Trade Talk

If the volume of trade rumours is anything to go by, the time between the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and draft day (June 30) is going to be nuts. At the centre of a lot of it is Edmonton – general manager Craig MacTavish has made no secret of his desire to immediately and significantly put his stamp on the team, and at this point it would be more of a surprise not to find the Oilers involved in significant trades than to see them pull the trigger on a deal.

Some Names

Kris Letang. Jason Gregor wrote yesterday about reports out of Pittsburgh that Kris Letang could well be moved, and floated a package of Jeff Petry, the number seven pick and a young forward. While that’s a dear price to pay, Letang is a 26-year old rearguard who played number one minutes (more than 27:00 per game, including time in all situations) on a team that went to the Conference Final this year. He scored at better than a point per game pace in both the regular season and the playoffs. He is a legitimate top-pairing defenceman and would improve the Oilers’ blue line a lot. As long as the Oilers were allowed to talk to him about a contract extension before acquiring him, he’d be a great target for this team. The only argument against is that the Oilers already have Justin Schultz – another right-side defenceman with high-level offensive ability – but right now Letang is a vastly superior player and in a three-for-one situation it seems unlikely Edmonton would regret making a deal.

Jonathan Bernier. There isn’t really a lot of buzz for the idea of Bernier ending up in Edmonton – probably at least in part because Los Angeles has been hesitant in the past to move him within their own division. From my perspective, that’s a good thing: Bernier might be the next big thing, but he’s also a 6’ goalie with just 62 NHL games played and a 0.912 save percentage. Because of draft pedigree and reputation, Bernier is going to cost a lot, but whoever acquires him is running a major risk. It’s a good risk for some teams, but Edmonton has a pretty decent goalie in Devan Dubnyk so they don’t need to swing hard for an unproven goalie.

Jake Gardiner. A 22-year old defenceman who moves the puck brilliantly and seems chronically undervalued by the Leafs? Personally, I think the ‘7th overall for Gardiner and the 21st overall’ trade scenarios are ludicrously one-sided in Edmonton’s favour and I’d be surprised to see the Leafs bite, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the cost of acquiring Gardiner is significantly lower than the immediate impact he would have on the blue line.

Tom Gilbert. In the last season Craig MacTavish coached, Tom Gilbert played second pairing minutes and picked up a career-high 45 points. Now, after a year with an impossibly bad 0.877 on-ice even-strength save percentage (keep in mind: this isn’t something Gilbert could control), the Wild may buyout Gilbert because Dany Heatley’s injury prevents them from paying him to go away. If the Oilers can get him for basically nothing in trade or sign him cheaply after a buyout for the third-pairing, that’s a clear win for the organization, I think.

In General

The Toronto Maple Leafs. Robin Brownlee had a nice take on the now famous Nick Kypreos picture (above) of Craig MacTavish and Dave Nonis standing there, talking to each other – one which blew up because Edmonton and Toronto seem like a trade match in some ways. As Brownlee put it, we have no idea whether the two are talking “a whole bunch of something or a whole lot of nothing.” Certainly the fact that general managers OCCASIONALLY. TALK. TO. EACH. OTHER. isn’t news. Still, the Maple Leafs are a funny organization – they tried hard to bring in a finished Miikka Kiprusoff at the deadline, seem to have no confidence in a very good goaltender in James Reimer, blew most of Jake Gardiner’s season in the minors and just in general seem like a team that has some good pieces they undervalue. They have good players at both forward and on defence that seem to have at least somewhat fallen out of favour; that makes them a very good team to be talking to in general terms. But again: that photo means almost nothing, despite the buzz it generated.

The Draft. It’s really hard not to get the sense that moving up in a meaningful way is going to be all but impossible for the Oilers at this year’s draft, which is a shame because a guy like Aleksander Barkov looks like a good bet to add real value in the fourth overall slot and would be a perfect fit for organizational need. Elias Lindholm is a guy who probably adds real value but isn’t a perfect fit because he might end up on wing in the NHL, while Darnell Nurse is a good fit for immediate team need but would need time and would also join a prospect pipeline already loaded with defencemen – albeit ones without his particular skillset. Still, an idea Craig Mactavish floated (seemingly) long ago – adding some help now and moving down in the first round – looks more reasonable all the time.

