Unless somebody jabs Steve Tambellini in the backside with a syringe of sodium pentothal, the only poop we’re going to get on what the Edmonton Oilers might do by the NHL’s March 4 trade deadline will come from armchair general managers.
And, while those insights will be considerably more humorous than the vague generalizations and mis-direction we media types coax from Tambellini and Kevin Lowe — should we even manage to corner them in coming days — they’ll be just about as useful. Like teats on a bull.
It would be wonderful, and stunning, to have Tambellini tell wags: “We’re burning the midnight oil to move Erik Cole and we’ve got Carolina, Boston and New York lined up as bidders, but the hang-up is all three want Andrew Cogliano as part of any deal.”
What we’ll get is: “We’ll look at anything if it’ll help the hockey club, but we’re not going to mortgage the future. Then again, (insert Lowe smirking here), expect the unexpected.”
It’s naïve, of course, to expect the unexpected — the unexpected would be having Lowe or Tambellini actually tell us what they’re up to. I could never, and I mean never, coax Lowe (or Glen Sather) to show their cards before the deadline when I was writing the beat. It won’t happen now.
So people guess. They speculate. They make stuff up.
This won’t hurt a bit
The Oilers have taken it in the butt more than once at the deadline, but not in the context of a shot of truth serum. So the rumour mill grinds along, fuelled by reporters speculating what they think makes sense and fans, many of whom re-define “wishful thinking.”
“Hey, why couldn’t the Oilers get Pavel Datsyuk out of Detroit for Cole, Riley Nash, Marc Pouliot and a second-round draft choice?” Or, “I bet the Oilers could rent Jay Bouwmeester for 20 games if they put together a package that included Ales Hemsky.” Yes, I bet they could.
From an MSM point of view, putting two and two together and trying to come up with four is part of the gig. From a fan point of view, as hair-brained as the ideas and the rationalization behind them can be, it’s in good fun.
I mean, suggesting the Oilers would trade Hemsky and his bargain contract to rent Bouwmeester before he signs as a UFA with Los Angeles/San Jose/someplace else warm is in fun, right? Same with Datsyuk, an example of quantity for quality by those who think teams can get a franchise player for spare parts.
As far as the pending trade deadline goes, I can break things down to what I think (WIT) and what I know (WIK).
Let me confess from the start the WIT category is considerably more expansive than any reliable WIK because the men who call the shots aren’t talking, and I’m not going to pass off a nightshift janitor at Rexall Place or the dame who used to cut Josh Green’s hair as “sources close to the team.”
- Tambellini is leaning toward trading Cole rather than losing him as a UFA, but that’s not written in stone, which runs contrary to my gut instincts. With a playoff spot in reach, would trading Cole for anybody who can’t make an immediate and equal contribution be seen as giving up on the post-season? Of course it would, even if the player coming here has a contract or is an RFA, assuring he’s more than a rental.
- Carolina, as I said last week, is one of the teams most interested in Cole, and he’d be a plug-and-play acquisition for GM Jim Rutherford. If any team could convince Cole to forego UFA offers this summer and re-sign, it’s the Hurricanes.
- The priority is adding secondary scoring. Duh! Aside from Craig MacTavish stating flat-out last week he needs help up, it doesn’t take a vast intellect (or a conversation with a reliable source) to figure that out.
- While I’d give it a zero per cent chance of happening at the deadline because of injuries to Lubomir Visnovsky and Denis Grebeshkov, I can see Tambellini moving Tom Gilbert this summer.
Gilbert is inked long-term, he has some cachet and could land Tambellini a left winger capable of playing on his top two lines. One from the group of Sheldon Souray, Visnovsky, Gilbert and Grebeshkov can be dealt. With the KHL looking like less of an option, Grebeshkov won’t cost the Oilers as much as Gilbert.
- Lowe and Sather will see if they can do business March 4. They’ve already made two deadline deals: Lowe dealt Anson Carter and Ales Pisa for Radek Dvorak and Cory Cross on March 11, 2003, and he traded Tom Poti and Rem Murray for Mike York on March 19, 2002.
- Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot and JF Jacques are available as sweeteners in any deal Tambellini makes.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.