Anyone not familiar with the Edmonton Oilers might look at the last 3 seasons and expect a large overhaul of staff this summer. The more discerning fan will know it’s all part of the plan, and in fact (for once) there are very few job openings. Edmonton will add players this summer, but in many cases will need to find a way to offload a current roster player in order to do so. How many expendable Oilers have good value? Tradeable value? Any value at all?



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Edmonton has changed a lot over the years, and the Oilers have been in a state of constant motion since 2006 summer. This season, the changes are unlikely to be as severe for two reasons: first, the club has 1 goalie, 6 defenders and 11 forwards under contract plus four rfa’s (Gagner, Petry, Dubnyk and Peckham) who are slated to return. That’s an entire NHL roster if you add UFA Ryan Smyth and the rumors suggest EDM will do that soon. 

So, what will the team do?

The Oilers own the #1 overall pick and Nail Yakupov is the top player in the draft according to everyone who makes a list. Should the club choose him, the depth chart might look like this:

  • Center (5): Nuge, Gagner, Horcoff, Belanger, Lander
  • Left (5): Hall, Smyth, Paajarvi, Jones, Eager
  • Right (4): Hemsky, Eberle, Yakupov, Jones, Hartikainen
  • Left D (3): Smid, Schultz, Whitney, Peckham
  • Right D (4): Petry, Potter, Sutton, Teubert
  • Goal (2) Dubnyk, Khabibulin

That’s a tremendous future, a chaotic current and a lot of counting on Ryan Whitney. I would think Edmonton would at least ponder an upgrade at the following positions:

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  • backup goalie behind Dubnyk
  • left wing
  • right defense

Goaltending is a problem based on Khabibulin’s very poor Nov-Mar performance; left wing has Hall, a young and promising Paajarvi, the veteran Smyth to play the toughs (when he signs) and then a veteran in Eager who is not a two-way type and had a very poor time playing with skill. If you’re breaking in Yakupov and Paajarvi, one would think a veteran mentor with good defensive instincts would be a better plan. Edmonton should look long and hard at acquiring a "Pisani" who could spell Smyth when he’s struggling, or Paajarvi when he’s down a quart of confidence.

Right defense? The hole created by Tom Gilbert’s exit is still there.


There are some obvious assets Edmonton might be able to offload in order to add a defenseman (still say they need two in order to cover for Whitney’s injury worry), the goalie and the vet winger.

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  • Sam Gagner: Young C entering RFA summer and is arbitration eligible. Fine young player, I hope they keep him and suspect they will. I’m listing him on the off chance a team offers a clear top 4D already at the NHl level with a bright future
  • Oscar Klefbom: Edmonton still hasn’t signed the young man despite earlier reports that it was imminent. I think there’s a chance the club attempts to package Klefbom and others in order to move up at the draft or add a solid NHL defender.
  • Linus Omark: Oilers won’t bring him back and he may not have much current value (Omark might have to spend more time in Europe regaining his career) but he’s not expensive and did have a solid rookie year.
  • Ben Eager: I think the next coach might want to keep him, but if not Eager should be a guy they can deal. Players of his type always have value to another team.
  • Ryan Jones: There’s something to that old saying about "sell high, buy low." Jones has been riffing like a maniac for two seasons over, Edmonton may want to cash their chips when they’re flush.
  • Theo Peckham: Tough as nails blueliner had a difficult season and may need a change of scenery. He’s famous enough as a player to have value.
  • Magnus Paajarvi: Edmonton surely likes him, but if they need to offload a young forward for a defenseman of similar age and value, the former top 10 pick might end up leaving town.
  • 2nd round pick: Those early picks on day two seem to have exceptional value since the NHL placed round one on the Friday. Another team re-setting the board after round one may overpay for the opportunity to select that high.


The defense is the area of primary need, but this club is at least five additions away from a full deck. Add a solid goaltender who could tandem with Dubnyk, two veteran defensmen, Ryan Smyth and a Smyth-type on LW at 3line and we can start talking about the playoffs.

