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When it comes to the trade market this summer, Craig MacTavish does have one advantage: cap dollars. He can take on a big contract from a team with cap pressure, and might get a reasonable player at less than full value. Here are 7 such players who could help the Oilers next season.


  • D Dion Phaneuf $7M through 2020-21. That’s a large cap hit, and Phaneuf isn’t Doughty. However, he can play 25 minutes a night, and might form an effective pairing with Jeff Petry. Phaneuf isn’t perfect, in fact he’s famously flawed, but this is a player who is just 29, 300 games from 1,000 (solid NHL defensemen often fall off in that range) and can fill all the requirements of a top pairing blue.
  • C Jason Spezza $7M through 2014-15. A very risky acquisition because he’s one year away from free agency, but he’s a true talent and would give Edmonton a terrific option in their top 6F. The Senators have legit money worries, so he might be available for less than full price. It’ll still be dear.
  • C Jordan Staal $6M through 2022-23. Staal is a really nice fit, but the contract is way too much for a guy who scores at his rates. The contract is forever, and the Hurricanes are clearly at some kind of crossroads. I don’t know how much of a discount Edmonton could expect in a deal, but he’d be a perfect fit for the Oilers C depth chart.
  • C Mike Richards $5.75M through 2019-20. Also 29 and author of a terrific career, Richards appears to be eroding as a player. He’s playing 2 minutes less per night than he was a couple of years ago, and his offense is off since heading to the coast. Edmonton would be taking on a long contract, and considerable risk, but could get a two-way center of some ability for a few seasons before buying him out.
  • L James Neal $5M through 2017-18. I really like this player, he’s the kind of winger this team could use to help the power play. A very nice player, but as talented as he is there has been only one season of more than 30 goals. Pittsburgh has some legit issues, he might be available.
  • L Scott Hartnell $4.75M through 2018-19. Those rugged forwards have tremendous value, but their production can vary wildly from year to year, and injuries are always a major worry. Hartnell may not be available at a discount but the Oilers should be interested.
  • L RJ Umberger $4.6M through 2016-17. The least attractive player on the list, he’s 32 and the production has been dropping consistently for half a decade. Still, Edmonton might be able to get a year or two of use out of him and he can score goals.


Edmonton goes to market with a lot of flawed assets and very little currency (draft picks). If they make the pick at #3, Edmonton effectively puts itself out of the draft until middle of Day two. Sam Gagner isn’t full value and other NHL teams are going to ask after those inexpensive defensemen who look NHL ready.

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How does Edmonton add useful players this summer with lesser assets to offer? Acquire those awkward contracts. 

If the Oilers can acquire an overpriced but effective veteran in exchange for a part of the future, say, Martin Marincin, would you do it?

If not, are you willing for another trying season?

I believe that’s the dilemma facing Craig MacTavish this summer.

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  • Zarny

    I don’t see the logic in trading Marincin unless it is to aquir a MUST HAVE player. Marincin just capped off 44 game season so to trade him and replace with Simpson or Klefbom is ridiculous. Second off Marty is 22 and is arguably already our best defensemen. He is only a -2. Schultz jr is 11x worse than Marty’s plus minus. Marincin also teared it up at the world championship and was clearly Slovakia’s best defensemen over there. Why not trade Schultz or Klefbom instead? We’ve traded proven NHL players for potential in the past and how did that work?

    • Zarny

      I don’t think there can be much debate that Marincin was the Oil’s steadiest D man whilst he was with the big club.

      I find it interesting that the Oil have never pumped Marincin’s tires much. Prior to his call up here was no suggestion from the Oil that this guy is ready to contribute in a big way. They talked about Klefblom more than they did about Marincin (and still do). Marincin is never mentioned as one of the “core” players they don’t want to part with.

      I find it all rather interesting.

  • Zarny


    I don’t look at it as don’t mortgage the future versus win now.

    The issue is simply get better.

    After drafting Hall, Tambellini literally did nothing to make the team better. He did nothing but acquire fringe players to tread water at the bottom of the league while waiting for draft picks. That’s not a plan.

    There seems to be an assumption by some that waiting will bring inevitable success. Because of course there have never been 3rd overall draft picks like Huberdeau & Gudbranson or promising young D like Myers who didn’t quite meet expectations. It’s misguided.

  • Zarny


    There is merit to waiting till next summer. If Nurse goes back to Jr next year and you get a couple of stop gaps so Marincin and Klefbom are pushed down the depth chart.

    In a perfect world or on a better team that is probably the best course of action. Neither applies with the Oilers.

    But you also illustrate my point. You’re worried about moving one of them who turns out to be top pair D and yet many have same guy playing bottom pair 3 years from now. No GM loses sleep over losing a bottom pair D.


      I’m definitely not implying we keep one as a bottom pair guy in Edmonton. There’s enough of a gap in age that we could use Marincin and Klefbom on the Oilers and Nurse as a top line guy in OKC. At least he’d be playing pro NA style hockey against men.

      One would assume that if we advance to that stage, and all three are showing promise, not only do we have a better watermark to judge them by, but all of their values will have increased.

      Yeah, the Oilers are a sh!t show right now, and they’re forced to “accelerate” the development of their young talent because of it, but we need to break the cycle. We’ll never get better as long as we have to force our youngsters, and we won’t halt that process by dealing them away and creating more holes to fill.

      It’s a hell of a hard thing to balance ,and I don’t envy MacT one bit. Unfortunately, to get it right, it looks like we may have to suck a while longer. No sense selling off all the high end talent we’ve accrued by being so bad, just to be mediocre.

      • camdog

        The Oilers rebuild is so bad that we now have a glut of young, potential d-man in the system and not enough spots to bring them up right and teach them. Shultz and Marancin are kids. If we bring in Klefbomb, and then eventually Nurse, that’s 4 kids in the top 6. There just isn’t room to bring them all along.

