First Move

Steve Tambellini has some very impressive names in his hockey past.

He played for coaches like Al Arbour and Bob Johnson and for GM’s like Bill Torrey, Cliff Fletcher and Lou Lamoriello.

Those men were known for developing as many quality players as possible and cashing them in for need when required by the big club.

It’s still early, but it looks like Tambellini’s first big move as a GM will come during this season and will involve buying as opposed to selling.

The shopping list may include a veteran right handed center, another proven hand on the blue, or possibly a “dirty work” winger who can pass the puck for the energy line.

Offloads might include the rookie goaltender, a wayward Roy, a veteran goalie and a young forward who never did establish himself with this coach.

One of the things that marked Kevin Lowe’s tenure as a GM was a galling tendency to wait forever after the start of the season to address an obvious need. So, with the entire human population (well, the ones who pay attention) and the Lords of Math already aware that the 3line needs a RH center, I think it’s fair to say that Tambellini’s first test will be to show us he’s smarter than his boss and pull the trigger on a deal right now.

If the coach keeps running out Pisani at center, and won’t play Pouliot or Brodziak in that role, what would a winning General Manager do? Acquire a veteran right handed center to do the job.


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39 Responses to "First Move"

  1. HBomb says:

    First suggestion: Bobby Holik.

    Issue: out for the month with a broken pinkie finger.

    However, a right handed center with lots of veteran saavy. Plus, as of today, his current team is an excellent fit as a trading partner.

  2. matt says:

    Why won’t they play Pouliot or Brodziak in the role? So confused.

  3. Sean says:

    Mats Sundin shoots right!

    There is going to be a shuffle in salary somewhere when Sundin decides to sign with a team. Seems all the interested parties have little cap room except the Canucks. Hopefully the Oilers can acquire salary for nothing.

  4. B.C.B. says:

    Here are my two suggestion for a defensive right hand center:
    1) Scott Nichol NAS (someone here suggested once way back)
    2) Mike Fisher OTT

    and John Madden (but he is a lefty).

    I would go after Fisher, but he’d be more expensive:
    what about

    Schemp + POO/Brods + Pick (3rd/4th) = Fisher

    This would provide some offense that Ott needs, a decent young centre to play on the third line (I’d try and get rid of POO first- sorry LT) and try a 4th round pick. I could be really off base, but that is what i’d offer (PS I am not a GM)

  5. Asiaoil says:

    Amen brother….

    Malhotra is a leftie but is good on the dot, big and fast. He’s off to a slow start so he shouldn’t cost too much. How about MAP straight up or Schremp. Malhotra is a UFA after all. Peca is also an option.

  6. Lord Bob says:

    Or acquire a coach who doesn’t say “maybe if I smash my head against this brick wall again, it won’t hurt so much” eighty-two times a year.

  7. Scott says:

    Mike Fisher doesn’t really fit. We’re talking about a checking center here and a 4.2 million cap hit over the next five years is too much for that position. It might be a trade we regret once the kids come up for their next contract.

    Holik and Nichol are both playing on teams that (I would imgagine) have eyes on the present as much as the future. It would probably need to be full value going the other way in order to make it work.

    At this point in the season, I think you need to look at what’s available from those teams that look to have no shot (LA, NYI, ATL) or to the free agents that are available.

    I honestly don’t see a better fit than Marty Reasoner out of that group. He has all of the things we need and he should be available. Say what you want about Reasoner as a 3C, but he would probably do a better job than Pisani is doing and MacT would actually play him there. Then your fourth line is some combination of Brodziak/Pouliot, Pisani and MacIntyre/Stortini/Drifter.

    Another FA option could be Yannick Perreault if he’s still interested in playing.

  8. toqueboy says:

    my first instinct: since we’re getting a roster player, trade a roster player (and hopefully a goalie).

    what about something like
    JD, Pouliot

    i don’t think we have to give up that much for reasoner, but it helps clear some room with the big club and on the 4th for call ups.

    other people (considering need, familiar trade partners and drama) might be:

  9. raventalon40 says:

    Pardon my self linking b.c.b., but I suggested here that we should include Nichol, Smith, and Tarnasky. I don’t think Tarnasky is as great an option now considering we have MacIntyre and Brodziak/Pouliot to deal around.

