SHOW US SOMETHING, STEVE

Robin Brownlee
June 27 2012 12:20PM

Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has taken care of several significant housekeeping items already this off-season, but what he does between now and the start of training camp, starting with free agency July 1, will be what defines his body of work this summer.

Get contract extension. Check.

Express greater expectations. Check.

Draft Nail Yakupov. Check.

Promote Ralph Krueger to head coach. Check.

None of the above is inconsequential, of course, because getting the right guy with the first overall pick based on the recommendation Stu MacGregor and his scouting staff and entrusting Krueger with the keys to the franchise for the next three seasons as Tom Renney's replacement will go a long way in shaping how this team looks and performs from here on out.

That said, expressing greater expectations after six straight years out of the playoffs and finishes of 30th, 30th and 29th in the past three, is a pretty standard script. Taking Yakupov? Would have been a bigger story if Tambellini passed on the consensus BPA and taken Ryan Murray. A no-brainer, really, much like taking Taylor Hall or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was. Hiring Krueger? A curveball, to be sure, given how NOBODY mentioned him as a serious candidate for the job immediately after Tom Renney was allowed to walk.

Now, the checklist gets more challenging.

WHAT'S NEXT?

  • The big prize now is pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz, and Tambellini can get a huge head start on filling the holes on Edmonton's blue line if he can land the former Wisconsin Badger. The Oilers are in the mix and will make a pitch to Schultz as early as today. How has Tambellini orchestrated the the sales job Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish intend to make to Newport Sports?
  • Even if Tambellini gets Schultz, and every indication out there is the Oilers have a realistic chance of being in the short-list mix, there remains work to do on the back end. The Oilers, by the estimation of a lot of people, need to add a minimum of two defenseman who are capable of taking on top-four minutes next season. If Schultz is one, fine, great. Tambellini needs to find another.
  • Tambellini can't afford a swing and a miss like he had last summer with Cam Barker, who won't even be qualified. No longshots, even on one-year deals like Barker got (and that was an over pay). As 630 CHED's Bob Stauffer mentioned at the Entry Draft, there might be room to pry somebody out of Columbus after Scott Howson took Murray. Perhaps Marc Methot.
  • There might be a deal to me made with Brian Burke in Toronto as well, particularly if the Maple Leafs land Schultz. Of course, if that's the case, Tambellini has two spots to fill, not just one. Again, Tambellini needs two guys capable of top-four duty, not more third-pairing guys. He will likely have to spend some money and move some assets. So be it.
  • While there's a reasonable chance Eric Belanger will bounce back to his previous levels of offensive production, I can't imagine fans would be upset if Tambellini managed to move him along. I can't imagine Belanger would be unhappy, either, based on what I've heard.
  • Sorting out the forwards and moving one of two of them to address the back end, Schultz or no Schultz, is a must. Making room for some size (that can play) up front, be it from within or via free agency or trade, is another. Like I said, now the checklist gets more complicated.

Now's the time. Show us something, Steve.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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 lolhockey
June 27 2012, 12:26PM
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No chance. None. Zero.

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#2 lolhockey
June 27 2012, 12:28PM
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Weird, the clock on my desktop was showing 12:15, yet the date of this article is 12:20.

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#3 T-Roy
June 27 2012, 12:34PM
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He also has to keep an eye on the 2nd contracts coming up while adding 2 top 4 defence... Don't want to follow the Chicago model completely...

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#4 Smokey
June 27 2012, 12:35PM
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The Oilers should just send the fab five to TO to meet Shultz, Nuge, Hall, Eberle, Yak, and MPS or Petry to convice him to Edmonton. Don`t send Dithers

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#5 oilredemption
June 27 2012, 12:36PM
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go for doan, shultz, mueller and gragnani. Trade belanger. Then if smyth doesnt want the contract on the table let him walk. Possible line combos..