        • BLAKPOO

          Schultz will be 24 in a month. That’s the same age as Pietrangelo and a year older then OEL. Time to take off the blinders – Schultz is a grown man. If in 2-3 years, when Nurse should be challenging for top line duties, Schultz still needs to be paired with a veteran to “learn the ropes”, he should be on the first bus out of town.

          • camdog

            In Nhl talk 24 is still a kid for a defenceman. Pieterangelo and OEL are an exception to the rule, rather than the norm. If this orgaization expects to develope all of these young defenceman at the same time, they are fooling themselves. This off season the Oilers need to acquire a legitimate top 4 d man and sacrifice a prospect. And i am not referring to old, injury prone d man, that have issues.

          • camdog

            A recent study by UBC indicated that NHL defence men typically play at their prime between the ages of 25 and 32. If this applies to Schultz we should expect improvement over the next 2 years. Of course one has to be cautious about applying a statistical result to a specific case.

            The UBC study also said forwards are in their prime between 24 an 30.

          • BLAKPOO

            I think you’re missing the point. There’s a significant age difference between Schultz and Nurse. By the time Nurse is developed enough to be playing solid top line minutes, Schultz won’t be a kid anymore.

            Your vision of a top 6 filled with bare-faced teenagers, based on our current rosters, is a myth. Yes we need a top guy right now, and yes we need a righty, but to deplete the prospect pool now before we have a chance to see what sticks, is a mistake.

            Unless, of course, the offer is too good to refuse.

            There’s no reason we can’t pace the youngster’s exposure, like they did last year with Klefbom and Marincin. By the time Klefbom saw NHL ice, Martin had already earned his minutes and proven himself.

  • NewfoundlandOil

    You call it like it is.

    I think the secret Oiler plan is to rebuild through the draft, inline with the construction of the new arena. When the new building opens the team should be able to contend. Until then, the dark days continue.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    I think that the no-brainer in that group is Jordan Staal.
    Yes, it’s a big cap hit for a long term, but I think he represents a lot of what the Oilers need up the middle – size, secondary-scoring, good on the faceoff, reasonably young. Plus, he’s won the Cup before (wouldn’t Pittsburgh love to have him back).
    Heck, I don’t know if it would even matter all that much if he didn’t produce more than, say, 50 points in a season. Staal would be a valuable player on Oilers if he was just a two-way guy. Yes, even at that price tag and term.
    So what would it take to make it happen? Gagner plus Klefbom? Gagner plus next year’s first-rounder? Yakupov and a second-rounder? I’m not sure. But it would be great if it happened.

  • CMG30

    The only way the team get better is to start winning trades. It’s long established that the way to win a trade is to get the best player. If we ship out a few minor pieces to acquire an upgrade then we’ve taken a step forward. When we ship out quality for picks and prospects we’ve taken a step back.

  • v4ance

    One thing that I’m deathly afraid of is a Scott Gomez/Ryan McDonaugh situation.

    Our needs appear so dire for a #2C or a #1D that we may well trade a future star for a few years of “veteran” help which may or may not pan out either.

    At least with Ference, we only used cap room but to acquire older vets like Phaneuf, Spezza Thornton, or Marleau, we may sell low on multiple developing assets and buy a year or three of declining performance before an inevitable buyout.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I’d take Spezza, if only for a year. It differs a sizeable commitment for the time being.

    Could probably get him on the cheap since he’s fallen into that rental category now. Gagner + or a version thereof. If Spezza walks, the Oil have 7’ish of flexibility to deal with. Addition by subtraction has an upside.

  • Randaman

    blessed are those who have not seen and so use their given capacities and resource to understand, more fully, that which they are studying through an honest process, changing what was once believed with the data observed, and evolving such belief, hopefully to the point of truth.

    (a run-on proverb for sure, but fair; no?)


    Why all the speculation for trading YAk + our 3rd for Florida’s 1st? I know you guys no hockey better than that. We are going to trade a 1st overall pick just two years removed + what every scouting agency is saying the 3rd pick this year has been and is a possible 1st selection in this draft. For…..wait for it….. This years 1st pick!!!! Unless Florida is in love with one of the top 3 you can probably flip our pick for a 3rd rd and middling prospect. Because the top 3 in this draft are all close.

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

    If Yak gets traded this summer or at the draft, it won’t be because he’s under performing….it will have been the result of having aired his complaints in public earlier this year.

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

    Best bet for the oilers to get ekblad and a Center in the top 5 is to target the islanders #5 by trading eberle or yakupov and taking draisatl or dal colle. Garth Snow has already stated that he would like to trade the pick for help now. I don’t like the idea of trading yakupov at his lowest value. I really believe he’s gonna be a special player that just needs a bit of time. The first overall pick will take something along the lines of 3rd overall +2015 2nd rd assuming Tallon would rather have Bennett . He may not have drafted Cam Barker in 2004 but he was there in 2005 and it may veer him off drafting a d man with a top 3 pick, although Ekblad leaves me with no doubt that he’ll be a #1 dman.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    A lot of armchair GMs talking about this and next years drafts. Haven’t we already learned this lesson?

    1. The top 3 players in this year’s draft are close to par. Trading up shows an urgency that will likely cost way too much to trade up. Reinhart, Bennet and Ekblad are all great prospects.

    2. Though McDavid will be amazing, another year of losing will further pollute the minds of the existing young players on this team. I’m sure half the free agents already want out of that dressingroom. Another tank job with no improvement will have guys thinking about themselves and not their team.

    It’s time to make progress. These kids need to taste success. Another year of losing could turn them into perpetual losers.