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There is no secret as to what Steve Tambellini’s number one priority this offseason has been: acquiring a goal-scoring LW, namely Dany Heatley of the Ottawa Senators.

It isn’t possible to argue that the Oilers don’t need some more offensive punch; they scored 152 even-strength goals (7th in the WC) and their powerplay clocked in at 17.0% (10th in the WC). Neither of those numbers is overly respectable.

That said, with the Dany Heatley situation currently on hold (and Eugene Melnyk making noises about him possibly coming back with the Senators), there’s no reason not to take some time to deal with other matters as well. To his credit, Steve Tambellini has made some minor housekeeping moves (sending Sestito to New Jersey, adding AHL players) and didn’t leave the goaltending situation unresolved. There is however, more to be done, something evident from a couple of statistics I pointed out last week:

Penalty-killing Percentage: 77.5% (14th in the West)
Faceoff Percentage: 47.9% (13th in the West)

Other teams are making moves. The only team in the Western Conference weaker than the Oilers in both of the above categories was the Phoenix Coyotes, something that Don Maloney acknowledged in an interview published today:

MONIQUE: What do you see as the biggest areas you want to improve?
MALONEY: Penalty kill, power play and faceoffs. We picked up Fiddler for those reasons. Vern is 54% on the faceoff and plays big PK minutes. We need to improve those stats in order to have success next season. Our goaltending has to be better.

In addition to bringing in Fiddler, Don Maloney also signed Adrian Aucoin, who was Calgary’s second most-used penalty killer last season.

These aren’t big, headline generating moves, and I don’t think the Phoenix Coyotes are a model to emulate in most cases, but I do know this: a couple of lower-profile veterans to shore up the Oilers weakest points (faceoffs and penalty-killing) would make me feel a lot more at ease about this team.

Some players off of the following list might be of interest:

  • Andrew Alberts (D): 2:28 SH TOI/GM, 157 hits, 133 blocked shots
  • Blair Betts (C): 2:59 SH TOI/GM, 93 hits, 49.3% faceoffs
  • Radek Bonk (C): 59.9% faceoffs, 6th in QualComp in NSH
  • Chris Gratton (C): 2:05 SH TOI/GM, 58.5% faceoffs, 37 hits (in 24 games)
  • Mike Grier (RW): 2:29 SH TOI/GM, 147 hits, 1.61 EVGAON/60
  • Manny Malhotra (C): 2:49 SH TOI/GM, 74 hits, 58.0% faceoffs
  • Marek Malik (D): 2:45 SH TOI/GM, 3rd in QualComp in T.B.
  • Travis Moen (LW): 2:21 SH TOI/GM, 171 hits, 5th in QualComp in S.J.
  • Dominic Moore (C): 2:19 SH TOI/GM, 75 hits, 54.1% faceoffs
  • Scott Nichol (C): 2:40 SH TOI/GM, 79 hits (in 43 games), 54.6% faceoffs
  • Rob Niedermayer (LW): 3:09 SH TOI/GM, 1st in QualComp in ANA
  • Martin Skoula (D): 2:39 SH TOI/GM, 126 blocked shots

There aren’t a lot of guys out there left; the lower-tier veterans are slowly being signed away, and Edmonton needs to pick up one or two – either via free agency or trade.

  • Hippy

    jeff wrote:

    @ scorecoff hemmercules:
    There is no reason that Heatley should have anything to do with those guys. It would take about 2 hours to sign one of those guys. I highly doubt Tambo spends all day on the Heatley situation.

    So what's the hold up then?

    The logical reason I could think is they are waiting for their asking price to come down… that said, I'd rather give a guy like Mahaltra 2, then the guy 8 spots below him 1.25

  • Hippy

    @ scorecoff hemmercules:
    There is no reason that Heatley should have anything to do with those guys. It would take about 2 hours to sign one of those guys. I highly doubt Tambo spends all day on the Heatley situation.

  • Hippy

    oilerdago wrote:

    You’re bang on JW. The only thing question I have as to why they’ve not addressed this yet goes back to something I think I read a week ago. Have they decided that they need to move more pieces before they bring another contract on?
    It’s the only thing that makes sense as to why they’re not addressing it, other than that they feel that Pouliot/Brule as your 3C/4C are just going to have to grow into because money is tight.

    That would be a lame excuse, if they have identified the third line C spot as an area to address (I'm starting to question if they have) they could easily dump Nillson and use his $$ and roster spot to address.

  • Hippy

    You're bang on JW. The only thing question I have as to why they've not addressed this yet goes back to something I think I read a week ago. Have they decided that they need to move more pieces before they bring another contract on?

    It's the only thing that makes sense as to why they're not addressing it, other than that they feel that Pouliot/Brule as your 3C/4C are just going to have to grow into because money is tight.

  • Hippy

    Another note, do we really need guys like Moen and Grier or any other winger like them? As long as we have Pisani and Moreau do you really think Tambo will add another guy like them? I think it has to be a center coming our way or nothing at all.

    Even a d-man, if they aren't 2nd pairing material I doubt we add one.

  • Hippy

    If I were GM for a day I'd try to trade for Ovechkin instead of Heatley and after I was told where to go followed by "you %^&%^&$%^#$%@%#$@#@!$#(*&()*&!" I would take a look at Bonk and Gratton. Both have size and are pretty decent on the pk.

  • Hippy

    Don't think we need to worry about guys on that list, from what I gathered most teams are thinking about waiting till after training camp to make decisions on 4th line players.

    Could we be the same? Is Brule maybe expected to do well on the dot and help the PK?

  • Hippy

    Agreed on all counts. I'd love for the management to stop trying for the homerun every summer and just focus on hitting some solid singles and doubles instead of swinging for the fences and striking out year after year (sometimes embarrasingly so). Bust ass assembling a balanced roster top to bottom and let the elite talents gestate for a couple years.

    *sends Lowetide a dollar for using baseball analogies and the word "balanced" in an Olers post*

  • Hippy

    due to Heatly cap space requirement the trade should be the option for pk/fo guy.
    i like travis moen more when a duck.
    how about we shoot for this trade:
    milan mihalek & travis moen
    for
    gilbert, nilsson, penner and prospect (s)
    (in light of SJ needing p/m def and fwd depth)

  • Hippy

    This is very frustrating, a big 2nd liner, a true third line center and a proper defensive dman would colectively have a bigger impact then one top end scorer IMO…. and are all far more realistic (re: easy) holes to fill.

    Lets get it together Oil managment, we aren't winning the cup in the next two years, Heatly or not… lets plug some long term holes and get some balance back to the line-up so we can at least be competite while we wait for Gagner and MPS to develop into the high end 1st liners they will be.