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Robin Brownlee
December 30 2008 01:53PM

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="415" caption="Robert Nilsson's cat nap caused some controversy"]Robert Nilssons cat nap caused some controversy[/caption]

Forget the theory Robert Nilsson missed Monday's optional practice as a way of flipping off coach Craig MacTavish or that he simply couldn't be bothered to lace 'em up despite his recent stint in the doghouse.

It turns out Nilsson is guilty of nothing more than bad timing and making a mistake -- not that he gets a free pass on either count, given his rap sheet and reputation as a slacker.

Nilsson slept in Monday morning.

"I made a mistake yesterday," Nilsson told a throng of reporters gathered around his stall in the Oilers dressing room at Rexall Place this morning. "I made a mistake and it won’t happen again."

Nilsson didn't get specific as to why he didn't arrive in time for the optional twirl, but I've got it from an impeccable source that he overslept, then got to the rink too late to skate.

The talented 23-year-old and MacTavish discussed the matter Monday after Nilsson's absence raised eyebrows and kicked the speculation and rumour machine into high gear.

"This is one of those things my dad (Kent Nilsson) and myself talked about," Nilsson said. "Sure, I learned my lesson.

"You've got to learn from your mistakes and that's exactly what I'm going to do... I came down to get a workout, but I should have been on the ice."

Wants to say

After being shown a seat in the press box against Phoenix Dec. 22 for what MacTavish deemed indifferent effort, the optics of Nilsson's no-show aren't good. No question.

To say he's been a disappointment this season, having scored just 4-6-10 in the 29 games he's played, is to understate. Nilsson doesn't take issue with that assessment.

"I haven't played as good as I should," said Nilsson, who'll be in the line-up against Ottawa tonight. "From now on, I better play my own game, like I should, and help this team keep on winning."

Nilsson discounts any suggestion there's any kind of ongoing issue or friction between himself and MacTavish, or that he's unhappy in Edmonton.

"It's frustrating, but you can't give up," Nilsson said. "This is still the life I want to live and I need to do a better job to stay here.

"This is the team I want to play for. I don't want to be anywhere else. I like all the guys who work with us and who play with me, so..."

So, we'll see.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Deep Oil
December 30 2008, 02:07PM
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hmmmm - for 5.5mm three year contract - you would think that the oilers would have a free wake up call - babysitting service like in seinfeld - here is a web based wake up call service - http://wakerupper.com/ - maybe Nillson needs to go to a billet system like Crosby living with 66.

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#2 RobinB
December 30 2008, 02:13PM
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@ Deep Oil: For the stack of dough he's getting, young Bobby might want to take the initiative and make sure he hauls he arse out of the rack on time.

Nilsson's a very likeable person and it's obvious he's a got a boatload of talent, but you can't hit the snooze button when you've got the rep he does -- especially when you're just back from being yanked from the line-up for goofing off.

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#3 TV
December 30 2008, 02:15PM
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Seems to me that a few people now owe Mr. Gregor an apology...

x6

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#4 RobinB
December 30 2008, 02:20PM
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@ TV: Seems to me you're right, but I wouldn't count on Jason holding his breath worrying about who's got the pills to actually man-up and do it.

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#5 RobinB
December 30 2008, 02:38PM
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INSIDE STUFF: Had a chat with Ken Warren, the beat writer for the Ottawa Citizen, this morning. Ken, by the way, will be on with Jason G this afternoon.

Anyway, there's legs to the rumours the Sens might be willing to move Jason Spezza and his hefty salary. They aren't shopping him by any stretch, but they are willing to listen. What makes that interesting from Edmonton's perspective is that while the Sens would want a forward in return, they most need a puck-moving defenceman in any deal involving Spezza. The Oilers, of course, have four to choose from.

With Spezza packing a $7 million cap hit, the Sens, for example, might be interested in, say, Lubomir Visnovsky ($5.6 million cap hit). They'd get their puck-mover and still have money left if somebody like Andrew Cogliano, Marc Pouliot or even Gilbert Brule was the forward in the deal.

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#6 Cam
December 30 2008, 02:38PM
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@ RobinB:

I remember listening to Gregor one night when someone was slamming MacT for who he put in for the shootout, and Gregor got so irritated witht he caller that his voice rose an octave. I heard that voice in my head when I was reading his responses to those posts this morning.

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#7 Deep Oil
December 30 2008, 02:39PM
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@ RobinB: initiative??? we are talking about bobbie nillson - his character reference from MACT is under the bus material - RB - you make too much sense in a world of salaries that are not sensible - maybe the oilers should spend $100k on babysitting and have a car service for practise and airport - a perk that could be used to attract free agents - think big - land big..... then its the limo drivers fault for not getting Bobbie and the blonde twins out of bed.... would you want to leave the sheets if the rodeo from oil city was still happening.... hero tabs to the rescue.

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#8 The Towel Boy
December 30 2008, 02:51PM
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Spezza an Oiler...hmmmm.

I'd take him. Even if it meant losing Lubo.

