Oilers at the Deadline : Who is in Play?


With the Oilers realistically out of the playoff picture, it’s that annual time of year where we get to look at who just might be shipped off to greener pastures come the trade deadline which looms ever closer. There will be no fire-sale, but the Oilers certainly might look to ship off a few pieces if the price is right. The trouble being, when you’re a bottom five team with a serious lack of depth, there isn’t really much you’ll be able to part with. And of course, there are players you don’t want to part with.

The Oilers haven’t racked up high draft picks just to trade them away a year later. Of course, there is no such thing as “never” but the overpayment would have to be massive to pry the likes of Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins away from the Oilers. Two other players that can also be considered part of this category due to circumstances with the roster are Tom Gilbert and Ladislav Smid (No need to make a bad defence worse by moving these two).

So who might be in play? Find out after the jump.

We’ll work from the goal line out. Our first nominee?

Nikolai Khabibulin

2011-2012 Stats:  30GP 11-14-4 69GA 840SA 2.45GAA .918% 2SO
Contract Status: Year 3 of 4 Year Deal (Cap Hit $3,750,000, remains if he retires early.)
Age: 39

As a full disclaimer, I don’t think it’s likely the Khabby is moved, or that there is much interest in 39 year old goaltenders with a history of back problems. There are a couple of playoff teams however with questionable goaltending and might feel the need to bring in some help. (For example there are only 4 teams that have given up more goals that Chicago, and only Ottawa is the other playoff team to do so.)

The biggest non-starter in this deal though is the cap hit. If you trade for Khabby, that 3.75 is staying on your books until free agency in 2013. I wouldn’t completely discount it from happening, but I highly doubt any team pulls the trigger unless they are truly desperate. As for the Oilers side in it, Dubnyk needs to be given the majority of the workload for the rest of the year, so the Oilers can gauge just what they need to do in the crease in the upcoming season.

Andy Sutton

2011-2012 Stats: 31GP 3G 6A 9P +4 56 PIM 54 HITS
Contract Status: Final Year (Cap Hit $2,125,000) UFA On July 1st
Age: 36 (Will Turn 37 on March 10)

I’ll admit at the beginning of this year I didn’t think Andy Sutton would do much more than be a bigger meaner version of Theo Peckham. And while is play has not been stellar, and he’s apt to take bad penalties, he’s proven to be reliable in small, managed minutes and has been a much needed source of aggression on a team that has developed a reputation of being soft. This has come at the price of being suspended for a whopping 13 games for a couple of headshots. Physical play can change the tides of playoff games, and Andy can certainly bring that to any playoff team looking for a edge, that has a spot open on the 3rd pairing.

His cap hit won’t disagree with most teams, and he comes off the books after this season. What might cause some teams to pause however, is what kind of suspension he’ll get if he decides that he needs to leap at the head of another player. Even in the suspension lenient playoffs, a third suspension in one season is likely to be met with a swift blow by the Shanahammer. The Oilers might be hesitant to offload Sutton when the blueline has been paper thin all year, but at 36 (soon 37) years of age, Sutton isn’t in the plans for the Oilers future.

Sam Gagner

2011-2012 Stats: 43GP 5G 17A 22P -4 6.25 S%
After Last Night? 44GP 9G 21A 30P +2 10.47 S% (Ridiculous.)
Contract Status: Final Year (Cap Hit $2,275,000) RFA on July 1st.
Age: 22 (Will Turn 23 on August 10)

Stop throwing stuff at your monitor right now. I mean it. I’m in no way advocating trading Sam Gagner, I think he’s proven himself to be capable as a second line center, and certainly has leadership material; struggling earlier in the year, he dropped the gloves twice in order to give the team and himself a spark. I haven’t always been a Gagner fan, and earlier this year I questioned if he was getting lost in the rebuild. Not so anymore, he’s been better as the season progressed, and gave all Oiler fans a night to remember last night. That being said, his newly found trade value could bring some significant return the Oilers, but it would have to be a hell of a deal.

Ales Hemsky

2011-2012 Stats: 38GP 4G 16A 20P -11 6.06 S%
Contract Status: Final Year (Cap Hit $4,100,000) UFA on July 1st.
Age: 28 (Will Turn 29 on August 13)

Most likely to get moved at the deadline? Certainly. You would have to imagine, that if given the choice between which forward to trade, the Oilers would prefer to move Hemsky and keep Gagner. Coming off of two injury plagued seasons and putting up disappointing numbers though, it’s hard to imagine that Hemsky’s stock is as good as it once was. With Hemsky telling Jason Gregor this afternoon that the team had not yet opened up dialogue for a contract extension, it appears the team and the Czech playmaker are due to part ways. While I can’t defend his play this year, Hemsky has been an embassador for the city, made it clear he’d prefer to stay, and has been one of the better right-wingers in the league in terms of PPG since the lockout (.88). There’s still room for him in the top six behind Eberle on the wing. But if a deal can’t be done before the deadline, get something for him. His value has declined but packaged up with a prospect and a pick, just might land us that blueliner to bolster our back end.

Who stays? Who goes? Who knows? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

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