This was Steve Tambellini moments after winning the 2012 draft lottery, and since then he’s added two important pieces to what he hopes will eventually be a playoff puzzle. He took Nail Yakupov first overall on June 22nd, added Justin Schultz on July 1st and along with Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins they are the future core of the Oilers.

If the Oilers are going to be more than playoff contenders on paper, Tambellini will need to look at moving any of the other young Oiler prospects once the lockout is over.

Stockpiling prospects is imperative for any successful organization, but most won’t end up playing for the Oilers, so if Tambellini can acquire proven NHL talent in exchange for a prospect or two, he needs to make that move. The question is if he will have any cap space to make a few significant moves.

When the season starts the Oiler’s won’t have much cap space, if any, depending on the new CBA.

Hall, Yakupov, RNH, Eberle, Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Shawn Horcoff, Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones, Eric Belanger, Ben Eager, Darcy Hordichuk and Lennart Petrell have a combined cap hit of $34,433 million.

Schultz, Ryan Whitney, Ladislav Smid, Nick Schultz, Jeff Petry, Theo Peckham, Andy Sutton and Corey Potter have a total cap hit of $18,875 million.

Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin are a combined $7.25 million cap hit.

Add them up and the Oilers sit at $60,558 million.

If they decide to have Magnus Paajarvi, $1,525 million, or Teemu Hartikainen’s, $875,000 million cap hit, and send down a veteran forward that might add to their cap, because the new CBA might have all one-way deals count against the cap. Either way, the new CBA will determine how much cap flexibility they could have.

There have been some rumblings that the Oilers might make a big splash when the lockout ends, but I don’t see how they will be able to add a big contract, unless they move a few big ones of their own. Hall and Eberle’s combined cap hit this year is $4.91 million, but starting next year it jumps to $12 milllion.

The only way I see the Oilers adding a top-end player is if they move Hemsky, Horcoff or surprise everyone and move one of Eberle or Hall. Hemsky is still enticing for many teams, because he is a PROVEN top-six forward, and Horcoff’s contract will be attractive to a team that needs to reach the cap floor, but pay less in actual dollars. I doubt one of the kids is moved anytime soon, but if Tambellini is going to make a major splash it will be difficult due to cap restrictions.


Looking down the road the Oilers will need to find guys to play in their bottom-six. They have enough skill in their top-two lines, although some skill with size is a definite must-have, so as they look to the future they need to find players who are good penalty killers, solid defensively and most importantly, consistent.

I find it interesting how many people want to deal Ryan Jones away because Magnus Paajarvi, Teemu Hartikainen or Tyler Pitlick need a chance. Hartikainen has size, but he doesn’t skate as well as Jones and to date he doesn’t shown the ability to score the gritty, plugger-type goals that Jones does. If Jones can score 13-17 goals on your third line and kill penalties, he’s a solid asset. He’s done that the past two years. I’d like him to crash and bang on a more consistent basis, but only Hall drew more penalties amongst top-nine forwards.

The Oilers had the 5th most PK minutes in the NHL last year, and only Horcoff had more PK minutes amongst the forwards than Jones. Jones has a decent cap hit or $1.5 million and he’s scored 17 and 18 goals the past two seasons. Moving him out to make room for a young player makes no sense at this point, because I don’t see any prospect who can kill penalties, go to the tough areas to score, and actually produce like Jones has.

The Oilers won’t win with a lineup based solely on youth. They need some veterans. If Horcoff had a lower cap hit, he’d be the perfect complement. If Smyth was a few years younger, he’d be able to play here for another four years. They Oilers need to find versions of those two, but proven NHL players, not guys in the farm system.

When the NHL resumes, Tambellini and his staff will need to find some 26-32 year-old veterans who can help nurture the young core, and he’ll need to use some of his 2nd tier youth as trade bait.

Too many people fall in love with prospects, but the harsh reality is that very few of them ever pan out. The Oilers have to start over-hyping their prospects, and then move a few of them to a team that will fall in love with their "potential."

