TRADE WINDS….

The 2013 NHL trade deadline is next Wednesday at 1 p.m. MST, and the next week will be great for those who love trade rumours. One rumour got squashed yesterday when it was reported that Mikka Kiprusoff would not report to his new team if the Calgary Flames traded him, which of course was met by laughter amongst Edmonton fans.

Thankfully there are many other rumblings, rumours and potential deals floating around.

What will the Oilers do?

Nikolai Khabibulin made Doug Maclean’s suggestion that he could fetch a 2nd rounder seem realistic after his 43-save performance last night.

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The tougher question is are the Oilers better off having Khabibulin as a $1.2 million back up next year, or moving him for a draft pick?

So let’s look at some of the options the Oilers have to trade. These thoughts are a combination of my views as well as what I’ve heard and read as far as pros and cons for each player from pundits and fans. I don’t agree or disagree with all of them, but respect the differing views.

KHABIBULIN

  • Would he want to play for $1.2 million?
  • He turns 41next January, and age catches up with most players.
  • Unreliable due to injuries.
  • His history of injuries is the main concern. The interesting thing about Khabibulin is that he works incredibly hard to stay in shape. He’s in really good shape, but you wonder if his body is breaking down. Maybe he pushes too hard, because he seems to tweak something every few weeks.
  • When he plays he’s played very well. In six starts he has a sparkling 1.93 GAA and a .941SV%. Those numbers are unattainable over a long period, but we’ve seen that when he plays he can still win games.
  • He works well with Dubnyk. They have a healthy and respectful relationship.
  • I don’t see the Oilers being able to overhaul the blueline in one summer. It would require three solid moves, and while it is possible, I’m not sure it is realistic. If the Oilers don’t land highly touted college prospect Danny Dekeyser (who is good, but far from a saviour or lock to be a top-four), and another D-man via a trade of UFA signing (weak pool) then their D won’t be much better next year and they will need a reliable back up.

RYAN WHITNEY

  • The free agent list isn’t very good, especially for D-men under the age of 30.
  • Justin Schultz would be the only excellent puck mover remaining. The Oilers need D-men who can move the puck quickly and accurately to their skilled forwards.
  • The Oilers recent history of signing UFAs to come into Edmonton isn’t great. There is no guarantee they will find a better replacement. There is also a good chance Whitney performs well in another environment. Being comfortable and feeling confident is a huge factor in how a player performs on the ice.
  • The advanced stats show he’s struggled.
  • He will never be able to turn due to his surgeries.
  • It is clear the coaching staff doesn’t have a lot of confidence in him. When that happens, usually it is hard to change it. If a player is worried about making a mistake and getting benched, usually they make more mistakes.

RYAN JONES

  • For a team that struggles to score ES, at least he can score 5-on-5.
  • He goes to the net regularly and scores garbage goals. Oilers don’t have a lot of guys like that.
  • Jones is a complimentary player. He won’t be a key cog in winning, but he’s shown the ability to produce. While surrendering scoring chances doesn’t look good on paper, scoring goals trumps that.
  • He is on the ice for way too many scoring chances against.
  • Teemu Hartikainen is bigger and can replace him.
  • He isn’t physical enough on a team that desperately needs some guys who are harder to play against. He’s a solid NHLer, but if needed they can find a veteran UFA to replace him.

I suspect those three would make garner the most interest, amongst players the Oilers would consider trading.

There are some other names that have been tossed around for the Oilers…

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Ladislav Smid

  • I think the Oilers would be foolish to deal him. I outlined the available free agent D-men yesterday, and no one on that list looks like a potential upgrade to Smid. Smid knows his role and he’s good at it. He plays hard and is the most physical D-man who plays every night. I still believe the Oilers and Smid will come to an agreement prior to April 3rd. If they don’t we can chat about then after the 3rd.

Ales Hemsky

  • If you trade him at the deadline you are likely only getting picks and prospects in return. At this point in the rebuild the Oilers need to move him in a deal where you get a proven NHL player back in return rather than picks. He’s played much better now that his shoulder issues are behind him and I suspect there would be more interest in the summer.

Sam Gagner

  • Gagner has been the lightning rod for years in Edmonton. He’s had a great start to the season and will get a raise on his current $3.2 million contract this summer. His trade value is much higher now than it was last year, so the return would be better. Gagner is very popular in the dressing room, he has worked hard at improving his game and no one questions his desire. I don’t see any reason to move him at the deadline, and if he they consider moving him in the summer they have to get a solid D-man of big, skilled forward in return. I don’t trade Gagner for anything less than a proven player.

