2 Opportunities...One Missed?

The Oilers have been seizing opportunities over the past two days. Questions might arise now that Tomas Vokoun has signed in Washington for $1.5 million for one year, is did the Oilers miss their first opportunity?

Word is that Vokoun and the Oilers went as far as discussing not only the possibility of signing but the terms. It's here they couldn't agree. We've heard Vokoun was asking for 5 years and the Oilers were willing to offer a two year deal. When Vokoun couldn't get the duration he wanted, he turned to a Stanley Cup contender and signed a one year contract that is all the buzz around the NHL right now.

What comes if this we'll never know, but we can assume now that Dubnyk will get ample chance to prove himself as a number one tender in the NHL.

One opportunity the Oilers didn't miss was signing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to his three year entry level contract. Before throwing the first pitch at the Edmonton Capitals game, Hopkins signed to be an Oiler. More and more as Nugent-Hopkins gets closer to the ice, people seem to think we'll be seeing him all season after making the Oilers roster. Time will tell, but if this trend holds true, come prospect camp in Sherwood Park July 4-9th, people will really be buzzing.


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What's Next?

Surprising many, especially after GM Steve Tambellini said it would be a slow day on July 1st, the Edmonton Oilers did a lot to change aspects of their team. Addressing holes in the toughness, face-off and penalty kill, they also added a sink or swim reclamation project on defense.

For the most part, Oilers management are getting good grades from media and fans on the moves they made and it's starting to look as though Edmonton is no longer the last place on a free agents list.

The real question is what's next? The Oilers have too many bodies and have placed some prospects who were likely looking to make a jump now on the backburner until space can be cleared to play them. In our view, the following are possible scenarios:

1) Cogliano is moved.

The signing of Eric Belanger has virtually guaranteed that either Cogs or Gagner go. Gagner has much bigger upside and a fair contract. The Oilers will likely keep Gagner unless a top 4 d-man is part of any return. Renney likes Cogliano and he's found a new way to define himself as a player, but it might be too little too late as the 40 point two-way veteran in Belanger makes more sense.

Word is, the Rangers had some interest which leads me to our next possibility.

2) Tom Gilbert is traded.

The Rangers also had interest, but a deal that was to include Gilbert and Cogliano for Brandon Dubinsky fell apart. May be as well since the Oilers can't really afford to move Gilbert until they replace him. Some say Jeff Petry is that guy, but he's still very unproven.

3) Oilers look for possible goaltending assistance.

There is some word that the Oilers briefly called the Vokoun camp and were told "not interested". That is until Vokoun was passed over by a number of other teams for either costing too much or having other options. The Vokoun camp called the Oilers back as they did a few other teams and there are 2-3 teams potentially interested in Tomas Vokoun including Edmonton.

If the Oilers land him, if will have to be to overpay for one year or give term. If they give term what becomes of Khabibulin? At least with a term Bulin's unmoveable cap hit becomes somewhat manageable.

4) Oilers send feelers out on some top four defencemen.

Kaberle, McCabe, White and others are still out there. Of more possible interest might be a Keith Yandle or Mike Green from Washington. Oilers would have to move some significant pieces the other way, but with the extra bodies might be prepared to do so.

5) Oilers move two for one.

Could a player like Scott Hartnell and a pick work if the Oilers can send Cogs and Omark? There is no indication something like this is in the works, but it might make sense. Flyers keep making waves which mean they'll keep needing to clear space. Oilers have too many bodies. Maybe a deal like this or another player like a Hartnell works for both sides.


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Monday Either Goes At a Snails Pace or Lighting Speed for Oiler Fans

Two and a half days remaining. It's all the Edmonton Oilers have left in terms of time to make up their minds about the futures of some of the players on their roster.

Kovalev, Sturm, Neal, Stewart, Versteeg, Fisher and others are all names that have already been moved. Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner and to a less extent Sam Gagner remain some of the few viable forward options for some twenty teams that are buying at this years deadline. The Kings, Coyotes, Wild, Capitals, Rangers and Predators are the names most commonly associated with Edmonton these past couple days.

The question becomes what does Steve Tambellini do? Reactions in Edmonton are mixed. There are plenty of fans who don't want either Hemsky or Penner to go. There are others who'd be fine with a move. The common denominator seems to be that if a move were to occur, the return should be an overpayment.

For teams like L.A. that means Brayden Schenn. In Phoenix, it's Oliver Ekman-Larrson or Kyle Turris. In Minnesota its Cam Barker. Two of those three I'd do. The other, as I would with many of the other supposed options available to Edmonton, would have me waiting for next year or this years draft to re-open conversations.

