Lots of rumour and conjecture the past little while about who the Oilers should target in the off season and who should be moved to facilitate that. Last week’s 8-1 debacle against Calgary was the first real opportunity to openly criticize the team’s best player Taylor Hall and what could be had if he was offered up on the open market. Can Taylor Hall be traded? Yes. Will he be traded? No. Will somebody else get traded? Yes. Will we get Shea Weber in return? No. Are you still a virgin? Probably.
Fans of teams tend to overvalue their own players. If you don’t believe me go check out any Leafs site out there and read about all the Reimer + Gardiner for random superstar trade proposals being thrown around. Same thing goes in Edmonton, especially when it comes to Sam Gagner. Oilers fans see the positive when offering him in a trade and see the negative when discussion comes back around to keeping him on the roster. The truth is he is a smallish skill centre with no defensive acumen whatsoever, but can put up points in a hurry in the right situation. At 24 years old, he is exactly the type of player that would benefit from a change in scenery. Another GM might look at the fine play of Ales Hemsky and come to the conclusion that this is a good player stuck in a bad situation as well. The only real play here for the Oilers is to bundle up a bunch of nice pieces with Gags for one bigger piece. Gagner is going to be in play as is just about everyone else on this roster save Hall, RNH and Darnell Nurse.
It’s always fun to throw out fantasy proposals and scenarios from the comfort of your own home. I would enjoy it even more if I didn’t have this overweight cat sitting on my keyboard every 5 goddamn minutes so that I could actually type some trades up. Anyways my wish list is below. I’ve excluded Shea Weber since I don’t see it happening and there are tons of other pundits fantasizing about him anyways. The guys below are slightly more reasonable and can all make significant contributions to help move this team forward. With over $33M in cap space, the Oilers can afford to take on additional salary to help facilitate a trade.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson / Keith Yandle
OEL is clearly the better of these two, so it will come down to price. OEL will cost Eberle and a high end prospect (Kelfbom) at least. Add a prospect, pick or roster player and that could get it done. Yandle won’t cost as much, simply cause he is not as good a player and is having a rough season. Regardless, he would instantly become the top Dman on this team. I suppose a package surrounding Gagner could be enough to start talks. Gagner + pick and prospect could do it. Phoenix is deep in defenseman and are lacking up any semblance of offense up front. Looks like a solid trade partner. Once July 1st hist, Gagner’s NTC kicks in. I think Gags would waive his NTC to go to Arizona cause everyone knows that ASU has the best wet t-shirt contests in the country. I’m scrolling through Craiglist right now seeing if there are any jobs I can get out there just so I can see this wondrous spectacle in person. Damn economy.
Myers name has been bouncing around for quite a while. He doesn’t solve any immediate problems as he is not quite a top pairing guy yet, but soon will be. The rumour du jour out there is that if the Oilers are willing to trade their top pick this year straight up the deal would be done. Unless that pick is outside the top 5, I don’t see it happening. Like Phoenix, Buffalo has an embarrassment of riches on the back end in players and prospects. They need help up front. Gagner + Marincin+ pick for Myers doesn’t seem likely unless the Oilers agree to take back a bad contract like Ville Leino. His contract is going to be bought out anyways, so why not dump it to the Oilers and save the cash? That might be the sweetener that other teams can’t offer.
Wayne Simmonds / Braydon Coburn / Sean Couturier / Brayden Schenn
This is where things get tricky. As much as Aaron Ekblad is precisely what the team needs, he’s still only 18 and the Oil are in need of immediate help. The closer you get to the draft, the more hype goes into the player as the second coming of Jesus and someone will make a ridiculous offer. My bet is on Paul Holmgren. The opportunity to select Ekblad would be a huge coup for Philly and at the same time the Oil can fill in some huge holes in major positions. The number 2 pick + Petry could secure Simmonds & Coburn. Expand the deal to include Eberle or Perron and Couturier or Schenn would easily fill in the 2nd line centre spot. One can hope.
This makes too much sense. Winnipeg is in desperate need of a goalie and a centre. Gagner can check one of those boxes. The Jets are also ridiculously loaded on the blue line. With Byfuglien, Enstrom and Trouba in the fold they can afford to trade Bogo. Again, Gagner + +.
My projected top 6 forwards and D for next year if all goes according to plan:
Hall RNH Yakupov
?? Schenn Simmonds
Coburn J. Schultz
Ference Marincin / Kelfbom / Nurse. (Whichever is left)
The last thing I really want to add to this team is a true bad ass captain. Someone in the mold of Weber, Backes, Chara or Iginla. Someone who instills fear and commands respect, but can back it up on the ice as well. As much as Ference is a nice guy, he isn’t talented enough to fill in the on ice pre-requisite of this position. If there is a chance to grab a true, veteran leader who can back up his tough talk with his play, that should be a primary target for the Oil this offseason.
This has been my second article since coming back off the disabled list with a broken wrist. It’s been fun to participate in regular activities again like throwing a football, playing a video game, or even high fiving someone now that I have use of both my arms. But today was a special treat. I stopped at the grocery store and found this gem. Once I got home, I locked my cat in the bathroom and shut off my phone for 6 hours. Greatest day of my life.