If you’re a restricted free agent on the Edmonton Oilers roster, there’s a chance you’re heading out of town.


The Oilers had 12 rfa’s one summer ago, and they fell into four categories:

  • NHL Players sent away: Andrew Cogliano, JF Jacques, Liam Reddox, Zack Stortini
  • NHL Players retained: Ladislav Smid, Theo Peckham
  • Minor Leaguers sent away: Kevin Montgomery, Matt Marquardt, Bryan Pitton, Jordan Bendfeld
  • Minor Leaguers retained: Taylor Chorney, Ryan O’Marra

Flushed 8, signed 4. Now, a few of these guys weren’t going to spend a decade in pro hockey but the club did make some decisions on a few guys who’d been Oilers for awhile.However, going back awhile this is the period where the team takes a good long look at players and moves away. Filing for arbitration (as done recently by Andrew Cogliano a week before he was traded) can often mean a ticket out of town.

In the last two summers, Edmonton has decided not to tender offers to Zack Stortini, JF Jacques, Marc Pouliot, Ryan Potulny, Bryan Lerg, Colin McDonald, Geoff Paukovich and Slava Trukhno. That’s a large portion of the Kevin Prendergast era down the road, but then again none of these players has established an NHL career in another city at this time.


Steve Tambellini has more prominent rfa’s this summer. A year ago, Smid and Cogliano were the big decisions. This season? There are three significant players:

  • Sam Gagner: Made $2.275M this past season and could demand more money than the Oilers want to pay. Gagner is also one of the players who might be considered available for an upgrade on defense, and that could be the way Edmonton proceeds should they draft the Russian Yakupov. My guess is Gagner signs a two-year deal at reasonable dollars.
  • Jeff Petry: Made $1M all-in this past season and will get a big pay increase. Petry could come out of this summer as the highest paid RFA in the group despite a lack of NHL experience. Edmonton may want to sign him to a long term deal similar in length to the one given to Tom Gilbert at a similar point in his career. He’s the one guy in the group we can be certain will return to a bigger contract and a bigger role.
  • Devan Dubnyk: $800,000 in 11-12, Dubnyk should be looking at a decent raise but hasn’t been able to convince his coach that he’s the de facto starter (in spite of the evidence). I think he’ll get a raise, and maybe a two year deal, but the coming season will have a lot to do with how much money he’s going to make in his career.


  • Theo Peckham: Made $1,075,000 last season but struggled badly. Peckham has some things this organization values highly and they certainly do not have a great deal of depth on the blueline. I can see this going either way: traded or re-signed. He likely cost himself a few dollars with inconsistent play this winter.
  • Cam Barker: Had a tough season and is unlikely to return. Edmonton took a chance and it didn’t work out. We don’t know the extent of the injury problems and how much it hindered him and he could recover his career. I don’t think it’ll be in Edmonton.


  • Linus Omark: Oilers will probably try to deal him and then set him free if there are no offers available.
  • Chris VandeVelde: You know he’s been on the outskirts for a couple of years now but is still in the mix. VV doesn’t have much offense and his skating is not a strength but he can do a few things and has size. AHL regular and a possible callup would seem to be his role.
  • Alex Plante: Had his strongest AHL season (made the All-Star game mid-season) and at the very least is back in the conversation for NHL employment.
  • Hunter Tremblay: Crazy PK season, he’s a player OKC would like to see return. His injury in the playoffs coincided with a downturn in fortunes. He certainly moved up the depth chart during the season.
  • Milan Kytnar: Already back in Europe, always cheered for him and glad he got into an NHL game.


The big names (Gagner, Petry, Dubnyk) are likely to return; the club has some AHL regulars like VandeVelde, Plante and Tremblay who they may see as part of the NHL future. Theo Peckham is about 50/50. I would guess Edmonton flushes Cam Barker, Linus Omark and of course they’ve already said goodbye to Milan Kytnar. The performance of someone like Alex Plante may impact the signing decision on Brandon Davidson and Jeremie Blain. The Hunter Tremblay decision may do the same for Drew Czerwonka.

The Oilers could do something fairly unique this week–graduate 10 players from one draft to pro hockey. If they sign all of Blain, Davidson and Czerwonka, they’ll join 2010 picks Taylor Hall, Tyler Pitlick, Martin Marincin, Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale,Tyler Bunz and Kristians Pelss. I do not recall that many from one Oilers draft.

That my friends is 20% of the 50 man reserve list. Stu MacGregor, you magnificent bastard!