LOOKING AHEAD

No one knows what the future holds, but at some point the results have to match the "potential"and "patience" that has been talked about for years in Edmonton.

For me there is one obvious conclusion coming for the Edmonton Oilers. They won’t be able to move forward with all six of their young 19-23 year-old forwards. They don’t have the right combination of size, skill and sandpaper needed to succeed in the NHL. That doesn’t mean they all won’t be successful NHL players, it just means I don’t see all of them developing with the Oilers.

Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle will make $6 million next year. Gagner is in line for a raise that will put him close to $5 million next year and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins likely gets a contract similar to Hall and Eberle starting in 2014.

The Oilers still haven’t found a recipe to win, and when they do they won’t be able to afford all of their young stars, even if you believe they can win with six skilled forwards.

The Oilers need to get some size down the middle, improve their blueline and get some productive veterans into their lineup. The issue is many think they can do this without trading any of their young skilled players. Reality check, that isn’t going to be possible.

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The way I see it the Oilers will end up moving two, maybe three players amongst Hemsky, Gagner, Magnus Paajarvi and Nail Yakupov. You might not like that reality, but I don’t see any other way this team will be able to improve and afford their lineup if they don’t make those types of moves.

There is a good chance that the Oilers trade those guys and they put up decent numbers on another team, and likely more than the players coming to Edmonton, but that doesn’t mean the Oilers will lose those trades. If they acquire a strong, steady defenceman for one of them that makes them more competitive.

If they acquire a skilled forward who plays physical, scores, is a good puck retriever and goes to the net that will make them better. The Oilers will still have three very good skilled players remaining, in Hall, RNH and Eberle and one or two of 64, 89, 91 and 83.

You can’t expect the Oilers to have six forwards score 55+ points regularly. It just doesn’t happen in today’s game. You need a good mix in your lineup. You need some some skilled players with size and grit. Suggesting you don’t doesn’t jive with teams that win championships.

Here are the top scorers, with at least 34 points, of the last four Cup winners: 

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LOS ANGELES          
Player  Pos  GP  G  A  P
Anze Kopitar C 82 25 51 76
Justin Williams R 82 22 37 59
Dustin Brown R 82 22 32 54
Mike Richards C 74 18 26 44
Drew Doughty D 77 10 26 36
Jeff Carter L 55 21 13 34
           
BOSTON          
Player  Pos GP  G  A  P
Milan Lucic L 79 30 32 62
David Krejci C 75 13 49 62
Patrice Bergeron C 80 22 35 57
Nathan Horton R 80 26 27 53
Mark Recchi R 81 14 34 48
Tomas Kaberle D 82 4 43 47
Zdeno Chara D 81 14 30 44
Brad Marchand L 77 21 20 41
Rich Peverley C 82 18 23 41
Michael Ryder R 79 18 23 41
           
CHICAGO Pos GP  G  A  P
Patrick Kane R 82 30 58 88
Duncan Keith D 82 14 55 69
Jonathan Toews C 76 25 43 68
Patrick Sharp L 82 25 41 66
Marian Hossa R 57 24 27 51
Kris Versteeg R 79 20 24 44
Troy Brouwer R 78 22 18 40
Andrew Ladd L 82 17 21 38
Brian Campbell D 68 7 31 38
           
PITTSBURGH          
Evgeni Malkin C 82 35 78 113
Sidney Crosby C 77 33 70 103
Chris Kunitz L 82 23 30 53
Jordan Staal C 82 22 27 49
Bill Guerin R 78 21 27 48
Petr Sykora R 76 25 21 46
Ruslan Fedotenko L 65 16 23 39
Miroslav Satan R 65 17 19 36
Tyler Kennedy C 67 15 20 35

Do you honestly believe the Oilers top-six resembles any of those teams?

The reality is the Oilers will need to move some of their skilled forwards.

The difficult question will be when and who?

THINKING OUTLOUD…

Yesterday on my radio show, I asked Jason Strudwick if he’d deal Nail Yakupov for David Clarkson. Of course the deal would hinge on Clarkson having a new contract and the Oilers getting something else in return. It wasn’t a one-for-one deal.

