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.
HEADING OUT OF DODGE?
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.
COULD BE SAYING GOODBYE TO…
- 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.
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.
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.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
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?
(Barons photo by Rob Ferguson, all rights reserved)