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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.

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.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    If you acquire Spezza, you make sure that 1st that they would likely want is conditional.

    2015 1st conditional on him signing an extension. If he bolts for free agency, it becomes a second and third round pick. SOmething along those lines anyway.

  • vetinari

    Pass on Spezza– not that he isn’t good but I’m sure after playing with Hemsky, Spezza would likely look for the first train out of Edmonton when he gets the chance.

    Defence is our biggest need and since there is not a lot on the market right now, I would be tempted to take a flyer on Phaneuf provided that the asking price wasn’t too high (maybe a roster player, a defence prospect and maybe a 2015 mid round draft pick). Ideally, I would even consider a Gagner plus prospect swap for Phanuef.

    Jordan and Richards are centres and if we move Gagner, I would be tempted to trade for one of them (Jordan, to me, is a decent third line option while Richards should be a second line centre). Again, as long none of the core group is demanded or our 3rd overall pick this year or next year’s first round pick (likely to be top 10 again), then let’s talk.

    Frankly, the Leafs, Kings and Penguins all have other players of interest to the Oilers and you may be able to parlay a multiplayer swap to fill some additional holes but in that case, expect to part with some prime assets.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    – out on Richards
    – out on Staal (he was way too hyped. way too slow. very underwhelming offensively. solid defensively)
    – Phaneuf is so-so but not worth the money
    – Spezza. soft satellite. better than Gagner but still a wimp for his size.

    this is basically a list of “cool players” from 5-6+ years ago that the Oilers are desperate to fill holes with now at too high of a price.

    outside of James Neal… who probably would not be as effective in Edmonton as opposed to Pittsburgh.

    Rent-a-Cool-Name players. what else is the franchise going to do i suppose?

    • Strange Tamer

      All these players have warts, that is why they might be available. And they would all be upgrades on a 28th ranked team, save for Umberger.

      If these are just “cool names”, then who are the real players the Oilers should be targeting?

  • Spoils

    trading picks or assets has to be for pieces that will still work in 4 years when our D comes online.

    (I’m one of those guys who has embraced the rebuild. I am putting a stake in the ground and saying let’s build our team around the duo of Hall and Nuge, and the team D of Nurse, Kelfbom, Ekblad, and Schultz.)

    so – Neal and Stastny are young enough to fit that.

    that said, if we are just buying someone – I think Katz owes this city the spend

    • oilerjed

      Why build a team around guys with potential??? Remember when Shultz was the Dman of our future. After two years that is far from certain. The same can be said for the others you mentioned.

      Id like us to make a play for the #1 pick from Florida while maintaining the #3 as well. Throw in next years first rounder and make it happen. Yeah yeah, I know its the McDavid-Eichel sweepstakes, after those two lucky winners what`s left to wait for next year. Its time to roll the dice with something other then draft picks. Get two quality players this year that will hopefully fill some holes in 1-3 years and move on from this rebuild. Get some vets in here to teach and win.

  • Concur

    Phaneuf would be a definite.

    Either of the Cs, Staal or Richards would be welcome.

    Any one of the wingers would be a bonus.

    With these additions Gagner has to be going the other way and probably a high defensive prospect. Worthy price to pay in my mind,

  • camdog

    If any attempt is made to acquire the 2014 #1 draft pick from Florida, it should not include the Oilers 2014 #3 pick.

    If you wish to get the best possible result, offer Florida either Gagner or Yakupov (if required)plus the Oilers 2015 first rounder. This will give the Oilers the opportunity to acquire both Ekblad and a #1C prospect in the same draft while giving Florida a former #6 or #1 overall pick and an extra chip in the McDavid sweepstkes.

  • ubermiguel

    I know there aren’t a ton of options to help at defence, however that 7 mill forever is a pretty scary contract for a guy whose coming into the wrong side of 30. That could very quickly become an untradable anchor.

    • ubermiguel

      It’s not an ideal contract but we’re going to have to overpay on the UFA market too. I’ll take Phaneuf as an anchor versus Gagner or Horcoff (who MacT actaully managed to off-load). I’m just worried he’s lockerroom poision.

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

        That’s the elephant in the room for this organization. They just either can’t (incompetence), or refuse (ego), to MANAGE players. Their history over the last decade is one of an organization that refuses to manage players who get the least bit out of hand.

