With the wrong-way Oilers securing 15th in the NW and the trade deadline just weeks away, we begin our annual parsing of the roster to find out who among the miserable will be sent away.


Yes, again. The Oilers have several expiring contracts and a few with an extra year tacked on the back, and that means there’s ‘savings down every aisle" for teams with hopes for the second season. Here’s a quick look at what might be available:

  1. Ales Hemsky (UFA 2014): One year left at $5M, that won’t be an issue. The Oilers were not getting strong offers for him a year ago (the rumored return was a 2nd and a 4th from Nashville) but if they’re in the shopping mood this time I expect they’ll get a 1st rd pick and a prospect back. If he’s in play, Hemsky will bring a big return, and the Oilers can move Yakupov onto the 2line. I don’t think it’s a good idea, Yakupov and Eberle are unready to be stand alone’s on the right side and Jones can’t deliver like Hemsky.
  2. Ladislav Smid (UFA): Smid makes $2.25M per season and is in his walk year. Smid is on the tough minutes pairing with Jeff Petry. However, Edmonton hasn’t signed him yet (I haven’t heard anything about contract talks) and that might mean there’s a gap between agent and team in terms of zero’s on the contract. Smid is going to get paid, the Oilers have to figure out if they want to be the team to pay him. The crickets in contract talks suggest to me he is in play, and that means he’ll move–Smid has extreme value as a rental. My guess is the trade talk starts at a 2nd round pick and goes up from there. Remember, the 2013 edition is considered to be a strong draft year.
  3. Ryan Whitney (UFA): He’s been inconsistent all year but has shown flashes on this road trip and a team that "saw him good" might be willing to take a chance. Defensemen always have increased value at the deadline, Whitney is a veteran and a team with depth who could play him on the 3rd pairing plus PP might want him for that role. My guess is they surprise everyone and get a 3rd rd pick for the veteran.
  4. Mark Fistric (UFA): I think the Oilers sign him in the next few weeks, it is clear they like Fistric plenty. However, if a team came calling and management were of a mind to trade him I doubt the club would get less than the pick they gave up for him (3rd rd pick). Don’t think it happens, though.
  5. Ryan Jones (UFA): He’s coming off an eye injury, but his wheels are fine. An NHL team might want to increase their offense in the bottom 6F and have a guy who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, either. The Oilers may also be looking to extend him, but if they get a 4th rd pick in return that’s excellent value for a waiver pickup.
  6. Ben Eager (UFA 2014): One year left at $1.1M and the concussion issues are a concern. Eager is a veteran and does fill a need, so I expect there’s interest if he’s healthy. A coach might worry about his tendency to take penalties outside what we’d call "good" ones, but his performances in Chicago and San Jose have given him a good post-season reputation. I bet they get a 4th rd pick for him.
  7. Eric Belanger (UFA 2014): Makes $1.75M and might fill a need for a 4line C, faceoff guy and penalty killer. Belanger certainly played better this season, and did his best to fill in for Horcoff but that’s a lot of lifting with not a lot of help. I think a team might see him as a solid fit for their playoff run. A 5th rd pick should be enough to get him.
  8. Nikolai Khabibulin (UFA): He’s played well when healthy, but the problem is (as always) staying in the lineup. I can’t imagine how many games he’d have to play in order for another team to feel safely covered in dealing for him as the backup/insurance. If someone deals for him, a 7th round pick gets it done.


Draft picks are the deadline currency, there might be a useful AHL player available or a fringe guy. However, as it was when the team dealt Dustin Penner to Los Angeles, the pick (Klefbom) will have more value than the player (Teubert) acquired in return. Teams loading up don’t want to deal anything that might help them–remember the Oilers sent Reasoner away in 2006 and then Pouliot got mono, forcing them to sign Rem Murray.

Hard to get players in return when you’re offloading at the deadline.


The good news is that the Oilers top 6 forwards, Petry-J Schultz and Dubnyk form an outstanding cluster to build on. The bad news is that the players who Edmonton is trying to unload include a long list of failed airlifts–and that’s been a problem for a long time.

My hope is they keep Hemsky, sign Smid and deal any of Whitney, Jones, Belanger, Eager and Khabibulin.

Is there a market for these men? History suggests the answer is yes.

  • DSF

    It is hard to imagine outside Oilers #1 picks and the gift Justin Schultz , you could put Eberle on the list he was ranked higher and lower in the draft by experts.

    What has Oiler management done in the last 10 yrs.? Aren’t these people supposed to be professionals.

