YAK CITY EXIT?

Lowetide
April 16 2013 06:48PM

With a new GM on the hot seat, you know this Edmonton Oiler roster will not stay the same. Who goes? Hall? Uh, no. Ebs? Get real. The Nuge? Sure--center's a strong spot on the roster---NOT! Not Hall, not Nuge, not Ebs not Schultz not........YAK CITY?

Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts are a "must read" this week for Oiler fans--there's a lot of things to think about for the fanbase in Friedman's article--and it's likely that some of the verbal laid down is actually being mulled over in Oiler offices where the big chairs sit.

  • Friedman: One stat the organization is very concerned about: Their average shot differential (minus-5.8) is worst in the NHL.

We've talked about this through the winter--especially in regard to that 2nd line led by Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. The LW's on that line have been Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi, and I think the exit ramp this summer probably involves one of those 4 names.

HANDICAPPING THE FOUR

If we're betting on which of these men are likely to be sent away, I'll suggest the chances are as follows:

  • 40% Sam Gagner. Smaller skill center with tons of talent, Oilers decision to give him a one year deal last year makes him a tough signing this year (they will be buying free agent seasons).
  • 25% Nail Yakupov. I don't see it, trading a #1 overall this early means you have to be absolutely certain he isn't going to turn into a franchise player. I don't think we know yet.
  • 25% Ales Hemsky. A very skilled winger with excellent skill could be the cornerstone for a deal with a team willing to take on a player with an expiring contract. The value will be less due to the contract, though. 
  • 10% Magnus Paajarvi. He's this low because I don't think his value is enough to bring back what Edmonton needs. Besides, he could end up being that very effective forward Edmonton is looking for right now.

WHAT DOES FRIEDMAN SAY?

The headliner from Friedman is this item:

3. Yakupov: This is purely my opinion, but I think Edmonton would listen to a massive offer.
It's nothing against the player, it's more about circumstance. To get quality, you have to give up quality. If MacTavish really wants to make a bold, aggressive move, this is the name on the roster that fits. But the trade would have to be spectacular.

At some level it makes sense--the Oilers were apparently a house divided when it came to choosing Yak City number one, but in another way it's pure scandal. Trading a number one overall pick means MacT is very likely trading the best player in the deal, and that is not a good way to step into a relationship with a rabid fanbase.

  • Friedman on Gagner: My belief is the Oilers would like to sign Gagner, but their past reluctance to do it gives him the leverage. He's a talented centre one year away from unrestricted free agency at age 24. Here is what the Oilers could do, though. He becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Other teams can talk to him. If one can work out a new contract, is there a trade to be made? If not, Edmonton matches and controls him. Gagner's value provides incentive for a willing partner to work out something. What mix of players/picks/prospects would a team be interested in dealing for a signed Gagner?

I am very much a fan of Gagner, but not this contract situation (not signing him long term last summer, clearly a mistake) and they've boxed themselves in a little. It doesn't mean they will trade him, but it's an option that would not be in the mix had the club signed him long term and reasonable.

ALTERNATIVES?

Friedman's points are well taken and I do understand there's a sense of urgency to get better. However, there's also a little concern about a new GM sending out first overall picks, and I think Craig MacTavish framed that issue beautifully in the PC yesterday.

There ARE alternatives. A low risk option like Viktor Stalberg might fit, or perhaps Raffi Torres (who remains an effective player) could come in and help the group. Should the Oilers choose, the might also take a run at Nathan Horton.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

I expect that old phrase "it's lonely at the top" is true, and that Craig MacTavish--despite his stated impatience--will find a lot of GMs offering 50 cents on the dollar for his gifted Jacks and Kings. A smart bet would be a secondary signing like Torres, a defenseman like Streit and a solid backup goaltender. It might not look sexy in summer, but smart, smaller additions are the route to take with this roster.

Steve Tambellini didn't get fired because of Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Yak City or Schultz the younger. He got fired because the role players were so bad they gave back all of the good things done by the kids.

Craig MacTavish found role players with top picks (Dan Cleary), guys picked at the draft after the suits went home (Pisani, Brodziak) and guys who had experienced waivers (Marty Reasoner).

