With the 20
12/13 NHL season officially coming to a close either Monday or Wednesday night, perhaps the craziest two weeks of roster moves we have seen in a number of years is likely to erupt in the hours immediately following either Jonathan Toews or Zdeno Chara being presented with the Stanley Cup.
With the first compliance buyout window opening 48 hours after the conclusion of the playoffs and ending on the eve of the NHL draft, a condensed draft that will take place over the course of a single day that offers one of the deeper prospect pools in the last decade, a generally weak UFA class that will force GM's to explore the trade route if they hope to improve their rosters and the end of an unofficial no-trade window imposed by Gary Bettman during the Stanley Cup Final (even though some teams haven't played along), the stars are aligned for some real craziness to unfold over the next two-to-three weeks.
From an Oilers perspective, their new GM has talked a big game about wanting to overhaul the bottom half of the roster to put some pieces in place that can compliment his impressive young core. Oiler Management has more weapons at their disposal than at any time since the Pronger and Peca acquisitions coming out of the last lockout and seem intent on using them.
With the buzz that the Oilers are anxious to make changes, it is not surprising that they are popping up in rumours all over the place in the days before the madness hits. Still, its important to separate legitimate news from random hyperbole and speculation from those trying to attract attention. I encourage anyone reading this to get their entertainment from anywhere they wish, and I'm certainly among those who like to consider the options that may be possible to improve Edmonton's roster, but if you want to know what's actually being reported by those in the know, I've taken the liberty of consolidating a bunch of that information here (If I have missed any legitimate story, please let me know and I will add it to the list):
Trading the 7th Overall Pick
This has been the talk since virtually the end of the season, and with good reason. Given the desire for immediate success, adding prospects that will not contribute immediately is likely of lesser importance to the Oilers this year than in the recent past. Elliotte Friedman has previously linked the Oilers to attempts to trade up to 5th with CAR, but noted those talks cooled based on the asking price. More recently, the Oilers have been increasingly tied to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a number of areas, likely due to the hiring of Dallas Eakins, as well as this moment caught on camera by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet:
Allan Mitchell of the Team 1260's "Lowdown with Lowetide" has speculated that there could be some interest in packaging the 7th overall pick along with an unspecified additional asset to make a deal work for the Leafs #21 pick and young D-man Jake Gardiner. I won't get into too much detail on analyzing these deals here as my intent is to simply list the reports out there. That said, I think there is a good possibility that the Oilers have interest in Gardiner, and depending on what the Oilers were willing to include, this framework seems plausible, but it is still highly speculative, as I think all involved would admit at this stage until something more concrete is reported.
The Sam Gagner rumours have really come to the forefront over the last couple of days. A lot of the talk began following this tweet from Josh Rimer:
Hearing Leafs have had discussions with Oilers about Sam Gagner. Leafs are looking for a young centre and he certainly fits the bill.— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) June 23, 2013
The speculation seemed to consolidate around a deal involving Gagner and of all people, Leaf Captain Dion Phaneuf. The big issues here are, of course, Phaneuf's $6.5M cap hit and the fact that he is one year away from unrestricted free agency. Phaneuf takes a lot of undeserved criticism as he can certainly play and would undoubtedly improve the Oiler blueline, but risking losing Sam Gagner for one season of a highly-priced blueliner who already had one less than stellar exit from the Province of Alberta? That seems like a pretty unbalanced deal. Thankfully, Darren Dreger of TSN may have thrown a little cold water on the story...
Some rumblings Phaneuf may be in play. Nonis says he will trade just about anyone, but says no one has called on the captain...yet. #TSN— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 23, 2013
That doesn't mean a deal could not materialize, but hopefully at least, it means that the speculated deal in its current form is nothing more than talk.
Of course, Rimer didn't only link Gagner to the Maple Leafs:
Vancouver has also has discussions about Gagner as Sam's dad Dave is part of Canucks MGMT.— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) June 23, 2013
There has not been a great deal of talk about what the Canucks would be including in this deal, but you'd have to think it could be related to a defensemen, since the team is in search of depth at centre ice themselves. Unless anyone wants to link Gagner to Roberto Luongo? Didn't think so.
For those who prefer the option of keeping Gagner in Edmonton, hope is not lost. Dreger commented on that possibility today as well:
@CoachFrank18. Anything is possible, but I know Oilers and Gagner's agent, Jeff Jackson are working on an extension.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 23, 2013
Bob Stauffer has just recently stated something similar:
For those asking I don't see Sam Gagner in play to Toronto. Fully expect that the Oilers will sign him to a multi-year extension shortly— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 24, 2013
One way or another, I'd expect Sam Gagner's future in Edmonton to be known before we reach mid-July.