The point of the question was to point out  that the Oilers will need to trade away a skilled player; one who likely will produce points elsewhere. (Yakupov was just an example. Not saying he is the 1st one I’d trade) And by trading one or two of them away, that doesn’t mean they are bad players. It just means the Oilers need to alter their lineup to become more successful.

The difficult decision for the Oilers GM, whoever that is when the time comes to trade one of them, is making the right move. The move won’t be made solely on statistics. They will have to look at other things: contracts, attitude, competitive nature, size, etc.

It won’t be easy, but it you believe it won’t happen I think you are fooling yourself.

The reactions to the Clarkson topic ranged from "You’re an idiot," to "Yakupov could be like Stamkos."

Both made me chuckle, but the latter really stuck with me. Stamkos is the best goal scorer in the game, so of course it is realistic to compare Yakupov to him because they were both #1 picks and because Yakupov has a good one-timer. I hope for Yakupov’s sake he becomes like Stamkos, but Stamkos has more to his game than a great one-timer. Stamkos has incredibly high hockey sense, and he’s excellent at anticipating where the openings are in the offensive zone to get himself in good scoring areas.

Yakupov might become a very good scorer, but suggesting he’ll be like Stamkos is the ultimate best-case scenario. It is unlikely, however. Just like it is unlikely that the first overall picks taken between Stamkos and Yakupov, John Tavares, Hall and RNH, will score as often as Stamkos.

Many people want the Oilers to acquire good players, but they aren’t willing to give up anything of substance. Instead they want to offer up spare parts, usually players you feel are junk, to get players like Clarkson, Lucic, Clowe or others.  

If the Oilers are going to improve moving forward they will eventually need to change the mix amongst their top forwards. It will be a difficult decision, and the organization has to ensure they have the right guy calling the shots. Based on recent decisions, it is fair to question whether the current regime is prepared and able to make the right choice.

This type of trade will occur in the near future, and when it does, the Oilers must make the correct decision and they need the right man calling the shots.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR


  • Citizen David

    At what point do we stop saying Gagner is a kid?! Next season he’ll be 24 years old and it be his 7th season. Sounds sort of veteran like… Or do veterans have to be 35, decrepit and useless before we must acquire them for their “experience”

    Hall and Eberle will be entering their fourth year. Eberle’s barely younger than Gagner.

    Hall’s a beast who can take the physical play, Nuge is 6’1 and defensively responsible, Yak throws hits, oozes passion. Gagner’s got a fire in him. NHL.com has him listed as the same size as Mike Richards too… Paajarvi has lots of size, good defense, learning to use his size more and more. The problem isn’t size (overrated) and it isn’t heart, we have lots of that. It’s youth. And youth becomes not youth. I think this is a fantastic core to keep. Each year they will get better. Gagner’s playing the PK now too. If the cap starts to go up again then we will be able to afford them all for the next 6-7 years until their second contracts come up.

    Trading Yakupov is quite simply silly.

    • Jason Gregor

      You have an excellent read on the roster and its potential, congratulations.

      I agree with every single thing you posted 100%.

      I will add that it is beyond negligent to even suggest tradeing Yakupov.

      I believe that we will dump as many contracts and players as we can before the deadline and make a decisive move to retool our 3rd line.

      Goaltending is an issue as well, Dubby is still evolving but hes not a Rookie anymore and we need to see more out of him, he is doing ok but we are seeing a bad tendancy to forget and drop at the wrong times and several teams have already targeted this weakness systemwise and had sucess against us doing it

      Whitney believe it or not has evolved his game in the last six games, he has turned a corner and we now need him its ironic but once he got it he really got it and has done much better lately and looks like he is proving it was a communication issue systemwise not him as an individual.

      The Coyotes want Gagner really bad because they recognise his vision and ability to run a system like they have there,and now is the best time for the Oilers to deal him if the Yotes will cough up Yandle, we wont have to give them MPS now that Gags has evolved offensively.

      Bowmeister is definately a Cup type of player and we need him badly as well but would need to be creative to land him, I am sure the Managment is looking at him.

      I still think Luongo is heading here for Whitney and Hemmer.

      We seem to have Klefbom and Deshay-whatever on the horizon to add to J Schultz and Petry and Smid, if we land either BowMeister or Yandle or both and can pick up Luongo we are suddenly a playoff team if we can get the 3rd line re-tooled.

