QUICK HITS

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.

  • Oilers4ever

    Have fun rockin it out in Minny guys… we will all definately look forward to the details you bring back.

    Personally I really hope Hemsky extends here… injury prone yes… but he’s kinda like Smytty and Horc in that they always wanted to play their entire careers here and that says something about them….

    KLowe was just a dumbass and should have coughed up the extra 100,000 at the time…

    Looking forward to all that scuttlebutt.. 🙂

  • Hey Gregor you will know this one for sure…
    Didn’t Hemsky say prior to last training camp that he was healthy and the best shape he had been in a long time? I am by no means a Hemsky basher, just curious

    • Jason Gregor

      He likely could have said that. I’d never expect a player to say he was hurt prior to camp unless it was obvious. Lots of guys have nagging injuries when a season starts and when I spoke to Hemsky when he left he said his shoulders should be good for camp. We will see, but if they are he might play more than 70 games.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    “People like him, but they aren’t sold that he will be a difference maker in the future.

    Food for thought Oiler fans.”

    this has been obvious for ages. Oiler fans just overrate and hang on to their BFF’s way too long. hence the Ryan Smyth love. just throw a bunch of nostalgia/sentiment in front of Oiler fans and theyre satisfied until the next standings melt down.

  • fuzzy muppet

    Maybe I’ll run into you at the draft. So very excited! Too bad I’m attending with a leafs fan….

    The closer it gets, the more I think the Oilers stay where they’re at in the draft. Past the top 9 it’s a total crapshoot. Unless larsson or Hamilton drops to an acceptable slot, they aren’t trading up.

  • Suntory Hanzo

    Why the need to jettison Gagner? It takes time to develop. I’m not saying he’s a Sedin, but being a OIl fan living in the Fraser Valley, people here were wanting to throw the twins to the wolves after year after year of sweet 2nd line soft minutes. Payed off once they were 28. And he is tougher than both of them. I guarantee he wouldn’t take 5 shots to the face in front of the net from Marchand like they did.

  • The Farmer

    I dont know if Gagner is the answer or not. It is important to remember that most players his age are just coming off their rookie season. Logan Couture anyone ?

  • The Farmer

    Also I sent my Parents to the draft for their 30th anniversary. I will tell them to keep an eye out for you ! ( I know what kind of losers have anniversary’s at an NHL draft )

  • VMR

    Wow Gagner overrated? Trade him? Mistake. He’s too young any too talented to give up on… Let him develop. Gagner is not an issue at all for the Oil. He’s been trying to develop on the inconsistent second line of the worst team (statistically) in the league over the last few seasons. Let’s give him some consistent talent to play with and an NHL caliber assistant to run the offense.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Have fun in Minny. Loved the interviews with the guys yesterday. Nice to have a change up and see what other organization have to say. Will you be doing your show from Minny?

  • Chaz

    Hey Jason,

    I haven’t noticed a retraction from Bob Mackenzie on his Smyth article. Do you think that Ryan did ask for the trade and is denying it out of respect for Lombardi, or did Bob Mackenzie simply get this one wrong? His word can usually be counted on, so I’m not sure what to think about this. Either way, I’d love to see Smitty back either this year or next!

  • Chaz

    Hemsky is not in play yet. An expiring contract has more value in February then they do in June. His health is questionable on top of that.

    here is my question what happens in the fall if RNH plays well enough in training camp to make the team?

    Horcoff, Hemsky and Smyth. Hall,RNH and Eberle.Omark,MP and Gagne. HK,Fraser and Cogliano. Smack and Brule.

  • Hemmertime

    From TSN Re-draft

    After the much hyped Taylor vs. Tyler debate heading into the 2010 Draft, Tyler Seguin has passed Taylor Hall according to Button. Defenceman Cam Fowler, who fell to 12th in 2010, moves up to third on Button’s list.

    “I think this is so much about where the players are going to be eventually and how good they are going to be as NHL players,” said Button. “Obviously Hall is a really good player, but Seguin gave the glimpses of why he is going to be a star in this league.

    “Hall is a powerful player and he is a dynamic player, but you have to keep in mind that a lot of these players have a lot of growth ahead of them. While Hall was ready to play in the NHL, that doesn’t mean that other players aren’t going to be just as good and perhaps maybe even a little bit better.”

    http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=369620

    • Oilers4ever

      This screams why Button isn’t a GM anymore and his opinion is crap… don’t get me wrong. Seguin will be a good player.. but Hall schooled him in the playoffs between the Spitfires and Whalers that year… and Hall had a better regular season by a country mile… As said.. Seguin will be good.. but don’t be thinking he had any say in Boston winning the cup.. he was a bit player… and he was bit player during the season as well.. not dressing all the time.. playing the third line… now Boston has some damn nice centremen too which helps. 🙂
      I’m just saying….

  • justDOit

    Gags is not done yet, but it’s time for him to start playing like an impact player.

    About the only good thing I can say about the Ryan Smyth thing, is that it might be a glimmer of hope that a player wants to come to Edmonton!

    As for Sir Sour Souray, I hope that he gets anotehr year of riding buses, eating B grade team meals, and staying in 1-star hotels. Good on ya, Shellie!

