What Happens If Certain Things Do/Don't Happen?

If the title of my post isn't generic enough for you, let me take a second to explain it. I've been reading a ton of posts and comments from bloggers, media and fans about what the Oilers should do or not do when it comes to their current roster of talent.

Let Ryan Smyth go if he wants too much. Trade Omark for peanuts. Send Gagner for a decent blue liner. Trade Belanger for anything.

These statements are all well and good, but what happens if all of these things actually do happen?

Let's suggest for a minute that the Oilers are able to do what it seems so many fans want. The ultimate goal here is to be contending for a playoff spot correct? Anything less than meaningful games in April is a waste of time and grounds for the end of current management. So with that in mind, what are the real options available to the Edmonton Oilers?

Ryan Smyth wants over $3 million for two years? I agree, that's an overpay, but what are the backup options if Ryan Smyth is gone?

The basic argument for most people is that Smyth comes at the expense of playing time for kids like Magnus Paajarvi and Teemu Hartikainen. Valid point. Consider however what happens if neither MPS nor Harty pick up their game to the point where they provide a consistent contribution to the Oilers ability to make the playoffs this coming season.

Would you be willing to trade Ryan Smyth, a known 40-50 point producer every year for a maybe? If we know that Smyth can keep up his pace with a few less minutes per night, perhaps less games in a lockout season or with the right coach, would it make a difference? If you still said "no, get rid of him", is there a better option out there on the free agent market?

Ryan Smyth is a left winger. The known free agents who are obviously going to produce equal or more than Smyth would are Zach Parise, Ray Whitney, Jiri Hudler, and Steve Sullivan. Sullivan doesn't seem to me an improvement and Whitney and Parise are pretty much out of the question based on their value or desire to play in certain markets. Jiri Hudler seems the likely option for a move and might be leaving Detroit, but only for a big pay day, so you have to consider the money paid out and the length of the term for a 28 year old who had 25 goals and 50 points last season. It would take multiple years at over $4 million per season to land Hudler. Many teams will offer that up, including perhaps Detroit and Hudler will have choices.

The maybes are Daniel Winnick, Alexei Ponikarovski,  and Dustin Penner. Penner is a friend of the Oilers for the most part and having a great playoff, but his middle name is "ups and downs". Winnick and Ponikarovski haven't proven they can be worthy replacements to Smyth in any role he fills from the PK, to power play and especially leadership. To me, both are as big a question mark as Hartikainen and Paajarvi.

So you either role with the kids and hope they produce or you pay a little more for a proven vet who on a bad season will get you 15-20 goals and 40 points in his sleep. If you want playoffs, you might have to stick with Smyth.

What about Gagner? The big talk is to move him for a d-man. Obviously the Oilers are hurting for sound defensemen. I truly believe Smid, N. Schultz, Ryan Whitney and Jeff Petry give you a decent top four, if they produce as expected and avoid injury.

The problem is, expectation is what has killed the Oilers in the last couple seasons as has the lack of depth to fill in during those times when key players have been hurt. It is obvious Edmonton needs a top two guy if they can get one. But can they?

Everyone is talking Justin Schultz, but how realistic an option is he? He'll be good, but top two good?

Detroit is likely going to lose Brad Stuart and they just lost Lidstrom. They can offer as much playing time as the Oilers can to Schultz and well the Red Wings are the Red Wings. They'll be hard after Suter and if they land Schultz, they've effectively replaced their defense in two moves. Not to mention 28 other teams will be interested in Schultz to if he was available to them.

Bob Mackenize made it first known he thought Edmonton had a chance for Schultz, but lots can change and a chance can be a slim one or a decent one. That's about as great a guarantee as I can make that Eager will have 25 goals this year. Possible? Yes, and I like Eager. Likely? Perhaps not.

Jason Garrison from Florida is a name that gets tossed around, but how likely is it his big season was a direct result of the best situations and a pairing with Brian Campbell who coincidentally had a career year? Garrison is going to be overpaid. What happens if Edmonton overpays and he can't come close to his 16 goals and 33 assists. Sheldon Souray rings a bell when I think of Garrison.

I like the idea of Dennis Wideman, but again he'll cost Edmonton money. Other teams will be interested and may not have to overpay like Edmonton would. Matt Carle is out there, but if the Flyers don't land Suter, Carle will be overpaid by Philly to stay. They overpay almost everyone. Carle will also gain lots of interest.

Jackman and Colaiacovo might work, but St. Louis won't let them both leave. Outside of that the free agent market is slim.

Could a swap be made via trade? I suppose guys like Mike Green, Luke Schenn, Jordan Leopold or Marc Methot could be wrangled from their teams, but all pose somewhat of a would you give up on Gagner for any of these people? Some argue yes and some no. Let's say yes wins. You then need to find a second center to play behind Ryan Nugent Hopkins.

We know now that Horcoff and Belanger are not going to do well there. Your only option would be to trade for a Jordan Staal, or Ryan Kesler, but the pieces needed and odds are likely slim to none. Available on the free agent market are names like Olli Jokinen, Jarret Stoll, Daymond Langkow, Chris Kelly and Jason Arnott.

Outside of Jokinen who is on again, off again, I don't know I'd trust any of those players to give me more than the 50 points I think Gagner will contribute to a playoff push for Edmonton.

Belanger and Omark are easy to replace should you need to you'd think. That said, Edmonton showed a real lack over two to three years to grab a center who could win a faceoff. Belanger didn't bring the expected point production, but he did win on the dot and kill penalties. Something Edmonton lacked.

The point here is that we all want moves. Moves that improve this team. The problem is Edmonton might not have the pieces or the willingness to move the pieces it would take to fill the holes. If they did, it's likely they'd create new holes.

It could be that fans have to hope for one or two additions and that the current roster finally plays the roles they are meant to play and produce as they were expected to. It could be another season of seeing what the kids can do.

Don`t be at all surprised if it`s 23rd to 26th place in the standings. If you want better than that in the standings, and I think we can all agree most fans do, you have to consider sticking with the players that give you the best chance to push up in the standings.

That means:

Petrell/Pajaarvi (for depth)

Whitney/ N. Schultz


If I can suggest anything, it's to swing for the fences on a defenseman via free agency and try to improve your backup goaltending to push Dubnyk who gets the lead role.

Leaves no holes, but might improve the team if you get lucky.


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