The only real guarantee, is that Edmonton is now a prime target for most of the NHL teams. Some teams have made their moves, but plenty remain. Yes, there are a few surprise trades that have happened like the Blues/Avs deal, which means there are others out there that likely few of us will guess are coming. But with so many teams looking at Penner, Hemsky and Smid among others that might be available, Tambellini is looking at a busy day whether he pulls the trigger or not.

But are we? For us fans, we might not ever see just how busy the Oilers get on Monday. To know for sure, we'll have to wait until the Oil Change TSN special at the end of March and even then we'll see if from a somewhat distorted and pro-Oilers point of view. We could be left at the end of Monday saying to ourselves "what happened to all the deals that were out there?"

Just because Tambellini is fielding calls, doesn't mean we'll see any trades. I predicted in a previous article that Hemsky or Penner being moved is a lock. I still feel that way. But one deal, may be all that we do if I'm right -- which I may not be.

Would you consider it a let down if nothing happened? If after all this talk, the Oilers stood pat and waited to the draft to grab another top three pick and trade some spare parts to fill in missing holes?

As fans, we watch games like the last five where the Oilers stood out as a team of the future. Then the 5-0 loss to St. Louis reminds us of how far we actually are. Do we really want to trade the only mildly reliable offence we have? I can see why the reaction is mixed.

What's your thought? Would you be upset if the Oilers did nothing? Would you be more upset if they did and you didn't like the return?


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Is a Schenn for Hemsky Trade Really an Option?

There is always lots of speculation in this final week leading up to the NHL trade deadline. Some of it's so far out there you wonder how it gained any steam. Some of it more on par to a trade two GM's might actually be working on. Here is what seems to be floating around currently in respect to the Edmonton Oilers.

L.A. Kings --

The newest rumor links the Kings to Oilers with Brayden Schenn coming to Edmonton for Ales Hemsky. There might be some smaller bits and pieces rounding out a deal like this, but those two components are the focal points. Dean Lombardi is actively seeking a top end scorer and is starting to feel the pressure to get something done as one of the many teams tied for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. He's always had his eye on Hemsky and if another team isn't in the picture, Penner is his backup plan which makes Edmonton a strong potential trading partner.

The chances the Oilers trade both Penner and Hemsky is not likely so what Tambellini will likely do is first make sure any offers are more than fair and likely an overpayment for either player. Since Tambellini has no real pressure to move either, he's got time to dictate the pace here. Once he's determined if an overpayment(s) exist, Tambellini should take the best offer on one player.

If the Kings are willing to part with Schenn for Hemsky the Oilers should sign off on that trade right away. As much as Oiler fans might want to keep Hemsky, sources like Bob McKenzie from TSN have it right that no way do the Kings move Brayden Schenn. He's a true gold mine of a player and should be ready if not next year, by 2013 to make a major impact in the NHL.

The argument here is that because the Kings need to win now and not in 2013, it's being greatly debated that the Kings might in fact be willing to move Schenn now if they were to ever consider it. They'd rather not, but if it means getting into the playoffs versus not, who knows.

For the Edmonton Oilers, the key is that any deal helps the not too distant future for this young inexperienced team. Tambellini doesn't want to wait too long for any return for Hemsky or Penner and Schenn is ready to make a jump to the NHL. He has size, hockey smarts and has been tearing up the WHL. He's the type of prospect Hemsky should be traded for if he's traded.

There are many who will argue and I agree that this is a massive stretch. That Schenn is of far greater value than Hemsky. In almost all circumstances this is true but one -- pure desparation on the part of Lombardi. If he gets needy enough, strange things could happen. Most feel the Dallas/Pittsburg deal is one-sided and it seems to be. Yet it still happened.

More realistic might be the Wayne Simmonds plus pick(s) for Hemsky option that might or might not exist. Again many will tell you that Lombardi in no way wants to trade Simmonds. Those people are probably correct. But want to and need to in order for deal to happen might be two different things.

There could always be Colten Tuebert or Thomas Hickey, but I don't think either prospect gives the Oilers enough return to move Hemsky at this point. While the Oilers defence is weak in the NHL today, their prospects look promising. Obtain more promise from the Kings doesn't really help Edmonton in the next two years which is a key number for the Oilers.

Edmonton is well aware that they need immediate help on the blueline and they need size and grit who can play. Simmonds fills one of those needs. Schenn doesn't but he's a top centre prospect that one shouldn't be willing to pass up on.

I still think one of Hemsky or Penner get moved, but my guess is that despite the popularity of the rumors it happens with the Kings, someone else is the ending destination for either forward.


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Why Edmonton will Trade One of Hemsky or Penner In Less Than One Week

While few can confirm it, I'm here to tell you that it is a lock that one of Edmonton's Ales Hemsky or Dustin Penner will be traded by the Feb 28th NHL trade deadline.

How could I possibly know this you ask? Especially considering there has been nothing but non-detailed rumors on the possible trades actually happening? The answer is simple. It is a sellers market in the NHL.