I have faith he can find those players again without moving Yak City.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Craig1981
April 16 2013, 06:54PM
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I think Yak very well might turn into the best player the Oilers current have. It seem people are willing to toss the idea you can trade him since we are all less attached as he has only played 40+ games. Making trades based on feelings isn't a good idea.

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#2 Rob...
April 16 2013, 06:58PM
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Trading Yakupov would likely end up being one of the worst mistakes in modern Oiler history. Trading Hemsky or Gagner might not net us as much, but I don't see their star potential being anywhere as high as Yaks.

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#3 French Toast Mafia
April 16 2013, 07:01PM
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Of all the young fellas the oilers have why would you want to trade Yak? The guy with the most grit behind Hall. Competes and has some fire, is that not the exact player the Oilers want?

Wait he isn't 6 foot 4...

I don't think any player is untradable for the right price, but Yak is a part of the long term solution, not the problem.

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#4 David S
April 16 2013, 07:05PM
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I'd bet a substantial amount of money Torres will NOT be coming back. He wasn't sent away because of on-ice performance issues.

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#5 MarcusBillius
April 16 2013, 07:06PM
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LT be trollin'

It won't be Yak. Gagner (contract, contract year inflated stats) or Hemsky are the likeliest to go. Possibly both.

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#6 Jay Gray
April 16 2013, 07:07PM
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Unless it's Shea Weber on the other end of a potential Yakupov deal, I want nothing to do with it.

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#7 DSF
April 16 2013, 07:08PM
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As Friedman notes, you have to give up quality to get quality.

The only quality the Oilers possess who will return any quality are Hall, Eberle Hopkins and Yakupov.

Pick your poison.

Gagner might get you a second pairing D but they already have a few of those.

Hemsky, given his lack of performance, injury history and ridiculous contract might get you a second round pick or yet another bottom pairing D.

What else is there?

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#8 Eddie Shore
April 16 2013, 07:09PM
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I would try to sign Clarkson, Horton or Bickell before Torres.

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#9 Ernie Ewasiuk
April 16 2013, 07:10PM
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Looking ahead I would like to see if the Oilers could move Hemsky for Boone Jenner. Big 6/2 205, abrasive, strong faceoffs and scored 45 goals in 56 games- more than Yak or Hall in their last year in junior.Columbus has a surplus of centers and might be interested in a winger with Hemsky's ability.If he could make our team, Gagne could be packaged for a defenceman. If not ,try for size on the wing.

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#10 Jimmy
April 16 2013, 07:10PM
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OEL would be spectacular.

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#11 Aitch
April 16 2013, 07:13PM
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MacT didn't find those players. He just managed to turn 'em into useful role players after their dreams of offensive superstardom were crushed.

But like you I hope his ability to create useful role players is useful in terms of acquiring them as well.

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#12 DSF
April 16 2013, 07:15PM
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Ernie Ewasiuk wrote:

Looking ahead I would like to see if the Oilers could move Hemsky for Boone Jenner. Big 6/2 205, abrasive, strong faceoffs and scored 45 goals in 56 games- more than Yak or Hall in their last year in junior.Columbus has a surplus of centers and might be interested in a winger with Hemsky's ability.If he could make our team, Gagne could be packaged for a defenceman. If not ,try for size on the wing.

John Davidson is not stupid.

They already have two veteran wingers who are both better than Hemsky in Prospal and Gaborik.

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#13 oilman3
April 16 2013, 07:16PM
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i will be seriously pissed if they trade yak. i was a little worried before the season began that he might be too one dimensional and be looking to cherry pick, but i have been very impressed with how his game has already developed and his willingness to battle and get into the tough areas. he's got tremendous skill and if he keeps playing with passion and intensity, the sky is the limit. gagner has had a good year offensively but he and hemsky are the ones to go. i love nuge and they can't have their top two centres that small. i'm sick of losing, but i sure hope we're in a position to draft a big centre this year.

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#14 Gerald
April 16 2013, 07:16PM
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I'v asked before Yak for Seth Jones?

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#15 Shifty203
April 16 2013, 07:16PM
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@DSF

For once, I completely agree with you.