Recently around the Nation Network

Tyler Bozak isn’t a name mentioned above, but one that a few Oilers fans have asked me about as a possible fit for Edmonton. I don’t like him given his likely price point, and in Mythbusters: Tyler Bozak Edition LeafsNation’s Cam Charron does a good job of explaining why. There’s a lot there and it’s worth reading, but this picture alone says a lot:

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

  • Bucknuck

    Personally, I think moving Petry for Letang is counter productive. We have too many skilled forwards and not enough skilled defensemen. Unless Pittsburg demanded a defenseman in return, I would be trying to move a forward to acquire Letang.

  • nuge2drai

    Letang’s numbers and ability is inflated by playing with Crosby and Malkin, and playing in the weak Eastern Conference.

    The big bad Bruins abused him left, right, and centre in the series against PIttsbugh, and the Oilers are moving into a division with three heavy teams in San Jose, LA, and Anaheim, and with two strong cycling teams in the Canucks and Coyotes.

    In a hard cap world, value for money matters, and the Oilers would be paying dearly in players for Letang, and full value in salary and term.

    Justin Schultz will be Kris Letang when the Oilers are ready to contend, so paying for Letang’s offense is redundant and wasted cap space. The Oilers need big two way defenders who can make an outlet pass.

    I’d rather have Petry and Paajarvi (and Nurse or Monahan). Paajarvi is slowly learning to use his size, and his size and speed will ultimately be a huge asset at a value price in the division the Oilers play.

    Acquiring Letang would adds skills the Oilers already have in Schultz, and creates more holes in the roster.

    • John Chambers

      You talk about Letang like he’s Marc-Andre Bergeron.

      Say what you want about being tossed around by Boston, the series was low-scoring, and Letang is the top D on one of the league’s top-4 teams. I mean he’s a Norris candidate ffs. And he’s 26!

      Fact of the matter is that Norris-calibre D don’t get traded very often. If we wanted to sit around and wait for the next Shea Weber to emerge, have the foresight to determine who that would be, and then outbid for his services, you might be waiting for a long, long time.

      Does signing him mean compromising other parts of the roster? Absolutely. However I’d bet on a lottery ticket before I said that Justin Schultz was himself going to turn into the essence of the very same player.

  • misfit

    If the Oilers could trade minimal assets for Tom Gilbert, they would be wise to do so.

    If they can get Letang for anything short of giving up Schultz in a package, I think they would be equally wise in doing just that. I always felt that playing on that team (as well as being a 5 OV pick) made Whitney out to be a better player than he was and thought they made a great move at the time to trade him for Kunitz. Nothing that’s happened since that day has lead me to change my opinion. I don’t, however, feel the same way about Letang. He’s definitely not a passenger on that team and would be a major pickup for us or anyone else barring a rediculous overpay.

    Gardiner is mostly potential right now, and maybe not worthy of the hype he got last year (he certainly wasn’t at the time), but there’s every reason to believe he could be a major part of this team going forward. Gardiner and #21 for #7 is a deal I would make for sure.

    Bernier? Not interested.

  • Truth

    Isn’t Letang the identical player all Oilers fans hope that J. Schultz turns into? If Schultz ever reached that level, would it be wise to have 2 of them on the team or would it be better to have a Schultz and a guy like Weber? If you’re paying the big bucks and big assets to acquire a #1 D-man, make sure that it’s the proper fit. I realize Weber will not be offered out of Nashville for a while if at all, but a two-way physical #1 should be the goal.

    I’d pursue Bogosian much before I’d pursue Letang at $7M+ a year for the reason that he would be much cheaper to acquire and pay, plus he fits the needs of the team IMO. I’m not discounting that Letang is a hell of a player and would make any team better, but to get tied up with him for $7M+ for 7 yrs to find out Crosby, Malkin, Neal, etc. were overwhelmingly padding his stats would be a shame.

