Our Top 10 Trade Predictions for Next Friday

The Oilers have two things that are making fans get a little nutty in respect to next Fridays draft. Who will the Oilers select first overall? And, who from this current crop of underachieving and in many cases overpaid roster will be traded?

NHL draft day for many is more exciting now than July 1st and the start of free agency. This year, with the Oilers almost all but out of the free agent market, draft day really will be where most of the action for this team takes place.

When I say nutty, I really only mean that I've never heard more discussion on one single topic like I have the NHL draft. The debate over Hall and Seguin, the armchair GM's coming up with new depth charts (I'll admit I do it too) and the possible trade scenarios for names that continue to pop up have Oilers fans in a tizzy trying to guess what might happen with this team.

Without getting too into unrealistic speculation, I thought I'd pop a quick piece together discussing the Top 10 possible trade prospects on the market in the NHL right now. These are the names that will give even more action to an already exciting draft Friday. These are also names that we've heard tossed around by numerous sources in trade speculation. (There's no particular order to my Top 10 by the way)

10. Tomas Kaberle

At this point I'd say it's about 60/40 that Kaberle will be traded on draft day. Toronto has enough offers on the table that Burke could make this deal at anytime during the window of opportunity that is Kaberle's no trade clause. Despite these offers, the reason it hasn't happened yet is Burke is trying to get his Maple Leafs back into the first round in terms of a draft pick.

Burke might be waiting a long time. Due to the fact that Kaberle is only signed for one more season and could bolt in a year for no return means no team wants to invest too much to get him. If I'm these teams, it's hard to tell if Kaberle could be in your long term plans because all he ever says is how he'd like to remain a Leaf.

In many cases, the teams that would need the services of Kaberle have draft picks that are too high into the first round that they'd be willing to move them. Perfect examples are Anaheim, Carolina and Columbus and they aren't likely because someone with one year can only truly be utilized by a team that is actually contending.

I see Buffalo coming out on top as a leading candidate for Kaberle, but the draft pick won't play a crucial role as they won't give up their first and don't have another pick until #68. I could see Drew Stafford going the other way and Toronto could do a whole lot worse than a one for one in that respect. Don't expect the Oilers to even kick tires here.

#9: Sheldon Souray

This is an interesting one simply because of the status of Sheldon's contract. With a no trade clause that doesn't lift until July 1st, Souray could try to make trading him more difficult than he already has.

If one of two things coule happen however, that make it a good bet that Souray gets moved. 1) The Oilers strike a deal with one of the teams that Souray has listed as a potential home for his next two years. Anaheim or San Jose make sense and maybe Anaheim moves its later first round pick for Souray although I doubt it. 2) If Souray realizes that the Oilers can simply wait 5 days and then trade him anywhere they want, he may just accept the trade to get a trade done. Say for example, the Oilers discussed with Anaheim who they would like drafted at #29, with the intention that Anaheim would trade that selection on July 1st to Edmonton, it becomes the same trade just five days later. The Oilers could do this with any team and Souray's leverage is literally wiped out.

Souray has some value, but I expect that when the trade does happen, the same type of reaction that came from the Halak trade will be present here and if the Kaberle action happens prior to the Souray action it might be a good guage on the return for Souray. The Oilers want Souray gone. If they can pick up a couple of prospects for him, they'll do it. Someone is going to get a good defenceman here without having to give up a whole lot.

#8: Mike Ribeiro

With the new self imposed cap in place in Dallas, Ribeiro seems the logical choice and a team like Montreal who just freed up a bit of space moving Halak might have interest in bringing him back.

The likelihood that the Canadiens lose Plekanec to a UFA contract offer is good. The Canadiens seem to pick up skill over size and Ribeiro wouldn't surprise me. I could easily see Andrei Kostitsyn and a 2nd rounder going the other way. If Dallas actually asked Montreal to include Sergei, I'm sure that would be welcomed by the Habs.

#7: Jason Spezza

Despite Murray's claims (and Oilers fans know first hand how prone he is to twisting the truth during trade time), I won't be at all surprised if Spezza gets moved. I think Columbus is the destination and I think Howsen will do what he can to obtain Spezza without giving up the fourth overall selection (which Howson has publicly said he's not trading).

If push comes to shove however and something like Brassard and Klesla don't get it done, the combination of Spezza and Rick Nash may seem too good for Howsen to pass up, I think the 4th overall could happen. I also see the Oilers expressing legit interest in this option for two reasons. 1) If they can get a legit first line center which they belive Spezza is, they consider it despite the cap hit. 2) If they can move out a fair deal of cap space at the same time they do it, this trade becomes even more attractive.

