The transmitter I slipped into Steve Tambellini’s overcoat last week has stopped working, so I’m as much in the dark as everybody else trying to figure out what the Edmonton Oilers GM has cooking going into Monday’s NHL trade deadline.* Anybody got a flashlight?
Tambellini, as we’ve all come to expect, is poker-faced and vague at the best of times, and he isn’t showing his cards right now on or off the record — not with beat writers at the dailies, radio types, the all-knowing national TSN tandem of Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie or yours truly.
That leaves all of us piecing together bits and pieces of information coaxed from scouts, speculating about scenarios and potential trade partners based on wants, needs and salary cap figures and keeping tabs on who is scouting whom.
Even with the most educated of guesses, it’s an inexact science at best. We need only wait until the deadline has passed and then look back at all the creative thinking that was thrown against the wall that didn’t stick to know that.
Tambellini was safely tucked beneath his cone of silence at the 2010 trade deadline and didn’t give us a sniff, but he still had what I thought was a pretty good day — even with Ryan Whitney unwillingly playing the part of James Caan in Misery most of this season.
So, simply put, what we haven’t heard about who Tambellini is talking to and why isn’t any kind of real indication of what he is or isn’t up to. It’s not part of Tambellini’s style to pull aside a veteran scribe and give him, shall we say, a little heads-up on the down-low. Not even Jim M.
So, while I’d much rather tell you what I know for sure rather than what I think (any pajama-clad tapper with a laptop can do that), the former would only take a sentence or two and I’m not prone to making stuff up.
That disclaimer dispensed with, I see no harm in offering up a mix of factual tidbits and hunches, gut-feeling stuff and press-box wisdom (yes, that’s an oxymoron)**
— Like I said Feb. 3, it makes sense for Tambellini to phone Dean Lombardi of the Los Angeles Kings (again) and see if I can get a conversation started by mentioning Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner. The conversation might not end there, but those names, as everybody has cited in recent weeks, are certain to get things started. I bet Lombardi would be willing to listen if Tambellini pitched his choice of Penner or Hemsky for Vyachislav Voynov and Kyle Clifford or Wayne Simmonds plus a swap of first-rounders in 2012 (updated to clarify year).
— With the way the Columbus Blue Jackets have clawed their way back into playoff contention in the Western Conference, if I’m Tambellini I’m picking up the phone and seeing if Scott Howson wants to do business. I’m not sure I like Tambellini’s chances going one-on-one against Howson, who is one smart cookie, but what could possibly go wrong, aside from ending up with Mike Commodore?
— After Lombardi, I’d be looking up Pierre Gauthier and the Montreal Canadiens to see if there’s as much interest in Penner as I was led to believe down in Calgary last weekend. Gauthier, it’s safe to say, will be taking lots of calls. Tambellini must be one of them.
— If another GM phones me and utters the names Jim Vandermeer or Kurtis Foster, Tambellini should immediately shout, "Yes" into the phone before the person on the other end of the line finishes the sentence.
DOT DOT DOT
Any conversation with Howson should include an inquiry about Derick Brassard, who, at worst, would immediately become Edmonton’s second-line centre, and Derek Dorsett, a nasty winger who’d be a fit on the third line . . . if GM George McPhee really is interested in Hemsky, Tambellini needs to find out what he’d be willing to send the other way . . . are the cash-strapped Dallas Stars done dealing? . . . would Lombardi part with Wayne Simmonds (rather than Clifford) as part of a Hemsky deal? . . . the Kings had chief pro scout Rob Laird check in on the Oilers on the last road trip . . . we’ve all heard talk that Nashville is interested in Ladislav Smid, notably from Ryan Rishaug of TSN, and that’s something Tambellini should pursue because Jeff Petry could step right back into the line-up from the AHL and more than take over Smid’s minutes . . . I think Jordin Tootoo, even with his off-ice issues, is the kind of player the Oilers need in their bottom six forwards . . . is Howson willing to part with talented but injury-prone defenseman Rostislav Klesla?
*No transmitter was planted (it was a digital recorder).
**For entertainment purposes only.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.