Adding those items without creating massive holes in other areas is the sticky wicket. Steve Tambellini will have a hard time addressing these areas of need, and as we’ve heard over the last few weeks Edmonton’s management feels the goaltending is fine.

That alone should give us pause when it comes to hopeful thoughts for 12-13.

  • Jason Gregor


    Klefbom is coming to camp this fall, if there is one. Right now he isn’t sure he is good enough to make the team. But if he shows well in camp and preseason, the Oilers would keep him.

    Either way the Oilers are really high on him. Contract isn’t an issue. No chance they trade him for a guy a year younger. None.

  • I think the LW issue will be solved in-house. Yakupov is on record as saying he can and will play anywhere. Hemsky is the veteran on the RW but I have a hunch they would try him out on the wrong side to start the year if Yak isnt up for the challenge.

    I have my doubts that Tambellini could swap Hemsky for a comparable LW or solid defenseman, that’s my main reason for thinking this will be an in-house fix.

    I also dont see this group having the stones to admit a mistake in Khabibulin, plus the Russian factor might keep him around to help make Yakupov more comfortable (I know he’s been in NA for a while).

  • Lowetide

    Jason: I’d heard he was signing and staying in the SEL another season. That’s terrific news, look forward to seeing him (if things don’t derail via CBA neg).

    • Jason Gregor

      If he doesn’t make Oilers he’ll play another year in Sweden. That is the deal when he comes to camp. Agreed if the CBA derails camp, preseason it will suck.

      • fuzzy muppet

        Are the dopes in the NHL really dumb enough to kill the momentum they’ve built over the past few years??

        Another lockout will absolutely destroy the sports credibility. They simply can’t do it.

  • Giving the glut of forwards – where is the logic in bringing back Ryan Smyth? I’d rather keep Jones and see if Haartikanen can switch to LW and use that tandem over anything Ryan Smyth can produce over 82 games.

    Smytty should get a nice goodbye and lets have the team move forward and not stall a younger player’s development for the sake of giving Smyth one or two more years.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      The main reason is history. The Oilers have never had a significant player retire as an Oiler. For a team that talks about its history and how important it is they have done nothing to try to build it. Smyth can still produce, offer a veteran presence and WANTS TO BE HERE. They have the cap space, the value in signing Smyth is huge in the long run. IMO.

  • Lowetide

    1 Trade Sam Gagner and #1 overall to Montreal for P. K. Subban and #3 overall
    2 Sign Dustin Penner to play RNH and Earble
    3 Move hall to center
    4 Draft a Defencemen # 3 for future partner of P. K. Subban
    5Find a big center to play 4TH line

  • Nice read LT.

    I have been saying the Oilers need size, toughness, grit and mean players that can play.

    LW – The Oilers should try and pry Clowe off the sharks. Not sure what it would take?

    Add Belanger to the list of Trade bait as well same with any player in the AHL who has some value to another team.

    I still think trading for a defensmen should be last resort, let the young defensmen learn and grow, get your defensmen from UFA pool.

    Harding would make a nice addition too.

  • vetinari

    I think all of the names you list should be in play at the draft for the purposes of landing a legitimate top 4 defender or another top 5 pick.

    Omark, on his own, would probably land no better than a 4th to 6th rounder or another team’s problem prospect. I could see him being thrown into another larger deal on draft day as a “sweetener”.

    I think your best trade bait is Gagner and Paajarvi but gritty role players like Jones and Eager may have some value too. Given how much the Oil made of “getting tougher” in last year’s offseason, I doubt Jones and Eager are going anywhere unless the Oil can land a top 4 RS defenceman in return, in which case, they can claim that they “had to give something up to get something back.”

    I’m sure whoever the new coach is will have some input into his roster, especially if it’s Krueger (who watched these players all of last season) or Sutter (who seems to like certain types of players).

    Finally, I’ve said all offseason that Khabibulin needs to be demoted, bought out, sent to the AHL or invited to play in Russia next year. My question is: if he is waived by the team and someone else picks him up (I know, a longshot), does his +35 contract still get counted against our cap?

