwards. They would have to sign three players at the absolute league minimum to fill the roster... oh but wait, it would put Ottawa over the cap by $1.7 million or so, which means it's slim at best to make that happen since Ottawa would then need to dump salary. San Jose still needs a back-up goalie.

What about 2 defensmen plus a draft pick for Heatley (say Ehrhoff and Huskins)? Nope sorry, San Jose is over again and Ottawa doesn't get the forward it wants. Oh yeah... and San Jose needs a back-up goalie.

Let's get crazy and say the Shark's trade Nabokov for draft picks and bring in forwards from the minors to play full time in the NHL. They effectively clear about $4.5 million give or take less the new forwards league minimums. Heatley is a $7.5 cap hit. The Sharks are still $3 million or so over. Oh... and now the Sharks need two goalies.

See a trend yet? Every time San Jose is over the cap, they'll have to dump players to get under it. How can you dump players when you don't even have enough to dress a team? I suppose you could trade a Jonathan Cheechoo for draft picks and prospects, effectively boosting the quantity of contracts on the team. But, you'd almost certainly need to make the trade involving Cheechoo first (finding a team willing to take his salary), do this again with maybe one of your extra defensemen; then move for Heatley once you've effectively added enough pieces to man a full team.

Or even more, I suppose you could bury a $3 million dollar player in the minors, and call up 3 minor league forwards to fill your depth (assuming you can find the two way contracts to do so.)

Of course then you'd have to make it attractive enough to Bryan Murray to move Heatley in the first place.

What is my point? That despite the numerous rumours out there that San Jose has interest in Dany Heatley and it could be what stands in the way of the Oilers landing the LW sniper they've been waiting weeks for, interest isn't enough to make this happen. A trade between Ottawa and San Jose isn't just unlikely, it's nearly impossible without a maze of other action to set-up for something that both teams need to agree is not only viable, but somewhat fair. It's hard enough now to do a one for one trade in the NHL.

Perhaps I'm missing something and I invite our readers to post comments letting me know how the options would better work. But to me, it seems a no brainer that of all the teams Heatley could move to, San Jose isn't one of them.


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Quick News a Rumours for Monday July 20, 2009

I don't do this all that often because I like to at least have some sort of verification of the rumours I'm posting... hence the last one I posted being directly after a personal one on one interview with Dan Tencer of the Edmonton Oilers. I find him a reliable source when it comes to the Oilers.

That said, a number of readers starting to learn about our friendly neighbourhood site have expressed a keen interest in rumours and scoops as it relates to the Oilers, so I'll keep you posted at least once a week on what I'm hearing. Like I said, in some cases I can't verify the validity of these rumours past the point of someone I know and trust brought it to my attention. I'll make sure to be detailed when it passes the point of speculation and becomes more a very likely possibility.

Keep in mind, I will always note whether or not I think it affects the Oilers.

Evgeni Nabokov willing to trade his no trade clause if a trade from San Jose is happening? What I know, is that a trade from San Jose is likely, but not one including Evgeni Nabokov. He's their starting goalie with one year remaining on his contract, which is great if you're San Jose. With the cap going down, still a number of options out there at the goalie position, why would you trade one of the best goalies in the league at this point? Sure San Jose wants to shake up the team a bit, but not at goal. It's one of their bright spots that hasn't let them down.

Expect that this has nothing to do with the Oilers. Would I trade Khabibulin for Nabokov? In a heartbeat, but it's not realistic to expect that so I'm not sure why I even brought it up.

Tomas Kaberle to Buffalo? I've heard Buffalo has expressed interest, but if Derek Roy is a part of that trade, which is the name being tossed around; that is a steep asking price in my opinion. Derek Roy is as close to a point a game center as you'll get and a much healthier option than Tim Connolly, Buffalo's only other viable 1st line center option. If Burke can make that happen, that would be impressive. Don't expect it. This will have no bearing on Edmonton what-so-ever

Alex Tanguay? Rumours were all over the place that he was almost a done deal to Florida. We hear that is not the case. That's not to say Florida isn't interested or that he doesn't wind up there, but that The Islanders, Wild and Devils may have expressed interest and that Tanguay is still looking for a sizeable payday. The Oilers called, but the money being asked for was far too much for Edmonton to stay interested.

Phil Kessel? I can't confirm if the Oilers have inquired, but they should. He's on the block despite what the Bruins are saying and it won't take fair value to get him, just the ability of Edmonton to move other salary some place else. The Oilers would need to move about $1-$2 million -- more if they keep Grebeshkov before or after arbitration is complete, if Kessel is a viable option. It should take at least $4.5 per year to sign him.

Simon Gagne? We've heard everything from the Flyers won't move a 40 goal scorer to the Flyers might have no choice if they can't move Briere. Gagne would be a perfect fit, but salary as always, is a concern (not for what Gagne makes, but for what the Oilers can move to fit his salary in). Expect that someone big from the Flyers getting traded, but that the Oilers don't do much except inquire. Should a few minor moves get made by Edmonton to clear space, it could be a pre-cursor to something bigger like Gagne.

Heatley? Well if we haven't beaten it to death enough yet, Heatley isn't excluded officially from the Oilers plans despite what Prendergast says. The odds are way down and other teams are being discussed, but trade options are just a lot more tricky to complete with some of the interested teams like San Jose. I expect to see Heatley back in Ottawa. We are waiting on a supposed "behind the scenes" expose on the Heatley story, but aren't expecting it to be as "behind the scenes" as we are hoping.


