ARMCHAIR GM XV: DOWN A CHIP

Granted, the market was at best minute and any return wasn’t going to be much more than a box of tape or a bucket of pucks, but Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has one less bargaining chip to play between now and the NHL trade deadline, thanks to Nikolai Khabibulin’s tender groin.

With the deadline arriving next Monday, the Oilers announced Khabibulin will be on the shelf for seven to 10 days because of a strained groin, which he suffered while digging pucks out of the net in the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks Sunday.

That timetable, even at seven days, takes Khabibulin to the deadline and effectively puts an end to the possibility, however remote, of moving the 39-year-old along to a team looking for help in the crease. With Khabibulin having one more year remaining on his contract, the market for him was, what, Chicago and . . ?

If there’s a silver lining, the injury will give Tom Renney little choice but to take a longer look at Devan Dubnyk, who has yet to prove he’s the answer in goal down the road. Given the Oilers have a day off before each of their next six games, it’s possible he could start every one of them. No need to spell Dubnyk off with Yann Danis, who has been recalled from Oklahoma City.

For the most part, Dubnyk has struggled mightily of late. In his last five games, Dubnyk’s saves percentages have been .786, .870, .833, .897 and .915. Overall, he’s sitting at .905 with a 3.05 GAA. These are not the numbers, even allowing for the flawed team in front of him, of a goaltender who can carry the mail moving forward.

THE WAY I SEE IT

If you take Tambellini at his word, Khabibulin isn’t the only chip off the table because he’s already gone on record as saying he’s not going to move Ryan Smyth, who has drawn more interest from contending teams than pending unrestricted free agent Ales Hemsky.

This, from Jim Matheson’s Hockey World at the Edmonton Journal:

"Five teams, including the defending Cup champion Boston Bruins, were hot to trot on Edmonton Oilers winger Ryan Smyth. The Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings were sniffing around, too.

Nashville is lukewarm on Ales Hemsky; they’re definitely not as keen on him as they were on Smyth. They will not move golden boy defenceman Ryan Ellis, who helped set up (Jordan) Eberle’s dramatic last-gasp world junior goal in Ottawa. Nashville doesn’t want to give up a first-round pick in any deal because they did that last trade deadline for Mike Fisher."

Smyth, who can’t be moved without giving his consent, is also on the record as saying Edmonton is where he wants to be and that he has no interest in taking a run at a Stanley Cup elsewhere, even if he retains the option to come back with a new contract next season. Smyth reiterated that with me in a conversation in the last couple of days.

— Everybody paying attention knows the Los Angeles Kings are in desperate need of scoring help up front. They’ve got no shot, none, to do anything in the playoffs without that component. That fact, and it’s no news bulletin, makes Hemsky a possibility.

That said, I shudder every time I read somebody suggesting that taking Dustin Penner back in a do-over as part of a trade might make it work with Dean Lombardi. When I said last week that Tambellini should get what he can for Hemsky, I didn’t mean accepting less than nothing.

WHILE I’M AT IT

Some people are of the mind that Tambellini should do everything he can to re-sign Hemsky unless he’s got a better Plan B for a top-six forward in mind, and that’s certainly fair comment.

Others, including those supposedly in the know, have suggested that Tambellini might address fears about Hemsky’s durability by offering him a contract with less term than the four or five years he and agent Jiri Crha are seeking or by putting a pact laden with performance bonuses on the table.

I’ve had a reader ask about this possibility in recent days and yesterday, the person who calls themselves TreenasOil on Twitter indicated the Oilers are doing exactly that by tweeting the following: "Oilers working on a bonus laced contract for Hemsky with term."

While that makes perfect sense, it’s not allowed under the CBA. Here’s the language on bonuses:

"Performance bonuses will only be permissible for the following types of players: (1) players on entry-level contracts; (2) players signing one-year contracts after returning from long-term injuries (players with 400 or more games who spent 100 or more days on injured reserve in the last year of their most recent contract); and senior veteran players who sign a one-year contract after the age of 35."

Have a terrific Family Day.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Isn’t the idea of Penner returning strictly for the Kings cap purposes? I mean, if the Kings want to make a couple moves, they may need to shed an expiring contract to make the numbers jive. So isn’t the idea that the Oil would get a guy like Forbort for Hemsky, but that they’d have to take Penner too (and do with him what they want – flip for a pick/play the season out/potentially re-sign at a discount)?

