With a new GM on the hot seat, you know this Edmonton Oiler roster will not stay the same. Who goes? Hall? Uh, no. Ebs? Get real. The Nuge? Sure–center’s a strong spot on the roster—NOT! Not Hall, not Nuge, not Ebs not Schultz not……..YAK CITY?

Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts are a "must read" this week for Oiler fans–there’s a lot of things to think about for the fanbase in Friedman’s article–and it’s likely that some of the verbal laid down is actually being mulled over in Oiler offices where the big chairs sit.

  • Friedman: One stat the organization is very concerned about: Their average shot differential (minus-5.8) is worst in the NHL.

We’ve talked about this through the winter–especially in regard to that 2nd line led by Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky. The LW’s on that line have been Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi, and I think the exit ramp this summer probably involves one of those 4 names.


If we’re betting on which of these men are likely to be sent away, I’ll suggest the chances are as follows:

  • 40% Sam Gagner. Smaller skill center with tons of talent, Oilers decision to give him a one year deal last year makes him a tough signing this year (they will be buying free agent seasons).
  • 25% Nail Yakupov. I don’t see it, trading a #1 overall this early means you have to be absolutely certain he isn’t going to turn into a franchise player. I don’t think we know yet.
  • 25% Ales Hemsky. A very skilled winger with excellent skill could be the cornerstone for a deal with a team willing to take on a player with an expiring contract. The value will be less due to the contract, though. 
  • 10% Magnus Paajarvi. He’s this low because I don’t think his value is enough to bring back what Edmonton needs. Besides, he could end up being that very effective forward Edmonton is looking for right now.


The headliner from Friedman is this item:

3. Yakupov: This is purely my opinion, but I think Edmonton would listen to a massive offer.
It’s nothing against the player, it’s more about circumstance. To get quality, you have to give up quality. If MacTavish really wants to make a bold, aggressive move, this is the name on the roster that fits. But the trade would have to be spectacular.

At some level it makes sense–the Oilers were apparently a house divided when it came to choosing Yak City number one, but in another way it’s pure scandal. Trading a number one overall pick means MacT is very likely trading the best player in the deal, and that is not a good way to step into a relationship with a rabid fanbase.

  • Friedman on Gagner: My belief is the Oilers would like to sign Gagner, but their past reluctance to do it gives him the leverage. He’s a talented centre one year away from unrestricted free agency at age 24. Here is what the Oilers could do, though. He becomes a restricted free agent this summer. Other teams can talk to him. If one can work out a new contract, is there a trade to be made? If not, Edmonton matches and controls him. Gagner’s value provides incentive for a willing partner to work out something. What mix of players/picks/prospects would a team be interested in dealing for a signed Gagner?

I am very much a fan of Gagner, but not this contract situation (not signing him long term last summer, clearly a mistake) and they’ve boxed themselves in a little. It doesn’t mean they will trade him, but it’s an option that would not be in the mix had the club signed him long term and reasonable.


Friedman’s points are well taken and I do understand there’s a sense of urgency to get better. However, there’s also a little concern about a new GM sending out first overall picks, and I think Craig MacTavish framed that issue beautifully in the PC yesterday.

There ARE alternatives. A low risk option like Viktor Stalberg might fit, or perhaps Raffi Torres (who remains an effective player) could come in and help the group. Should the Oilers choose, the might also take a run at Nathan Horton.


I expect that old phrase "it’s lonely at the top" is true, and that Craig MacTavish–despite his stated impatience–will find a lot of GMs offering 50 cents on the dollar for his gifted Jacks and Kings. A smart bet would be a secondary signing like Torres, a defenseman like Streit and a solid backup goaltender. It might not look sexy in summer, but smart, smaller additions are the route to take with this roster.

Steve Tambellini didn’t get fired because of Hall, Nuge, Eberle, Yak City or Schultz the younger. He got fired because the role players were so bad they gave back all of the good things done by the kids.

Craig MacTavish found role players with top picks (Dan Cleary), guys picked at the draft after the suits went home (Pisani, Brodziak) and guys who had experienced waivers (Marty Reasoner).

I have faith he can find those players again without moving Yak City.

  • Oilers89

    Two things:

    1. Schultz Jr is going to be very good, just like his AHL stats have shown. We tend to underestimate how many more games are played in the show than in college hockey. I’m guessing he is far too fatigued to be able to compete at this point. Next year should be much better.

    2. I have heard that it is possible to retain cap hit if a player is traded. With that in mind would it not make sense to keep (in the case of Hemsky) even half of his cap hit for next year in a trade? He all of a sudden would be a cheap effective option for a contending team. Would this significantly increase his value? I’m guessing something like this would up the return by a fair margin, and with the cap going down next year I’m guessing a contending team would be dying for a deal like this. Thoughts?