  • DSF

    The issue with Dubnyk is whether or not he could stand the work load of a starting goaltender in the NHL since he had never performed t that level in the past.

    It’s not uncommon for a goalie to dafe as his workload increases.

    In his last 10 starts:

    1) .975

    2) .862

    3) .750

    4) .893

    5) .971

    6) .867

    7) .907

    8) .921

    9) .926

    10) .846

    A couple of heroic performances in there but 5 games below .900 would seem to indicate there IS a problem .

    • a lg dubl dubl

      You can use stats to prove whatever you want. 99% of all statisticians know that. Yes, brainiac, he has played worse in the last 10 games, as has the entire team in front of him. Looking past the stats, you have to figure out who has been responsible for losing the majority of the games in the last 10? His flub in Nashville didn’t help, but they were already down 1-0 and didn’t score any goals, so can’t even fault him for that one. Detroit, ditto. 2nd Minny game he was under fire from the get go and still managed above 900 with all sorts of chances, finally collapsing in 3rd (but still outplaying opposition goaltender). Can go on for the rest of them.

      Did he win us any? Well he helped get us loser points in 2 games we had no business even being in. Won us a game in CBJ that we had no business being in. Was solid in the 2nd Dallas game until the team took over.

      Did he lose us any? Bad in 1st Minny game, not sure if he lost it though. Mediocre/bad luck in 1st Dallas game, could argue but I am not sure how 2 fluke goals could have been prevented by better play. Khabby bailed him out against Colorado, but had one bad goal against Duchenne who kind of surprised him accidentally, but the other 2 his D failed him.

      So I would say that the balance even in these last 10 games was more in his favor. Its not normal to play 6 games in 9 nights, in any league under any circumstance. I will reserve judgment until the end of the year.

    • eastcoastoil

      Should we wait to see how he plays with Seth Jones in front of him before we dump our homegrown?

      Sorry for the negative, just got finished reading the blogs over the weekend.

        • eastcoastoil

          The thought never occurred to me that he would do that. Here i was actually looking forward to next years D




          • Time Travelling Sean

            This isn’t Jr hockey, he can suck it up and play or have no career. If we don’t sign him can he declare for next years draft? Or do we get him, and all his RFA years aswell? Even if he doesn’t sign.

          • He can re-enter the draft after two years I believe.

            He’s a kid with a smart head on his shoulders, he’s got great representation and won’t give a damn what the Oilers tell him.

            He held out against the Silvertips.

            He’s a huge flight risk, but I’m guessing he tells the Oilers as much in the interview.

            All this means nothing anyways the Oilers badly need centres.

        • Hmm… DSF, aren’t you a Wild fan? Dubnyk has a better save percentage than Backstrom behind a much weaker D. I am not saying he’s our savior, but he has won the Oilers several games this year, and I certainly wouldn’t count on him being a subpar NHL starter. The team definitely needs a capable insurance policy, like one of those Senator goalies. The asking price may be either an actual player or draft pick, and I don’t think the Oilers management likes to trade either of those…

          • DSF

            No, I am not a Wild fan but I do note they could move into 1st in the NW and 3rd in the WC with a win over the Canucks tonight.

            I’ve never been able to find a credible explanation of how the quality of defense is correlated with save percentage so I remain more or less convinced that save percentage is the best way assess a goaltender.

            Considering that Jonathan Quick currently has a save percentage of .895, I would conclude he’s not having a very good season rather than blame his team’s defense for the lousy save percentage. (Bernier is .916 playing behind the identical D).

          • GVBlackhawk

            For the most part, you are correct about save %. However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the notion that team defense helps a goaltender’s save %. For example, Ilya Bryzgalov is amazing in Phoenix, then is awful in Philly. Mike Smith is mediocre in Tampa, then is wonderful in Phoenix.

            I know this is not considered concrete evidence but…there you have it.

            Save % is the only metric we have to consistently quantify goaltending performance.

          • Lowetide

            OK, then you must think Dubnyk is awesome then…

            His save percentage is 14th amongst “qualified goalies” on TSN, but if you remove anyone who has faced less than 400 shots, he jumps to 9th. 450 shots – he jumps to 7th. Remove anyone who has faced less than 500 shots (Dubnyk has faced 617, so 500 is probably a reasonable benchmark), and Dubnyk slots in 4th in the league, behind Rinne, Lundqvist, Niemi, and ahead of Miller and Howard. Over 600 shots – he has the best save percentage in the league.

            Pretty good company, because your argument was that Dubnyk can’t shoulder the load of being a starting goaltender.