        Souray, Arnott, Brodziak, Pronger, Penner, Smid, etc. The minute a player poses a challenge to this management team…..out the door he goes…and for pennies on the dollar. BRUTAL management!

        It’s the complete opposite of the New England Patriots who can bring in mal-contents and problem players from other teams and manage them into compliance and stardom.

        In my opinion, it is the number one objective indication of a solid management team, the ability to make the most out of the cards you are dealt, that’s what MANAGEMENT means….it’s right their in the word MANAGEment!

        If you look at the great sports teams in history, most of them have this in common…the ability to get the most out of ALL their players, even the difficult ones.

        The crappy franchises of history are the ones that are the revolving doors of players and management.

        • Word to the Bird

          That strategy of getting troubled players also tends to bite back as well though. I don’t know how much you follow football but Aaron Hernandez was a star player who got in trouble when he played for the Patriots. Now he’s rotting in a jail cell taking up useful cap money. In short, it’s not as rosy as you think to take on troubled yet talented players but the payoff is definitely worth it.

        • Sorensenator

          No one is debating that the management here in Edmonton has been for the most part, brutal.

          I don’t know if I would compare management with an NFL team to that of a floundering NHL team, there are other good NHL teams to compare with.

  • ubermiguel

    The fact that you think we have a shot at any of these guys is ridiculous. The moment they find out they have been traded to the oil they’ll probably run to the KHL….

    Richards? Seriously, these guys wanna win the cup not the first overall pick


  • camdog

    If we make a noticeable trade this off season odds are Klefbomb or Marancin will be going back. So who do we move?

    Thumbs up we trade Klefbomb, thumbs down we trade Marancin. Curious what everybody else thinks?

  • Strange Tamer

    I don’t mind Staal at six million. He is 25, so just entering his prime and still young enough to be at a high level when the rest of the roster matures. Pencil him in for 45 points, 25 goals, penalty kill and tough assignments. Wins faceoffs, 6’4″, 225lbs. Basically everything we wish our 2nd line center did, and only 1.2 million more a year than Gagne. Heck Nuge now makes 6 million and he has never scored 20 goals, killed penalties, won faceoffs, been 6’4″ or 225lbs. He will be cheaper than Statsny. Good add if you ask me, especially if we draft Ekblad instead of one of the centers. He would fill a void and check off a lot of the boxes that we desperately need, not just now, but still few years from now. If your worried about term on the contract, by my math he would still only be 34 when the contract ends, an age that most good players are still contributing at a decent level.

    Neal would be nice too. The rest of the forwards on the list are on the downside of their careers and wouldn’t be worth assets unless you get them on the extreme cheap.

    Phanuef is interesting. He checks off a lot of need boxes too and would be our best defenseman. But he is slightly overpaid now, and due to his age and the term left, he will be extremely overpaid five years from now. Short term gain for long term pain ? If you could get him cheap now and then hire Glenn Sather to be our GM in a couple of years to dump that contract on someone else for a future stud, then I would do it.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Building through the draft doesn’t include trading players like Marincin for grouchy vets that don’t want to be here. If, at best, half of our high-end D prospects turn into actual players, trading one or more is just too risky until we are sure what we are trading away. Like LA, who were willing to deal Teubert but not Voynov or Muzzin, we have to be sure. And really, do we have to make any moves at all? I have been assured that the young guns will tear it up next year after spurning team Canada and spending the extra 3 weeks bombing those lats and traps in the gym.

  • geoilersgist

    Hey LT,

    Let’s say that the Oilers acquire both Phaneuf and Clarkson, then use their last compliance buyout on Clarkson. Is there anything in the rules to prevent the Clarkson compliance buyout? That compliance buyout would have value under this circumstance, and assuming Katz is ok spending the money.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Compliance buyouts ( 2 max per team, ones that don’t count against the cap) are only available last summer, along with this summer. That 2 yr window only for contracts registered before the last CBA. All others will have cap space consequences.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Not as much as I’d like. Who would keep heathens like Zarny and yourself in line?

        Unfortunately this is it for my “on the line” fun for today.

        Happy weekend all. You keep submitting, and i’ll keep correcting you guys. As time permits ofcourse.

