When I started with the Edmonton Journal back in 1989, columnist Cam Cole would fill days that didn’t provide him with enough meat to churn out a full rant or rave with a bit he called "Items that might grow up to be columns, Volume XVI" etc.

This, with the Edmonton Oilers scattered all over the place during a seventh straight post-season out of the playoff mix, the draft and free agency still many weeks away and new GM Craig MacTavish settling into the job, is that. I’m stealing it from Cole, with credit, of course.

In no particular order of importance, some of the thoughts that have crossed my addled mind in recent days, grabbing my attention at least as much as the Stanley Cup playoffs and trying to fix my busted Biscayne (don’t ask) have.


. . . We already know that Jonathan Huberdeau, Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Saad are finalists for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year and that Nail Yakupov of the Oilers is not.

Outside of, perhaps, Yakupov’s bonus structure, that oversight doesn’t mean a damn thing – if I had the pick of any of the four as an armchair GM, I’d take Yakupov in a heartbeat (insert "and trade him for David Clarkson" smart guy remark here).

Don’t get me wrong, the Calder Trophy is a terrific bauble to have in the trophy case at home and a nice personal accolade, but it’s not always (some would go as far as to say seldom) an indication of who’ll have the best career, and there’s lots of examples of that in just the last decade or so.

Would you rather have 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner or runner-up Logan Couture? Steve Mason won it in 2009 and can’t stop a beach ball today, while the runner-up was Bobby Ryan. In 2003, Barrett Jackman was rookie of the year ahead of Henrik Zetterberg. In 2001, Evgeni Nabokov got the nod over Brad Richards. You get the idea.

Yakupov, of course, won’t even be a runner-up because PHWA voters somehow left him off the list of three finalists, but it says here he’ll be the best – certainly the most dynamic – player three years from now.


. . . I did an item several days ago extolling the (obvious) virtues of pending UFAs Bryan Bickell, Nathan Horton and Clarkson as forwards MacTavish should have an eye on and I said I’d take a swing at defensemen who might not only raise the compete level but the talent level on Edmonton’s back end.

I don’t see a lot in the UFA pool in terms of blueliners, so it looks to me like MacTavish’s best bets will come via trade. That of course, raises countless possibilities, ranging from tweaks to landing proven top-two talent, but I’ll just offer four names. Not-shoot-for-the-moon stuff necessarily, but do-able deals.

If the Oilers are willing to spend a tall stack on their top two (and I think they should consider it), I’d be looking at Keith Yandle, 27, of Phoenix and Alex Edler, also 27, of Vancouver. Neither name, of course, is a revelation.

Yandle, who has three years remaining on a contract with a $5.25 million cap hit, can play the minutes required (22:14 this season) and brings some edge (54 PIM) and the ability to generate offence (10-20-30 this season).

Edler, who inked a six-year deal with a $5-million cap hit, might be pried out of Vancouver if they’re looking to tweak a line-up that again fell short this season. Edler produced 8-14-22 and had 37 PIM this season while logging an average of 23:50 a night.

On the cheap end of the salary scale, at least as of right now, I really like Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders (the former Wheat King who almost ended Taylor Hall with a wicked check in the CHL post-season). Hamonic, 22, an RFA, played 22:48 a night for the Islanders. He bangs.

I also like Brenden Dillon, 22, of the Dallas Stars, but who doesn’t? The big blueliner, six-foot-three and 228 pounds, averaged 21:22 a night for Dallas this season. He’s got one year left at $900,000.

AND . . .

Kudos to Jason Gregor and everybody at TEAM 1260 for raising almost $10,000 with their king and queen of karaoke tilt at On the Rocks last Friday . . . on a personal note, thanks to the readers of Oilersnation and fans of Gregor’s show who’ve brought their business to my Crackmasters Southwest shop since we opened. The business, especially in the first year of start-up, is very much appreciated . . . sat around talking hockey for a couple of hours in the shop with Oil Kings coach Derek Laxdal last week . . .


Don’t forget to play StreakCred the new playoff pool game from the Nation Network. You can win a trip for 2 to Oktoberfest in Germany among the awesome prizes up for grabs. Only $20 and a portion of the proceeds go to Edmonton Charities. Sign up here.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • 15w40

    Would Gagner plus the 7th get you to the #4 spot to select Barkov?

    The more I read the more I think he may be gone even sooner than Drouin.

    These things are interesting because some will say there is no way that is enough and some will say that its too much giving up that much experience and consistent production in a player that is only 23 or 24 yrs old plus a “higher” 1st round pick for a prospect.

    There are still glaring holes down the middle and on the back end and after watching the Bruins play, it is even more obvious how many holes remain on this roster to be able to compete into May or June.

    More on theme with Robin’s original thread; if his foot speed is good enough another young dman that may add to the mix for more abrasiveness is Dylan McIlrath from the Rangers.

    Spent most (all) of his time on the farm this year. He is a nasty piece of business and is a big boy.

  • oilslick

    In the words of Steven Tyler “Dream On” as big a fan as I am I don’t forsee the Oil acquiring Weber the pricetag would be way to high. Mark Streit will probably end up here. I don’t think Think the Isles will part with Hamonic given their push back against The Pens and as far as Edler goes that is an interesting possibility but I’m not sure that they would trade him within the conference. MacT has his work cut out for him this summer. Tyler Bozek Bryan Bickell & Nathan Horton should be some of the targets up front & maybe Mike Smith to tandem in goal with Doobie Doobie Do!!! God Speed MacT!!!

