Blues’ blunder likely ends possibility of trade with Edmonton

Jonathan Willis
July 10 2014 02:14PM

Remember all of those optimistic columns about a potential trade between Edmonton and St. Louis for the No. 2/3 centre the Oilers would love to add?

There was a complication on Thursday, as the Blues lost the excellent Vladimir Sobotka to the KHL, potentially for the next three seasons.

Sobotka

Sobotka was an outstanding centre.

At even-strength, he was capable of playing tough minutes, and despite that consistently outpaced his team in terms of out-shooting the opposition. He wasn’t just an excellent five-on-five player; he played in all situations, including both special teams.

Just 5’10”, the solidly-built (197 pound) pivot was a consistent physical presence. We’ve talked about him as a two-way threat and he was in the truest sense – he posted 33 points in 61 games last season, which is a pretty decent number for a supporting player.

He was also the best faceoff man in the NHL last season, winning 61.9 percent of his draws.

The Blues

General manager Doug Armstrong tacitly criticized Sobotka’s willingness to consider a KHL offer, and implied that the Blues’ refusal to meet his demands had some higher principle at its heart.

“The League goes on. No one person can be more important than the fabric of the CBA,” Armstrong was quoted as saying by Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski.

Yeah, right.

The reality is that the Blues got greedy. That same Wyshynski piece hits the highlights; St. Louis paid Sobotka just $1.3 million per year over the last three seasons, making him one of the very best bargains in the NHL. Despite that, the best offer cited in the piece was a two-year deal with a $3.0 million cap hit.

So when Avangard Omsk came calling with a three-year deal that included out-clauses after every season and a $4.0 million salary (did we mention the tax situation in Russia is better than in St. Louis) this was a no-brainer:

Sobotka did nothing wrong. The Blues played hardball and took him to arbitration, so rather than submit to the team’s demands he looked at other options. He wasn’t under contract, so he was perfectly within his rights to consider playing in another league, and he certainly didn’t threaten the “fabric of the CBA.”

The Oilers

Craig MacTavish9

One imagines the Oilers would have been pretty open to Sobotka, who despite being on the small side has a well-deserved reputation as fierce competitor. The Blues certainly would have been better off trading Sobotka’s rights, once it became clear that the 27-year-old was going to investigate other options. Either the Blues didn’t know he was or they decided to ignore the possibility; either way, it was a blunder that cost them the loss of an excellent player for nothing.

That bad news isn’t just that Edmonton doesn’t have a shot at Sobotka now, but also that this makes it more difficult for the Blues to deal a centre. Sure, they signed Steve Ott, who turns 32 next month; he’s another combative, undersized pivot but he’s at the wrong end of his career curve and was awfully ineffective both in Buffalo and St. Louis last season. He’s much more of a gamble than Sobotka, and with the heightened risk comes the increased probability that the Blues would be reluctant to deal one of their other centremen.

There aren’t a lot of teams out there who might be willing to deal a centre; this doesn’t help.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Dan 1919
July 10 2014, 06:36PM
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Greg the Hammer Valentine wrote:

The Islanders have Tavares, Strome, Grabovski, Bailey, Nielsen and Brock Nelson. They are also in dire need of a defenseman. Would Petry get us Bailey? Of course, if the Oilers trade Petry, then our defense sucks again. There's no easy solution for that 2C spot.

Lol, "sucks again." You must of watched different games than I did, the Oilers defense sucked all year last year even when Petry was there.

Petry at best brings mediocre offensive upside and playmaking ability. I do not believe anyone ever said he was actually good defensively, because he's not; he's actual a liability in his own zone.

Now that Petry has overvalued himself and refused to sign MacT's multi year deal, trade him for anything you can get before he leaves for free agency. If we didn't want to overpay for him this year, we certainly won't next year when he's open up to the UFA offers.