    Speaking of lefties, Malhotra is a lefty.

    Other options and scenarios:

    Make a deal that includes Roloson for either Madden or Holik. Preferably Madden.

    Deal DesLauriers and other pieces to Anaheim (Yes, I said it, Anaheim) for Samuel Pahlsson, or better yet, for Todd Marchant and make it one of those feel-good homecoming stories.

    Resign Geoff Sanderson and trade one of the kids for a premier centerman who can alternated with Horcoff for the lines 1 and 3 roles … say someone like Tomas Plekanec or Bryan Little. This would allow us to roll at least 3 affective scoring lines that double as checking lines.

    Re-acquire Mike Peca. I’m sure Scott Howson would be down.

    Try a kid at the checking-only role. Would it hurt to give an O’Marra, Brodziak, or Pouliot the chance to shut down the other team’s offensive guys? We’ve got nothing to lose since we don’t have a real 3rd line center anyway… but Pisani’s not bad. He just looks better on RW is all.

    If we acquired a 3rd line center we could seriously role 4 lines every night.

    My ideal scenario


    If the MacBlender is running, you could also try alternating Cogliano, Pisani, Gagner, Pouliot, and Brodziak to see what effect those would have on the ability to roll 4 lines on this team.

    Mind you, I would still go to the usual suspects on the powerplay and PK though.

  10. raventalon40 says:

    I forgot to explain:

    Brodeur is out 3/4 months. I’m sure they will consider Khabibulin first but we need to get in there considering Madden and Holik are UFAs next year so we are dealing with a rental player. If we can pull of a big deal here and get Madden we can sign him to a 2-3 year deal and have the 3rd line center position locked down for the short term.

  11. Asiaoil says:

    You know the 3rd line center issue is important – but not a real big deal since there are a bunch of guys out there who can fill a checking line role short-term. Longterm we have MAP, Brodziak and especially Brule.

    I’m more concerned about the situation in net long-term. Roloson is almost done (but still useful this season) and I’m not sold on Garon as a top 10 starter. How about we solve both problems in one trade? ATL has Lehtonen and a great young goalie in Pavelec. Could we could deal some young talent which they desperately need and Garon for both Lehtonen and Reasoner? Take care of both the short-term and longterm needs in one shot.

  12. B.C.B. says:

    I think fisher is a good fit with the Oilers (speed, brains, and multi-dimensional player). The $4.2 cap hit would mean Cole is gone next year though (maybe Grebs, too), but I am not sold on Cogs and I could see trading him over the next season or two.

    Fisher could play on either the second or third line (depending on slumps, injuries, etc : I assume Horcoff/gagner would be the number 1): He has scored over twenty goals every season since the lock out and adds 20-30ish assists, and he is great defensively (05-06 Selke Finalist).

    RT: I have been discussing with scott and Lowetide about the possibility of a Roli for Madden trade; the consensus is that the Devils would trade Madden without getting more the Roli back to help them now, or trade Madden (or other vets) later at the deadline for picks if Broduer is hurt too long and they are out of the playoffs. I still think there is a possibility that Roli + prospect and low pick (or roli and high pick) gets you Madden.

  13. HBomb says:

    Why trade Pouliot for Reasoner when you could just move Pouliot to center, end all this nonsense now, he’ll probably do a job comparable to Marty, with the difference being that he’s got long-term upside?

    Reasoner is a non-starter in my opinion. If they’re going to deal for a center, they need to do a lot better than an end-of-the-roster guy. Because if they can’t, they’re smarter to ride it out with Brodziak and Pouliot getting more minutes. Simple as that.

  14. Jeff J says:

    Smolinski? He wasn’t bad last year.

  15. Alice says:

    How do you frame moving assets for Reasoner when all you needed to do was sign him up in the summer? I don’t recall us getting anything when he went the other way. Not a chance, this.

  16. knighttown says:

    @ Raventalon:

    Although some of your ideas seem plausible and pretty well thought out, others seem incredibly far-fetched.

