Slow Train Coming

The prophecy for this trade deadline suggested lots of movement in Edmonton. As one of the few teams clearly out of the playoff race, it was thought that the club would be active. Now? It’s a moving target.

Things can change in a quick hurry and that is the case of the Edmonton Oilers over the last 6 weeks. In early January I discussed the trade deadline options and came up with a trio of candidates for offloading: Ales Hemsky, Andy Sutton and Nikolai Khabibulin.

As it turned out, the organization must have taken stock of what was available to replace Hemsky in-house and decided against elevating Linus Omark or Teemu Hartikainen to a feature role. It was a wise decision; although those players may one day have NHL jobs they were a long way from being able to replace Hemsky and the things he brings to the rest of the roster.

Hemsky’s gifts allow the team to play him against tougher opponents and still get offense at 5×5. It’s a tough gig, one that Jordan Eberle may one day occupy. However, Hemsky’s presence allows #14 to kick the daylights out of the softer opposition (and that’s no easy task, either) and means RW is settled for the Oilers top 2 lines through spring 2014.

According to our friends at behind the net, the Oilers send Hemsky out against the toughest competition, followed by Eberle, Ryan Jones and Lennart Petrell. I’m not sure what the 3-4 RW’s will look like next season, but that’s a very nice 1-2 punch.


It could be slow for Oilers fans on Monday, but there are some candidates to go:

  • Ryan Jones: Winger has been scratched the last couple of games but has experience, grit and can score goals. He’s exactly the player type that gets added for depth at the deadline.
  • Theo Peckham: The emergence of Jeff Petry and the return of the injured veterans gives the Oilers options. Signing Andy Sutton would appear to put Teddy Peckman’s future in at least a little doubt.
  • Ben Eager: The big man took some time to find his way as an Oiler, but his size/speed combined with a little offensive ability means he might be a player of interest.
  • Eric Belanger: I know, he hasn’t been effective for much of the season, but Belanger’s track record as a 2-way center who can PK might be enough to attract NHL teams looking for that type of player.
  • Nikolai Khabibulin: I suggested this in January and was met with some derision, but if an NHL needs a goaltender badly enough it might happen. Extreme longshot, though. He’s been going the wrong way since the early hot streak.

There’s no Hemsky, that’s true. However, Oiler fans should stay tuned this weekend and on Monday. As we’ve seen with the Hemsky situation, things can change in a heartbeat.


The Oilers signing of Hemsky gives the team another NHL veteran who can play against tough competition. They don’t grow on trees and God knows the Oilers haven’t had enough of them since 2006 spring. And one final thing: a hat tip to our own Jason Gregor, who wrote an item that basically called the shot here at Oilers Nation earlier in the week that laid it all out re: Hemsky as it would eventually go down.

Nation Radio hits the airwaves today at noon on Team 1260. Guests scheduled to appear:

  • Terry Jones from the Edmonton Sun and perhaps the hottest twitter account in Edmonton. Terry will help us put this week into perspective and I’ll ask him how he sees the trade deadline working out with 83’s signing.
  • Kent Wilson from Flames Nation. Kent always gives a unique perspective on the Flames and all things NHL. We’ll discuss the Flames week, what Jay Feaster might do if they let him near the telephone and that tweet about Hemsky from Flames official site.
  • Richard Pollock from Illegal Curve. The Jets have been such an interesting story and arrive at the deadline as a clear buyer. I’ll ask Richard what that might mean for Jets fans over the next 72 hours.
  • James Mirtle from the Globe and Mail. James will handle the Leafs portion of the deadline drama, and that could fill an hour but we’ll only have 15 minutes. I’ll also ask James about an interesting article about what it’s like to get traded at the deadline.
  • David Staples from the EJ’s Cult of Hockey. David always has a unique opinion and backs it up with logic and reason. I’m looking forward to his view of the Oilers at the deadline.
  • Cam Charron from Canucks Army. Vancouver is the one Canadian team that could stand pat and still deliver an impressive playoff 23, but from the sounds of things they will be active.

Emails welcome at or you can leave items in the comments section here. I’m also @lowetide_ on twitter and @ItsNationRadio. Should be fun.



  • stevezie

    What an odd situation: we’d have been buggered without him but we’re awesome with him (or someone like him, but who else would come?) There was no middle ground.

  • Lowetide

    Well the good thing is that ST enters the summer with a much shorter shopping list. I know Belanger has been subpar and that it took Eager some time to show his abilities, but along with Sutton and Potter (plus RNH) some problems got solved last summer.

