NHL General Managers at the deadline go from aggressive to homicidal. Most are trying to "keep up with the Joneses" by adding parts to their team while also keeping valuable items from their opponents. The Oilers had a major item on the block just a few hours ago, but Ales Hemsky’s signing means Edmonton doesn’t have any forwards who’ll go at the deadline. Or do they?
Steve Tambellini’s trade deadline work got an "A" the moment Ales Hemsky signed his contract, and that means the Oilers should be much less active this deadline. Robin Brownlee’s recent story on the Oilers at the deadline put it right: no deadline day blockbusters expected. It should be noted however, that Tambellini said the club would not be terribly active on the eve of the July 1 flurry that saw this team add Ben Eager, Andy Sutton, Darcy Hordichuk, Eric Belanger and Corey Potter.
June 30, 2011:"I don’t know if anything is going to happen. We already have some young players in some profile spots. If I can find a player or two who gives us some of that poise and experience or some grit we’ll do that. I don’t know if it’ll happen July 1 or July 20." Steve Tambellini.
So, we trust, but verify.
ARE THERE ANY FORWARDS IN PLAY?
Maybe. NHL GM’s will go after the difference makers but also "role" players, and those player types are in more abundance. An NHL team looking for a big forward with speed and aggressiveness may not have Ben Eager at the top of the list but if one or two options at the top of the list are dealt elsewhere or unavailable then a team might come calling.
Ben Eager started slowly this season–possibly concussion related–but in recent weeks has shown his ability in almost every game. If an NHL team had a pro scout following the Oilers in the last three weeks I’d suggest Eager is on someone’s list. It doesn’t mean the Oilers trade him, but based on recent performance Eager may be a player of interest.
Sam Gagner’s name has been mentioned, but msm members have discounted this rumor and I agree. WHY would the Oilers suffer through the growing pains and offload Samwise when things look so good? Washington would have to send over a king’s ransom for the young man at this point. John Carlson would probably have to be in the return and that makes no sense for the Caps, either. I think it’s a non-starter.
Eric Belanger is exactly the player type who gets dealt at the deadline, and despite a subpar season and two more years on his contract this is a player who could go imo. The Oilers may not want to deal him, but with RNH and Gagner ready for the skill lines next season, Lander likely for employment and Horcoff’s deal immovable, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out Belanger is in play.
Ryan Jones is perhaps the most likely candidate for trade, owing to the Oilers coaching staff recent shuffle that sees Jones in the PB (although that will change tomorrow in Winnipeg according to reports). Jones can score goals, works hard and an NHL team acquiring him might feel he can be slotted anywhere from line 3 through the pressbox.
Lennart Petrell is UFA this summer and has some unique qualities. Petrell is an impressive forechecker and uses that skill with great effectiveness on the penalty kill. A playoff team with that weakness might
Linus Omark is in the AHL at this time but an NHL team looking for some help offensively and a value contract might ask for him at the deadline. Omark is finally healthy and has been impressive in OKC since his return. The Oilers may have a role for him in the future, but with the signing of Hemsky I’m having a hard time seeing what it might be at the NHL level.
Josh Green is a free agent this summer and has had some time at the NHL level. A team looking for some AHL depth and to improve their list of possible callup might look to Green to help in this area.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The Oilers have a group of players they signed via free agency last summer–Ben Eager, Eric Berlanger, Lennart Petrell–and they may end up having them back for another season. However, an NHL team in the market for their skill set and motivated by the deadline can change things in a heartbeat. It’s important to note that the Oilers may not be shopping these players, but the calls could come in anyway.
A classic example of this is covered by Punch Imlach in his book "Heaven and Hell in the NHL":
The Oilers, as it happens, have a goalie. A veteran hand with a Stanley Cup ring. The trade deadline is the NHL’s "Opposite George" and Edmonton’s roster has some things other teams might find attractive. It happens every year. Will it happen for Edmonton?