UPDATE: OILERS PLACE SHELDON SOURAY ON RE-ENTRY WAIVERS. HIS CAP HIT IS $2.7M. Teams have 48 hours to pick up Souray’s rights, since it’s the weekend. s
Steve Tambellini could be the most popular dance partner at this year’s NHL trade soiree – or he could be a wall flower!
The Edmonton Oilers’ GM is sitting pretty 10 days away from the league’s Feb. 28 trade day. Second last in the league and with his team one year into a full tear-it-down rebuild, Tambellini seemingly has a plan, that could see him doe-see-doe with other GMs on Feb. 28.
The Edmonton GM has acknowledged that his cell is fully charged, as general managers from across the league begin to inquire about the likes of Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky.
Would Tambo even consider pulling the trigger on Hemmer and/or PenzOil? Sure he would, if it made his team bigger, meaner and more talented on the blue line or up front in his top six.
To be clear, Tambellini is under no pressure to do a mid-season deal. The clock, however, is ticking, and an alarm could go off if he doesn’t improve his teams’ overall size and talent along his blue line by July 1. If it’s painfully clear to its fans, surely Tambellini has come to the same conclusion – the Oilers are the NHL’s playground pip-squeaks, filled with game and courage, but too few decisions to boast about. On most nights, the Oilers, as a team, has to collectively skate its tail off to even have a chance, as bigger, tougher teams, simply bully them off the puck, or simply box them out, forcing most of their shots to come from the perimeter.
Edmonton’s power play is a measuring stick of just that; 0-29 prior to a pair of recent extra-man tallies, including one from the big man, Penner, who scored from the point!
So who might Tambellini be willing to deal in an attempt to beef up his roster?
Dustin Penner, RW: 20G 17A 37PTS -8 +/-
With another year left at $4.25M, Penner would be a solid second-line acquisition on a team with a deep roster. Count on him for 20-25-goals. Penner publicly stated that he wants to stay in Edmonton, as he’s excited about the rebuild underway. The Manitoba native will likely remain in E-town, unless an established player and pick are dangled in front of Tambellini.
Ales Hemsky, RW: 12G 25A 37PTS 2+/-
With so many teams in the hunt to either make a run or simply make the playoffs this year, Hemsky will be a highly sought-after offensive commodity. The knock on Ales since coming to Edmonton has always been his reluctance to shoot the puck – and his body’s reluctance to stay healthy! That said, Hemmer has quietly become one of the league’s elite set-up men, who would be a key piece to any team’s post-season power play. A change of scenery could breathe new life into Hemsky, making him a more consistent high-light reel forward. Tambellini would be looking for a substantial return for Hemsky, either a 2011 top-10 draft pick, plus, or a solid roster player and lower draft pick, to part with what could be a key part of the Oilers’ 2011-12 campaign. Hemsky has one year left at $4.1M.
Andrew Cogliano, C: 9G 15A 24PTS -7+/-
Previously part of one trade that eventually fell through (Heatley deal), Cogliano is all too aware his days in copper and blue silks could be limited. And at $1M, the speedy centre could be an excellent fit for many teams up against the cap, looking for a solid special teams performer heading down the stretch. If the price is right, Cogliano could very well be part of a multi-player deal come Feb. 28. His size and compete level in the face-off circle are key disadvantages to this player.
Gilbert Brule, LW: 6G 2A 8PTS -7 +/-
On the injured reserve for most of the 2010-11 campaign with one illness or another, interest in Brule will likely be quite low throughout the league right now. Nonetheless, the scrappy third-line centre is expected to make his return to the Oilers’ line-up sometime over the next few games. It’s even more likely to happy, as Tambellini attempts to showcase the underachieving forward, in an effort to ship his sorry ass out of town. The waiver wire, for my money, is more likely.
Jim Vandermeer: 1G 8A 9PTS 5 +/- 44PIMS
When healthy, Vandermeer has contributed some grit to an otherwise soft blueline (excluding the punishing play of up-and-coming D-man, Theo Peckham). At 30, Vandermeer could provide a team like Vancouver, whose blue line suddenly resembles a MASH unit, some much needed physicality behind the blue line. A UFA in his final year of a $2.3M contract, Vandermeer could be a clutch acquisition for a team looking to make a run.
Ladislav Smid: 0G 8A 8PTS -10 +/- 70PIMS
An RFA making $1.3M, Smid won’t be coveted for his scoring prowess, which is pretty much nonexistent, but rather for his take-no-prisoners approach to naïve opponents willing to get in his goalie’s kitchen. Once considered the key component coming back from Anaheim in the Chris Pronger trade, Smid has made strides to become a solid, every-day fourth or fifth D-man in Edmonton. However, he could become part of a package, if Tambellini is able to acquire a young, puck-moving stud.
Jason Strudwick: 0G 0A 0PTS -8 +/- 11PIMS
An oldie, but a goodie. At 35, the Edmonton-born blue liner is likely nearing the end of a respectable NHL career. Currently earning $725K, and a UFA at season’s-end, Strudwick could provide a play-off bound club some necessary depth for a long run in the post-season.
On possibility of trading Zach Bogosian: “People ask me that all the time. I say the same thing. Wayne Gretzky was traded. There are no untouchables that I know of. Certainly not in Atlanta. I’m not actively looking to trade Zach and I don’t expect to trade him.”
Jason Deslauriers, G: 8W 9L .900SV%
With Nikolai Khabibulin signed to a long-term deal in the 2010 off-season, and young Devan Dubnyk seemingly the future of the franchise, Jeff Deslauriers became the third man. As a result, Deslauriers has been toiling on the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons. Deslauriers has proven that he can play tough NHL minutes, as evidenced last season, during the Oilers putrid 2009-10 campaign. Deslaurier, at just over $1M, could be solid insurance for a team like the Red Wings looking to solidify its game between the pipes.
Plain and simple, the Oilers need to beef up. Edmonton is under-sized at most positions. They desperately need an injection of big, hard-nosed, skilled players from top to bottom, to enable them to compete over an intense 82-game regular-season schedule. Sadly, Edmonton has drafted and signed numerous players that share the same attributes; speed and skill with little will. Now, they must complement that skill with some size and grit; players that are willing to skate through the opponent and stand in front of the net. Like many GMS, Tambellini could be persuaded to trade one of his talented forwards – Hemsky, Cogliano, or possibly even diminutive centre Sam Gagner – if a dance partner is willing to part future in the form of a big, young, centre or blue liner with potential up the wazoo.
Brad Boyes, C, St. Louis
Brayden Schenn, C, Los Angeles
Devon Setoguchi, RW, San Jose
Dainius Zubrus, C, New Jersey
Radim Vrbata, RW, Phoenix
Andrei Kostitsyn, C, Montreal
Erik Johnson, D, St. Louis
Zach Bogosian, D, Atlanta
Joni Pitkanen, D, Carolina
Mike Komisarek, D, Toronto
Sergei Gonchar, D, Ottawa
In the meantime Oiler fans, chins up…sticks down!
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.