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This Year in Edmonton Oilers’ History: 1987-1988

The Great One Meets the Odd One

The 1988 Stanley Cup Finals was between the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins, and the Oilers won the series 4–0 in five games. How can a five game series be won by one team 4-0? This is where the “odd one” comes in. Game four in Boston was abandoned due to technical problems at the Boston Garden with the score tied 3–3 and replayed, with the Oilers prevailing.

The Oilers, although they dominated the Stanley Cup finals, didn’t even win their own division that year. In 1987-8 season, the Smythe Division was won by Calgary with a 48-23-9 record and the Oil finished 44-25-11. And the Oilers, even with such a potent offence, were outscored during the regular season, when the Flames scored 397 goals to 363 goals for the Great One and teammates.

The following trivia questions test your knowledge of this great season in Edmonton Oiler history.

Question One: Who led the Oilers in points scoring?

It is pretty obvious that the Great One was in his prime and, although Wayne missed 16 games in the 1987-88 season, he led the team with 149 points. But match the following Oilers with their points scoring totals.

111, 96, 88, 74

Glenn Anderson
Esa Tikkanen
Jari Kurri
Mark Messier

Question Two: Who lead the Oilers in goals in 1987-88?

(a) Wayne Gretzky
(b) Mark Messier
(c) Craig Simpson
(d) Jari Kurri

Question Three: Which of these players were NOT on the Oilers roster in 1987-88?

(a) Craig Muni
(b) Paul Coffey
(c) Kevin McClelland
(d) Lee Fogolin
(e)Geoff Courtnall

The first comment below with all 3 correct answers will receive Oilers Insider swag. Make sure you leave a way for us to directly message you in you are in fact the correct response.


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Should the Oilers Consider Patrick Sharp?

With recent news that Oilers Assistant GM Kevin Prendergast has gone on record saying the Oilers expect Dany Heatley to be playing somewhere other than Edmonton next season, we have to wonder where the Oilers go from here.
Whether the comments made by Prendergast are a true indication of how the Edmonton Oilers really feel, or some sneaky side hand action in a very long drawn out poker game; those same comments create speculation among fans and hopefully management about what other options are out there to improve the current roster.
Meanwhile; word seems to be coming out of a few different sources around the NHL, that Patrick Sharp; a gritty two-way but highly offensively skilled forward is the discussion of much trade talk.
Dale Tallon, before his removal as GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, was part of a messy and very public clerical mess that resulted in early contracts being handed out to a number of restricted free agents in Chicago, including Cam Barker and Kris Versteeg. This error, in conjunction with some big off season signings for the Blackhawks -- namely Marian Hossa, John Madden and Tomas Kopecky -- has created a tight and obviously sticky salary cap crunch in Chicago. With Patrick Sharp in the second of a four year $3.9 million per year contract, it seems a bit surprising that the Blackhawks are interested in moving part of their core group or forwards, but makes sense if they see a brighter future in Versteeg.
To this point, San Jose, Montreal, and Toronto all sound rumoured to have interest; but what about the Oilers? Would it be a wise decision to look at someone like Patrick Sharp and try to bring him to "Oil Country?"
Here is what we know.
Since having a slow start in Philadelphia, Sharp has been an offensive threat and one of the great surprises for Chicago since coming over in a trade that sent Matt Ellison and a 3rd round selection back to the Flyers in 2006.
Sharp in reality is a 30 plus goal scoring forward (last year missing 21 games meant he scored only 26, which isn't too shabby), and plays in all situations. In 2007/2008 for example, Sharp shared the NHL lead with seven short-handed markers and paced the Blackhawks with nine power-play strikes, the second-consecutive season he led Chicago in each category. He then led the team with seven game-winning markers, ranked second with a career-best 62 points and fourth with a career-most 26 assists in 80 contests all with a +23 plus/minus rating.
In most cases, Sharp is listed as a centre; however, the Blackhawks website bio has him listed at LW, which we know means he is still extremely productive in that role. Is this not exactly what the Oilers are looking for? A 30 plus goal and 50 plus point LW player who can log or at least share first line duties with a Dustin Penner, kill penalties and be relied on a defensively responsible and gritty player? His $3.9 cap hit isn't low, but it's not extremely high either and he seems by all accounts to be much more consistent than a Dustin Penner who makes $4.25 million per season.
This cap hit seems to be his only true downside when you consider the type of trade required to make a deal like this happen. Chicago is dumping salary if they choose to move Sharp. That means the Oilers would be moving likely no more than $2 million in cap space back.
Nilsson and maybe a draft pick would be the ideal choice, but that could be tricky to convince Chicago to take in return since they'll want more value and Nillson is very one dimensional. What about Moreau who started in Chicago and brings the same type of play without the offensive upside? If no other options exist for the Blackhawks and they want a true leader in the dressing room knowing they lack that with a very young captain in Toews -- perhaps.
If the Oilers can figure out how to not move a lot of salary and fit in Sharp's $3.9 million, it shouldn't take a lot outside of a prospect or two and maybe a draft pick. Chicago created this mess and won't be rewarded for getting themselves out of it, even though Sharp is a good player and would demand fair return./ That said, don't expect Chicago to take fair return to clear up their cap issues.
Now that Heatley is all but dead in the water, it would be nice to have the Oilers at least inquire.


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