Even More Trade News on Shawn Horcoff and Ethan Moreau That Isn't Getting the Oilers Excited.

One of our sources close to the offices of the Edmonton Oilers was able to shed a little light on some of the names involved in trade deadline talks for the Edmonton Oilers. Unfortunately, much of that news, while some not surprising, isn't great.

First, in respect to Ethan Moreau, the Oilers have about two teams interested, but not seriously. The teams talking to Edmonton are doing two things. First, they are making it known to the Oilers, that in taking Moreau, they are simply adding a player to help the Oilers in terms of salary. The rub of course, is that the Oilers must give up a higher draft pick than they want to.

The Oilers have tried to counter with other players or prospects going both ways, but it seems the minute a team is talking anything but higher picks, they stop talking all together. To move Moreau, who it seems as though nobody wants, they have to be willing to ship a decent pick.

In fact, many teams the Oilers have talked to have brought up Moreau's rep around the league as a disturbance. I had to ask again and was shocked when it was repeated that Ethan Moreau has a rep around the NHL as a bad influence.

If it's true and the Oilers are aware of it, that doesn't bode well for a franchise who knows they have a captain no teams want, is overpaid and is actually more of a disturbance than a captain.

Speaking of impossible to move, the Oilers have tried to stir up conversations with a couple teams regarding Shawn Horcoff. Not surprisingly, not a single team, even those like Montreal who were rumoured to like Horcoff were interested at his salary vs production. The Oilers are stuck with Horcoff until he can put together a more productive season.

The problem, is that Horcoff's confidence is at an all time low. He'll need a run or a scoring streak of some sort to feel better about it. His knowing of his grossly inflated salary isn't helping and as was evident in a recent interview where he diverted blame to some fans misunderstanding of economic conditions is just an example of how he's not handling the pressure well.

On the plus side, there has been some interest in Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano. Which teams and for what return, we haven't heard, but that the Oilers aren't keen on moving either. So too, the especially aren't even inviting conversations about Sam Gagner who has attracted some interest from teams around the NHL.

From what we've heard, any talks regarding Sam Gagner have been stalled as the Oilers aren't interested unless the team calling mentions a name of a star on their roster as part of any deal. No one has done so, thus conversations have been short and to the point.

Our source says the mood around the Oilers office, is that little is going to get done before deadline day.

For a franchise looking to sell, that doesn't say much.


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Which Comes First, the $101 Million Dollar Player or the Egg?

Understand that as I write this, I am well aware that Ilya Kovalchuk, or many players before and after of the same ilk have turned down and will continue to turn down the Edmonton Oilers until this franchise is a winning one.

In much the same way, the Atlanta Thrashers who released a statement today that Kovalchuk turned down a $101 million contract over 12 years, will have trouble attracting big ticket players because as a team they aren't one synonymous with winning.

A question we often find ourselves asking in Edmonton, is which should come first -- the big ticket player or the competitive team? If it's the competitive team, is the big ticket player a key ingredient?

The Oilers should hope that building a winning team, doesn't require as a starting point a big time, big money superstar to turn things around, because one isn't coming and the Oilers don't currently have one. News familiar to fans, but one the team is finally starting to grasp the concept of.

One would only have to look so far as the total lack of the Edmonton Oilers to show any interest in getting involved in a bidding and trading frenzy for Kovalchuk to see that the Oilers management team has finally decided to build through the draft.

But, should the Oilers successfully build through the draft for the next two years and have made the right decisions in the previous two drafts, ultimately resulting in a team which is doing more than scraping into a playoff spot; will the big ticket items add Edmonton to their short list? One would logically think so.

You almost would have to imagine that's the thought process behind Kovalchuk's decision. The contract he's been stated to have turned down, would have made his the highest contract ever given out to a pending UFA.

Possibly, a contract the Oilers would have given out in an attempt to attract a player like Kovalchuk.

I wonder now, if you had the chance in Edmonton and Kovalchuk had said to you, I'll play here you just need to match the Atlanta offer, would you do it?

Now that the Oilers have headed down the direction of a full blow rebuild, I'm not sure I would..


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News Coming In About the Ethan Moreau Trade

With Edmonton's 1-0 win over the Flyers, the Oilers allow themselves a little dignity and a sense of confidence as they try to take something positive out of anotherwise not so positive year.

Hidden in the victory was the fact that captain Ethan Moreau was not sitting on the sidelines, waiting for news about his future, but playing a role in the outcome of a tight, gritty 1-0 victory over a team that clearly out-matched the Oilers in terms of on-ice skill.

Surprisingly, Moreau played a number of shifts as if there was no indication he was on the trading block. Such a situation isn't often the case when a player is about to be moved since no GM wants to risk injury if a trade is imminent. While just days ago, it seemed a move was not if, but when; moving Moreau has hit a slight snag in negotiations.

