MY TWO CENTS ON HALL AND PAAJARVI: A CONTRACT YEAR BURNED?

It’s been suggested by some people the Edmonton Oilers rebuilding plans would be best served by returning Taylor Hall to Windsor and Magnus Paajarvi to Sweden regardless of whether they earn a roster spot outright based on their play during pre-season.

The argument is playing Hall and Paajarvi now burns a year of their entry level contracts during a season in which the Oilers won’t contend. The team would be better off long-term, the logic goes, to wait and have the first year of their three-year entry level deals kick in for 2011-12.

I asked GM Steve Tambellini about that this morning. His answer wasn’t exactly thorough and didn’t really address the crux of the question, but here’s what he said:

"I think every situation is different," he said. "If players like what you’ve seen are playing against NHL players and are comfortable and confident and you think that, maybe there are a few holes that need to be worked on but you can live with that, that’s a different situation.

"You never want to put a player in the NHL when he’s not physically, mentally or skill-set ready. That’s up to them to show that they’re ready to be counted on, on a nightly basis, for Tom Renney and his staff. You have to really treat each situation on its own. Right now, they’ve all looked pretty comfortable."

I get the long-term argument, but after four straight seasons out of the playoffs, telling Hall and Paajarvi to wait a year as part of the big picture might be a tough sell for the majority of fans. They just want something to cheer about, and who can blame them?
 

The other issue for me, and I don’t think it’s insignificant, is the message a demotion sends to not only Hall and Paajarvi, but to the rest of the players in the organization. If performance doesn’t matter, what does?
 

If Hall and Paajarvi are ready, turn them loose

MILHOUSE LASHES OUT

I’ve painted a fence or two. It doesn’t make me a painter. I put out a grease fire in my kitchen once. That doesn’t make me a fireman. I was a little amused, then, to see I’d joined the ranks of Oilers fartcatchers, at least according to a Monday Tweet from Milhouse The Radio Man, after pitching decidedly underhand in a cushy Q&A with Tambellini as part of a season preview for NHL.com.

Milhouse, taking time out from letting followers know what he had for dinner, where he chowed down and when he crapped out the grub (apparently, it didn’t stink), tweeted:

"This is bookmarked for the next time RB calls anyone a fartcatcher or anything of the sort. Not exactly high heat http://tinyurl.com/23mqeq4"

I’ve taken swipes at people — as Jason Gregor, Rob Tychkowski, Ryan Rishaug, Jim Matheson and Bob Stauffer reminded me at the rink this morning — so I’ve got to expect to get a little back now and then. Sounds fair to me. High heat? No. Still, I don’t think my one-off, toothless little Q&A earns me membership in the Fraternity of Fartcatchers and Housemen with Milhouse.

Maybe a guest pass for the weekend, but not a full-ride.

I GOT YOUR HIGH HEAT RIGHT HERE

If Milhouse wants "high heat," specifically where Tambellini is concerned, he might want to take a look through Oilersnation archives from this past off-season. Here’s one example of a little gas, from June 22, with my take on how Tambellini handled the sacking of coach Pat Quinn:

"If Steve Tambellini was a member of the bomb squad with the Edmonton Police Service instead of the GM of the Edmonton Oilers, he’d be nothing more than smoking shreds of DNA by now.

"While Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was busy convincing Florida boss Dale Tallon to drop his trousers in the Nathan Horton trade, Tambellini was no doubt preparing his dissertation to the media after deciding he’d seen enough of Pat Quinn as his coach.

"That little ditty — Tambellini’s pitch that Quinn saw the bullet coming because handing Tom Renney the job was always in the plans and had been discussed — blew up in Tambellini’s face like a satchel of C4 once Quinn later had his say on a conference call with reporters.

"By afternoon, it became pretty obvious Tambellini and Quinn weren’t on the same page at all. That’s no surprise. Neither, given recent history, is that Tambellini fumbled handling the announcement, given he long ago blew off most of his fingers. All thumbs he is."

I’m thinking the above item alone likely scotches my chances at the gold-plated FOFAH card Milhouse is packing. I need not kneel at Tambellini’s feet, or behind him, for my livelihood.

THIS AND THAT

I remember wondering back on Sept. 7 if Stauffer was on to something when he suggested the Oilers top three lines would see Paajarvi playing with Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky, Hall with Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle and Dustin Penner with Andrew Cogliano and Gilbert Brule.

Stauffer strongly suggested back then we’d see these lines and it looks like he did take a peek at coach Renney’s white board. How many people since, especially lately, are tossing out the possibility of the same lines now like it’s an original thought?

There’s been plenty of debate about who’ll take the sixth and seventh spots on defence for the Oilers, and big, tough Theo Peckham is one of the names in the mix for those jobs with Shawn Belle and Richard Petiot. Peckham didn’t do himself any favours when he turned down an invitation to fight from Vancouver’s Darcy Hordichuk.

Saying "No thanks" the first time, on a face-off, is one thing. Doing nothing later after Hordichuk starting running around is another.

AND . . .

— Talk on press row around the rink is there might be a tug-of-war between Tambellini and Renney over Liam Reddox and Ryan Jones. The gab is Renney prefers Reddox, while Tambellini would like to keep Jones, plucked off waivers from Nashville last March. Reddox and Jones will be linemates against Phoenix Wednesday.

The way I see it, Jones had better get something done in his first action of pre-season because Reddox has the inside track for a roster spot and I don’t see room for both of them.

— Tambellini wouldn’t comment this morning on whether he’s talked to Minnesota about unloading one of his goaltenders now that Josh Harding it out for the Wild with a torn up knee, but that’s a phone call worth making, no?
Minnesota beat man Mike Russo, a connected guy, said today the Wild like Jeff Deslauriers, but that doesn’t mean there’s a deal in the works, yet.

— Coming into training camp, I dismissed Linus Omark as a YouTube sensation who had no chance of making this team. I still don’t see where Omark fits, given the numbers up front, but he’s got more to his game than I gave him credit for.

— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.