I listened to the Craig MacTavish postseason exit interview again the other day. In the midst of hundreds of “relentless” and “consistent messaging” and “value system” references, four names came through loud and clear: Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Justin Schultz.

Are those the names you would choose? Doesn’t matter. The four horsemen of the Oilpocalypse are Taylor, Jordan, Justin and Ryan. Let it rain.


Let’s make a list of young cluster-worthy names who did not make the cut: Nail Yakupov, Sam Gagner, Jeff Petry. Sure, the club has Martin Marincin, Oscar Klefbom and a few other youngsters, but those men aren’t major pieces—yet—and as such don’t have the trade value they’ll possess (hopefully) five years from now.

And of course veterans brought in by the current management are safe, that would include David Perron, Boyd Gordon, Andrew Ference, Ben Srivens, Viktor Fasth and others. Below that, major/minor leaguers like Mark Arcobello, Anton Lander and Jesse Joensuu—any value they might have in trade would qualify as a “throw-in” including bigger names.


petry capture

  • Some of these decisions about who to send away will come down to money. Jeff Petry is an RFA, and if the Oilers want to buy free-agent seasons they’re going to be paying big money for the privilege.

spector petry 1

spector petry 2

Dallas Eakins saw fit to healthy scratch Jeff Petry last season during a period of monumental struggle. I’m onside with Petry, I think he’s the best defenseman on the team. It’s uncertain where he lands on Dallas Eakins’ list, although he sure played him a lot. If Craig MacTavish is getting pushed by player and agent, will Dallas Eakins step in for one of his trusted blue? We don’t know what he’d do, but there’s little doubt the Petry deal is going to involve significant cap money.

I think there’s a real chance he’s traded this summer. Sam Gagner asked for $5.5M (reportedly) in arbitration, does MacT want to take another shot? Also, If Petry signs for anything short of three seasons, I’d expect Petry would be dealt during the next contract. Oilers have a long tradition of getting value for the player before the contract runs out. Petry could fetch a pretty penny.

staples gagner

It was a tough year for Samwise. The fickle finger of fate landed on ‘beware of idiot with stick’ and Sam Gagner’s season was ruined, his career at an instant crossroads. A season of growth at center by 89 might mean he could return at the position, but his wobbly year in the middle, the injury and the awful won-loss record make it difficult for him to return as a center. Could he play on the wing? Of course. Will he? Oilers have other options, but it’s possible. 


  • Darren Dreger, TSN: “I would say it’s unlikely that he’s an Edmonton Oiler next season. So it makes sense that they’ll try and move him. They were trying to move him at various points this season. Word is out that Nail Yakupov is available. The problem is, no one really wants him. Certainly not for the value that the Edmonton Oilers are going to need to get back in return. And you can see why. He had opportunities in this game early on. He scored one goal in his last 11 games. He was on the ice late in the game when the Blues scored to tie the hockey game. He’s an NHL worst -30. He lacks commitment. He thinks that skill is enough to be an NHL player. And the unfortunate reality for Nail Yakupov is that, yes, he’s a skilled player, but not an elite level skill player. And until he finds a way to absorb the message, the market on Nail Yakupov isn’t going to be great. They might have to package him with a collection of assets to get something better in return.”

This was March. The Ides of March, somewhere in there. “Word is that Nail Yakupov is available” is really hard to misunderstand, and I think it’s likely the Oilers would move him if the right opportunity came along. I think it’s a terrible idea—wait until he has optimum value—but it’s likely Yakupov could bring in a useful player in return even after his season. No. 1 overall picks with offensive ability don’t get traded often, suspect some smart GM will realize there’s value there if he can pry the Russian away at a good price.



It’s summer, and there’s important work to be done. I don’t know for certain that Jeff Petry, Nail Yakupov or Sam Gagner are heading out of town, but the Oilers aren’t terribly good at keeping secrets.

There are going to be changes made. This time next month, will these three men remain Oilers?

