GDB 60.0: FOUR OR A TRADE?

Let the good times roll.

The Oilers have won three straight, Taylor Hall gave fans some afternoon wood after scoring a natural hat trick v. Atlanta on Saturday and once again you can watch an Oiler game without peering through your hands to see how the horror show will end. Life as an Oiler fan is liveable right now, but when you’re looking at a fifth consecutive spring without playoffs liveable doesn’t equate to satisfied.

Let’s get the necessities out of the way.

The Oilers are on their second-best streak of the season as they face the 7th place (also tied for 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th) Wild tonight, but when you line up against a team with 12 more wins and 22 more points it’s clear you are the underdog. Throw in the fact the Oilers have lost a mind-blowing 14 straight in Minnesota, the odds don’t look favourable for the 30th place Oilers to win four straight for only the second time all season.

SCORE FIRST OR LOSE 

If the Oilers have any hope of winning tonight they will need to score first. The Wild is 24-2-4 when they score first and 7-20-2 when they give up the first goal. The Oilers are 13-7-3 when celebrating first, and they are a woeful 6-25-5 when giving up the first goal.

QUICK HITS

  • Ales Hemsky is rolling with seven points in his last three games, and he was named 3rd star of the week for his efforts. Hemsky and Hall combined for two PP goals against Atlanta and you wonder if Tom Renney will use them together again on the man advantage.
     
  • Hall’s hat trick has people thinking about the Calder trophy again. He will need to have an excellent final 23 games if he wants to beat out Jeff Skinner, Logan Couture, Michael Grabner or Sergei Bobrovsky. Right now Bobrovsky might have a slight edge on the others, but with a quarter of the season left to play lots can change. Couture has slowed down a bit, while Grabner and Hall have picked it up lately. It will be a hell of a race.
     
  • It doesn’t always lead to a momentum change, but when JF Jacques man handled Mark Stuart on Saturday it seemed to energize the Oilers. Jacques has played much better the past three games, and it seems Renney has finally realized his top three lines aren’t productive enough to only play the 4th line five minutes a night. The fourth line has been given more than a minute or two in the first period during the three wins and they’ve been effective.
     
  • Mikko Koivu is out with a broken finger that will sideline him for a month. That is a devastating blow for the Wild and it will be interesting to see if Chuck Fletcher makes a move to fill the void before Monday. Guillaume Latendresse is also at least two weeks away from returning, and you wonder if the Wild have enough offensive depth to keep pace in the ultra-tight western conference?
     
  • Nikolai Khabibulin will start tonight, and Dubnyk will go tomorrow for the Oilers. There won’t be any other lineup changes for tonight’s game, and if they win look for Renney to dress the same 18 skaters tomorrow.

CLOCK IS TICKING ON A TRADE

It was nice to see actual hockey trades made over the weekend. Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to the Blues for former first overall pick, Erik Johnson, and a first rounder was a ballsy move by both Doug Armstrong and Greg Sherman. Some feel the Blues won the trade, but it is too early to tell and i’m sure the deal will be debated for years.

Pierre Lebrun told me that a GM informed him he had phoned Armstrong last week and asked about Johnson and was told he wasn’t available. So it is clear that even when you ask about a player you might not get an honest answer, even if you are an opposing GM.

Yesterday James Neal and Matt Niskanen went to Pittsburgh for D-man Alex Goligoski. I’m a huge Neal fan, and unless Goligoski surprises me I think the Pens won this trade. While it’s exciting to see GMs making blockbuster moves, many in Oilersnation are wondering when Steve Tambellini will get in on the action?

It’s a valid question.

The Oilers have no D-man equal to Goligoski in age or salary, so I don’t understand why people feel Tambellini missed the boat. Sure, he’d love to have Neal, but the Stars needed a puck-moving D-man and Tom Gilbert’s price tag wouldn’t work in Dallas. Same goes for the Avs/Blues deal. It is clear that some GMs are willing to shake up their team and Tambellini needs to at least be part of the conversation. 

If Neal, Stewart, Johnson and Goligoski can be moved, why not Sam Gagner? It seems everyone is only looking at Dustin Penner and Hemsky as trade bait, but why not explore options for Gagner. The Oilers are still too small in their top-nine, which is why I wouldn’t move Penner, unless I got size back, so I’d look at moving Gagner.

