Nikolai Khabibulin’s start tonight signals the annual "whos coming and who’s going?" showcase period leading up to the trade deadline. Although this year’s deadline is April 3, chances are we’ll see a few March deals as teams try to address need early to stay in the race.

We don’t know if the Oilers will be buyers or sellers, but we can identify possible areas to address and some players who might be headed out of town.


  • Defense: Coach Krueger has 4 defensemen he plays 15+ minutes a night at even strength (The Schultz duo, Smid, Petry) and three of them play 3.5+ minutes a night on the PK (Nick Schultz, Smid, Petry) while the other (Justin Schultz) averages 4.5 minutes on the powerplay. The Oilers have Ryan Whitney (5th in EV icetime per game, 2nd in PP time) and Mark Fistric (7th in EV icetime per game, 4th in PK) rounding out the top 6 and Corey Potter (6th in EV icetime and 5th in PK icetime). Need: Edmonton doesn’t have that top pairing "stud" to put out there during big game moments, and that’s going to cost them precious points. The club may decide to add a defenseman with a "wider range of skills" who can play 15+ minutes at evens and contribute to the PP and PK. Names: The top 30 names in terms of even strength time on ice offers us interesting deadline possibilities (Mark Streit, Jay Bouwmeester).
  • Big skill winger: Coach Krueger has tried Nail Yakupov, Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi on the Gagner-Hemsky line but nothing so far has been working at a premium. There are a few interesting names on the free agent list, and one of them (Dustin Penner) has proven chemistry with 89-83. I think all of Hartikainen, Paajarvi and Yakupov are going to make it as NHL wingers (really going out on a limb on the Russian, I know) but Krueger and company might find they’d like a short term option for the stretch run this spring.


  • Ryan Whitney: With the puck on his stick and a winger flying ahead, Ryan Whitney is music. His headman passes are pure gold, and a team like Boston could use that skill on their powerplay. Whitney (0-3-3 on the powerplay) has some defensive issues, but a deep team like the Bruins has all kinds of depth at the position. Their need for his specific skills might mean there’s a deal available.
  • Nikolai Khabibulin: A team needing veteran goaltending at the deadline might find the veteran Russian to their liking. Khabibulin appears healthy and has certainly been effective.
  • Theo Peckham: Big, strong youngster who might be pushed out by the Fistric deal, NHL teams are always looking for defensemen at the deadline.
  • Ryan Jones: Veteran winger hasn’t yet played a game, but if you count the wingers it’s easy to see Jones is the one with the expiring contract. If he’s healthy and can perform at previous levels, Edmonton may look at offloading him at the deadline in favor of the younger wingers who are currently performing for the club.


There are a couple of things we could see this deadline:

  • Edmonton adding players, including a top 4 defenseman who can take the pressure off the talented but young cluster that continues to learn at the NHL level.
  • Offloading men like Khabibulin and Jones, who have played in Edmonton during a difficult time in the team’s history.

Either way, this deadline will not be about trading men central to the team’s success. Those days are gone for a long, long time.


  • Word to the Bird

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep Jones if he hasn’t played a game yet? He would have much more value for Edmonton than he would on the open market. We all know you won’t find many grit players that score 17-18 goals for 1.5 million

  • Word to the Bird

    Lowetide. I think you are dreaming about the value of Whitney, Peckham and Jones with regard to their trade value. Khabibulin has some very short term value (SC playoffs) if he continues to play as he has for the past two games. Don’t know what that would fetch in return.

    What happened to Hemsky in the 3rd period, he was invisible. And once again, terrible turnovers spoiled what looked like a possible one point game or a victory.

    And terrible in the face-off circle. Belanger certainly didn’t measure up versus the Kings. And Hall had a frustrating night, great scoring opportunities, but…..

  • Professor Fatbot, PhD

    I would love to see Whitney and Penner get swapped somehow.

    Whitney needs a Brett Hull Noma GT tow rope and Penner needs donair meat, so maybe a compromise can be reached.

    Hall – RNH – Eberle

    Penner – Gagner – Hemsky

    Smyth – Horcoff – Yakupov

    Pajaarvi – Belanger – Jones

    (Petrell, Eager)

    Jones and Yakupov can be flipped wings (LH shots playing off wing.) Obviously Horcoff is injured right now, so Vandevelde is 4C and Belanger is 3C. Every player on that roster as a regular is an NHL player. If you need someone to play five minutes, take some stupid penalties and get punched until they are concussed, you can throw Eager in as 4L.

    Schultz – Schultz

    Smid – Petry

    Fistric – Potter


    Potter is who he is because he’s a right handed shot. Nick Schultz can play both sides but he is half the two headed monster that lets Justin Schultz be the fourth forward. Brett Clark is probably a more reliable option than Theo Peckham. The problem with this is you have a 2D, 3D, 3D, 3D and then three 7D. An unwanted Jaybo could be useful.



