(Photo by Rob Ferguson. All rights reserved).

As an Oilers fan, I would love to see this damn lockout end today, with news that the NHLers in OKC will fly to YEG after the AHL game against Houston tonight. The positive arrows in OKC are real and spectacular, and the "possible callup" list is increasing.


I think the Oilers will rely heavily on the OKC roster in the early weeks of an NHL season (which, lets not get ahead of ourselves, is not a certainty) and the candidates for the big league club are many:

  • Jordan Eberle (31, 23-24-47) is on pace for a 50-goal season in the AHL (a rare item) and appears to be at another level altogether this season. Is this the year he moves into "Joey Mullen" territory as a sniper?
  • Taylor Hall (23, 12-20-32) is looking close to 100% now (7-9-16 in his last 10 games) and is creating chaos every shift. Is this the year he goes super nova?
  • Justin Schultz (31, 17-28-45) A 2012-13 season will offer him a chance to debut in the NHL but rob him of a chance to set some significant rookie scoring records in the AHL. I’m sure he’d be fine with the trade. The day he was signed, many felt he was the most significant free agent signing for the Oilers in many years, and I don’t think he’s disappointed anyone since that day.
  • Teemu Hartikainen (31, 10-11-21) has probably done enough to put himself in the conversation for top 9F employment with the big club when everyone returns. There will be no lack of competition–the NHL wingers will include Hall, Eberle, Yakupov, Hemsky, Smyth, Jones–but Hartikainen’s 31 AHL games may give him enough of an edge to play ahead of one of these fellows (or be the first option for injury/slump).
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (19, 8-12-20) took some time away from the Barons in order to lead the WJ’s in scoring (so far) and before that had a strong 19 games in OKC. His PP prowess (3-9-12) remains and he continues to show signs of being a more complete player with terrific anticipation on the forecheck and the backcheck. He is the most sublime Oiler passing center since Doug Weight.
  • Magnus Paajarvi (31, 4-15-19) is in basically the same spot as Hartikainen. MP has earned the opportunity to play in the NHL, but as luck would have it the positions he qualifies for are populated by 1st overall picks, emerging impact Eberle’s and effective veterans like Hemsky and Smyth. I had been hoping Paajarvi would find some chemistry with one of the NHL Barons but it was not to be, and that alone might mean he ends up being the odd man out in terms of trade.
  • Yann Danis (23, 2.61 .919) had a slow start but is providing the Barons with outstanding goaltending now. I do think he’s a strong option to begin an NHL season in Edmonton because of the inactivity of both of Edmonton’s NHL goaltenders during the lockout. He’s more than an insurance item, he’s very likely one of the two best goalies in the organization at this time. I think it is completely possible the Oilers acquire/sign another AHL veteran goalie right after the lockout ends with a mind to taking Danis north and keeping him there.


  • Chris VandeVelde (26, 1-8-9) Based on how coach Nelson uses him, and the struggles of Anton Lander in North America, I think its reasonable to suggest VV might be the first center called up due to injury/slump. Although he’s not going to provide much offense, VandeVelde can PK duties and has decent size.
  • Colten Teubert (31, 2-3-5 96pims) and a guy who I think is pretty close to being a lock on the Oilers blueline. He had a tough time of it last season after being called up, but the new transitional NHL might be the perfect time for him to step in and I think he’ll get the first call due to injury.
  • Taylor Fedun (28, 2-6-8) I think he’s put himself in the conversation, and that has changed since October. Fedun’s situation and some exceptional insight into the player was provided by Jason Strudwick during the Christmas break, if you missed it check it out here. Although Fedun does not offer the physical element that Colten Teubert does, his calm feet and intelligent play surely have the Oilers impressed. If not for this season, then certainly for next.
  • Mark Arcobello (29, 9-19-28) Can’t believe I’m saying this–hell we know the Oilers and a small forward is NOT what they are looking for–but Arcobello has once again beaten the odds and found a way to rise to the top. He has been an effective EV player for some time in the AHL and that may get him a look.
  • Anton Lander (27, 2-4-6) I am hoping the Oilers allow Lander to spend the entire season in OKC, and in recent weeks he has shown signs of turning things around. That has not been there m.o. in recent years, so Lander makes the list because he is very likely on the Oilers list for early recall.