We wait.

(Barons photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)

  • BlazingSaitls

    Not a knock on you Allan but this article has been written by you a hundred times. I think we all realize that there is nothing happening on the Oilers front right now at least nothing visible to non-Oilers staff.

    Sorry but this is just a re-hash.

  • Zarny

    I think what Mac-T should realize is this hockey club has too many holes to fill in one offseason. So don’t make a bone headed trade for the sake of change. Oil need methodical moves.

    Gagner has had a rough go here. May be wise hanging onto to him for the first quarter of the year. Let his stock rise and then ship him out because he doesn’t fit in with the long term make up of this team. Too small of center and we already have two RW’s. Use him to bring in a strong 3rd line center or winger.

    Yakupov has a tremendous worth ethic from what I’ve read. No point of trading him unless something elite is coming back (highly doubt it will this year). Let the kid bounce back from his sophomore slump.

    Key focus this offseason is to add at least one top pairing d-man. Upfront we need to fill out the 3rd line with legit NHLers (need a RPM type line). Hendricks-Gordon-Gazdic should be playing 4th line. If we can add some smart veterans on the 3rd line and add one elite d-man we’ll move up the standings enough to be playing meaningful games come Feb/March.

  • ubermiguel

    It has been said here many times, that it was Katz’ decision to draft Yakupov in spite of going in the direction the management/scouts wanted to go. If this is true, there is no way Katz will allow Yak to be traded, just the same as he will not let Lowe go either. It seems that when Katz makes a decision he is sticking with it even when we all know change is necessary for the team to get better.

  • A-Mc

    The lowest value forward with any skill on the Oilers team, IMO, is yakupov.

    Of the names being talked about this summer as possible ship-outs, i rank them like this in terms of value to the Oilers:

    1. Petry
    2. Gagner
    10. Yakupov

    I want Yak to work out but man does he stink. I hope he had a good long talking to during his exit meeting and i hope he comes to camp next year with a new attitude. His Agent and others involved needs to be telling this kid that he has to be a team player in order to succeed in the NHL.

    I am not a religious man, but i pray to GOD that Yak has a comeback year next season and finally shows he wasn’t a #1 overall bust.

  • A-Mc

    If the measure of a coach is how players progress………then how important is regression.

    Eakins MO of exposing player weaknesses has unintended consequences that being mainly you diminish the value of a player which hurts a GM’s ability to pull off meaningful trades.

    Once again coaching rears it’s ugly head while people pretend it’s something else.

    If Eakins would have sheltered Yakupov and played him more on the PP, how much more trade able would he have been?

    • A-Mc

      Oh plz, Yak was terrible no matter where he was put. He wasn’t that good the year before either.

      You sound like the type of person that wants to paint a target on the coach no matter what happens. What ever happened to taking responsiblity for your own play? For making sure you know what you’re doing and you’re willing to do what is necessary to win hockey games? Why must it always be someone elses fault. The responsibility starts and ends with the players. Mike Babcock himself couldnt make the Oilers a better team.

      • A-Mc

        Wake up and smell the coffee. Yak is 20 YEARS OLD. He was getting better every game towards the end of his rookie season under Kruger as coach. Then in comes Eakins and Acton and they go about destroying his confidence and taking the team from improving from a 29th place finish to a 24th place finish, back to a 28th place finish. And instead of working more with Yak to improve his over all game, Eakins instead would use Yak as his whipping boy. This is the same coaching staff that could not figure out to put Hall, RNH and Ebbs together on the top line until they were about 70 games into the season. Get a proper coaching staff and let Yak grow and develop before you start declaring him a bust.

        • A-Mc

          If you can’t see a clear difference between a guy like Yakupov and a guy like.. well any of the other young talented forwards on the Oilers, then you’re not paying attention. The 20 year old comment doesnt matter when he’s being compared with his peers, who are also youngsters in their low 20’s.