I’ve read articles suggesting the Oilers might end up with five or six players from their 2010 draft playing in Edmonton. That will only happen if the Oilers continue to be a bottom feeder. If they want to take the next step, they will need to have more proven, every day NHLers, and not worry about parting with young prospects to obtain those veterans.


  • The NHL and NHLPA will meet today and both sides will have some new blood in the room. The NHL is keeping it hush on which owners will be there, but maybe some fresh faces will bring some fresh ideas.
  • Another Oiler, Oscar Klefbom, has suffered a serious shoulder injury. Swedish sports reporter Johan Eriksson tweeted me an update about the situation. "As I understand his shoulder got dislocated but "jumped back in" immediately. But when it got dislocated he got a fracture on the joint capsule and bleeding in the shoulder." The only good news is that he should be ready for camp next September.
  • In the history of Edmonton sports the Ricky Ray trade might be 2nd worst all-time. I’m not including trades where the player asked to be traded, Pronger, or where the deal was strictly due to money, Weight, Messier, Coffey. Do you have any other trades you’d rank ahead of Ray, besides Gretzky?

    I’d hope the Eskimos fans who liked the trade will realize they undervalued Ricky Ray.  The move also illustrates how badly Danny Maciocia and Eric Tillman managed the Eskimos the past six years. Maciocia gave Ray virtually no supporting cast, while Tillman made an awful decision. The Eskimos can’t afford to hire the wrong guy as their next GM. They need a leader, a guy who isn’t afraid to make tough decisions, and a man who is very organized. Ed Hervey will be one of the four to six men to get an interview, and he’s my leading candidate to land the job.  

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Keep Hall, Eberle, Nugent hopkins, Yakupov, Shultz. Everyone else is trade bait. Not that I don’t like some of the players I didn’t mention but we may have to give up something good to get something great. Love the young talent on this team but I don’t like the mix of players at all in Edmonton. Not enough quality veterans and we might be the smallest team in the league. If we head into the season with almost the same group as last year plus two rookies we will be looking at another lottery pick. We should make a new rule in edmonton that we don’t get too excited about prospects before they make an impact at the NHL level. I like what I see with Kleefbom but is he really that far ahead of Smid at his age?

  • ItsTheBGB

    I don’t consider the Pronger trade bad at all. Eberle, Smid, and Lupul is a solid haul, didn’t we also get a first round pick that turned into Buffalo drafting Tyler Myers?

  • I prefer the conspiracy theory that the Esks/Tillman were paid off in order to give TO the quarterback needed to get the Argos into the 100th anniversary Grey Cup game in Toronto. 😛 ~~~

  • Hemsky is more valuable to the Oilers than he is to any other team. Hemsky ain’t going no where. If Eberle gets injuried: where is your RW?

    Gagner, a good prospect or two and 1 or 2 first round picks of the future should get the Oilers an improvement that they need.

      • Yakupov can play RW.
        If there is no trade Yakupov won’t be playing RW on the 3rd line.

        Lets say Oilers do trade Hemsky and Eberle gets injuried: that would mean Yakupov as a rookie is your only skilled RW. As stupid as some stupids think the Oilers management is, I can’t see them taking that chance.

        Hall, Horcoff, Lander. Patrick Sharp? I believe the Oilers will make a big deal with a team like Chicago or San Jose for example, teams that have cap problems and sense that their time is passing or need a new direction.

        • Jason Gregor

          Currently Oilers have higher payroll than Hawks. Not sure how Oilers would take Sharp’s $5.9 cap hit unless they give back a big contract. And if Hawks move a forward, I bet it is Kane before Sharp.

  • Oh, and the Ryan Smyth trade ripped my heart out, so based on that alone I would have it ahead of the Ray trade. The truth is Danny Maciocia already killed most of the passion that I had for the Esks. Tillman just spit on its rotting corpse.

