What are the chances Ales Hemsky and Nikolai Khabibulin are moved by the Edmonton Oilers by the NHL trade deadline? I don’t know for sure, but their names came up in a conversation today between two people I trust, so I’m paying attention.
Of course, Hemsky’s name has been the subject of untold speculation for months, some might say years, so hearing his name come up today as being moved along is hardly stop-the-presses material. Likewise, fans around here and elsewhere have mentioned Khabibulin, even if much of the talk falls into the category of wishful thinking.
But when long-time Ottawa Sun beat man Bruce Garrioch, one of a handful of people in the hockey writing business I consider to be in the know, mentions Hemsky and Khabibulin, as he did today in a segment on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer on 630 CHED, I put considerably more weight in it than I do in garden variety what-if talk offered up by fans and outsiders pretending to have inside info.
Yes, Garrioch throws a lot of stuff against the wall to see what sticks – that’s part of his mandate and comes with filling with his widely read weekend column – but I made and took enough calls from him over the years while working the beat to know he’s got a pretty good grasp of what’s going on.
Just one example of that came at the NHL Entry Draft in Nashville when Garrioch strongly suggested I look into the possibility all was not right between the Oilers and Mike Comrie – that was months before the crap hit the fan between No. 89 and then GM Kevin Lowe, but I digress . . .
MOST LIKELY TO MOVE
Today, Stauffer, who is more in the know than anybody in this town by a long shot when it comes to the Oilers, asked Garrioch who he’d list as most likely to move between now and the deadline Feb. 27.
Garrioch mentioned seven players, including Hemsky and Khabibulin on his list with Tuomo Ruutu, Tim Gleason, Jaroslav Spacek, Bryan Allen – Jason Gregor and I talked this quartet from the Carolina Hurricanes on his show at TEAM 1260 Wednesday – and Bobby Ryan of Anaheim. I’d also add Andy Sutton to that list, but neither Garrioch nor Stauffer brought his name up.
With Hemsky approaching unrestricted free agency, it’s a no-brainer he’s grist for the rumor mill. I have no doubt Tambellini will shop him. The only question is how aggressively, and who returns his calls.
What got my attention, given his age and what would seem a very limited list of teams in the market, was Garrioch’s insistence Khabibulin will be in play, which leads me to believe he’s heard something.
With 33 days until the deadline, the buzz, guesswork and speculation will increase once the all-star game is done. For fans, that means throwing out scenarios and wish-lists of acquisitions (often one-sided deals that will help their team). For reporters, it means working the phones and checking with agents to get an inside track on what’s likely to happen. The scribes on top of things, like Garrioch, have already made a lot of those calls.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.