I think another possibility might be Hopkins. If they are intent on winning next year, he may be the odd man out to bring in a larger skilled center. While I have no doubt he will be amazing in the future, Gagner's been the better center this year. They may decide to go with the player who's progress they can track, over the player that may need a few more years, based on this years play.

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#16 Lochenzo
April 16 2013, 07:18PM
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I'd watch what Toronto does. They are stuck with the Grabovski contract, Kadri's entry level deal is expiring and Bozak is UFA. That'll be a lot of money in 3 centres, neither of whom are a true #1. Maybe they buyout Grabovski? But if they don't and Bozak hits the market, this is the type of centre the Oil need. Good on faceoffs, good in all three zones. This type of centre will improve a lot of the metrics that we have critiqued over the year.

If you have Bozak in the bag, then maybe you trade Gagner, or maybe even buyout Horcoff.

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#17 Eddie Shore
April 16 2013, 07:18PM
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Shifty203 wrote:

For once, I completely agree with you.

I think another possibility might be Hopkins. If they are intent on winning next year, he may be the odd man out to bring in a larger skilled center. While I have no doubt he will be amazing in the future, Gagner's been the better center this year. They may decide to go with the player who's progress they can track, over the player that may need a few more years, based on this years play.

I dont think there is a snowballs chance in hell they trade RNH. Although his point totals haven't this year, his play has already eclipsed Gagners who is 6 years into his career. I would be very shocked if he was moved.

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#18 Oilcan
April 16 2013, 07:19PM
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I just don't see how a Yakupov trade makes sense. They need passion and compete they say....Yakupov is probably number 2 behind Hall there (Although Smid battles), they need to get more shots on net....Yakupov is the best shooter on the team, Ebs has better hands though. And Yakupov does not play small he is stalky and hits and can take a hit, he is 40 games into his FIRST NHL season and is 19, he had no training camp and has had limited practices to adapt and learn the system and he came one from Russia so he didn't have any time to adjust to a NA style game. I think Yakupovs rookie season is not getting the recognition it deserves right now.

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#19 dawgtoy
April 16 2013, 07:24PM
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Moving one of the fab five should be avoided, unless it becomes necessary(other options have failed to produce the desired result), or the return is somebody of the Shea Webber ilk. I would not move Yak city. I'd sooner move Eberle, but the return MUST be spectacular. Though I love Ebs, he'll likely struggle to live up to that contract.

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#20 Matt Henderson
April 16 2013, 07:25PM
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I disagree with the venerable Mr Friedman on one key point. NHL GMs have proven time and time again that you do NOT have to give up Quality to get Quality.

In fact, that kind of a trade rarely happens. It is more often than not a quantity for quality trade.

Yak does not have to go out for a legit player coming back. It does mean though that all the 2nd tier players including Petry, Paajarvi, and the entire Barons organization are available.

The Penguins didnt trade Malkin as a rookie to get a defenseman. That's because thinking one needs to trade Quality to get Quality is folly.

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#21 Oilcan
April 16 2013, 07:27PM
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Also Yakupov he is on a ELC for two more years, not advocating an Eberle trade but Yak might have more value at RW then Eberle at 6 million does next year.

DONT TRADE THE YAK!

Yes you have to give value to get value back but why cant we have 4 great players at forward and build around them, Hall is the ceiling at 6 million so even if all four have identical contracts (which probably doesn't happen) thats 4 players for 24 million and the ducks are paying 22 for 3 players.

I have liked Gagners progression but he is the one that is gone, he has great skill but is missing some key intangibles the Oilers need out of that #2 Center spot, he might not fetch a return as big as Yalupov but I could see him bringing in a top 4 D and a 3rd liner. And hopefully Hesmky can grab a strong 2-way centre.

Build the top 6 around Hall, Yakupov, RNH, and EBS.

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#22 Shifty203
April 16 2013, 07:27PM
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@Eddie Shore

Two weeks ago, I would have said I'd be suprised if any of the 4 kids go, but now it sounds like there's a good chance one of them is on the block.

