In a post below several people asked me to explain the reasoning behind my contention this team will make a trade. I can’t give you just one, because the signs are everywhere.
I’ll settle for 10.
- There aren’t enough actual NHL players. Expansion teams often spend several seasons developing kids and using veterans from Europe to fill in the blanks until the real thing comes along. However, an established team like Edmonton should have enough proven talent to be able to contend. The fact that they don’t have enough tells us there’ll be additions. Pat Quinn won’t take long to verbalize it when camp begins.
- The kids are alright? At some point this fall we’re going to have to take a long hard look at all of these young men. Not just Pouliot and Nilsson, but Gagner and Cogliano too. Gagner is tracking like a solid offensive player but it’s not clear he’ll be an outscorer despite some improvement this past season. They’re already suggesting Cogliano move down the defensive spectrum so he’ll need to increase his offense in order to cover the bet in future. Should these kids begin to flag, a playoff berth would go a long way to bury that story.
- Lack of balance. Tambellini mentioned the blue in that interview with Tencer the other day, but along with the deep defense comes some weakness at center and an unproven backup goalie who might have to play 30 (or more) games.
- Quinn the Eskimo. All of these things could be overlooked if the Oilers had decided to go with youth at coach, but they hired Pat Quinn. Now, Quinn may be a little less intense than he was as a player but he didn’t come hear to wear his ass for a hat in the standings. Unless I’ve badly misjudged the situation, the plan is to contend. Should the Oilers start poorly, this could get ugly.
- Lack of “complete players.” You might think this falls under “actual NHL players” but a big part of the problem we’re having with line combinations comes from finding guys with more than one skill to complement others on a line. I count Shawn Horcoff as somewhat unique among the forwards, Fernando Pisani too if healthy. After that, there’s soft skill men and knuckle draggers along with smallish kids who aren’t going to win puck battles. The major problem in this area is the large group of undersized skill men who duplicate each other in terms of skill set. It’s like having 5 leadoff hitters.
- Tambellini’s stated areas of improvement have barely been touched. Remember the media conference after MacT was tommy-gunned? “Not gritty enough, need to get stronger” was the mantra and so far it doesn’t look to me like they’ve improved too much in this area. The goaltending is also a question, although that might be addressed during the season.
- Missing the playoffs is not an option. I think this is the most important reason we’ll see a deal this summer. This team hasn’t had a sniff since 2006 and the new regime (Tambellini, Quinn, Renney) weren’t hired to get this club into the top 10 at the draft.
- Too many other teams still have work to do. This is another big one. San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver and many other teams have areas they need to address this summer. Events have conspired to make this a strange off-season, but heading to camp with the same roster makes little sense for teams that struggled a year ago.
- Homestead. The sheer number of free agents without contracts has to mean there will be inexpensive options in the next several weeks. The Oilers need some help up front and they have to bring in anyone who can make them better.
- There are ways around the cap. Way back when there were whispers that Tambellini had the freedom to bury a contract in the minors and this is still an option. Should the club need an extra $2 million dollars, then the option is Nilsson. I doubt the Oilers send out leaders Staios and Moreau in such humiliating fashion (the NHL reserves that for career role players like Alexander Mogilny).
That’s 10. What did I miss?