Friday, February 20, 2009

Let the games begin!

TSN has their prognosticators, but here at the Oil Patch, we have hard-nosed and intellectual rigpigs who’ve devised a list of the top five trade possibilities for the Oilers going into the deadline.

Sources, meanwhile, say GM Steve Tambellini is making some calls there is a chance we could hear about something in terms of a deal by the end of the weekend.

Enjoy the list.

NUMBER FIVE: Marty Reasoner and Boris Valabik from the Atlanta Thrashers.

This trade does seem like small potatoes, but it addresses two key issues with the Edmonton Oilers: face-off productivity and depth on defence.

Coach Craig MacTavish had urged Tambellini and Kevin Lowe to keep Reasoner before the player signed with Atlanta for a $1 million contract last summer.

And there’s a reason why MacT wanted Reasoner, and it shows this season on special teams simply because the Oilers can’t win a face-off. Reasoner was a tough penalty killer and consistent player in the circle.

Valabik is a six-foot-seven gritty and young defenseman on a weak Eastern Conference team. The addition of Valabik would answer the Oilers’ depth issue on the blueline after losing Lubomir Vishnovsky and Denis Grebeshkov to injury.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: Marc Pouliot, a second round draft pick, and maybe Liam Reddox

NUMBER FOUR: Alex Kovalev from the Montreal Canadians

There’s a train wreck brewing in Montreal and GM Bob Gainey might be busy during the trade deadline because of it.

Not only is he dealing with a public backlash over making Kovalev sit at home for two games, he’s now dealing with a criminal scandal that links Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn and Roman Hamrlik.

With the mess, Gainey could be desperate in shipping out his slumping star forward, and there is some scuttlebutt that Tambellini is interested, says TSN.

Taking Kovalev is a risk, but with Ales Hemsky finding ways to pass him the puck, he might work well in Edmonton.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: Dustin Penner, or Eric Cole.

NUMBER THREE: Ryan Whitney from the Pittsburg Penguins

The Pittsburg Penguins have a stockpile of defensemen — the Edmonton Oilers, on the other hand, don’t.

Sergei Gonchar is now back on the blueline and the Penguins are out looking to make a deal for some grit to get them back in the hunt.

Don't be surprise if Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero has already called Tambellini a few times in shipping Whitney who happens to be a young and promising blueliner on pace to reach 24 points this season in 49 games.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: Kyle Brodziak or Marc Pouliot, Steve MacIntyre and a conditional draft pick.

NUMBER TWO: Scott Niedermayer from the Anaheim Ducks

With the economic downturn and the Ducks finally hitting reality with their overpriced talent, it will be sell, sell, sell in Disneyland.

Niedermayer as a rental player will add a potent offence on the blueline that will include a one-two punch with Sheldon Souray. That could be one hell of a powerplay.

Niedermayer’s one-two punch with Oiler nemesis Chris Pronger has turned a little stale as of late. Niedermayer has also struggled offensively in his last seven games all because the team is a mess.

There is no word or info out there that says Niedermayer has a trade clause in his contract, however.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: The Ducks can have Dustin Penner back and a conditional draft pick or two. If not, they can take Eric Cole and a few draft picks.

NUMBER ONE: Ryan Smyth from the Colorado Avalanche

No, I’m not kidding.

The Colorado Avalanche is another team looking to unload because of the global recession. The problem is GM Francois Giguere has his hands tied because of the clause in Smyth’s contract.

Smyth will choose where he will get traded to and with a different ownership situation in Edmonton now with Daryl Katz as the owner, the City of Champions is suddenly more attractive than when he first left.

Fans saw Smyth when he was traded from Edmonton, especially that infamous teary news conference in the Edmonton International Airport.

It was tough pill to swallow, but with the Oilers on the verge of making the playoffs this season, Smyth might be looking for redemption after helping the Oil in that 2006 playoff run.

And if Tambellini does manage to make a deal, you can guarantee it will have Katz written all over it

The top line will be that much better, especially with Smyth’s skills in front of the net combined with Souray’s slap shot.

ASSETS TO GIVE UP: The Avs can’t take much salary, but they can take Eric Cole or prospect players like Rob Schrempf and/or Robert Nilsson, Marc Pouliot and/or Liam Reddox, along with a first round draft pick.

Back to the Oilers future


Let's hop in the Delorian and set the flux capacitier to 2006, the same year as that memorable playoff run.

Odds are you won’t find many differences between the Edmonton Oilers back then and the current team now.

Around this time in 2006, the Oilers lost four straight, including a lowly 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, a team that had no shot of playoff contention.

The loss exposed the Oilers, a team that was weak in net with the likes Mike Morrison, Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin. They also lacked a scorer to play with Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth.

After dropping down the Western Conference standings, then GM Kevin Lowe made some deals, trading for goaltender Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov.

The deals helped the Oil clinch the last playoff spot and everyone knows what happened next.

The 2006 Edmonton Oilers were 30-20-8 around this time. This year’s team in 29-25-4 after last night’s loss to the Dallas Stars, it’s something pretty similar in my opinion.

In a few hours, log onto the Oil Patch to hear the top five trade possibilities for the Edmonton Oilers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Edmonton exposure

Time to hit the panic button.

Sure the Edmonton Oilers have lost only once in their last four games, and yes, they’re still in the playoff hunt.

But their last three wins were against an injury-depleted Montreal Canadians, a Los Angeles Kings team that’s near the bottom of the Western Conference barrel, and the defensively- struggling Phoenix Coyotes.

