HARD TARGET SEARCH: FLORIDA PANTHERS

mact common7

Craig MacTavish partnered with St. Louis last season in a deal that helped the Oilers. David Perron was one of the few bright spots in a long season. MacT may go south this summer, as the Florida Panthers offer Edmonton some nice possibilities.

Dale Tallon, Florida’s General Manager, is looking ahead to an active summer, and it sounds like he’s going to be aggressive. A couple of quotes from late last month:

  • On #1 overall: “I’m looking at everything. I’m open for business. You have three options — you either take it, move back or trade it. So that’s what we’re looking at. What’s the best deal for our future, that’s the key.”
  • On what they’ll do this summer: “We have a commitment from (owner) Vinnie Viola to win, and to go after the top players in free agency and make this team a winning team right away. That’s what we’re selling.”

So, it seems fairly clear the Panthers are going to re-set. They’ve fired their coach, have said nice things about Barry Trotz and Peter Laviolette, and are giving off the impression they plan to turn north next season. 

THE OILER TARGETS

  • First overall pick: Why not? If he’s open to trading the pick, and Edmonton could acquire BOTH Aaron Eckblad and (say) Leon Draisaitl? It would depend on price, but that’s an option.
  • Dmitry Kulikov: A nice young defenseman who has frustrated Panthers management with errors, but has learned the lessons and is an effective young player.
  • kulikov es
  • That’s a nice player. Full stop.
  • It doesn’t sound like Tallon is of a mind to deal his veterans—Campbell, Upshall, Boyes, Goc—but there may be a window of opportunity for someone like Sean Bergenheim. The veteran winger is a $2.75 million cap hit and one year froom free agency.
  • bergenheim es
  • That’s a nice two-way player, we’ll call him the modern Pisani.

So, by my count, we’re talking #1 overall, the defender Kulikov and winger Sean Bergenheim. Not sexy enough? I disagree. Would love to have all three assets. Let’s see what it’ll cost. 

POSSIBLE PANTHERS

  • #3 overall. It would be nice to gather up #1 and #3, but that’s going to be a massive investment in moving the cluster down the line. May not be possible, let’s see how this shakes out.
  • Sam Gagner. He’s a monster cap hit, but 89 is a skill guy and can help a team offensively—especially on the power play. 
  • gagner es
  • Plus, he’s consistent. I bet you a 2-4 he’ll score between 40 and 50 points next season. Panthers have some nice young centermen, so may be able to move 89 to the wing without any trouble. Or, they could run him at center with responsible wingers. Either way, he has value and the Panthers are miles from cap trouble. As rough as Gagner had it this past season, he would have been the second leading scorer on the Panthers (leader: 38 points).
  • There are several other possible Panthers, including David Perron, Oscar Klefbom, Andrew Ference, Jeff Petry and Matt Hendricks. Let’s take what we have and see what we can find that fits.

TRADE PROPOSALS

Let’s start with two things Edmonton might want to accomplish:

  • Offload Gagner
  • Acquire Kulikov

The cap hits are wide, but Gagner’s 4.8M is a hard cost, while Kulikov is an RFA this summer, coming off a contract that paid him $2.5 million. It’s not a massive stretch to suggest the Russian will get over a million in raises annually, maybe more. Both had ghastly plus minus numbers and coverage issues, but both are young and extremely likely to recover.

I think there’s a trade there, with Edmonton needing to add something at the beginning of the negotiation. That might be an agreement to pay a portion of Gagner’s cap hit, or maybe Edmonton throws in a prospect. Florida could add Bergenheim and the first overall, forcing Edmonton to deal Gagner, #3 and something significant from the Perron-Petry list above. There’s a lot to discuss.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL!!!

Using Gagner for Kulikov as the foundation, is there a deal here? I think there is. You?

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

baseball

I think Craig MacTavish is going to have to employ a little slight of hand this summer, but I’m confident he can do it. Sam Gagner has value, and there’s a underachiever somewhere out there in a town like Miami who could help here.

Gagner for Kulikov. It just makes sense.