Question is, who? They all have downsides to trading, but one of them is going to have to move to get a significant upgrade in any of the top positions. Realistcally, looking at the trade market for the last couple years, I'm not sure Gag's and the first overall even gets you the upgrade that some fans think we need.

I'm just saying that you can track Gag's development, where as Hopkins can still be considered a risk long term.

If Gag's and the first get you a nice upgrade just for the second line, or Hopkins and the first can get you a bonafide #1 center with size and grit, I'm not sure its an easy decision.

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#23 DSF
April 16 2013, 07:29PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

I'd watch what Toronto does. They are stuck with the Grabovski contract, Kadri's entry level deal is expiring and Bozak is UFA. That'll be a lot of money in 3 centres, neither of whom are a true #1. Maybe they buyout Grabovski? But if they don't and Bozak hits the market, this is the type of centre the Oil need. Good on faceoffs, good in all three zones. This type of centre will improve a lot of the metrics that we have critiqued over the year.

If you have Bozak in the bag, then maybe you trade Gagner, or maybe even buyout Horcoff.

Toronto is interesting but I expect the only buyout you'll see there is Komisarek.

Grabovski, for whatever reason, is not a favourite of Carlyle so he may be available but he does have a NTC.

The Oilers might be able to swing a deal of Gagner for Grabovski but I think they should also try and get one of the Leafs' young defensemen.

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#24 Harlie
April 16 2013, 07:37PM
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Lost In Translation....the movie we all started crushin on Scarjo. Damn you Bill Murray!

And trade anybody but; Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Yak, Jschutz

Lose for the lottery!?

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#25 Oil country
April 16 2013, 07:46PM
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I would be shocked if they traded yak, Gagner unfortunately is the one to go.

I don't think they need to hit a home run. Horcoff could play the 2nd center role for a year, players I would target: Ryan johansen Chris Kreisler Mark MacNeil You might have to overpay a little on the top two but if we could get one of these three in a Gagner package I would be happy.

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#26 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 07:47PM
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If they trade Yak .They will get what the deserved.Burnt.

Trade the center that just sat in front of his net not taking anyone as the Wild scored 1:06 in.It is his 6th year in the NHL,If you does not know to pick up a man in front by now he never will.

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#27 Butters
April 16 2013, 08:02PM
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Trade Yakupov? #@*$ that!

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#29 Butters
April 16 2013, 08:07PM
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Yak scored, better trade him in the offseason. Plays with passion, is coachable and is expendable I guess.

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#30 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 08:07PM
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Lowetide wrote:

YAK CITY

Buried it absolutely buried it.You just don't trade that away 40 games in.You just don't.

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#31 Butters
April 16 2013, 08:10PM
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If they trade Yakupov, I am going to go see the Emperor(DSF) and join the Dark Side.

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#32 Sammy
April 16 2013, 08:10PM
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I think if they do trade a core player it would be Eberle.

Just a thought.

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#33 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 08:12PM
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Sammy wrote:

I think if they do trade a core player it would be Eberle.

Just a thought.

If one of them has to go.He is my choice also.Been saying it for a while now.

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#34 OilersBrass
April 16 2013, 08:19PM
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If Eberle goes, then Hall will be requesting a trade to the same team.

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#35 MarcusBillius
April 16 2013, 08:19PM
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@Lowetide

Shame on you for the sensationalist headline.

Shame shame double shame.

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#36 RexLibris
April 16 2013, 08:21PM
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@DSF

Which Leafs defenseman do you think would be available for Gagner? Obviously Gardiner is going to be mentioned, but what names do you have in mind?

I ask because the idea of Gagner to the Leafs for a defenseman was something I had been thinking of today as well. Replacing the 2C spot is difficult sometimes, but could probably be done this off-season through free agency.

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#37 Will
April 16 2013, 08:29PM
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Meh, not to worried about the wonderkids going anywhere. Mac T said that he's sure every GM in the league is going to be calling to see if any of the kids are for sale. And then he went on to say that the return would have to be pretty spectacular for any one of the kids to move and that he was 98 % sure the kids aren't going anywhere.

That to me says to things, he's not shopping them, and if one goes, something of Weber level proportions will be coming back.