Play against a struggling, but strong team like the San Jose Sharks and you’re bound to have potential holes on your roster exposed like a sunburned Canadian in Jamaica.

That 4-2 loss was just that, a total exposure for the Edmonton Oilers.

The Oil had a chance to come out on top late in the second period when they had a two-man advantage, but a fear to shoot the puck cost them.

Too many passes, too much time worrying about looking pretty for those skating babes that clear snow from the ice in San Jose, whatever. Dustin Penner is proving he can’t play on the powerplay, along with not being that powerhouse Kevin Lowe thought he was.

Here’s another hole: face-offs. It's a key ingredient in any powerplay or penalty kill. Other than Shawn Horcoff, the Oil doesn’t have anyone who is consistent on the circle.

A lack of attention in the transition game is another hole and that explains the last goal in the game Joe Thornton scored thanks to a gift of an assist by Oilers forward Marc Pouliot.

Oilers have given up too many opportunities for its opponents by coughing up the puck while getting it out of their own end. No wonder Dwayne Roloson faces about an average of 35 shots a game.

Do the math and it’s obvious. The Oilers need a centre who can win face-offs and who can consistently score goals off of an Ales Hemsky pass.

The Oil also needs a strong, defensive-minded defenseman who can produce some offensive numbers.

Without those two elements in their roster and the dead weight that’s there now, forget about the playoff hockey in Edmonton.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

In case you missed it

Want to know why Tomas Plekanec got two games? Here's you answer.

It looks innocent at first, but Plekanec was lazy with his stick. A lazy play in a 7-2 defeat.

Time to rule the Kings

With a 2-0 loss to the Calgary Flames Thursday night, the Los Angeles Kings will not be a team that will roll over twice at home this afternoon.

Jarret Stoll’s Kings are also three points behind the Oilers and the Oilers are one point away from Minnesota and Columbus for that last playoff spot.

The Oilers are also without Denis Grebeshkov who was injured at Wednesday night’s tilt against Montreal. Theo Peckham will take his place.

With a 7-2 win at home, the Oilers can’t get back to playing inconsistent hockey on the road — they can’t afford to anymore.

That will depend on their powerplay that improved considerably against Montreal thanks to Shawn Horcoff owning the faceoff circle.

Dwayne Roloson is going to start between the pipes for the 11th straight game, while Jonathan Quick, who as been strong in his last 18 games, will get the nod for the Kings.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Taking a time out

I know there are cobwebs in this blog, but bear with me. I have a full time job so it's pretty tough to get a handle on things. I did watch highlights of the last game and it was good. The team looks well, but we still need to make some deals.

I will have some more goodies for you in the Oil Patch soon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More wiggle room! What?

Oilers GM Steve Tambellini suddenly has some more options thanks to Lubomir Vishnovsky who is gone for the rest of the season.

The player's torn labrum could force Tambellini to place Vishnovsky on the injured reserve list, freeing up roughly $3.5 million in cap space.

Can you say, "Vicent Lecavalier?"

But those dreams of getting solid talent could turn into nightmares for fans, including myself, if they don't turn things around soon.

Let's not get ready to rumble

Forget about seeing a slugfest between Steve MacIntyre and Montreal Canadians enforcer George Laraque tonight, reports the Edmonton Journal.

That’s because Craig MacTavish might not play his enforcer as he was not seen in a lineup during Tuesday’s practice.

MacT might pair up Zack Stortini, Kyle Brodziak and Liam Reddox tonight on the fourth line and Stortini isn’t the right guy to drop the gloves against the Laraque, a former Oiler tough guy.

But forget about fights, how about defence tonight?

Montreal was shellacked at the hands of the Calgary Flames in a 6-2 defeat — a tilt that was rife with turnovers. The loss resulted in a players only meeting after the game.

The Habs have also been struggling as of late, and the Oilers should expect players like struggling Alexei Kovalev to up their games.

The Oilers must come out large on the face-off circle and they need to out hit. I might be wrong, but they only had roughly 10 hits in their loss to Minnesota.

A loss tonight also puts them further away from a playoff race and an inch closer to finding a new coach.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Dawes and Rozsival deal in the works? Hmm...

This first post ever for this blog is going to be a blog bombshell.

After learning there is no truth in seeing Jaromir Jagr escape the financially strapped Kootinental Hockey League in Russia to play in an Oilers unnie this season, don’t think for a second GM Steve Tambellini doesn't have something cooking.

And after doing the math, this transaction is waiting to happen.

With struggling to strike deals for more good talent all season, Tambellini is going to Manhattan to talk to Kevin Lowe’s old friend, Glen Sather.

We’ll give up some baggage — Rob Schremp, Kyle Brodziak, Marc Pouliot — for a speedy forward who isn’t afraid to bang it up along the boards for a forecheck and a defenseman who could replace injured Lubomir Vishnovsky who is reportedly gone for the rest of season.

What we’ll get in return from the New York Rangers is defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Nigel Dawes and no, I’m not drunk.

Rozsival has 13 points this season — nine of those points are goals, a good support to fill that role with Sheldon Souray.

Dawes only has 16 points in 43 games this season as I am tapping this post, but he’s fast, he hits, he dangles, and it’s only his second season in the NHL for the former WHL standout.

Under Craig MacTavish’s system, Dawes is the type of player that would thrive in Edmonton.

He would work well in a line with Fernando Pisani who is close to coming back. He’s already skating.

The Oil are neck-and-neck with the Vancouver Canucks for the last playoff spot, and if team continues to tank over the next three games, you can forget about the trade ever happening because Tambellini will sell, sell, sell.