  • Josh Green (14, 2-3-5) Injured for much of the first half and not completely effective when in the lineup, Green does offer the Oilers a veteran hand and some physical play. He can also play center and wing.
  • Martin Marincin (28, 3-10-13) has been chaos incorporated for weeks now, but the Oilers don’t usually take a long time before giving their best defensive prospects a taste of the NHL. A callup for a cup of coffee is not out of the question should the NHL return.
  • Tanner House (19, 2-1-3) qualifies in much the same way as VandeVelde. This is not an offensive player, but in a 4-line role short term I could see why the Oilers might think about using him. He’d be in the conversation I think if VandeVelde was unavailable for callup.
  • Tyler Pitlick (24, 1-2-3) isn’t doing a damn thing offensively, but does have some crash and bang curb appeal–something the Oilers are always looking for. In much the same way as Marincin could receive the call, I think Pitlick may also get a cup of coffee.


A couple of things:

  1. Midriff rules in Oklahoma
  2. The fact that so many established NHL players didn’t play during the lockout opens up the doors for about one dozen AHL players. Along with Hall, Eberle, Nuge and Schultz, and in addition to Paajarvi, Hartikainen and Danis, there are many more prospects and suspects at least  "in the conversation" because of the increased opportunity for injury and poor play.

It could be much ado about nothing, but history tells us someone didn’t think the lockout would end and conducted themselves accordingly. As with all pro sports, the list of men ready and waiting to take advantage is surprisingly abundant: the difference between the average 4th liner in the NHL and a top flight AHL forward is probably not as big as the NHLers would like to believe.

This could get interesting.

  • John Chambers

    Does that “gifted” young woman have any idea how much play she gets on this site?

    Arcobello deserves a look. On a scoring line. Especially if 89 struggles out of the gate.

    Time the Oilers started awarding ice time based on merit.

  • Mark-LW

    Arcobello deserves an audition for scoring line forward. If it works out, Gagner + Hemsky + pick = top end defenseman! He has looked as good or better than RNH with Eberle and Hall at even strength. Better on the draw and defensively too. Obviously he’s not a better player than RNH but he’s played in his spot for 10 games now and has not looked out of place, which has to cause someone to watch.

  • John Chambers

    Happy New Year everyone!

    If the lockout ends, I think the Oilers should leave Baby Nuge in Russia until the tourney is done. Some pressure packed games should do him some good imho.

  • Mark-LW

    i’m not interested in seeing anyone in the nhl make one penny this year,scrap the season already,forget about your half a years pay,for some laim 40 game season.fix the problem once and for all this time.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    “It could be much ado about nothing, but history tells us someone didn’t think the lockout would end and conducted themselves accordingly.”

    This probably as good a time as any for beat reporters to be hassling NHLers not currently engaged in a competitive league as to their intentions…

    “If you want to marry my daughter (re: play in the NHL anytime soon), you better shape up and get a job!”

    that kind of thing.


    defying reasonable expectations, I believe those are actually TWO DIFFERENT ladies! they seem to travel uniformed and in packs.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Finally some competition for jobs may occur…….but I cannot let myself dream of that as I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on negotiations.

    There will be another breakdown as the Union will ask for something stupid and out of left field…….just when it seems the deal is done.

    If there is a deal, and there is an amnesty clause…….and Horcoff is sent to the light, then I will know there is a hockey god.

  • Id be blown away if Gags and Hemmer were shipped off and Arco was brought up. Gags and Hemsky were given short contracts so that they could prove their worth before we decide what to do with them. If Tambellini wanted to trade them it would have already happened. If he wanted to keep them he would have locked them up for at least 4 yrs a piece. What those two signings meant was that he is unsure and wanted one more year to evaluate them before deciding his next move.

  • OilClog

    Let’s not trade Gagner because another small center is playing well within the organization.

    Gags is playing well overseas, and during the Spengler cup. Arcobello can have an audition when injuries happen.

    If Gags was in OKC he would be tearing it up aswell.

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      I was half-kidding when I suggested Arcobello could replace Gagner, but only half. Part of it comes down to money – a top end defenseman is needed, which is going to cost at least as much as Hemsky does now, and Arcobello is 2.5 million cheaper than Gagner. It could be a wacky thing this summer so if Arcobello comes to the NHL for 15 games and plays well, he might just be the best option for the roster spot. Centre depth in the organization is scary. Who else is there, and how else to get a top 2 defenseman? Arcobello is also better on the dot than anyone not named Belanger, so that’s another plus.

      I am only arguing for a real audition though, not saying he should be handed the job and Gagner be traded. With the craziness this summer will likely bring it’s a good time to see what you have in the organization to make trades, sign new players, let others walk, etc. And in a short season it’s not a bad idea to play people who have been playing hockey for months already.