Of course there is some risk involved in moving a 21-year-old, because you don’t truly know how good he’ll be, but if Tambellini can get some size, grit or scoring in return I’d seriously look at moving him. Hemsky is attracting the most attention from rival GMs, and if someone is willing to overpay for him, then Tambellini should pull the trigger, but I’d throw out Gagner’s name and see what the response might be.

The bigger question is; Do the Oiler young players have value around the league?

Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi won’t be on the table, but if no one is even calling about Gagner then maybe that is a more telling statement. This is clearly the most volatile trade market we’ve seen in the NHL in some time, and if Tambellini can’t get involved now, then he is either being too cautious or there isn’t much interest in his players.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Despite losing 14 straight in Minny, the Oilers will remain confident and skate away with a 3-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Wild are still boring as hell, and even a four-game winning streak won’t make this game exciting. The 2nd period will be the most sleep-enducing period we’ve witnessed in weeks, but the 3rd will produce a Hemsky-to-Hall PP beauty that will make the 2 1/2 hours worthwhile for Oiler fans.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After hearing there is more interest in Hemsky, Penner decides to amp up his game. When Penner scores his 2nd goal of the game, Sportsnet will run a D-Train image across the screen. During his next hit, Geno will be wearing a conductor’s hat.

AWESOME.

  • @Jeremy

    WTH is that a pic of man? For Shame.

    @Ani

    Of course they stink, they are almost done a hockey game. I chose to support the vets, they went to war for us. Period and Losers aren’t full sentences.

    Ok I’ll stop now.

  • Oilers4ever

    Yep.. midway.. some of us work you know.. lol.. Typical of this crapass Oilers team.. two man advantage that they did nothing with.. and give it up.. well I said 3-0… 4-1 is still a three goal loss… Frick.. my mom could stop more pucks that Boozin Wall.. trade his ass to AA… it’s where he needs to be anyways apparently.. you know.. I went to the game Saturday.. first game all year.. to watch Taylor get that hattrick.. and 3 PP goals.. tell me how this team can be so Jekyll and Hyde with the PP.. oh yeah… Saturday was a mircocosm.. and was not real.. what a joke this time is… talk about mailing in another game.

    • Bryzarro World

      Two of those goals were pretty good and probably couldn’t see them unless Kabby could see through people. The breakaway goal, well, he could have shotgun 2 beer and still had time to dangle in front of him.

      Although he is my goat.. or one of them.. The only way your mom could do better than him is if she is as fat as the net. Is he supposed to score as well?

      Kabby has lost his share of games but this one he was kind of left out hanging.

      Why am I defending him? Maybe that abortion of a comment got me riled. Looks like an eight year old puked their alphabet soup on the screen…

  • Jeremy

    this team can’t win a stanley cup with sam Gagner being #1 or #2 line center…..it’ll still be mediority…..i would try to trade with Boston for their Toronto pick ….. then move up up if Toronto finishes 7th or 8th. oiler should draft RNH and Courtier ..both will #1 and 1A….then trade Gagner…….it’s easier to find D-men than centreman.

    • Oilers4ever

      RNH is a good player.. I’ve watched him for the Rebels many times… However, the knock on him is his size as he’s small compared with Couturier.. so he’d likely be the same type of player as Gagner. People should stop bashing Gagner. As it has been stated many times already, he is the leading point getter from his draft year. He’s not the issue with this team in my opinion.

      • I thought that Patrick Kane was the leading point scorer from that draft year……

        Also, being the leading point scorer in a weak year does not mean much other than the draft sucked.

        WRT RNH, who I have not seen play, is he a better skater than Gagner? This is a big issue for Sam since he is both small and an average skater.

        Also how does RNH do in battles along the boards for the puck – does he seem to win more than he loses like Eberle (or even Omark to a lesser extent), or does he lose them because he does not know how to position himself properly like Gagner?

  • I’ve been saying you deal Gagner IF the right deal comes all along. Trading him doesn’t necessarily mean you’re giving up on him, it just means that you like what you’re bringing back even more.

    • Until the Oilers have a better option at C, Gagner is their highest producing Pivot. Trade Gagner for a Dman and the Oil are depending on Cogliano (next highest scoring C) to score full time in the top 2 lines.

      If the Oil are a sunk ship with Gagner leading the charge, what are they when it’s Cogs?

      I get that the right return means anyone can go. But at what point are the actual needs of the club, more specifically the need to stockpile useful centremen, going to be addressed.

