ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Talk persists that Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is determined to acquire a second top-10 pick in the first round of Friday’s NHL Entry Draft. While his intent seems clear, the question is how he accomplishes it.
I’ve suggested Tambellini wants to move into a top-five position so he can land Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson after he takes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall, and I remain convinced that’s a move he’s going to try to make. But how?
A group of know-it-alls — Ryan Rishaug and Darren Dreger of TSN as well as Jason Gregor and I — bounced some ideas around this morning in the lobby of the hotel after breakfast.
The way I see it, the most direct line for Tambellini, assuming Larsson is the target, is to come calling on the Florida Panthers and GM Dale Tallon, which is something I’ve already put out there — might the Oilers offer the 19th pick this year and their first pick in 2012 to get the No. 3 slot?
Given how much cap money Tallon has to add just to make it to the salary floor next season, it’s obvious he wants and needs to take on some payroll and will have to do that via both free agency and trade.
In terms of the Oilers, could Tambellini offer Tallon a package of players to get the No. 3 pick outright without giving up any picks and would he be willing to listen to that? Would, say, Tom Gilbert and/or Sam Gagner get the conversation started?
Might Tallon be willing to take a look at a roster player like Gilbert or Gagner in a package with Edmonton’s 19th pick for No. 3? Would that be more palatable to Oilers fans than putting the first pick in 2012 on the table? More important, would that be more enticing to Tallon?
Like I said, Tallon needs to add salary, but the caveat is he also wants to stockpile picks, so a combination that gets him both would seem to be the likeliest scenario for a deal. I’m guessing he’ll have a line-up of other GMs looking to, ahem, help him out on both fronts.
THE COLUMBUS FACTOR
It’s no secret Columbus GM Scott Howson is offering up the eighth overall pick and I’m wondering if he could factor into Tambellini’s plans to take a run at Florida.
Howson wants and needs players now because if the Blue Jackets miss the playoffs again, he probably won’t be around for any long-term plans. There is self-preservation at work here.
Tambellini could offer Howson a package of roster players for the No. 8 pick outright. Again, would Gagner and/or Gilbert get the conversation started? Is that too much? Not enough? I haven’t asked Howson, so I can’t say where he stands.
The eighth pick won’t get Tambellini a crack at Larsson, but could he offer Tallon the No. 8 from the Blue Jackets and his 19th pick for No. 3? Would that interest Tallon, even if it wouldn’t address his salary needs?
Gregor and I will be on the sniff tonight to try and find out because from here on in, now that everybody has arrived from the awards night in Las Vegas and elsewhere, the rumour mill will kick into high gear.
MUSIL AT 31?
Long before the renovations to the Oilers dressing room at Rexall Place several years ago, there was a small room just down the hall from the entrance. Some of us called it Frank’s Room because Frank Musil’s children used to play in it on practice days while dad was on the ice.
Back then, 1997-98, David Musil was a little tyke. I bumped into Frank and his family at a restaurant Wednesday and, suffice to say, David is all grown up. Having just completed his second season with the Vancouver Giants, Musil, 18, a six-foot-three, 198-pound defenseman, is ranked 38th by Central Scouting among North American skaters.
David has the same vise-grip handshake as the old man, the same square-jawed mug and the same flat-top haircut. If he has half the work ethic his dad, who played 797 NHL games, did, he’ll have a long career in the NHL. Which gets me thinking — might that career be with the Oilers, who employ Frank as a European scout?
While some think it would be a reach for Edmonton to take Musil with the 31st pick, I’m not so sure. I think Edmonton might play a hunch and take a flyer on him if he’s still there. While CSS has Musil pegged 38th, I see him as a late first-rounder, right in the range of where the Oilers sit.
DARK HORSE PICK?
If you’re looking for prospect with potential to jump into the first round, make note of the name Stuart Percy.
The Mississauga defenseman is ranked 53rd among NA skaters by CSS, but more than one person I’ve talked to thinks he’s vastly underrated and could move up and into the top 30. TSN has Percy rated 34th.
AND . . .
— I’m told by a reliable source that GM Mike Gillis in Vancouver isn’t content to sit and wait to pick 29th, so he’ll be making concerted effort to move up.
My understanding is he’s put both forward Cody Hodgson, the 10th overall pick in 2008, and goaltender Cory Schneider in play to see if he can get some business done. Gillis will most certainly call on Howson.
— I’ll be attending the prospects luncheon this afternoon before I go on the air with Gregor and I’ll file something from that, Most likely, I’ll talk to Nugent-Hopkins about donning an Edmonton jersey Friday.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.