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#52 Randaman
July 10 2014, 06:41PM
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yegCopywriter wrote:

Ryan O'Reilly contract talks have broken down: http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_26124572/ryan-oreilly-avs-likely-headed-arbitration-after-talks

He'd be absolutely perfect for Edmonton for many years.

Let Colorado choose any Oilers d-man (roster or prospect), their choice of Lander/Arcobello to help fill the gap, and a 2nd round pick. That could be enough to pry him away.

Don't mean to be rude but do you actually watch hockey?? Joe Sakic is not stupid enough to even consider that type of return for a Selke finalist. Eberle or Yak + Petry might though. Too bad Omark is gone, I'm sure Joe would jump at that. LOL

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#53 Craig1981
July 10 2014, 06:42PM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

Lol, "sucks again." You must of watched different games than I did, the Oilers defense sucked all year last year even when Petry was there.

Petry at best brings mediocre offensive upside and playmaking ability. I do not believe anyone ever said he was actually good defensively, because he's not; he's actual a liability in his own zone.

Now that Petry has overvalued himself and refused to sign MacT's multi year deal, trade him for anything you can get before he leaves for free agency. If we didn't want to overpay for him this year, we certainly won't next year when he's open up to the UFA offers.

lots of players sign months or days before they head to UFA land. I'm not sure he stays, but I am not sure he goes.

And I wouldn't say he overvalues himself, he is just confident he can have a solid season, I don't mind that.

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#54 Randaman
July 10 2014, 06:45PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

lots of players sign months or days before they head to UFA land. I'm not sure he stays, but I am not sure he goes.

And I wouldn't say he overvalues himself, he is just confident he can have a solid season, I don't mind that.

So you're willing to risk losing him for nothing? Not me

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#55 Wax Man Riley
July 10 2014, 07:04PM
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MacTastic wrote:

Indeed, and I still prefer this scenario.

As I recall, it wasn't long ago when it was Oilers management regularly shooting the team in the foot. Glad to know we're not the cash-strapped, short-sighted managers any more. Or at the very least, that there are other teams making similar goof-ups.

Beware Eakins. You destroy Yakupov, and you shall not be forgiven.

I can't stand the "Eakins destroying Yakupov" talk. He is a teenager playing a man's game and he look like a teenager playing a man's game. He is on record saying "skating all the time and back checking and hitting people isn't my game,"

Ummmm.... What?

This is the NHL. If he doesn't want to play real hockey and wants to bolt to the KHL because he has to work too hard, then he is simply a spoiled brat.

Eakins is giving him the tools he needs to be a great player. If Yak doesn't want them or doesn't want to listen, then so be it. Brat.

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#56 The Last Big Bear
July 10 2014, 07:09PM
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I still find it odd that Edmonton let Horak walk.

A two-way centre, had already proven himself as a 3rd line checking centre in the Big Show with 82 NHL games under his belt by age 21. He showed consistent year-on-year offensive improvement, producing at a hair under a point-per-game in the AHL last year and finishing as one of the top scorers in OKC despite playing in only 50-ish games.

I know most Oilers fans never really saw him, except maybe a few games when he was Calgary's 3C, so I'm not surprised that the fan base didn't really react when he walked to the KHL.

But the kid is a quality young prospect in a position of dire need for the team, and I'm pretty surprised they let him slip through their fingers like that. Especially after giving up Smid to get him.

But to be honest, everything about that whole Smid trade was bizarre altogether.

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#57 Craig1981
July 10 2014, 07:14PM
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Randaman wrote:

So you're willing to risk losing him for nothing? Not me

I would try and wait till trade deadline for Petry. You know more where Musil, Simpson, Kelbom, Nurse, and Marcin are. You also can factor in where you are in the playoff race. If you have a viable replacement and he doesn't fit or you can't get a contract done you trade him (as long as you don't need him for the playoff race). No sense rushing, and many good teams lose player for nothing.

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#58 Craig1981
July 10 2014, 07:15PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

I still find it odd that Edmonton let Horak walk.

