At this stage in the Edmonton Oilers rebuild, many are looking at what might have been. As fans and management alike scour lists of draft picks, free agents and trade partners, the inevitable realization that several NHL teams have our old players on them starts to emerge. Naturally, it is highly unlikely that the Edmonton Oilers will be able to reacquire any former talent. But that won’t stop the speculation. Sadly, the role players we need have all been handed away for draft picks and not a whole lot else.
In the last week alone, two major Edmonton Oilers bloggers have fueled debate on the merits of bringing back Magnus Paajarvi and Ales Hemsky to Edmonton. While there are some good ideas within a re-signing of Paajarvi, the notion of Ales Hemsky coming back to wear Oilers silks is not only unrealisitic, its purely wishful thinking.
Ales Hemsky has been attempting to re-up with the Ottawa Senators, and apparently is asking for salary in the same range as his last contract ($5.5 million). Ottawa—understandably—is balking. Ales Hemsky has lots of life left in him, hockeywise. It would behoove him to lower his asking price and go for term instead. I would sign him to a 4 year/$14 million deal in a heartbeat if I were a GM looking for offence. Will he? Hard to say. But, after all of the negativity in Edmonton, Hemsky has earned his chance at testing the waters and that is exactly what he will do. Should the shocking conclusion to that saga be Hemsky unsigned, yeah, then maybe look at bringing him back at a discount.
Unfortunately, its too late to wonder about what we should do to bring former Oilers back. Even my well-versed colleague here at Oil on Whyte, Kurt Leavins, agrees with bringing back Matt Greene. Others still drool at the the thought of Jarret Stoll as our 3rd line center, while the unsigned Dustin Penner has even entered the debate as a possible returnee.
While a fellow like Paajarvi is worth considering as a player we’d like back, I would guess that management in St. Louis isn’t in the mood to hear the boos that would ensue if St. Louis essentially gave us back the young Swede. The Oilers already won that trade, but getting Paajarvi back would be a fleecing of the first order with David Perron as the return.
Fans, don’t look for Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Brodziak or any other Oilers castoffs for any hope. They are staying put. The Oilers organization is suffering from some poor management decisions, bad trades and sub-par drafting. One does get the sense that the ship is being righted, but regardless of that fact, it still is frustrating to see that we could have retained role players that would have been perfect support for our dandy draft picks.
There is a prevailing sentiment that the Oilers also don’t have enough assets to get players from other organizations that they need here via trade. The top 6 is viewed as virtually untouchable by GM Craig MacTavish. What does that leave for swap fodder? Not much outside of Sam Gagner. Boyd Gordon is staying, and Luke Gazdic isn’t commanding too much on the open market these days. But, the Oilers have high draft positioning, and it wouldn’t be too crazy to assume they will draft in the top 15 next season too. If a deal can be made, it should be. The Oilers need IMMEDIATE help in defense and down the middle.
The stark reality is that the Oilers will likely need another year of transition to cobble together the necessary line up. There is no use in wondering whether Dean Lomabrdi will trade us our old players back, or whether Cogliano misses playing XBOX enough with Sam Gagner to return here. We simply need to have faith the Oilers will sell the future here properly. Don’t sell the river valley and the mall, sell the Stanley Cup, sell the market and most of all, sell the incredible fans.