Scott Howson’s Old Haunts

Howson, Scott

The Columbus Blue Jackets have just completed the best season in franchise history, and beat writer Aaron Portzline is reporting that there is reason to believe the team plans to be “very active” on the trade front as their offseason commences.

That could be good news for Edmonton, since few teams are better fits for the Oilers as a trading partner. Further, with former Jackets GM Scott Howson now Craig MacTavish’s top lieutenant, Edmonton is in a unique situation to evaluate the opposition club.

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James Wisniewski

Porztline, in part:

[W]hen people ask if defenseman James Wisniewski … [is] going to be subject to compliance buyout this summer, I don’t see it… The chances of Wisniewski getting traded are much higher than him getting bought out. Of his original deal — six years, $33 million — three years and $20 million have already been paid, meaning he’s owed $13 million over the next three seasons. His AAV is $5.5 million.

Howson’s the guy who signed Wisniewski to his current contract, and in hindsight the criticism of it seems overblown.

Wisniewski isn’t a perfect player, but he’s a very good offensive defenceman and at age 30 he still has plenty of tread left on the tires. He logs heavy minutes in Columbus, and for most of his time with the team he’s logged those minutes without a lot of support. He’s not huge, but he does possess a considerable mean streak, and his underlying numbers are quite good.

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The contract number is a little hefty for a guy who, ideally, slots into a No.2/No.3 role on an NHL depth chart, but this is a highly useful player. If the Blue Jackets are interested in moving him, there should be a spot for him in Edmonton.

R.J. Umberger

Portzline mentions R.J. Umberger in the same breath as James Wisniewski and compliance buyout, and while he makes it clear that he doesn’t believe a buyout is the way to go it is plain that Columbus would probably like it if someone came and took Umberger off their hands.

The 31-year-old still has some offensive game, has been playing tough minutes, and at 6’2”, 214 pounds adds some size to a lineup. In a perfect world, he’d be an above-average third-line winger who can also cover centre in a pinch, but his $4.6 million cap hit makes that difficult.

He gets a mention here because the Oilers need to be creative if they are to improve and Umberger, while overpriced, is a useful NHL player who would fill a very real need in Edmonton. For a team like the Blue Jackets, taking the financial commitment that goes with Umberger might be a way to sweeten a deal that otherwise wouldn’t get done.


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Portzline again:

Phone calls will not be returned to any NHL GM who mentions either of the Ryans [Johansen, Murray], Boone Jenner or Sergei Bobrovsky. Defenseman Jack Johnson and center Brandon Dubinsky are seen as core players, too. But Kekalainen wants desperately to boost this club’s pure skill level.

There are lots of interesting pieces outside that list of core players.

Nikita Nikitin, a pending unrestricted free agent, would be an awfully nice fit on the Oilers’ third pairing. He brings size (6’4”, 223 pounds), puck-moving ability (32 points in 61 games in 2011-12) and fell out of favour this year after playing top-four minutes the last two seasons.

Artem Anisimov, the 6’4” centre who came over with Dubinsky in the Rick Nash trade, doesn’t get a mention as a core player. At 25, he’s in the prime of his career and has played reasonably tough mintues with solid results the last few years.

Blake Comeau’s another interesting name. The 6’1”, 202 pound winger had 46 points as recently as 2010-11 and managed 16 this year despite being buried on the depth chart and recording a shooting percentage less than half his career average. The Oilers need better bottom-six forwards and the pending UFA could well fit the bill – and almost certainly wouldn’t break the bank.


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  • Quicksilver ballet

    A whole lotta sideways moves available to the Oil this summer. So many solid plan B options to choose from. Come, send us your trash.

    More Oiler humiliation to follow.

    • Is the Oilers’ first line still Hall, RNH and Eberle?

      Thought so.

      This team needs solid depth pieces; it doesn’t need to go and get Crosby and Malkin and Toews (and it couldn’t anyway). And no, Shea Weber isn’t available for trade either, no matter how many fever dreams columnists in Edmonton and Philadelphia have.