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#9 Jason Gregor
December 30 2008, 02:58PM
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Cam wrote:

@ RobinB: I remember listening to Gregor one night when someone was slamming MacT for who he put in for the shootout, and Gregor got so irritated witht he caller that his voice rose an octave. I heard that voice in my head when I was reading his responses to those posts this morning.

Cam,

I was not even close to as annoyed reading the posts compared to the moron complaining about shooters in teh shootout. I don't get to worried if people don't agree with me. But like that caller, arguing with stupidity is what gets me going. As for an apology, none is necessary, but I would hope it shows people that I don't throw out crap and unless I'm pretty sure in a report I won't write it. Either way I hope people keep reading and feel free to debate any issue. Debate is what makes this site great.

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#10 RobinB
December 30 2008, 02:59PM
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@ The Towel Boy: What every team needs to make a deal is a trading partner and the Oilers have what the Sens want and need.

That doesn't mean the Sens are talking trade with Edmonton, but you can't discount options when there's a potential fit. I used Visnovsky as the key cog in a deal but it could just as easily be Gilbert/Grebeshkov/Souray and any number of forwards who would provide a warm and reasonably priced body up front.

One thing through all the Spezza talk, though, is that owner Eugene Melnyk is a Spezza fan and that could play into things. My read is he'd want a hefty return for No. 19.

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#11 Cam
December 30 2008, 03:11PM
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same age as Hemmer and more points - yeah they will want a lot for him... but somehow I think it would be a worth it. I think he is a bigger fish than Hossa.

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#12 jeanshorts
December 30 2008, 03:12PM
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RobinB wrote:

With Spezza packing a $7 million cap hit, the Sens, for example, might be interested in, say, Lubomir Visnovsky ($5.6 million cap hit). They’d get their puck-mover and still have money left if somebody like Andrew Cogliano, Marc Pouliot or even Gilbert Brule was the forward in the deal.

SOMEBODY ALERT EKLUND SO HE CAN BREAK THIS TRADE NEWS!!!!!

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#13 Dennis
December 30 2008, 03:12PM
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Spezza for 71 plus:

I'd have to take a look at the numbers and consider some things like:

- the upgrade in having Spezza as our soft min guy instead of 89

- being able to use 89 then as the third line pivot

- the downgrade in who'd replace 71's min on the Oil blueline.

- cap hit and length of Spezza's pact as opposed to 71's.

I'd imagine it would be 71-plus anyone not named Cogs or Gagner- plus a 1st round pick for Spezza.

If I agreed to this move I might want to look at moving Gagner or Cogs to a D-rich but F-poor team. That way we'd have 10-Spezza down the middle but we could use one of the kids as bait to get back another impact D.

Anyway, nice digging, RB

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#14 MikeP
December 30 2008, 04:19PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I was not even close to as annoyed reading the posts compared to the moron complaining about shooters in teh shootout. I don’t get to worried if people don’t agree with me. But like that caller, arguing with stupidity is what gets me going. As for an apology, none is necessary, but I would hope it shows people that I don’t throw out crap and unless I’m pretty sure in a report I won’t write it. Either way I hope people keep reading and feel free to debate any issue. Debate is what makes this site great.

Jason, while I disagreed with you, it's not because I thought you were wrong. It's because what you were saying appeared to be as much speculation as anything else: "MacTavish would have said something if..."

I'm not calling your professional habits into question, but you have to admit, if that doesn't sound like speculation, what does?

I'm not certain why this is as big a thing as it's been made out to be anyway - I'm pretty sure there's bigger stories around the team than a 23 year old sleeping in. If that's characteristic, then ditch him now. If it isn't, as MacTavish said this afternoon: what else needs to be said? He's 23, he made a mistake, and he's said it won't happen again. Take him at his word, until and unless it does happen again.

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#15 Joe
December 30 2008, 04:27PM
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I just can't see the Oilers moving Visnovsky, considering he's in his first year here and he already looks like he's found his niche in the team.

I can, however, see Grebeshkov+ going the other way. Hard to say if the Oilers would be willing to pull the trigger on a deal for Spezza. I guess if the price was right.

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#16 Cam
December 30 2008, 04:30PM
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Joe wrote:

I just can’t see the Oilers moving Visnovsky, considering he’s in his first year here and he already looks like he’s found his niche in the team. I can, however, see Grebeshkov+ going the other way. Hard to say if the Oilers would be willing to pull the trigger on a deal for Spezza. I guess if the price was right.

The Senators would demand a big fish in return for a guy ilke Spezza. It would definitely be someone we would be unhappy to see leave, but...

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#17 RobinB
December 30 2008, 04:42PM
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Joe wrote:

Hard to say if the Oilers would be willing to pull the trigger on a deal for Spezza. I guess if the price was right.

There's interest on this end . . .

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#18 Jonathan Willis
December 30 2008, 04:51PM
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From an Oilers' perspective, I'm all for a Spezza deal, even if it means sending out one of Gilbert/Souray/Visnovsky. Spezza's recorded 87+ points each of the past three seasons (he was on pace for 109 points three years ago), and guys with his talent level are hard to find. He has 26 points in 34 games; he's worthing buying while he's at a career low.