  • Oilers89

    Yak being traded,ha ha ha ha.

    Mac-T will be bold by cleaning out the stagnant environment in his locker room, the vets are soon to be wiped out.

    Mac-T has a firm idea who has been naughty and who has been nice on this roster.

    I believe we will be rolling some OKC bodies before the year is over, I would like to see some big birds before the year is over if possible.

    Yakupov looks stronger in every way than Hall did in his rookie year and Nuge is an anomoly he just stepped right in and survived fine as if he had been here for years, he wasnt dominated he never laid anyone out but he held his own ground in every game.

    Yakupov will not be traded thats nutty.

    Mac-T is simply going to get the room shaped up .But you can be sure he already has his list of plank-walking candidates and that he will have damning evidence in every case.

    I would expect Mac-T to look for a very big body for the top 6,he knows as well as I do that we need an Ethan Moreau clone right now desperately. Mac-T will open up a spot for a huge body that can play up in the top 9, he will not make a change unless he has a specific template filled and its not an easy one to fill because big isnt good enough you need to remember Moreau to understand what he will target, mac-T doesnt subscribe to hollow threats and understands the importance of heavy artillery. That is only one move up front. He will target the d-men and look for more involvement by choice, he wont force it he will ask and then move men out if he doesnt like the reaction, at this point there is really no need for discussion with anyone, the men know the score already.

    If you are a winger on the 3rd or 4th line you better be tough as nails or get that way or you wont fit in,Mac-T will have one training spot on his roster and it will be the 3rd line, everyone else will be dead serious or gone. Our 4th line will need to get much more aggressive defensively and take pride in that, they need to be motivated and proud of their jobs, not unhappy to be there, big ,fast,aggressive on the puck is what you will see.

    Any obvious speed deficiency will be rectified quickly, Mac-T likes the game fast, any repeated communication disconnects will be remedied immediatly he also likes it clear.

    As long as you get the job done with some gusto and emotion Mac-T will respect you, if you fail to respect your opportunitys and position in life he will remind you of it ASAP, if you cant handle that due to fragility issues he will promote you away.

    Nail Yakupovs value will eclipse everyone but Nuge next year, I peg him for 40 goals or more next year. Next year will be a big one for all the core guys especially in the physicality department, they are slowly maturing and you can see it in them as a group.

    Internal competition will be tough next year, guys are evolving and will be demanding icetime and situational dynamics. I think the first big trade we see will come because of player growth nothing else, there is no way we can feed all of these skillsets unless we find a new system to use.

    If people hold on they will be blown away by nails growth and evolution between this and next season, I think this kid is going to literally explode next season with the support he has here being more experienced. I think Nail will have the easiest transition of all the core and we will see it in his goal totals, by what I have seen so far with limited chances and shifting lines and linemates, I dont know if its safe to put a ceiling on Nails goal scoring potential unless you say Richard. This guy has the best shot I have ever seen, heavy, hard, fast, accurate, and Ralph will let him play if he can produce goals consistantly which he seems to do, he is a finisher who converts a high % of his chances so if you give him more he will score a correspondingly high number of goals, hence the Gagner matchup, just feed Nail the puck the same way over and over and its lights out.

    Put it this way, the places Nail is targeting with his shots and how he gets them there remind me of a cross between Fluery and Brett Hull and thats dam impressive. I think Yakupov can score 5 goals or more in an NHL game with his conversion % and instincts.

  • 15w40

    It looks like there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 to 9 player roster changes that need to be made.

    This rebuild isn’t close to the end – its is still at about mile 10 of this god forsaken marathon.

    Justin Schultz is beginning to look like Wiley E. Coyote after a couple rounds with the road runner. He is burnt out, probably more mentally than physically.

    Eberle and RNH have had what can hopefully be described as “off” years.

    Hall and Yak look like they are two guys running the wrong way up an escalator trying to push the majority of the rest of the roster out of their way as they ride it down.

    Krueger is tough to call although he doesn’t seem to be doing much to stem the losses in games. Call a time out – but maybe he has nothing to say. Although didn’t Babcock once call a time out and say absolutely nothing. There was nothing to say – it was obvious, they were bad – get your head out of your a$$e$ and be better. Can’t remember if it worked or not.

    Playoffs next year will take a minor miracle.

  • Sal-Sational

    Get real that the Oilers deal Yakupov… In the last 7 games he’s been pretty much the only Oiler that’s worth a dam… The passion, the heart, the energy and effort this kid displays is a treat to watch and last night is the perfect example… We have many guys who go before Yak. If the oilers move him we are insane!!!!

  • I respect the fact people think you need to trade players like Yakupov or Eberle.

    Fact is these players are a gross overpayment.

    Look at the trade’s over time, then look at this trade deadline, look at what left and the return.