The source of the latest Ales Hemsky rumour is a bit suspect if you ask me, but people far more familiar with the site in question (I've never once posted there) are lending it some credibility.
The rumour du jour comes from "HF Boards" and is attributed to someone who has apparently reported accurately on some Oiler moves in the past. In this case, the report is that the Oilers are planning to deal Hemsky to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Zach Smith. I'm certainly not holding any misconceptions about Hemsky's value and stated in my recent examination of how to address the team's needs at forward that one of the two best options for the team on the right side of their tough minutes line would be to keep Hemsky there for another season. That said, I still can't fathom that the Oilers would believe that this deal is fair value for #83.
Also: is a Hemsky for Zack Smith trade rumour a real thing?— mc79hockey (@mc79hockey) June 23, 2013
One would hope that MacTavish isn't in such a rush to make moves that he accepts something below market value. If this is what the market will pay for Hemsky, then the team is better off keeping him unless the player has indicated that he won't return under any circumstances. I find that somewhat difficult to believe here even though I don't dispute Hemsky may welcome a change of scenery.
To his credit, OilersNow host Bob Stauffer made a very astute comment on the matter this evening and I think it is a thought process that the Oilers may follow before making any deal involving Hemsky:
Being asked about Hemsky to Ottawa rumours. At this time not a likely scenario. Hemsky's value should increase a week into free agency— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 23, 2013
Of course, he could be dealt tomorrow, but taking an inferior deal just to unload his contract at this stage seems unwise before seeing what teams are willing to offer after coming up short in a weak free agent market.
No tweet to reference here, but on the hotstove on HNIC, the always excellent Elliotte Friedman stated that Horcoff's no-trade does not expire until July 1st, but that he and his agent have been granted permission to source their own trade between now and then.
This could mean two things. Firstly, it could be that MacTavish has been unable to find a deal and could have to buy Horcoff out of his contract unless his agent can find a trade. I find this unlikely because if I'm Horcoff, I don't mind the buyout. I get 2/3rds of my salary and get to have my choice of any team in the league as a UFA with the ability to sign a reasonable deal and never hear about not being worth my contract ever again.
The other possibility here is that Horcoff has provided a list of 10 teams he's willing to accept a deal to beginning July 1st (his NTC becomes a limited NTC on July 1) and the Oiler GM has a trade in hand he intends to take that may not be to one of Horcoff top destinations of choice. Were that the case, MacT could be saying, "this is where you're going if it reaches July 1, if you bring me something better beforehand, I'll consider it". It's all speculation at this point, but I don't get the feeling Horcoff will be bought out, so if MacTavish is letting his agent explore trade possibilities, then you've got to figure there's some urgency on the part of the agent to want find a deal. As I mentioned, if the alternative is a buyout, I'm not sure why Horcoff dislikes that option all that much? Perhaps just fear he's left without a chair when the music stops?
Tuesday Press Conference
Earlier today, Terry Jones sent out the following through his twitter account:
Edmonton Oiler GM Craig MacTavish to meet with media Tuesday. Let the speculation begin. Horcoff deal done? Hemsky? Draft update?— Terry Jones (@sunterryjones) June 23, 2013
From what I can tell, this almost has to be clarification on the Oilers' coaching staff for next season. It's pretty well known that Gary Bettman doesn't like transactions happening during the Stanley Cup finals to distract from the on-ice product. Some teams do it, but many try to be respectful and wait it out. There are lots of people speculating that the Oilers have at least one deal done and are waiting for the playoffs to end to announce it. Were the intent of Tuesday's media availability to be anything relating to a trade, would they really schedule it for the morning of the off-day between game 6 and a potential game 7 of the Cup Final? Unless they are betting heavy on the Blackhawks to close it out in 6 games, this is almost assuredly not a roster move. Given the fact that MacTavish has already stated that he expected to have an announcement soon regarding the make-up of the coaching staff for next season, I think the logical conclusion here until given reason to consider anything else is that we will learn on Tuesday morning who new Coach Dallas Eakins will have with him behind the bench this season.
I'll leave you now with two final tweets that sum up pretty well my thoughts on the next 14 days off the NHL Calendar:
@mc79hockey Yup, if not sooner.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 23, 2013
Things are going to get really fun, really fast. I can't wait.