This was Steve Tambellini moments after winning the 2012 draft lottery, and since then he’s added two important pieces to what he hopes will eventually be a playoff puzzle. He took Nail Yakupov first overall on June 22nd, added Justin Schultz on July 1st and along with Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins they are the future core of the Oilers.

If the Oilers are going to be more than playoff contenders on paper, Tambellini will need to look at moving any of the other young Oiler prospects once the lockout is over.

Stockpiling prospects is imperative for any successful organization, but most won’t end up playing for the Oilers, so if Tambellini can acquire proven NHL talent in exchange for a prospect or two, he needs to make that move. The question is if he will have any cap space to make a few significant moves.

When the season starts the Oiler’s won’t have much cap space, if any, depending on the new CBA.

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Hall, Yakupov, RNH, Eberle, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk and Lennart Petrell have a combined cap hit of $34,433 million.

Schultz, Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid, Nick Schultz, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Andy Sutton and Corey Potter have a total cap hit of $18,875 million.

Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin are a combined $7.25 million cap hit.

Add them up and the Oilers sit at $60,558 million.

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If they decide to have Magnus Paajarvi, $1,525 million, or Teemu Hartikainen’s, $875,000 million cap hit, and send down a veteran forward that might add to their cap, because the new CBA might have all one-way deals count against the cap. Either way, the new CBA will determine how much cap flexibility they could have.

There have been some rumblings that the Oilers might make a big splash when the lockout ends, but I don’t see how they will be able to add a big contract, unless they move a few big ones of their own. Hall and Eberle’s combined cap hit this year is $4.91 million, but starting next year it jumps to $12 milllion.

The only way I see the Oilers adding a top-end player is if they move Hemsky, Horcoff or surprise everyone and move one of Eberle or Hall. Hemsky is still enticing for many teams, because he is a PROVEN top-six forward, and Horcoff’s contract will be attractive to a team that needs to reach the cap floor, but pay less in actual dollars. I doubt one of the kids is moved anytime soon, but if Tambellini is going to make a major splash it will be difficult due to cap restrictions.


Looking down the road the Oilers will need to find guys to play in their bottom-six. They have enough skill in their top-two lines, although some skill with size is a definite must-have, so as they look to the future they need to find players who are good penalty killers, solid defensively and most importantly, consistent.

I find it interesting how many people want to deal Ryan Jones away because Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen or Tyler Pitlick need a chance. Hartikainen has size, but he doesn’t skate as well as Jones and to date he doesn’t shown the ability to score the gritty, plugger-type goals that Jones does. If Jones can score 13-17 goals on your third line and kill penalties, he’s a solid asset. He’s done that the past two years. I’d like him to crash and bang on a more consistent basis, but only Hall drew more penalties amongst top-nine forwards.

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The Oilers had the 5th most PK minutes in the NHL last year, and only Horcoff had more PK minutes amongst the forwards than Jones. Jones has a decent cap hit or $1.5 million and he’s scored 17 and 18 goals the past two seasons. Moving him out to make room for a young player makes no sense at this point, because I don’t see any prospect who can kill penalties, go to the tough areas to score, and actually produce like Jones has.

The Oilers won’t win with a lineup based solely on youth. They need some veterans. If Horcoff had a lower cap hit, he’d be the perfect complement. If Smyth was a few years younger, he’d be able to play here for another four years. They Oilers need to find versions of those two, but proven NHL players, not guys in the farm system.

When the NHL resumes, Tambellini and his staff will need to find some 26-32 year-old veterans who can help nurture the young core, and he’ll need to use some of his 2nd tier youth as trade bait.

Too many people fall in love with prospects, but the harsh reality is that very few of them ever pan out. The Oilers have to start over-hyping their prospects, and then move a few of them to a team that will fall in love with their "potential."

I’ve read articles suggesting the Oilers might end up with five or six players from their 2010 draft playing in Edmonton. That will only happen if the Oilers continue to be a bottom feeder. If they want to take the next step, they will need to have more proven, every day NHLers, and not worry about parting with young prospects to obtain those veterans.


  • The NHL and NHLPA will meet today and both sides will have some new blood in the room. The NHL is keeping it hush on which owners will be there, but maybe some fresh faces will bring some fresh ideas.
  • Another Oiler, Oscar Klefbom, has suffered a serious shoulder injury. Swedish sports reporter Johan Eriksson tweeted me an update about the situation. "As I understand his shoulder got dislocated but "jumped back in" immediately. But when it got dislocated he got a fracture on the joint capsule and bleeding in the shoulder." The only good news is that he should be ready for camp next September.
  • In the history of Edmonton sports the Ricky Ray trade might be 2nd worst all-time. I’m not including trades where the player asked to be traded, Pronger, or where the deal was strictly due to money, Weight, Messier, Coffey. Do you have any other trades you’d rank ahead of Ray, besides Gretzky?

    I’d hope the Eskimos fans who liked the trade will realize they undervalued Ricky Ray.  The move also illustrates how badly Danny Maciocia and Eric Tillman managed the Eskimos the past six years. Maciocia gave Ray virtually no supporting cast, while Tillman made an awful decision. The Eskimos can’t afford to hire the wrong guy as their next GM. They need a leader, a guy who isn’t afraid to make tough decisions, and a man who is very organized. Ed Hervey will be one of the four to six men to get an interview, and he’s my leading candidate to land the job.  