    Look at the trades for top number 1 defense-man, then look at what went.

    You CANNOT trade youth and skill for a whale!

    For that you get into the Milbury and Keenan school of thought…..Bad!

    Trading youth, talent and skill for big body’s and less skill makes little sense, less offense does not move you forward, it moves you backwards.

    This is why Keenan’s teams had a shelf life, and why Milbury was stuck in a perpetual rebuild.

    The Oilers need to draft a big center with size and skill, draft a LW with size and skill.

    These players are out there.

    A good GM can get you good players, a great GM gets you good players without subtraction.

    A panicked GM will trade valued assets.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    Wow NewAgeSys knows everything!! Klowe should just fire macT and hire him as GM…

    also, yak better not be going anywhere. We lose him, we lose one of the only players with passion and physicality on this team. Bad idea, don’t think it will happen.

  • Sal-Sational

    Like MacT said “Talk is Cheap”
    we go through these assumptions every year bro and like every year nothing happens…
    just because he said he’s going to make some Bold moves doesnt mean he will actually do something.. do you think he has the balls to move Ryan Smyth/Horcoff/Hemsky..
    i wouldnt be surprised if the Bald move he was reffering to was to bring Marty Reasoner AKA Joe Sakic back..
    If he wants to make the playoffs the first thing he need to do is go out there and get a real Starting Goaltender (Mike Smith)
    and if he can some how get Shea Weber from NSH those 2 moves alone would get us into the playoffs.

  • French Toast Mafia

    Glad to see so many Yak supporters out there. He was about to be run out of town before the season even began just because he was Russian. Now we’re seeing a big step up in his game. He was playing crap minutes on the 3rd line, but he’s earned top line minutes with Hall. I really think his physicality out there last night is the type of thing that will keep him in the game.

    That being said, I think it’s time we see a breakdown of advanced stats of his progression (call it 5 game segments). My guess is he was outchanced heavily for the first 2/3’s of the season, and now he’s turned that around in a big way. During our losing streak I think he and Hall have been the only 2 good players.

  • French Toast Mafia

    of all the soft wingers this team has you wanna trade Yakupov? One of only two wingers that plays with passion, intensity, aggression and can score?
    We need to do what pens did..keep the talent, surround them with gritty veterans (like Dupuis, Brouwer, Kunitz, Or Glencross types) and u dont need to trade first ovetal talent to get gritty veterans like that.

  • French Toast Mafia

    Bobby Ryan? Cam Fowler? The Ducks are ripe for a trade. They’ll have way to much money tied up in Perry and Getzlaf. You think they are giving Ryan 6 plus? That would put them in the 22-24 million dollar range for 3 players. Target Ryan. Or Fowler. Or if your the Oilers target Ryan Murray. Maybe JD likes this years 7th better than Murray. Bold is the new catch word for ON.

  • SteelStewart

    You suck the bottom of that barrel for 4 years so that you earn the right to draft high,which was the plan… build via the draft, and three years later you want to trade these guys out of town. .. dumb, lame, and taking the easy way out
    only because you miss-managed your team over the last 4 years, with a dumb assed GM , who hired 4 lame coaches and beyond the lotto draft did nothing to rebuild the team.

    Its these same high drafts that attract higher quality players to join the team.This team thinks that unless its Weber , or Malkin, there can’t be a rebuild. Thats the lazy , easy way out.

    First thing MacT needs to do is:
    1. Get a real coaching staff
    2. Rebuild your defense…[ They could have just as easily got Rosival, and Oduya [Hawks did],who are big part of their D., no it has to be Weber. Get real.
    3. Get another goalie with to play with Dubnyk.
    4. Get rid of the rift raft from the 3 and 4 lines.
    5. The only players to be consider for trade from the top 6 are. Hemsky, Gagner.

    To give up this early on assets that you sucked so badly for in front of the fans over the past 4 years is a mistake.

  • SteelStewart

    I’d rather trade Ebs than Yak. Yak has speed, hands and he can hit. Ebs scores those nice highlight reel goals but can’t be as physical and Yaks can. But who knows. We’ve only seen Yak play 40 games. And ebs looks o be having an off year (broken hand?).

  • Space Dad

    Here’s a thought – Yak is currently two points behind Huberdeau. What happens if he continues on his current pt/g pace, and beats Huberdeau by 3 or 4 points? Is Huberdeau so much the MSM darling that he wins no matter what? I think so.

    It’s sad, but I don’t see Yak having any chance at the Calder, even with an all-world final 15 games. Eastern bias > Yak’s unfathomable power

  • SwampDonkey

    If the Oil trade Yaks, thats the day I start cheering for the Flames, Thats the the worst F-ING thing I’ve herd since the Gretzky trade. Bunch of F-in idiots, it will never happen, give your head a shake you F-N idiots. Think outside of the box.