It's finally arrived. The trade deadline is here, and the Oilers are sellers once again. Last season, we saw several quality defenders moved along for futures. Steve Staios has missed a good chunk of this season with injuries, but has provided the Calgary Flames with really solid defense from the third pairing when he's been in the lineup. The Oilers have a third round pick this June as his bounty. Lubomir Visnovsky was shuffled off to Anaheim where he's having an absolutely tremendous season taking on the toughs and starting in the defensive zone alongside partner Toni Lydman. The wonderful talent was traded for the now-injured Ryan Whitney and the pick that become Brandon Davidson. Finally Denis Grebeshkov was shuffled off to Nashville in exchange for a second round pick because the Oilers didn't want to give him a qualifying offer. The pick became solid prospect Curtis Hamilton, but Grebeshkov hasn't exactly fallen off the map despite moving to the KHL. He lead SKA defenders in the regular season in points (17 in 54 games) and +/- (his +18 actually lead the whole team) while playing over twenty minutes per game, and helped the club to a four-game sweep in the opening round of the playoffs.
Rebuilding is hard as a fan. Steve Tambellini was widely praised for his work at last year's deadline, and it's not hard to see why. Staios was declining and had another year on his contract, so it was a win to get anything for him. Visnovsky was a magnificent player, but was 33 years old at the time of the trade, and Ryan Whitney is no slouch if he can stay healthy. Finally, if the Oilers had already decided that Grebeshkov wasn't going to be worth a qualifying offer (not a given in my opinion), netting a second round pick for him was the right thing to do. But in the end, there's no question this team was substantially worse this year because of those three moves, and it's very likely that whatever the team does today will make them worse for next season too. I understand that it's part of the plan, but my oh my, it isn't a lot of fun. After the jump, I'll take a look at the seven Oilers most likely to be moved.
Ladislav Smid - There's an awful lot of smoke here, and considering Smid is a third pairing defender with absolutely no offense to speak of, I'm actually a little bit perplexed at what seems to be a high level of interest. If Steve Tambellini can add an "A" level prospect (Jon Blum from Nashville has been mentioned before and certainly fits that category), I think the trade gets done.
Jim Vandermeer - I'm extremely confident that he'll be moved along today, and I'm hoping for a fourth round pick or better. On the one hand, it seems ridiculous to think Jim Vandermeer when a guy like Craig Rivet can pass through waivers (he was claimed on re-entry). On the other hand, Vandermeer is a tough customer with an expiring contract, and exactly the kind of guy who gets moved along on days like today.
Ryan Jones - I think he's done in Edmonton. Hockey people can be stubborn, but hopefully Steve Tambellini has learned something from the Gilbert Brule situation and moves Jones along. I'd be quite happy with a third round pick or an A- prospect, and given his goalscoring this year that doesn't seem at all out of the question.
Andrew Cogliano - Playing the young man with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle just looks a bit too much like a pump and dump to think he won't get moved. Admittedly, his play over the last few games has been mostly "dump" but I do still like the player, and would likely be holding out for a better return than most, either a first round pick or "A" prospect.
Kurtis Foster - There's a good chance he moves along, but it's no sure thing. He's got that extra year on his contract, which could scare off a lot of teams (it would scare me off), but the asking price should be extremely low, so he might get moved. I'd be satisfied with future considerations, but I'm hoping for a seventh rounder.
Ales Hemsky - I think there's a pretty good chance that he'll get moved along, and a very good chance that I won't like it when it happens. There are exactly thirty-one players (min. 200 games) with a better points-per-game rate than Hemsky from 2005-06 to the present. He's a star, and he's got another year on his contract. I don't think he should be moved for anything less than an overpay, which to me looks like a young roster player, an A+ prospect, and top pick. The Los Angeles Kings have been mentioned frequently, so for me that would look something like Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and their first round pick. It's probably too much, and that's fine with me because I'm happy to keep Hemsky in Edmonton. I think Steve Tambellini will be willing to take less.
Dustin Penner - He's been traded once already, so you know the willingness is there. I'd be calling on close to the same price for Penner as I did for Hemsky, but I think he's less likely to get it. Minnesota has apparently been in the mix here, so that might look like Guillaume Latendresse (or preferably Nick Schultz if he's available), Mikael Granlund, and their first round pick. Again, probably too much, and again, I'm fine with that. I think Steve Tambellini will take less, but the offers for Penner probably don't get high enough to pull the trigger.
Of course, with a rebuilding team, nearly everyone is in play, so we could eaily see someone not listed moved along too. The sad part is that if any of these trades are made, the team will be at least a little bit worse in the immediate future. It sure will be fun when deadline day makes the team better.