Edmonton Oilers issue qualifying offers to Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk and five others

Photograph of Devan Dubnyk by goaliej54 of Flickr via Wikimedia Commons.

The Edmonton Oilers have announced via their official website that the team has issued qualifying offers to seven pending restricted free agents. Sam Gagner, Devan Dubnyk, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Alex Plante and Chris Vande Velde all recieved qualifying offers, as did Linus Omark, despite some speculation that the Oilers would cut him lose after failing to trade him at the draft.

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The big news here is the decision to qualify Linus Omark. It’s difficult to see where he is going to fit on the Oilers’ roster next season, and after failing to move him at the draft it’s not certain that the Oilers can find a buyer. However, several teams – the Vancouver Canucks and Marc-Andre Gragnani come to mind – were shopping players and couldn’t find a buyer, and Blackhakws general manager Stan Bowman made the following comment on the process:

The discussions I did have, everyone agreed that you don’t need to try to jam a trade in in the next half-hour before we get going. But we had some brief discussions with a few teams. We all agreed that it will probably pick up as the weeks go on. There will be movement with players around the league over the next two weeks.

What trades did get made saw established players go for low prices – Benoit Pouliot, for example, went for a fifth-round pick and an AHL’er – so my guess is that the Oilers are simply protecting an asset here and will look to deal Omark later in the summer after free agency has slowed down. It’s also at least possible that other trades will open up a spot for Omark on the Oilers’ roster, but that strikes me as improbable.

From the outside, Plante and Vande Velde didn’t seem like certainties to get offers, but bringing them back is a good decision. Plante in particular still likely has upside, and both players are capable depth options that could see NHL time when injuries hit.

The other big news here is the decision not to qualify defenseman Cam Barker. Any qualifying offer to Barker would have needed to be for the same annual dollar figure as his previous contract – $2.25 million – and his play this season simply didn’t even come close to warranting that kind of coin. The Oilers still have the option to attempt to sign him for less money, should they choose to, but the course of wisdom would seem to be to allow Barker to leave the fold and to find a more competent option to replace him.

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Also not qualified was Hunter Tremblay. The 26-year old was signed as an unrestricted free agent out of the University of New Brunswick a year ago and showed some value in the AHL, picking up 31 points in 68 games. He was also a key figure on the team’s penalty kill. The Barons finished 2nd in the AHL with an 85.6% success rate while shorthanded. I wonder if the Oilers might look to ink Tremblay to an AHL-only deal – he clearly has value to the team but is some distance from the NHL as of yet, and the Oilers needed to clear room on their reserve list (each NHL team is allowed to have 50 players under contract at any one time).

All things considered, there were no major surprises here but the news is all good. The Oilers protected an asset (Omark) and shed a salary (Barker), both of which strike me as the correct decisions.

This week by Jonathan Willis

  • 1) Agreed that Oil qualified Linus Omark to protect an asset. He’s still gonzo, but at least they can still possibly get something for him.

    2) Cam Barker… now that they didn’t qualify him, they should try and sign him to a bargain-basement contract given his low value. Can’t even cut it on a basement team. Sign him to a bargain contract and play him with the Barons (with him knowing full well that’s where he’s headed). I’m sure he can play well down there and help the team. But definitely no interest in him at the NHL level.

    No surprised at all on this list though.

    • Depth pick from a team desperately needing offense after free agency dries up. My guess is that someone will be willing to take a chance on him, but that’s just a guess.

      At this point, the Oilers probably can’t expect much more than something like a 2014 7th-rounder.

    • db7db7db7

      I’m actually hoping that if he agrees to the offer (instead of going to SEL), they keep him. If he’s willing to play in OKC he would be a nice insurance policy when injuries occur. I just don’t think he’ll see it that way. I think he’s his own worst enemy by making the stupid statements that he has.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I wouldn’t bother with Barker in the AHL.

    Hey JW… I thought the 50 man roster covered all pros: if they dumped Tremblay to make room, can they still add him as an AHL only?

  • dessert1111

    Quite disappointed that they didn’t extend an offer to Tremblay. He had a great year and offers some skills that the Oilers don’t necessarily have on lock-down. I don’t see Petrell or Eager being a better 4th line option than him and it would’ve been nice for him to at least be given a chance given his good performance last year.

  • So, many people are speculating Gagner is the trade bait for better defense, which is causing many to wonder how we’re going to fill that position. My question is, now that we have Yak, does that position really need to be filled? Or maybe, can’t it now be filled by anybody? Before we needed Gagner to produce in order to get two legit scoring lines, but if Yak and Hall are on the same line, does it really matter who’s in between them?