      MacTavish has also made it clear he wasn’t moving the big pieces, which means the Oilers have to settle for adding Perrons and Gordons and Ferences. That’s what these guys are.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Only piece worth considering is Artem Anisimov. If only to see if Yakupov and he could function together.

        20 pms a season. He’s another peripheral type player. Something we have enough of here already. Wisniewsky, he’d consume any cap space reserved for any resemblance of depth needed to succeed in this league.

        MacTavish needs a short list of a dozen or so guys league wide. If one of those teams is on the other end, answer it. If not, don’t bother picking up.
        There has to be a few teams watching all these kids founder here. You’d think one of those possibilities would work for them.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Lol, Jonathan, you actually believe Steve Tambellini was responsible for this “lack of activity”.

            Steve was nothing more than a human flak jacket for Kevin Lowe. You’re inhaling far too much of that Oiler spin Mr. Willis. You’re likely to suffer from extensive wind burn if you’re not careful.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        MacTavish has also made it clear he wasn’t moving the big pieces, which means the Oilers have to settle for adding Perrons and Gordons and Ferences. That’s what these guys are.

        Locked and loaded with all this lotto help in place here, these guys (Gordon, Ference and Perron) achieved 28th place this past season. Yes, we should definitely keep moving the deck chairs around.

        Remember not so long ago we use to laugh when someone put the Avalanches kids up against the Oilers? The Oilers are doomed under these “mentally challenged folks” running the show. There are no answers to be found in all your B type suggestions. They need to keeping drafting/ taking a shot at their own A type players. B types make little difference to what’s here already.

        • The Oilers used to a be a pretty decent budget club, first with Doug Weight and then without any stars at all.

          Funny how they’re worse now that they have Hall, RNH, and Eberle.

          It’s almost like the depth guys on those cheap teams were way, way, way better than the depth guys on the current club.

  • mesa

    By the Jackets are wanting to pick up some skill, I hope that means a gentleman with great hands and a history of decent 2C offensive skill fits that bill. He may have no skill in his end of the rink, but that wasn’t there request.

    I wonder if a Gagner to CBJ for… is in the works?

  • mesa

    Wouldn’t mind Anisimov, but I think i’d rather do something like:

    Gagner plus Musil and a 3rd for Wisniewski?

    That would make the RD Wisniewski, Petry, Schultz. Something i’d be alright with.

    Is that too much to offer?

    Draft Bennette (if there’s a god) and then try to piece together an LD that can legally get into an American bar for beer.

    • Bucknuck

      Gagner + 2015 1st + 2015 2nd for Anisimov + Tyutin + Wennberg could be advantageous

      D pairs would be:

      Tyutin Petry
      Marincin Schultz
      Ference Stralman (decent UFA signing)

      Lets Klef and Nurse still develop. Then we have two high end centre prospects in Draisaitl/Bennet and Wennberg.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    I agree, Columbus is a big heavy team that would make a great trading partner for Edmonton. I’m impressed with the team Howson put together there. In fact I’m only ok with Mac T being a GM with Howson as a second opinion. I’d like to see Gagner go to the Blues for something also. If Gagner comes back next year as an oiler I will officially turn in my Oiler card and disown the team.

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      I think this is where you turn in your Oiler card?
      Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club –
      Customer Sales and Service
      TELUS Field
      10233 – 96 Ave
      Edmonton, Alberta
      T5K 0A5

      Hate to say it but the market for Gagner has plummetted. I bet he’s here on opening day.

      • Apparently Buffalo was interested in him. It makes sense actually. Hodson and Gagner up the middle would make for some exciting hockey and would give the sabers an awfully good shot at McDavid. I bet if we kept half of Gagner’s salary for the rest of his contract (2.4x 2yrs), threw in a 2nd or 3rd round draft pick, and/or a prospect like Lander/Horak/Pitlick/Gernat/Hunt/Musil, we should be able to get Erhoff. His contract is reasonable enough that trading him away in 2 or 3 years(once Nurse, Klefbom, etc are developed) would be pretty easy. I like the idea of Anisimov for 2C. What would he cost? Would our 2015 1st rounder get it done? I would think a possible Mcdavid lottery would.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    funny how I thought I had heard MacT say he wasn’t going after bottom end players again this summer, yet here we are talking about Nikitin and Comeau from Columbus, as well as Joakim Andersson and Jakub Kindl from Detroit.