  • gr8one

    I think we need to factor in an amnesty clause as well post lockout…

    In other words we could factor out Horcoff assuming he’d be the likeliest buyout.

    But what really gets my mind wandering are what other players might be able to be had at a much reduced cost because their teams bought them out?

    Say Tampa buys out Vinny…and we scoop him up at a couple/few mill per year…wouldn’t he look pretty damned sweet as our second line center?

    Same with Bouwmeester or Luongo…Teams that really might see value in having the cap space and knowing that they won’t be able to offload those players without taking salary back might just choose to buy them out and let them go UFA…this amnesty clause if it happens could totally change the whole league dynamic with some really good players possibly be had for bargain contracts since they’re already getting paid from their buyouts.

    Just a little food for thought anyways.

    • Rocknrolla

      Exactly! Everyone is forgetting that when stauffer said WOW trade, he was also talking about the oilers having cap room because of amnesty.

      If Horcoff and Khabby are bought out and we also lose Sutton to retirement, we are not at $60M anymore, we will have room.

      Obviously everything hinges on the new CBA, cap, amnesty clause etc. but remember, Stauffer is inside the room and likes to leak probabilities so he can say he told you so.

      I think his connections with Bouewmeesters camp is a valid possibility as theoretical wow signing, if Calgary buys him out, or a trade for him if we have the space. But there could be some good vets out there.

      I think it is D or G based on the Kevin Lowe interview as well that they are targeting.

      Either way nothing gets done until we know the crux of the new CBA. I just hope those guys can get something done… Want some hockey!

  • 24% body fat

    How would Yakupov look on the NY Islanders team? Tavares could use a shooter like Yak.The Isles could use another marquee name before they pack their bags for Brooklyn. They have Strome and Rheinhart as trade options.

    The other option is Montreal.Montreal needs to be a player this off season. How would YAK look in Montreal? They have picks and the Oilers covet Subban.A problem player in Montreal.But. How good would that first unit PP look with Subban and J Shultz on the point.

    If the Oilers keep Yak its just as good. The issue is that we need to look at upgrading our 2cd line center position if we do.Gagne is ok.Meh. But for the Oilers to compete they need a guy like Coutier. Someone with size and skill.

    Christmas is coming.But hopefully not Louongo.

    • 24% body fat

      Okay, say we trade gagner for a larger higher stats center. Lets do the math.

      Hall 6m, Eberle 6m, yak 6m, nug 6m, New center to replace gagner for what you think we get minimum 5M, hemsky 5m.

      34M on your top two lines.

      Now 7 other forwards averaging 1.5M (conservative) rounded 11M

      45M on forwards.

      4-5M on goalies

      cap hit of 62M (higher estimate)

      This leaves us with 13M or so for defense.

      Schultz 4
      Smid 3.5
      Whitney 4
      Schults 4

      dont even need to finish….. we are out of cap space

      Now what would be the asking price for a large skilled center like Couturier, Seguin, Staal, Riberio, Bergeron or Getzlaf

      Couturier is wise beyond his years and has high potential, Philly wont give him up. Seguin will not want to be here and play behind RNH and second to Hall when he is the franchise, this also would take two first and Gagner. Staal, same as segin but older and more expensive, kills our cap. Riberio could take a shot probably gagner and prospects and picks. Bergeron, you dont trade your future captain one of the leagues best face off guys, and two way forward that puts up 60-70 pts for a smaller center.
      Getzlaf, numbers are falling and how much will he produce with out his buddy. No need to trade he is UFA.

      So from an assets, cap, and depth look no matter if you like him or not Gagner is not the trade you make right now. A 6’2″ more powerfully, productive and higher skilled center than Gagner putting up 50+ points will cost the oilers too much in terms of assets, and cap.

      Where do the oilers get him and where do they find the cap space for a center like that. And for those of you say that you need that number two center like that to win, ask your self how many teams have had this many elite wingers and a franchise number one center ahead of that number two.

  • Word to the Bird

    What if we did klefbom, pajarvi, gagner and a first (with the option to throw
    In horcoff so nashville can reach the cap floor without paying a lot) for weber and a center? Klefbom isn’t as needed now that we have schultz, plus pajarvi still has some decent value.

  • toprightcorner

    Worse trade than Ray, hard to say but I have a close contender.

    I would say when the Oilers traded Miroslav Satan to Buffalo for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar. Ended up with over 350 goals and 700 points.

    He was the goal scorer the Oilers needed badly and would have been the top goal scorer on the Oilers during the rest of his career.

  • Word to the Bird

    All we need is one faceoff specialist,for the PP,even if thats all they do.But our wheels are spinning until we start winning draws.The more touches these kids get the more dynamicly they can score goals.Hows about Horcoff straight across??Or Belanger and Plante??

  • 24% body fat

    I hate Ray (not as a person of course), and I’m right here. I watch sports to be entertained. Winning is fun, but Ray was boring to watch. Obviously he was/is way more effective than his replacement.