    Hemsky & Plante for Penner & Forbort

  • Dyckster

    wheresyourtowel said

    “I am picturing Hemmer holding up a bottle of Rexall brand acetaminophen tablets to a camera for an afternoon and walking away with a cool $1M.”

    Is that legal? If it is I say we pursue it, vigorously.

  • TLHansum

    Tambo elects to hold on to Hemsky and now we have damages goods. We either sign him or give him up for nothing. Khabby is now hurt again and so we have to hold on to him til next trade deadline but we ll get nothing for him. Ryan Whitney will be on his final year of his contract next year and if he gets hurt early in the season then what. MORE DAMAGED GOODS!!! When will we learn? When these players are healthy, they make us a better team however they can’t stay healthy. We don’t have a goalie of the future in the AHL, or top four defenseman or a top six forward plus no stars will sign in Edmonton. Katz, this is a mess. Lets sign Tambo and Lowe to a five year contract so they can screw this up more. I feel sorry for the fans in Edmonton cuz they constantly here excuses.

    • Agreed, the news of a Tambellini extension should not be well received among Oil faithful. He has played the waiting game with assets before and been burned and gets burned again with the groin issues with Khabby not that he was even a moveable piece but for sure now he is not. The mind set of staying the course might make sense if the fan could see a light or some glimmer of hope. I fail to see it and am painfully reminded with each new game we play. Where is the improvement ? How are we not the softest team to play against this year versus last year. The injury excuse can not be used as we have iced a full roster outside of the Nuge all be it still very much a boy playing a mans game. How is it the 94 calls the shots with respect to where he wants to be. Lets face it, if we can get something of value for him we should consider. What, he can’t be away from his family for 2-3 months and resign here in the summer ? I would say the patience of the fans here is running thin and things need to be done to try and better this joke of a team even if it means the shake up of a muti millionaire’s family for a couple of months. Tambellini has very little moveable parts here to deal with so taking another off the table does not make sense in this case.
      Yes Hemmer has skill but where has all this so called skill placed us lately ?? We still have to many similar soft, so called skilled forwards of which none have attained the 80-90 point mark. I fail to see this skill.
      All said and I continue on the belief that Klowe is the root of this evil that has prevented to organization to move forward. It is difficult for the average fan to assess Tambellini with KLowe so much apart of the day to day decisions. In this case both be gone or we will continue our decent to mediocrity and false hope.

  • I’m curious about Danis. I’d like to see him play a game or two. Riding DD through the next stretch of games the way the team is playing might be tough to watch. Now is the time to assess what we have.
    As for the Hemsky situation I think that it depends on return. Howson is pricing Nash out of the trade conversation which makes #83 a very attractive pick-up. Tambi would be crazy not to be listening. However- signing him is a good option too. If Tambi is doing his job we cannot loose. In a trade we should be looking for SIZE w/ grit (even 3rd line) and a seasoned D prospect. Skip the picks.
    There is an emotional element to the (lack of?) Smyth conversation that I don’t like at all. He’s a great guy, he wants to be here, he’s an Oiler- I know the story. But seriously- what has he done for this organization this year? He was good early in the year but was it at the expense of others (PRV, Eager)? Is it me or does he take lazy penalties? His stick looks to be too short- I mean he just can’t handle the puck. Some say he plays the tough minutes. Sure- and he seems to be loosing.
    What I’m leading to is that I think that we should be telling #94 that this summer we will not be making him an offer. It think it might change his mind about being traded. Yes Oiler fans- even to Calgary.

    • Danis is 30. He’s a very good AHL goaltender, as he’s shown again in OKC this season. What you see is what you get. At his age, there’s no need to take a look at him in the context of long-term future plans at the NHL level. Might get a courtesy game during call-up as a reward for work well done on the farm.

      Nash dictates here he goes. He’s tired of losing and the sideshow in Columbus, so he’ll come to a bottom feeder and be 30, at least, before this team contends? Please.

      Some say Smyth plays the tough minutes? He was playing the tough minutes. He was played too much early in the season. That’s not his fault.

