Trading Shawn Horcoff

On Thursday, Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish left little room for doubt as to the fate of veteran Oilers Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. After hinting for most of the summer that the two would be moved, he told Team 1260’s Mark Spector that the “ideal scenario would be to move them on and wish them the best."

We’ve spent significant time on Ales Hemsky’s trade value here, but what kind of scenario would allow Shawn Horcoff to be moved?

Plausible Scenarios

The Oilers have a number of options with Horcoff; these strike me as the most superficially plausible:

  • Trade Horcoff for a useful player on a poor contract
  • Trade Horcoff while retaining salary, likely to a non-cap team
  • Buyout Horcoff

Before getting into the options, it’s probably worthwhile to note that Horcoff has a no-move clause until July 1, though it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t waive it in the right situation.

There are other options – as an example, one particularly unlikely scenario might be a trade centered on Horcoff for New York Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, with the Oilers acquiring additional assets to compensate for the heavy price associated with buying DiPietro out of his contract – but the three outlined are the most commonly discussed. Of them, we can likely eliminate a buyout – MacTavish also said the Oilers would welcome Hemsky/Horcoff back if “the right circumstance doesn’t present itself.”

That leaves the first and second option. There isn’t much to say on the second option: if the Oilers were to retain a portion (hypothetically, we’ll say $1 million/year) of Horcoff’s contract he’d be a very useful asset to a cap-floor team – being paid just $2.5 million per season by them, with an inflated cap hit. Almost any trade would be possible under those circumstances – for a pick, prospect or player – so it doesn’t make much sense to go beyond the fact that it’s an option the team has.

The other option – taking on a useful player on a poor contract – is more intriguing, though, because the Oilers could improve their roster in the here-and-now if the right deal were struck. What options might be out there?

Bad Contracts

Buffalo Sabres. I include them here because somebody is bound to bring them up, but I don’t see an attractive deal here. Defencemen Tyler Myers and Christian Ehrhoff are arguable fits, but one is too good of a player despite the contract and the other has a deal until the end of time. Up front, Drew Stafford plays the wrong position (right wing) and Ville Leino’s deal is too awful to entertain.

Columbus Blue Jackets. I’ve written about the Jackets before, and two contracts really stand out: R.J. Umberger and James Wisniewski. Umberger’s dollar figure isn’t excessive for what he brings ($4.6 million cap hit) but he has four more years on that contract, while Wisniewski has four more years at $5.5 million but would be a big addition to a weak Edmonton blue line. Columbus is not remotely a cap team, so Horcoff’s cap hit would be a pleasant addition for them.

Detroit Red Wings. Johan Franzen’s contract is brutal, and the new provisions against cheater years at the end are going to hurt Detroit in a big way. Given his age, it’s not a deal worth taking on for Edmonton.

Florida Panthers. There are some interesting possibilities here. Role player Scottie Upshall has been a disappointment, and has the same $3.5 million annual salary that Horcoff has for the next two years (though Upshall has an extra season on his deal). Defenceman Brian Campbell has a big-money deal and would help the Oilers immediately, but as Florida acquired him with that contract it would seem they don’t mind. Ed Jovanovski has two years left on his over-35 deal, but probably wouldn’t be a lot of help on the Oilers’ blue line.

Minnesota Wild. It’s a good bet Dany Heatley wouldn’t work so hard to block a trade to Edmonton these days; it’s also a good bet Edmonton’s interest in him has waned.

New York Rangers. With seven years left on Brad Richards contract, it simply isn’t worth the risk.

Philadelphia Flyers. Daniel Briere is frequently mentioned as a buyout candidate, but isn’t a good fit for the Oilers’ needs.

Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes don’t have a lot of bad contracts on the books. Antoine Vermette had a disappointing year in some regards , earns a little more money than Horcoff but has a lower cap hit (all items that would favour a trade) but also played a top-line role for the Coyotes. He could help the Oilers, but it’s hard to imagine Phoenix is anxious to deal him away.

Pittsburgh Penguins. It could be a very interesting summer in Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury is a possibility to be shopped, but costs more than Devan Dubnyk and would only (at best) be a marginal upgrade. Defenceman Paul Martin is an interesting possibility – he has a considerable cap hit and was considered trade bait last summer, but a strong season may have rehabilitated him in Pittsburgh.

San Jose Sharks. I’ve written at some length about Martin Havlat; I lean against him being a good fit in Edmonton but he’d be a possible target.