    My thoughts were that Gilbert was shipped out because the Oilers didn’t want him to play in Edmonton and neither did he. Can’t see him coming back.

  • Bucknuck

    What we need is a top pairing guy.
    1. top 40 in tough Comp EVGA
    2. top 40 in Even assists. Puck movement
    3. Top 40 in Special teams Results.
    Goal differential (PK and PP)
    4. Top 40 in Hits/gm
    5. Top 40 in Takeaways/gm
    the choices at this point are
    Chara, Petry
    that is it!
    6. Top 40 in Blocks/gm

    Thou Chara’s stick length is effective as blocking.

    So the answer when looking for the complete tough comp Dman.

    Jeff petry!

    Why are we looking for a #1.

    Cause people are to busy watching TSN and not looking in there own yard.

    • LinkfromHyrule

      well said. Everyone is anxious to get rid of petry but I think we would miss him as soon as he’s gone. He had an off year but I think he will rebound next year. Being the workhorse he is maybe the season began to wear him down?

      • Eddie Shore

        Nobody is anxious to get rid of him but if he needs to be part of a package to get you an all-star quality defenceman, you have to do it. You need to give quality to get quality.

        • LinkfromHyrule

          Yes I agree with that, but why deplete an already horrid defense further? Letang is a great offensive d-man but from what I have seen he is not nearly as good in his own end. So just for arguments sake this trade happens. We lose one of our better workhorse defenseman and get letang. We’d be scoring 5 goals a game and have 5 goals scored against per game. Letang is great in his own way but I would prefer a trade for a legitimate 2-way d-man before I would pay the outrageous price he is going to demand both in salary or in trade.

        • Bucknuck


          only we think Gagner is Gretzky. He is not a chip to land quality. Petry is solid no doubt but we have to look at the bigger picture

          quality gets quality

    • Bucknuck

      I agree. Petry shows well on many things you have stated. I know that somewhere I saw his underlying numbers and he subtlely shows good numbers.

      A great artical for JW to write would be on the Little Appreciated Jeff Petry. I dream of Pieterangelo – Petry pairing. Probably won’t happen unless we trade him to St. Louis.

  • Big Cap

    I read Mythbusters: Tyler Bozak. Good read and anytime you separate two players that have success together, in this case Bozak and Kessel, you do have to wonder what you are getting with just Bozak. We saw this with Eric Cole. But that’s not to say that Bozak won’t find similar success with another Oiler winger though. That’s something we cannot predict.

    I do have to take issue with marginal value of faceoff wins though. Interesting examination of contribution to goals, but I think it ignores the correlation of faceoff wins to puck possession numbers and how this translates to shot differential and ultimately goal differential. I don’t have the advanced stats to back me up on this, but if you are not winning faceoffs, then you better have darn good puck retrieval skills. The Oilers were not good at either of these and we watched them get massacred in terms of shot differential on a nightly basis. The Oilers need to fix this and a guy that can win draws is a necessary add.

  • Big Cap

    @ mr. common sense

    Are you kidding me??? You may have “common sense”, but your cant read or comprehend very well!

    I asked, What is the upside for HIM?? (Kris Letang)

    Any Oiler fan realizes the huge upgrade he would provide, he’s an upper echelon player who would pay immediate dividends! I get that! But whats in it for Letang??

    Stick to day dreaming about going on a date with Zeta Jones…

    • Bucknuck

      Hey! Settle down and quit being insulting. We are all fans here and you can make your point without being an a$$.

      As for your question about what is in it for Letang, I think a fair case can be made that the Oilers are on the verge, and if there is a team in Canada that he wants to play for, I don’t think he could pick one with a brighter future. Do you?

    • Big Cap

      i dont know what is in that cigar you are chewing on but alas i suppose i should spell it out.

      what is in it for a hockey player to make more money and advance his career on a canadian team on the rise? let me finish a call im on with Zeta and ill write back with the answer

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    This sounds as far fetched as the Mike Green rumours to Edmonton a few years back.