    Now he can look to adding a defender who can play tough minutes (and another if Whitney can’t play at his previous levels) and then goaltending. Plus it would be nice to add some size/skill up front.

    So, that’s three items instead of six.

  • shanetrain

    Although not happy at all with Hemsky signing, I just keep telling myself its only for two more years. Making the same money as Kesler, Neal and Patrice Bergeron?! WOW.

    If they get rid of Eager I may have to shut myself down for the rest of the year.

    I don’t see Omarks name on that list. Might as well kiss him goodbye with Peckham and Khabibulin.

  • stevezie

    What are the odds that Ol’ Kent Wilson actually shows some contrition for that Flames tweet? I bet it goes something like:

    “Weeeeeeelll, the tweet maybe possibly wasn’t, uh, the best, but uh, look at the numbers! Hemsky signing bad! duh duh duh” (for the next ten minutes)

    Such a homer.

  • Starving Student

    Why is there so much hate for Ales Hemsky signing for 2yrs/10mil? When he signed his last contract, he was due to be paid a MAX salary of 4.5mil (4.5, 4.4, 3.6, 3.6, 3.5 respectively). He signed in 2006! Most of us want our raises to be inline with inflation, take that into consideration and his MAX salary of 4.5mil would actually be worth 5.02mil! He’s NOT getting a raise!

    If we forget about Cap Hit at the moment (let’s be honest, that’s not an issue for at least 2 more years) and look purely at salary. Next year if we look at players making 5million, we get: Mike Ribeiro, James Neal, Tomas Plekanec, Ryan Kesler, Martin Havlat, Brian Gionta, RJ Umberger.

    Ryan Kesler and James Neal are obvious upgrades over Hemsky, however you need to take into consideration that they also left money on the table to remain within a winning team system, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. What would market value be for Kesler and Neal outside of their respective teams?

    I’m going to go ahead and write off Gionta and Umberger as players who are downgrades from Hemsky. RJ had a career high of 57pts in 82 games during ’10-’11. Gionta’s high? 89pts in ’06-’07. He’s avg in the mid 40’s since then with ONE season of 60pts.

    Which leaves us with Ribeiro and Havlat. Neither of whom are significant upgrades or downgrades. Havlat’s health history is well documented and yet he is still able to find teams willing to take the risk for the high reward. Similar to Hemsky, Ribeiro’s high end skill will pull you out of your seat screaming for more! However, his work ethic and defensive prowess also make you scream in frustration!

    What does it really mean? (Sorry LT)
    IMO, using strictly comparables, Hemsky falls in line to where he should be in terms of salary. SO STOP COMPLAINING!

    • Drinkin' the Oilaid

      Neal is an upgrade over Hemsky? Hemsky has three 60 point seasons, Neal has reached 60 for the first time ever this season, and while Neal is more of a goal scorer, I think calling him an upgrade is a bit of a reach.
      Hat tip to your comparison of Hemsky to Havlat and Ribeiro. I’ve argued that Hemsky’s closest comp is Havlat, though Havlat scores more goals because he shoots more. I hadn’t considered Ribeiro (diff position) but he truly is a good comp too.

  • RexLibris

    I would look at moving Jones and perhaps Peckham. Theo might benefit from another year mentoring under Sutton as the 7th/8th defenceman. When we’re at this point next year we might move Sutton and then the Oilers would need a body like Peckham to come in and take those job requirements.

    Jones would have some value and could return a 2nd round pick (for 2013, I would prefer) and allow for Omark and other RW prospects to have some audition time this season. We’ll need a spare roster spot to start rewarding a few of these players for the last month of the season, I think.

    Also, about that Flames tweet, there was one from Spector yesterday about 2 NHL executives both saying that the Flames are heading for a cliff and management (and by extension, ownership) there is in denial. I couldn’t agree more and have had many discussions with folks on FN about the Flames future and present.

    The tweet was indicative of something larger within that organization. I think they have some systemic issues in the franchise relating to a lost sense of purpose. They can be extremely defensive when asked about an aging core and a development system lacking in potential NHLers. Feaster has gotten himself into hot water already this season with his comments earlier about the Oilers and other organizations that have built through the draft. Now the official site comes out and publicly blasts not only a player’s contract, but also the organization. Other executives see that and it reflects very poorly on how Feaster and his operation is perceived throughout the league.

    It was a bad move, and they were right to retract it. They would do better to apologize for it, but they are probably hoping it will just go away or that Hemsky will somehow underperform and vindicate them in the long run.

    Either way, if you like disaster movies, keep your eyes glued on the Flames. This summer and next season are going to be full of heartbreak and handwringing. NExt season Iginla is an expiring UFA and Kiprusoff will have one year left on his contract.

