June 25 2012 02:58PM
Photograph of Devan Dubnyk by goaliej54 of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.
The Edmonton Oilers have announced via their official website that the team has issued qualifying offers to seven pending restricted free agents. Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Alex Plante and Chris Vande Velde all recieved qualifying offers, as did Linus Omark, despite some speculation that the Oilers would cut him lose after failing to trade him at the draft.
The big news here is the decision to qualify Linus Omark. It's difficult to see where he is going to fit on the Oilers' roster next season, and after failing to move him at the draft it's not certain that the Oilers can find a buyer. However, several teams - the Vancouver Canucks and Marc-Andre Gragnani come to mind - were shopping players and couldn't find a buyer, and Blackhakws general manager Stan Bowman made the following comment on the process:
The discussions I did have, everyone agreed that you don’t need to try to jam a trade in in the next half-hour before we get going. But we had some brief discussions with a few teams. We all agreed that it will probably pick up as the weeks go on. There will be movement with players around the league over the next two weeks.
What trades did get made saw established players go for low prices - Benoit Pouliot, for example, went for a fifth-round pick and an AHL'er - so my guess is that the Oilers are simply protecting an asset here and will look to deal Omark later in the summer after free agency has slowed down. It's also at least possible that other trades will open up a spot for Omark on the Oilers' roster, but that strikes me as improbable.
From the outside, Plante and Vande Velde didn't seem like certainties to get offers, but bringing them back is a good decision. Plante in particular still likely has upside, and both players are capable depth options that could see NHL time when injuries hit.
The other big news here is the decision not to qualify defenseman Cam Barker. Any qualifying offer to Barker would have needed to be for the same annual dollar figure as his previous contract - $2.25 million - and his play this season simply didn't even come close to warranting that kind of coin. The Oilers still have the option to attempt to sign him for less money, should they choose to, but the course of wisdom would seem to be to allow Barker to leave the fold and to find a more competent option to replace him.
Also not qualified was Hunter Tremblay. The 26-year old was signed as an unrestricted free agent out of the University of New Brunswick a year ago and showed some value in the AHL, picking up 31 points in 68 games. He was also a key figure on the team's penalty kill. The Barons finished 2nd in the AHL with an 85.6% success rate while shorthanded. I wonder if the Oilers might look to ink Tremblay to an AHL-only deal - he clearly has value to the team but is some distance from the NHL as of yet, and the Oilers needed to clear room on their reserve list (each NHL team is allowed to have 50 players under contract at any one time).
All things considered, there were no major surprises here but the news is all good. The Oilers protected an asset (Omark) and shed a salary (Barker), both of which strike me as the correct decisions.
This week by Jonathan Willis
- Report: Oilers interested in Blackhawks' defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson
- The 2012 NHL Entry Draft: Recap
- Should the Oilers have made a pitch for Zbynek Michalek?
- The Oilers select forward Mitch Moroz 32nd overall
- The Jets select Lukas Sutter 39th overall
- The Canucks select Alexandre Mallet 57th overall
- The top five ranked players left after the end of the first round
- Moving up and down at the NHL Draft
- Should the Oilers take a goalie in the second round?
- The Edmonton Oilers and the window to win
- Lennart Petrell returns to the Edmonton Oilers
- St. Louis Blues re-sign Barret Jackman
- Are the Blue Jackets and Oilers good trading partners?