      And it’s “losing,” not “loosing.”

      • magisterrex

        Nash dictates *where* he goes.

        Just helping correct spelling errors as I see that’s what we do here.

        Of course, the spelling issue doesn’t change the fact that everything you wrote was correct.

        • a lg dubl dubl

          As a long-time reader but a first time poster I chose not to go there. I didn’t think that Mr. Brownlee would appreciate the low-ball attitude.

          I was in the stands for some of those games back when #94 scored 39. I also remember when Smyth, Weight and Guerin were the best line in the NHL. I’m a big fan. I’d like to see him win a Cup. He’d look awesome with the Bruins or the Wings banging home the garbage.

          In his career 154 of his 371 goals have come on the PP. Here he’ll get only second unit time + his strength is not on the defensive side of the puck. He’s not a talker and in this situation it’s impossible for him to lead on the ice.

          • magisterrex

            I doubt that Brownlee is that thin-skinned that he can’t take a tiny bit of ribbing over a post with a spelling error that corrects someone else’s spelling error. Maybe a blast back, perhaps.

            Now a personal attack on his journalistic standards or similar is different. I’ve been around long enough to see people do that, and then be shown the error of their ways.

            I’m pleased that Smyth is thinking of his family before his career. Hope Tambellini figures out how to extend him without overpaying him.

          • A dropped “w” isn’t a spelling mistake. It’s a typo, unless you think I don’t know how to spell “where.”

            I’m pretty sure our man SteadyEd, on the other hand, has been spelling losing as “loosing” all along. It’s a common mistake and he did it more than once here. That said, if you’re going to pull on the grammar police hat, as I do from time to time and did with SteadyEd, you risk getting razzed if you bungle it with a smart-guy reply, so you’re fine — on the face of it.

            A quick analysis of your archived comments here and elsewhere on the internet by the Bronte 5000, however, indicates you tend to poke at me when any chance presents itself, so that changes everything. You have been banned for life.

            . . .

            . . .

            Not really, but the pause to allow people to rev up the “*@?!#”!/&”%$” Brownlee” routine amuses me to no end. No Full Bronte for you, yet.

          • magisterrex

            It’s not Smyth’s fault that Tambellini has crapped the bed. The Tom Renney/Pat Quinn era will be long remembered for showing us all why MacT was a good coach with a crappy lineup. The scary thought is that Ralph Krueger is even worse.

      • magisterrex

        Throwing DD in vs. the Flames and Flyers right now seems like a big mistake- doesn’t it? His confidence seems to be a little shaky right now.

        My point concerning Nash was that Howson is pricing him out of the market- all around the league. Hemsky is a better option if you’re looking for a deadline pick-up IMO. (Nash wouldn’t want to come to Edmonton, we don’t have what it would take to get him and I’m sure that I don’t want him… we have Hemsky).

        re: Smyth. Is the rest of the season not going to be his fault? Are his minutes going to get easier? He dropped off at the end of last year too didn’t he? I just don’t see where he fits on this team. He’s not a third line guy.

  • justDOit

    I can’t understand why Smyth would not want to make another (and most likely final) run at a Cup. I don’t buy his reason about family either – the guy makes 2/3s of my annual salary in one GAME. Do you think he could afford a housekeeper for 2 months?

      • a lg dubl dubl

        I’ve got a wife and children and count me as one of those that is lucky to be able to spend the majority of my time in town. Having said that though, I do know of guys who work out of town for a month or more at a time and some who work in the middle East in Oil who are gone for sometimes months at a time. These guys are all making bank, no doubt, but they ain’t pullin 6M per and they still find a way to work away and have a family.

        And don’t NHL players spend a lot of nights on the road as it is? I’m kinda confused why a a couple months on the road with a few flights home wouldn’t be worth it for the chance to hoist the cup.

        But, everybody’s situation is different so I respect 94’s decision either way.

    • Dan the Man

      I don’t know Ryan Smyth but I gather from what he’s said that his family doesn’t want to move from Edmonton again and he doesn’t want to leave his family, even if it’s temporary.

  • TLHansum

    I love the professional quip at “TreenasOil” It just goes to show the difference between a real writer with knowledge of the game and someone on twitter.

    “The Oilers will now attempt to circumvent the CBA” APG