The Edmonton Oilers are going to be very active this summer. The goal? The return of the kind of craziness that caused this fellow to fly to Rexall from Vancouver and spend two bills on beer. How do we get there?
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
So far this spring, we’ve discussed every word spoken by Oiler management, traded all the picks and all the prospects and pretty much everyone not named Taylor, baby Nuge, Ebs, Yak City and Schultz the younger.
And with all due respect to you and me (I’m quite fond of us), none of the stuff we’ve talked about amounts to a tinker’s dam
What does matter? Two things: the Oilers–led by new GM Craig MacTavish–definition of what "team" looks like, and the price to be paid in order to acquire the things required to make things go.
WE LOOK FOR THINGS THAT MAKE US GO
If we make a list of things we believe the Oilers need–my list is a skill LW who can score 20+ goals, a top pairing defender, a 4line C and a good backup goalie, but your mileage may vary–it would be imperfect because it’s our list. The list that matters is the Oilers’ list.
When Craig MacTavish says "three small players with similar skill sets seldom create the synergy that you need to have a dominant line" is he talking about Gagner, Yakupov, Hemsky? I absolutely KNOW he doesn’t mean that the Oilers should slam JF Jacques onto the top line, holy hell that’s just never going to happen again.
When Craig MacTavish says "the good thing is we don’t need to add the high-end skill, we need the complementary pieces now. I know those pieces are easier to come by. They’re still difficult, but they’re easier to come by" that’s fabulous and I agree. Does that mean the Oilers are going to bring in some Mike Peca’s and some Denis Grebeshkov’s or does it mean that we should expect Boyd Gordon and Mark Streit? Or MAYBE MacT is doing a counter trey, telling us one thing while secretly planning on flying Shea Weber into town on July 25th?
THE COUNTER TREY
Here’s what we know. Edmonton has the following assets of value:
- The kids, considered unmovable. This would include Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Yak, Schultz the younger.
- The first round pick, considered movable.
- Some, not a lot, of available money. About $6.5M depending on which players are moved out.
- Some, not a lot, of attractive roster players who could be sent away for value in return. We might include Sam Gagner, Magnus Paajarvi, Jeff Petry, or we might not include them.
- The 2014 1st round pick, and if they offer sheet (another option) then maybe the second round and third round pick too. Before you post the Oilers don’t have that 3rd rounder, it was a 4th rd pick that went to Toronto for Mike Brown.
- Any and all veterans who might have some value to other teams. ANY and ALL veterans.
- Draft picks of various value for MacT to trade for the "right" to talk to soon to be UFA’s like David Clarkson. Say MacT deals a "conditional" 3rd to NJD that turns into a 2014 1st rd pick should he sign in Edmonton long term. That kind of thing.
- Prospects in OKC and below.
Those are the assets I can think of, and if you can add to the list please do (I learned long ago that there’s always one more that someone smarter than me can think of–but please wait a few minutes, allow me that much!).
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
There’s not much we can do after that but wait, discuss amongst ourselves, worry, fret, have a few wobbly pops and stare at this young woman.
- John Muckler: "I always say it’s like baking a cake. It’s not only flour and sugar in a cake, there are other ingredients. You’d better have toughness, you’d better have skill, you’d better be mentally tough and you have to have character, or you’re not going to be a champion. You’ve got to be able to play through injuries, you’ve got to be able to play your best hockey when things are going against you and you have to have the ability to hold everything together until that momentum switches and comes your way."
We don’t know–not exactly–the ingredients, and we don’t know what order MacT wants to add them into the mix, and whether it’s a dollop or a bushel that needs to be added in each case.
We do know it’s his mix.
I can tell you that I believe Ales Hemsky is gone, that Sam Gagner’s return depends on the signing number he’s willing to accept, that we’re going to see a stronger group at center and that all of the defensemen are going to be skaters. I can tell you that I believe we might see some surprising signings like Denis Grebeshkov, and I can say that my beloved three-for-one trade is at hand.
ALL OF THAT is my reading of this situation mixed in with my own bias. You no doubt have your own reading, your own list–and that verbal has as much value as mine. I invite you to share, and when the whip comes down I’ll review and compare. I don’t know what we’ll do for bragging rights, but am open to suggestions.
It’s going to be a helluva summer.