Your questions are always welcome, please email questions to or twitter @ItsNationRadio or Lowetide_ I also grab questions from the comments below and most of the time they’re the gems so please keep them coming. Scheduled to appear:

  • David Staples from the Cult of Hockey. We’ll discuss the arena, the draft, advanced stats and the coaching situation.
  • Kent Wilson, Nations Overlord. We’ll talk about positives and negatives re: Brent Sutter, Flames at the draft and their summer plans and try to find a good home for Miikka Kiprusoff.
  • Corey Graham from Team 1260’s Oil Kings broadcasts. We’ll talk about the Oil Kings miracle run, the kids we might expect to see at the draft, which players will return and expectations for 12-13.
  • Jim Byers from the OKC Barons radio broadcast. Jim is a gentleman and a fine broadcaster, he’s given us lots of his time this season and we’ll review a strong effort by the Barons in 11-12 and look to the future.
  • Kirk Luedekefrom Redline Report. Kirk will give us a nice look at the New England kids and we’ll talk about a player Kirk mentioned one year ago on our show as being a solid prospect–and that player is extremely likely to be taken this time around.
  • Peter Loubardias is a legendary broadcaster with an encyclopedic knowledge of junior hockey and the draft. We’ll discuss the Memorial Cup, the 2012 draft and the SC finals.

Hope you tune in, Team 1260 High noon and of course the archived show will appear at the Nations tomorrow.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I hope ST doesnt sign Petry to a Gilbert type contract, Id sign him to a 2-2.5mil over 3yrs and let him work for the bigger chedder. Dont get me wrong I really like Petry’s game but he doesnt need that type of pressure yet.

    Ive been wondering if another team might try and sign Gagner to an offer sheet this summer, kinda like what San Jose did to the Blackhawks and Nemi/Kjarmanson(sp?)

    This imo is going to be ST’s defining summer with all that he’s got on his plate and what he does to get the team at least fighting for a playoff spot.

    I work for 1 of the companies that are renovating the Fedreal buildings downtown…If tax payers really knew what the price for those buildings is going to be when its all said and done, the price for the arena that we’ll be paying for is nothing compared to that.

    Great read as always LT, good day to you sir.

  • neojanus

    Rodriguez waxes her bits. Look closely and that photo proves it.

    Seriously though, tough decision on Gagner. Don’t want to see him over-paid, but also don’t want to give up on him.

  • I like Gagner for 2 years at $2.75/yr, but it’ll be closer to $3.25/yr.

    Edmonton needs to upgrade the C2 position almost as badly as they need to fix the defense. I’d draft Galchenyuk and keep him in the OHL for another year. (might have to with a short lockout)

    This gives Sam Gagner another year to prove if he’s part of the long-term plan, or increase his trade value.

    The Oilers will struggle with RNH-Gagner as their top 2, but RNH-Galchenyuk could be elite.

  • RexLibris

    First off, congrats to not posting trade the first overall pick suggestions anymore, its a good habit to get into, that Yakupov kid will be dynamite.

    I like Mexican food..

    And..After Hall, RNH, and Eberle, who in this organization has a legitimate shot at being here long term playing in the top six?

    Gagner? Maybe, Hemsky? Maybe, Paajarvi..maybe in a few years, other than that theres a chance that a guy like Rieder, or Pelss could one day get here but unlikely.

    On defence? Musil, Klefbom, Gernat, maybe Marincin..already Petry, Schultz, and Smid.

    So now where does the team look the weakest?
    At forward, and if your drafting based on team need, and your looking at the big picture you draft N.Yakupov, it fills a team need and you get the best player in the draft.

    Just my 26 Cents.

    • Lowetide

      Just to be clear, I never “suggested” the Oilers trade the #1 overall pick or pass on Yakupov. I have stated that Yakupov is the bpa and logic and reason dictate you take the bpa.

      I have suggested there are forces in play that could see the Oilers trade down or select someone other than Yakupov.

      I still believe this to be true.

      • DieHard

        LT, you stated you think the Oilers would do a 2 year contract with Gagner. They wouldn’t get any UFA years? Is that bad asset management? He could walk after the contract and we lose any value he may have. I would think he’s arbitration eligible this year as well, is he not? It’s a weird situation in that, is he in our future plans or is he trade bait?

        • Lowetide

          If you’re going to buy free agent years from Gagner, then the money will increase. Oilers have some tough decisions ahead.

          If you buy 2 years of UFA, making it a four year deal, how much would that cost? 3.5M?

  • Lowetide

    I read you wrong LT, thought u were in favour of fixing our defensive woes by sacrificing a future super star. My bad.

    Ive been really impressed with Samuelssons play, especially in the memorial cup, could he be a smaller, more consistant future version of Dustin Penner? Hes got the hands and ability to play a top six role. But plays with an edge all the time.