          Yak had 1 streak going at the end of the lockout season, That’s it. He hasn’t managed to do anything before or after that, regardless of his coach. if he wants to get better, he needs to BE better; that’s all anyone wants from him.

          He was given minutes in every situation this last season and he wasn’t able to do anything with them; That’s not a coaching fail, that’s a player fail.

    • Tikkanese

      Sheltered Yakupov more?!? Eakins tried Yak everywhere in the lineup. He even had the “1ST OVERALL” line going for a time. He had him sheltered with vets like Gordon, Hemsky and Smyth. Tried him on both wings. Tried him in pretty much every spot on the powerplay. Tried scratching him when he backchecked slower than you or I would. No matter where Yak was put in the lineup he had troubles producing.

      It’s called a sophmore jinx for a reason. It hits a large percentage of players in their second season. Time to relax a bit people.

      • Tikkanese

        Playing a guy for a couple of games with the top line does not constitute a “fair chance”, IMHO.

        The blender approach to lines by Eakins shows more panic than experiment. It took him till game 70 to figure out that RNH, Hall, and Ebs are a natural line with chemistry……….not very encouraging.

    • Zarny

      LOL…Yak was literally the most sheltered F last season. No one had better zone starts and he didn’t face top competition.

      Yak’s problem is he thinks it’s still Jr and he can beat everyone 1 on 1. So he holds onto the puck too long, skates himself out of options and then turns the puck over.

      • Zarny

        Wow Zarney……..I’m not sure we were watching the same Edmonton Oilers games.

        The problem you described could pretty well apply to any player on the OIlers. Every one on the Oilers played what you call a one-man game, carrying the puck too long and losing it. Hemsky, Hall, RNH, Perron, everyone could be accused and rightly so of carrying the puck too long.

        The KIng of carrying the puck too long and then losing it ( Mr Horcough) is thankfully gone……..never saw him get benched!

        Yaks has his problems as do many OIlers, he is still a player in the making, but not by singling him out………you can’t shame a player to success.

        Eakins own that.

  • Rob...

    Dreger: “He thinks that skill is enough to be an NHL player.”

    What an ignorant malicious statement. I’ve seen quite a few references to Yakupov’s work ethic in practices, his willingness to spend time with Eakins learning what is expected of him, and the fact that he’s one of the edgier players, who sticks up for himself and his teammates, despite not being the biggest guy. Dreger needs to understand the difference between lacking commitment and struggling with implementing team concepts that he didn’t have to employee in juniors… shame on those junior coaches btw.

    • A-Mc

      To be Fair I think many comments like the ones made by Dreger, stem from tidbits like this:


      “I’m going to play my game,” he said. “I don’t want anything to change from how I played last year, how I played when I was 10 years old, I want to play the same game.

      “I love more playing with the puck. I don’t really like playing without the puck, skate all the time and do forecheck and hit somebody every shift — I don’t think it’s my game. I try to do it some time, but I’m not here to crush everything. I just want to play hockey.”

      This doesn’t show a willingness to play a team game and do what is necessary to win. It shows a stubborn attitude where he believes he doesn’t have to play defensive, back check or play with a little jam. The quote above does not come from a player willing to improve.

      Contrast this with normal quotes from top prospects; whom are eager to learn and do what is necessary to better the team and better themselves. Hell young players should be doing WHATEVER is necessary in order to simply MAKE the team. Yakupov’s comments sounds like they are coming from a guy who is guaranteed a spot on the team. I’m happy they came at a time when Eakins sent him to the press box because that is what he deserved.

      • Rob...

        ““I love more playing with the puck. I don’t really like playing without the puck, skate all the time and do forecheck and hit somebody every shift — I don’t think it’s my game. I try to do it some time, but I’m not here to crush everything. I just want to play hockey.””

        Not that I’d ever compare him to Gretzky but, Wayne always wanted the puck. He referred to it as ‘his puck’. That didn’t mean he wasn’t a team player.