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I don’t know why everybody wants to move Sam Gagner. He had his most consistent year in 2010/2011, aside from the season ending injury. To me, consistency is a strong sign of maturity. If Sam only scores 60 points a year in the NHL, so what? Patrice Bergeron scored 59 points last year in 80 games. There is no team that would not want Patrice Bergeron including the Olympic team. Centre is like defence in that it is possible to be dominant on the ice in different ways. You could be a goal scoring machine like Stamkos. you could be a playmaker that helps your wingers score 50 goals like Henrik Sedin. Our you could be a classic two way centre that wins faceoffs, solid defensively and chips in points like Datsyuk or Bergeron. Sam is just 21 and we don’t know how he will evolve. But it is unwise to focus solely on his point totals. Watch his overall game and make sure he maintains a high level of dedication to improving. I would give him a thumbs up on both accounts for last season.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I don’t know why everybody wants to move Sam Gagner. He had his most consistent year in 2010/2011, aside from the season ending injury. To me, consistency is a strong sign of maturity. If Sam only scores 60 points a year in the NHL, so what? Patrice Bergeron scored 59 points last year in 80 games. There is no team that would not want Patrice Bergeron including the Olympic team. Centre is like defence in that it is possible to be dominant on the ice in different ways. You could be a goal scoring machine like Stamkos. you could be a playmaker that helps your wingers score 50 goals like Henrik Sedin. Our you could be a classic two way centre that wins faceoffs, solid defensively and chips in points like Datsyuk or Bergeron. Sam is just 21 and we don’t know how he will evolve. But it is unwise to focus solely on his point totals. Watch his overall game and make sure he maintains a high level of dedication to improving. I would give him a thumbs up on both accounts for last season.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    According to Nick Kypreos, Bryzgalov has a 7yr 50 million dollar deal. The Flyers will have make a deal or two to make room for that salary.

    They’ll need to move much more than Versteeg for that, maybe the Oil could take Hartnell off their hands as well, or maybe Howson gets his Jeff Carter prayers answered.

      • VMR

        Bryz kinda has them on the ropes though. If they dont give him what he wants then they wasted the picks they traded to get him and he goes to free agency and gets what he wants from any team. I dont see why he signs a deal for anything less than he thinks he could get on the open market without testing free agency.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Agreed, they’d be better to offer Vokoun 12-14 over 3 yrs, i think he’s even a better goaltender than Bryzgalov. The Flyers made a deal so they had access to Hamhuis before July 1st last summer, only to let him walk after they couldn’t get something done, maybe they do the same with Bryz.

    • D-Man

      Hartnell would definitely look good on the 2nd/3rd line in an Oil jersey… I’m guessing you could probably get him too – for a 2nd round pick… I’d also see if they could get Coburn if Hartnell is off limits…

      If Kypreos is right – it’ll be interesting to see what the Flyers will do to get under the cap.

    • D-Man

      Hartnell would definitely look good on the 2nd/3rd line in an Oil jersey… I’m guessing you could probably get him too – for a 2nd round pick… I’d also see if they could get Coburn if Hartnell is off limits…

      If Kypreos is right – it’ll be interesting to see what the Flyers will do to get under the cap.

  • Rogue

    Jason and Robin;

    I have heard some rumblings about Vorachek being on the outs with Minny.Not that the Oil need him, but just curious if my friends info is correct.

    If next years draft is suppose to be superior to this one, maybe moving Hemsky at the trade deadline,(providing health and contract issues jive)for picks would be to move to make. Many factors in this happening tho. I think the Oil should load up for next years draft.

    Gags is needed here for this year, I think. Too quick to pull the pin I think. But I could see him moved next year if size is an issue down the middle.

  • I wouldn’t trade Gagner because he isn’t developing or becuase I think he is a sub-par player. I would trade him because he would net me the most return. If the Oilers make a deal, and expect anything decent to come back, Gagner or Hemsky will more than likely be leaving. These are the types of decisions that separate the NYI and CLB’s from the BOS and DET’s. Steve Tambellinni…let’s see what you got…

    • Jason Gregor

      Bang on.

      The issue is not Gagner’s talent or character.

      The issue is do the Oilers want a slow one dimensional small player at C in the top 6?

      Experience will not make him different, just better than he is now. And there is a long way to go for him to be a top level C. I am not sure “good” is good enough. It isn’t for me – I want great.

      If you looking to build a powerful team, you might want a bigger guy with a broader range of skills, skating being one of them in particular, or an explosive offensive player like Hall or Hemsky at centre.

      Sam is neither of those. 3rd line non-physical centre who isn’t defensive or good at face offs maybe?

      • Oilers4ever

        Right now the Oilers need to keep Gagner due to the overall weakness and inexperience at the center position. However, in a couple of years this will likely change if they take RNH and some of the prospects continue to develop. At that point he will hopefully be a more consistent 40-50 point player that is still young and can be moved for a reasonable (late 1st or 2nd round?) draft pick or in a package to address another need.

        This team needs more speed and size down the middle to seriously compete, both things that Gagner lacks. The worst case scenario is that the Oilers do not draft and develop anyone that can push Gagner to play better or be moved. That would be a big F for the rebuild process IHMO.

        As far as trading Hemmer goes, I would be extremely surprised if Tambi can get good value for him right now. While my vote would be to re-sign him for another 3 – 4 years since he is the most valuable to the Oilers, my guess is that most other GMs would want to see how he plays before spending a decent pick/prospect on him. I hope that Hemsky is healthy, plays the full season, and scores at a point a game rate so if Tambi does decide to deal him he could at least get a mid to late 1st rounder for him. I would not mind seeing the team have another 2 1st round picks (hopefully #5 – #10 for the Oilers and then a #15 – #20 in a trade) next year if the draft is as deep as some of the early comments have been.

  • Little Buttcheeks

    I don’t see what Florida would be willing of offer us. Obviously Gudbranson’s name would come up but if that were the case then we would have to be confident that either Nuge or another center that we grade highly would be still available. I think this draft will be a failure if we do not come out of it with a potential #1 center. To me, that would be Nuge, Huberdeau or maybe Couturier. Guys like Strome and Zibanejad are maybes but I’m not as sold on them and guys like McNeill and Scheifele don’t have the top end talent IMO.

    How did Button’s career as a GM in the NHL go? Not sure why we should care about his opinion.