I think this almost a given if the Senators even sniff at Sheldon Souray. The Sens have the space especially if they move Spezza (it becomes $14 million. The Sens have a need for a better than prospect d-man if they lose Volchenkov, Souray fits. Don't bet against how much the Sens also like Andrew Cogliano and might take Riley Nash.

#6: Kris Versteeg

Consider him gone. Chicago has so much work to do to get ready for next years cap issues, that Vertsteeg is the easy favorite to get moved. I see the Phoenix Coyotes as a leader here because they like to snag players on mid to low contracts with mid to high potential. Include Toronto on that list to likely make a push, as well as Tampa Bay. With a new GM and literally only 5 forwards signed for next year Tampa will be active in a few ways.

I wouldn't suggest that the Leafs would normally have a shot here thanks to their lack of draft picks, but with Chicago needing to clear this kind of space and taking literally none back in return, Toronto's 3rd rounder and a prospect could likely get it done if other offers aren't out there.

#5: Jeff Carter

Why the Flyers would want to trade Carter still makes little sense to me, but it seems to be a rumor that doesn't go away since it surfaced. Much like Spezza, if the Oilers thought Carter an option, they'd kick tires and be willing to send a number of prospects over. If Carter was a UFA at the end of this term, that might not be the case for a rebuliding team like Edmonton, however as an RFA Carter won't cost the Oilers what Spezza does... ever.

In a new cap NHL, Carter will get fair money for his skills (of that he has plenty) but he'd receive something more in the area of $5.5-$6 million over a longer term and at that point easily becomes part of a rebuilding Oilers franchise since he's only 25. If Carter doesn't want to stay, the value in trade for him would be high and the compensation on an offer sheet great in terms of draft picks if the Oilers chose not to match. Either way its a no lose as you obtain a great young player long term or a ton of picks to continue a rebuild next year when you have a better indication of what's happening with Penner and Hemsky.

If I'm Tambellini would I trade Andrew Cogliano, Riley Nash, Jeff Deslauriers and the #31 pick over? Yep and in any combination if all of them. Would I consider moving Jordan Eberle for Jeff Carter straight across as some have discussed? I'd take longer to think about it, but I might.

#5: Stephen Weiss

With Dale Tallon coming out and suggesting that he'd be willing to move both Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss, you can almost expect that one if not both are history. Both bring value, both have contracts that aren't overpayments and both have a few years left on their current deals. A team like Edmonton who isn't concerned with players on a one or two year deal might have interest in either or both as they have contracts that offer something to the Oilers until 2013.

Edmonton fans might not want to get too excited about either prospect though as teams that realize both players are value for their money will make offers. For Florida, it becomes which offers are best and Edmonton would have to move pieces back to get rid of player contracts. A lot of what Edmonton would consider moving for these two, Florida might not want and if Florida could obtain a 1st rounder from somebody, that puts Florida in the lead for a proper rebuild with three first round picks in this years draft.

#4. Rights to Ray Whitney

Look for Carolina to trade Whitney's rights for a later round draft pick. Rights don't get traded an awful lot unless there is a big time free agent out there, but there are more than a handful of teams that would be making a pitch for Whitney come July 1st. One of those teams should emerge as a front runner and step up by offering something Carolina can use or a prospect.

I expect that Pittsburg takes the lead early, but teams like Boston, Tampa and Columbus may have something to offer based on what happens after the first few selections in the draft. If it becomes a matter of choice and only a one year deal for Whitney, expect only immediate contenders to be on his list come July 1st.

#3. Rights to Dan Hamhuis

Here's another one of those rights I didn't see getting traded all that often, but the reason I think Hamhuis is an exception to that rule is the somewhat reasonable contract he settles for. Players like Volchenkov will want a big pay day. A couple teams might be in on him, but I think those teams will end up regretting spending so much. Hamhuis on the other hand could exceed the contract to which he signs and the smarter teams go for those players.

I've written it before, but the Oilers really like Hamhuis. When I say really, I'm not exaggerating as Kevin Lowe publicly stated one time that Hamhuis was a serious consideration for the Canadian Olympic team. While Lowe isn't the GM, Tambellini has Olympic experience with Lowe and those two minds are likely not far apart in the debate.

We had quickly heard Robert Nilsson for Hamhuis' rights, but that based on two things, one of which might have slightly changed thanks to Halak deal. First, if Nashville gets Hamhuis signed before the draft, this is a dead issue. Second, the return for Halak was so small, as an RFA, that the return for Hamhuis might be as small if not smaller as a UFA, thus Nashville may take extra time to try and convince Hamhuis to stay knowing they lose very little in the gamble.