In fact, like no other year that I can recall, this year in the NHL more teams are on the cusp of getting into the NHL playoffs than ever before. More teams stand a chance than don't and there are few teams, namely Edmonton, Ottawa and the Islanders that are the only clear sellers in the market.

Teams like Toronto, New Jersey, St. Louis, Florida and others who should probably also be selling and out of the playoff picture, have gone on record having not thrown in the towel. Toronto sold assets like Versteeg, Beauchemin and Kaberle, but are currently looking to buy for a final run. New Jersey and Calgary who at the start of the year looked hopeless, are now all of sudden either in the playoff picture or making a run so strong that it doesn't seem out of the realm of possible they squeeze in.

What does this mean? It means that more teams than ever before are buying. The law of supply a demand is dictating the overpayments some teams are making and it's why so many major deals have already happened.

Teams are jumping to get ahead of the market knowing that in general NHL teams who buy specifically on deadline day overpay. There are far too many teams who will still feel they have a chance at the playoffs or need that one final piece to get in that they'll be making the same calls to the same three teams. With so many teams buying, the overpayments are bound to be massive. Not good news for many NHL teams who will find themselves on the outs if they don't have moveable assets.

Enter the Edmonton Oilers.

You'll find many fans who won't want to see Edmonton trade either Hemsky or Penner (especially if either has indicated they'd like to remain Oilers for a fair price past their current contracts), but Oilers Steve Tambellini may be faced with offers far too good to pass up.

Both Hemsky and Penner are pieces the Oilers can include in their rebuild should they choose to stay in Edmonton. Both are useful talents and the Oilers likely don't want to move either one. Tambellini simply may not have a choice if the longer term future of the team is more important.

In recent years and as is often done by fans of any NHL team, players tend to be overvalued and overrated. Locals fall in love with their teams rosters and don't place a realistic value of what that player might receive on the open market. This years trade deadline might actually provide the real dreamers with a realistic idea of what a return might be.

Let's take Mike Fisher who was traded from the Senators (a team almost sold out of what it is looking to be selling). He's realistically a good third line player. On some teams a 2nd line center. In years past, he might not get the return of a first round pick. This year he did and a conditional 2nd or 3rd rounder.

So did Kris Versteeg. In fact, Versteeg is overpaid yet still got Toronto a first round and a third round pick.

There are other examples but the key here is that all deals were done well before the actual deadline for players of good but not overwhelming talent. At the deadline, it is reasonable to expect the return could have been higher when multiple teams might have wanted to outbid each other and the trades really get out of hand.

It's why the Oilers are waiting on offers for both Penner and Hemsky and why they gambled on someone having some interest in a rusty, massively overpaid and out of shape Sheldon Souray. The gamble didn't work, but the logic behind it is and was sound.

While Souray is still an Oiler, Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner are not however Sheldon Souray.

Both Oiler forwards have value for other NHL teams. Perhaps Hemsky moreso than Penner, but both players have gathered some interest and both players can only be traded by the Oilers to one team of some fifteen that might be in the market. Both have fair dollar values attracted to their contracts and while neither are really rentals, both only have one year remaining after this at a reasonable cap hit.

Yes, there are players like Alex Kovalev, David Booth, Jason Arnott, Jackub Voracek, Milan Hejduk, who might be in play. Some however are on teams that aren't throwing in the towel and even two wins leading up the 28th could make them buyers and not sellers.

What would or should Tambellini do if a team like L.A. felt that adding an Ales Hemsky would put them in the hunt and give them a legit shot? Would they part with Wayne Simmonds or Brayden Schenn? Not normally. But if they felt they had to do something and it came down to a bidding war, they might.

What would the Oilers do if a team in need of a 2nd line and possibly first line power forward like Penner came calling? If they offered a first and 2nd round pick like they did for Versteeg? What if they had to outbid someone else and threw in a faceoff 3rd or 4th liner? Would you do it? Tambellini might and who could blame him?

What if a team like Atlanta who might not be selling or buying today, but could be in five days offered up Zach Bogosian for a proven scorer like Hemsky? Would Tambellini do it? I might.

I'm the first to admit that at any other time this might be an over value of both Hemsky and Penner. But this is not any other time. It's the last minute hour of trade deadline in a year that almost everyone but the Oilers and Senators feel they have a shot. The Senators have sold a lot of what they are selling. The Oilers have yet to sell anything. What would teams do to obtain the assets the Oilers might willingly give up for the right price?

I'm willing to bet someone is going to offer the sun, moon and stars and Tambellini will take it at least once. I'm also willing to bet that names like Sam Gagner, Ladislav Smid, Kurtis Foster, Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Jones get a good look from other teams and the Oilers find themselves making some interesting decisions.


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