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#38 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 08:32PM
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OilersBrass wrote:

If Eberle goes, then Hall will be requesting a trade to the same team.

oh. and you know this how? Please provide a source.Or are you just pulling this out of your a$$?

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#39 DSF
April 16 2013, 08:42PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Which Leafs defenseman do you think would be available for Gagner? Obviously Gardiner is going to be mentioned, but what names do you have in mind?

I ask because the idea of Gagner to the Leafs for a defenseman was something I had been thinking of today as well. Replacing the 2C spot is difficult sometimes, but could probably be done this off-season through free agency.

Toronto needs a centre.

I would pitch Gagner + for Cody Franson.

The Oilers likely could have had him for a draft pick a year ago (and I suggested it) but Mr. Dithers wouldn't be able to see that.

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#40 Butters
April 16 2013, 08:43PM
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The problem with trading any of Eberle, Hall, RNH or Yakupov is the Oilers and their fanbase endured a lot of pain to get these players. Ebs because of the Pronger fiasco, and the rest a result of humiliating last, or next to last place finishes.

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#41 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 08:46PM
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Butters wrote:

The problem with trading any of Eberle, Hall, RNH or Yakupov is the Oilers and their fanbase endured a lot of pain to get these players. Ebs because of the Pronger fiasco, and the rest a result of humiliating last, or next to last place finishes.

Only one I would trade is Eberle and it is all about the return.Obviously you would need to get someone awesome back.A player that fills a need.

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#42 RexLibris
April 16 2013, 08:52PM
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@DSF

The question then becomes where does Franson fit into the blueline. They need some defensive depth, but preferably someone with a little more experience or a higher ceiling.

I like Franson and was stunned that Poile let him go, but I'm not sure if he would be better than Petry or Smid at this point. Your thoughts?

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#43 Saytalk
April 16 2013, 08:53PM
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I'd put Hemsky's chances at lower than 25%. The cap is shrinking for next season, so very few teams will want to take on his $5M cap hit, particularly given his declining production and injury history. Teams will only look at him when they approach the 2014 trade deadline and can rent him for a minimal cap hit with no commitment for the following year.

As for the other three, I think the odds depend more on what other teams offer in return. I'd be interested in knowing what Buffalo would want to part with Myers, but that depends on what they think of Yak, Gagner, Paajarvi, and on what either team would have to include in a package to even out the deal.

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#44 Closetgm
April 16 2013, 08:54PM
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This is the ultimate saw him good but I was in Chicago for the Blackhawks vs wings game Friday night and stalberg was lights out. If we were able to get him on a reasonable deal I would be all for it. Chicago gotta be close to the cap and this kid is in line for a raise. He is big and takes the puck to the net. Only makes 900000 and has an expiring contract. This is the type of player we need to steal from a cap team.

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#45 DSF
April 16 2013, 08:56PM
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RexLibris wrote:

The question then becomes where does Franson fit into the blueline. They need some defensive depth, but preferably someone with a little more experience or a higher ceiling.

I like Franson and was stunned that Poile let him go, but I'm not sure if he would be better than Petry or Smid at this point. Your thoughts?

He's already better than Petry AND Smid.

6'5" 215

2G 21A 24P +6

Petry and Smid have 12 points TOGETHER.

No brainer.

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#46 RexLibris
April 16 2013, 08:58PM
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@DSF

Offensively, yes. Defensively though, because metrics there can be trickier to discern, is my concern.

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#48 Spydyr
April 16 2013, 09:05PM
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Good on you Brownie.Can't blame Mitchell for not going,His team being up 3-1 and all.

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#49 DSF
April 16 2013, 09:07PM
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Lowetide wrote:

This is clearly crazy.

Hanging on to a bunch of 3's and 4's is what is clearly crazy.

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#50 DSF
April 16 2013, 09:11PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Offensively, yes. Defensively though, because metrics there can be trickier to discern, is my concern.

Do the Oilers need some secondary scoring from their D?

Yes they do,

Do they have any?

Junior, who is already -2 tonight (and counting) has 1G and 7P in his last 20GP.

And 3 of those points came against the Abbotsford Heat,

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