October 30 2012 10:58AM
Yesterday, Bob Stauffer announced on Oilers Now that he expects the Edmonton Oilers to make a “wow factor move” in player personnel once the lockout ended (he further predicts the lockout will be over by early December). In other words, according to Stauffer, a big trade is brewing.
Consider the Source
Stauffer, unsurprisingly, takes a fair amount of flack. He is employed by the Oilers. He has been an unapologetic advocate of Daryl Katz, both when Katz was wildly popular with Oilers fans, and now when his demands as part of a new arena deal have turned that relationship sour. Stauffer’s stuck by Katz, and he’s paid by Katz, and that combination is a tough one to manage while staying on the good side of fans.
But that doesn’t matter. What matters is Stauffer’s record for getting things right.
In that regard, Stauffer’s batting average is higher than any other member of the Edmonton media. When he makes this sort of statement, he's generally correct. He virtually announced the Dane Byers acquisition this summer on Twitter. More than that, he was the one voice in the media that consistently said Ralph Krueger was in the mix for the head coaching job back when everyone assumed it was going to Brent Sutter.
Stauffer doesn’t have the same level of distance from the team as other prominent media voices. That’s bad in that it makes it awfully difficult to be independent. It’s good in that he generally has a better idea of what’s going on than others.
Here’s the exchange of interest on the show:
Stauffer: “I believe the Edmonton Oilers will make a move that makes people say ‘wow’ upon the CBA being completed, between then and the start of the season.”
Reid Wilkins: “This is a player personnel move?”
Stauffer: “Yeah. Believe that’s going to occur.”
And then a little later on, Stauffer added this:
“I believe there will be a wow factor move coming. And it’ll make for some entertaining discussion, let’s just say that.”
What does it mean?
Honestly, it’s fairly difficult to handicap what Stauffer’s comments might refer to. The obvious position of strength the Oilers have is at wing. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ales Hemsky are established NHL’ers. The Oilers’ brain trust has been down in Oklahoma watching strong starts from Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi. Over in Russia, Nail Yakupov has been lighting things up.
A serious move probably would involve one of the names we’ve seen in the rumour mill before. On wing, that’s Magnus Paajarvi and Ales Hemsky, both of whom likely have significant trade value. Another player we might mention is Sam Gagner – though it’s hard to imagine the Oilers would move him without bringing a center back.
The holes? Defence is the most obvious; despite the rise of Justin Schultz in the minors (his strong performance early is a significant positive for the Oilers, suggesting he’ll hit the ground running in the majors) the high-end talent on the group is relatively weak.
Center or goal are the other obvious areas that might be addressed. In net, Nikolai Khabibulin was at last report still on injured reserve, and he’s basically playing out the string at this point anyway. Devan Dubnyk’s a solid candidate for 1A work, but could be upgraded. Up the middle, trade rumours have haunted Sam Gagner for some time now, and his one year deal this summer suggests the Oilers really haven’t decided that he’s part of the core they’re trying to build.
But it’s speculation at this point. All we have is Stauffer’s belief that a big trade is coming.
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