    • If this team does not focus on a centerman it will be doomed to another bottom feeding season. A centre who can play a 200 ft. game is exactly what this team needs. Why lose another asset by trading up when the 3rd pick could turn out to be a star. Ekblad reminds me of Jovanoski when he was drafted, good but not earth shattering.

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

        This got trashed 64 times. ( perhaps because Oilers might have to add something more to make the deal happen?). I think it may have some merit based on the following

        1) Oilers will not be drafting in the top three in 2015 so McDavid and Eichle will not be there for us unless we trade up…and NO ONE who is in line to get McDavid or Eichle will be trading down

        2) If we can move Gagner’s contract and we end up with 1st and 3rd this year…take Bennett with the First and hope that Buffalo wants a Centre so we get Ekblad at 3. (Or Ekblad 1st Draisaitl 3rd)

        Like it or not, it’s clear that the Oilers management are on a track that will see the rebuild continue for at least another year or two. Bennett and Ekblad should both make this team within two years.

        Potentially big upside especially if Bennett or Draisaitl can outperform Sean Monahan.

        • HockeyYoda

          Re: “1) Oilers will not be drafting in the top three.”

          Well they certainly won’t be drafting in the top three if they trade the pick. Sounds like the same kind of logic Brian Burke had in Toronto. And Toronto was showing more promise at the time.

        • Sorensenator

          1. I’m confused as to why you’re so sure the oilers won’t be drafting in the top 3 next year. Looking at recent history, it seems like it’s almost a sure thing that they will be.

          2. I like that you’re high on Bennett. He’s who I’m hoping for. But how are you trading Gagner and getting a 1st ov?

          It’s clear the oilers management is not on any track and the wheels are just spinning

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

            Fair questions.

            Not drafting in the top three is just a hunch based on probability…..better goaltending, a little more grit in the lineup, star players one year older, a free agent or two. I think the Oilers will still be in position to draft in the top 10…just not the top three…..but it is open to debate.

            As for trading for Florida’s 1st OV, it’s Gagner plus our 2015 1st round pick, plus….where the plus could be anything from a prospect, or Ference, or Fasthe, etc.

            I get that the whole thing seems unlikely but stranger things have happened.

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

              I’m skeptical too…but the Oilers are in kind of a sweet spot here….

              1) they are in a different conference than Florida

              2) the Oilers 2015 first round pick will be more attractive than 25 other teams first round picks.

              3) Florida isn’t likely to get an established star player by trading the first overall..( an established tier one player would cost a couple of first round picks or more). Florida will more likely get offered second tier players like Gagner.

              4) Florida is not that good a team…it’s one of the few teams where Gagner could actually be considered an upgrade to the current top six.

              5) Oilers appear to be in a position cap wise to eat 1 million of the Gagner contract for the next two years.

              6) I could be wrong, but Florida doesn’t seem to be on the “must acquire size” bandwagon

        • A-Mc

          The sad part is that I think Ekblad and Draisaitl have a better shot at making an impact on this team than Yak and Gagner; and i mean nearly right away with all their rookie warts. Long story short, Yak and Gagner have contributed so little to the team that i dont think it’s much of a step down to go with 2 fresh rookies in Ekb./Drais. over these 2.

          That’s a bold move, if I’ve ever seen one.

          I would want some other throw in though on FLA’s part. I wonder if Kulikov+1st for Yak/Gagner would fly?

          • A-Mc

            I mentioned earlier that I believe Kulikov+1st overall would require Yak+Gagner+Gernat(type prospect)+ 2nd rounder (maybe even a 1st in a future draft).

            I honestly believe that’s what it would take. It may seem high but the reality is that is what Tallon or other GM’s would be asking especially when its a 1st overall pick.

            • A-Mc

              I’d pay that i think (but not a 1st. 2nd, sure, not 1st).

              The Oilers would be acquiring, in 1 draft, Kulikov, Ekblad and either Bennett or Draisaitl. I think that’s a SOLID addition.

              How many times have we run the stats where you dont get to trade for true #1’s of any position. They are far more frequently drafted and held onto. Doing a bold move like you stated could be setting the Oilers up with a proper foundation.

