by Lisa McRitchie on 11/19/11 at 04:00 AM ET
When your team is not considered a contender, most likely anyone on your roster is moveable. Of course some players may require the sun and moon to move, but most likely your GM is willing to listen to offers.
The Edmonton Oilers are certainly not a contender, not this year. This is of course despite the hopes, dreams and wishes of the Oiler faithful, but a recent string of losses can help bring a person back to reality.
The calls to trade Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky are old news by now, but they are still floating around. There are some that would rather that neither player end up traded, but more and more players seem to be changing their minds in radio call in shows and twitter are any indication. It is interesting that some recent talk has turned to trading veteran netminder Nikolai Khabibulin. To start the season, Khabibulin was a league leading goaltender and nothing like the goalie Oiler fans had come to know and grumble about. While the team was winning, you didn’t hear calls to trade Khabi. Now that the Oilers have dropped four in a row, it’s an idea that is being passed around.
The trouble with trading Khabi now is that his value may have plummeted like Oiler fans’ hopes for post season hockey. And maybe Khabi’s value wasn’t as high as it seemed. Very likely any team interested would have wanted what Oiler fans wanted; sustained numbers and wins. Also, there is still the matter of Khabi’s contract. At $3,750,000/yr I’m not certain that Khabi could currently be considered fair market let alone a must have contract.
Whether or not the Oilers intend to at least attempt making a trade for Khabibulin next year, the last year of his contract is another interesting thought. If Khabibulin doesn’t continue to play at the top of his game, I would find it difficult for a team who is in dire need of a goaltender to make a move to acquire Khabi. Teams looking to make deals throughout the year are usually doing so to acquire that piece that they feel will help propel them into post season glory. Adding an aging goaltender who is putting up average numbers doesn’t sound like something that a team would do.
If the Oilers are planning to move Khabi, their best chance may be during the off season when a team may be looking for a capable goaltender who will be able to work with developing goaltenders… wait a minute, isn’t that why Khabi was brought into this Oiler team? With netminders Devan Dubnyk coming along and developing ones such as Olivier Roy and Tyler Bunz still in the system, but realistically years away from potentially starting in the NHL, the Oilers still need a goaltender like Khabi. Trading Khabi away in hopes of acquiring a player like him may be the lateral move that the team made when they let Dwayne Roloson walk. Mind you, depending on your view of things, that may have even been a step backwards.
In terms of trading Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner, these may also be difficult moves. Both players have had some injury issues that seem to have continued into this season. Because of injury issues, neither player has put up astounding numbers, or made incredibly impressive plays on the ice. This brings up the same question, just what team would be looking for Gagner or Hemsky as is?
There may be teams out there that feel that Gagner or Hemsky could and will blossom given different linemates and a change of scenery. There are very likely are teams and scouts out there that would love to add either player to their roster, but given the current Oilers season, the trade value would likely be quite low. It would be something if either player were leading the team in offence; if either player looked like an exceptional player on a mediocre team. Instead, at this point in time, they both look like mediocre players on a mediocre some nights, good other nights team.
Both Hemsky and Gagner are playing for their next contracts. Ales Hemsky will be a UFA and Gagner will be a RFA at the end of this season. Potentially, both players could be lost for nothing. GM Steve Tambellini will have to decide for himself whether or not the upside to either player is enough to keep them in the organization. If he decides to make a trade, despite low trade value, the time may be now to make any attempts.
But, those in the media, close to the team have indicated that they see value in Gagner and can see him as an Oiler in the coming years.
When teams are losing, we look for fixes more so than when the team is winning. When it comes to this Oiler team however, this is the first year in a long time where there seems to be some options for forwards. The perceived options lead to trade speculation and armchair GMs to work around the clock. After all, isn’t that one of the best parts of being a fan? On my fake Oilers roster, I’ve already moved Sam Gagner.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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