      • db7db7db7

        Well obviously we need someone there. But with two offensive guys on the wings, couldn’t we slot anyone of Lander, Horcoff, or Belangier there. All those guys are more two way face off guys, and I know Belangier was abysmal, what I’m asking is, with Nail and Hall and someone else on our second line, is that an upgrade from Hall and Gagner and who ever they put on right wing? Sort of like if you had to assign offensive numbers to these guys, hall’s a 3, gags is a 2 and everyone else on the left wing was a 1. That adds up to six. But if Yak is a 3, and hall is a 3, even if the replacement center is a 1, that’s still 7. (obviously this is arbitrary math, it just supposed to illustrate my point about how Gagner is still expendable). Or put another way, with hall and yak on the second line, do you see the absence of Gagner as a better or worse line than our second line last year.

  • vetinari

    I have to agree with qualifying the players listed, however, I think that the only risk is if Omark accepts the qualifying offer– he’ll eat up a spot on the 50 man list and will likely need to clear waivers to be sent down.

    Can Omark’s rights still be traded between now and July 1st? If so, I would flip him to a team just to be rid of him and to get the negotiating rights to a potential UFA so even if you don’t sign the UFA, you can at least say you tried something.

  • Wax Man Riley

    I really do wonder about the future of Sam Gagner with this franchise. Can RNH and Gagner coexist on this team? My issue with gagner has always been the fact that his footspeed (although improved) make him vulnerable defensively because he lacks some size and also limits his offensive presence when playing with other smaller forwards. Gagner is the Oilers second line center. Is he the second line center of the future though? Does he have the tools of a Kesler or Beregeron or mike richards (gags is much younger than each of them). I think really good hockey teams have depth at center and complimenting centerman pieces. It is rare that Datsyuks and Zetterbergs are on one team (and both of them have amazing defensive capabilities). With this in mind, I question what the Oilers plans are for Gager in the long term, especially with this upcomming deal. I believe the Oilers should have traded Gagner after his 8 point night at the trade deadline this last year. His value was perhaps at an all time high and it would have indicated the Oilers were searching for a more dynamic 2nd line center to compliment the nuge whose 52 pts in 60 ish games already eclipsed Gagners point total in a season. My advice to the Oilers would be to wade carefully into a long term contract with Samwise. Next year, as every year has been for Sam, will be a very important year for his development. He will be given ample oppurtunity to play with high end talent and rack up points but if he and the team falter, I forsee him being on the block at the trade deadline. His value will be higher if he doesn’t have a ridiculous contract that he signed this offseason and the Oilers have to be wary of how much they have improved with just adding Nail Yakupov and potentially another 2 dmen via trade or free agency. This team has some serious holes, holes that will have to be fixed by giving something up to get something in return. So far Tambellini and co have been extremely cautious in the trade department, but after 5 seasons of Gagner skill evaluation and him playing with the most talented players of his young career, expectations have to be at an all time high for him next season. I am just not sure if Gagner can carry a line and the team to the next level. Mgmt, make sure you question this before you JVR Sam Gagner. I’d Matt Duchene him preferably.
    I know qaulifying him doesn’t really mean much, but I still think the future of Sam in Edmonton should be more up in the air than it appears now.

  • Wax Man Riley

    The point to the last rant I made was that although everyone is up in the air about the defense, I think the center position is the most important. If the Oilers want to contend and improve quickly they are going to need to find someone to play the second line center position ( a defensive playmaker, who can score and play all minutes) sooner rather than later. If they don’t move Sam, it means Sam will be expected or should be expected to do that. I don’t know if Gagner can do it, but I know good Hockey teams have players that can. Jordan Staal can probably do and be a very good 2nd line center. I applaud Jim Rutherford, because i think his team will improve a lot because of the trade he just made.

  • If Omark accepted the qualifying offer would he be on a 1way or 2way deal?

    Honestly i’d like to see him given a shot (which I don’t think he was given last year based on quality of linemates). He’s strong on puck battles, excellent at making space for himself and teammates with his creativity and fun as hell to watch. Give him a shot to take a spot from MPS or Harski if he can. They handled him badly last year and he I think he could help the team as a guy that maybe you HS when you wanna play your goon against Calgary or something.

    Also any chance MacT influenced this?

  • KHR

    Apparantly Columbus offered all of Isles draft picks just to swap their first round picks 2 and 4 . Were we offered the same deal , or perhaps better ? Tremblay should be safest of non qualifiers , and i think we will retain him . Gagner looks like a pawn for upgrade .

  • Omark will not be given a shot here. He does not fit on a top 6 that is too small and too soft. He would actually be one of our less skilled guys in the top 6 and he is small and soft. We need to add the exact opposite type of player. We need grit.

    He may get a look somewhere that he can be in a currently big top 6 that needs more finnesse and maybe a shootout specialist.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Is Omark some sort of fall back if we don’t do anything on the left side this summer? Is the hope a new coach might use him differently and if doesn’t work then send him away on waivers?