  • oilbaron

    I see allot of different ways that this off season might unfold. I personally would like to see the poilers “overpay” for Paul Stastny, if he becomes available July 1. I know it would be a long shot but it would really bolster edmontons top 2 center positions. The only really crappy part about how the Off season works, is that the draft comes before free agency. If you look at it, the draft being after free agency, it would open up allot more options for all teams. but it isnt so i will move on….
    If we Draft Ekblad, then we would have a plethora of blue chip defensive prospects, Klefbom, Marincin, Nurse and Ekblad. Not all of these players will play for our organization and the longer that we hold onto them the lower the trade value fro them we could potentially see in the coming years. We (oilers managment)would then have to decide on which player to flip for either experienced defenceman to help mature and develope our younger defenceman or trade them for other needs, Bottom 6 type guys, with character who can help out offensivly and are not lost in their own end.
    If we end up drafting a center then this takes the team down an different path altogether. I personally would like to see whoever we draft be sent back to junior for another year and then bring them, up the year after to play 3rd line minutes…BUT if we do draft a center it would gives us a little more depth that we could then use to trade Sam Gagner+ for other needs.
    Now throw in the possability of aquiring Paul Stastny to play 1/2 C and this summer could shape up to be quite the change in direction for our beloved oilers.

    • Spoils

      i look at the Jack Johnson trade and I think we are OK holding on and developing all of our young D prospects because if we end up with some extra D they will make great trade bait.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Re moving Marincin for veteran help: hell yes.

    Marincin looks like a nice player, but he has the bad fortune of coming up at the same time as Nurse and Klefbom, who look like similar, but superior players.

    I’d do Marincin + for Phaneuf in a heartbeat.

    • I’ll take my thumbs down to say I would do that trade too. People think they are being wise to say “why mortgage the future..”. This isn’t a dumb thing to say, however, Phaneuf still has several good years. He is also an INVESTMENT in the future because he lets you shelter your young D like they should be. The Oilers could lose a pretty good D man in Marincin, for sure, but they are getting back several years of an already quite good one in return. No maybes here.

      I don’t think Marincin is necessarily inferior to nurse or Klefbom.. Just saying I’d give up one of the young D to land a big minute guy. It may need to be done.

      If Marincin, Klefbom or Nurse can be the big piece that gets this team a #1 D or big 2 way c, I welcome it.

      • ubermiguel

        Yeah, I don’t get people giving the thumbs-down on that move. Maybe Oilers fans really do over-value potential. Phaneuf is not perfect, but he’s a proven NHL player and would immediately be our best D-man.

        Ideally if he came here it would be with the understanding that he is not expected to be a leader, just play hockey and stay out of trouble. I don’t think he’s got the personality to be leader, he might appreciate just playing hockey.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I really think buying James Neal would be a really good choice, Neal, Richards and Phaneuf would be 3 players i would love to see joining us! 🙂

  • Lowetide

    first things first . I think oilers going to deal Yakupov to Florida for first round flip of picks with Florida and hopefully we also get a second or 3rd rounder in the deal somehow . I believe we will draft Ekblad with that pick . That should free up one of our other young defencemen for a further trade . Avoid long term diminishing contracts . spezza has only one year left and if it does not work out can be dealt at a reasonable turn . Neal’s contract length not to bad as is Umberger’s . do not care for Umberger , however .

    I see on hockey buzz , Flames contemplating an offer sheet for O’Reilly from Colorado . Should we not be targeting him as well ?

    • Zarny

      Move yak to move up 2 spots? Maybe if There was a clear cut No.1 pick, but there is not. Any of the top 5 prospects in this draft could go first overall. You are getting a good player regardless. Ludacris.

    • You essentially want to trade Yak to move up two spots in the draft, when there is no consensus No 1? Ekblad might be there at 3. No one knows. You are mad. And prob a little off your rocker. And if you think a second rounder evens it up your also crazy.

    • Garth, is that you?

      You want to give up the #3 pick plus a #1 overall player 2 years into his career for a two spot climb in the draft and a 2nd or 3rd scratch ticket? Are you insane?

      • Spoils

        If your talking about the next Pronger , as some feel Ekblad will be , then that is reasonable , if not small compensation to obtain that pick would you not agree ? Depends on what value you feel Ekblad would be . On the flip side , would you as Florida make that deal with just Yakupov and our third pick ? I’m not 100% sold Yak or Oilers copacetic with one another , maybe you are .