Hall RNH Eberle

Yakupov Mueller Hemsky

Jones/smyth Gagner Doan

Jones/Eager Horcoff Eager/Petrell

Whitney J.Shultz

Smid Petry

Shultz Gragnani

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#6 IfBruceLeeWasAnOiler
June 27 2012, 12:38PM
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i cant belive calgary fans think they have the same chance we do with this kid

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#7 oilredemption
June 27 2012, 12:38PM
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Maybe instead of Shane Doan (wishful thinking) get latendresse

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#8 admiraimark
June 27 2012, 12:39PM
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Amen to this. We have yet to establish what Steve Tambellini's abilities are in terms of procuring talent by way of trades. Is he savvy? I'm not sure? Can he swing with the big boys? Who really knows? This question has yet to be answered because of one main reason... It simply has not been clearly the mandate of the powers that be above him. Its hard to say how much freedom he has been given to really pull it all out and make a major trade to improve this teams D.. specifically. I'd suggest that his new contract indicates that he was not given a total green light. But surely to god the time is nigh? From now until the trade deadline we are taking the wraps off this supposed hotshot GM. "Do Something" pretty much sums it up. It's enough already!?

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#9 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
June 27 2012, 12:41PM
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Is there any chance the Oilers land Suter? If by some miracle that happens, all of a sudden this club might not be far from the playoffs, with 1 or 2 more additions.

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#10 PaperDesigner
June 27 2012, 12:43PM
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I don't like Methot, because he appears to be exactly what the Oilers don't need--another bottom pairing guy.

If I were the Oilers, I would try to grab Schultz, then scour free agency for another top four guy, ignoring the temptation to deplete forward depth unless there is a home run, young, blooming top pairing defenceman available. I am comfortable with their forward composition as is, bit it is delicately balanced. Do you really want to deal your own veteran scorer in Hemsky? Or deal Gagner now (I think he is very close to finding another gear offensively). Can you really get full value for Paajarvi? Does dealing one of the super kids appeal to anyone?

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#11 Zamboni Driver
June 27 2012, 12:55PM
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@PaperDesigner

So pretty much find new players.

But don't get rid of any of the old players - those that finished a stirring second last next year.

Gotcha.

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#12 positivebrontefan
June 27 2012, 12:56PM
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As long as Tambo takes the stance that he will wait for offers to come in as he said he did with the first overall pick he's not getting anywhere. Justin Schultz will not just offer himself up to come here, neither will anyone else. Get on it Steve!!!

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#13 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
June 27 2012, 12:57PM
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2 defensmen, a goalie and a tweek to the bottom 6 please.

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#14 GSP
June 27 2012, 01:01PM
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I say take a chance on Latendresse and do a thorough check on Mueller to see if his concussion issues are behind him.

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#15 ElectricJesus
June 27 2012, 01:14PM
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I don't think mike commodore solves all the problems on the blue line but he's a local guy with a nice resume that will play a ton for a million bucks. A big upgrade over barker and potter IMO

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#16 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 27 2012, 01:19PM
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What the eff is Krueger doing in Edmonton?? Isn't he supposed to be brainwashi.... er... motivating Schultz to sign with the Oilers?

On the bright side: at least Tambellini is "muzzled".

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#17 Will
June 27 2012, 01:20PM
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Try like hell to land free agents like Wideman to fill in top 4 pairings. If that doesn't work, look at putting Gagner or our 1st overall pick for a player like Yandle (good contract for a good to great player). If Gagner has to go, having Hall and Yak on one line will still give us a legitimate second scoring line option, even if we put someone like Horcoff at the position. Him and Hall have okay chemistry anyway. Belangier could slot in at our number 3 shut down line because the guy can win face-offs. And Lander was capable at 4, especially if Shultz and Yandle are on our back end. Again, I still think a line up that looks like this is a playoff spot contending team.

Smyth-Nuge-Ebs / Hall-Horcoff-Yak / Hartikinen or Paajarvi-Belangeir-Hemskey / Petrell-Lander-Jones

Yandle-Shultz / Smid-Petry / Whitney-Shultz / Peckham or Sutton

Dubnyk-Habby(seriously is there no one better than Habby?)

The team is lacking a bit of size and grit at the forward positions, but is overloaded on skill and has the defense and goal (.920) to back up that skill (Hopefully Whitney gets healthier).