    The only problem.with Pittsburgh trading Letang is the now need a number 1 defenseman, so its not happening. Good teams don’t trade stud dman to become worse when their a perenial contender. Penguins were basicly a goalie and shutdown deman away from the finals. Trading Letang makes getting to finals next year unlikely.

    The only senario thats logical would cost you a number seven pick and your top defensive prospect, Klefbom. Pittsburgh not interested in spare parts. I’d frankly keep the Bomber and one of Lindholm, Nishkuskin, Monahan or Nurse. Letangs overated and is riding Crosby and Malkins jock to his Norris finalist considerations. Fleury being bought out or traded makes more local sense then Letang being traded

    • Big Cap

      my good man….imagine the deletion of Letang, Iginla and Morrow’s money. Thats loads for them to pursue options and with Cindy and Malkin, they can easily attract talent to Pitts. oh, and Letang led the Pens in points and atoi when Cindy and Gino were hurt and out of the lineup at the beginning of last year, and completely irrelevant to consider what points he got “because of” the stars in Pitts…why dont we delete J. Schultz’s points from the pp and when Nuge, Hall and Ebs were on the ice. irrelevant

      • Bucknuck

        I’d like to see the sample size or when:

        A) Letang is playing without Crosby or Malkin.
        B) His common linemates

        To be honest I know little about his underlying stats and I rely to much on subjective viewing for my opinion.

        Frankly I can’t understand why Chara does not win the Norris every year.

      • Big Cap

        I never said he wasn’t a good deman. If Pittsburgh was actually interested in trading him then they feel that his offensive totals were inflated or he is replacable. His numbers are inflated, just like Iginla’s were, like Dupries were, like Kunitz are. I’ve heard Duprie wants 3.5 – 4, love the player, but Pittsburgh has problems if they pay that amount.

        If they have all this money if they can dump Iginla, Morrow, Fleury, why dump his contract?

        I like Schultz Jr alot. But look at the powerplay percentages last season and this season. I think you could make an easy arguement his numbers are bit inflated when the year before we were rolling out Potter and Petry on that unit.

        • Big Cap

          Good points and analysis

          1) Shero is a shrewd mother. he has no time to haggle, J Staal last year seemed ambivalent and shabang…gone. The same process is happening with Letang.

          2) Good mention of Simon Dupris, he’s legit. Martin turned it on last year and Niskanen was asleep, the thinking is that if Letang is moved, this frees up space and money.

          3) Shultz Jr. numbers indeed inflated, hence, no need to bring this point up as a negative on Letang.

          • Klima's Mullet

            Shero traded 2 second round picks for Douglas Murray (a washed up, slow skating, coke machine). I am not of the opinion that he is that shrewd. Over-rated comes to mind. His star studded team has won 13 playoff games in the last three years with some of the best talent in the world on his roster. He has failed to surround his all world players with a supporting cast of championship quality.

          • Big Cap

            I think Shero wishes he had Staal this year over Sutter. No knock on Sutter, but Staal was the best 3rd line center in the league.

            My point on Letang is this I’m not debating whether hes a top 1 or 2 deman. I just don’t believe he is anywhere near a Norris without the dream team in Pittsburgh. Would love to have him, price scares me.

          • Big Cap

            i gotcha.

            what im saying with Letang is that I have seen him play live multiple times, and he has the skating ability, skill and age that befits a move to Edm. He has won a cup, will be excited by the prospect of joining a team on the rise and with the cap going up after this upcoming season, the $7M salary can be absorbed. The only contracts to come are Yak and J. Schultz…so:

            Hall/Ebs/Nuge: 6M,Yak, 5M,J. Schultz 4M, Letang 7M=34M. Thats loads of space to fill the rest with Ott’s and Glencross’s and we will have to be clever in goal and you have the blueprint of a championship team

  • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

    Just say no to Letang. Too expensive and would cost a lot to get.