A two-way centre, had already proven himself as a 3rd line checking centre in the Big Show with 82 NHL games under his belt by age 21. He showed consistent year-on-year offensive improvement, producing at a hair under a point-per-game in the AHL last year and finishing as one of the top scorers in OKC despite playing in only 50-ish games.

I know most Oilers fans never really saw him, except maybe a few games when he was Calgary's 3C, so I'm not surprised that the fan base didn't really react when he walked to the KHL.

But the kid is a quality young prospect in a position of dire need for the team, and I'm pretty surprised they let him slip through their fingers like that. Especially after giving up Smid to get him.

But to be honest, everything about that whole Smid trade was bizarre altogether.

They never let him walk, they still own his rights.

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#59 Frankenstein
July 10 2014, 07:55PM
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Please trade Schultz for that center before the rest of the league figures out what he is and losses all value

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#60 Walter White
July 10 2014, 08:29PM
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Have any of you cream puffs been able to find any evidence yet that RNH was able to do a pull up during his combine?

Bennett will dominate him for 10 years........

WW

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#61 yegCopywriter
July 10 2014, 08:38PM
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It's always entertaining when the same trade proposal generates both "ridiculous overpayment" and "you're gonna need way more than that" comments.

I side closer to the "more than that" side. Nurse and Schultz have pretty significant value. Maybe the 2015 2nd needs to be a 2016 1st and you might need to add another asset like a Musil/Gernat/Simpson on top of Lander/Arcobello, but that package seems fair if Colorado is looking to keep salary down.

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#62 etownman
July 10 2014, 08:45PM
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@Walter White

Troll!!

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#63 nuge2nail
July 10 2014, 09:08PM
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Walter White wrote:

Have any of you cream puffs been able to find any evidence yet that RNH was able to do a pull up during his combine?

Bennett will dominate him for 10 years........

WW

Oiler Domination To Follow

Yes Bennett will be the most dominant center the NHL has seen in years... He will be the next Sydney Crosby...

We get it you love him and Hopkins sucks...

You are clearly very intelligent...

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#64 madjam
July 10 2014, 09:10PM
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Most of the teams in our conference have 6-10 Centers on their rosters , while we have currently 3 listed . Most teams are seemingly using centers as wingers as well . We do have many in system , however . Most upper teams are loaded on RW as compared to LW . We seem to be more left orientated . Any correlation here we should be aware of ?

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#65 madjam
July 10 2014, 09:25PM
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AHL going to new format test for overtime that NHL might implement the next season after this year. 7 minute overtime 4 on 4 for first 3 minutes , and reduced to 3 on 3 with first whistle after 3 minutes for last 4 minutes . Do you think this would be beneficial to our squad ? Trash for No , Cheers for YES .

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#66 Craig1981
July 10 2014, 09:31PM
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madjam wrote:

AHL going to new format test for overtime that NHL might implement the next season after this year. 7 minute overtime 4 on 4 for first 3 minutes , and reduced to 3 on 3 with first whistle after 3 minutes for last 4 minutes . Do you think this would be beneficial to our squad ? Trash for No , Cheers for YES .

The NHL union is a huge hurdle in this. They are very weary of adding an extra 5 min to the overtime. It might not seem like much, but when teams often fly out to other cities as soon as they undress, players don't want to have to spend 2.5 min on the ice and maybe 10 more min in total time.

Complain all you want about spoiled players, its their right to refuse.

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#67 OilPain
July 10 2014, 09:34PM
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madjam wrote:

Most of the teams in our conference have 6-10 Centers on their rosters , while we have currently 3 listed . Most teams are seemingly using centers as wingers as well . We do have many in system , however . Most upper teams are loaded on RW as compared to LW . We seem to be more left orientated . Any correlation here we should be aware of ?

10 centres on one team? What have you been smoking? There's only 14 spots (usually, depending on how many forwards and d-men are kept on the roster). There is no way that a team would have so few natural wingers. Go to rehab. You're a mess.