      I dont endorse or subscribe in any way to any of these trades listed, I am simply generating an educated guess as to how the Round Table might view things with their group mindset.

      • outdoorzguy

        “I am simply generating an educated guess as to how the Round Table might view things with their group mindset.”

        Had to laugh at this one. The moronic Oiler management have no such thing as a mindset and as such would never be able to find the table round or otherwise!

  • vetinari

    Frankly, I just hope that our GM doesn’t waste the better part of the kid’s ELCs before picking up the missing pieces to help them succeed, but the economics of the new NHL means that within the next few years one of the kids will have to probably be moved. Of course, within the next year to three, I know that Khabibulin, Whitney and Sutton will be off the books and most likely, Horcoff and Hemsky.

  • I agree that we need to tinker with the team makeup but I have one question. If the Oilers were unwilling to trade their first round pick since it was much too valuable to give up, why would they do it now that it has become an actual person?

    Trade this year’s pick. No? It would be too high? But you’d still trade a #1 overall pick?

    P.S. Yakupov broke Eberle’s finger WITH A HALF WRISTER. See Oil Change. Can you imagine what this kid can do with a full wind-up wrister or god forbid a slap shot?

    No, you don’t trade Yak. No, no, no, no no no.

  • Props Gregor for sticking your balls on the executioner block and actually suggesting a detailed possible solution, even if it was only an example.

    Probably better though if you had auctioned them off for charity: ‘Next up, Gregor’s balls™’

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Jesus, lets leave the cojones out of this , I have never heard an execution micro-managed to the degree that the twins became a target of the blade. There is something just not right about that….

      Just curious here but is there a funky looking chopping block that comes with that visualisation?Ha ha ha AAGGHHH!!! God that whole idea is so wrong,hahaha.

      The Oilers need to hire you ase a Motivational Facillitator. ha ha ha agh aghhh—-Chokes on slice of Kiwi and gets lucky and executes a self-applied NHS Hemleich Manouver with the arm of the sofa and cheats the Reaper yet again—

  • DSF

    It’s official.

    Iginla to Boston for a first rounder and two young players.

    Next up…Jaybo to Detroit for another first rounder a young defenseman and Riley Sheehan.

    Instant rebuild.

    • The Soup Fascist

      I hope you are kidding. The Oilers are not exactly building a better mousetrap here, but adding three sleds and a couple draft picks are not going to fix the mess that is the Flames.

      Good Luck to Iggy. Class act all the way. Will be cheering for the B’s.

      • Harry Crack

        Agree on all counts. Iggy all class all round. as for the wisdom of the deal….what part of interfering Owner Edwards , and Meathead Ken King management past should allow for hope of intelligence now ?

        • The Soup Fascist

          I feel your pain but at least as an owner, Edwards will likely not let incompetent management (see O”Reilly debacle) continue on unfettered – unlike another unnamed NHL team in Alberta.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Maybe. But I don’t see this being a quick fix. Their draft record in the first round has killed them. They were going “off the board” with one pick. What will they do with multiple picks? Chris Chucko 2.0? Plus the Iggy pick is conditional on him re-signing, which is no slam dunk.

          If his turns out to be Iggy for an AHL Dman and some future KHLer …….. YIKES.

          • DSF

            If this is all they do…you would be right. But it won’t be.

            With the cap dropping, this is an ideal time to clear cap space because so many decent players will be available.

            How bout them Wild:)

          • The Soup Fascist

            Sold their soul to the Devil (I guess more accurately bought their soul for 200 million). Can’t see how this does not cripple them for years, but we will see. Playing well – cant argue that point.

        • Rocket

          Agreed.

          I don’t know much about Bartkowski or Alexander Khokhlachev. Was Khokhlachev on the Russian WJHC team? My hazy memory has him getting ejected from a game against Canada for a dirty hit. I could be incorrect though so I’m not sure.

          Anyway, Not a bad trade & I can’t wait to see Boston play Pittsburgh in the playoffs now.

          Iggy vs. Morrow!

          (Also Crosby vs. Chara)

      • Harry Crack

        Kipper told all Flames Brass years back that he would not be playing the last year of his deal.It sucks for never miss a Feaster now , but no foul on Kippers part. He is not a trade asset. It sucks for my Team , but its true. Another cow pattie Duhryl left for Jumbo Jay to walk through.

      • A very good draft!

