With the trade of Denis Grebeshkov to the Nashville Predators this afternoon, it’s obvious reports of Steve Tambellini’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Amid scuttlebutt the Edmonton Oilers GM would be among the busiest in the NHL at the trade deadline, Tambellini got a jump today by unloading Grebeshkov for a second-round pick well before the deadline comes and goes Wednesday.
So, does this signal something more substantial than lip service when it comes to undertaking a rebuild after Tambellini went 60 games without a twitch? Is Tambellini going to dismantle a roster that clearly isn’t good enough? Well, the answers are maybe and maybe.
It’s difficult to say because there hasn’t been a hint to be had from the tight-lipped Tambellini so far, NOTHING of substance to read from the beat guys in the dailies. Nada. Jack. Now, Grebeshkov moves.
Without a tip from Tambellini, not to mention the invaluable information I used to get from scouts on the road, I didn’t have a sniff that the Oilers were talking with Nashville. Obviously, I wasn’t alone.
With that caveat out of the way, here’s what I’ve got heading into the deadline . . .
What I know
If I had anything as firm as I did last year when I was told the Carolina Hurricanes were calling for Erik Cole, I’d have already given it to you, but there’s nothing that hot this time around.
The likeliest names to be traded have been out there for awhile now — Ethan Moreau, Fernando Pisani, Steve Staios, Sheldon Souray, Robert Nilsson, Patrick O’Sullivan, Tom Gilbert and Grebeshkov. Not exactly a news bulletin.
Anyway, what I know is based on discussions with NHL sources, as well as other reporters. While it might not be as sexy as some of the stuff on other websites out there, here it is.
- Jokes aside, Tambellini has made it known the players mentioned above are available. He’s been working the phones and pressing the flesh, as first reported by Darren Dreger of TSN. That’s something I’ve confirmed in conversations with Dreger, among others. It would seem, given the Grebeshkov trade, there’s something to that.
- Moreau is being shopped heavily by Tambellini. I was told Toronto was at least interested enough at one point to have VP of hockey operations Dave Nonis inquire about who Tambellini would want for Moreau. I’m told Los Angeles, San Jose and Anaheim are also interested.
- The Oilers and Columbus were scouting each other before the Olympic break. Edmonton had Morey Gare tracking the Blue Jackets, while GM Scott Howson had Bob Strumm keeping tabs on the Oilers.
- I was told Howson asked about Gilbert. Howson confirmed to me he’d had a casual discussion with Kevin Lowe — not Tambellini — but wouldn’t comment on if the teams had talked specifically about Gilbert. Does that talk end with Grebeshkov off the books?
- I’m told the Montreal Canadiens are interested in some of the Oilers forwards, which would seem to back up speculation about the teams scouting each other a couple of months ago.
- The New York Rangers are one of the teams Souray listed as a destination when it comes to waiving his no-movement clause and I’m hearing the Rangers might be interested.
- As a UFA next season, Pisani is drawing limited interest as a rental player mainly because of the health issues he’s had over the past two seasons. I’m told Pittsburgh, as Jason Gregor has already written here, as well as San Jose are possibilities.
- I haven’t managed to find one substantial lead regarding interest in Staios, Nilsson or O’Sullivan by specific teams.
What I think
I’ve been wrong before and I’ll be wrong ago, but here goes . . .
- There’s not a chance, none, Moreau will be here after the deadline. I see Los Angeles and Toronto as the likeliest destinations. I give the Kings the inside track.
- Even with Grebeshkov gone, I’m expecting Columbus and Oilers to at least explore a deal because Howson wants puck-moving help on the back end. Would Howson part with R.J. Umberger for Gilbert?
- I don’t see a fit with the Habs, who are already small and soft up front, despite what I’ve been told. Heaven help Tambellini if he’s interested in one of the Kostitsyn brothers.
- While I haven’t been able to find anything meaty regarding Staios, I’m thinking there’s a playoff-bound team with cap space that might come calling despite the year that’s left on his contract. The best bets look like Washington and Phoenix.
- I’m thinking there’s a chance that O’Sullivan’s name came up in talks with Nonis in Toronto. If the Oilers and Maple Leafs can’t trade bad contracts with Moreau and, say, Garnett Exelby in a swap involving picks, maybe O’Sullivan gets something done.
Despite all the speculation, tire-kicking and the desire for change by fans, I’d be surprised if Tambellini manages to get as busy as a lot of people hope he will.
With Grebeshkov unloaded, I see Tambellini getting Moreau and maybe Pisani gone, but a lot of the other deals being considered might be better dealt with during the off-season.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.