Time for the Oil to move

 

No, not to Houston or Quebec City or Seattle….good one EH?….but rather to start molding their team.  I’ve said this a lot of late but teams like Pittsburgh and Chicago needed to catch breaks during there rebuilds. Pittsburgh’s of course was winning the Crosby lottery as Brian Burke has reminded us of. Chicago people forget had the worst odds in 07 of moving into the number 1 spot and it happened.  BIG difference between Pat Kane and Karl Alzner or Sam Gagner (both fine players, not Pat Kane).

The Oilers winning this year’s lottery wasn’t as long of a shot but it still was long odds.  The problem is that the kid who will go 1st does not in any way fit their needs.

Yakupov is going to be electric.  I’ll say it right now, he will have multiple 50 goal seasons in the NHL.  But he is a 5’10-5’11 winger.  The Oilers have plenty of those guys already (heck, another one of those kids is Tobias Reider, a 5th round pick last year who is leading the OHL playoffs in scoring).  While the defense isn’t anywhere near as bad as a lot of analysts will have you believe, it still has holes.  Another BIG hole the Oil have is down the middle…at least IMO.

Sam Gagner is in no way a fit on this team as I have said numerous times.  They are small down the middle and small in the top 6, Gagner affects both.  He isn’t as big of a talent as some people believe and he is progressing at a snails pace in the face off circle, defensively and strength on the puck.

To play behind RNH the Oilers need a guy that will play a 200 foot game and while he doesn’t have to be huge, he can’t be small.  The good news with Gagner for the Oil however is that he is still young and teams will have interest in him.

Steve Tambellini has options.  He could deal the 1st pick to fill one of those holes and I have said to friends of late I personally would be willing to deal that top pick to the Penguins for Jordan Staal.  Staal and the Penguins 1st for the Oilers 1st and Eric Belanger would be a deal that makes a ton of sense for both teams (as long as Staal agreed to sign a  long term extension on July 1st).

Staal is an elite center stuck behind perhaps the 2 best centers in the world.  As much as a lot of Oiler fans hate reading this right now, Jordan Staal would make the Oilers better in 2013 than Nail Yakupov, and he would make them better every year there after than Yakupov would.  I cannot stress enough how great you have to be down the middle in this league now days.

But there is a chance they wouldn’t have to move that pick to get Staal.  You could get creative.  Deal Gagner elsewhere (unless Pittsburgh would want him) for pieces (I would guess a 1st round pick or a good prospect) Pittsburgh would want, then flip those pieces along with Magnus Paajarvi, Eric Belanger and another prospect of Pittsburgh’s chosing.

That’s a pretty great package for Pittsburgh as well.  Some people maybe have given up on Paajarvi at 20 years old as ludicrous as that is, but I highly doubt that any GM or pro scout that watched him this season has given up on him.  The kid has the tools to be great.  Put him with Sid and he would get 30 goals next season.  Paajarvi in a lot of ways was in a “Jordan Staal” situation of his own this season.  No room for him in the top 6 or on the top PP unit.  Skilled players offensive numbers get crushed in those scenarios.

Then again, the Pens might be stubborn and hang on to Staal for 1 more season and refuse to deal him.  But a Paajarvi and Gagner package could fetch you someone that fits the bill.  You won’t find a guy like Staal, but a guy that has some of the same qualities like a Travis Zajac (just an example, don’t know if Jersey would deal him and if so what he would cost).

Another option that I believe is out there is the one I said in the latest mock draft.  1, Gagner, and 32 to Columbus for 2, Johanson and L.A.’s 1st.  Edmonton moves back to get a D man, gets there big 2nd line center, and moves up about 14 spots with there 2nd pick. Columbus gets their superstar to help them fill the building again, gets a center who is further along than Johanson, and doesn’t lose on the asset end of the deal (being that it’s 3 for 3).

Now I haven’t touched on the blueline that much yet.  The biggest key to the Oilers offseason isn’t picking 1st, and it isn’t trading for a superstar.  The biggest key is signing Justin Schultz (assuming he becomes a UFA on July 1st).  This kid has nice size (6’2, 195), great wheels, great offensive ability, and has improved his defensive game a lot this season.

The one comparison I heard is Jake Gardiner with more offense.  Gardiner wasn’t supposed to have the offensive game he showcased this season.  If the Oilers land Schultz it would be huge to there rebuild.  Then all of a sudden moving forward they would have Klefbom and Schultz to go with Smid and Petry as a future top 4 that could be great.  Also Ryan Whitney being healthy and able to train this offseason is going to be huge.  If he can play 70 games next season, watch for a 40-50 point season.

As for Schultz, there is a rumor that he chose not to sign with Anaheim because it’s his desire to play in a Canadian market. Edmonton is close to his hometown (Kelowna), he would step right into there lineup, and they have the best young group of forwards in the league.  I admit I’m an Oilers fan but putting all biases aside I really can’t understand why if all that was the case he wouldn’t sign with the Oilers.

The rebuild should be done come October 1st.  I said pretty much since day 1 of the rebuild that they needed to have the cupboard loaded by the 2012 offseason.  There could be other opportunities out there as well.  I would guess a UFA like Ryan Suter could have interest in the so called worst market in hockey with all the talent they could have up front and a hole where a guy like him could step in and be an integral piece.  But from all that you hear, he will be going to one of Detroit, Chicago or Minnesota.  Also we will see what happens with Shea Weber.  If Suter leaves it will be interesting to see if Weber signs long term.  If he doesn’t there is a chance Poile would look to deal him.  Maybe Dan Boyle is dealt in San Jose.  Plenty of possibilites.

But no matter who is out there to be had, Tambellini needs to move now.  The Oiler fans have been patient, and it will be well worth it.  Time to turn this group of talent into a group of winners.  If he doesn’t, he could be out of a job soon.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups or the site @Soups_on_Sports

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