Tampa Bay Lightning. There are at least two interesting names here. Vincent Lecavalier would be an immediate and significant upgrade on Shawn Horcoff and could be vulnerable due to his contract, but that contract is also terrifying: seven more years with a nearly $8 million annual cap hit. It also has cheater years on the end of the deal, so if he (as is likely) retires prior to the end of the contract a team could face significant cap penalties. More interesting is Ryan Malone – the 6’4”, 220 pound left wing has two years left on his $4.5 million cap hit contract, has had some injury problems, and has been frequently mentioned as a buyout/trade possibility. Malone, however, only earns $2.5 million per year on the two years left on his contract; the Lightning have been significantly more willing to spend in recent years but that dollar drop probably makes it less likely that the player gets dealt.

Toronto Maple Leafs. Both John-Michael Liles and Mikhail Grabovski would seem to be possibilities. Grabovski is an excellent player coming off a wretched season, and has four years left at a $5.5 million cap hit. Of course, he’s also on the small side (5’11”, 183 pounds) and his deal runs twice as long as Horcoff’s. John-Michael Liles has three seasons left at a $3.88 million cap hit; the 32-year old would add offence and mobility to an Oilers’ left side short of those qualities, but he isn’t seen as great in his own end and lacks ideal size (5’10”, 185 pounds).

Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver desperately needs to gain cap space; even in a deal for Roberto Luongo ($5.33 million cap hit) adding Horcoff wouldn’t do it; it’s hard to see a fit here.

Washington Capitals. Brooks Laich missed most of the year with a groin injury, but prior to that was an all-purpose centre for Washington who did a nice job in an auxiliary offensive role. His name has been mentioned in trade rumours in the past, though it would be entirely understandable if “Laich for Horcoff” wasn’t palatable to general manager George McPhee. The reason Laich might be vulnerable is again contract: the 29-year old has four seasons left at a $4.5 million cap hit.

Winnipeg Jets. Olli Jokinen is coming off a brutal season and has another year left with a $4.5 million cap hit; he would add size (6’3”, 215 pounds) to the centre position but isn’t a well-rounded player.

As I See It…

Taking on a bad contract only really makes sense if it also works as a hockey move. With the Oilers’ ability to eat salary in a transaction, Horcoff is tradable, and so taking on a long boat anchor contract (Lecavalier, Richards, etc.) doesn’t really make sense. Of the situations above, Columbus strikes me as the best combination of plausible and attractive from an Oilers’ standpoint; other players might work to varying degrees but there really aren’t a lot of possibilities.

Retaining salary and moving Horcoff to a non-cap team seems the most likely outcome.

Recently around the Nation Network

It’s being reported that Calgary has come to terms with KHL goalie Karri Ramo:

According to Andy Strickland, the Flames have come to terms with Karri Ramo on a multiple year deal. The deal can’t be officially confirmed/announced until July 5th, the date that Ramo’s KHL contract ends.

Click the link above to read the whole piece, or feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • @Jonathon Willis

    I agree with you on bad contracts…and ya can add Bryzgalov too please.

    I believe also that Columbus is the better team to make deals with now, especially when the BJ are moving to a new eastern conference.

    But I believe that Philly can be dealt with too as a good team to work with on trades. we have good future defence prospects Philly would probably like…and The Flyers have two centres to maybe work a deal out…Brayden Schenn and Talbot.

    I think Hemsky plus Gernat and the 7th overall for Schenn and the Flyers 11th and 72nd picks can be decent. Or Hemsky plus Gernat only for Talbot may be okay…

  • JW: I’d add Roberto Luongo too now, due to being signed until the year infinity, and the Canucks wanting him gone. Pretty damn tough sell.

    Horc’s contract was bad the day it was signed (as a big supporter of Horcoff, I hung my head when I heard about that deal), but with $4m and $3m left, it’s perftectly fine and not that hard of a sell. The cap hit is bad, but there’s teams out there who wouldn’t care about that, and more the bottom dollar.

  • Word to the Bird

    To bryan in SK…..LMAO….about Heatley being good for OKC…however…lol…he probably would poison that team.

    Now…..Hemsky + Gernat + 7th overall to Philly for 11th overall + B. Schenn + 41st pick this yr may not be bad a deal..

    The Oilers would get a a top type 2nd line centre (move Gagner to 3rd line or trade him)then at 11th… a type very good defenceman prospect of any of Pulock, maybe Ristolainen, Zadorov, Mirco Mueller, Robert Hagg, etc.