            Also, your argument about Save Percentage being the best indicator of goaltending is countered by your own quote, as you note that Bernier is playing better than Quick behind the same defense. Obviously you must think defense matters if you are controlling for it by comparing 2 goaltenders with the same defense in front of them, otherwise you would have compared Jonathan Quick to Dubnyk, playing behind different D (in which case you would have concluded that Dubnyk is playing better than last year’s Conn Smythe Winner, who was awarded a lengthy and expensive contract).

            Surely defense matters, becuase it affects the quality of the shots and even the quality of the scoring chances. And if you want to take this a step further, of the 8 goalies who have faced 400 or more shots whose SPG is higher than Dubnyk, you have Anderson, Niemi, Lehtonen, Rask, Bobrovsky, Reimer, Lundqvist and Reimer. Of those goalies, Dallas and Columbus would be the only teams with even comparable defensive struggles (and even so, would argue that they’re better than ours right now). So we have pretty much been maxing out Dubie’s potential with what he’s playing in front of.

          • DSF

            If we use 60 games started as a yardstick for a starting goaltender, Dubnyk, has never done that.

            Considering the decline in his play over his last 10 starts, we may be getting a better handle on his abilities.

          • Well no one is getting in 60 games this year, so what are you saying? Neither has Schneider. Anderson played OK last year for 60 games and great for 15 this year and suddenly they are the next messiahs.

            “Considering the decline in his play over his last 10 starts, we may be getting a better handle on his abilities.” – Could be, or could be he’s hit a bit of a snag (he did play the last 30 or so last year, mostly uncontested starter, and did quite well). All I want is for you to admit that chalking up 10 games of average play to “he’ll never be the starter”, especially with 6 of those games in 9 nights on the road, with his team sucking hard, as being a tad premature. That’s all I am saying and you seem to be missing those crucial points with every retort. That’s like analyzing 10 games out of Crosby’s season where he produces poorly and call him bad, or 10 games out of Eager’s season where he doesn’t fall on his face and calling him tough and dependable.

            Also, you still have not addressed any of my previous arguments, which clearly punch holes in all of yours, and actually prove you to be a hypocrite in others. If you are using the 60 game yard stick as a reference, then you should not make predictions 25 games in on a guy whose coveted SPG is keeping up with all the major starters. Otherwise, when that juncture arrives, maybe, just maybe, you could look stupid…

  • eastcoastoil


    Have you heard the line up for tonight. I read somewhere that they were entertaining putting Horcoff out with Hall and Yak?

    As far as trades go, the number ones and Justin should stay. Everyone else is up for grabs. We have to give the new GM after the lottery plenty to work with for a actual rebuild.

  • Spydyr

    Dubnyk that is the goalie that lets in shots from center ice. Along with a weak goal just about every game. Yeah, he is the one to build around. Teams that let in weak goals every game go far in the playoffs.The only thing that shouts number one about Dubnyk is his pay check.

  • Look at the Habs this year with the coaching change, they are at the top of the East. They don’t have any stars or skilled players (like people say Oilers have on paper), regular 6 Dmen. All 4 lines scoring, almost entire team is + side, they score even strength goals. Last year people were calling to fire their GM too. It starts from the coaching, Leafs with Carlyle, Ducks has Boudreau. Both teams are doing well too. They all have big players and play hard. Why can’t the Oilers played like they did against Dallas 2 weeks ago every night? Shoot the puck, drive to the net, keep shot against down. Oilers don’t have set plays, when on offensive zone they just pass the pucks around the boards. They don’t shoot and then turn pucks over, they are too tired to come back to defend. Oilers Dmen get beat on 1 on 1, they don’t play the body, falling all over the place. All the games are like that, to win you have to score more than other teams. Even retarded monkeys know that.

    • DSF

      Montreal did fire their GM and he was way worse than Tambo(at least Steve he isn’t an arrogant prick)
      The new GM Bergevin hired the new coach,bought out Gomez and added the much needed grit, he also got a healthy Markov back and has a true #1 goaltender.