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#18 thednp
June 27 2012, 01:25PM
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Will wrote:

Try like hell to land free agents like Wideman to fill in top 4 pairings. If that doesn't work, look at putting Gagner or our 1st overall pick for a player like Yandle (good contract for a good to great player). If Gagner has to go, having Hall and Yak on one line will still give us a legitimate second scoring line option, even if we put someone like Horcoff at the position. Him and Hall have okay chemistry anyway. Belangier could slot in at our number 3 shut down line because the guy can win face-offs. And Lander was capable at 4, especially if Shultz and Yandle are on our back end. Again, I still think a line up that looks like this is a playoff spot contending team.

Smyth-Nuge-Ebs / Hall-Horcoff-Yak / Hartikinen or Paajarvi-Belangeir-Hemskey / Petrell-Lander-Jones

Yandle-Shultz / Smid-Petry / Whitney-Shultz / Peckham or Sutton

Dubnyk-Habby(seriously is there no one better than Habby?)

The team is lacking a bit of size and grit at the forward positions, but is overloaded on skill and has the defense and goal (.920) to back up that skill (Hopefully Whitney gets healthier).

According to Bob Mackenzie Calgary just signed Wideman to a 5yr deal...

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#19 Will
June 27 2012, 01:26PM
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That's also a team with a lot of 'who knows' potential. Maybe Hemsky's trade value climbs a bit and we could trade for size at the trade deadline. Perhaps Hartikinen develops into that Lucic type that plays with size and skill (which is how it was looking last year). Maybe Paarjarvi gets his groove back. Maybe Whitney returns to form and we acquire our targets on the defense wish list. Maybe Horcoff rediscovers what it's like to play on a skill line. Maybe Smyth doesn't burn out because he's not in a shut down role. Maybe Smid and Petry get even better than they were last year.

Obviously it would be stupid to bank on any of this happening, but it's exciting that it could happen.

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#20 Will
June 27 2012, 01:27PM
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@thednp

NOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Why is our general manager not after these players?????

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#21 GVS
June 27 2012, 01:30PM
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This guy has done nothing so far except finish last, last and second last. Hired his 3rd coach in 4 years - when you listen to Krueger speak you are listening to exactly the same words that Tom Renney spoke 2 years ago. ST is giving me the impression that he thinks his team is underachieving, if that is what he thinks, then he is reading his team real wrong. This team has not had the horses to finish the race and he better realize that and soon. I really think this franchise is turning into the laughing stock around the league and that is hard to do with the Leafs in the same league.

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#22 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 27 2012, 01:31PM
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@Will

Wideman was ran out of Boston and then Washington chose not to resign him.

I'm not sure he's a guy the Oilers should target. And I have a feeling the fans are going to turn on him in Calgary.

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#23 Senator Theo
June 27 2012, 01:32PM
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Thing thing is getting to be a real Schultz-show.

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#24 Glenn Schwarz
June 27 2012, 01:34PM
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From reports out of development camp Klefbom seems to be NHL ready so if they can get him out of that contract in sweden and Schultz signs would that fill the 2 holes Robin or do they still need to sign a vet guy? Also scouts saying Klefbom is better than Murray Sign Schultz get Klefbom here. Maybe go after 1 vet D man also

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#25 Tyler
June 27 2012, 01:36PM
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Tambo sucks royally as a GM. He guy has one nothing to address the team needs as usual. He is too afraid to make a trade, completely useless in signing FA's. Why was this guy brought back? Oh yeah to sewer this team another year.

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#26 DoubleJ
June 27 2012, 01:42PM
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I'm not too sure who Justin's coach was in collage, but throwing a job at him might help get Justin to the oilers. Sounds crazy, but the coach has proudced some pretty amazing d the last few years. Smith in Detroit, Gardiner in TO and now Schultz.

It might have been enough to sway Schultz.

Gawd I hope we land him.

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#27 A-Mc
June 27 2012, 01:43PM
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My bet is that the oilers pickup someone inconsequential over the summer, and that the main strategy for Tambolini is to just sit on the prospects they have. After-all, Klefbom is only 1 year out.

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#28 Eddie Edmonton
June 27 2012, 01:43PM
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Burke will get Schultz. Burke knows it, Schultz knows it, they're just putting up a front for the rest of the league so they don't get in trouble since everyone and their grandmother knew he'd be going there for about a year.