#2. Bobby Ryan

I'm of the impression that Anaheim would like to make him a lifelong Duck and ultimately I think the Ducks get Ryan signed on a six or seven year deal. I'm also well aware that Ryan will gather some serious interest from teams not named Anaheim and that the Ducks might wait to see what kind of crazy offer is given by a team in terms of an RFA offer sheet.

Obviously if it goes the offer route, one of the teams with the most interest (Toronto) is out. They don't have the picks to make the required RFA offer. Any team with a valued defenceman as a bargaining chip is also out if Scott Neidermayer returns for another season.

If it goes down at the draft however, Burke does like Bobby Ryan a lot and would likely move a boat load to get him including Kaberle, Grabovski, and Nazem Kadri. Tough to tell if Anaheim calls that fair return, but the Ducks have made some interesting moves in the past and it's hard to tell if they are rebuilding or consider themselves a contender.

#1. Patrick Sharp

As mentioned before, Chicago has cap issues. Cap issues so large that unless they are willing to stick Huet in the minors or can find a home for Brian Campbell, they'll be moving pieces they don't want to move.

Patrick Sharp may be one of those pieces. He has great value around the NHL and can fetch a return of two or three decent draft picks. He has a good salary for the results he produces and he's now a player with Stanley Cup experience.

Chicago should do whatever they can not to move him. If it means losing Toews, Kane, Keith or Seabrook however, Sharp is the odd man out and some team, (it would be terrfic if it were the Oilers) will be getting a tremendous player. Look for Florida, Tampa or Columbus to have interest. All have high enough draft picks to peak Chicago's interest and all have cap and roster space to make Sharp fit.


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Tambellini Thinking About Trading the 1st Overall?

The title here is somewhat of a rhetorical question. It's highly unlikely that the thought of shopping the first overall pick in this years draft would be something Tambellini considers.

But, from an article today by Darren Dreger on TSN's website, while Tambellini may not be shopping the 1st overall NHL entry draft pick, nor is he sure what it would take to convince him to accept a deal for the 1st overall pick, he is doing his job and answering his phone.

This news may make some fans a tad nervous. It shouldn't. The likelihood that the Oilers would move that pick is slim to none. More likely, is that these comments by the Oilers GM are a way to get action stirred up for Tambellini to see what's out there.

Even in the event that the Oilers were to draft Seguin after swinging some kind of deal with the Bruins, I think it's important to the Oilers organization that they still draft first overall and they intend to do it.

The goal here is for Steve Tambellini to have a long book of options or offers to consider before making his selection. If something is out there that is simply too good to pass up, he'd better have it ready to go well in advance so that pulling the trigger is quick and painless.

Dreger reports that Nathan Horton and Steven Weiss are up for grabs in Florida. It's no secret the Oilers like what Nathan Horton brings and have shown some interest in the big forward before. Florida also drafts third overall. Would Nathan Horton and the 3rd overall pick be out of the question for the 1st?

Would I do it? Probably not. After all Seguin and Hall are projected to be superstars. Horton is good, but not that good.

What if Florida took some aging contracts back in the deal and gave us pieces we needed in areas of our depth we lacked? More attractive, but still probably not.

However; if after all the talk between Talon and Tambellini finally produced a trade proposal too good to ignore and I still could draft at #3, who knows. At #3 the Oilers get a franchise d-man to build the blueline around or, in some kind of miracle, Florida drafts Hall and Boston doesn't want Seguin at #2 because they're deep at center and draft a defenceman. In that case its possible the Oilers could still get Seguin at #3.

While Horton and Seguin for the first overall is an amazing what if (even though incredibly unlikely), the point here is weird things like this are often known to happen on draft day. If Tambellini didn't explore every option, he could never put together something beyond the obvious. If he didn't at least listen to what's being offered, he'd not be doing his job.

As Tambellini says, he can't imagine what it would take to convince him to move that pick. The likelihood is, very little if anything could do it. But GM's have been known to do some crazy things on draft day and if they start to, Tambellini better be prepared.


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Could the Oilers Flip Whatever Comes from Boston?

A lot of discussion on radio shows, blogs and with fans of the Edmonton Oilers involves what it might take Edmonton to get the 2nd overall pick from the Boston Bruins.

Some are suggesting that if the Oilers do in fact draft Taylor Hall, that the B's might turn around and offer up that 2nd overall pick instead of taking Seguin, who may or may not help them as much as ready to contribute NHL players.

There is a better than slim chance, that by the time Tyler Seguin is ready to fully make a difference in the NHL, the Bruins will have closed that winning window of opportunity.

I suppose there is some sense to this argument. The Bruins feel they have a short time frame in which to compete for the Stanley Cup. If Seguin is left to be drafted after Edmonton makes its pick, and the Bruins feel they can get a kings ransom from a team who'd like to draft Seguin, they could possibly pick up a fantastic pro or two who would pay immediate dividends and get them over the hump.