        I’d also say that I’ve seen Yak effectively hit more opponents than half of the other Oilers on the team; granted he needs to learn to hit without leaving his feet before someone catches on and suspends him.

        You also need to look at the games later in the season where Yak was doing his best to find the spot on the ice where he thought the coach wanted him. Whether Eakins pressure kills Yak’s career or helps him develop into a good NHL player has yet to be seen.

      • ubermiguel

        Many young prospects think like that, but Yak actually says it. He lacks a filter between his brain and mouth sometimes, which I kind of prefer over the same boring hockey quotes over and over again. “Team game, give 110%, follow the systems, stick to the game plan, blah blah blah.” But on the ice they’re playing an individual game and floating.

        • A-Mc

          There is a difference between breaking old junior habits and simply refusing to play the way the coach wants you to.

          We’ve seen many youngsters in Edmonton in recent years and you can clearly see that while the hall/ebs/nuges of the world make a ton of defensive mistakes, they are willing to learn and are improving each year.

          Yakupov appears to be refusing to do so with his comments quoted. Refusing to play the way the team needs you to is going to buy you press box seats.

          • ubermiguel

            Oh I agree, put him in the press box for a few more games…along with all the other young players that are not buying into the system. I’m just saying his main crime is being guilty of not speaking in platitudes.

  • A-Mc

    Maybe we should of taken a defenseman instead of another RW when we already had 2 fantastic NHL RW. But this year we’ll draft for need right? What a well thought out rebuild. I’m just lucky I get to watch this masterpiece unfold

  • Bucknuck

    I realize that in order to get something back in trade you have to give something up, but trading Petry would be a HUGE mistake. He IS the best defenseman on the team. A player who is moving from prospect to “blue chip”.

    Just say no, MacT.

    • A-Mc

      I’m not a Petry fan but i agree with you. Moving him would be a mistake. We just need to get a couple guys to play above him so he can sit in the 3/4 range where he will really thrive.

      • Bucknuck

        That’s exactly it. If he wasn’t playing the toughest minutes (and the most) and being exposed by some incompetent defensive mistakes by other players (Hello Gagner), then no one would want to move him. I mean, he actually hits people. Not many regulars on the team can boast that.

      • 2004Z06

        Wish I could prop these comments more than just once. It would be a mistake to trade Petry without seeing what he can do in the 3/4 role where he belongs. Hell I could even see him as a competent number 2 if paired with the right guy.

          • bradleypi

            I disagree… guys like petry get blasted because he’s just not good enough.. guy has all the tools to be a top pairing dman, but just can’t seem to get it right… pretty sure the plan for him wasn’t just to be a 3/4 dman.. wether that’s a coaching fail remains to be seen as there is a plethora of dmen coming up the ranks… until then there are tons of guys for the 2nd unit that will come much cheaper than petry…

  • Oiler63

    Blaming Yak’s poor season squarely on his shoulder is a misguided conclusion. Young players need guidance and proper development. Under Eakins they received none. That’s not only Yak; it’s shown on almost every young guy on the team. Peron stood out because he was developed in the Blues organization.

    Guys like Bylsma, Trotz, Shero and McPhee are fired yet Lowe and Eakins still have a job. Daryl Katz’s performance bar is indeed under 50 feet of crap!


    Everything is Edmonton is in panic mode because we’re so sick of losing.

    Yakupov is very skilled. He was #1 overall for a reason. We didn’t go off the board by choosing him. If any other team in the league was picking first overall, they would have chosen Yakupov too.

    Obviously, he had a difficult year last year. If you take a look at other highly skilled offensive players drafted high in the draft, it’s not uncommon for them to struggle in their sophomore year. The term “Sophomore Slump” exists for a reason.

    Things may click for him early next year, and he’ll be amazing. From what we know of him, he’s probably training like a man possessed this off-season, and is most likely doing what he can to improve himself and live up to expectations. Or, he could have spent the summer collecting Louis Vuitton sports bags and playing Xbox1.