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#68 The Last Big Bear
July 10 2014, 09:45PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

They never let him walk, they still own his rights.

Uh huh.

And Ak-Bars Kazan owns Taylor Hall's KHL rights.

Owning Horak's NHL rights is going to be about as useful to the Oilers as Hall's rights will be to Ak-Bars.

The player has no contract with the club, and has chosen to sign a contract with a different team, in a different league.

He's gone.

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#69 madjam
July 10 2014, 09:59PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

The NHL union is a huge hurdle in this. They are very weary of adding an extra 5 min to the overtime. It might not seem like much, but when teams often fly out to other cities as soon as they undress, players don't want to have to spend 2.5 min on the ice and maybe 10 more min in total time.

Complain all you want about spoiled players, its their right to refuse.

It is only a seven minute overtime and 2 minutes longer than now with hopes with 3 on 3 to reduce need for shootouts . I like that new format .

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#70 madjam
July 10 2014, 10:03PM
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OilPain wrote:

10 centres on one team? What have you been smoking? There's only 14 spots (usually, depending on how many forwards and d-men are kept on the roster). There is no way that a team would have so few natural wingers. Go to rehab. You're a mess.

The info comes from NHL.com under each teams current rosters . Check it out for yourself , as that's what listed . Then maybe you could make a better reply based on that information .

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#71 nuge2nail
July 10 2014, 10:13PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Uh huh.

And Ak-Bars Kazan owns Taylor Hall's KHL rights.

Owning Horak's NHL rights is going to be about as useful to the Oilers as Hall's rights will be to Ak-Bars.

The player has no contract with the club, and has chosen to sign a contract with a different team, in a different league.

He's gone.

Oiler Domination To Follow

No one cares about Horak.

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#72 kab
July 10 2014, 10:17PM
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@Wax Man Riley

That's my take on him too. This whole "I like to score goals is the hockey I like to play" bit came off as a spoiled kid that was never told NO by his Mom. Then the veiled threat from the agent that KHL teams are interested. Maybe in junior team was spelled with an I in it somewhere but not in the big show. Good player - yes, great player - we'll see. He can't skate around everyone on the ice like juniors cause the players are just better. Gonna have to learn a team game soon

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#73 clyde
July 10 2014, 10:56PM
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yegCopywriter wrote:

It's always entertaining when the same trade proposal generates both "ridiculous overpayment" and "you're gonna need way more than that" comments.

I side closer to the "more than that" side. Nurse and Schultz have pretty significant value. Maybe the 2015 2nd needs to be a 2016 1st and you might need to add another asset like a Musil/Gernat/Simpson on top of Lander/Arcobello, but that package seems fair if Colorado is looking to keep salary down.

So, if you were Colorado, you would trade O'Reilly who is an all round center scoring much higher than any current Oiler center for Musil ( who sounds less and less like an NHL player), Lander ( who may turn into a 3rd liner) and a pick? And, then watch this player kill you for 10 years?

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#74 The Last Big Bear
July 10 2014, 11:06PM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

No one cares about Horak.

Of course they don't.

That's why we're in a thread about a non-trade, that was never even actually rumored, to move assets the Oilers cant afford, and the other team doesn't need, for a depth centre who just signed in the KHL.

Because the Oilers are just THAT stacked at centre ice.

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#75 Hockey viking
July 10 2014, 11:23PM
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First about the overtime issue. I do not think that the team concept should be taken out of the game--like Basketball which is more about the individual stars on teams than the teams. Therefore I feel that overtime should be 5-7 minutes 6 on 6 unless penalties have occurred. Lets get back to the joy of having "unsung heroes" deciding games rather than the expected stars--it make everyone feel like they have had an opportunity to contribute and be recognized when they do so.

Second, I am hoping that the Oilers are looking in the Swedish Elite League or the Finnish or Czech leagues for possible help @ centre. No rock should go unturned....this summer

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#76 Craig1981
July 11 2014, 02:57AM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

Uh huh.