      • a lg dubl dubl

        Hey I am definitely aboard the firing of Lowe through Tambo, lets make that clear. But lets not give Bergevin too much praise. There was no amnesty buyout clause last year, and anyone with a fraction of a brain would have bought him out his year. That wasn’t great management. Markov back and a #1 goalie – I didn’t know Bergevin doubled as a sports trainer? His rookies have panned out nicely with Gallagher being an especially nice surprise that not even Bergevin could have expected, Pacioretty is getting even better. Subban in some people’s eyes was a great move, and in others’ eyes it might have set them on a collision course when the FA contract expires. The ONLY things you can give him credit for (at least at present) is picking the right coaching fit, and preying on Dallas’ shallow pockets. But at least he has done that right, Oilers brass have not made a correct move that has significantly improved the team in 5 or 6 years, other than choosing the consensus #1 picks for 3 yrs running

        • Word to the Bird

          I am not giving all the credit to Bergevin but if they wouldn’t have made a change I doubt if they would be in the position they are, I also did not mean he had anything to do with Markov’s recovery, the point was him being healthy and the addition of Prust and Armstrong just goes to show how a few changes can make a huge difference.

  • Why do you have so much faith in dubnyk? I thought this was the year we find out if he’s a number 1 or not? Pretty sure were finding out that he doesn’t have what it takes! He’s far from being the problem of this team but he sure doesnt help. We all know his reputation of the weak goal a game, hasn’t changed! He seems to always play just enough decent games to keep some people believing in him. I hope we start looking for an actual #1 good goaltending goes a long way

        • Lowetide

          Dubnyk isn’t the problem, and I understand it is frustrating to see a goal go in from center. However, the main problem this year has been 5×5 scoring combined with a tragically low shooting percentage.

          Math tells us that it will return, and when it does the goals will start going in. Dubnyk has nothing to do with the Oilers offensive problems, and his goaltending save percentage is in the top half of the league.

          • DSF

            we have been seeing this problem for a few years now,a weak goal like that will suck the energy out of any team,it doesn’t matter when it is 3 or more goal lead,but when it is a tie game or a one or two goal difference it is huge and is magnified when the team is having trouble scoring.there are some very good goalies in the confrence, and if you want to play with the big boys you have to act like one.

      • GVBlackhawk

        That’s probably because the Oilers don’t get any offensive chances and opposing teams do not need to run up the score. 2-3 goals is all it takes against the lowly Oilers.

        Combine that with the fact the Oilers receive a ton of shots against which increases save percentage. Many shots aren’t chances as Oilers tend to collapse, and stay collapsed with no transitional game. This increases a high volume of shots against.

        However, if the Oilers were scoring goals which means more offense which means less shots against than you can guarantee opposing teams would increase their pressure with the desire to score more goals.

        My point is I out no stock in Dubnyks save percentage until this team is actually still in the games. Right now the Oilers aren’t even competition and there is no teams taking them seriously.

      • eastcoastoil

        Dubnyk is on a slippery slope, save percentage will continue to drop unless he gets his confidence back quickly.The soft goals are also hard on the rest of the teams confidence.If Smith doesn’t re-up with the Coyotes he is the only #1 except for Luongo and Tim (no tools in the tool house) Thomas that will probably be available, oh forgot about Dipietro.

  • vetinari

    Next to Hemsky, I think I’d be willing to trade everyone on the list there. Not saying that I would just give them away, I’d want the appropriate return.

    I’d want all picks back. Since Oilers are trying to fill bottom 6 roles, it shouldn’t be tough to fill these through free agency.

  • DSF

    They might as well move as many of those guys as they can for draft picks. They don’t have much to show for the last several drafts, except for the obvious, and the cupboards are bare in the system. Aside from Fistric, go ahead any trade any of those players. This team is years away from playing competitve hockey.

  • DSF

    I agree with everything except trading Jones. I think he’s a good fit on the team, and seems like he’d be a great guy in the room. I’m surprised you didn’t list Smyth.

  • vetinari

    Looking at them in terms of picks, it seems to me that unless they get a few warm bodies back in return, there’s not enough bodies in OKC to fill the gaps, even if it is just for the last few weeks of the season.

    Personally, I would try to extend Smid to a 3 to 5 year deal (give him some of the money that you will save when Whitney comes off the roster) and keep Jones around for another year or two, but everyone else would be up for grabs.

  • DSF

    Sorry, but for some of these trades, we better not be taking back a pick. If anything we should be asking for a developed prospect. Not a top grade obviously unless your looking to move Hemsky or Smid. But Jones/Whitney/Belanger better be a propect over a pick. Otherwise we are spinning our wheels. I would keep Fistric/Smid/Jones and Hemsky unless the return is a 1st and prospect.

    • Lowetide

      I totally agree.

      Get rid of Smid? He plays tones of minutes, shows passion and is the only defender that we have that is tough to play against (and nobody tell me Peckham, he is terrible against other teams bottom 6).

      Actually, now that I think of it this does make sense for our management. Move a guy that we could use two more of. Don’t worry Peckham, Potter and Tuebert will swallow those minutes.