OILERS NEED MANY CHANGES TO COMPETE

As usual the first round of the NHL playoffs has been great. The intensity, speed, passion and excitement reaches a new level and it is great to watch. However, it also illustrates how far away the Oilers are from being a serious contender. This team isn’t just one or two pieces away.

Craig MacTavish and his staff will be hard-pressed just to make them good enough to stay in the playoff race next season.

When MacTavish took over as GM he didn’t mince his words. He knows what has to be done, but will they be able to do accomplish what needs to happen?

The Oilers have to get bigger and stronger. If you believe size is over-rated you might want to watch the playoffs a little closer. Of course you need skill, but the size of the Ducks, Sharks, Kings is a main reason they are leading or winning their series.

And their size doesn’t consist of players 23 and under. When MacTavish stated he’d have to make some "Bold" moves, he was right, however, the only bold trades the Oilers could make is moving one of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov or Justin Schultz. I don’t see how trading any other player would be considered bold. I sense that Oiler fans would love to see some trades, but none that involve the five aforementioned players.

Is moving Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner, Magnus Paajarvi, Shawn Horcoff, Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid or Nick Schultz truly bold? I don’t think so.

MacTavish’s other option for "Bold" move could involved trading the #7 pick. Carolina and Columbus have traded the #8 pick the past two drafts, so I think it is very likely the "Bold" route the Oilers could go.

The Jackets acquired Jeff Carter, while the Hurricanes nabbed Jordan Staal. In both cases they had to surrender another young player in the deal. The Jackets gave up Jakub Voracek, while the Canes moved Brendan Sutter.

The only players who are comparable on the Oilers would be Gagner and Paajarvi. Paajarvi is a completely different type of player than Sutter, but you see the connection.

If the Oilers move Gagner or Paajarvi and the #7 who could they receive in a deal?

Paajarvi and the #7 would be more appealing to a team that wants to get younger, and save some salary. Paajarvi is a pending RFA and he likely won’t get more than $1.5 million on a new deal. Gagner is the more established player, but after a solid 38-point campaign he’ll get at least $4 million on new deal, and maybe more.

No one saw the Jeff Carter trade coming two years ago, so clearly any trade is possible, so let’s look a few scenarios.

WOULD YOU MAKE THIS DEAL?

The Vancouver Canucks are already at the cap for next season with only 15 players signed. Mike Gillis, if he doesn’t get fired, will need to shed salary and get younger.

Would he trade Paajarvi and the #7 for Ryan Kesler?

He has to move one of his goalies, and as I said last summer, trading Cory Schneider would be his best move if he wants improve his team. He could move Schneider for a centre and then add Paajarvi and #7. That would give the Canucks some needed speed and youth.

Kesler is exactly the type of 2nd line centre the Oilers need, and his $5 million cap hit isn’t an anchor.

Bobby Ryan for Paajarvi and the #7?

The Ducks have $16.8 million tied up in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf next year. They only have about $4.5 million in cap space. They could stick with Ryan and hope the Cap jumps up in two years when he becomes a UFA, but they might consider two young pieces. Ryan is a winger, and the Oilers need help down the middle, but he’s a big, skilled winger and after Hall the Oilers have no size in their top-nine.

Wayne Simmonds for Paajarvi and #7?

The Oilers might want something else as well, but the Flyers need to shed cap space. Simmonds is a $3.9 cap hit for the next six seasons, so the Oilers would have the security of having him for at least six years. Keep in mind Carter had a long contract, while Staal was an RFA and the Canes knew he’d sign long-term to play with his brother.

SOME MORE SPITBALLING….

If the Oilers are looking for a few quick fixes, I’d look at these names.

  • The Penguins will need to shed some salary and I could see them dumping Paul Martin, especially if they want to re-sign Jarome Iginla. He has two years left at $5 million, and he’s an experienced puck mover, something the Oilers desperately need.
     
  • Brooks Laich only played nine games due to injury this year, but in his last five seasons he’s only missed a total of 4 games. He’s 29 and the Caps don’t have much cap space. I’d call George McPhee to see if it is possible.
     
  • I know some of the advanced stats guys don’t like Jack Johnson, which is fair, but he has improved. He isn’t great defensively, but he’s physical and he can play 25 minutes. He was 5th in the NHL in TOI, and the Blue Jackets need some offence. Scott Howson knows him well, so I’d at least look into it.

QUICK HITS

  • I know Dion Phaneuf made a bad pinch, but David Krejci’s game winner went right through James Reimer. Reimer needed to make that save. In OT the Leafs had some great chances but Tukka Rask stoned them, while Reimer let the game winner go right through him. Phaneuf deserves some blame for his ill-advised pinch, but Reimer’s job is to make a key save and it wasn’t like that was a perfect shot from Krejci.
     
  • I doubt many picked the Islanders to defeat the Penguins, I didn’t, but now that the series is close I’m hoping for the upset. I love the major upsets, and this would be one.
     
  • I highly recommend you get your tickets for our King/Queen Karaoke contest next Friday night at On the Rocks. We are about 50% sold. It will be awesome. We have some excellent Karaoke people lined up. On Tuesday at the Oil Kings game Jason Strudwick and Yukon Jack did a sneak peak performance.
     
  • Check out Strudwick’s dance moves 2:30 into the video, Epic. Yukon really impressed with his ability to hit the high notes. Excellent work fellas. After you watch Struds there is no way you won’t want to see the finale next Friday. There will be a few more beers involved on that night…You can buy your tickets here. They are $25, but you get $50 in GCs from Oodle Noodle and On The Rocks when you show up, so you make money and support The MS Society.

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  • GVBlackhawk

    @ Bloodsweatandoil – re: Kesler, that is because if Mr. Glass is coming to Edmonton it is to visit the Glen Sather clinic to rehab yet another injury.

  • OilLeak

    7th pick and eberle for seth jones.ufa’s smith in net,and Clarkson on left wing.they get better in net and jones and klefbom on d should help,and you get bigger on the left side.