Kevin Lowe was named General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers in the summer of 2000. He inherited a team that had squeaked into the playoffs and lost in 5 games to Dallas. He allowed a number of veterans to leave (Alexander Selivanov, Boyd Devereaux, German Titov, Jim Dowd, and Bert Robertsson). He also made one trade, with Mike Milbury's New York Islanders, which went as follows:
Roman Hamrlik to NYI for Eric Brewer, Josh Green and a 2nd round pick (Brad Winchester)
Milbury really deserves the ridicule he's recieved over the years for a lot of trades that look like this. I don't say this because the 3-for-1 trade is a bad thing, but because it's the kind of trade a contending team should make. A rebuilding squad doesn't get ahead by shipping off a 22-yr old forward (2nd round pick) who's 6'-3" and just scored 12 goals in his first full season, a 21-yr old top-5 pick defenceman who played 61 games as a 19-yr old, and a 2nd round pick for an in his prime offensive defenceman.
This is also the kind of trade that's really defined Lowe's tenure with the Oilers. Hamrlik, Guerin, Weight, Niinimaa, Pronger (2), Smyth, and so on. With the exception of the 05-06 team, Lowe has consistently sold high for multiple assets. I think this is relevant at this point in time because it's the kind of trade I expect to see again. Past performance is the best indicator of future results, and although this edition of the Oilers looks primed for an 08-09 playoff berth, it isn't yet a contending team. With that in mind, here are the most likely candidates for the feared 1-for-3 trade:
Horcoff, Pitkanen, Torres, Staios, Stoll.
Torres and Stoll likely don't possess enough value for a whole bunch of quality assets, so let's exclude them. Staios' price will probably never exceed what he would have brought in at the '08 Trade Deadline. That leaves Horcoff and Pitkanen.
Horcoff, an impending UFA, is coming off an injury-interrupted season where he certainly would have set his career best mark in goals, and likely also in points. It's his second excellent offensive campaign in three years. Additionally, the Oilers went on an incredible run after his injury, propelled by the Cogliano/Nilsson/Gagner line and the Brodziak/Glencross/Stortini line, along with a youthful defence corps. Keeping in mind that it only took 41 games of Mike Comrie for Lowe to send Weight out of town, this is very, very frightening. In Horcoff's favour are all the things that were in Ryan Smyth's favour- local hero, allegedly great in the room, coach's favourite, etc. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but there are a lot of indicators saying that Horcoff may not be an Oiler as early as this summer.
Pitkanen, an RFA this summer, is coming off his worst offensive season ever, and his 2nd injury-shortened season in three years. Nevertheless, he's remarkably talented, and as has been demonstrated elsewhere, the Oilers are markedly more successful with him in the lineup. However, comments on him have been mixed, his value is high, and despite mediocre to bad counting numbers, he's angling for a raise. Now, if someone were to offer Lowe 1) a young d-man, 2) a middling forward prospect, and 3) a decent (2nd-3rd round) pick, how would he respond? I think we'd see the Hamrlik trade all over again.