With the wrong-way Oilers securing 15th in the NW and the trade deadline just weeks away, we begin our annual parsing of the roster to find out who among the miserable will be sent away.


Yes, again. The Oilers have several expiring contracts and a few with an extra year tacked on the back, and that means there’s ‘savings down every aisle" for teams with hopes for the second season. Here’s a quick look at what might be available:

  1. Ales Hemsky (UFA 2014): One year left at $5M, that won’t be an issue. The Oilers were not getting strong offers for him a year ago (the rumored return was a 2nd and a 4th from Nashville) but if they’re in the shopping mood this time I expect they’ll get a 1st rd pick and a prospect back. If he’s in play, Hemsky will bring a big return, and the Oilers can move Yakupov onto the 2line. I don’t think it’s a good idea, Yakupov and Eberle are unready to be stand alone’s on the right side and Jones can’t deliver like Hemsky.
  2. Ladislav Smid (UFA): Smid makes $2.25M per season and is in his walk year. Smid is on the tough minutes pairing with Jeff Petry. However, Edmonton hasn’t signed him yet (I haven’t heard anything about contract talks) and that might mean there’s a gap between agent and team in terms of zero’s on the contract. Smid is going to get paid, the Oilers have to figure out if they want to be the team to pay him. The crickets in contract talks suggest to me he is in play, and that means he’ll move–Smid has extreme value as a rental. My guess is the trade talk starts at a 2nd round pick and goes up from there. Remember, the 2013 edition is considered to be a strong draft year.
  3. Ryan Whitney (UFA): He’s been inconsistent all year but has shown flashes on this road trip and a team that "saw him good" might be willing to take a chance. Defensemen always have increased value at the deadline, Whitney is a veteran and a team with depth who could play him on the 3rd pairing plus PP might want him for that role. My guess is they surprise everyone and get a 3rd rd pick for the veteran.
  4. Mark Fistric (UFA): I think the Oilers sign him in the next few weeks, it is clear they like Fistric plenty. However, if a team came calling and management were of a mind to trade him I doubt the club would get less than the pick they gave up for him (3rd rd pick). Don’t think it happens, though.
  5. Ryan Jones (UFA): He’s coming off an eye injury, but his wheels are fine. An NHL team might want to increase their offense in the bottom 6F and have a guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, either. The Oilers may also be looking to extend him, but if they get a 4th rd pick in return that’s excellent value for a waiver pickup.
  6. Ben Eager (UFA 2014): One year left at $1.1M and the concussion issues are a concern. Eager is a veteran and does fill a need, so I expect there’s interest if he’s healthy. A coach might worry about his tendency to take penalties outside what we’d call "good" ones, but his performances in Chicago and San Jose have given him a good post-season reputation. I bet they get a 4th rd pick for him.
  7. Eric Belanger (UFA 2014): Makes $1.75M and might fill a need for a 4line C, faceoff guy and penalty killer. Belanger certainly played better this season, and did his best to fill in for Horcoff but that’s a lot of lifting with not a lot of help. I think a team might see him as a solid fit for their playoff run. A 5th rd pick should be enough to get him.
  8. Nikolai Khabibulin (UFA): He’s played well when healthy, but the problem is (as always) staying in the lineup. I can’t imagine how many games he’d have to play in order for another team to feel safely covered in dealing for him as the backup/insurance. If someone deals for him, a 7th round pick gets it done.


Draft picks are the deadline currency, there might be a useful AHL player available or a fringe guy. However, as it was when the team dealt Dustin Penner to Los Angeles, the pick (Klefbom) will have more value than the player (Teubert) acquired in return. Teams loading up don’t want to deal anything that might help them–remember the Oilers sent Reasoner away in 2006 and then Pouliot got mono, forcing them to sign Rem Murray.

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Hard to get players in return when you’re offloading at the deadline.


The good news is that the Oilers top 6 forwards, Petry-J Schultz and Dubnyk form an outstanding cluster to build on. The bad news is that the players who Edmonton is trying to unload include a long list of failed airlifts–and that’s been a problem for a long time.

My hope is they keep Hemsky, sign Smid and deal any of Whitney, Jones, Belanger, Eager and Khabibulin.

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Is there a market for these men? History suggests the answer is yes.