  • The way I see it the Oilers need fewer forwards and more defense. There is no legit #1 d-man on the Oil. We had Petry and Smid pulling the top pairing duties but they are 3-4 on a decent club. I hope the WOW trade brings in a defender and I’d be just fine if that trade meant that the Cap hits of Hemsky/Horcoff went and a few AHL guys like Pitlick, Teubert, Hartikainen, or even Marincin were sent the other way.

    I’m pretty high on the futures of Marincin and Hartikainen, but if you are getting a legit top 2-3 defenseman then you cant just give up Horcoff and the rights to Omark.

  • Truth

    I can’t imagine Tillman ever getting another GM job. Unless it was Toronto and that was his plan all along, in which case it would all make sense.

    I sure hope the Oilers don’t botch a trade or make one that forces them to give up or be unable to resign the young guys in the future.

    If Yakupov continues this pace in the KHL I believe he would be the most likely to be shipped out in a trade. I think Yakupov is going to be one of the best of the young bunch, but as of yet he isn’t really part of the bunch. The Montreal rumours would appear to be the most fitting, with Galchenyuk there now. If that happened, I would like to see something like: Yakupov and Marincin for Pacioretty (sp?) and Subban. I would much rather see Yakupov as an Oiler though.

    • Jason Gregor

      Pacioretty scored 33 goals and Subban plays 20+ minutes…Highly doubt you get them for Yak and a “what if” in Marincin.

      I see why you’d want that deal, but not sure MTL makes that deal. Also if you make that deal you have to move more salary out. Pacioretty makes $4 million next year and Subban likely gets at least $4 on his new deal.

  • Big Cap

    Just because Jones doesn’t have the glitz or glamor of our Fab 5 that doesn’t mean he isn’t a key cog in the wheel.

    Jones a 3rd/4th line winger who produces goals, decent PK, good energy, good team guy and comes at a very reasonable price. What’s the down size here??

    I hope if there is the “WOW” trade, it involves a D-man. We need a true horse back there. While our young D core grows. Though Weber is a 1000-1 long shot, I hate to say I’m thinking J-Bo.

    • Jason Gregor

      You are a joke if you think Tillman is going to Toronto. Why would they get rid of Jim Barker, who fleeced Tillman and has his team playing for Grey Cup, and replace him with Tillman. Wake up.

  • I was really hoping you would have taken the time to speculate on some of the trade rumors circling, based on what you see as the cap predicament the team is in.

    If, what Tambellini said is true, and there will be a wow trade once the lockout ends, who do you think it will be?

    P.S. I also agree moving Jones is a bad idea. The guy is one of Tambellini’s best acquisitions when you look at how much he produces for what he gets paid. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone better for that role, that comes at a cheaper price in the entire NHL.

    • Jason Gregor

      Speculate…The Luongo deal? I don’t think any deal has much truth until we see what the new CBA looks like. Regardless I don’t add Luongo due to his age. Oilers aren’t primed to win in the next three years, and after that Luongo will be 36. No thanks.

      Bouwmeester…Not sure how they can afford his cap-hit…In two years when he as UFA I’d look at him, but not now.

      Haven’t heard/read any others…If there are others, let me know which ones…

      • 24% body fat

        Ok, those are fair points on both names. However, if hypothetically there is going to be a ‘wow’ trade who do you think it will be and what can you see going back the other way?

        I think Hemsky’s trade value has gone way up since he’s been playing well in the Czech league. Not to mention he has a very attractive contract. Since we have what looks to be a very capable right wing coming in from the KHL (Nail), do you think the Hemsky signing was more of an insurance policy that could turn into trade bait to plug other holes on the team?

        Do you think he’d be enough to net a center with size? Or a top two D man?

        I don’t see Yak or Nuge going anywhere since we currently get them for nothing and if I understand your article right, we’d need to send money out if we’re going to take money back in.

        Finally, if the Oilers are trading out vets, won’t we run into a problem of being an all around young and inexperienced team? Is that a bad thing or can the kids get it done under the leadership of Hall who plays his heart out every night.