    Why on earth would Anaheim trade Sammy Pahlsson for JDD when they have a much better backup in Jonas Hiller and Pahlsson is likely their 4th most important forward after Getzlaf, Selanne and Perry. And for a team looking to win the Cup this year, you could probably move him up the list. Unless the “other pieces” with JDD are Cogliano, I don’t think there is any chance of Pahlsson moving and that doesn’t even take into account the Burke/Lowe issues.

    The Plekanec/Little paragraph seems off too. Although Little is having a decent start, I’m sure his stats are padded by playing top line minutes on a bad team. You could argue that his trade value may be equal to a Cogliano, but I don’t see why you’d trade a 2nd year center for a 2nd year center. Plekanec is at a whole different level and likely is untouchable on a contending team with phenomenal chemistry. He’s resurrected Kovalev’s career and that line with A. Kostitsyn is the number one unit in Hab-Town.

    Credit where credit is due. I do like the ideas on Madden and Holik although Holik just resigned, so maybe Madden for Roloson and Nilsson. I also really like Peca for Schremp/Poo if C-Bus throws in the towel.

    Malholtra and Nichol make some sense too.

    What about Michael Handzus, Radek Bonk and Steve Reinprecht. These are players that have been pushed down the depth charts on non-contending teams.

  17. Jonathan says:

    Smolinski’s still working out, and would fit the bill.

    Outside of that, it might not hurt the Oilogosphere to take a longer look at MacT’s decision not to employ Pouliot/Brodziak in the role despite the fact that both look capable of it early on.

    MacTavish’s hands aren’t exactly tied. He’s just stubborn.

  18. dawgbone says:

    Asia, with Lehtonen’s injury history (and as I say this, he’s listed in my hockey pool as day to day), I’m not so sure he’s a long term solution in net.

    I think the kid is all world and all, but he’s setting up to be someone who won’t even be in the league by 30 years old, especially with how he plays the game.

  19. Lowetide says:

    Part of the problem imo this season will be that everyone thinks they’re in the playoff hunt.

    And they are.

    So when the Oilers are talking deal with a team for a RH center he needs to be a spare part or he’s not going.

    Which raises the possibility of dealing one big contract for another one.

    Which means Roloson, and honestly I’m not thrilled with the idea of dealing him.

    One more thing: we shouldn’t kid ourselves here about the value of Deslauriers. He’s unproven, there are tons of those guys and many of them have a better minor league resume than our guy.

  20. Scott says:

    The only reason I can see Reasoner as a good fit is if we need someone immediately that MacT will actually play. I really want him to try Pouliot or Brodziak, but he’s not doing it. Giving up Nilsson for Madden strikes me as realistic, but also like a bad decision given that Nilsson’s is one of the few contracts that the Oilers have that’s nearly guaranteed to outperform.

    Looking at the FA pile, I still think Smolinski or Perreault are the best for a very short term fix. Either that or just wait it out and try to force MacT to play one of the two kids. Maybe even ask him to. I mean, Tambellini is his boss. I don’t know that it would be way out of line to ask him to try one of Pou, Brodz or Cogs at 3C. What’s he going to say, that Pisani is doing great?

  21. Black Dog says:

    JDD has no value, for that matter neither does Reasoner, low low picks at most for these guys.

    If this team is serious about making the playoffs and they must be, then moving Roloson is not an option.

    There are three options here right now, discounting the Pisani option, which I believe is reasonable.

    Move Gagner to centre and Cole to his RW. Cogliano centres Pisani and Moreau.

    Move Pouliot or Brodziak to the position. Pisani to LW, Moreau to the fourth line. Or Moreau stays on the 3rd and someone else drops to the fourth line. Makes sense except someone who can drive results at ES (Pisani, Cole, Moreau) gets dropped to the 4th line or one of the kids (Cogliano/Nilsson) does – none of these options make sense.

    Make a trade.

    To me, option 1 makes the most sense. If the idea is to play Gagner at centre longterm then may as well begin breaking him in now.

  22. Black Dog says:

    Naw Scott, Perrault is terrible. Good on the dot but faded badly last year. I think he is done.

    Smolinski did well against toughs last year but he is slooooooow.