      • Don’t we have enough middle of the road and bottom pairing guys? =/ Well, we are a bit thin on middle of the road, but I imagine Ference could possibly regain form and Petry is there right now.

        What we need is top pairing.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        fair enough, but didn’t you just mention that Nikitin was a bottom pairing d-man? and Comeau for sure is a 4th liner these days….don’t we need actual 3rd line forwards here? Comeau isn’t big and can’t score points anymore. same with the Detroit article on here the other day….an opinion was expressed that Kindl was a 5/6, bottom pairing d-man. I thought we already had enough of those kinds of players?

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Wisniewski logged a lot of minutes in the playoffs,
    however, the guy is a bit of a chinadoll. Hasnt played a full season in the NHL yet. He also has a NTC. I would pass on him. Its Petry with some jam.

    Maybe Nikitan, good size and mobile, although like Belov his meanstreak meter barely registers.Better opption than Fraser, even though Fraser drinks tiger milk..

    I like Anisimov, size, skate fairly well, can score 20 goals, and two yrs on a contract thats $1.5 million less than Gagner.

    Lets not foreget we are in the Pacific Div, and size means something, espeically with all the cup cakes in the top six.Would they take Gagner + for this guy.

  • Bucknuck

    Anisimov is a machine, when he wants to be. Umberger and Wisnieski are overpriced, but useful players.

    I wonder if Gagner, and this year’s pick would get that done…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I disagree with MacT on this. There needs to be a change in the top three. Not good enough to get it done.

    The bottom six have been changed over and over without the desired result.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Did someone say Glenn Healey was here?


    He’s next in line to sit on the throne Don Cherry created. Sportsnet will just have to reinvent that format, with CBC dieing an all.

    That guy, tells I like it is. Anyone who doesn’t agree with him, must be a hater!

    • Healy is a moron. You spelt his name wrong, btw. Don Cherry has at least accomplished something in the NHL. Healy on the other hand, was the back-up goalie on a couple of good teams. The only time Healy is right is when he is stating something painfully obvious. He insults players not even playing in the game he’s calling(Ovi-TBL vs MON). He is animated and angry all of the time, making the other people on the panel visibly uncomfortable and unsure what to say after one of his rants. Eliotte Friedman seems to be the only one that will tell him he’s wrong (the torts explosion). He says things to get a rise out of people. I’m pretty sure he isn’t that dumb. I think he’s trying to be the Simon Cowell of hockey. He’s a troll. That’s probably why you like him Quicky

      • Quicksilver ballet

        It’s a very fine line between passion, and trolling. The guy speaks with a wealth of experience behind him, and also has a ring on his finger. Granted, everytime he and Messier cross paths, Glenn thanks Mark for putting it there. If there’s one thing Healy is guilty of it’s being brutally honest about everything.

        He speaks for the majority of the fans. When he says he’s glad he didn’t have to pay for a dud of a game, many are saying the exact same thing. Honesty is the only thing he’s guilty of, much like Grapes.

  • If you are R.J Umberger do you wave your NMC or limited NTC to come to the Oilers just because your old GM who gave you a boat load of money?

    Doesn’t make a lot of sense if you are Umberger.

    IMO you are wasting a trade on Wisniewski. The Oilers have 2/3 defensemen, one more playing out of position doesn’t help the cause, playing too far down the line up is a waste of a good players ability’s.

    To be honest I don’t see a lot of quick fixes here, I agree that the holes are plenty, but the Oilers have so little to gamble with.

    I also tend to agree with Quicksilver that, Umberger doesn’t really have that western conference toughness that the Oilers need, I know PM’s mean jack but to play with the big boys down the middle in the WC there has to be some jam in his game.

    I’m not entirely sure of Ott’s status (UFA) but to me, that’s the guy I gamble on.