            • A-Mc

              2 years out – ya i might be more inclined to do that. BUT! obviously you want that pick to be 20+ if you’re going to trade it because it hurts too much to lose out on picks that are more likely to be real players. Do i think the oilers are in a position to be picking 20+ in 2016? hell no.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          ^that’s too much. the Oilers aren’t going to give away players just to get the #1 pick, hoping he’ll be the next great center or d-man. not going to happen.

    • ubermiguel

      Seems like most teams with the #1 are open for business, unless it is an exceptional player. I think it is a standard in the business to kick the tires.

    • vetinari

      Panthers have a history with a Russian sniper in Pavel Bure. Use this advantage and get value for Yakipov. Package Gagner and Yak for 1st and prospect.

      Make a hard sell that FLA is getting the second coming of Pavel… lol

      Also, if FLA picks a Sam first then you have to look at trades with Buffalo for their second. Tyler Myers stock has dropped considerably imo. Maybe there is a trade there.

    • Daryl Katz please take note:

      “We have a commitment from (owner) Vinnie Viola to win, and to go after the top players in free agency and make this team a winning team right away. That’s what we’re selling.”

      • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

        Yes you are right Katz was not committed to winning, because Katz giving the OK to spend to the cap when he first bought the team was not committing, Katz Lowe and Tambelini going to beg Danny Heatly to come here was not committed to winning. Yes he should take notes. I challenge ANY oiler fan to come up with a coherent argument on what the Oilers should have done to build a winner knowing that – they had no AHL team, they had No superstars (and no garbage players like Ryan Smyth is not a superstar), they did not have the money to spend until 2008, and they had nothing of value to trade. So let’s hear it fans how should they have rebuilt the team and spare me the kool aid BS

        • Zarny

          Not sure if you are being sarcastic but spending to the cap and supporting the GM when he goes after players via free agency or trades is about the only thing an owner can do to “commit” to winning. FYI…that’s all Vinnie Viola has promised to do.

          RexHolez is 100% correct that the Oilers’ rebuild has been characterized by bad asset management.

          How should they have rebuilt the team? The short answer is they should have never stopped trying to get better.

          In G, the Oilers bet it all on Dubnyk who they drafted in 2004. It’s not that they didn’t get Schneider or Bishop. It’s that they got no one else. If plan A failed they had no other option and we saw the results last year when plan A failed. That’s bad asset management.

          You are correct the Oilers had no superstars; but they had some good players. Hemsky certainly wasn’t perfect but he was in his prime and better than most top 6 F on playoff teams. Given his injuries and trade value Hemmer should have been penciled in as the 2nd line RW behind Eberle; or if Hemsky wasn’t part of the solution he should have been traded back in 2010. Instead Tambo dithered. They drafted another RW with Yakupov that truly made Hemsky redundant and finally traded him 4 years after starting the rebuild for basically nothing. That is bad asset management.

          I don’t lament the loss of any particular 3/4 line F or 5/6 D; but 3 years after drafting Hall the Oilers started the season with nothing but AHLers on the 4th line and half of the D. These are the easiest players to acquire yet every player Tambo brought in failed. That is bad asset management. Especially when you look at the quality depth players like Stoll, Greene, Glencross, Cole, Brodziak, Penner etc who were with the team not long ago.

          And then there are the kids…Hall is the only draft pick that should have played in the NHL as an 18 y/o. Young players make mistakes, struggle with consistency and don’t play a 200 ft game. None of them do. Knowing that the team would be adding several young players there should have been an emphasis on adding veterans who could support them; especially on defense.

          Instead the Oilers went scorched earth. The kids were rushed to the NHL and thrown on the ice with sweet f*ck all for support. When Nuge, Yakupov or Schultz struggle the Oilers can’t reel them into shallow waters so they can get their footing because they are supported by players who shouldn’t be in the NHL.

          That isn’t just bad asset management…it’s horrendous asset management.

        • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

          They had the right idea – build through the draft, establish a quality farm system, try to bring in veterans. But then they failed to draft intelligently (Cam frickin Abney?), they failed to utilize the farm system when they rushed multiple players into the show, and they failed to lure any veterans here. I’d say it was a case of decent planning, spectacularly terrible execution.