The Maple Leafs, who are believed to be the front-runners for Moreau's services have a mandate from Brian Burke. That mandate, is to obtain as many draft picks as possible since most were moved to obtain Phil Kessel earlier in the season.

Since Toroto is in the unenviable position of being a bottom five NHL squad, but having no silver lining with a top five draft pick, Burke needs to restock picks to take something away from a year that didn't quite go as planned.

As such, they are insisting that the Oilers include at least a 3rd rounder, in turn for taking on an extra year of Ethan Moreau's cap hit and the Oilers are not sure yet that doing so is a wise choice.

Ethan Moreau's contract is a downward one. Yes, he is overpaid now for what he brings, thanks mostly to his age and diminshing skill level. Obviously, the Oilers would like to clear it from the books. That said, in the bigger picture, Edmonton doesn't see Moreau's contract as detrimental to the success of their franchise moving forward since after this next year Moreau becomes a UFA.

The Oilers understand that a rebuild doesn't last one year, but is more a five to six year process, to which they see themselves in the second or third year of. Winning is something they want the team to strive for next season, but it's understood that wins might be few and far between.

The Oilers have set themselves a few rules for the end of this season. All contracts, including Moreau's that come off in a year or two are ones they'd like to move, but won't sell the farm to move. Plain and simple.

If Brian Burke is insistent on Moreau and a decent pick for nothing in return, the Oilers will need to find another taker.

With the Olympic break around the corner, time is running out. So too, the Oilers are running out of injury free assets with value they can move to solidify their future progress. In a game of the better negotiator wins, who budges first will be interesting to see.

In the end, the Oilers feel value takes many shapes and forms, but must be a part of every deal they choose to make this season. It's whether they are able to correctly evaluate that value that counts.


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Some Moves Coming For The Oilers: Why One of Them Shouldn't Be Fernando Pisani

Darren Dreger, who is about the most connected NHL insider involved in the business tweeted Tuesday, that the Edmonton Oilers are closer to a move that would send Ethan Moreau and probably more out of Edmonton, if they could "sweeten the pot".

However, Moreau may not be on the only piece involved here and just the start of a few moves for Edmonton.

From what we understand, there are possibly a few scenarios that might be options. One includes (as Robin Brownlee pointed out on oilersnation.com) that Ethan Moreau and possibly a draft pick would be moved to Toronto for Garnet Exelby and possibly a higher round draft pick.

If true, this would essentially be a move to rid the Oilers of salary, as Moreau has another year on his contract at $2 million and Exelby becomes a UFA, the Oilers are not likely to re-sign. If they do, it will be at a discounted rate over Moreau's $2 million. Even considering re-signing Exelby might hinge on the Oilers moving Steve Staios and not re-signing Jason Strudwick.

Brian Burke likes gritty players and often to the point where he dismisses their tendancies to take bad penalties. That describes Moreau to a tee, which makes sense as to why Burkie might consider a deal with Edmonton (whom he swore he'd never deal with).

Anaheim is also said to have interest in Moreau and the value coming back isn't known for sure, but that Nick Boyton or Evgeny Artyukhin might be involved in some way or another.

There is also some word that Montreal and Edmonton are and have been talking for the past little while about a multi-player deal with some bigger names from both sides and some smaller pieces. One smaller piece name we've heard is George Laraque coming back to Edmonton.

Laraque has 1 yr left after this one on his contract with Montreal, and the Canadiens would force the Oilers to take him as part of a deal, but that the Oilers aren't completely sour about it as big George might provide some protection for some of the young forwards about to enter next year and the move was just a part of a bigger trade.

Since the Oilers view next year as another possible rebuild, they wouldn't be looking at Laraque to be an offensive player and in fact he'd likely sit as many games as he'd play under Pat Quinn, but because his contract would be coming off the books the year after, doesn't derail any rebuild process and he's a good "ex Oiler that the community loves".

One player we've heard Montreal might want is Gilbert Brule and/or Fernando Pisani; neither of which I see as realistic options. For Brule, I think the Oilers feel that unless a better value comes back than sending Brule away, they have a forward they'd like to keep.

In Pisani, he's obviously being discussed to relieve salary, but not as much as I think people expect.

For one, Pisani's numbers already come off the books next season, so moving him now for next to nothing doesn't help the Oilers at all. In fact, with the cap trouble facing the team, they might see Pisani as an inexpensive piece to resign for 1yr at a low dollar, but useful role playing contract for next season. If they took that approach, and said to themselves "we're not moving Pisani unless the deal is too good to pass up" I think they'd be smart.

