The Edmonton Oilers are in the hinterlands of the NHL’s western conference and within a couple of points of the basement. The club isn’t that far out of the playoffs either, which means fans are often split down the middle in terms of wanting the team to be buyers or sellers.
At the trade deadline this year, I think the team will probably be trying to offload at least a contract or two. Steve Tambellini may also be able to improve cap room for 2010-11 by allowing some rfa’s to find early free agency. Here are a few candidates:
- Mike Comrie, UFA 2010. If he gets healthy again this is a player Tambellini should be able to cash for a pick. Comrie can score goals and his salary is super cap-friendly.
- Robert Nilsson. RFA 2011, 2010-11 salary 2M. Has ridiculous talent at times but those times are few and far between. Sam Pollock would have traded him long ago, but the Oilers like his skill (have since draft day 2003) and he’s certainly impressive when in the zone.
- Ethan Moreau UFA 2011, 2010-11 salary 2M. Ethan’s reputation among hockey people seems to have survived a long period of ineffective play, so there’s a chance he’ll have enough value at the deadline for a team to come calling. There’s a big question mark in regard to the Oilers ever dealing him, but then again we’ve said that about a captain or two in previous seasons.
- Steve Staios UFA 2011, 2010-11 salary 2.7M. I honestly don’t know if there’s a playoff team out there willing to give him that much for an extra season but we do know that defenders are extremely valuable at the deadline.
- Fernando Pisani UFA 2010. The problem with Fernando is that he won’t have much opportunity (if any) to show he’s healthy. He’s apparently on track for a return but there’s no specific date and he would have to be considered a high risk rental at the deadline. Having said that, Pisani’s 2M come off the books this summer so there’s some saving there.
- Marc Pouliot RFA 2010, 09-10 salary 825k. Pouliot is injured again and at this point the Oilers might be able to sign him to a 2-way deal (waivers would likely be a small risk at that point, he’d have missed a lot of time–this depends on the rest of the season). It won’t be a huge saving, but perhaps a 1-way at $600k? What’s he going to do–refuse it?
There are other possibilities (one of the four defenders) but those trades would be more than deals to adjust for cap room. A deal sending one of the top 4D away is more likely to come in summer.