    One of Gardiner and Franson would be a great pick up. Wonder if there’s anyway to get Franson without giving up the 7th pick?

    The more I look at it the more I want Franson. He’s the kind of d-man the Oilers need.

  • T__Bone88

    Once Horcoff is dealt, I would like to see a deal of Hemsky plus a Musil or 2nd rounder or both going to Nashville for Gaustad and a Colin Wilson or Ryan Ellis. Ellis and Wilson haven’t really turned out as planned for Nashville and maybe they would be willing to trade them for offense.

    • Big Cap

      Why Ellis? Loved him at the world juniors when he was the worlds greatest pp quarterback, but his offensive output at the NHL level have not covered for defensive weaknesses, and he is still riding a pogo stick between the minors and Nashville. I can’t make up my mind if hes Danny Sevret 2.0 or will become something. You see the skill but he can’t handle half the forwards in the league.

  • Big Cap

    Obviously, I would love to have Letang.

    However, Whats really the upside for him to sign a long term deal with us? He plays with arguably the world’s 2 best players, and his club is a legit Stanley cup threat every year.

    By signing him would also open the window of the Taylor Hall 6 Million salary no longer being in effect.

    Just for fun, who would we rather: Letang or Weber???

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      upside? In general terms, landing a Norris finalist/winner is as frequent an opportunity as going on a date with Catherine Zeta Jones, so when such opportunities arise in life…one should not fous on details.

      Hence, when you consider the most atrocious part of the team is D, and when you contrast what MacT said about being “mobile” and you take a rule and start drawing a line from these dots…it becomse clear…..Kris Letang becomes important. Consider the final four teams this year, they all have a stud dman. we have Potter.

      I have no knowledge what you mean by Hall and his money

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Can somebody help me?

    I fail to see how trading a $100.00 bill (that 7th pick), for 3 twenties, will ever work out in the Oilers favour. I have little doubt this has another Parise type scenario written all over it.

    Yeah, send us Gardiner, a guy that two teams would have given up on already. We can only hope MacTavish is just kicking tires, trying to find someone dumber than they are. Nonis piloted a playoff team and he appreciates the value of that 7th pick. Maybe the GM of a perennial non playoff team will soon be getting schooled.

    Wheel and deal all you want to try and move up, but wait till after the draft to bring in these bottom 10 support type players to your roster.

    • LinkfromHyrule

      Because the 7th is like a scratch and win ticket with a CHANCE to be 100.00 dollar bill and in Gardiner your almost guaranteed $60.00 with the potential for more and the 21st could be a better player then the player at #7 (revisit the 2003 draft, with Perry, Getzlaf and co.)

      It’s trading a lottery ticket with a a 75% chance at a $100 jackpot for $60 and a 25% chance at the $100.00 jackpot.

      Ah analogies….

      • Quicksilver ballet

        More often than not, the best player in the draft, isn’t the first player selected. I’d rather ride with that, than your 100 to 1 picture you painted. Cherry pick examples all you want.

    • Ever the Optimist

      2 reasons

      that hundred dollar bill just might be fake …. you never know with prospects ( I am sure many here could remind you of failed picks)

      also as that 100 is an iou for another season …. 60 in hand right now pays bills that are due NOW

      • Quicksilver ballet

        What if that $100.00 bill turns out to be $200.00, after all is settled?

        Hate the idea of locking in our losses on another type of guy we have boatloads of already.

  • John Chambers

    Letang is the exact player the Oilers need. They should be willing to trade several pieces outside of the fab-5 to acquire him.

    Perhaps if Toronto is down on both Gardiner and Grabovski there’s a trade that sends the pick and Hemsky back the other way.

    All of a sudden the D looks solid and there’s depth at C.

    • Big Cap


      Letang is unbelievably talented, age-appropriate, feisty, premiere skater and will be the undisputed #1 dog in Edm on D. Despite hopes for J. Schultz, he needs at least 2-3 yrs to beoomes a solid, consistent contributor, Letang is a champ. Every single effort imaginable by MacT must be undertaken to land this player. You dont yawn and pass at a Norris finalist/Stanley Cup champ winning dman. Unreal player

  • Eddie Shore

    ” impossibly bad 0.877 on-ice even-strength save percentage (keep in mind: this isn’t something Gilbert could control)”

    I disagree with the fact Gilbert cannot control this. If he is constantly screening the goalie, isn’t that within his control?