    Either way, it’s a little too early to judge.

    Trading away a player that came into the league with the raw talent and determination to be the type of player that may challenge for Richard trophies in his career, after one bad season on a terrible team with a new coach and brutal first half goaltending, would be ridiculous.

    Yak will bounce back. If he bounces back on another team, we’d all regret it.

  • A-Mc

    Eakins is not the only coach that demands accountability to the team as a top priority . If Yak is reluctant to do the other things expected of all of them , then I doubt they would keep him . Not much room for a one way goal suck anymore in NHL . He has to mesh with the other youth and strengthen all aspects of their games not just the offence . Time to carry his load to a new level . How would you like Eberle , Hall and Hopkins to do his load because he doesn’t , and Yak to be the glory boy all the time ? Not sure if they are pleased with his work ethic ?

  • ubermiguel

    Unless you’re getting Huberdeau, I dont see how you get equal value for Yak. It would be a mistake to trade him for a Clarkson (dig dig).

    Talent over size, all day.

    Stupid msm pushes these dumb ideas – Petry is no good, Yak is too small – just to make news.

  • Tikkanese

    Before we run off all our players out of town , lets try something different , like
    fire Smiths Rsssss the heck out of town.
    Petry might be a better player with NHL coaching and systems, instead of the gong show that’s on right now.

    Is it strange that LAK can develop players like
    Muzzin, Voynov, Tifolli, etc, its a long list.,

    O Ya, all their assistant coaches are ex; head coaches, in the NHL.

    Lombardi knows something about winning. .. about to win another SC in 3 years.. This wasn’t an eight year rebuild.

  • Tikkanese

    I agree Petry is a 3/4 Dman. Problem is we’re probably gonna be paying him 1/2 dman wages now. I don’t even wanna know what Jultz is gonna make. He should get a 2 way deal in my mind

  • Trash away!

    Personally, I trade Peron before I ever contemplate trading Yakupov.

    The easiest position to obtain is on the wing.
    I honestly think Peron is a good measurement or comparable for Yakupov, I think Yak is a year or two away from becoming Peron like anyways.

    The Oilers need to trade players that have value for value.

    The Oilers trading Yakupov for a third line player or second pairing defensemen makes little to no sense.

    Trading Gagner for a second and third round pick as has been suggested here should be grounds for automatic firing.

    Regardless if you like Gagner or not, whether you think he’s a good center or not, giving away a proven NHL player for beans is as stupid as sending Souray down to the AHL then letting him walk for nothing or giving Cogliano away for a 2nd round pick.

    We have watched players go without knowing the true value or what the player looks like fully develop, this pattern is one of the reasons the Oilers are rebuilding and they will continue to keep re-building with that same thought process.

    I don’t pretend to know what it will take to obtain players via trades; I don’t know what it will look like whether it’s a three for one or a two for one.

    This team is so obviously lost wandering the desert. I have little confidence in the management team that put the Oilers into the rebuild can pull them out.

    • Tikkanese

      Totally agree, its time this team developed and kept their players… always trying to trade guys for shinier marbles.

      I don’t think Lowe or MacT would recognize a potential player even he was on stage accepting the Hart trophy. That goes for the scouts .

      Check out LA, with 2, 4 5 rounders playing regular shifts…. three to four years removed from junior hockey.

      Eight years later the spin is still on, on the ice and in the boardroom.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    You know, It probably wasn’t easy for Yak to get a really pretty +- when you had offensive, non-defensive defensemen on the first pairing. Dreger said that Yakupov is lazy because he thinks skill is all you need to become an NHL player? What about Schultz? One dimensional defensemen who thinks offense dominates. Atleast Yakupov has tried to learn defense. Schultz should have been scratched many games

  • deantime419

    Gagner and a 2015 4th to the Hawks (reunite him with Kane) for Versteeg (2.2M), 2014 3rd, 2015 1st.
    Then use the savings to bring in Grabovski as his replacement center.