  23. Jonathan says:

    JDD has no value, for that matter neither does Reasoner, low low picks at most for these guys.

    JDD may have value to the Islanders – McDonald/Danis are both goaltenders with an inferior minor league track record the last couple of seasons, and they’re going to be the tandem for the next month, at least.

  24. Ribs says:

    There sure is some crazy stuff flying around here lately. I think maybe we have to come back to the real world where there really isn’t much in the way of veteran RH Centers available in this league that would make a noticeable impact. It was true through this summer and it’s true today.

    You’re not going to get a Mike Fisher or a John Madden for random parts and picks. Plus, do you really believe Lowebellini will trade away a crop of young talented roster players for such a player?

    As others have pointed out, trading for Marty Reasoner seems pretty ridiculous. If management wanted him, he’d be playing for the Oilers already.

    The question LT lays out is ” What would a winning GM do?” and the answer isn’t to trade for a guy that the coach probably doesn’t need. It’s to have a meeting with said coach and tell him to smarten the hell up. The Oilers are a team with a plethora of natural centers in their system and you have to think that there are some options the coach should be trying before shipping off young talent.

    If this were the second line we were worrying about, a trade might be a necessity, but it isn’t. I think there is a lot more leeway that needs to be taken into account when you get to talking about the third and fourth lines.

    I haven’t been less worried about this teams makeup in a long time now and for once I think I can handle managements thumb-sitting for a while.

  25. R-Gib says:

    I agree with Ribs; Fisher is not someone Ottawa will let go for spare parts. The Sens are a contender, and if you’ve been listening to Bryan Murray at all over the last 6 months he would love to grab one more top-6 guy. If he is giving up a talented top-6 guy in a trade, then expect top-6 coming back, with either RFA or a decent-term contract. That means someone like Penner. And given Fisher’s upside, I would expect someone else tagging along with Penner to make the deal happen.

    Anyway, as I’ve said before, I like Scott Nichol, I think he would be a reasonable fit for a decent price (ie. Schremp and ?). Does it make us a better team? Maybe short-term. But we’re not that bad off right now. I agree with Black Dog and Ribs that perhaps some roster shuffling is in order first.

  26. B.C.B. says:

    I’d trade
    Penner and schremp for Fisher + 3rd/4th round pick
    Cogs for Fisher
    either way it would also solve the cap issues of adding another expensive forward without putting too much pressure, in the future, in retaining our young guns.

    But I do think Madden or Fisher would be avialable, and this is the type of player we need (Fisher would cost more, a long term contract and upside).

  27. Oilmaniac says:

    I Totally agree w Ribs too…

    And Blackdogs listed three options; I also agree w the preference for option 1 and see option 2 as an unfortunate misuse of talent…

    I think it comes down to questions of whether or not the kid-line is to be held together no-matter what and does the org plan on having gagner play centre in the future…

    With all that said, I'd really like to re-visit poo lined up with moreau and pisani.. problem is it just leads to someone else being dropped to the fourth… storts-brodz-cole… HA! then cole is an expensive glencross,.. i dunno, its like the oil already have one too many forwards 'deserving' of top 6/9 playing time… until injuries hit..

    oh yeah, boo -> reasoners return..
    Dont these people remember complaining about slow marty-sakic all last year, saying 'play the kids (poo n brodz)' in the offseason.. cus i do…

  28. Alice says:

    I think Spike has it right here, and this one’s been floated before:
    Move Gagner to centre and Cole to his RW. Cogliano centres Pisani and Moreau.

    Nothing wrong with that scenario, although Cogs is no hell on the dot either.
    And I’m with LT too, Roli just won a couple games this weekend and he needs to be packaged off? Hint: there’s at least One spot you don’t get to McBlend Pisani into. The guy who gets 60:00 a game is, like, critical.

  29. Dennis says:

    Nilsson for Madden: this is an interesting one for sure. In terms of who’s the most valuable out of the kids — or at least who’s better right now — I’d say it’s 89-12 and lastly 13. Now, Cogs is two draft classes behind Nilsson and he doesn’t have the benefit of all 12′s time in the A but I’d say he’s a better player than Cogs right now and he also has the affordable contract. And with Schremp knocking on the door and Eberle in the pipe it looks like we could be able to afford to deal away Nilsson.