The problem for the Oilers when it comes to kings ransom, they are among the poorer of the kingdoms rulers. Most of the choices avaible to Boston if this ever becomes a reality are better than what the Oilers could offer.

Think about if from Chiarelli's perspective. Would Florida trade Nathan Horton or Weiss and the 3rd for #2 overall? Would Chicago move Marian Hossa to clear cap space and take a fantastic prospect at the same time? Might the Devils be willing to move Langenbrunner plus to grab Seguin? These are just a few examples and I might bet that while some would merit argument, that most could be answered with a big fat yes.

With that in mind, how could the Oilers compete? Instead, what might make more sense is targeting a 3rd-8th overall selection. Some of the teams drafting in those positions, namely teams like Florida, Atlanta and Columbus, are teams that are in somewhat of a win sooner than later mode.

Its not so much that these teams are close to being contenders. It's more that with the fickle fan base and the security of some of the GM job positions within those franchises, there is a much more likely possibility of convincing one of those GM's that what you can offer to help them now, is worth their high, but not #2 overall draft selection.

There is argument that no draftee beyond Taylor Hall will play in the NHL right away. The teams that need the help now, might prefer an NHL ready player who improves their team more than a prospect they have to wait two years on when their fans or owner have in that time given up or said "bye-bye".

For the Oilers, the reality is, while it would be great to draft both Hall and Seguin, the real need of this team is one strong center and one franchise defenceman. Drafting 3rd-6th is likely to get you that d-man in Fowler, Gudbranson or Gormley, so there is no need to push for #2 when #4 or #5 will do.

What Could Happen in a Dreamer's World

Picture that the Oilers might want or be ok with drafting Seguin. That Edmonton can then convince Boston to give up Wheeler or Sturm or some other very respectable and valued NHL player in exchange for leaving Hall to be drafted by the Bruins.

Package what you obtain from Boston in that conversation with one or more of the players Edmonton has available. Could Wheeler/Sturm, Souray, Cogliano and prospects like Riley Nash and the 31st overall draft pick, get you the 4th overall in Columbus? If not and you offered to take back a not so valued contract from their books to make the added cap expense feasible, would the Jackets or more importantly Scott Howsen, then think this kind of improvement puts his team in the playoffs? It might.

If you can't convince the Jackets, talk to the Panthers. If you can't convince the Panther's, talk to the Islanders. Placing your bets on the odds of one in four teams saying yes instead of only Boston is much much greater -- and you still get your high end draft choice defenceman this team really needs.

Obviously a few other NHL teams wil have something to say about it. Rumors are Spezza for the 4th overall which from my view kind of makes sense for both of those teams.

They key here, is that while it's not like Edmonton is the only team that would be interested in moving up in the draft; one can also realize, a lot more has to be offered to pluck #2 or #3 than it does number #4-#7. When Wheeler, Souray, Cogliano, Nash and the #31 pick might not get you #2 or #3, it might get you number #5 or # 6 if you take some salary back. I'd sure be pleased if I'm Tamebllini with drafting at one of those spots.



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Oilers to Trade Robert Nilsson to Nashville?

I got a quick hit from a source today that thinks the Edmonton Oilers and the Nashville Predators might be talking trade. The Oilers are in a position to move a few players for little to no return. In some cases getting anything is a bonus considering a buyout is an alternative, but not a pleasant one.

Robert Nilsson is one of those players. The Edmonton Oilers are rumored to be trying to find a home for the skilled forward or looking at possibly buying out his contract. If Edmonton doesn't intend to use Nilsson, not adding to a strapped salary cap would be best.

Nashville has some interest in giving Nilsson a shot. Last year, it was rumored that the Oilers might move Nilsson to the Preds for Jordin Tootoo. The Preds then backed away and signed Tootoo to an extension.

Nashville meanwhile is trying to negotiate with defenceman Dan Hamhuis. So far, nothing has happened there and if Nashville does have any interest, Robert Nilsson might come back for Hamhuis' rights. Nashville is better to get something instead of nothing come July 1st and the Oilers and Predators have some recent trade history.

The Oilers have a hard-on for Hamhuis and would love the chance to sign him before others have an opportunity on July 1st when Hamhuis becomes a UFA. Since the Oilers are wondering what exactly to do with Nilsson, even if Hamhuis doesn't sign with Edmonton, the Oilers have effectively shipped out a bit of salary without huring their cap situation.

Expect the Predators to continue efforts to get Hamhuis signed. Should they not, watch at the draft for some possible Oilers and Preds action if the Preds can't do better than a 2nd or 3rd rounder for Hamhuis' rights in trade.


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