Craig MacTavish spent some time in front of the microphones again today, and as always there were some very interesting things.
- “It doesn’t look like I’ll be able to accomplish all the things I wanted to do.”
No real surprise, that was a very long list of changes he had in mind. Here’s my original list with problems solved crossed out.
Top 4 defender(signed Ference, that’s the big move this summer)
- Sign Sam Gagner to a multi-year deal that has begins with a number in the 4′s
- Get Paajarvi signed and then find a role that suits him (suspect it’s 3line).
NHL goalie(LaBarbera was a nice option)
- Find a 2line L who can complement Gagner-Yakupov with puck retrieval, blocking out the sun, etc
Find a 3line RJoensu is the option I’ll pick, but it would be foolish to exclude Ryan Jones based on salary
Find a 3line C(Gordon an ideal fit)
- Find a 4line C
- Deal Hemsky for immediate help (even if its a checker).
Deal Horcoff or slot him into the 3line job for which he is actually ideal.Continued to improve D depth. Decide on Lander/Belanger or other for 13F. Lander it is! Better blue depthMacT has done this with Belov and Larsen, plus Klefbom/Fedun/Marincin AHL #1/NHL #3 goalieBachman is an outstanding solution Sign Paul Rangershould have said ‘sign Marlies–Hamilton, Acton, coach
- “He’s at a different level here, as we saw in the last three quarters of the game, he was able to raise his game to a different level.” MacT on Klefbom.
I think we should be prepared to see Klefbom win the 6D job outright. I think they like him that much, even if it means Belov returns home and they have to deal Nick Schultz at the end of training camp. I know these are kids Klefbom was playing against but he’s mobile and has played against men. A solid training camp has him here in my opinion.
- “I still want to help the depth on the back end. I want a lot of competition for those 5-6-7 spots.”
Heh. Tambellini would be into day four of vacation now, satisfied with the depth on the blue miles ago. Then again, Tambellini didn’t have Smid, Bergeron and Greene on the ice for the opener 2006 fall either. The Oilers have been lacking in quality and depth at this position forever, and the fact that MacT has recognized it (and appears to be overkilling it) is music!
- “I would think that Sam would (go to arbitration). We’re still hopeful that we can get a deal done soon.”
In the previous eras I would have been concerned about this, but MacTavish does appear to be very straightforward in his dealings, very transparent. I don’t think there’s any animosity between the two sides and do believe the Oilers realize Gagner’s importance to the team.
- “We’re getting a very motivated guy. We need to get some scoring out of those third and fourth lines.”
I think the Jones signing could be a good one in that it’s low risk and he does appear to be motivated. This past season was a tough one for him and he was no doubt looking at some form of professional extinction before the contract was offered to him by the Oilers. Sports history is full of stories where veterans rebound from just this spot–here’s hoping he can perform well. I don’t believe he’s a fit for a checking line, so his presence on the third line (should it come to pass) won’t be a ‘tough minutes matchup’ unit. A 4line role is best case scenario.
- “I’m still hopeful we can get one other thing done in the next short little while. It’s just trying to continue to have those discussions and try to get the right piece to start to excite me about how the team is shaping together. We’d like to do one or two things before we’re happy.”
This must be the Vanek-Penner move, although it sounds like a trade is more likely than a free agent signing. I think MacT is probably waiting on a cap team as they attempt to wiggle out of trouble without dealing off a valuable piece. A guess might be:
- Trading Hemsky
- Acquiring that big complementary winger
They might be two different deals, but in his own mind MacT likely sees them as a pair.
- L Tomas Vanek. I understand, he’s expensive and they’re not going to give him away and then you have to sign him and and and. If you’re looking for a solution to the top 6F problem, Vanek is a great one. No worries about fighting through traffic and he has a scorer’s touch.
- R Blake Wheeler. Big guy and skilled, the Jets must love him but they’re also interested in getting better and dealt for Setoguchi so maybe they’re done (Jets don’t do much). He’s a nice fit though.
- L David Perron. Like him, think he’s available and wrote about it here.
- W Nikolai Kulemin. Love this player. I think he’d be able to play anywhere on either wing and be the Pisani until Paajarvi takes over. Wonderful talent.
- L Curtis Glencross. Overpay will be required, but if the Oilers are serious about improving the team Glencross would be an outstanding addition.
- L Vinny Prospal. Old as the hills and twice as dusty, but he qualifies under several of the stated requirements. A fine player forever.
- L Dustin Penner. I know, and I know. However, if you’ve missed out on Clarkson and need someone to play with Gagner and be big and skilled, why not go with someone who has been successful with Gagner and can be big and skilled? I know.
- R Joel Ward. Big contract and the offense can sputter, but this guy can also win battles along the wall.
- L Brendan Morrow. I know he’s close to done and he wasn’t much in Dallas, but he’d be playing on a skill line in Edmonton and should cash at .5 per game or thereabouts. The big thing is he has no speed at all. I wonder how much faster he is (if any) than Smyth?
- R Adam Cracknell. Big guy, decent hands and would certainly bring some attitude to the bottom 6.
- C Peter Mueller: He’s no tough guy, but does have size and skill. Concussions a concern, but he was fairly healthy this past season.
- R Colby Armstrong. Always liked this player, he’s battled injuries and bad timing. Worth taking a chance?