It’s a tough thing to decipher. As an Oiler fan I can tell you that although Ethan Moreau gave this club many years of service it is time for the exit. Off-key and out of time, his comments to the media have been just short (or just beyond) a giant FU all winter long.
However, what is his value? Would a team grab an anchor in the hopes that a new lease on life would recharge the legs and wake up the brain?
Yes. I think so. I believe the Oilers will have a chance to offload their three veterans at the deadline (Moreau, Staios and Pisani). I also believe the club will hold on to Staios and may make an effort to bring back Pisani come the summer time.
We’ve talked about this deadline before and tried to track all of the discussion about each Oiler player. It’s been a difficult task because the sheer number of rumors (not including the American drummer) about this team’s out basket could fill a Hockey News all by itself.
I think a few things are clear: the Oiler players are in most cases not as poor as they’ve appeared this season. The reasons are: injury, coaching style (there’s no line matching meaning less protection) and massive downturns in production from some players who should be in the beginning or middle of their NHL careers. Below is a quick update on all of the Oilers current roster players, their immediate future and a guess at their return value.
- Nikolai Khabibulin: He stays. The injury and contract mean he’s an Oiler.
- Jeff Drouin Deslauriers: He stays. Deslauriers is getting his 550 at-bats in the big leagues and one expects he’ll get another 550 in 2010-11.
- Devan Dubnyk: He stays. The Oilers have to make a decision on one of the young goalies before next fall or run the risk of having a 3-headed monster in goal again. Dubnyk appears to be the odd man out so would join the list of “throw-ins” Edmonton might be able to offer in order to sweeten some deals. However, he’s more ? than proven prospect so he’ll be around at TC.
- Sheldon Souray: He stays. I don’t see the Oilers being able to find a market for Souray and get value too. It is probably a better idea to wait until summer. If he is traded Edmonton should hold on for a good young D with some NHL experience and a pick.
- Lubomir Visnovsky: He stays. Like Souray, Lubo’s contract makes a mid-season trade difficult. Also, he’s an exceptional talent and the Oilers are a little low on them at this time.
- Tom Gilbert: He stays. Although he is clearly off his usual performance, Gilbert looks to be back on track over the last half dozen games. He should get some offers but surely the Oilers haven’t soured enough on him to send him away for less than 100 cents on the dollars.
- Denis Grebeshkov: He goes. I think Grebeshkov is in a bad spot with this team. Tambellini will want to make certain he can clear cap room for summer and Grebs is an rfa who will require more dollars. With the Oilers possibly having already made a decision on him (there’s some sentence structure) in regard to 10-11 this is a player other NHL teams might be able to get at a discount. Jan Hejda from Columbus might be a nice pickup.
- Ladislav Smid: He stays. Laddy is a long way from carrying the mail and he should send a giant thankyou card to Lubo this summer, but he’s inexpensive and can fill a role. Plus he is somewhat unique in that there’s a physical element. Sure gets plastered a lot, though and lordy he’s a poor fighter lately.
- Steve Staios: He stays. Bob Stauffer mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Staois might be here for the final year of his contract. I think Matty threw that out a few days later, too. So that’s a pretty good tell.
- Jason Strudwick: He stays. Ray Ferraro rambled on at length during the Philly game a week or so ago but Strudwick arrives at most plays a day late and a dollar short. Big heart, but he’s done.
- Shawn Horcoff: He stays. Horcoff isn’t earning his pay but he’s also the only real actual NHL center on the roster.
- Sam Gagner: He stays. One of the real building blocks for this team and this season is this guy and his progress. His development under extreme circumstances is something to hold on to for Oilers fans.
- Mike Comrie: He goes. The great thing about Comrie is that he can provide scoring depth for any team and doesn’t come at a high price. I expect a 3rd or 4th rd pick would get it done and the guy can help on offense.
- Ryan Potulny: He stays. Tambellini needs to get him signed to a contract a-sap in order to avoid another Glencross situation. Once again the Oilers pro scouts deliver a gem.
- Marc Pouliot: He stays. Not because he’s so valuable they won’t move him, but because he has health issues and hasn’t yet established a level of ability.
- Andrew Cogliano: He goes. Edmonton needs to clear cap space and smaller forwards. Cogliano has been passed over all along by coach Quinn and unless the next coach (Renney) speaks up I think Cogs is gone and gone at the deadline. A great partner would be the slow-up-front Bruins who can offer picks and prospects for him.
- Dustin Penner: He stays. Penner is an established NHL player and despite a dry spell post-Hemsky he’s still miles better than this team’s other LWers.
- Ethan Moreau: He goes. I think there’s at least a few teams who might take a chance (and give up very little) on him for physical presence and injury insurance down the stretch. They can bury him in the minors if it doesn’t work out and they can also offload their problems onto the Oilers in exchange.
- JF Jacques: He stays. Jacques (like Pouliot) needs to prove he can play more than 15 games in a row without that wonky back flaring up again. He can fight though and hits like a truck. He’d kill a Roller Derby.
- Patrick O’Sullivan: He stays. Oilers gave up a significant asset for him and as mentioned above everyone looks poor in a season like this one. He survives if only because the team should wait until his value is higher before parting ways.
- Robert Nilsson: He stays. Oilers have kept him over other offense-first prospects and liked him so well that they dealt their 2003 1st rd pick right after the Islanders plucked him. Things might be different in summer but for now he stays.
- Fernando Pisani: He goes. I think he’ll be the first Oiler traded, and probably goes to a veteran team like Detroit. Quality on the PK, makes others around him better and he’s a UFA at the end of the year. I think many will be surprised at the return.
- Gilbert Brule: He stays. Brule is gaining traction in the organization as a scorer and I think we should get used to having him around.
- Zack Stortini: He stays. I don’t know if he can play any better, so there may be some calls. However, the Oilers don’t have enough of his player-type to deal him.
Will they deal all 5 I’ve listed? I think Pisani, Moreau and Comrie are gone unless there’s just no value deal at all available, and also believe Grebeshkov and Cogliano can be had and some NHL team is going to pull the trigger.
It wouldn’t get the Oilers turned around, but it would be a nice start.