  • I agree Columbus has lots of parts that would help us – size, experience, skill. Anisimov and Umberger would add beef to our lineup. They’re also not wet behind the ears.

    We can help Columbus out of a couple of less than ideal contracts, but I’m not sure what they’d be interested in… picks & prospects?

    I’d be all over Anisimov & Wisniewski – not sure they’d waive the NTC though. I think Nikitin would add some size to the back end we’ve tried (but failed) to fill since Andy Sutton. I could see Umberger, Anisimov & Yak… with U working the corners and front of net, Anisimov as playmaker and defensive conscience; allows Yak to snipe. Gagner just not going to cut it.

  • Spent a bit of time looking at the Oilers group from the 97 playoffs… we keep talking about the need for an abundance of established veterans and that team certainly didn’t have it but they did compete for a playoff spot for a few years.

    Avg age of the forward group that played in all 12 playoff games was 23.3, Avg age of the D that played all 12 playoff games was 24. They had Cujo, we have an unproven Scrivens.

    I think that within reason we shouldn’t be expecting the Oilers to make a few trades this summer and contend for Stanley… we want them to be competing for a playoff spot.

    That being said… how do we get to results that resemble a team competing for a spot? I think Sather built the teams in the late 90’s around speed and defensive awareness… MacT is building around a foundation of leadership. Will be interesting to see what wins the day.

  • BobbyCanuck

    What do we do?

    Trade options would have to include Yak, Gags, Egs, RNH, almost ready prospect D-men, just about anybody else on the roster = Bold moves to maybe hopefully be competitive next season

    Or, stay the course with draft picks and develop our young players.

    If we were in a market that punished the team with lost revenue (8,000 or so ave. attendance)Oilers would have to make immediate and bold changes.

    Our market is unique, unfortunetly there is no impetious to make bold/risky moves.

    So, I am thinking at least two more years before we can make the play-offs. Atleast we would be able to hang on to all of our top picks.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Yak-Anisimov- perron



    Eberle for Kane+…adds intensity and grit in top 6 that eberle doesn’t provide
    Gagner+ for Anisimov…adds size and skill in top 6 . Also fellow Russian for yak to develop.
    Petry+ for cotourier.(adds depth and third line players who can move up with injuries)
    Trade picks or prospects for bickell. Chicago needs to dump cap to sign kane and toews next year(maybe go for Hjarlmarson or oduya)

    Sign in FA
    Orpik 5 years @ 5 mil
    Nikitin (5 years @ 2.5-3 mil)
    Setoguchi (3 years 3 mil)
    Boyle (3 years 1.75 mil)

  • Quicksilver ballet

    When I read this I could not help but think a Lander for umberger deal.

    Of course Landers potential is off the table nods to hb for the reference

  • When I read these blogs on who we should trade for and possible trade scenarios etc, I quickly lose interest, because we hardly have anything any team wants, and what we do have won’t be traded because MacT won’t trade them.

    I used to be optimistic with this team, especially at the start of the 2013-14 season, but now I am prepared and expecting to be let down. I’m sure we will end up with more Ference-type UFA signings and more of the same mediocre BS. If and when we do make the playoffs, it meaning fighting it out to get into 8th place, like all of the MacT-KLowe playoff teams of the past (long long ago). And when we do make the playoffs MacT and KLowe will feel redemption and justification and act like they have proven that they knew what they were doing the whole time.

    Thats what I fear will happen.

    • So youre bashing craig mactavish for getting 2 goalies who each have the potential to be a satrter, 2nd line lw in perron who scored 28 goals goals for us, the dubnyk for hendricks deal and smid for 2 prospects. You clearly dont know what gms do. theres no who will trade a solid player at the trade deadline to a bottom feeder for picks,prospects or risky players.

      Mac-t has been gm for a year and done more than than tambellini did the few years he was here.

      “because we hardly have anything any team wants, and what we do have won’t be traded because MacT won’t trade them.”