  • I was being sarcastic suggesting a Gagner trade. In fact, if I was Arcobello, I would sit back and appreciate what situation he is in , will never again, in all likelyhood, center 2 wingers like he has on his flanks right now. Good for him though, making the best of it.

  • DSF

    Don’t understand why you think Gagner would start the year not ready for action. He has been playing decent overseas and had a above average spengler cup as mentioned.

    Gagner has improved a lot since last year after recovering from injury. His strength and FO % also has increased. Playing a line-up of

    This line up is a decent one with good depth. For those worried about RNH and FO % for RNH, my question is ‘What are your thoughts on Malkin as a Center?’ Malkin has never been even a 50% FO competitor. He generally ranges from 37%-47% but very few question how many FO’s he loses. Why? Cause it doesn’t cost them games. I expect RNH will see more defensive zone FO’s this year as he actually produced better in the defensive zone. Gagner saw a good increase in his FO % so I see little need to worry yet.

    This is the Oilers assesment year with guys like Gagner, I expect you will see his best. There is no pressure to be world class team yet, but there is to fight for a playoff spot. If I was GM (some are thankful I am not) I would continue to stick with who we got and assess one last time and start changing things by trade deadline.

    My bet? The Oilers will be in the top 15 teams in the league the first 5 weeks of action. After that? Anybodies guess…

  • DSF

    Lowetide.If the current CBA comes to fruition. The 60 million dollar cap for 2013-2014? Is that a floating cap number? Or is that a locked number. What would the cap be in 2014-15?

    The cap number is important in a couple of ways. Going forward. Lets say you add Yakupov(3years from now) and Shultz(18 months from now) and RNH(1 year from now) at 6 million a piece. That is 30 million tied up in 5 players. Where will the chips fall in 4 years?

    Horcoff’s contract is interesting. You buy him out? I think that sends the wrong message totally in the locker room. Could the Oiler’s renegotiate his contract to make the dollars more cap friendly.Or is it locked in?

    A move to strengthen the Oiler’s goal tending seems needed. Or is it? DD has looked good at the Spengler. Solid.

    If a guy like Wade Redden were available at 1.5-2 million would he be a useful pickup?Or is he done?

    Lastly.would you trade Yakupov for a second line center like Strome? and other assets.

    • Lowetide

      Hi Michael,

      1. As I understand it the cap number is established each season in the summer. I have no idea how they could establish the 14-15 cap now, for instance.

      2. Oilers will have to trade someone, at some point. Pens dealt Staal this summer for just this reason.

      3. Oilers probably have to buy out Horcoff, he’s eroded some and they’ll need the money before his contract is done. They don’t have a replacement though and it’ll impact the roster.

      4. I wish the Oilers would give DD 75% of the starts this and next season. I also wish they had a legit option standing by/developing.

      5. I don’t know about Redden, haven’t seen him in forever.

      6. I wouldn’t trade Yakupov under any circumstances. He could be a 50-goal scorer. Oilers have to keep him

  • Lowetide

    Ebs, Hall, RNH, Nail, Hemsky, Gagner, Schultz, Schultz, Whitney, Smid, Dubie….

    It just wont be possible to keep them all – not without creating terrible unbalance throughout the rest of the line up. Eventually, someone will have to go in order to bring in the other important pieces. Sooner more probably than later I suspect. I think this is even more true in the soon to be 60M-ish cap era. Buying out Horc brings some room, but not enough.

    If you can move Gagner and Hemmer for a Subban or equiv, you have to consider it. Balances money and the roster.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    I just realized I may have misread EEH post. I thought he was talking about the buyout thing. DSF is right. But my point still stands about the buyout thing.

  • Cheap Shot Charlie

    no need to trade gagner unless we upgrade. By upgrade, I mean a franchise player or game changer. Gagner is an extremely skilled player and should not be looked upon by his size alone. Take a look at other shorties…..Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Jeff Skinner, Jussi Jokinen, Claude Giroux, Saku Koivu, Matt Duchesne, Daniel Alfredsson, Danny Briere, Zetterberg, St Louis, Datsyuk, Pat Kane and Crosby. I would package trade Gagner for any one of these guys in a heartbeat. If we cant get this quality back in a swap, then give Gags the support he needs. He is better than half of the players listed above and is our #2C guy. If MPS can hit it off with Yaks or Hemmer, we have 2 of the best lines in the NHL. RNH with Hall and Eberle, and Gags with any 2 of MPS, Yaks and Hemsky. The only way I see to improve is to package Gags with one of MPS, Yaks or Hemmer to get a Getzlaf type player.