Photo by: Brooke Novak, via Wikimedia Commons, creative commons license.
After watching Panthers' General Manager Dale Tallon gift Michael Frolik to the Chicago Blackhawks, the thought occurred to me that the Oilers should look to buy at the deadline, as long as the player and price is right. Instead of making the decision to trade Penner or Hemsky, why not go out and acquire a center for the two of them?
This post at Litter Box Cats talks about the possibility of Tallon moving Stephen Weiss at the deadline, and if Frolik's return is any indication, the Oilers should be asking about cost involved. Long-time readers may remember I made the same argument during the run up to the 2010 trade deadline, but with Tallon at the helm, things have changed. Weiss is still the tough minutes outscoring center who can win faceoffs, play in all three zones, kill penalties and play on the power play, but he's got a new General Manager and a new asking price.
Tallon was given credit for the Blackhawks wonderful run last season, but a closer look at that team shows Tallon's performance was nothing special. In fact, he was responsible for forcing the Blackhawks to blow up the team in the off-season.
Tallon's modus operandi in Florida has been to add size, speed and bulk, even at the expense of outscoring, tough-minutes players. The Oilers have the former in droves and lack the latter something fierce. If it's size he's after, the Oilers have over-sized prospects Ryan Martindale, Drew Czerwonka, Alex Plante, Cameron Abney, Ryan O`Marra and even Tyler Pitlick. They've got speedy NHL players in Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano and they should have extra draft picks after selling Ryan Jones, Kurtis Foster, Colin Fraser, and Jim Vandermeer.
Weiss has a cap hit of $3,100,000 for the next two years. His dirt cheap contract coincides with Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi's entry-level contracts. The only downside to this line is Weiss' no-trade clause - something the Oilers would have to overcome - maybe the Katz jet and full-court press will work this time - but aside from that, bringing Weiss in has zero downside.
Kevin Lowe's company line has the Oilers competing for a playoff spot in three years and contending for a title in six, but if Steve Tambellini wants to manage the club the right way, he'll find out what Tallon is looking for in return for Weiss and try like hell to find some common ground. A power vs. power line of Dustin Penner - Stephen Weiss - Ales Hemsky and the addition of a defense-first, penalty killing defenseman and a cheap UFA replacement for Nikolai Khabibulin accelerates the timeline by two seasons without damaging the salary structure or long-term plans of this team.
Weiss isn't the only player available. There are other teams looking to shed useful parts to create salary cap room and the Oilers should be sifting through the possibilities. Sitting back and waiting on the rebuild to come to fruition only increases the chances that the master plan ends up like those that have come before on Long Island, in Atlanta and Florida.