Oilers need to trade Gagner, next years first and a prospect for an impact centre or a d-man.

Sign a impact free agent and let Smyth walk. Smyth's time has passed. Oilers recent past is full of losses it doesn't make sense to hang on to another one. Smyth has nothing to offer the Oilers anymore. Smyth is a hasbeen just like Oilers times at the bottom of the standings.

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#29 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
June 27 2012, 01:44PM
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@Tyler

I rather the Oilers miss the boat on signing Wideman than signing Wideman. :)

Still, you're correct, Tambellini is no good.

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#30 DoubleJ
June 27 2012, 01:45PM
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JBO is going to be traded for sure. Hopefully not to Edmonton.

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#31 Bucknuck
June 27 2012, 01:47PM
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I feel pretty optimistic about next year, but if they start the season with Khabibulin in the lineup, then I have little faith. I figure Tambellini is a dud, but i base that primarily on his unwillingness to move and replace Khabibulin. Is he dumb? blind? can't read stats? can't read?

IF he manages to sort out the MOST important position on the team, then maybe... just maybe there is a chance that he is half-ways competent. If not... then this team won't be able to get to the top of the pile while he is running it.

Am i putting too much emphasis on the khabibulin thing? I just don't see how anyone who is TRYING to win wouldn't upgrade that position.

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#32 Pouzar99
June 27 2012, 01:48PM
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Well summed up Robin. So far so good, but the next five days will determine whether the team can realistically hope to make a playoff run and its in ST's hands. They could use more size and toughness at forward and a legitimate second goalie but the key is defence. I'm sure they will employ the full court press on Schultz and really, nobody knows specifically what he is looking for. Canada? USA? Playing with old pals? Who knows? As you say Tamby has to sign a pair of top 4 guys, with Schultz hopefully one. In a week we will know what we have and what we can really expect this season. This is the week that was. Step up, or ....

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#33 Jesse
June 27 2012, 01:50PM
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@Robin Brownlee -

1. Who do you think would be the forward who gets dealt?

2. Do you really see Methot as a suitable top 4 D option? I don't know if I would call that a real successful addition.

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#34 AW
June 27 2012, 01:50PM
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if it takes the Oilers 80 days to name a coach what makes us think Tambi will/can address our D THIS summer ?

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#35 The Towel Boy
June 27 2012, 01:50PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

Thing thing is getting to be a real Schultz-show.

Justin time with the quick pun.

Can always count on TheMenacer.

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#36 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 27 2012, 01:54PM
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Glenn Schwarz wrote:

From reports out of development camp Klefbom seems to be NHL ready so if they can get him out of that contract in sweden and Schultz signs would that fill the 2 holes Robin or do they still need to sign a vet guy? Also scouts saying Klefbom is better than Murray Sign Schultz get Klefbom here. Maybe go after 1 vet D man also

I've heard things too... I think T. Jones said something.

I'd hold off on rushing the kid. He's grown a lot in the last year. He looks much bigger and is apparently skating with ease and composure.

But needing two top 4 d and adding two rookies without an NHL game between them is not a recipe for success...

this organization has had too many kicks at the "bring em young" can... let the prospects ripen in their own damn time.

ps. klefbom yesterday said he didn't want to rush anything and come here feeling he was not ready... smart kid:

http://video.oilers.nhl.com/videocenter/console?catid=4&id=182987&cmpid=embed-share-video

pps. wideman... dodged a bullet... huge overpay. stay away from Methot. we don't need 5-7 left D... we have those in spades.

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#37 HallFever
June 27 2012, 01:56PM
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Let's hope Krueger can use his motivation skills to convince KLowe to move MacT to the GM seat. Just do it now. You know its coming. After all these years with Tambillini as GM, we still don't know if he is able to execute and bring in the required pieces.

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#38 Lexi
June 27 2012, 01:59PM
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Tyutin and Schultz and I will cut ST slack for a year. If no Schultz use Hemsky to get either Streit (Swiss) or Enstrom.

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#41 Romulus' Apotheosis
June 27 2012, 02:06PM
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@Lexi

"Tyutin and Schultz"

yes please!

still need to figure out who is on the right side: Petry, J. Schultz... and ???