        • I get you now. But the problem is you and I don’t know if Ekblad is the next Pronger (probably isn’t, because even the scouts aren’t saying that right now) and we also don’t know yakupov I’d a bust. I actually don’t think he is at all. I would definitely move him, but that would be the wrong deal.

          I think Florida would do it if they didn’t have a major need for defense. Because of that.. Well, less of a guarantee but I think they still would jump at that.

          • Zarny

            Remember R.Murray whom we passed up to go after Yak ? How unanimous was that decision ? Is Ekblad not probably better than him coming out of Junior ? We went for defence last year , and I believe we will try same this year with MacT. in charge , and not TAMs . Time to build from backend ? Just where does Yak fit in on top 3 , seems like the odd man out .

            I will not be surprised if this swap takes place .

          • Randaman

            The only way I make this type of deal is if we retain #3 and get Florida’s pick as well. Yak, Gagner & ?? Would be a no brainier to have the opportunity to draft Bennett #1 and take Ekblad or Drasssaiti #3. If Ekblad is your man then Marcinin or Klefbom become expendable but keeping the #3 pick is nonnegotiable.

          • oilbaron

            Ekblad has been touted as a Pronger type and is the best defenceman to come out of the draft since Pronger by some . If so , then he might be well worth getting .If we had first do you honestly think we would draft Draisaitl or the other two forwards ? I very much doubt it .

    • ubermiguel

      Hell no to the top part!

      Flames won’t make an offer sheet with Burke as president; Burke hates offer sheets.

      Also, you should know not to trust anything on hockeybuzz.

      • v4ance

        Oilers Trade Rumours site also has an article from Duffy saying Oilers tried several time during year to deal Yak , but were unsuccessful . Not just hockeybuzz .

    • Lowetide

      The buyouts the elapse (as I understand it) are the ones that don’t count against the cap. Buyouts will continue as they had in previous CBA, but there will be a drag on cap yearly moving forward.

      • This is right, only the compliance buyout are done this year (end of summer apparently as qsb mentioned) . Regular buyout will still be an option (all be it generally not a good one for guys making that kind of cash)

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We should be mindful, that an amateur (Noah) built the ark. Experts built the Titanic.

    Oilers = Titanic, they do think of themselves as hockey experts, no?

    Zarny, Jason Spezza, 6’3″ and 225lbs. Would he be included in that exclusive feared behemoth club you mentioned?

    • We should be more mindful that the story of the Noah and the Arc is a made up fairy tale that didn’t actually happen, whereas the Titanic was real, was actually built, did actually sail, and wouldn’t have sunk had it not been sailed into an iceberg.

    • Death Metal Nightmare

      you do realize that hitting an iceberg probably isnt good for any ship regardless of who built it?

      the metaphor is trying to be far too clever.

      “we should be mindful, something something bad examples – I DISTRUST THE MANAGEMENT”

    • Zarny

      Yep, unlike Nuge or any other Oiler top 6 F Spezza would have no problems matching up with Getzlaf, Kopitar, Thornton and Backes.

      Definitely some risk though with only 1 year left before UFA.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Blessed are those who believe, yet have not seen. Every one of us, a fine example of that hope. We all have/required faith our heart will beat again and again/allow us this day, no?

        I do take issue with you calling our Oilers, not a real hockey club though…

        • BlazingSaitls

          I cant believe im even commenting on this tripe but the bible troll got me to bite again.

          There is no crying in baseball there is no bible in hockey.

          Players who win the cup dont mob the camera and thank Jesus for the Cup.

          Go comment on the NBA boards, MTV music awards boards, BET awards if you want your biblical thoughts stroked.

        • oilerjed

          That we are beings of a grand, all-knowing, invisible creator who has a grander master plan for us all OR the product of a million+ years worth of slow, naturally selected evolution in various environments?

          That the Oilers can succeed by keeping on a coaching staff who have been employed while the team has failed over and over and over OR replace them all with proven, NHL-calibre-and-experienced outsiders?

          Occam’s Razor, my friend.

  • ubermiguel

    I like Neal, Umburger and Hartnell but we don’t need wingers unless one’s going the other way. And Spezza will be too expensive as a 1 year rental.