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

            You are absolutely right here in two things 1) the Oilers biggest failure, and there is no excuse for this, is that they have no one that has made a true impact after the first round – almost EVERY NHL team has had that happen, Quick, Lundquist, Howard, Subban, Seabrook (or Keith I cannot remember which one was a 2nd rounder), Benn, the list just goes on and on. The rushing players in as well – Gagner should not have been here in 07, Cogliano should not have been here in 07. I would disagree though about luring in vets they were able to do that from Souray to Gordon, but it was question of which ones they should have brought in, like Belanger (who was brought in for one dimension – faceoffs) and even then if that was what he was to be relied on then it would not have been bad, so I guess rather the fault would be if they are relying on those to do more than what they were capable to.

        • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

          They could have had better asset management. Kept useful players like stoll and Greene. Instead of trading away legit top 6 forwards like hemsky for nothing, they could have kept him and traded away the yak 1st overall pick for help on defense. They could have recognized dubnyk’s short comings as an nhl goaltender sooner and pursued quality goaltenders like Schneider or bishop.

          These are just a few examples.

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

            Keeping useful bottom 6 players, sure that is a shortcoming, but you cannot tell me you would have been fine with the Oilers trading the #1 pick away that year. The hype of Yakupov was that he was the next Ovechkin. Hindsight is 20/20, you can’t criticize things like that.

            And I was under the impression that the Oilers pushed hard for Schneider, but Van didn’t want to trade him in the same conference. I could be wrong though.

            I never liked Dubnyk, but he was a hard guy to let go of. Previous to last year’s meltdown spiral, he wasn’t [i]that[/i] bad..Goalies are unpredictable, which is why they are usually not drafted high (queue the Price/Fleury reminders). I agree though they could have pursued options earlier, finding a suitable back-up or a guy that would push for the spot.

            That being said, I’m not defending Katzs or Tambo. If anything the way in which MacT has handled the team in the short time he’s been GM shows how poorly the job was previously being done.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            better asset management – if you think Stoll (a third line player) and Greene (a 5/6 d man) would solve the oilers problems then you need to give your head a shake, especially considering they got a top pair d man in Vishnovsky, that is pretty damn good asset management. They also did pursue both Bishop and Schneider, also you say sooner – lets look at Bishop; at the time you want to get rid of Dubnyk for a guy who toiled in the minors for YEARS, infact St Louis though BRian Elliot was a better option, and had WORSE numbers then Dubnyk, yes hindsight is great. You talk about trading Hemsky away for nothing – tell me who was giving up ANYTHING for him ? IF Vanek and Gaborik (who are better) went for nickles who is giving dimes for Hemsky, not to mention he has been on the market for YEARS and it has been said in the media for YEARS that no one was giving anything of value. Finally I would love to know what you think we would have got for the 2012 first pick that would help on d, you are not getting what they need – a true number one d man, but yeah trading that pick for a 3/4 d man is great asset management, but good try.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        When Violas crew leaves their wife/family behind when leaving on a road trip, it’s +30, not -30.

        Where would you rather leave your family, when you’re earned the right to make the choice? A market everyone would like to play in, vs, a market players climb over each other to get out of.

    • Lowetide

      Lowetide do you think kulikov is better than petry I’m. not so sure and isn’t one of the problems we have is not enough nhl legitimate d I’m not say don’t try to get everything your suggesting but trading any real dman is not a good option for the oil in my opinion say what you will about petry was he miscast on the team out of no other top 4 options yes but a real nhl dman we can’t afford to throw in any trade in my opinion

    • HockeyYoda

      If we acquire another young lefty, we need to move someone with more value

      Marincin

      Gernat

      Klefbpm

      Nurse

      Kulikov

      Musil

      All lefties

      I’d look to move Marincin or Klef and a pick for gudbranson in that same deal maybe.

      Gagner + klefbom + 2015 2nd for kulikov + gudbranson

      • Lowetide

        Some of these guys play play LH side, and the top 6D (Marincin-Petry, Kulikov-Klefbom, Ference-Schultz) is still young. You might add a defender later in the summer, but you can send down Klefbom to do it.

    • ubermiguel

      Small chance Perron, Ference or Hendricks get moved. MacT is putting his stamp on the organization with these types of players; they have the crust/jam/truculence that many others here lack.