And Ak-Bars Kazan owns Taylor Hall's KHL rights.

Owning Horak's NHL rights is going to be about as useful to the Oilers as Hall's rights will be to Ak-Bars.

The player has no contract with the club, and has chosen to sign a contract with a different team, in a different league.

He's gone.

OK, major differences.

-Taylor Hall is playing in his home country. -Roman Horak's will be playing for a Russian club, he isn't at home playing in the KHL (he is Czech)

-Taylor Hall is playing in the bast league in the world - Roman Horak, is not

-Taylor Hall is playing in the same country he played is junior hockey in -Roman Horak is not. He played in the WHL (presume he must have some interest in NA)

-Taylor Hall ha never played for a club league in an KHL country -Roman Horak has played the last 5 years in North America.

I'm not sure Roman Horak comes back, but I do know for sure you don't know he won't. There are many players that have returned to the NHL and he did only sign a one way contract. Below is an interesting read on why many players come back.

http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2012/01/06/khl_gunslinging_owners_drugs_dodgy_air_travel_all_part_of_the_game.html

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#77 The Last Big Bear
July 11 2014, 06:07AM
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Craig1981 wrote:

OK, major differences.

-Taylor Hall is playing in his home country. -Roman Horak's will be playing for a Russian club, he isn't at home playing in the KHL (he is Czech)

-Taylor Hall is playing in the bast league in the world - Roman Horak, is not

-Taylor Hall is playing in the same country he played is junior hockey in -Roman Horak is not. He played in the WHL (presume he must have some interest in NA)

-Taylor Hall ha never played for a club league in an KHL country -Roman Horak has played the last 5 years in North America.

I'm not sure Roman Horak comes back, but I do know for sure you don't know he won't. There are many players that have returned to the NHL and he did only sign a one way contract. Below is an interesting read on why many players come back.

http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2012/01/06/khl_gunslinging_owners_drugs_dodgy_air_travel_all_part_of_the_game.html

Yes, I am aware of those factors, and you are correct on all counts.

All of which just further emphasize my point, that it is highly unusual that the Oilers couldn't or didn't sign the kid.

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#78 Joe Mamma
July 11 2014, 06:19AM
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Walter White wrote:

Have any of you cream puffs been able to find any evidence yet that RNH was able to do a pull up during his combine?

Bennett will dominate him for 10 years........

WW

Can someone squash this guy with the ban hammer already? Irrelevant antagonistic posts with the sole purpose of getting a rise out of the board. The very definition of a troll.

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#79 Jacques Strap
July 11 2014, 07:28AM
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Joe Mamma wrote:

Can someone squash this guy with the ban hammer already? Irrelevant antagonistic posts with the sole purpose of getting a rise out of the board. The very definition of a troll.

Delusional Cowtown clowns. I'm surrounded by them. I had one actually tell me the Flamers were going to the second round next season. I think he may have been kicked by his horse too many times.

I hate living here.

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#80 yegCopywriter
July 11 2014, 08:09AM
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@clyde

You missed the main piece, which is Schultz or Nurse.

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#81 pelhem grenville
July 11 2014, 08:24AM
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For Craig1981

...he IS the cross bearer of all things McJesus

Q's a beauty

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#82 Clyde
July 11 2014, 10:04AM
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yegCopywriter wrote:

You missed the main piece, which is Schultz or Nurse.

Ok, let's add one of those. I don't think that gets it done. Not for a 23 year old who will be he number 1 center. Nurse and Schultz aren't really highly rated outside of edm right now and a 2016 1st isn't either as the oilers would be much better by then with oreilly.

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#83 Don W
July 11 2014, 09:17PM
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I actually like the shootout so I'm not convinced that they need to fix the game by having a 3 on 3 overtime. It feels just as gimmicky but without the skill that you could see in the shootout. I don't know maybe 3 on 3 will be amazing but I know I never turned the channel when a shootout was coming up.

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