Craig MacTavish2

Garage sales are terrific for buyers with a sharp eye for a bargain and the ability to sort through junk that’s destined for the landfill and find something useful for pennies on the dollar.

They’re not so great for sellers for the same reason – you bundle up a bunch of stuff you thought you wanted or needed and paid perfectly good money for not so long ago, throw it out on tables beside the family Buick and grind away trying to recoup as much money as you can.

Something, say a dime on the dollar, is probably better than nothing for the home haircut kit or Zamfir Pan Flute CD collection the little woman bought on the Home Shopping Channel, but a loss is a loss is a loss.

The way I see it, this off-season is shaping up much like that for Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, who is going to have to sell-off players at less than 100 cents on the dollar if he wants to gather the pieces he needs to fill-in holes on his roster and re-shape his hockey team.



With a 28th-place finish in the books, the Oilers out of the playoffs for an eighth straight season and fans rightfully expecting significant improvement moving forward, it does not take a vast intellect to understand MacTavish is not dealing from a position of strength.

So, what does MacTavish have to offer? Everybody, it seems, wants Sam Gagner gone. I get that. Some fans are of the mind they’re willing to take a chance and part with Nail Yakupov if he’ll land MacTavish what he needs. I get that, somewhat reluctantly, as well.

That said, what is Gagner, who is coming off a season in which he struggled mightily to recover from a broken jaw and produced 10-27-37 in 67 games, going to get MacTavish in return? A whole lot of next-to-nothing, that’s what.

Nail Yakupov

What about Yakupov, 20, who finished the 2012-13 season red-hot but went ice-cold under Dallas Eakins, managing just 11-13-24 in 63 games before an ankle injury put him out? Is there any way at all MacTavish gets anything resembling fair value for Yakupov now? No.



Let’s forget the bargain table for a second and look at the primo stuff behind the counter. Is MacTavish willing to part with any of the pieces of his core – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle or maybe David Perron – to get what he needs? What’s the return for them? What about the third overall draft pick?

There isn’t a GM in the NHL with a functioning brain stem who doesn’t know MacTavish is in a bind. Even if he’s willing to move one of his core players or the draft pick to make a splash, and I’m not so sure he should, he’s not going to get fair value. While there are a handful of have-not GMs in the same boat as MacTavish, most have considerably more leverage.

How about a package deal? Maybe, but MacTavish can’t offer up a bunch of junk – hey, how about a five-for-one deal for a top-two defenseman? – and expect to get anything of significance in return. No chance. No way.

So, barring the possibility of finding a gem or two via free agency in a thin crop of UFAs this summer — and overpaying for them — how does MacTavish significantly re-shape this team between now and training camp without getting fleeced by a savvy buyer?
He doesn’t.

Pennies on the dollar. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Spoils

    I really don’t like the notion that we should be taking pennies on the dollar.

    First off – Edmonton is a city of real hockey fans. This advantage means we can wait for good deals because we have and will continue to financially support the team through this horrible rebuild. This is pretty much the biggest asset we have as an organization – our fans.

    Second off – our D is going to win us our next cup. We are slated to have 4 great D men in about 5 years – Nurse – Klefbom – Schultz – Ekblad/NewDStud. Add Marincin and Petry as the bottom 2 and you have a good scene. In 5 years Hall will still be peaking at 27.

    Management needs to focus on creating a team that has all the right pieces at their best in that time frame. There are a ton of holes to fill and improvements to make, but no need to take pennies on the dollar right now.

    Don’t lose the plot here guys.

    • “I really don’t like the notion that we should be taking pennies on the dollar.”

      Nobody is saying they “should.” The reality is, though, they will likely have to unless they uncover a free agent or two or take back a bad contract for Gagner.

  • Jofa

    Patience. Gagner may go for pennies on the dollar but why not hang out a little longer and try to at least get a few more pennies.

    MacT has to make Gagner agree to extend his no-trade past July 1. Sam is a good man, I don’t think this will be an issue, if things are going bad then he will want out.

    Go into the season with Arco as the number 2 centre, not ideal but he does deserve a chance. Gagner then to the wing (to hide his defensive issues), hopefuly he nets a few then can get traded from a better bargining position (its amazing what a few goals can do to one’s trade value and Sam can score in bunches). Honestly both he and Yak could be hotly sought after by November.

    If ten games in and he still is struggling then move him for pennies to a team who is having a rough start and is equally desparate.

    GM’ing = asset management, salesmenship and poker. Don’t sell low, don’t undervalue and don’t fold yet Mac T.

  • pkam

    The only way I consider keeping Sam is if he is a third line Rt wing.There has to be size with him because he is not coming out of any corners with the puck. If he is back and playing center we are back in the lottery. Personally I feel he should get a chance on another team. Take whatever you can get. Addition by subtraction.

  • ThatGuy109

    If we dress the same top 6, we finish bottom 5… again.