        I think they move Kiprusoff this summer when everything dies down and Kipper has time to evaluate his next move. There’s your four first rounder’s, between Calgary and Columbus picks they could move forward quickly.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Calgary’s last 20 years of 1st round selections:

          Jankowski (Midget House League scoring champ in Quebec), Baertschi, 2010 Traded Away, Erixon, Neimsz, Backlund, Irving, Pelech, Chucko, Phaneuf, Nystrom, Kobasew, Krahn, Saprykin, Fata, Tkaczuk (Daniel – not Keith), Derek Morris, Gauthier, Dingman, Mattsson.

          Wow. That is impressive. Do the Flames have Barry Fraser on speed dial in Mexico?

          Let the Flames have four 1st round picks themselves – they will need all of them to find one viable NHLer.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Forget any Button, even if they listen to central scouting they would be better off. All these “off the board” picks just reek of head scout / GM ego. Like they have to prove they are the smartest guys in the room. Oilers were no better taking the Jesse Niinimakis and Alex Mikhnovs of the world.

            My point is you can have all the first rounders you want. If you squander them they are worthless. I remember like it was yesterday everyone watching the 2004 draft had local boy Mike Green pencilled in when the Flames came up – only to here the immortal words – “Chris Chucko” followed by an audible “who?” from fans and commentators alike. These guys are not splitting atoms here.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I think the Stamkos comparison also comes from the fact that they both played for the Sarnia Sting and both put up strikingly similar PPG / GPG totals in junior. Not saying he’ll ever be on that level but I definitely think he has all the tools to be the best goal scorer on the Oilers.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Great draft to load up on, Ill give him that. Im sure Boumeester can garner another first but I dont know if Kipper could even if he was willing. Ditto for Camalleri. Still not sold Feaster goes the scorched earth route anyways.

  • The Soup Fascist

    With the cap dropping, this is an ideal time to clear cap space because so many decent players will be available.

    DSF, Don’t you think the Oilers will be in a similar position regarding extra cap space?

    Also it looks to me like Vancouver is going to have cap issues next season. Could be intriguing, yes?

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Whoa..is the “conditional” part confirmed? That’s a huge gamble. Boston is in a great position if its simply a don’t resign and keep your first situation. Maybe its conditional on how far the Bruins go in the playoffs this year as well.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Man, that sure was an interesting evening, even for a non Calgary hockey fan.

    Could be 5 yrs before they realize if they got the best of that deal today for Iginla.

  • Jason Gregor

    Yakupov for Clarkson would be an all time terrible trade.

    Yakupov and Hemsky in exchange for signed Clarkson AND Larsson and perhaps a mid round sweetner draft pick would be very interesting.

    I’m surprised that is all Feaster managed to get. That first rounder is going to be somewhere in the range of #26-#30. Are either of those college players elite prospects?

  • If you’re suggesting that the oilers need some physicality in their top six than why would you propose trading the best hitter of the bunch yakupov? Terrible.

    Between Yak Ebs Gags Hemmer Hall and Nuge, it is clear to me that Hemmer is the most moveable. Then if you’re looking strictly at physicality you can trade Ebs. Yeah, I think Nuge is more physical than Ebs. And not just by a small margin either.

    But what about Gagner? I’d probably consider trading him ahead of Eberle as well. Gagner may have fans and scouts thinking he is gritty and physical because of how often he fights but the reality is that without those fights his level,of physicality is right there with Ebs’.

    In addition, there is still a market for MPS.
    I think Tambi should look at dealing,either Hemsky, Gagner(his value will NEVER be higher than it is now and I guarantee Tambo overpays him and hands him 4.5 mil. Which would be awful.)
    Or MPS. He still holds value but probably only in a package because there’s no way he gets us a bonafide NHL top 9 guy.

    hemsky, gagner, Whitney, or mps should be the ones we trade but only if the oil get a fair return. Especially in Gagner’s case because wed need a 2nd line center coming back in that deal.

  • Truth

    I apologize if this has already been said, but Yakupov did beat Stamkos’ rookie scoring record as a 16 yr old in Sarnia and was on pace to trump his draft year numbers prior to going down to injury. Also, remember all of the debate that Stamkos should have been sent back to junior in his rookie NHL season because he was undersized and not strong enough? He turned out to be pretty good.

    In my opinion Yakupov (or any other 1st overall pick or star player) for a guy who scored over 32 pts once in his career is absurd no matter how much toughness he brings.