  • Lowetide

    Eberle was missing in action for the entire game.
    You aren’t going win to many games by continuing to score one goal on most nights.

    Habby kept them in the game, so it wasnt as pretty as the score would indicate. If you dont play 60 minutes of loose the game!

    Kruger is out coached again. Min. left in the game, you send out your shut down guys, not the kids who want to score.. You play for the one point first, and then hope for the best after that.

    Oh, well get ready for draft day.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I would be curious to see what Whitney would bring back from either Boston or Ottawa. He looked bad again tonight. Had some brutal give-aways, and was lucky not to get a hooking call on Penner. My guess is a 2nd round pick. I would rather they try and package something with him involved to improve this team sooner than a CHL kid will in 3-5 years.

    All joking aside, I could see Penner being a decent fit with Gagner and Hemsky. He did put the puck in the net here in Edmonton, and that team was a whole lot worse than it is now.

    Bad luck on the linesman getting in the way on the Kings GWG. With a minute and a half left you could sense the Oil were on their heels. I swear they have the worst ability to allow a goal with less than a minute to play. Just when you think they have a point and OT coming….

  • Badger

    On an aside….the following topic has been bugging me.

    How does a team increase their faceoff percentage? We are second last right now at ~45%. I don’t have hard data, but it seems like every time we have one of these 3-1 type, losses where we get massively outshot, our centres (except Horcoff) are getting schooled in the faceoff circle. It doesn’t seem we are actually around 45% every night, it seems like we are either 55% or 35%.

    How does a team deal with this? Can’t we call up Yanic Perrault and pay him a bunch of cash to teach Gagner and RNH how win a faceoff? I mean if you drop $200K to bring him over for a few months, isn’t that worth it considering how important it is?

    Then again, maybe it isn’t that important. I mean Jersey and Montreal are just as bad, and they don’t seem to have any issues winning. I do remember that 2005-06 Oilers team winning a ton of faceoffs. Maybe we should’ve held onto a guy like Brodziak.

    05-06 53.4 % #2
    06-07 51.5% #8
    07-08 50.5% #18
    08-09 47.9% #25
    09-10 46.4% #30
    10-11 44.2% #30
    11-12 47.7% #28
    12-13 45.5% #29

    • Winning a faceoff is as much about the two other guys on the wings as it is about the guy taking the draw. The wingers have to be absolutely committed to winning the scrum because there aren’t many clean wins off the draw.

      My biggest complaint with the entire team is that they have to summon almost superhuman levels of desire just to be in games with better teams. That takes alot of effort and energy, which (I believe) is unsustainable. We’re facing alot of big guys who are wearing us down and out-muscling us as a team on draws. I’d bet it gets progressively worse as the games go on.

      • Small town dreams

        Interesting comment was made during yesterdays broadcast…..someone pointed out that the single strongest coorelation to winning faceoffs was ….. age…..

        Most of the best face off guys are in and around 30 years old…..suggesting that it’s one of those skills that just requires experience…

        In a later interview Kopitar agreed with this statement stating that one of the biggest factors for success in the faceoff circle is “knowing the skills/tendencies of the guy your facing” …something that you learn over time…..

        Hence the Oilers recognizing the need for Belangers and Horcoffs.

  • Dont trade jonesy, he plays with an unbelievable amount of heart and soul. Hes the kinda guy were going to need when we finally make the playoffs. Hes an extremely versatile, gritty two way forward.

  • geeker99

    i think at the end of the day we are going to have trade one of the “golden kids” if they all pan out like we want its gonna be super tough. hall is a monster so no, even though he worries me on the injury front. j schultz has cooled off but has looked like he has been in the league for a few years so no. jordan needs an ass kicking but is a fan favorite. i live in calgary and even flame fans love him. nuge still has the body of a !5 year old girl but you cant be taught what he has, and when he becomes a man look out. yak is untradable cause entry level and could with the right line be great. my point is if they all pan out like we want or see can we afford them? plus the vets around them while great in the mind cant teach by sight. anyone that has young children know what i’m talking about. lastly do you trust these GM’s to do the job. Trade deadline scares me something huge. I hope sammy doesnt get greedy cause he is already a vet and a performing vet. we need to keep as long as he not asking too much. hemmer and one of the golden kids is probably gonna happen and its going to be tough

  • I don’t understand what makes you think Hartikainen is a bonfide NHLer, let alone one that can replace fifteen to twenty goals that Jones provides.

    Right now Jones is better in every aspect over Hartikainen.

  • Oilers21

    The size factor has to be noticed by managment at some point in time………unless they live and operate in a vacuum.

    Size does matter and no amount of skill and speed will change this. If Vancouver can change Cody Hodgson into a Zack Kassian then Mac T or Lowe should be able to do the same.