  • oilslick

    The compensation for Weber is the major problem , not the contract itself . We were once willing to give up 4 first rounders for Vanek , which would have been disasterous for us , I believe , if Buffalo did not match our offer .

    What might be acceptable as an offer ? Perhaps this years and next years NBR .1 picks for starters . In that case, we draft who Nashville wants for deal in July . Now who comes off roster to finalize the deal ? One or perhaps two more NHL players ?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I’d rather have someone who can cover off all three disciplines (EV-PK-PP) at D. But those are rare fish.

    Any of these cats would help the team.

    Personally, I’m still on team Tyutin. And considering the CBJ connection, it looks like we could make a good trade partner.

    Incidentally, LT picked up a piece on ScarJo… no, wait… RyJo I meant (haha):

    have a read.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Hamonic would do nicely. At what cost is the question. Also what happens to Chicago if they lose to Detroit? I questioned Chicago’s goaltending before the playoffs. I thought they would make the Conference finals but Detroit has found holes in Crawfords game. It will interesting if they fail to get past Detroit. What happens to Marc Andrea Fleury if Pittsburgh makes the Cup finals with him on the bench? That is frightening for Pittsburgh going into the off season.

    Mandel not running. Diotte is. I am hoping Sohi puts his name in the hat. Or Krushell. Its the anybody but Diotte eletion imo.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    This changes the equation

    Fedor Fedin ‏@FedFedRMNB 2h
    Top prospect Valery Nichushkin announces he’ll sign in the NHL after draft. Tells R-Sport: “Dynamo told me I can go if I want”

    • Quicksilver ballet

      WOW!!!! Serious?!! This changes the draft order….this guy is UNREAL, pure game changer, I’ve seen him play live 3 diff times, uh is a machine, I’d be looking at the new draft order now, this could drop Monahan to 7th

      • OilersBrass

        Nichuskin is really good, reminds me of Malkin a bit (without the diving). It’s going to be an interesting draft, thats for sure.

        I would still take Lindholm over Monahan though.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Anyone seen Peckham lately, someone should ask him if he’d consider moving up to the wing.

    If he could narrow down to about 215-220lbs, he could be a poor mans Milan Lucic next season. There has to be a reason to the Oilers hung onto and punished him the whole season long. Were they trying to convert him to a forward last year?

    If moving up to the wing brings him an increased/regular NHL icetime i’d have to believe it would be worth the experiment, before they set him free for nothing in return.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      As a fourth line winger I could see your point. Did he not play some forward at one time? Strudwick did the same thing. He played forward when needed. Not a bad idea.His grit would not be wasted.

  • ghostofberanek

    After not seeing Brodin on the Calder list, it became apparent the voters were out to lunch. I can understand if Yak got left off, especially if the votes were in before season’s end as his numbers would not have been leading the pack.

    As with any speculative trade discussion, the question is always who are we sending back, is that player worth anything to the other team, and will that player turn around and begin mercilessly picking apart the Oilers every time he plays us.

    If it means a top two guy on our blue line then I am okay with trading the first overall pick. My preference would be to package that, with another player and get both a top two guy back, and an upgrade of size on a position in our top nine, either 2nd line centre, 2nd line LW, or third line RW. That way we are nabbing one player we really need, and an upgrade. If we can pick up a free agent or two after that, say Streit and anyone of Clarckson, Horton, Bickell, or the other Hawk, then I think the Oliers are in much better shape.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Playing with Ryan Suter is what cost Brodin a Calder nomination. How much of his success was because he was paired with one of the best defensemen in the league?

      That’s why teams go out and bring in these 100 million dollar D’men, because they often help lift their teammates play around them. If given the opportunity, Shea Weber could probably turn Justin Schultz into a Norris candidate within a couple years.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        I see what you’re saying. Because Yak played with Gagner and Hemsky he too was eliminated from the running because his team mates were just too good, and made him look better than he really was.

        I’m with you now.

  • ghostofberanek

    Just putting it out there, but how about Zach Bogosian as a potential trade target. Young, hard hitting Dman with some offensive skill, but yet to realize his full potential. Seems to me we might have some pieces that the Jets could use for trade as well (offense).

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I think the Oilers letting this Gagner extension drag on into the summer, has me thinking the Oilers would love to have some club offer him plenty more than he’d get staying here.

    Feel the Oilers would be better off with another 1st,2nd and 3rd rounder next summer. Paging Jay Feaster!

  • RomZ

    “Corey Pronman ‏@coreypronman 52m
    Valeri Nichushkin tells he has decided to transfer to North America. Dynamo in the KHL have no issues terminating his contract.”

    I doubt this guy lasts until the 7th pick now if he plans on having his contract in the KHL terminated to pursue an NHL career.

    Would any of you consider trading up for this guy? Seems to fit the size issue in our top 6, and I’ve heard has a bit of a mean streak. Might be comfortable here with Yak who has already established himself.

  • ghostofberanek

    Something smells funny with this Nichushkin story. Since when has any KHL team told their signed player “you can go to the NHL if you want to”? Sounds too good to be true.

  • RomZ

    Thanks Robin, always a good read. I’ve enjoyed the Radio Ga-Ga articles in the past and wondering if you will be doing one of those again soon?

    Also, I’ve got another year left in the lease of my Raptor and as soon as it gets close to the end I’ll pop down for a new windshield. The wife’s 2012 Ford F150 harley edition may need a windshield sooner so when the time comes I’ll bring that ride in for a window too.