Time for Tambo to make some moves

With just over six weeks until rookie camp, realistically what moves can we expect Steve Tambellini to make before then?

Let’s start with the easy ones.

He will sign Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano, but for how long is the only question that remains. Both have four years left until unrestricted free agency beckons, so I wouldn’t be surprised to seem them get two year deals. Three year deals would force Tambellini to try and re-sign both of them as well as Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Pääjärvi and Ryan Whitney after the 2013 season. That won’t happen.

Once Gagner and Cogliano are signed, that leaves Tambellini with five contracts, and possibly seven if they send Toni Rajala to Finland and Philippe Cornet to junior as a 20-year-old. I didn’t include Hall, because there is no way he goes back to junior.

Forwards: 26

Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Gilbert Brule, Pääjärvi, Hall, Eberle, J.F Jacques, Zack Stortini, Steve MacIntyre, Colin Fraser, Ryan Jones, Alex Giroux, Cornet, Teemu Hartikainen, Milan Kytnar, Brad Moran, Linus Omark, Ryan O’Marra, Ben Ondrus, Gregory Stewart, Chris Vande Velde, Matt Marquardt, Rajala, Gagner and Cogliano.

D-men: 15

Whitney, Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, Sheldon Souray, Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick, Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney, Jeff Petry, Shawn Belle, Jordan Bendfeld, Johan Motin, Richard Petiot, Alex Plante.

Goalies: 4

Nikolai Khabibulin, Jeff Deslauriers, Devan Dubnyk and Bryan Pitton.

What’s next?

It is clear that Tambellini wants to have depth at every position in case of injury. Omark, Giroux and Moran will give them a potential scorer if the injury bug bites their top six/nine, although Giroux and Omark will get a long look during camp. Stewart, Ondrus and Marguardt could fill a void of size, grit and energy.

Belle, Chorney and Petry will be ready in case they need a 6th or 7th D-man.

I really think the Deslauriers $1 million contract ensures he will clear waivers at the end of camp. I don’t see a team grabbing him and paying him a cool million to be their back up. There might be a slight risk he could get grabbed on re-entry waivers, but that is unlikely unless another team runs into goaltending injuries at the exact same time. His contract looks like a reward and a “thank you” from the team, and will lessen the sting of playing in the minors.

Tambellini will sign another veteran before camp, and it shouldn’t cost him very much. Eric Belanger, John Madden and Brendan Morrison are available. The first two would fill the need for a veteran checking centre, but after speaking with Tom Renney last week, I don’t think it is a guarantee that the veteran they bring in will be a centre.

If you’re one who likes to recycle Tambellini could go after Raffi Torres, Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie or Bill Guerin. I don’t think any of them are a fit, although if I had to pick one of the four I’d take Comrie.

Aaron Asham and Owen Nolan are the two guys I’d focus on. I still think the Oilers need some more size, grit and nastiness, and these two could play in the top nine. I don’t think Stortini is ready for consistent top-nine minutes, and I’m curious if Jacques will be healthy to start the season, so I’d like a winger who can bang, crash and contribute offensively mixed in with the skilled forwards. Currently only Brule is a banger, while Penner and Pääjärvi have size to control the puck down low.

This is the area Tambellini needs to address.

The Oilers have lots of cap space, around $11 million, not including Gagner or Cogliano so Tambellini has the flexibility to make moves that aren’t strictly based on salary. He won’t go after a big-ticket veteran (he still has Souray he’d like to unload), and he’ll likely only see him add three (Gagner, Cogliano and ?) NHL caliber forwards before training camp.

If the Oilers surprise many and are in the playoff mix come the deadline Tambellini will have ample room to add a big contract, and I expect him to keep that door open.

He should try to sign one of these guys, and start at the top and work down:

  1. Asham
  2. Nolan
  3. Belanger
  4. Comrie
  • Cowbell_Feva


    I agree that the top of the list should start with Asham. He doesn’t contribute too regularly point-wise, at best a 30P/15G season can be expected, but he brings the team in a direction that it needs to go. Too often Pat Quinn eluded to the Oilers being ‘easy’ to play against, and although Old Elbow had to go, he was right about the Oil being soft. Asham brings grit, fists, and a little accountability, without the glass house injury prone status of a Moreau. I bet a deal would probably be in 4.1 range over two seasons, which is a lot to swallow for the guy. But he can tutor Stortini and Chris Double V, spot Penner from time to time on the top line (much better than Jaques could), kill penalities, round out the fourth line and take care of the kids when big Mac is eating dogs in the pressbox. The price might be high, but enticing a guy to sign a short term deal on the 30th place team takes a little extra incentive.

    Has anyone in the Oilers camp hinted that Asham may be a possibility?

    • Jason Gregor

      Why? Because there is such a big market for him? There isn’t a big market, and you won’t get any player of substance for him. You might get a salary dump at best, you won’t get a player of equal value to Souray. So why does his movement have anything to do with adding a cheap depth forward; It doesn’t.

      • ubermiguel

        Because the salary dump we get back might be that depth forward we need, albeit an expensive one.

        I have no doubt Tambo would be ok getting less value back to clear out the locker room poison.

        It might be a moot argument anyways. You’re right, there’s not a big market, so I’m starting to think Souray’s coming to camp.

      • ubermiguel

        True enough. The uncertainty of Khabibulin and Souray may be giving Tambo pause.

        I wouldn’t be suprised or disappointed if he’s done making additions to the big club.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          The only thing I really want is something that we’ve been trying to get for the past few years. Granted Fraser and Jones may fill that void, I’d still like someone that will fill the need of a bottom six player with defensive skill and some grit.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Also, totally off topic but I was a bit late on posting in your last thread about the Eskimos.

    Any thought of Tillman? Is he even an option or did he get black balled?

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Sadly Rishaug had on twitter that the Oilers aren’t in contact with Asham.

    Nolan seems overrated to me, but I would welcome his leadership. I’d prefer Guerin over him, but in the end I don’t think either guy helps us in the defensive foward position and I don’t think either are as nasty as they use to be. Don’t want this to be a Todd Harvey deal again.

    Conroy is another I’d target.

    Edit: Halpern is another who’s faceoffs and PK would be a decent addition.

    • Jason Gregor

      A few weeks ago Rishaug had they were talking. Things change from week to week. As the season gets closer, players will get anxious and will take something instead of nothing.

      As for Tillman. Optically it would be horrible to have him as a GM of a team, especially a community owned team. He won’t be here as GM. You might get away with him being a quiet consultant, but that’s about it.