    We all know that Tamby only does what he is told so mentioning his name as a change agent, is redundant.

  • Oilers21

    Are you guys kidding with this Penner talk? Has an OK playoff run and his amusing pancake anecdotes taken the stink off of his 17 points last year and his complete lack of heart during his time here (09-10 excluded, when he was playing for a new contract))? Or do you just need more goat candidates. The guy was (and is) one of the most frustrating players in the league – you can see the talent but it is so often buried under piles of lackadaisical rubble that it may as well not be there at all. It is mirage – fools gold, and I’m not getting fooled again.

    • oilabroad

      I can understand why you and others think this way but when you look at the underlying stats, the guy was consistently a solid performer whether he looked it or not… Right now, this team needs size to create space for the kids. Even if Penner does not play big, he is big and he will do for the kids what he did for 83 and 89 a couple years ago.

      • Oilers21

        Agree to disagree. Surely somewhere in our system we can find a big oaf to float around and fill that role if that is what is needed.

        Also, correction to my first post – Penner wasn’t trying in 9-10 for a new contract, as his didn’t expire until last summer. There must have been a good pancake house in town that year.

  • Oilers21

    I agree on going after Penner but Tambo won’t have the guts for that . Still think it’s time to switch it up . RNH, Ebs & Smyth ; Hemsky , Gags & Eager ; Hall Yak & Belanger ; VV , Hartski & Magnus . They can’t score at evens . This may help & leave PP as is .

  • Oilers21

    @ David wrote

    “My biggest complaint with the entire team is that they have to summon almost superhuman levels of desire just to be in games with better teams. That takes alot of effort and energy, which (I believe) is unsustainable.”

    It also leads to more injuries.

  • RexLibris

    Hey LT,

    I’ve been wondering about Whitney to Boston for awhile now. Obviously he has connections to the area and, as you say, Boston has the depth to shelter him. Do you think Tambellini could forge some trade papers with Doug Hamilton’s name on them? =)

    As for Peckham, I think we’ll have to wait and see who outshines whom – Peckham v Fistric. Either way, the Oilers will have an opportunity to trade a young heavy defender at the deadline, barring injury.

    As for Jones, I’d keep him around for another year or two. I like Hartikainen, but I suspect he is one of those players who has to have something to fight for. If it is given (meaning a roster spot via a Jones trade) then the effort begins to falter and his play suffers.

    And Khabibulin – well, if Tambellini can turn Khabibulin into even a 3rd round pick at the deadline, while he might not be forgiven, it would help to ease the public resentment over the initial signing.

    If we were to predict trade values for the players mentioned above, perhaps the Oilers could add two 3rd round picks (Whitney and Khabibulin) and a 2nd (Peckham or Fistric) at the deadline. This could allow the Oilers enough assets that they could trade up from what may turn out to be a middling draft slot (10th-ish).

    Not a bad draft year to cash in a few UFA chips.

    Losing Whitney, however, means likely adding Klefbom as a rookie next season to an already-young blueline. We may bemoan that fact next fall.

    • Oilers21

      Rex wrote “If we were to predict trade values for the players mentioned above, perhaps the Oilers could add two 3rd round picks (Whitney and Khabibulin) and a 2nd (Peckham or Fistric) at the deadline. This could allow the Oilers enough assets that they could trade up from what may turn out to be a middling draft slot (10th-ish).”

      Has anybody ever read an aritcle or book that described the anatomy of a draft day deal? I’m really curious to know what it takes to make a deal on draft day?

  • Oilers21

    Speaking of ice time, there is not a single OIler on the TOP 60 of on ice minutes. Does Kruger know something the other coaches don’t,?

    Please stop already with this Penner is coming back. This was the best deal Tabmelini pulled off, by getting rid of this Pancake King, of slug.

    Shows up once every 5 games.. Ya he has a bit of hustle now, because he’s on a one year contract and sitting in the press box.Even now, he can only make one run of the ice, before he is out of gas… back to the beer league for this guy.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    You were probably still single when Bowie and company rolled into Commonwealth for the first time in 83 LT.

    Good times to be in Edmonton, the start of the Stanley Cup yrs, and Commonwealth drawing mega bands to town. Where have all the years went…

  • RexLibris

    Whatever moves we make need to made with a bigger picture in mind. Now that you mention Bostom maybe being interested in Whitney, I would be kind of interested in a prospect like Jordan Caron. He’s a former first round pick and he has a lot of size. He hasn’t been shooting the lights out in the AHL but I feel like he could be a fit on a skill line for a team like Edmonton.

  • Oilers21

    Man I’ll miss Jones if he gets traded. If Hartikainen is the long-term replacement that helps soften the blow but energy guys that can score are so valuable. Every time I see Glencross lighting it up in a Calgary uniform I want to vomit