The rumour mill has kicked into high gear and the Oilers are front and centre in many of them. Players from Sheldon Souray, Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and either of their first rounders have been thrown around, but right now it seems more fiction than fact.
Let’s start with the Ales Hemsky to Columbus rumour.
This one makes little sense from either side. Aaron Portzline, who is connected to the Blue Jackets better than any media guy, confirmed my doubts yesterday when he said the Jackets need a centre, and would have little interest in Hemsky at this moment. Rick Nash needs a centre, and while Hemsky would give them another threat on the wing, he won’t fill their most pressing need; which is strength down the middle.
I tossed Gagner’s name to Portzline, and he quickly replied that Gagner doesn’t seem to be on Howson’s wish list. It is interesting to hear how Gagner is perceived outside of Edmonton right now. People like him, but they aren’t sold that he will be a difference maker in the future.
Food for thought Oiler fans.
I’ve stated for months that I wouldn’t trade Hemsky right now and I think he’d be willing to re-sign in Edmonton, not to mention his trade value is currently very low. Tambellini was asked about Hemsky’s mindset and overall health, and Tambellini’s response sure sounded like he is planning on having the former first rounder at camp in September.
"I had a good discussion with Ales before he left, and he is excited that he feels that for the first time in years he will start the season with healthy and strong shoulders. He has always been banged up and sore in previous camps, and so he is excited about finally being healthy. I know he is going into the last year of his contract and I’m not worried about that, and I don’t think Ales is either. He is going to come back here in early July, and he might take a couple of twirls with the prospects if he is feeling good, which I think would be great. I think he is in a good frame of mind and this will be a big year for him."
RYAN SMYTH RUMOUR
"We’ll get to a spot where people want to come here to play with great, young players, said Tambelllini. "When people start sensing that something good is going to happen, soon or in the near future, then I expect they will want to come here. Yes, I’m aware of the Ryan Smyth stories, and he is a good person, but that is Ryan’s business and Dean Lombardi’s business and I respect that."
Tambellini had to choose his words carefully here to avoid any tampering charges, but he didn’t completely shut it down like he did a return of Sheldon Souray.
I asked him is there is a chance Souray could resume his career with the Oilers?
"I don’t see that as a likely scenario. There was a little discussion (trade) prior to the draft, but I’m not sure what will happen there, and I know that (buyout) is an option, so we will have to make a decision sooner than later."
You can rule out a return of Souray, and if they can’t get a trade done prior to July 1st, I wonder if Tambellini elects to let him play another year in the minors or wash his hands of him and buy him out. I’d like to see the Oilers just move on and buy him out if they can’t find a trading partner.
OILERS AND FLORIDA
Early this afternoon Twitterverse had Oiler fans wondering what the hell was going on, when the Hockey News published a story that the Panthers and Oilers were seriously considering swapping the first and third overall picks.
At Tambellini’s morning press conference he admitted that he’d taken some calls regarding trading the first overall pick, but classified those calls as just "tirekicking" at this point. He expects teams to escalate their offers by Thursday as the draft gets closer, but he stated a team would have to come up with a significant offer for him to move the first pick.
Later during my radio show I spoke with the Panthers’ director of scouting, Scott Luce, and he told me they had received calls from six NHL teams regarding the third pick, but they were only preliminary discussions and nothing serious. Like Tambellini, he expects the conversations to become more legitimate as the draft nears, but as of right now they haven’t had any "serious" discussions about trading their pick.
I don’t see any realistic scenario that has the Oilers moving down to number three. The return won’t be enough to match the risk of dropping down and seeing another team hit a homerun with the first overall pick.
I also spoke to the Avalanche director of amateur scouting, Richard Pracey, on my show today and when I asked him if the Avs would move up or down from the 2nd spot, he confidently said, "We are happy where we are at, and I’d be very surprised if we moved."
ON TO MINNESOTA
Brownlee and I are flying out early Wednesday to Minnesota and we’ll update the Nation frequently with any scuttlebutt that we hear. If you hear any rumour or story that you want us to follow ask us here at the Nation or send me a tweet at www.twitter.com/jasongregor and we’ll do our best to get you the answer.
Enjoy the next few days, and for your sake I hope Tambellini finds a way to land two top-fifteen draft picks.