Oilers & Sabres are Trade Partners: Hemsky for Stafford?

If you follow Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal on Twitter, then by now you already know that the trade front surrounding the Edmonton Oilers is quiet; at least for now.

Matheson tweeted the update on Friday but went on to mention that he still believes the Oilers will try and strike a deal with the Buffalo Sabres that would include forward Drew Stafford coming to Edmonton.

An interesting statement that makes one wonder if this is a legitimate possibility or a hockey reporter/insider’s best attempt to try and fire up the old hot stove when things are cold on the rumor front.

David Staples of the Journal takes it one step further by suggesting that the Oilers should dangle Ales Hemsky in front of Buffalo in hopes of acquiring Stafford.

Staples goes on to justify his reasoning for suggesting the swap and after re-reading the article, it makes sense.  Buffalo traded away Jason Pominville at the trade deadline and could use the speed and skill of Hemsky.

It’s no secret that it’s highly unlikely to see Hemsky in an Oilers’ uniform next season.  Whether it be a trade or a compliance buyout, number 83 has likely scored his last highlight reel goal in Edmonton.

With one-year left on his deal, parting ways with Hemsky in one way or the other will alleviate the Oilers of $5 million against their salary cap.  That’s a fair chunk of change to allocate elsewhere in an attempt to bolster the Oilers roster and Stafford would be a reasonable solution.

Stafford has two-years left on his deal that will pay him $4 million per season.  In addition to the small decrease in paycheck when comparing him to Hemsky, Stafford brings some size and grit to an Oilers lineup that is lacking just and not mention he’s two years younger.

Staples captures the fact that Stafford struggled last season, scoring just 6 goals and adding 12 assists in 46 games for the Sabres.  Prior to this season, he came off back-to-back years where he scored 31 goals in 2010-11 and 20 times in 2011-12.  In total for his career, he has 120 goals over seven seasons, giving him an average of 17 snipes per year.

At 6’2″ and backed by 214 pounds, Stafford possesses the type of frame the Oilers need to insert on a nightly basis.  He could take Hemsky’s spot on the second line right wing, and while it’d be a downgrade in speed and possibly offensive ability, he’d more than make up for the physical aspect of the game.  That in itself will create scoring chances for him and his line mates.

Another interesting point that Staples brings up is comparing the two on the powerplay.  Hemsky is a whiz with the puck and quite often leads the league in shots not taken, creating frustration and anxiety amongst Oilers’ fans everywhere.

Meanwhile, as Staples mentions, Stafford could be used as the big bodied screen in front of the opposing netminder when the Oilers have the man advantage, a key element they lost when Teemu Hartikainen bolted for the KHL.

Suddenly both players have their pros and cons about them.  Maybe a change of scenery for both players would do them good and re-ignite their careers.  Sometimes a trade is worth making if it means shaking things up and by parting ways with long-time Oiler Ales Hemsky, MacTavish would be doing just that.

To agree with Staples, this trade scenario “sounds like a reasonable deal.”  Let’s see if Matheson is right on his thought process.

For more news and analysis on the Edmonton Oilers, follow us on Twitter @OilonWhyte.

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Tags: Ales Hemsky Buffalo Sabres Drew Stafford Edmonton Oilers

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