  • Clyde Frog

    LT, what do you think about Paajarvi for Gormley?

    I’m not sure Gormley is exactly NHL ready, but he could be an impact player by 2013-14. I like MPS alot, but the deal could go a long way to balancing out the strengths of our roster.

  • Lowetide

    When players have contracts to play in the SEL, they don’t normally come to NA camps. I would be very surprised to see Klefbom in a try-out jersey this year…

  • One Time!

    What do you think it would take to pry the 11th overall pick from the capitals? Our 2nd round pick overall and Gagner? I think that might be enough to get it….. I have seen that Alex Galchenyuk has been slipping and might go as low as 14-15th…. Is it worth the gamble? Yak and Galchenyuk.

    Dare to dream

    • D-Man

      I guess the question you need to ask yourself is why would the Capitals do that?? Is Gagner an upgrade on Brooks Laich or Nicklaus Backstrom?? Don’t get me wrong – as an Oiler I’d love that trade – but it doesn’t make sense from the Capitals view point…

    • 24% body fat

      If Galchenyuk is a slipping draft pick what makes him a better NHL option than Gagner?

      Dont we want to speed up the rebuild? Getting younger helps this?

  • Oilers21

    I’m not sure the return for Ryan Jones would make it worthwhile. Even if a team offered a second-rounder, the chances of that pick turning out are pretty slim. I think in this case it’s better to keep the known commodity; the guy that works his ass off every shift and is good for close to 20 goals. The organization has let those kind of players slip away before and regretted it even since

  • Oilers21

    I agree with much of what you’re saying Lowetide except if you really examine the depth within the organization the true needs are down the middle. Sorry but Gags, Horcs & the Belanger Triangle won’t cut it. Ask Darryl Sutter what his team’s greatest strength is and he will tell you centre. Plain and simple. Any wheelings and dealings at the draft should be to try to secure a legit 2nd line centre such as Galchenyuk.

  • fuzzy muppet

    One Time … Don’t know where you figure Galchenyuk’s dropping in the rankings(I suspect you’re thinking of Grigorenko) but I would be surprized if he’s still there after the top 5!!

  • Clyde Frog

    The ISS link above has Galchenyuk at the 15 spot.

    I wouldn’t be suprised if the Caps looked a former 6th overall who has put out 40+ points consistantly and the 31st pick.

    Their giving up a shot at a unknown kid who missed 90% of his 17 year old development season, but posted decent numbers as a 16 year old, for a 22 year old kid who has proven to be able to produce in the NHL at a clip better than 75% of the centres currently in the league.

    Not everyone is so focused on a kid being over 6 feet tall that they ignore the actual production/function of a player…

  • D-Man

    I’d take Klefbom, Gagner, Paajarvi and the #2 off that list. Each of those players (and the pick, especially if it’s used to move up into the low 1st to get a talented player) have good to great room for growth as players and could be better than they are now.

    From the keepers list, there are these players who have been played too much for the results returned by Renney, are trending downwards for their careers and should be moved out to clear room for players who can produce vs. the toughs and non-toughs:

    Belanger, Jones, Eager, Peckham, Khabibulin.

    Also, Smyth shouldn’t be brought back if he insists on $3-4M a season and if we can get back an experienced defenseman with some talent in a bad contract exchange for Horcoff, the team should at least entertain the possibility.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Has this been re-posted from last summer?

    Could’ve sworn we’ve been talking about this same thing for the last 2 summers now.

    There is no upside to incompetent management.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Re: ISS rankings

    Can’t see any world where Teravainen goes ahead of Galchenyuk. But, it Galchenyuk is still on the board around 11 or 12, the Oilers had better trade up and get him. Only players I would not trade to pick up Galchenyuk at 12 would be;

    Hall, Eberle, RNH, Yakupov, Smid, Petry

    Anyone else could be had in a deal.

    The right side of that defence looks atrocious. BUT, getting rid of Khabby is problably the number 1 need. Replacing Khabby with a Dubnyk or better goalie is probably easier than finding 2 more d-men…