      Yes we hardly have anything of value right now to land a top d-man or forward. It wouldnt make sense to trade eberle who is the only player we have that other teams are interested because then we would have a good d-man and no RWs. yakupov on the top line with joensuu on the second? thats dumb.

      we will have valuable players in the future to trade if youve followed our prospects at all. This team needs depth and our scouts are finally beginning to draft well with guys like pitlick,klefbom,marincin,nurse,yakimov,fedun,gernat, and others.Our own AHL team actually helps with the development which we havent had for long. we also bought an echl team which will help develop our prospects even more. mac-t is bringing in some of the top overage prospects. we recently signed the leading scorer in the whl.

      If you have no faith its because you dont really follow hockey that much. We will be good when we have depth like chi,pit and det so we can actually make trades and develop prospects properly instead of the rushing them route.

      we still need a 3rd and 4th line. it will probably take 2-3 years to be a playoff team. mac-t has and will continue to build this team.

      our fans dont even realise how young the team is and that we have the best or second best LW in the game right now producing without a real team to back him up. theyre all young. mac-ts gt this. have faith.

      • Whatever dude. Justify all you want, but the bottom line is this organization sucks, and has for a long time. I’ve been a fan of this team for almost 40 years, “so I think I know a thing or two” about hockey.

        MacT’s end of year press conference was a disgrace and made apparent the cronyistic nature of this organization, which has created an acceptable level of mediocrity. Look at the teams that make the playoffs consistently – they don’t f*ck around and are highly competitive well-run organizations. Look at the teams that don’t make the playoffs consistently – and they are all sub-par. The funny thing is at least the non-playoff teams aren’t spending huge coin like the Oilers, which makes our current management group even more of a disgrace. Winning organizations don’t keep un-qualifed assistant coaches around because they are “links to the past” or whatever BS MacT said. Its a joke.

        Denial ain’t a river in Egypt.

        • Pinoy-ler

          “Whatever dude. Justify all you want, but the bottom line is this organization sucks, and has for a long time. I’ve been a fan of this team for almost 40 years, “so I think I know a thing or two” about hockey.”

          Yes it does suck at the moment but we havent had this kind of potential in a long time. i wasnt justifying it. im stating obvious facts. of course we’re not gonna win with a a top 4 defence core with less than 500 games experience. thyre going to be good but theyre young. i dont know why fans expect to win with this team.

          you sound like kevin lowe. you bash him but say youve been a fan for 40 years so you know more. by that logic kevin lowe must be a genius.

          You said you expected to win last year and expectations were high… if you knew anything about hockey you wouldve know that we had no chance. mac-t made this team better and we went close to .500 after the olympic break. you clearly dont know as much as you think you do. youre just an average fan who doesnt follow prospects or anything in the organization.

          comments like “old boys club”,”assistant coaches” and trivial BS like that is retarded. Its the team on the ice. firing assistant coaches doesnt turn any of our d-men into #1s.

          • When you have not made the playoffs in 8 years, and have the worst winning percentage of any NHL team since the lockout, and were recently ranked 121st out of 122 on a study ranking the managerial competence of professional sports teams – then nothing in trivial.

            Every little detail matters in the super competitive NHL, and having the most competent coach and assistant coach you can possibly get does matter – big time. The Oilers have a horrible record in player development, and this is directly linked to player development.

            When MacT made is comments at the end of year press conference about justifying Bucky’s job on the Oilers, I instantly lost a ton of respect for him. It was a BS disgrace of a news conference, and highlighted all that is wrong with this organization. The patience has run out – they need to start delivering NOW. If Bucky and KLowe and Dallas and the whole gang suddenly lead the Oilers into the playoff this year then I take it all back. I want playoff hockey, and soon, because its been too long and when 16 teams in a 30 team league make the playoffs, a teams managerial group should be able to ice a playoff team more then once every 9 years. Think about this – if these guys were in any other market (except the NYI) they would be out of a job, and justifiably so.

  • Sorensenator

    D men are at their peak at 30. Most start to hit a wall around 33-34 and go down from there.

    Orpik is not a bottom end d man, that is utter ridiculousness to suggest that. Nor is Nikitin.

    Both are top four on most teams with Orpik being a defense specialist.