    Isn’t Gilbert at the top of the league every year in blocked shots? If your blocking shots, your screening goalies too.

  • Eddie Shore

    Koisarek played 4 games in the NHL last year. He would not be a replacement, he would be a downgrade. He couldn’t crack the Leafs defense and it was just as bad as the Oilers. If that’s the best you can get for Horcoff, I’d keep him.

  • 15w40

    the day Kris Letang comes to Edmonton is the day the Edmonton defence starts to resemble the explosive offense. Letang is a crucial player who can not simply be analyzed in the paychecks he receives. His skating ability and skill with the puck would make him the immediate best player on the oilers. The oil MUST win within the contracts of Hall and Ebs (or at least make it to the final four) anything less is worse than terrible. Letang is 26, feisty, slick and will make Hall, Nuge, Yak and Ebs meterorically better….

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      would the 7th and Klefbom get it done? is the adding PRV too much?

      Hall, Ebs, RNH, Yak, Letang, J. Schultz is a pretty score core, no doubt. that would attract FAs.

  • 15w40

    Jonathan – I have floated this on another thread on the site and was curious on your take. Gregor also tweeted about it yesterday.

    Horcoff for Komisarek. Expensive replacement for Fistric for one year. Horcoff costs more but he actually played in the league last year and would be in the Leafs line up.

    Also with Eakins now in charge any chance you see a swap for somebody like Joe Colborne with another high end pick from OKC??

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      The one thing we know is that Eakins will have a very good insight into Komisarek, the good and the bad, the overall value….so whatever happens should not be a high risk proposition……obviously this is true of every player in the leafs organization……..samething is true with Scott Housen and his inside knowledge of the Columbus assets….

      I’ll actually be surprised if there isn’t at least one deal with Leafs’ and at least one with Columbus

    • Given the Oilers needs, I’d much rather hang on to Horcoff and sign Fistric than add Komisarek in exchange for Horcoff.

      I do think we’ll see some guys from the Marlies end up in Edmonton; I don’t know who – it could be guys with significant NHL potential or depth pieces to fill in on the farm. Just a hunch, but Stauffer did ask Eakins about both Will Acton and Carter Ashton when he interviewed him.

      • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

        I still don’t understand why we would pay Horcoff not to play? We don’t have cap issues this year…..why would you buy him out? he’ a premier 3rd line center …

        Now if your eating a little of his salary in a trade for another roster player then that might make some sense.

        That’s why I’d wager real money that he gets traded and not bought out…

        • Ducey

          I agree totally. Buying him out appears to be a waste of cash. Eating some of his salary in a trade could help make a bigger deal.

          With Nuge unlikely to play in the early season, the Oilers also have to be careful not to begin the season short of experienced centres.

  • 15w40

    Hey Jonathan i no we need D help bad but,are the pens in a cap crunch and if so is James Neal available,because i’d rather trade for him and find a cheaper D option somewhere else and what do you think the price for Neal would ballpark be?

  • StHenriOilBomb

    How much could the Oilers afford to pay Letang? Petry’s a bargain salary right now, and although spending 6-7 mil on a norris candidate isn’t unheard of, would it solve the defense problems?

    • I don’t think it solves all the problems, but it does solve a bunch of them – in particular, a top pair of Smid/Letang looks worlds better than Smid/Petry.

      Petry and Letang both have one year left in bargain contracts; I’d roughly guess Petry costs ~$3.5MM after next season and Letang ~$6.75MM, and I’d be comfortable with that salary increase given the gap in performance.

      Make Letang and Schultz the expensive members of the defence long term, add Smid and somebody in the $3.5 – $4.5 MM ballpark for the other role and I think it’s doable cap-wise.