  • Word to the Bird

    I am not sure what the gap in money is between the Oilers and Smid but I really hope that they keep him in the fold. Trading him now would be so Oiler-like. Spend years developing a player and just when he is beginning to pay dividends, you deal him for a pick. The endless cycle. He hasn’t had a great season but he strikes me as a proud guy who wants to be an Oiler and I wonder if not having a deal right now is weighing on him. Who knows but he is a top-4 dman if he has the right partner with him to move the puck.

    I am torn on Hemsky. I don’t think that we can keep Yak out of the top 6 for too long but the last two games more or less with Hemsky hurt we have done absolutely nothing offensively. He is one of maybe 2 guys (along with Hall) that we have up front who can play power vs. power right now. It would depend on the return I suppose as this might be the time to strike while the iron is hot.

    Sign Fistric. He knows his role and is a quality depth guy on a team that is devoid of consistent dmen. I like Jones but again it depends on what he wants for a contract. We need more guys who play like he does but I believe that they can be found for cheaper than he might cost.

  • 106 and 106

    Bet you Tambo sits on his gold-mine evaluating and evaluating, waiting for the players to get better somehow (squeeze!). Like the management team said on July 1st on Oil Change, we feel like we got what we need (Schultz).

    Complacency = 7 non-playoff years. I just hope they don’t scape Kruger.

  • 106 and 106

    Totally agree on keeping Hemmer & resigning Smid. I would add Petrell and Potter to your other 5 , even Peckham . Lets face it potentially letting teams know you have players your willing to move may open more oportunities . One thing more is the rumour of Whitney & Omark to Detroit and maybe that gets you a 2nd round pick .They need a culture change as much as anything and there are like players that match or could be better than the group we need to move .Alas Smyth (buy out)????

  • The visual of watching Tambo at the draft lottery again is going to make me sick to my stomach. Maybe this year he and Klowe will play rock paper sissors to see who goes. Tambo wins but ends up going because Klowe said so and besides Tambo will have his lucky tie on for a number one pick.
    Can you believe we are still talking about this ??

    Best case Katz- please do your organization a favour and get rid of the cancer. Skid Klowe and Tambo, MacT should go too. Bring in some fresh new hockey minds.

  • Yeah, I agree with your assessment mostly.

    For me, the question boils down to this: These pending free agents, do you see them in your plans moving forward. For me, I see Hemsky, Smid, Fistric, and Jones as Oilers heading into next year. And because of that I don’t deal them. A fourth or fifth round pick has very little chance of making it to the NHL, much less being an impact player in the NHL, so I’d rather take my gamble on hanging onto those guys and signing them.

    As for the rest? I don’t see them as pieces of the puzzle and so I’d look to move them for the highest available offer. Again, a fourth round pick has long odds of reaching the NHL, but if these players aren’t in the long-term picture anyways, you might as well take those lottery tickets and hope for the best.

    Two other players I’d be shopping that aren’t listed are Lennart Petrell and Corey Potter. Again, not a big picture players and Potter has easily been outplayed by Theo Peckham. Teemu Hartikainen and Nick Schultz should be available for the right price too, although I wouldn’t be actively shopping them.

  • The only way that Hemsky should be traded is in a hockey trade. I.e. NHL player for NHL player. The oilers have very limited assets that could be used to bring back a real NHL defender and he is one of them. Since very few hockey trades occur at the deadline, the team would be wise to wait until the summer to deal him, if dealing him is part of the plan. The only exception might be if someone like Pittsburgh offered Despres and a 1st for Hemsky. Despres might be close enough to an NHL player that you look at it.

  • Lowetide

    Not sure the rebuild needs more draft picks. We would be giving up former high level first round pick for 2-3 round picks that sounds like we are going backwards. Who was the last 2-3 round draft that made a significant contribution to the Oilers?

    I would bundle 2-3 of those player and OVER PAY TO GET A PLAYER WE CAN USE IN THE REBUILD

  • 2004Z06

    Looks like Whitney is getting his confidence back. Another goal and an assist tonight. Why are we trading all of these guys for draft picks? Haven’t we had enough draft picks? We need som solid NHL players. We continue with this draft pick crap and we ARE the Islanders of the west. Whitney, Hemsky, Gagner….these guys should get you some roster players. I would do Hemsky for Dubinsky in a heartbeat.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Like to see a number of these guys moved. With a new GM in place next season it’s good that Lowe will maybe prevent Tambellini from making another bonehead move.

    Feel confident the Oilers will punch the accelerator next yr and take up residance in the top half of the league. Lowe/MacT make a wow move (Prongeresque) to help Craig MacTavish’s time as GM get off on the right foot.