Now that Ales Hemsky has re-signed, Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has taken care of his most pressing matter going into the NHL trade deadline Monday. What else will he do?
With Hemsky putting his money where his mouth has been by signing for $10 million for the next two years, I’m not convinced there’s any business Tambellini needs to get done in the next day that he can’t take care of this off-season.
Then again, up until 48 hours or so ago, I didn’t think there was any chance Hemsky would re-sign here for the term he did. And a couple of deadlines ago, I was so convinced captain Ethan Moreau was a goner, I wrote an entire item bidding him farewell. Prematurely, it turned out.
Truth is, Tambellini keeps information about what he’s working on and who he’s talking to far closer to the vest than predecessor Kevin Lowe and his regime did. At least that’s my perception – one, granted, that’s different when I was grinding it out every day down at the rink and working the phones as a beat man for the dailies.
So, while we can look at the roster and the organizational depth chart and speculate about what Tambellini should do or might do based on conclusions we’ve drawn, that doesn’t qualify as real inside information — even if it’s too often passed off as such.
While I’d love to tell you I know what Tambellini is working on and who he is talking to, I don’t. And I’m not seeing much more meaningful insight than that from other members of the MSM and the beat people monitoring the team every day, either. It’s very quiet.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION?
Maybe it’s just me, but the quest for ratings has pushed NHL trade deadline day into the overblown realm of awards shows and other contrived made-for-TV events that, well, don’t actually make for great TV. There is lots of sizzle, but enough steak. All that’s missing is Joan Rivers being bitchy on the red carpet. "Oh, here comes Bob McKenzie. Bob, who are you wearing?"
As usual, TSN and Sportsnet will go nose-to-nose Monday with each network offering 10 hours of trade deadline programming and a cast of on-air experts, reporters and commentators that, combined, could fill out a 23-man NHL roster. Yes, 10 hours. After a Rick Nash deal, assuming Columbus GM Scott Howson pulls the trigger on something, what else is there? A lot of filler and rehash, that’s what.
If people and sponsors weren’t buying all that time, the networks wouldn’t be selling it, of course. Deadline day, like the NHL Entry Draft, has become a made-for-TV event – package it, stage it and sell it.
There’s no question TSN and Sportsnet have the most connected insiders in the business between them, but there’s a lot more talking about what might happen, could happen and should happen than there is about trades that actually do happen.
While I might tune into the Academy Awards tonight, I might not. I can get a list of winners, of what actually happened, at the end of the night rather than put up with red carpet preamble and filler.
I want to know who wins Best Picture or Best Actor, but I can’t bring myself to care in the least what George Clooney is wearing. Just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts. I feel much the same about NHL trade deadline day. Ten hours? Enough already.
ALREADY GOT THAT GUY?
There’s been plenty of comment here and elsewhere about how Tambellini went into the season light on the blue line and about the need for the addition of a top-4 defenseman on the roster. I’m wondering if the Oilers already have that guy in Jeff Petry?
Petry, 24, was widely perceived as being thrown in over his head to start the season, but he’s looked like a pretty reasonable facsimile of a top-4 guy so far in the second half this season. Saturday against Phoenix marked the 24th straight game he’s played more than 20 minutes. He’s averaging 21:19.
While it’s fair to say Tambellini didn’t do enough to address depth on the back end going into the season, given the uncertainty about the health of Ryan Whitney, I’m wondering if Petry’s development changes that.
I’m not saying Tambellini shouldn’t be adding pieces on the back end over the summer, but is a top four of a healthy Whitney, Petry, Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid a capable quartet in front of Andy Sutton, Corey Potter and Theo Peckham with Colten Teubert in waiting going into 2012-13?
THIS AND THAT
— I noted on Twitter yesterday that Columbus had put defenseman Grant Clitsome on waivers and that the Oilers should take a look at him as a depth guy. While some agreed and others disagreed, I still think so.
Clitsome is just 26 and looks like a player who, at worst, could contest a third-pairing spot on this roster. He’s managed 36 points in 93 NHL games with a lousy Columbus team. His price point – a cap hit of $1.25 million and a salary of $1.4 million next season — makes him an intriguing possibility.
While some fans believe the Oilers already have too many guys who fit a third-pairing job description, I’d suggest there’s no such thing as having too many guys who can actually play in the NHL, especially at a reasonable price. Lack of same has bitten the Oilers too often the past few seasons.
— I don’t know if we’re going to hear anything in terms of an announcement by the deadline, but my best guess is agent Don Meehan and Ryan Smyth will end up with a new two-year deal from the Oilers that’ll pay about $5 million over the term. There’s no hurry, of course. Smyth has made it clear he wants to be here and the Oilers have made an offer. It’ll get done.
— So, Ottawa got Ben Bishop from St. Louis in a sign-and-trade this morning? Have to ask Tambellini if he called to inquire about the six-foot-seven puck stopper. If not, why not? Bishop blanked the Oilers with a 39-save shutout just over a year ago.
With Hemsky inked and no hurry on re-upping Smyth, my best guess is it’s going to be a long day with precious little to write about around the Oilers office on Monday. Keep in mind, of course, my best guesses of late haven’t been very good.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.