    • Lowetide

      No worries. I honestly rarely give my opinion on these things, for a few reasons. One, I still am uncertain about this draft despite reading a mountain on it. One day I think Nail’s the one, then I read about Galchenyuk and think HEY! he’s the one.

      Two, I’m a fan and certainly not a draft expert. I have an enormous amount of respect for people like Stu MacGregor and Barry Fraser and Jarmo Kekelainen and Del Wilson and on it goes.

      There ARE people who can find players. So if Stu tells me it’s Ryan Murray then I’m inclined to believe him. I think that’s where I probably differ from many fans.

      But if you’re asking my opinion, then taking Yakupov is the right play. Steve Tambellini may have to trade one of his fab four down the line for defensive help but scoring goals is the toughest thing in hockey. There are three things I worry over about Yakupov. his TOI has been described as 28-30 minutes a night–an enormous skew. The knee and the head. And finally, why ISN’T this a slam dunk? What DON’T we know?

  • Lowetide

    Well I don’t think the dollar value for any of these guys is going to be an issue, they will want to stay because they see how much talent is on this team and are likely willing to take a smaller contract to make sure they stay. Having said that there area always some players were money is more important to them and if thats the case you don’t want them on the team anyway.

  • DieHard

    If Oilers feel Paajarvi ready to crack lineup again, and they also resign Gagner , I have doubts the Oilers will need to draft Yakupov as well . They might be looking at Trouba or Murray as our first pick – dealing Yakupov for additional picks . Do we really require Yakupov ? Possibly we take him NBR.1 and then trade him to top bidder to get defenceman (men) ? Will the Oilers draft Kulak in a later round – bound to be grit and desire to play for us ?

    • DieHard

      Personally I feel that Gagner is a 3rd liner on this team because they lack size in the top 6. Also tambo already stated that he wants the scouts to tell him which player they think is going to be the best in 10 years and that is who they will be taking if they still hold the first overall. The only way they draft for need is if they move the pick and get something extra to help the team immediately. I think MPS will spend at least another couple of months in OKC unless he really lights it up in training camp and preseason.

  • RexLibris

    What about this plan of action:

    Draft a center with the first overall pick, then offer Gagner, Omark and perhaps Plante to Toronto for their 5th overall and Carl Gunnarsson. (I would select Reinhart 5th overall and then the Oilers would have their eventual 2nd line center and a first pairing defenseman together in one day at the draft)

    In this scenario the remaining center (either Galchenyuk or Grigorenko) that Toronto covets is likely taken by Montreal at 3rd overall, leaving the Leafs to decide between another winger in Forsberg or another defenseman in Murray, Dumba, Reilly, etc. A duplication of assets for them.

    Whereas, the option of providing immediate offensive support to the Maple Leafs in exchange for a draft pick that is likely one to two years away from the NHL, at the soonest, may be a good fit for Burke’s overall timeline.

    I always have to ask, what’s in it for Burke, and I think in this idea, the Oilers would have to set the table themselves with their first selection to put the Leafs over a barrel. I believe that Burke is holding that pick as the likely collateral for either Rick Nash or a goaltender. Trying to acquire it is going to take some deft maneuvering.

    Gagner was drafted 6th overall. Trading a 22-year old center drafted at virtually the same position as the pick being received, as well as other players, may not be so unpalatable for Burke.

    The drawback to this, however, is that the Oilers would be entering the season with Shawn Horcoff as their 2nd line center. Unless they want to sign Olli Jokinen…*crickets chirping*…

    Anyway, just thought I’d offer some food for thought.

    • French Toast Mafia

      You can’t actually be serious with that….. 2 career minor league players and Gagner for an NHL defenseman and the 5th overall pick in a market more starved for winning more than Edmonton? Burke would be covered in tar and strung up on the roof of ACC if he traded the 5th overall for Gagner.

      Give these trades a rest. Not in a million years would it happen

  • RexLibris

    No GM is going to give up a #1 pick and more for Sam Gagne especially when they could lift up the phone and get him for a cheaper price. I reason that if TB GM Yzerman would want Gagne he would rather give up one asset rather than 2-3 on an offer sheet in the 3.5 – 4 million dollar range.

    The Oilers have a slew of guys they need to make descisions on. Why keep VV when you have Lander and Belanger ahead of him.Push comes to shove he is not a guy I see in the Oilers future plans unless a move is made this June 22 with Belanger(hopefully).

    Potter is a guy I see being moved this summer also. Need more jam and grit and gamesmanship from a 5-6 dman.

    If Suter resigns in Nashville do we make a play for Ryan Elis? He would fit just tickety boo as a 5-6-7 dman with PP specialty.

    Wild card. Justin Shultz.

