Last spring we had a lot of questions and the summer, fall and winter delivered answers. The Nuge WAS golden, Smyth’s return was wonderful and the team improved but ended up in the same old neighbourhood. What are the questions this summer? More importantly, what are the answers?

We did this last year, asking questions and then following up here and here. Here are this year’s questions:

  1. Who will they take #1 overall? Nail Yakupov. It is very interesting to see that Ryan Murray has been invited to join Team Canada’s WHC entry and even if it only means some exhibition time there’s still a nice chance for the Oilers’ brass to observe the prospect. Still, passing on exceptional offensive talent–the best available in this draft season–would take big brass. Oilers make the safe and offensively charged pick and go with the Russian.
  2. Who will coach? Tom Renney. Lots of chatter about Brent Sutter today but I don’t see him as a clearly better option and Renney has been onboard with the development process. It would be wise to put together a stronger team with a better defense and then see how far up the standings they can fly. Sutter as a co-coach ala Quinn/Renney might be viable, as the Oilers seemed to like the duo coach approach (Sather-Muckler) a few years ago.
  3. How will they improve the defense? I do believe Steve Tambellini and crew will be very aggressive. Since Bob McKenzie mentioned Edmonton as a possible landing spot for soon to be UFA Justin Schultz Oiler fans have been talking about him. That kind of strategy is brilliant because the club can add to the cluster without using assets. I also think the club will be very aggressive in pursuit of Jason Garrison and adding both to a top 4 of Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry, Nick Schultz and Ryan Whitney would go a long way to shoring up a position of weakness.
  4. If they trade to upgrade D, who will they trade? Sam Gagner is the obvious choice to my way of thinking. Solid 2line C who scores 40-49 points every year, he’s young enough to improve and is a consistent player. Edmonton should be able to cobble together a deal for a quality NHL defenseman to fit the cluster if they are shopping Gagner.
  5. Will they move Hall to center? Jason Gregor and Dennis King both mentioned this awhile back and with the lottery win I thnk it might happen. Oilers up the middle would be much stronger and it allows them to deal Gagner for that defenseman so badly needed.
  6. Do the Oilers continue the DD-NK tandem or look to improve it? This is an area of need but the Oilers appear content to stay the course. Underneath the NHL depth chart, Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz are showing very well but their ETA is down the road. Edmonton should look at buying out the Russian’s final season but it doesn’t sound like that is being considered at this time.
  7. Will they make a big splash this summer? An offer sheet to Vancouver’s backup goalie would be a plan but one doubts Edmonton makes the call. If they do anything earth shattering it’ll be via trade.
  8. What will the top 2 lines look like in the fall? My guess is that RNH, Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky and Ryan Smyth line up together. Gagner too if he’s still here and of course Smyth isn’t signed yet.
  9. How many of their own unrestricted free agents do the Oilers sign this summer? Two. Smyth, Petrell.
  10. Which current NHL player on another roster has the best chance of being an Oiler in the fall? Jason Garrison. I think they send a lot of money and term his way.



The last few years, summer has been the most exciting time to be an Oiler fan. It looks like another fun summer is on the way. Stay close to the news.


  • justDOit

    @ LT:

    I know the reasons behind wanting to move Hall to the middle, but do you really think he has the mentality for the position? It requires some restraint, and is much more difficult to play, positionally.

    I don’t see these qualities in Hall. He’s a thoroughbred, born to race down the wing in a hell-bent lather, pushing the defence back and making room for his line-mates.

    What about Ebs to center? I know he doesn’t fulfill the size down the middle that the Oilers need, but he’s only two inches shorter than Hall but plays much bigger than his stature. He thinks the game on a higher level, sees the ice better and would be more responsible defensively.

  • 5 Cups

    I will go on record as saying I fully support getting rid of renney and bringing in either sutter or mact.

    I think the oil will be a new team next year. Another high pick and a few assets (omark, prv, gags, picks) to try and get some D with. I think the oil take yak in the draft. He is projected to be far and above the best of his class and I doubt that anyone offers anything worthy of taking (and NO flamers fan boumester for the number 1 pick straight up will NOT EVER happen…pull your head out of your @ss)

    should be fun to watch next year….looking forward to it……should the CBA get done.

  • Lexi

    My answer to some of LT questions;

    1. They take Yakupov, but I love that Murray is going to the Worlds. I’ve got to think seeing him play and practice with NHL players is a better way to evaluate a prospect than watching him lift weights and ride a bike. Murray definitely had the best last two months of the top 5 prospects.

    2. At this point my guess would be Sutter with Krueger as co coaches.

    3/4/5. I think they move Hall to C, trade Gagner for Gunnerson, trade Omark, second rd pick and D prospect not named Klefbom for Tyutin. I think Schultz goes to Tor as Burke is who drafted him.

    8. Top lines: MP-RNH-Ebs. Yak-Hall-Hemsky

    I’m sure they will not get Suter and if the bidding for Carle, Wideman, and Garrison goes above $5mill a yr they should bow out.

    • Dutchscooter

      There couldn’t be a better time to move Hall to Centre. Don’t underestimate Hall’s hockey IQ. By moving to centre he would be required to develop more discretion and responsibility in his game and still have ice to wind up and make room for his wingers. I think its a brilliant move that would require a year of development and not just a few games to see what happens. When they drafted Hall I was hoping this day would come. Noe package Gagner up and get us some skilled grit (ala Malone, Clowe, Boyle). Not to mention a hard run at J. Schultz. What a summer to be an Oiler Fan!

  • If you are using current roster players to make gains via a trade, I would sooner trade Fly By Hemsky than Gagner… if its a big fish we are chasing,.. trade both of them.{ and their peewee hockey sticks].
    Schnieder is not coming to Edmonton . Check out his recent remarks about Edmonton, [ for which he apologized.]
    Something to be noted about Tambelini’s rebuild here. If you are watching todays NHL playoffs, you better come on the ice with some Beef, and everyone on the team better be ready for some ” Rollerball Hockey” . Its mean , though and dirty out there. Todays o Oiler line up would get eaten alive.ANOTHER REASON RENNEY IS NOT THE MAN FOR THIS TEAM. He is a passive coach, with the idea of ” turning the other cheek” as the way to respond.

      • Consistent seasonal totals… not very consistent game to game though (actually iirc, the issue he’s a slow starter). I’ve been a Gagner fan since day one though, and think he could be that player one day. But I don’t think consistency and Gagner are too synonymous right now. His game improved this year though, I thought, to a more 2-way game.

        I think I’ve become a lot more accepting of moving Gagner as of recent, but like you too, I probably still would hate to see him go.

      • I should have read your On The Beach article before posting. I like Gagner too, if he could smooth out the streaks I’d like him a lot more. If we take Yakupov(I hope we do) then we may not see him traded and he’ll have those wingers you were talking about

  • Starving Student

    I pray we don’t throw term at Garrison! Another journey men is not the top 4 d we should be looking for! What about Barret Jackman if he becomes available? Have 3 solid stay at home D-men and allow Whitney, Petry & whoever some more leeway to take chances offensively!

  • Lowetide

    Garrison has been playing well for some time now, although the offense is new and would cost dollars. Still, he’s a strong option and the Oilers do have cap room.

  • Skidplate

    I don’t think the Oilers can buyout Khaby, since he signed his contract after 35 years old. I may be mistaken though.

    I believe their only choice is to send him to the minors or loan him to a team overseas. His cap hit would still count though.