    That being said, if Maddon’s moved from NJ then the Devs are certainly moving in a more offensive direction and does anyone think Lou’s willing to do this?

    I’m puzzled that MacT’s still allowing the 34 line to get outchanced because some of it’s coming off lost own zone draws and MacT complained about this IN THE BLOODY PRESEASON and yet he’s letting this go in the regular season? And the kicker is that we know 34/78 have chem and we’ve seen them along with 18 score two goals vs Cgy; plus, 51 gets shoved out there for the odd shift so MacT has a little confidence and/or evidence that one of the kids could work in that role.

    Yet, he’s unwilling to commit to it.

    And the other thing about this blurb is that I’m still not convinced Tambellini has any real power.

    Are you?

  30. godot10 says:

    When Tom Brady went down, Pioli and Belichek decided to go with Matt Cassel rather than bring in a retread like Joey Harrington or Dante Culpepper or trade for anyone.

    Oiler depth chart at centre:
    Horcoff, Gagner, Cogliano, Brodziak, Pouliot, Brule, Spurgeon, Nash*

    They traded Stoll, and didn’t resign Reasoner (who played more left wing than centre the last 40 games last year.

    I think the question comes down to whether one wants to win the Stanley Cup this year or not.

    Right now the organization is made the decision that they can continue player development and still make the playoffs (although MacT appears not to be totally sympatico with the plan).

    Acquiring a veteran third line centre MEANS giving up on Pouliot, as both Pouliot and Brodziak are at a stage in their development where they have to be in the lineup to continue to be players of long term interest.

    Conclusion: It is crunch time for Brodziak and/or Pouliot. Really crunch time for Pouliot. He makes or breaks his career with the Oilers in the next 40 games.

  31. spOILer says:

    Some insanity reigning here.

    I’m on board with Ribs and Pat’s views on the trade situaton, and also agree with Dennis that we’ve seen nothing to lead us to believe Tambellini has any real power other than he sits in the GM’s seat at the games.

    NJ can obtain a goalie for a draft pick, so there’s no way any Whites, Maddens, Holiks etc are coming our way without some serious sucrose spooned into the pot.

    As far as addressing past and present roster imbalances goes, the first months of the season under the cap regime have been notoriously hard for any GM to make a move, not just Lowe.

    If this isn’t the Cup run year (and it sure as hell isn’t), trading talent for a 3C would be sheer stupidity.

    The only position I would be willing to give up a young talented roster player would be to obtain a top pairing shutdown Dman.

    I’m fine with average goaltending, Detroit has proven you don’t need a top 10 guy.

    So I expect Tambo to stand pat, unless there’s a deep burning desire to dump salary or roster space, and judging by MacT’s words on Roli this week, that looks like its later rather than sooner.

    I could see a Roy + JDD move/s for picks to clear some contract space.

    If there’s a player to be added to a Roli trade, I expect it to be Grebs. OTT/NJ/NYI could all use a puckmover and PP point help. But then there’d be a defenseman coming back, not a 3C.

    As far as 3C goes, MacT is going to have to figure out a way to keep everyone together without being forced to move someone experienced down to the 4th line.

    Which seems to mean Nilsson or Cogs at 3C, Cole at 2RW, or pray for injury. If we were in the playoffs today, I doubt MacT would be running Pisani at centre. It’s not like we don’t have the players, so I hardly see this as a pressing need.

  32. Traktor says:

    Tambo could get MacTavish a checking center but MacTavish would just use him in the top 6 like Mike Peca.

  33. Schitzo says:

    Or Horcoff?

  34. HBomb says:

    Or Horcoff?


  35. Asiaoil says:

    Godot10 – Brodziak and MAP should both be on the 4th line getting regular minutes in situations that allow for development – so getting a real 3rd line center should not affect them in any way. Rotate Mac and Stortini into the remaining 4th line slot as needed. Moreau and Pisani are great 3rd line wingers that can take tough minutes – the gap is and always has been at center. None of the potential young guys (MAP, Brodziak, Brule) are ready, the other young centers (Cogs, Gagner) are not suited for this job. Clearly you don’t use your 1st line center (Horcoff) in that role.

    Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Cole and Nilssen are top 6 players – Gags and Cogs are young guys who are developing into that role. So IMHO we have one too many small young top 6 forwards and one too few bottom 6 experienced forwards. All of MAcTs gyrations are attempting to make up for this fundamental imbalance that Lowe created by dealing Marty and Stoll and not replacing that ability to play tough 3rd line minutes. We also have Schremp and Brule in the minors who are blocked by the cluster of Gags, Cogs and Nilssen – and a similar player in Eberle is on the way – we simply have too many of the same type of player (small, young, offensive). The solution to me seems obvious – deal a couple of the extra young forwards for something that you need. That need could be:

    - a decent 3rd line center (Schremp seems to be the obvious bait for this since his value is not that high and the value of the asset coming back is not all that great either – say a guy like Malhotra or Stajan).

    - an elite young goalie since Roli is old, Garon is good but not great and neither JDD/DD appear to be eite goalies in training. Cogliano probably is a major piece in this deal along with JDD and/or Schremp. An elite goalie would make a big difference to this team and we will eventually need one if we want to win with a more offensive system.

    - defense is probably not an option since Souray’s contract would have to go (unlikely) and there is quite a bit of room for the young guys to improve further.

  36. Bruce says:

    Now would be about the last time I would expect to see Lou the Screw move John Madden of all people. He’s already lost one of his central players this week; he needs Madden more than ever.

  37. godot10 says:

    //Horcoff, Penner, Hemsky, Cole and Nilssen are top 6 players – Gags and Cogs are young guys who are developing into that role. So IMHO we have one too many small young top 6 forwards and one too few bottom 6 experienced forwards.//

    Cole is unsigned (and the loonie and the recession/depression will likely mean a decrease in the cap next year) with no cap room to sign him. If you trade of the kids for a veteran centre, then next year you only have 5 top six forwards, and recreate a hole in your top two lines.

    The “mistake” was trading Pitkanen for Cole instead of trading Pitkanen for a centre.

    In a cap system, bottom six forwards are really something that have to be developed internally, unless one has the potential to challenge for the Cup, and need to fill the hole immediately.

    And if one trades one of Nilsson or Cogliano, one risks making a Miro Satan mistake.

    Arguably, next year is the more critical year to not have “holes”, and use this year to come to conclusions about who to keep amongst Nilsson, Cogliano, Brodziak, and Pouliot, and who not to.

  38. Asiaoil says:

    Trading Satan was not a mistake – trading Satan for Barrie Moore and Craig Millar was a mistake. Although I do agree that this year should be about deciding who to keep from Cogs, Nilsson, MAP and Brodziak. As for signing a bottom 6 center threatening the cap – how would a one year deal for Reasoner or similar player do that? It’s just a bit irritating that this team is really close to being balanced and yet we are forced to watch this ridiculous Pisani at center experiment as a reprise to the the ridiculous Penner at center experiment and the ridiculous Smyth at center experiment before that. Let’s just get a real tough minute center for Pete’s sake.

  39. godot10 says:

    //As for signing a bottom 6 center threatening the cap – how would a one year deal for Reasoner or similar player do that? It’s just a bit irritating that this team is really close to being balanced and yet we are forced to watch this ridiculous Pisani at center experiment //

    Reasoner was playing left wing for the last half of the season. Reasoner is at best a 4th line centre. Pouliot is at worst a 4th line centre. Reasoner on the roster means Pouliot is in the pressbox.

    And as for the ridiculous centre experiments, MacT (like every coach) has flaws. I think MacT’s good qualities far outweigh his bad qualities, but it is still exasperating (every year) to
    1) watch how he handles his goaltenders
    2) to watch his mangled power play
    3) some of his obstinate ideas about how to construct his forward lines and allocates ice time.

    Gagner and Penner together with Hemsky on the first power play unit worked so well in the last half of last season, it is mind-boggling that it hasn’t been used at least some of the time. Just have Cole and Horcoff on the 2nd unit.

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