    The Oilers could then package their 2nd rounder plus Philly’s 41st to go into the back end of the first round (24th to 30th)for one Comrie or Jarry or Juusi Saros for goaltending.

    draft day One = Brayden Schenn, then say Pulock and Comrie/Jarry/Saros….3 top new kids for Hemsky, Gernat and 7th.,

  • Word to the Bird

    To Hall for President….

    I agree with JW that Horcoff stays here…albeit not captain anymore…for this next season rather than B. Richards coming here to the Oil.

    Worse contract than Horcoff at this time.

    That being said…Hey Jonathon…why can’t the Oil package Horcoff in a deal.. for Tyutin at Columbus somehow?

    Without touching the 7th overall pick to Cloumbus, could the the Oilers could maybe package Horcoff/$1 mil off salary per season and include a defence prospect such as Fedun or Davidson…for Tyutin/2013 3rd to 4th rounder?

    I wrote of my other proposed Hemsky/Gernat/7th overall deal prior to this one ….to Philly for 11th overall, Brayden Schenn and the 41st pick…the flip both 2nd rounders to get a later other 1st rounder…. Would that not be too bad JW?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Philly is over the cap – how can they take on Hemsky’s $5M?, and they are loaded at RW

      JW – Does Hemsky or Horcoff + a pick/prospect and you eat some cash get you Frans Nielsen out of the NYI? – I think they’d be unlikely to part with him but he would be an excellent fit

  • Spydyr

    Pittsburgh Penguins. It could be a very interesting summer in Pittsburgh. Marc-Andre Fleury is a possibility to be shopped, but costs more than Devan Dubnyk and would only (at best) be a marginal upgrade. Defenceman Paul Martin is an interesting possibility – he has a considerable cap hit and was considered trade bait last summer, but a strong season may have rehabilitated him in Pittsburgh.

    Marginal upgrade? Fleury has a ring, Dubnyk has a five hole

  • Hallisimo

    @Jonathan Willis

    Do you think there’s any chance whatsoever that we can pull off a deal with the islanders that Mac T would consider DiPietro for the buyout. Something like..
    Hemsky Horcoff and our 7th overall for DiPietro Strome Niederreiter and the rights to Streit.

    The islanders rid themselves of the albatross contract, give up Strome but they’re depth at C helps, Nino has already asked for a trade and clearly wants out, and Streit just turned down they’re latest offer.

    They get Hemmer and Horcs to keep close to the cap floor and our first rounder. Maybe we add something else like a 4th rounder but you get my point. Would the islanders consider something like this and any possibility you think Mac would?

    • I think the Islanders are very open to moving DiPietro and paying for it, but that buyout is going to cost $24 million. Daryl Katz is rich, but is he willing to spend $24 million to get some good young players? I don’t know, but I’d be surprised.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        It is one of very few options available for bringing established players into B markets like Edmonton. Buying players, or RFA offer sheets. Who cares about the optics of how a player is aquired.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            You’re off your game there JW.

            That’s what I just said. Who cares about the optics, it’s all about plundering someone elses players.

            It’s only noon and you’ve checked out mentally for the weekend already. Enjoy your suds then.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            One of them is style, one of them is substance.

            Sorry JW, I thought we were tawkin hawkey. Your conversation appears to have veered off course in reference to beer.

            The 24 million is of no concern to you or i, since it’s not us paying the tab.

          • GVBlackhawk

            I’ve never met Daryl Katz but I do know some people who work in his ‘inner circle’. Although they are bound to confidentiality agreements and cannot divulge details about him or his business transactions, they can talk about the type of person he is.

            From what I understand of the man, there is an extremely low probability of him spending $24M to acquire a middling player or prospects.

          • I would normally agree with a “normal” business accountability practice but……

            Khabibulin – Eager – Barker – Fraser – Foster – Belanger – Peckham – Petrel and others.

            This is the essence of middling to just above NHL talent in some cases not even in the NHL anymore.

            I’m not sure what the final bill is here but it got to be damn close to 20 million.

            If I were you I’d go talk to those ” inner people” again.

          • GVBlackhawk

            Those ‘inner people’ are not part of the Oilers organization; they work for an entity called the Katz Group.

            Also, you are making a gargantuan leap from eight NHL roster players that the GM signed, to one or two prospects for $24M dollars. Those players were signed to future potential performance, not hindsight.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Might want to re think that. They had only 32 pts combined last season, on a team with max minutes. How’s that going to help the Kings, playing behind Kopitar and Richards and Jarred Stoll?