    It’s not ideal to move Gagner for the lesser player but seeing how aggressive Mac T was with Clarkson (thankfully we didn’t land him), I am confident he will sign at least one decent guy. If we can land Grabovski and Kulemin, who are rumored to want to play with eachother again, that would be ideal. A long shot of course, but ideal.

    Gagner to Columbus for RJ Umberger may make sense. Bad contract for bad contract. We get bigger too.

    Now you have:

    Hall Nuge Eberle

    Kulemin Grabo Yakupov

    Umberger Arco Perron

    Winnik Gordon Hendricks

    • PlayDirty

      I’m curious to know where you heard that the Canucks couldn’t get anything for Kesler. They clearly weren’t offered what they wanted but that doesn’t they couldn’t get anything for him. No need to exaggerate to make him sound worse than he is.

  • pkam

    I for one(there might be another one out there too) think Gagner will come to table next year in the same, if not better, form he was at during the lockout season. It was a jinxed year for him from the get go. Hopefully consistency with coaching will help his defensive game.

  • BigE91

    I believe MacT will probably move a piece or two to get something the team needs it’s just a matter of who? He has a lot to consider & part of that will be what happened to the team when changes such as the goaltenders, Hendricks, when Marincin arrived. These were all positive changes. How much will the maturation process positively affect Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Schultz & especially Yak? From mid-season on saw arrows starting to trend in the right direction & it’s very important that MacT sorts all this out & keeps making good calls.

  • These additions make the Oil a better team:

    Ken Hitchcock
    Ray Ferraro
    Steve Ott
    Dave Bolland
    Wayne Simmonds
    Derek Engelland
    James Wizniewski
    Dion Phaneuf
    Artem Anisimov

    These deletions make the Oil an Unbelievable team:

    Dallas Eakins
    Kelly Buchberger
    Steve Smith
    Kevin Lowe
    Sam “Froddo Baggins” Gagner
    Nail Yakupov
    Ryan Jones
    Jesse Jonsuu
    Marc Arcobello
    2014 1st
    2015 1st

    MacT, put your glasses on and do it.

  • If we could get a 2C centre via UFA (not necessarily a Paul Stastny). We could move Gagner to Right wing and hopefully see if he would have more success (He had lots of success his first year on the wing)

    Our right side would be Ebs, Yak and Gags. There is good talent that could move up and down the lineup depending on how people do.

    The Centre we draft could then play 3/4 minutes or sent to Jr’s if Archobello continues to play well.

      • 2004Z06

        While it may be true, it probably puts Gagner in a place where he can succeed. Centre is not the position that Gagner should play.

        And then as Lowetide stated in an earlier article, we need to add…

        1) 2C centre
        2) Gritty LW whop can play 2/3 line*

        * That could also be the RW position if Yak moves to the Left side.

  • bazmagoo

    I believe Sam is a goner, Sam has found his form after 7 years he is at his best. That is all he is, and that is all his value is. Let us please stop making excuses for him and move on. next

      • ThatGuy109

        Sam’s broken jaw did not make him back check any worse than he did in previous years (7 by the way – 1 with a plus rating) And not any better so “Let us please stop making excuses for him and move on”. He will always be a liability in our end. If he scored 80 points and gave up 120 against, we are in trouble.

  • Dan 1919

    If the much needed top 2 Dman trade doesn’t surface, the next best bet will be to overpay or offer a three year contract to an old aged d-man. There’s a long list of old NHL d-men like Boyle that we could probably get if we offer extra term. If we can’t land a couple top guys like everyone knows we need, one or two veteran guys in the mix will still be better than last year’s all AHL d-crop.

  • Sean17

    Can we sell Eakins for pennies on the dollar?

    It seems everyone aside from Hall went ice-cold under Eakins, and even Hall didn’t match his points-per-game from last year.

  • Sean17

    I for one believe Sam will be here at the beginning of the year with something to prove. We need centers, and if we draft the Big Germ and go into the season with Nuge and Germ in the 1 and 2 pivots, we may be wishing we had Snowpants. Frankly would love to see some depth.

    • Dan 1919

      As much as I hate to say it, I agree. Gagner’s value is at an all-time low and if all we will get for him is a third or fourth liner we might as well keep him and hope for a rebound year. If last year’s slump continues throw him in the pressbox until a trade comes up and put Arco on the ice. Not much to lose at this point.

      Then like you say, maybe we end up with some depth in center if we draft a 2C this year and Gagner finds the form he had at the end of the 2012/13 season.

  • A-Mc

    I thought taking pennies on the dollar WAS getting fleeced by a savvy buyer? I’m confused.

    I’m of the mind that the team is not changing much at all. The most significant addition to the roster next year will be a combination of Klefbom/Nurse joining the team and Our #3 overall Centerman.

    Note: i didnt say that i think they SHOULD be on the team.. I’m saying that i think that’s what is going to happen and those changes are going to be the most significant (for better or worse).

    I dont anticipate much happening this summer unless someone over at PHI head quarters is about to have a meltdown emotionally and intellectually.