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#42 curious
June 27 2012, 02:06PM
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Can someone explain why Justin Schultz would not sign in Anaheim? Should we or anyone else go and chase a kid who will not sign a contract with the club who drafted him?

Something sounds very fishy about this kid to me. Everyone is speaking so highly of him but no one knows why he has not signed yet. Is it personal? Entitlement? Lack of character? Lack of respect?

What is wrong with playing in Anaheim?

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#43 Ryan2
June 27 2012, 02:13PM
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I wonder if Tambi and Lowe are having second thoughts re: the Gilbert trade now. He is pretty much the type of d-man they are looking for again in the offseason. Schultz is an okay #4 or #5 d-man, but that is it.

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#44 Will
June 27 2012, 02:15PM
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Wow, Wideman's rights went for a 2013 first round pick and a defense? That is a crazy overpay just for his rights. I think the money he's getting is worth it. His stats speak for themselves though. He is a top end D, I hope there' other free agents out there we can land to a similar deal (without giving up our first overall just for rights).

Also, what the hell is Calgary doing giving away a first round pick? Don't they need to restock their prospects?

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#45 Will
June 27 2012, 02:18PM
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Ryan2 wrote:

I wonder if Tambi and Lowe are having second thoughts re: the Gilbert trade now. He is pretty much the type of d-man they are looking for again in the offseason. Schultz is an okay #4 or #5 d-man, but that is it.

I think Petry became a better, younger, cheaper Tom Gilbert, so they got back one of the most steady stay at home guys out there, for a great price. I actually see it as one of the better things he's done. Because now if we can get another puck mover (Shultz) and a top four shut down guy ?, then we became a better defense as a result of the Gilbert trade.

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#46 curious
June 27 2012, 02:20PM
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Its a FIFTH round draft pick - not a first. So not as bad as you thought.

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#47 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 27 2012, 02:24PM
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With things not unfolding at the draft the way the Oilers hoped, i can see why they're thinking of gift wrapping a roster spot for Oscar Klefbom to keep him here this coming season.

If Edmonton wins the Schultz sweepstakes i think it could work out very well for the Oilers, forcing the 4,5,6 and #7 d'men down the depth chart. Would certainly make for a challenging first half of the season for Schultz and Klefbom, finishing strong the last half the season would put them a step ahead going into the following season. Throwing them into the deep end of the pool a little earlier than planned could work out better than expected.

If Justin and Oscar can contribute this coming season, a focused effort to land Shea Weber would put all those blueline concerns to rest.

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#48 aeiouY
June 27 2012, 02:27PM
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http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=72672http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=67805

after we get justin schultz, we need to sign Mat Carle!! check out the statistical comparison to Ryan Suter. They are almost the same player... half the hype. One major difference, Carle hasn't played with Shea Weber all along. I'm not discounting Ryan Suter's talent. However, we all know he is not going to sign here. whitney - carle J schutlz - N schultz Smid , Petry

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#49 AndrewMK20
June 27 2012, 02:30PM
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Hey Robin what have you heard about Belanger exactly? Is he not thrilled personally or professionally in Edmonton?

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#50 vetinari
June 27 2012, 02:36PM
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What we need from Tambi for the summer to be at least a moderate success:

* two top 4 defencemen who can each play 16-20 minutes per night without being defensive liabilities, who can kill penalties, and who can hold the blueline while the kids' freewheel.

* a goalie to replace Khabibulin. Dubnyk can be your 1A but Khabibulin should have a restraining order against him requiring him to keep at least 40 yards away from the Oiler's net at all times.

* a 2nd/3rd line centre who can push or challenge Gagner and Horcoff for ice time.

What I think that we will actually get from Tambi:

* a 5/6 defenceman through trade.

* a Khabibulin fan club bobblehead with a handwritten sticker on it that says "four more years" in Russian (suspiciously in Khabibulin's handwriting).

* a depth winger who used to do enforcer duties for another team but due to a concussion/knee injury/whatever is looking for a "clean start" in Edmonton and thinks that we are "on the verge of big things". We will likely be calling for this player to be traded by no later than December 1st because they are either too slow, too expensive or too docile to play NHL hockey

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