  • BaconWrapped

    Would a trade down be a bad thing this draft. My thought is that Grigorenko and Yakupov and a cut above the rest. But the Oilers need is not fro a 2cd line centerman and another right winger. The last 2 drafts I would said trading down was insane. But with the plethora of talented defenceman at the 7-15 spots it would be wise to consider trading down.

    The Capitals have 2 picks and will looking to replace Semin this offseason.Grigorenko or Yakupov would be a nice fit in Washington. They hold Colorado’d pick also in the first round. I would definitely do a 2-1 this year. The Oilers need a Dman. Trading down would possibly net them G.Rheinhart, Pouliot or Dumba. The Oilers could then use the other pick on a player like Tomas Hertl. I just think that adding another player like Yakupov or Grigorenko is duplication of what we have already.

  • shanetrain

    L.T. – Where does all of the negativity come from? Fans and commentators alike seem to be in such a rush to get Hemsky out of here. Yet they have no suggested alternatives as to where his replacement is going to come from. The over-the-top comments from the likes of Mike Modano and various sportswriters blew me away more than the news of the signing.

    I was wrong in thinking Hemmer should be traded. Turns out he has demonstrated in a pretty dramatic way he wants to be here.

    I doubt Taylor Hall would have spoken out publicly about wanting Hemsky to stay unless he could seen something in Hemmer our local sports press could not. The dollar value of the contract is not the issue because the term and no trade clause exclusion make sense.

    I hope Hemmer focuses more on his skills and conditioning and stuffs it up the a**es of the armchair critics like me. I realize some commenters on this site are not Oiler fans at all and are just trying to stir the sh*t. But even at that I’m surprised at the number of people spitting nails at this signing.

  • BaconWrapped

    I think the signing is an indication of where Tambo believes we are at in the rebuild, which is to say, not at the beginning (thank god).

    If Ales is happy to be in Edmonton for 2 more years (hopefully more) then I’m happy to have him.

    • BaconWrapped

      Pile on.Flames fans must be shaking thier collective heads after the week they have head. We know what we are. A rebuilding 29th place team with a team that is building a reputation for being one of the best up and coming teams in the league. Calgary on the other hand is what they are. An 8-10 th place team that struggles to to raise the level of thier game when challenged. I wish them nothing. Because with the Flames you should expect nothing.

  • BaconWrapped

    Watching the Oil progress towards being on the NHL map again must be really chapping Feaster’s tookus.

    It strikes me as funny someone on the Flames twitter account was bad mouthing Hemmer’s signing. At 28 yrs. of age Hemmer is a mere fetus compared to the age of the lame Flamers.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    Flames suck, we all know that. They have 2 prospects and a bunch of AHL vets in Abbotsford.

    They are so dillusional they think they’re a couple of pieces away from seriously contending for the cup.

    Us Oilers fans may have went through hell, but the way the Flames are going, they may not get any fruits out of it and just trade them for Olli Jokinen or someone like that.

  • Time Travelling Sean

    First off…..Love the deal and am happier than Dustin Penner at a Pancake Buffet.
    Now would Tambo sign Hemmer to an acceptable contract just to shop him as “not a rental” ?
    I know we are all Homers, but Hemsky with 10 mil over 2 years looks more attractive to getting returns on any trades we seek.

  • Oilers89

    With Hemsky being a UFA this summer, having a down year compared to his career average, and having a recent history of injury problems, combined with the trade market slanting towards defencemen, I doubt there were any great offers for Hemsky. So by signing Hemsky to a 2-year deal, there’s at least a chance he can prove that he can stay healthy, get back to his 70-point pace next year, and by next year’s deadline be a much more valuable asset on the trade market (particularly having another year left on his contract).

    I don’t like the $5M figure either, but the premium was probably required to get him to agree to a short-term deal. I’m assuming this contract doesn’t have a no-movement-clause, otherwise this is just a plain overpay.

    And I’m not sure Jones, Peckham, Belanger or Eager would fetch much on the trade market.

    Khabibulin could get us a good return, but he wouldn’t clear a physical on a deadline deal and after the Smyth debacle I’m sure the Oilers are treading carefully in trading away players who aren’t 100% healthy.

  • Oilers89

    There is one thing that is troubling and that is Tamby being so ineffective at trading!

    Simply put he is scared to death at making a trade or incompetent, either way I expect that he will make no trades to improve this team.

    Not now or in the summer. He will sign UFA’s but when it comes to making trades, this guy is as useless as they come!