I'd probably start with Gilbert, Nilsson and a first and see what happened from there...

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#19 Jason Gregor
December 30 2008, 05:24PM
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MikeP wrote:

Jason, while I disagreed with you, it’s not because I thought you were wrong. It’s because what you were saying appeared to be as much speculation as anything else: “MacTavish would have said something if…” I’m not calling your professional habits into question, but you have to admit, if that doesn’t sound like speculation, what does? I’m not certain why this is as big a thing as it’s been made out to be anyway - I’m pretty sure there’s bigger stories around the team than a 23 year old sleeping in. If that’s characteristic, then ditch him now. If it isn’t, as MacTavish said this afternoon: what else needs to be said? He’s 23, he made a mistake, and he’s said it won’t happen again. Take him at his word, until and unless it does happen again.

Mike,

Do you honestly believe he slept in on an optional practice? The odds aren't in his favour to say it was just a coincidence. He is frustrated with the way his season has gone. My main point was it was a stupid decision, accidental or not, and the timing made it look worse. Do I think it was just an innocent mistake. No. And he realized after that it was a bad decision/mistake. I'm not mad about it at all, I just find it interesting that because I stand up for myself everyone assumes I'm defensive and pissed. When someone has a counter point and backs it up, I'm fine with that. Too me it is over and done with, and I'm not that sensitive to worry about someone questioning me.

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#20 RobinB
December 30 2008, 05:47PM
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@ MikeP: While I played it straight writing the Nilsson item and resisted the temptation to call BS on the explanation, I'm with Jason.

The odds of Nilsson simply "sleeping in: for an optional practice as opposed to missing a full skate, are long indeed. But unless we know for sure, we have to take his word for it.

Even at that, it's brutal timing. In any case, it's smart for MacTavish to downplay it now and publicly, at least, make it sound like no big deal. I say that because I'm still of the mind the Oilers will trade Nilsson the first chance they get, and they'd be best served by playing him as opposed to parking him in the press box and watching his value drop further.

I'm convinced Nilsson's done here. It's not a matter of "if," but when.

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#21 Deep Oil
December 30 2008, 06:32PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Show me the cap numbers big John - with 5.0mm being shipped out and 7.0mm coming back - the mighty oil are over the cap with it possibly going down $2mm next year - with various injuries - this deal needs another $1mm body to pull the trigger with no room next year (excluding garon and rollie) but on average $4mm is usually spent on goalies plus or minus unless you are the Blackhawks - who fired their coach and now are in the upper rent district - can MACT rise to 5th before the axe falls - we do have two games in hand after tonight with the log jam....

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#22 Deep Oil
December 30 2008, 06:38PM
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NHL Numbers shows a $1.00mm bonus cushion - Spezza contract requires $6.0mm going the other way with no room to move at all - handcuffed - but really we are strapped to board right now - most teams cant trade until the deadline waiting for salary to expire - ho hum thanks gary bettman and paul kelly

http://www.nhlnumbers.com/overview.php?team=EDM

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#23 TV
December 30 2008, 07:17PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

@ Jonathan Willis: Show me the cap numbers big John - with 5.0mm being shipped out and 7.0mm coming back - the mighty oil are over the cap with it possibly going down $2mm next year - with various injuries - this deal needs another $1mm body to pull the trigger with no room next year (excluding garon and rollie) but on average $4mm is usually spent on goalies plus or minus unless you are the Blackhawks - who fired their coach and now are in the upper rent district - can MACT rise to 5th before the axe falls - we do have two games in hand after tonight with the log jam…. NHL Numbers shows a $1.00mm bonus cushion - Spezza contract requires $6.0mm going the other way with no room to move at all - handcuffed - but really we are strapped to board right now - most teams cant trade until the deadline waiting for salary to expire - ho hum thanks gary bettman and paul kelly

The Oilers currently have $2,774,947 in available Cap space & Gilbert makes a Cap Hit of $4mill per, while Nilsson makes a Cap Hit of $2mill per. That is $6mill right there, so the deal is financially doable from the Oilers standpoint.

x6

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#24 Jonathan Willis
December 31 2008, 07:27AM
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@ Deep Oil:

TV covered most of my response, but I was under the impression that there was no bonus cushion this year (given the PA's option to reopen the CBA). If anybody more knowledgeable wants to correct me (or confirm) please do.

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#25 OilFan in Calgary
December 31 2008, 09:14AM
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Ottawa would probably want Visnovsky or Souray. Which one to give up is a tough call (Souray will likely score more but is more likely to get injured). Do either of them have no trade clauses? I know Visnovsky's was supposed to kick in with LA after July 1, but I'm not sure if that only applied if he was playing for LA...

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#26 Gord
December 31 2008, 09:31AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: I believe you are correct as I have heard the same thing from many different sources.

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#27 topshelf
December 31 2008, 10:07AM
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Souray has a no movement clause I believe.

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#28 OilFan in Calgary
December 31 2008, 10:10AM
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@ topshelf:

Then there's no way Souray will agree to go to Ottawa..

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