    • Snowdropper

      Somewhere WBS’s head is exploding over this spelling.

      I also think Gilbert-like deal for Petry would be a bad move. That kind of expectation placed on him is sure to backfire. How about we wait and see if last year wasn’t a fluke and give him a modest 2 year deal (1.8 and 2 mil) then if the consistacy’s there, he can cash in big next time (term and price) Even with a modest contract, it’s still going to be a huge pay bump from this year.

      I can’t see Edmonton not signing Dubnyk. I really hope whoever the new coach is really runs him as the number one goalie this year. It always seemed, for whatever reason, that Renny never could vision him there and played ‘Bulin more than he should’ve as a result.

  • O.C.

    Nice article LT.

    Hmmm. I have to give Tambo credit. If you had to keep 4 and drop 8, he definitely played that well.

    I still shudder that they wanted to deal Penner and Smyd for Heatley tho.

    Young starting D men should never be dealt. They usually grow into the kind of D man the Oil need now. Sign Petry 4 yrs net 12.5M It’s a nice number.

  • LT & Die Hard,

    Gagner at 3.5M for 4 years or Galchenyuk for 3 years at 3.75M?

    You upgrade the 2C position for 250K and have a 7 year asset instead of 2 years with Gagner. Seems pretty simple to me?

    Best case scenario in 2 years: C1 Nugent-Hopkins, C2 Galchenyuk, C3 Gagner C4Lander/ Horcoff.

    Worst case scenario: C1 RNH, C2 Gagner can leave UFA, C3-C4 Lander/Horcoff.

    That’s a massive drop-off IMO. So the Oilers can either overpay Gagner and HOPE he develops, or you can upgrade the position by drafting Galchenyuk and be set for 5-7 years at Center.

  • YFC Prez

    It’s most likely already been discussed, but I hope Petry doesn’t get too much of an over pay ie Gilbert based mainly on his potential.

    I understand that mgmt does need to pay for potential and Petry really impressed, but 3 year at 3.25ish/per sounds like a nice number to me. No way north of 4.

  • RexLibris

    I would personally prefer to see Vande Velde start the year in Edmonton as the fourth-line center. Lander still needs some time to develop and I believe his ceiling is higher than Vande Velde’s. Taking your time with Lander is, in my opinion, better asset management than pushing Vande Velde out the door for cents on the dollar, or nothing at all.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    That 3 way between Toronto,Columbus and Edmonton is the cats meow for all three. There’s little on the Oilers roster that couldn’t be included. The Oilers having the second pick along with the fifth is what they need. Galchenyuk at 2 and Murray at 5 would be optimal.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Do the Oilers need Hemsky and Yakapov?
    I think if they are bent on signing BPA, then do you need Hemsky . He might be the better asset to move instead of Gagner. IF the draft isnt Yak, then Hemmer would stay.

  • Reg Dunlop


    This is how a rebuild stretches on in perpetuity.Hope Gagner develops? Upgrade 2C by drafting Galchenyuk? News flash… Gagner is a legit NHL centre, Galchenyuk is nothing more than a prospect with an injury history, a player a year or two away from the NHL and not in any way a lock to be better than Sam.

  • Reg Dunlop


    I agree fully, Lander needs a full season in the AHL. Giving VV the 4thC role,a good idea. But, what do you do with Belanger/Horcoff, whichever one slots into the 4C role now? I don’t think either is tradeable. Maybe freeze one of them in carbonite and send him to Jabba.

    “No ociffer,I haven’t been drinking”.

  • striker777

    With Stu McGregor doing such an outstanding job, our GM better learn how to convert them into higher picks or NHL-ready players. This is a skill ST needs to learn ASAP or we’ll start losing prospects for nothing.
    What a perfect year to use our prospects to get another 1st round pick, then keep trading UP. I was not impressed with them NOT showcasing Omark toward the end of the season. That’s just poor asset management.

  • Reg Dunlop

    If you want a quality #2 center, Galachenyuk wouldn’t be the pick – he’s more of a scoring left winger than the big centerman who’s skilled at multiple phases of the game.

    Grigorenko is the guy who fits the bill, and he may slide down a few picks…

    Looking at the end of the first for guys who fit, there are some interesting names: Tomas Hertl (probably gone well before 33, unless we move up), Andreas Athansiou, Jarrod Maidens and Mark Jankowski (who’s more of a project).

    Maybe the Oilers could make a bold move or two and end up with Yakupov and Hertl.

  • Lowetide

    I wonder if the Oilers might be trying to parlay that #1 overall for 2 picks in the upper portion of round one. Trade down to #3 and take your impact forward and then add the 11th pick and grab the remaining top flight defender.

    It’s not a bad idea.