Time for Tambo to make some moves

Jason Gregor
August 05 2010 09:07AM

With just over six weeks until rookie camp, realistically what moves can we expect Steve Tambellini to make before then?

Let’s start with the easy ones.

He will sign Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, but for how long is the only question that remains. Both have four years left until unrestricted free agency beckons, so I wouldn’t be surprised to seem them get two year deals. Three year deals would force Tambellini to try and re-sign both of them as well as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Pääjärvi and Ryan Whitney after the 2013 season. That won’t happen.

Once Gagner and Cogliano are signed, that leaves Tambellini with five contracts, and possibly seven if they send Toni Rajala to Finland and Philippe Cornet to junior as a 20-year-old. I didn’t include Hall, because there is no way he goes back to junior.

Forwards: 26

Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Gilbert Brule, Pääjärvi, Hall, Eberle, J.F Jacques, Zack Stortini, Steve MacIntyre, Colin Fraser, Ryan Jones, Alex Giroux, Cornet, Teemu Hartikainen, Milan Kytnar, Brad Moran, Linus Omark, Ryan O’Marra, Ben Ondrus, Gregory Stewart, Chris Vande Velde, Matt Marquardt, Rajala, Gagner and Cogliano.

D-men: 15

Whitney, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, Sheldon Souray, Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick, Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Shawn Belle, Jordan Bendfeld, Johan Motin, Richard Petiot, Alex Plante.

Goalies: 4

Nikolai Khabibulin, Jeff Deslauriers, Devan Dubnyk and Bryan Pitton.

What's next?

It is clear that Tambellini wants to have depth at every position in case of injury. Omark, Giroux and Moran will give them a potential scorer if the injury bug bites their top six/nine, although Giroux and Omark will get a long look during camp. Stewart, Ondrus and Marguardt could fill a void of size, grit and energy.

Belle, Chorney and Petry will be ready in case they need a 6th or 7th D-man.

I really think the Deslauriers $1 million contract ensures he will clear waivers at the end of camp. I don’t see a team grabbing him and paying him a cool million to be their back up. There might be a slight risk he could get grabbed on re-entry waivers, but that is unlikely unless another team runs into goaltending injuries at the exact same time. His contract looks like a reward and a “thank you” from the team, and will lessen the sting of playing in the minors.

Tambellini will sign another veteran before camp, and it shouldn’t cost him very much. Eric Belanger, John Madden and Brendan Morrison are available. The first two would fill the need for a veteran checking centre, but after speaking with Tom Renney last week, I don’t think it is a guarantee that the veteran they bring in will be a centre.

If you’re one who likes to recycle Tambellini could go after Raffi Torres, Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie or Bill Guerin. I don’t think any of them are a fit, although if I had to pick one of the four I’d take Comrie.

Aaron Asham and Owen Nolan are the two guys I’d focus on. I still think the Oilers need some more size, grit and nastiness, and these two could play in the top nine. I don’t think Stortini is ready for consistent top-nine minutes, and I’m curious if Jacques will be healthy to start the season, so I’d like a winger who can bang, crash and contribute offensively mixed in with the skilled forwards. Currently only Brule is a banger, while Penner and Pääjärvi have size to control the puck down low.

This is the area Tambellini needs to address.

The Oilers have lots of cap space, around $11 million, not including Gagner or Cogliano so Tambellini has the flexibility to make moves that aren’t strictly based on salary. He won’t go after a big-ticket veteran (he still has Souray he’d like to unload), and he’ll likely only see him add three (Gagner, Cogliano and ?) NHL caliber forwards before training camp.

If the Oilers surprise many and are in the playoff mix come the deadline Tambellini will have ample room to add a big contract, and I expect him to keep that door open.

He should try to sign one of these guys, and start at the top and work down:

  1. Asham
  2. Nolan
  3. Belanger
  4. Comrie
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Cowbell_Feva
August 06 2010, 09:26AM
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madjam wrote:

If Oilers were going to add anyone else of significance , it should have been done long before now when the marketplace was first open and not basically bare as it is now ! No? Tams and company have been to busy taking care of other things and finding another excuse why they failed to add to team again i'm afraid . To late now to make any significant change with whats still out there . Get used to it , thats the way management seems to like to operate around here .

While they bask in the security of a mountain of excuses as to our failures , the fans bask in the artificial hope we'll actually see a vast improvement from last 3 seasons nightmares .

Despite managements many failures to improve our squad over last 3 seasons , their still is hope the rookies and fringe new faces can turn our playoff hopes around . We are not waiting for more excuses here , we want playoff hockey back here as our minimum expectation . The rest of you that are okay with being losers for more years to come must be Flame or Canuck fans (tongue n cheek ).

Pump the brakes! When saying "management" you are putting Tambi and KLowe in the same boat. Big Difference. KLowe created this whole friggin' mess. Tambi has done nothing but GOOD since he's took over (ie/ getting rid of dead weight in Staios,Moreau,Pisani and got tougher on the back end with Vandemeer,Foster and Whitney)

This is a re-build and going out and overpaying for a UFA on July 1st isn't what re-building is about. See New York Rangers for how to pay for UFA's and not win.

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#52 Cowbell_Feva
August 06 2010, 09:29AM
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Dave Manson wrote:

If we're looking for leadership & mentorship of the kids - look to Willie Mitchell. He has been the real leader of the Canucks for the past couple of years as they've pinned the C on BingoBongoLuongo. Ask anyone in that room, and they'll tell you that he's the man. The risk is with his health. Will he ever be an effective physical defenceman again? He's one more headshot away from a lifetime of applesauce fed from a spoon. If he plays 25 games - does insurance pick up the balance of his contract?

Agreed 100%... I'd bring him in on a one year deal worth no more than 2mill and hope he can play. When he does he's one of the best shutdown guys in the league. Exactly what this team needs- toughness on the back end with some veteran presence.

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#53 Mike Modano's Dog
August 06 2010, 01:18PM
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Jason, I'm glad you mentioned that JDD's contract should/will allow him to be sent to the farm without being picked up. Great news - we obviously needed another goalie for the farm! Plus we get to keep him.

I still see us grabbing another goalie WHEN Re-Khabibulin goes to jail/is unable to play due to back injury. I can't wait to void his contract if it's possible, ASAP, because in a perfect world if he isn't going to be able to play with us then the sooner we plan on that and sign someone else, the better. Now on the upside to waiting, if we are forced to go with the 2 kids in goal again, we should have another lottery pick!

For a veteran forward I would like the Nolan acquisition, personally. I love someone who does it all and would be a great mentor, or a Billy Guerin, perhaps. Someone tough as nails, could protect the kids, and who would teach the Oilers to never back down from a fight would be invaluable going forward. Is there a Lee Fogolin available in all the names mentioned in your article who could mentor the kids at the same time as keeping them safe, as well. He was the PERFECT veteran leader for our team back then!

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#54 Shane
August 06 2010, 01:44PM
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UFA John Madden has three cup rings(just saying) but I would almost like to reward Comrie with a similar contract as last year just for showing some heart on this team(pretty much the only guy last year- when healthy).. It would be quite the sticky situation if we had to bring Souray back in the dressing room this year, I can't believe some of the teams with lots of cap space(N.Y.I, Colorado, Atlanta) wouldn't want to take him for a bucket of pucks?!

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