The Oilers should be able to get Pisani at near league minimum. He's useful when healthy. He's a good guy who feels like he owes the Oilers organization a lot for dishing out a big contract from which he missed a lot of due to illness and health issues and wouldn't mind staying in Edmonton where he'd get the chance to show what he can do to keep his career going. Not that any of this mind you is Pisani's fault.

To me, Pisani is a very similar situation to a Mike Comrie with a few different circumstances.

Two, any team looking at Pisani would have to consider what they'd be giving up to get a somewhat risky health question mark for a tough playoff run. Pisani had magic in 2006, but has yet to reproduce that. If it's going to take a 2nd or 3rd round pick, teams might not be willing to take that chance. That said, if a team needed a third or fourth line defensive-minded penalty killer for a playoff run, they might give a decent 2nd round pick, which is a good deal for Edmonton.

The Oilers are focused on two things: moving salary and bad contracts off the books for next year and getting as much value back for good contracts or assets as they can.

It only makes sense to focus on trades that affect your team moving forward. Fernando Pisani doesn't hurt you in the future if you can't move him, so don't move him for literally nothing. It just doesn't make sense.

Needless to say, Dreger is connected and doesn't have a tendancy to report things without good merit. The Oilers are close to doing something, and are trying to make things happen. That much we know is true.


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A Revolving Door That Results in A Win, Is Better Than No Wins At All

The Oilers have injuries. They've had them all season. The Oilers also have a few too many contracts and no trades to speak of yet to clear some of them out.

The result is a revolving door of forwards in and out of the line-up now that some of the injured and ill are returning.

What is happening because of this situation is the sitting of players that the Oilers might not otherwise sit. Last game it was Comrie. This game it was Potulny and Pisani.

Are these showcasings for possible moves? Are they simply math rearing its head and forcing Pat Quinn to make decisions as to the roster players in and out? Will it continue to change?

One thing is for certain. The combination brought Edmonton it's first win since December 30th.

If there's one rule we know, it's never change a winning lineup. The Oilers did it after winning five straight when they put back in the returning Grebeshkov and the result was a monumental losing streak.

Now, even if Potulny and Pisani should be there, you can't put them back in. Unless of course you're shooting for the first overall draft pick, in which case any kind of winning streak is just bad publicity.

Oh how times have changed.


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What Is It Sutter Knows That The Oilers Don't?

You go to work one day and think there isn't much going on in the NHL, except the continued stinkery of your Edmonton Oilers. You come back and see that the Calgary Flames have traded half their team.

Put aside for a second what the actual trades themselves do for Calgary, I'm wondering, what is it Sutter knows that Tambellini doesn't? How is it, in an NHL, where trades or so hard to come by, one team can literallly move 5 or 6 players in less than 24 hours. I mean, it's not as though Calgary moved it's best assets.

Sure Phaneuf is good and Jokinen is struggling but can be an offensive weapon, but; Sutter made a move. That move created holes in the depth and role positions of his team, so he made additional moves to correct it. Seems logical, yet the Oilers can't do it.

Imagine what goes on in Calgary when Darryl Sutter decides losing 9 in a row before beating lowly Edmonton, isn't enough to make his team successful. He says to himself he'll make some moves. He gets on the phone equipped only with a roster of players, a tight to the cap team and some big time contracts for players that many teams might not have interest in at their high long-term salaries.

First, he moves Dion Phaneuf to Toronto along with Keith Aulie and Fredrik Sjostrom. What it does, is relieve of him major cap space on the blueline (when after the Bouwmeester signing the salaries were obvious and unevenly distributed) and a creates a hole where Phaneuf once was in terms of a powerplay bomb.

Sutter says, ok, I've got to get a blueline shot, I can afford to move some offence cause I just picked up Stajan and Hagman and I kind of have too many of the third/fourth line grittier guys now that Mayers is back and Proust was in that role.

Sutter picks up the phone again, moves a big overpaid contract in Jokinen, who after two seasons can't find a spark in Calgary and lands his powerplay shot in Ales Kotalik. At the same time, Sutter moves the excess in Proust, while adding a bit more offensive depth with Chris Higgins.

The crazy thing to me, is while it sounds like a lot, it makes total sense and seems like the logical easier decisions a GM would make.

Why then, do I feel as though the Oilers lack the skill, drive or whatever to pull of these kinds of moves? As fans in Edmonton, we still wait. And while we do, Souray fractures his hand which means a Visznovsky trade is almost a certainty. (you decide who you'd rather have kept, but it would have been nice to have a choice to see who earns the better return).

In addition, other teams that had interest in some of our assets like Anaheim did in Ethan Moreau, now no longer need them thanks to their trades with Toronto. The whole time Edmonton watched and while they watch the Oilers ability to make moves gets harder than they already claimed they were.

I suppose you gotta love it when the good news just keeps piling up.


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