      Be fortunate to get a second rounder for each, and only then, if the Oilers took on half their salaries. Dump them at the first opportunity, or they’ll be setting the pace here again next season to another 25th place finish.

  • GVBlackhawk

    Wizniewski would be a great addition on our blue line. I’d do that trade in a heart-beat.

    My gut tells me Horcoff stays, loses his captaincy to Hall, and Hemsky goes–where I don’t know………

    I could see Laich leaving Washington, but he’s going to be Hesky plus a good prospect.

  • GVBlackhawk

    To westcoastoil…

    I agree that Philly is over the cap so…I didnt think it out too great on a Brayden Schenn, the 11th overall and 41st overall picks for Hemsky, Gernat and 7th overall.

    However, the Oilers maybe say….add Nick Schultz into the package and then take Bryzgalov or Briere off Philly’s hands for a buyout.

    The Oilers then go after a UFA defenceman like say….Alzner or someone else decent for within that $4 mill offer range at say two yrs.

    That still leaves a compliance buyout option for Horcoff or a trade possibility for him.Gagner can also be traded in a package for a top 3rd line centre or… then be fit into 3rd line centre status .with Paajarvi and Hartikainen

    The Oil then would have Schenn (2nd line trial), the Oil can go for Ristolainen or Pulock or Muelleror Hagg at 11th overall, and still also next make a play deal with the two 2nd rounders they’d bnow have to go for 24th to 30th in the first round to get Comrie/Jarry/Saros….

    Just thinking about this as one possibility…

  • T__Bone88

    Would a Hemsky for Meszaros work out for both teams? might have to retain 500k-$1000000 for hemsky’s cap hit but having meszaros helps with the oilers need of a left handed defenseman. If hypothetically the oilers did trade for Dipietro to acquire their 1st rounder this year and did a normal buy out, Hall and Eberle will be on the verge of retirement by the time his $1.5 million cap hit would be off the books…ouch!

  • DoubleJ

    What about Stastny for Horcoff? Honestly I think it could work. Colorado is set for 1st and 2nd line center. Horcoff has a high cap hit but low salary. Stastny has a high salary cap and salary, but would be a great 2nd line center for the oilers.

    Might have to add to the deal to make it work. But he would be great addition to the team.

  • Reading between the lines here.

    I have no doubt the Oilers will be moving up in the draft.

    The Oilers will need that center in the draft to play immediately, I know of only Barkov and MacKinnon as sure bet to play the up coming year.

    I have to think Carolina is a really good team to trade with.

    The Oilers might trade with CBJ but it won’t be Umberger.

    Umberger has a NTC he’s locked down.

    I would believe that MacTavish would want Dubinsky a LW/C that has term and is younger over Umberger.

    I wouldn’t discount Anaheim as a possible destination for Horcoff or Hemsky

    Emerson Etem might have serious appeal as would the Ducks first round pick.

    I can also see Hemsky playing very well in Detroit, question is can Mac-T shake that first free?

    Whatever happens if we trade Horcoff some type of center has to be coming back.

  • If we traded for Laich I think Wanye might be pretty pissed.

    Wasn’t there going to be something in the new CBA that put the cap hit for retiring players back on the team that signed them as opposed to the team that traded for them? Am I missing something here?

  • I’m going to trust that MacT has a plan here to make this team better by dangling these guys. It’s also funny how they want to get rid of all remaining members of the 06 playoff team (player wise) but bring people back management wise.

  • I know this might sound absurd,but Sportsnet
    Hockey Central at Noon,had a journalist on the air from Pittsburgh, and he suggested that if the
    team didnt make it to the finals there could be a major shake down ! He suggested as drastic as trading Letang.! The only un touchables were Sidney and Malkin.

    Hemsky, #7, and prospect for Letang, who is a UFA next year making around $ 3 million.Would be up to MacT to resign him to a new deal.

    If Letang is pie in the sky, then perhaps Martin, or even James Neal.

    You’ll never be “big” if you dont think big.

    MacT said,bold, well this is bold.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Meh, on Letang. He doesn’t seem the type that’ll help lift the play of his partners in crime. Edmonton needs a dominant guy who’ll lead by example. Not sure Letang falls into that category. Not much different than Tom Gilbert, if he had played on a good team.

      Pittsburgh looks to be in a little trouble on their back end.