      Get Schenn and draft Couturier and when, and only when, they push Gagner to the side or down the chart should the club move their youngest and most productive centreman.

      • So whose to say you can’t trade Gagner for a C? Or make 2 trades. Keep 1 of Hemsky/Penner & deal the other 1 & Gagner in 2 separate deals – 1 for a C, 1 for a D.

        Hell, maybe Colorado is just looking to dump salary – you deal a package that includes Gagner to get Stastny, then deal Penner or Hemsky to address another need. Add $ in 1 deal, subtract $ in the other. Not saying Colorado would, but who knows right now. Even a Hemsky/Stastny swap would be beneficial.

        • Get the Oil another C or 2. I’d much prefer the Oil actually developing their own centremen or plucking a very young one off another club.

          One out, One in. It isnt enough. That’s just upgrading 1 piece and ignoring the fact that the team is completely missing others. The Oil need more than 1 decent centreman.

          • Pitlick isnt even listed as a Centre on the Tigers’ website. He’s a RW. Does that mean he wont be a Centre for the Oilers? No, but I dont think that counting on it to happen soon is a solid plan.

            Edit: Although Pitlick’s hometown is Centerville. What else could that town produce other than centremen and unimaginative naming conventions?

  • PETER Stastny rips Avs trade:

    “This young team was ready to challenge, almost, for a Stanley Cup this season. They were so good. All they needed was some more chemistry, and some synergies. Instead, they destroyed the team. I mean, that was a one-way deal. Mr. Armstrong will look like a genius. I don’t know what they were thinking in the Colorado organization. I should not have said this, but I’m so, so mad what they’ve done to this team. They’ve moved the team about two to three years back again.”

    http://blogs.denverpost.com/avs/2011/02/22/peter-stastny-bombshell-avs-blues-trade-destroyed-the-team/6586/

  • DoubleJ

    Stastny is exactly what the Oilers need. Stastny as number one, Horcoff number two, Cogs number three, Lander four.

    Whats wrong with that set up?

    If there’s anyway to get a deal done do it. Hemsky or Penner or Gagner + a pick do it,

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

    Has ANYONE mentioned how hot the blonde sitting against the glass in the bottom left-hand corner is?

    HELLO!!!!!!!

    EDIT: I see “Skidplate” (as if that’s your real name) beat me to the punch about 7 hours ago. Well played ol’ chum. You win this round….

  • Skidplate

    Skidplate is Norwegian….

    Are you related to Bermudashorts? I met him in Hawaii. Was Mr. Greenjeans your uncle?

    Always have to keep your eyes open to catch the beauty.

  • Sure Stastny’s cap hit is a bit high but with the cap going up every year (ive heard up to another 3 mil next year) I dont see how it hinders the oilers to have a young BonaFide #1 center for the future.

  • jaicee

    I have to agree with Gregor on this one. Gagner, while at one point the pinnacle of our future, could get us a good, sizable return.

    I love the guy and my decision to buy a PS3 and NHL 08 was because the Oilers drafted him. However, he just isn’t a bona fide centre. He is horrible on the draws and a team worst on plus/minus.

    I’d be curious what the Oilers could get for gagner before the deadline.

  • Random thoughts…

    – I think Peter Stastny has perhaps over-estimated Colorado’s chances this season, as well as how bad that trade was. I didn’t really see Colorado as anything other than one of many in the hunt for the 7-8-9 spot. And Erik Johnson should be OK for them, assuming they refrain from letting him drive golf carts on links around Denver.

    – Taylor Hall would have to average two points a game from here on in to even catch the eyes of the eastern-based sportswriters who comprise a large bloc of the voting required for the Calder.

    Rule-of-thumb-for-Calder-considerations: If you’re with a Canadian team, you’ve pretty much got to set the league on fire.

    Otherwise, the sportswriters in the U.S. will go with the guys they’ve heard or seen more of … and that’s usually teams in their neighbourhood.

    So, yeah, plan on that Russian goalie in Philly garnering most of the votes, followed by Skinner and Couture (or Couture, then Skinner).

  • We’ll see what the next 5 days brings, but if Tambellini is as silent as usual, my inclination that he was hired solely to tank will be even greater.

    If so, how long will it take for the rebuild to start paying off and force Katz into bringing on a GM who can make decisions?